Before attending Anita Sarkeesian’s talk, I felt that it was necessary to fully understand the different ways she has approached the gaming community and how this community has responded to her ideals. The majority of the content she posts deals with the breakdown of female characters for both their appearances and roles in a particular game. She often pulls quotes from the male counterpart that contributed to the creation of a stereotypical female character. The reactions to her voiced observations often have a more negative connotation. For example, she has received numerous death threats despite the fact that she is simply advocating for gender equality among the entertainment realm. Anita approaches the issues critically and it would appear as though people, who frequently play video games, feel like she is “attacking” them. More often than not, the video game consumer’s feel personally criticized by Anita for their participation in the community, thus, creating an element of hate.
It is unsettling to think about how Anita must endure such traumatic threats in order to voice her opinions regarding an issue in gender. After listening to Anita speak, I remembered the HeForShe campaign, which is currently being advocated by Emma Watson. Thus far, it would appear that the campaign has received a lot of positive feedback globally. It is interesting how such similar ideals are receiving polar opposite responses. Does it matter who speaks on the topic of gender inequality or is it just about motivating the awareness of the inequalities present in today’s society?
As previously stated, Anita’s methods involve singling out the gaming community. On the other hand, the HeForShe campaign calls upon all men and boys to take a pledge motivating the elimination of issues in gender. Do the methods of bringing about awareness regarding a particular issue matter, even if the ultimate goals of each party are the same? Regardless of the fact that Anita targets the world of video games, it is clear that she understands that gender inequalities go beyond just virtual entertainment. At one point in Anita’s talk on Friday, she stated that the problem in the gaming community has “snowballed” as a result of the belief that, “women do not deserve power in male-dominated areas”. Anita also states that it is, “easier to disagree with new ideas than make a change.” I can relate to the fact that it is easier to disagree with something when the current set of norms appears to be working properly; this idea can be applied to several aspects of life. However, the main goal of equality cannot be attained unless everyone is on board with adjusting the way certain things are currently being done.
The conclusion to Anita’s speech was my favorite portion of the talk for her analogy of sexism to air pollution. “We all have a responsibility to eliminate gender inequalities, just like we all have the responsibility to greatly decrease air pollution.” This analogy made it clear that Anita does not simply believe that this issue was created, or can be solved, solely by the portion of the world that is male. From what I’ve gathered from Anita’s work in the field of gender issues, I would say that it is necessary for the majority of people to eliminate the preconceived notion that society has attained equality; only then can we work towards making positive changes in the world. Realizing the problem is the first step to finding a solution.