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Your lifestyle, your quirk
You’ve all heard of Kickstarter, where folks go to get funding for worthy projects. By now, you’ve probably heard of the Anita Sarkeesian situation, where she asked for $6,000 to back a project called “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games.”
Here’s her project description: “I love playing video games but I’m regularly disappointed in the limited and limiting ways women are represented. This video project will explore, analyze and deconstruct some of the most common tropes and stereotypes of female characters in games. The series will highlight the larger recurring patterns and conventions used within the gaming industry rather than just focusing on the worst offenders. I’m going to need your help to make it happen!”
Sounds reasonable, right? I’m a woman who enjoys the occasional video game, but even my decidedly un-picky self can see there’s some irritating similarities in how female characters are constructed across the board. This isn’t just in video games, either; it stretches through movies, books, media…well, this isn’t the point of the article. The point is I probably wouldn’t have even heard about this project, were it not for what happened next.
Sarkeesian posted her project. Someone – I’m guessing a middle school student who was recently rejected by the object of his affection – saw it and freaked out. “She’s invading our territory!” he shrieked, clutching his hands to his chest. “She is going to comment on the sacred, wholly male domain of video games. TO ARMS!”
I’d say he rallied the troops, but the reality of the situation is that a bunch of trolls got their panties in a collective wad and, to put it mildly, flipped their shit. They went after her on all channels, including trying to get her project dropped from the program.
Sarkeesian tells us exactly what happens on her Kickstarter page: “The intimidation and harassment effort has included a torrent of misogyny and hate speech on my YouTube video, repeated vandalizing of the Wikipedia page about me, organized efforts to flag my YouTube videos as "terrorism", as well as many threatening messages sent through Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter, email and my own website. These messages and comments have included everything from the typical sandwich and kitchen "jokes" to threats of violence, death, sexual assault and rape.”
Some of the things written on her YouTube page?
“She needs a good dicking.”
“You are a ****ing hypocrite slut.” (asterisks not included in original version)
“I hope you get cancer. J”
“What a stuck up bitch. I hope all them people who gave her money get raped and die of cancer.”
Then there’s all the anti-Semitic commentary. Seriously? You don’t like what she has to say and all you can come up with is Neo-Nazi BS? Eric Cartman would be proud.
There were a handful of reasonable comments. “Why do you even need money for this?” one commenter asked – the feeling here apparently being that she could analyze sexism in video games for free. When I posted the article on my Facebook page, I had people messaging me saying they agreed with the sentiment behind those comments. One of my friends asked, “She needs thousands of dollars to make a vlog of a personal opinion where most do it for free because they BELIEVE in the ideas?”
You know what? If her YouTube channel had been filled with comments like the above, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The problem is, the vast majority of the comments aren’t well reasoned out like that. The trolls did not come out and say, “Gosh, why do you need money for this? So and so already does it on her channel and we don’t have to pay for anything.”
No, they came out with “You are a ****ing hypocrite slut.”
Maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on them. Clearly these trolls have some serious, deep-seated issues.
And yet, in a hilariously ironic turn of events, these little douchebags – who tried so very hard to wage a war against her – ended up getting her project fully funded and then some, because their hysterical rants brought the project out of Kickstarter and into the public eye. This brought it to the attention of people like me, who don’t frequent Kickstarter but followed the controversy. I saw the asshattery on her YouTube page and donated to spite them.
I think it’s the sheer outrage the trolls displayed that I found most shocking. Kickstarter is not going to come to your house and haul you away if you don’t donate to something. If you don’t like her project, don’t donate to it.
Or, you know, you could throw a tantrum and get the project even more attention.
I love it when battle plans backfire.