Anita Sarkeesian and an End to Cyber Discrimination

For most of my 21 years of living I have had a younger brother who loved video games. Growing up and being so close in age to my brother, we had a lot of the same friends and spent a lot of time together – we always got along and had a lot of the same interests. I remember being so frustrated that our friends would come over to our house and only want to play Mario Kart or Madden 2006 in his room with him while I was forced to sit and watch, typically just leaving the room out of boredom after 20 minutes. I never thought it was fair that they would rather sit in silence on the floor of Jake’s room than want to do something “actually fun” that I enjoyed. As a young girl, video games were a source of alienation between my only sibling and myself. I gave up entirely on trying to spend time with him if he had any friends over and found other ways to entertain myself, other friends (always girls) who detested video games like I did. As I grew older I began to even wonder if the gaming world was still relevant at all. After attending Anita Sarkeesian’s speech at the Digital Ethics Symposium however, I began to shift my view on this world I had always rolled my eyes at. The gaming world is still alive and active, and it is at the expense of many women that it continues to do so.

Sarkeesian is fighting for what women have been striving towards for hundreds of years –  an end to objectification. It is honestly baffling to me that it has taken so long for this issue to begin to receive publicity. It is common knowledge that since the earliest years of “gaming” the culture has been strictly a “mens club” atmosphere, with little regard for the outlook of females and a way for men to live out their cyber fantasies. The fact that Sarkeesian receives death threats and verbal attacks from the anonymous online gaming community can and will not be stood for. As we discussed in class, anonymity is one of the biggest hinderances in the progression of positive online digital spaces. People use their shield of their online identity to say completely sexist and discriminatory things that they would never even think to publish off line. The issue becomes no longer a “gamer” related problem and becomes so much more of a women’s issue and a human rights issue. So many of these games have blatant graphic and offensive content against women and goes beyond the simple “damsel in distress” idea that Sarkeesian’s critics claim they support. The threats and opposition that Sarkeesian has received as a result of her speeches and work against this sexism only makes other women more afraid to speak out as well. The gaming community has a mob-like mentality that is extremely intimidating and needs to be stopped. The fact that modern technology has come to far yet age old gender issues still stand is extremely ironic to me and I can only hope that more women will have the bravery that Sarkeesian has to speak out.

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