Seeing Anita Sarkeesian speak at the symposium on Friday was everything I thought it would be, and more. I grew up in household with two younger boys who played PlayStation and XBOX religiously. I really enjoyed playing racing games, and I still do to this day, but whenever I wanted to play with the boys, I was always told no. AL my older guy cousins were allowed to be addicted to the games and spend their free time playing them. I remember one Christmas; I got a TV plug-in game called “Dream Life Superstar”. I was really confused at the time because I had shown no interest in the game and I was enjoying playing my Mario Kart and Formula 1 games on the PlayStation. Looking back, of course I realize that my parents noticed that I liked to play the games that the boys had, and assumed I only played them because they were the only ones available to me, so they decided to get me games they assumed I’d enjoy. I cannot say I didn’t enjoy playing the TV plug-in, because I most definitely did, but I did always hate the fact that everyone didn’t understand why I wanted to play the PlayStation or the XBOX. Why does gender define gaming preference?
Anita talked a great deal about her childhood experiences with gaming. She even inserted a picture in her PowerPoint of her with a controller in hand when she was really young. It was really comforting for me to hear her talk and to be able to relate to her frustration and to see how she dealt with it. It made me realize that there’s no reason I should have been feeling guilty about my desire to want to play the same games that the guys were into.
Of all the slides on her PowerPoint, the one that I really liked the one concerning Cyber Civil Rights. She talked about how states need to update their stalking laws to include harassment and threatening online and civil rights laws need to update to criminalize threats motivated by gender bias, not just racial bias. I really like that she’s bringing attention to these issues because I feel like it’s often overlooked because it is happening in a virtual world and not in a physical world. I think people seldom forget that if someone is invading your life in a harassing way, whether it is online or real life, it still should not be permissible. I think it’s incredibly hard to regulate and track people down but if there were more laws that regulated just how viral the harassment online is, it would possess more people to be cautious. Would there be less issues if there were laws? I think yes.
There was a huge line of people waiting to talk to Ms. Sarkeesian so I mostly just commended her on her work and thanked her for taking in account the thoughts of just about any feminist and going viral in doing so. I think what she is doing for the community of feminists is beyond inspiring and I really felt honored to meet her and listen to her express her feelings.