Editorial: A Mighty Mistake

Anita Sarkeesian Not Looking Homeless
Anita Sarkeesian, sans the lumberjack outfit.

The Keiji Inafune project, Mighty No. 9 experienced its first scandal this past Thursday when Dina Abou Karam was announced as the community manager for Mighty No. 9‘s official website. Many people are probably unfamiliar with Dina and they may be wondering why so much backlash has been thrown at Comcept for this hiring. The answer is simple, Dina is an outspoken feminist, some have even labeled her a “Social Justice Warrior”. Backers that were promised Mighty No. 9‘s team would consist of industry veterans are now worried that this novice, who has, in the past, said that she never really played Mega Man, will influence the game’s development so that it falls more in line with Dina’s bastardized, feminist agenda.

Naturally, Dina’s hiring set off a bit of a war on Mighty No. 9‘s forums between supporters and their opposition. Opponents of Dina’s hiring fear that her feminist views could lead to Mighty No. 9‘s hero, Beck, becoming Becky, something that she has fought for in the past. They also fear that Dina’s horrendous fan art could become the basis for some of the game’s robots. Normally, these would be just a bit out of the sphere of influence for a community manager, but Dina has the power of nepotism on her side as she is friends with some of Comcept’s staff, and even calls one of them a boyfriend (This shocked me, I thought most feminists were lesbians because they all seem to have so much hatred for men.) How do Dina’s supporters respond to these criticisms that focus on everything but Dina’s gender? Well, in a tidal wave of irony, they call them shallow, saying they only oppose the hiring because of Dina is a girl.

The negative trait of Dina that irks me the most is her distorted view on feminism, something she shares with Anita Sarkeesian. For those unfamiliar with Ms. Sarkeesian, the best way to describe her is that she looks decent when not dressing like a homeless lesbian, and that is the only positive attributes that she offers the world. Anita is famous for posting various videos that basically bash anything (usually video games) that depict women in a way that she does not agree with. Like Dina’s defenders, Anita and her fans are unable to comprehend that men can rationally argue with Anita’s ideas on a basis that does not involve her gender. That being said, it seems the best way to fight back is by being irrational as well, something that both Scott’s “The Joy of Boobies” article and Tim’s “Come on Ladies, I Need a Date” post refrained from doing.

The Good 'Ol Days
An ad from a simpler time, when we could call out a woman’s weakness.

Being a feminist is, for the most part, the least productive thing a person can do. I am not talking about the early feminists, the ones that actually fought for equality for women, they made shit happen. I have massive amounts of respect for women like Lucretia Mott and Susan B. Anthony, not only did they fight for women’s equality, but they worked to abolish slavery BEFORE they focused on the inequalities their gender faced. How do Anita Sarkeesian and her fellow “Bitches of Bastardized Feminism” repay these women that paved the way for their cause? By pissing on that very same path by focusing on things like video games when women in other countries are still treated like shit. Through a Kickstarter campaign, Sarkeesian raised $158,922, not to help other women across the globe obtain the rights they deserve but to produce a self-serving series of videos entitled Tropes vs. Women in Video Games.

Through Tropes vs. Women, Anita gives us a glimpse of her video game paradise, an industry that produces games that do not targeting a specific gender and that are free of anything she feels is a stereotypical female character. She bashes Bioware for prominently featuring a male Commander Shepard in the advertisements for the Mass Effect series, stating that less than twenty percent of Mass Effect players chose to play as FemShep because she was not featured in the advertisements. Personally, I choose to play as a male character when given the option because I want to, not because the advertisements focused on him or for other deranged reason. I am not a sexist or a misogynist, I merely enjoy games more when I can connect better with the main character, and since I do not have a vagina, I feel I have a better chance of doing that with a male protagonist.

Video Game Feminists point towards numbers that claim that nearly half of all gamers are female. Unfortunately, these studies do not differentiate Final Fantasy from Candy Crush making it nearly impossible to know if the majority of girl gamers even give two fucks about FemShep. Using my wife as an example, the ability to play as a female character has not pushed her to play Pokemon, Mass Effect, or any of the Atelier series. Instead, she would prefer to play Candy Crush on the iPad until she runs out of lives, and then move on to her phone since she still has a full set of lives on it (true story).

Today’s society is politically correct to an extreme, something that feminists, and many other groups, use to their advantage. People that see through skin color, gender, and sexual orientation are labeled racist, sexist, or homophobic merely for disagreeing with people like Anita and Dina. Video game journalists for more prominent websites are all but forced to agree with these groups because one wrong comment (usually one taken out of context) could cost them their job and/or their journalism career. Anita, among others, exploits this fact to achieve the notoriety she thirsts for, at the expense of true feminists. It is these actions that cause many people to roll their eyes when they hear somebody describe themselves as a feminist.

I will reiterate it one more time, I believe everybody, regardless of gender, race, or sexuality, deserves equal rights. However, equal rights does not mean that a predominantly male entertainment medium should be forced to cater more to the minority of its audience at the expense of the majority. I would be destroyed if I, a white, straight male, complained that chick-flicks needed to feature more masculine guys or that rap music needed to be changed because it does not focus on Caucasians enough. The reason that I do not care about those things is because I understand those entertainment options are not designed for me. That is enough ranting for one day, I will now await the oncoming storm of attacks that usually accompanies these posts.

29 comments

  1. Attack? Hell no sir. I applaud you. Thank you for this. I have no flair for commentary, so I appreciate it when the articulate manifest my sentiments.

  2. Oh no! Wimmin playin our vidya games. I feel threatened by this.

  3. The battlecry of the simple-minded, already at work. Kudos, TheShack. You are a credit to the current state of the status quo.

  4. I think if her position as community manager (nepotism or no) were to hold that much sway over the game design of MN9 then that’s more a mark against the designers for letting it happen than on Dina for coming up with the ideas. If they needed a community backlash to keep them from doing this, then they’re idiots I would not want to buy games from anyway. Sacrificing the artistic direction of the whole game because A woman who manages one part of the website about the game would be pretty weak willed and calls into question what other elements were similarly removed or changed that we don’t even know about.

    Regardless of what the game “should be” (it should be whatever the creators want it to be), I don’t support compromise of art just to please some people, or even most people.

    What this topic does touch on, of course, and what some might think is getting ignored or shoved aside or put in the wrong light or whatever, is the question of “is the representation of women in games harmful?” IF it were harmful (IF) then I would agree something must be done, things must change. If HARM could be proven, then I would argue that it should be changed despite my desire to keep works of art uncompromised. Can this be proven? Well, it’s what some people are trying to prove and I don’t think they’re making the case so well. And what changes would/should take place? I don’t fucking know, and many could present greater dangers down the road (that “slippery slope” people like to say is either valid or a myth, at turns, depending on what side of the argument they’re on).

    Personally, I think all of the attacks feminists receive is only making them more resolved. Right or wrong, concerned or misguided and corrupted, I think this movement is taking attacks against it to validate itself. In the case of MN9, I think this is way over-worried about a corrupted and overreaching feminist agenda. Frankly, if it weren’t for the backlash against people like Sarkeesian then I wouldn’t have heard about her (I still haven’t watched any of her stuff). But let’s not peddle smarm and decry any criticism of her, yet at the same time let’s not pretend the internet isn’t wanting for some restraint and given to overreaction.

  5. I watched the Mighty No 9 issue play out over the weekend. I had no prior involvement or interest in the title outside of sentiments of ‘right on Inafune’. The case as I saw it, was not an unwarranted fear of misogyny. It was the appointment of a woman to a task she proved to be ill-suited at (community manager) through contacts (her boyfriend having already been on the staff). More vocal concern arose when people found that she’d made suggestions that Beck, the successor to Megaman, be recast as a female. Fanart was found, depicting a Beck who was drawn to resemble Dina in a style that did not fit the concept art everyone had already been sold upon as the standard, and the audience who had funded this were not pleased with the suggested implications. To many who had sponsored this kickstarter, they felt that they were about to see a game they’d put their money towards suddenly transition to accommodate a political agenda by someone who, by her own statements, had no prior interest in the series that this descends from. That is not a gender issue, it’s legitimate concern. But of course, in the post-Sarkeesian gaming journalism sphere it makes for a promise of many page views, and that’s immediately how it was reported upon.

  6. I should also like to add a response to your statement, Mel that “I think all of the attacks feminists receive is only making them more resolved”. It seems to me that the same could be said true in reverse. Gamers as a whole are already laden with stigmas from public speakers who accuse them of being sociopaths and closet murderers. We never really reacted well to those assertions, and you can’t very well expect that many of us are going to suddenly believe or accept that we’re all women oppressing misogynists just because the girls in Dragon’s Crown have ridiculously huge boobs. And that’s essentially how we’ve been represented for the past few years since the feminist social justice squad jumped on us.
    Frankly, I didn’t even have views on these issues -until- militant feminists came along and demanded that I stop being oppressive. As someone who plays largely JRPGs based on how pretty the landscapes are, I was pretty mystified, then angry. And since this is going to continue to be an issue pushed by people with a political agenda that I consider unwarranted at best, you can rest assured that I will dig my heels in and face it with a resolve that’s very much equal. I imagine I’m not alone.

  7. Those are some good points about the kickstarter. It does make things a bit more complicated. I do still wonder how likely her suggestions would be heeded. But under these circumstances I see no reason to question why people who put down money for product A would be upset at maybe getting product B instead. That said, doesn’t this just call back into question the faults of kickstarter and putting down money, sight unseen, for a product yet to be produced? I feel like less socially controversial instances of mid-progress change isn’t too unlikely to run counter to the invested expectations of backers.

  8. I have always found Kickstarter a questionable, perilous system, and haven’t ever (nor do I plan to), contribute a single dollar towards any project. I can see the reasoning behind the whole affair. I see some games I’d actually be interested in playing myself that likely otherwise would not have financial backing. But it’s still a very risky, abused system as evidenced by some of the more high profile failures, and the success of people who have no business asking others for money such as Schafer and Richard Garriot.

  9. @Wolfe: I was the same, I honestly didn’t have any views on these issues until I was called oppressive and misogynistic simply because I was a gamer. Until they hit the hornets nest, the hornets had no reason to sting them.

  10. Awesome post man. It’s kind of like people who want to start a business but don’t do any research first. They just want to start taking action because it feels like they’re accomplishing something. Dina guys are doing that. It feels good to fight the good fight, but they haven’t stopped to think about whether or not this is a good fight to have in the first place. Anyway, as long as her job restricted to community manager, I’m fine. There’s no way in hell Keiji would let any of her horrendous (I agree with your choice of adjective) fan art or ideas get into the game. . . Right?

  11. @Gyme – There couldn’t be the possibility that the hornets were stinging everybody like assholes, but they didn’t know they were assholes because nobody had told them before and then the moment people started saying “don’t be a fucking asshole”, the hornets started stinging more and saying “HEY FUCK YOU, WE’VE BEEN FINE UP UNTIL THIS POINT, WHY AREN’T YOU A HORNET TOO YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT?” on account of they didn’t know how to handle the fact that they were assholes without knowing it because hey they have lives and friends and family and emotions, so there’s no way they could be an asshole, right?

    Of course, that reaction may also have caused people to start burning down the hornet’s nests which is even more of an asshole move, but then instead of anybody starting to stop the fighting and start loving, the hornets just felt the violence justified their asshole stinging and thought of ways to shove their weight around and retaliate and so did everybody else and nothing was solved and everybody hated and was an asshole forever.

    Maybe that’s a better metaphor. I hate all this shit. You make important valid points, but you continue to be ignorant while doing so. It helps nothing. Same with the other side. I’m sick of both sides. Be an adult. You make important points, Anita makes important points, both of you are blinded and draw ultimately narrow conclusions instead of richer ones informed by the other.

    Debate just entrenches yourself in your own view. It’s frustrating when people don’t listen to what you’re trying to say. I get it. But why not be the first to start listening then? Maybe people saying “don’t be a fucking asshole” to the hornets isn’t saying “we hate hornets and want them gone and think they have nothing of value.” Maybe it’s saying “Hey, we’re cool too, just like you guys, and would prefer not to get stung a thousand times when we are curious about this beautiful forest, and then get yelled at when we – justifiably – angrily request that you stop stinging us!”

    And yes, people could be more tactful and aware when pointing out to the hornets that they’ve been fucking pricks for so long because it often wasn’t malicious or even cognizant, and they DO have lives and friends and families and emotions and are also worth listening to. But also, they’re sick of the hornets’ bullshit, so maybe the hornets can suck it up and grow up.

    Ah yes, I believe that’s my advice for you.

    Grow. The. Fuck. Up.

    (And don’t get defensive and say “BUT WHAT ABOUT THEM?!” because I’m currently not talking to them. I would have things to say to them too. And to myself. I’ve contributed my fair share of ignorance to this debate as well. We all need to grow up and act with courage and love and vulnerability and to be the first ones to do so. I speak with such passion because I give a shit. I love this website and this community and so I’m not comfortable when I see temper tantrum after temper tantrum on here. (again, not saying that others and I also don’t throw them. It’s okay. Breathe.))

    http://wondermark.com/977/

  12. Well, I must be a lucky bastard, because the ONLY exposure to feminists in games I’ve ever had is from people getting angry at them. I’ve never once been “stung” or told off because of the games I like. I don’t doubt it happens, but I do doubt that it always needs to spawn a heat wave across the internet.

    Also, it doesn’t entirely endear me to the argument when the “consequences” of Dina’s involvement could lead to something I don’t have a problem with. Beck becoming a girl and Dina’s suggestion of some crappy fanart (that would likely get touched up by an actual artist and more likely just go ignored entirely) don’t exactly infuriate me. Perhaps if I looked at it more in line with someone trying to label me as misogynistic or something, then I can see the point but… I dunno, I just don’t care that much about what people call me (especially when I know it isn’t true). That’s probably because if I got heated at all the things people called me growing up and even into adulthood then I’d have lost my mind long ago.

    @Ethos: Nobody wants to give an inch these days and it’s likely thanks to the ease with which heated arguments can be had over the mostly unspoken and faceless internet (pictures of people’s faces don’t count). In person, when people look each other in the eye, it’s usually a different story on both sides. In my general observation, sympathy is easily tossed aside when the ingredients for it are not present. Everyone’s an uncaring machine when it’s easy to be one. What’s silly is how often that response is touted as being more “intellectual” and less “unthinking” or “instinctual” (a position people like to be seen in and therefore seek out), when doing so calls no less upon our natural inclinations and implies no more of us intellectually.

  13. @Mel – And I’m guilty of contributing to that. My rant was directed to myself as well.

  14. I am tired of militant feminists, just as I am tired of every little ‘action group’ which seeks to change the status quo by assuming the mantle of moral guardians. –A position which, once assumed, is used to intolerantly silence all dissent and all positions contrary to their own, as they blithely forget that their own position is just that–a position–and no more divinely correct than all those which have preceded them. –A position just as certain to be an embarassment to the future.

    It would be almost tolerable, if these were not the same people who had told us that no one has a right to impose their morality on others, when they busily tore down the edifice of religion which had served humanity since time immemorial (a term here used in its correct function). –If these were not the same people who have been busily reminding us of how tyrannical all other masters are.

    And yet they have replaced one sort of tyranny–a tyranny which governed act–with a new tyranny. Except their new tyranny is one which seeks also to govern thought.

    They are subhuman, they are the manifestation of hypocrisy and wickedness, and because there is a divine justice–despite their shrill bleating to the contrary–they will suffer a reckoning for it. And in this, alone, can I take comfort when I look out upon a world which grows darker by the day: less educated, less intelligent, and less free.

    We have the greatest technology which any human civilisation has ever had. Yet we have less self-criticality and less intelligence than any civilised society which has gone before. It turns out that our electronics and endless barrage of information serve one purpose more than any other–a purpose which, thankfully, our predecessors had not the leisure to indulge in:

    They distract us from reflecting upon ourselves. The results are obvious, universal, and utterly ruinous.

  15. The progression of technology and accumulation of documentation of the past creates a dangerous facade. Because while we may – ostensibly – progress as a society, we certainly do not mature as a society.

    @Lusipurr – Your post – while also exposing our differences – also exposes why I believe we are friends. We arrive differently, but my respect for and kinship with the core of your line of thought is tremendous. “They distract us from reflecting upon ourselves. The results are obvious, universal, and utterly ruinous.”

    However, my optimism comes from the same reason why I despair. The shallow civilization that you so accurately describe creates something so bleak that the constant refreshing of souls will eventually cause it to burst and be reborn like a phoenix. Once we forget ourselves, the thought of discovering ourselves will be unavoidable. I see the divine in the struggle. I see love emerge because of adversity not in spite of it.

  16. @Ethos: I think that believing “one must destroy a thing so that one can eventually (possibly) improve it” is the end of wisdom, not the beginning thereof.

    It took us a long time to get out of the last dark age (an age also brought on by a collapse in religious authority and an aggressive and warlike materiality). Last time, we were saved largely by a series of lucky chances: a university structure established by the (esssentially) singular religion which occupied a surprise power vacuum, and which encouraged a rediscovering of the philosophical introspection of the classics: Scholasticism, Humanism, and the Renaissance.

    I don’t know that lightning will strike twice. And I think the next ‘dark age’ (in whose vestibule we now rest) will be much, much worse, because people will not even realise that there is something better to which they ought aspire. Their technological advancement will convince them that they have arrived. The digital nirvana stands in the place where self-enlightenment ought.

  17. Seems like we’ve already entered the early stages of the aforementioned dark ages, Lusipurr.

  18. @Lusipurr – Rather than suggesting that something be destroyed in order to improve it, I was instead considering the thought that the process is inherent in our nature as a race. That it is representative of the balance of order and chaos that rages within us all. I think every great thinker and artist has tapped into that struggle that I believe defines all of existence.

    However, I continue to agree deeply with many of your statements, and I know your considerations and observations are well-cultivated. Also, I am well-aware that I have much more to collect and consider and will continue to do so for as long as I am lucky enough to live. I know to believe I have any answers is extremely naive. I want curiosity and respect to define my interactions, especially with those who have great experience with thought and the organization of ideas and convictions.

    @Wolfe – Lusipurr was, I believe, suggesting that, and I agree with him in full force.

  19. @Ethos: I wrote this post with the intent of being extremely irrational. That isn’t to say that these thoughts are not my own, they certainly are, just spewed out in a more irrational way than normal.

    Both you and Mel make great points, the internet has facilitated extreme criticism and extreme thought because you don’t have to face the person when you type it. I agree that debates, especially internet debates, fail to accomplish anything other than making either side more resolute in what they believe. What we need is conversation, but only having one side willing to converse makes it impossible to make any progress. Lusi’s comment (#15) sums it up quite well, these groups usually are even more intolerant than the group they are opposing, but they hide behind their morale mantle, believing that their intolerance is justified.

    A little change in the status quo of the video game industry could breathe new life across the board, but a little change is not what is being called for. The stance that Sarkeesian seems to take is that massive, sweeping changes must take effect immediately, and why has it not already happened. If we were talking about civil rights, I would be more inclined to agree, but Anita’s conquest is against video games. Video games have evolved over time, and that has been because of little pushes here and there. The same could happen again, but it will again be with pushes, not a militant bulldozer.

  20. Anita Sarkeesian should be burned at the stake.

    As for Mighty No. 9, I am now extremely glad that I am not in the habit of supporting Kickstarters, and as such am not subject to this latest bait-and-switch.

    I do not fear that her terrible ideas will make it into the game, as Keiji would have to be stoned to take creative direction from someone so unqualified – but I understand that a large facet of these Kickstarter campaigns is participation in the communities which spring up around them, and it is this aspect which a highly partisan radical feminist as community manager stands to transform into a toilet. Worse still, as backers, these people are paying for this extremely ill-considered and flagrant nepotism.

  21. If anything, all these ‘nontroversies’ just comes to show how thin skinned and insecure gamers are when faced with something that dares break out of the norm. I mean, if the Internet Taliban, and they deserve to be called so, truly knew that Anita Sareesian was no threat at all to their hobby, they wouldn’t have embarked on some misguided moral crusade to invalidate, threaten, and slander her based on the most absurd of pretext.

    These same ‘gamers’, who purchase the same stagnant franchises, year after year, who throw a temper tantrum and give death threats when a digital gun is adjusted SLIGHTLY, are the reason why I am ashamed of being a gamer at times, because that means I am forcibly associated with these primates.

    As a side note: I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason why gamers act out the way they do is because they mistakenly believe that gaming as a whole is a zero-sum game, when it comes to resources. If games that aren’t made for them are being made, they, in a fit of hysteria, believe it won’t be long before no-games are made for the run of the mill, white, straight, male gamer.

    The bottom line; gamers love making a mountain out of a molehill and, whether they like it or not, the ‘Feminist Agenda’ or whatever they want to call it in their mountain dew addled brains want to call it in their McCarthy Witchhunt-esque paranoia, is not going to go away. They’re just going to have to grow a pair and realize that they need to grow up. And yes, I am aware of the hypocrisy.

  22. @Iliya: “If they truly knew that Anita Sareesian was no threat at all to their hobby, they wouldn’t have embarked on some misguided moral crusade to invalidate, threaten, and slander her based on the most absurd of pretext.”

    It’s funny you call it a moral crusade because that’s exactly what opponents of Anita call her actions.

    If we could all just stop shoving our own moral compasses down each others throats and stop trying piss off other people then maybe this discussion can move on and be done with in this industry and elsewhere. When most of what I see is either side throwing insults, “exaggeration” or otherwise, then I only see people who want to complain. They don’t want to fix the problem they say exists, they want to skewer people because it’s satisfying and a great way to pat one’s self on the back. In any instance, if you want to change someone’s mind, insulting them, not to be confused with criticizing them, is the best way to keep that from happening. Affecting change means getting more people on your side and this cannot happen when we do nothing but righteously burn bridges in attempts to cordon off wrong-thinking people. If that’s the aim then fine. But then let’s not bemoan the state of things when we help keep them the way they are.

  23. @Mel;
    Thank you for your even handed and calm response. And, looking back at my earlier post, makes me realize that I too was a bit heated in my initial statements. And it makes me look like a real hypocrite with what I’m about to say later on.

    And yes, the idea of calling it a ‘moral crusade’ was deliberate, because, after speaking with some of these people, they really believe that their actions are in the right, despite the fact that it’s an attempt to silence an opinion, but anyway…

    Funny you should mention about changing someone’s mind. I served a proselytizing mission for my church for two years and one of the hardest lessons it took me to learn was that of you want people to listen to your message, you must respect their culture, their wishes, and their decisions, let it go and then move on regardless of the end result. It looks like I needed to remember that.

    I hope that there can be some sort of dialogue where changes can be made. Though, I think it’ll take some time, because of habits in our way of thinking can be difficult to break. It can be done, I think, it’ll just require a lot of time and patience.

    And again, Mel, thanks for being the metaphorical gentle answer that turned away my wrath. I’ll try and remember that approach next time.

  24. It’s funny you call it a moral crusade because that’s exactly what opponents of Anita call her actions.

    Not really, in the case of Sarkeesian there is also a generous helping of fraud.

  25. That video is precisely how I was introduced to the whole fiasco. I also think it’s the most reasonable accounting of it.

  26. @Iliya: “These same ‘gamers’, who purchase the same stagnant franchises, year after year, who throw a temper tantrum and give death threats when a digital gun is adjusted SLIGHTLY, are the reason why I am ashamed of being a gamer at times, because that means I am forcibly associated with these primates.”

    and

    “I served a proselytizing mission for my church for two years and one of the hardest lessons it took me to learn was that of you want people to listen to your message, you must respect their culture, their wishes, and their decisions, let it go and then move on regardless of the end result.”

    I could not agree more with these comments.

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