After much discussion in class and online, I was able to finally hear Anita Sarkeesian speak at the Digital Ethics Symposium about the representation of women in the gaming world. Now I actually hate video games, I just never really understood the appeal. I don’t know if that is because I grew up with my lazy brother playing hours and hours of video games in our basement like he was in a cave or something. It drove me insane. So initially I have always had a negative view of video games, and now with the additional aspect of female sexual objectification, I knew that I was going to agree with most of the points Sarkeesian brought up. I was pretty excited to learn more about the issue and honestly get a little riled up on the topic. Sarkeesian began her talk with an overview of her organization “Feminist Frequency.” She described the shift of the gaming industry, from gaming almost exclusively catered to the demographics of white males, to now a more diverse and inclusive environment. Again having such a negative view of the gaming world already, I had no idea this shift was occurring, and why certain people are so upset about (isn’t it always the more the merrier?). Now Sarkeesian has become the scapegoat for the people deeply angered by this change, and believe that she is solely responsible for the shift in the gaming world. These angry and aggressive group of mostly white males have combined to form some sort of cyberbullying group to harass her and try and take down Sarkeesian and other women like her that are finally speaking out on the disturbing portray of women in video games.
During this entire talk when Sarkeesian was giving us examples of women being objectified and I kept thinking how is this just now becoming relevant? How has the gaming community and other women let these roles and situations go on!? After hearing Sarkeesian speak I came to the conclusion that the reason is Sarkeesian herself, and her persistence, bravery, and passion on the project. This woman is a serious badass. She has to deal with harassments, sexual exploitation, invasion of privacy, death threats, and even bomb threats!!! This is crazy to me, that a group of men are so angered by a shift in the gaming world they seriously think that the removal of Sarkeesian will just make it go away! I honestly do not know how she is able to do what she does each day with the amount of malicious, aggressive, and violent backlash she has to deal with. It makes me sick. She went into detail of all of this showing us the harassment she receives on a daily basis. As well she discussed certain conspiracy theories and how people seriously believe that she is brain washing the gaming community….. the examples she showed us really did make it seem like she was depicted as the “villain” of the gaming community.
I really enjoyed at towards the end of the talk that Sarkeesian gave somewhat of a solution or at the very least hope to this insane cyberbulling phenomenon. I had never really thought of this previously but cyber laws and rights to individual on the internet need to be in placed and enforced to make sure situations like gamer gate do not happen. Cyber crimes I feel are overlooked most of the time because it happens in the virtual world but it does not mean the victims are less real than if it happened outside the virtual world. Cyber crimes and victims need to be taken more seriously by the law and government. As we learned throughout our semester, media is developing and evolving at an incredibly rapid rate and so we must implement concrete laws for the virtual world in order for us to be part of a fair, equal, open, and safe media world.