For years, video games, particularly fantasy games, have been a “boy’s club” of sorts that operates in an environment where many women feel unwelcome to join. If any women at all exists as characters in these games, they are either presented as a “damsel in distress” that needs rescuing, or as a hyper sexualized commodity, or both. While male characters in these games get to wear full sets of body armor, warm underclothes, and well, clothing that seems relatively plausible in the context of the game, female characters are too often portrayed as having an incredibly small waist, disproportionate breasts, and, as Stephen Colbert puts it “armor that barely covers their nipples.” Needless to say, women who would otherwise play these games are feeling shut out and some are starting to raise their voices against this obvious sexism.
Enter Anita Sarkeesian.
Lauded as a hero to many female gamers who so often feel silenced in the male dominated sphere of internet gaming, Sarkeesian, founder of “Feminist Frequency” has received a never ending stream of rape and death threats since starting her crusade. If you are feeling brave, take a look at some of the posts on reddit.com defending the “rights” of some men to blatantly sexualize women in some gaming universes. Sarkeesian’s actions and the backlash that has been created from it is clearly a manifestation of rape culture. Internet users, who are often protected by anonymity, degrade and threaten assault to women who are pointing out the sheer grossness of their social sphere. There is a currently trending quote that has been circulating online recently that I think can be applied to what is happening in the video game world.
“Woman speaks out against misogynistic abuse and is met with misogynistic abuse from men who believe misogynistic abuse doesn’t exist ant that she should stop making them look bad.”