I attended Anita Sarkeesian’s digital ethics symposium talk and I do have to admit that I was a little bit disappointed. After discussing with people about her talk I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people expected more out of the talk and hoped she would breach a further discussion about her personal work and data found through analyzing women’s roles in video games. But instead she took the time to discuss the current situation that she has endured because of her work. I understand the intensity and importance of the threats Sarkeesian has faced, but I also think the media recognition she is receiving should be used as a venue to further note her discoveries and work, not give these extremists the attention that they so crave.
The GamerGate community wants us to share their works and get their name out there and that is exactly what we are doing. I think this limelight would be better put to use to reiterate the importance of Sarkeesian’s work. She touched on this a little bit, showing the audience that their threats only intensifies the need to look into women in games, but not as much as I’d hoped. When I look back at my notes from the talk, majority of them are about this community and their recent actions they have taken against Sarkeesian. We’re giving them exactly what they want. Their work doesn’t deserve any more attention than they have already received! But I did appreciate her ability to discuss this hardship in her life with courage and transparency.
I do think through this talk, Sarkeesian was able to touch on some important topics about digital media and the digital space. Because of her recent threats, Sarkeesian pointed out social media’s lack of responsibility and control options to eliminate this kind of Internet bullying. Sarkeesian talked about her experiences with Facebook and Twitter and their inability to protect her from harrassment during this challenging time. She was able to criticize this neglect and in turn discuss options for creating a system where harassment isn’t as simple to do through creating sharable block lists and allowing family and friends to block users.
One of the moments I loved in the speech was when Sarkeesian took an obvious and past-time toy— the gameboy and highlighted its significance as a male dominated object, hence the name. Which is something that I never even realized but says so much about gender roles within the gaming community.
Another moment that I found to be influential was when Sarkeesian compared sexism to pollution— although we aren’t all contributing we all still have the responsibility to clean up the mess. I think here Sarkeesian used a very effective way to state her call to action. We live in a world where so many people bypass an issue because they think it’s not their problem or they haven’t done anything to contribute to the issue. But this is the exact mindset that furthers the issue and leaves it untouched. If everyone thinks it’s someone else’s responsibility then who do we have left to implement the change?