I had the chance to attend Anita Sarkeesian’s talk at the Fourth Annual International Symposium on Digital Ethics and Policy. I must say she is a very inspiring feminist. Despite getting death threats, harassed and probably the harshest insults online, Anita is still continuing her outstanding work on exploring the representations of women in pop culture narratives through video webseries called Feminist Frequency.
Anita gave us an example of women portrayal in video games by showing us a videogame and her video on YouTube. The videogame she showed us was really an eye opener. As much as I already know about women degradation in videogames, the video Anita showed gave me more impact than merely just reading about it. The Feminist Frequency is such an amazing and encouraging cause, however, there are some male gamers who are unwilling to accept the change, and wanting to stick to male dominated space. Anita’s speech did not just strengthen my understanding of women portrayal in videogames, but her speech also helped me realize what is happening in life in general. For instance, how some people who would go to such an extent to get rid of Anita’s thoughts, and how people refuse to adapt to a certain change, let alone listen to people’s opinions.
Anita shared her experiences with online harassments and gave us a few tips on how to reduce online harassments such as having the option to block or unsubscribe users and messages. Even though there are ways to reduce the harassments Anita often receives, it does not stop angry gamers from announcing terrorist attacks or threatening Anita and her family to the point where she has to escape her home. Besides getting written insults, her pictures were edited and even turned into pornography. That is CRAZY! It is funny how the people who disagree with her could do so many cruel things just to protest. It shows that these people are so paranoid about feminists taking over videogames. It pains me to learn about the culture of hate that has descended on the gaming industry that is even bigger than Hollywood itself. Nonetheless, despite everything that has happened or is happening, Anita continues to run Feminist Frequency and continues giving talk across the country. I really admire her for that especially when she is doing something that benefits people (particularly women) from all over the world.
Also, I have never really given some thought about how women are depict in videogames, but Anita was spot on when she talked about how Gameboy is called GameBOY and not GameGIRL. That was an AH-HA moment for me and it really got me thinking. I am not so much of a gamer now, but for someone who has at least two Gameboys and 4567381 cartridges of video games when I was younger, I can definitely relate to Anita’s standpoint. “You cannot be neutral on a moving train, you have to be responsible,” Anita said. This is something that is happening every day, instead of not doing anything about it like most people do, Anita chose to take the responsible path of addressing and fixing the issue, and extending her expertise and experience about this. I absolutely love her passion and support on this.
Anita’s determination and brutal honesty throughout her entire speech certainly moved me; my determination in life, the way I see online harassment, and feminism. I am really glad that Loyola University was given the opportunity to host Anita Sarkeesian for this year’s CDEP Symposium.
By: Cheryl Joseph