“We’re in the waning days of the dude-ified gaming world.”

Those are the words of Jesse Singal, correspondent for the Boston Globe, in Gaming’s Summer of Rage. In the piece, Singal covers the genesis of GamerGate, from the angry retribution of Zoe Quinn’s ex to the misogyny laden responses of many gamers (and yes, he mentions that the very foundation of GamerGate-that Zoe Quinn slept with a writer of Kotaku to get favorable coverage-is a false narrative; although this doesn’t stop the anti-feminist gamers from ranting, raving, and sending rape or death threats to Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian). He makes the argument that insecurity is at the heart of the anti-feminist gamers:

Trying to unravel where all this anger comes from could occupy dozens of dissertations’ worth of interviews and research (I’m not sure if the relevant field would be anthropology or clinical psychology). But what this whole sorry summer comes down to is insecurity — profound insecurity — on the part of some male gamers reacting to their hobby of choice becoming more diverse and nuanced and, I dare say, emotionally intelligent.

It’s a simple point: The form art takes depends a lot on who is allowed and encouraged to make it. We’re in the waning days of the dude-ified gaming world. Women are increasingly breaking into the industry, writing about games and playing them.

One of the things I’m continually saddened by in all of this is that feminists like Anita Sarkeesian are only asking for women to be treated better in games.  That’s it.  The gamers simultaneously claim that the background sexism and sexualized violence in video games isn’t that big a deal to them (which shows their privilege-they don’t have to think about these things; to them, they aren’t affected by a culture of indifference towards sexism and sexualized violence) while decrying efforts to change these minor little things. I find it amusing (and horrifying) the lengths these people will go over something they consider not a big deal.  Ultimately it is a big deal because women comprise more than half the gaming audience. They have concerns about sexism in video games and it would behoove manufacturers to listen if they want women to part with their money.

So how did the anti-feminist gamers react to the various insights by Singal? According to The Mary Sue, Singal was told to check out the subreddit KotakuInAction.  That would show him what the real GamerGate was all about. I’m sure they didn’t expect him to do that.

Their bluff was called.  Here’s his response:

Uh huh. That’s why at this very moment three of the top six posts on KIA—the subreddit I was explicitly instructed to visit if I wanted to see the real GamerGate—are about Wu and Sarkeesian (oh, I’m sorry, LW1 and LW3 [or is Wu 2? I can’t keep track]) and social-justice warriors.

So, to recap:

Me: I don’t think this is really about corruption as much as it’s about discomfort with feminism. After all, a lot of the heat seems to be aimed at small female devs/commentators of a feminist bent.

GamerGaters on Twitter: Not true! So unfair! Go to KIA!

[Goes to KIA. Suspicions appear to be mostly confirmed.]

This has happened over and over and over again (I also looked into the 8chan board and some other “approved” places). As a journalist trying to be fair-minded about this, you can’t fucking win. If I’m arguing with someone from the NRA or the NAACP or some other established group, I can point to actual quotes from the group’s leadership. With you guys, any bad thing that happens is, by definition, not the work of A True GamerGater. It’s one of the oldest logical fallacies in the book.

So what is GamerGate “really” about? I think this is the kinda question a philosopher of language would tear apart and scatter the remnants of to the wind, because it lacks any real referent. You guys refuse to appoint a leader or write up a platform or really do any of the things real-life, adult “movements” do. I’d argue that there isn’t really any such thing as GamerGate, because any given manifestation of it can be torn down as, again, No True GamerGate by anyone who disagrees with it. And who gets to decide what is and isn’t True GamerGate? You can’t say you want a decentralized, anonymous movement and then disown the ugly parts that inevitably pop up. Either everything is in, or everything is out.

Anyway, faced with this complete lack of clarity, all I or other journalists can do, then, is journalism: We ask the people in the movement what they stand for and then try to tease out what is real and what is PR. And every every every substantive conversation/forum/encounter I’ve had with folks from GamerGate has led me to believe that a large part of the reason for the group’s existence is discomfort with what its members see as the creeping and increasing influence of what you call social-justice warriors in the gaming world.

I’m not just making this up based on the occasional Tweet or forum post. After my HuffPost Live appearance, I was invited into a Google Hangout about GamerGate by Troy Rubert, aka@GhostLev. I accepted, and when I got in just about everyone who spoke openly talked about how mad they were that progressive politics and feminism were impinging on gaming, which they saw as an area they had enjoyed, free of politics, forever. They were extremely open about this. A day or so later, another GamerGater, @Smilomaniac, asked me to read a blog post he’d writtenabout his involvement in the movement in which he explicitly IDs as anti-feminist, and says that while some people claim otherwise, he thinks GG is an anti-feminist movement.

I believe him; I think GamerGate is primarily about anger at progressive people who care about feminism and transgender rights and mental health and whatever else (I am not going to use your obnoxious social-justice warrior terminology anymore) getting involved in gaming, and by what you see as overly solicitous coverage of said individuals and their games. And that’s fine! It’s an opinion I happen to disagree with, but “at least it’s an ethos.”

But this is only going to be a real debate if you guys can cop to your real-life feelings and opinions. You should have a bit more courage and put your actual motives front and center. Instead, because some of you do have a certain degree of political savvy, as is evidenced whenever GamerGaters on 8chan and elsewhere try to rein in their more unhinged peers, you’ve decided to go the “journalism ethics” route.

Unfortunately, that sauce is incredibly weak. There was no Kotaku review of “Depression Quest,” and fair-minded journalists will see through that line of attack right away since ZQ was receiving hate for DQ long before her boyfriend posted that thing. Journalists donating to crowdfunding campaigns? I bet if you asked 100 journalists you’d get 100 different opinions on whether this should be inherently off-limits (personal take is that it isn’t, but that journalists should certainly disclose any projects to which they donate). Collusion to strike at the heart of the gamer identity? Conservatives have been arguing that liberal journalists unfairly collude forever—I was on the “Journolist” that people wrongly claimed was coordinating pro-Obama coverage when really what we were doing, like any other listserv of ideologically like-minded people, was arguing with ourselves over everything. What happened was Gamasutra ran a column, that column went viral, and a lot of people responded to it. That sort of cross-site collusion doesn’t happen the way you think it does. When everyone’s writing about the same thing, that’s because the thing in question is getting a lot of discussion, which LA’s column did.

You guys know as well as I do that a movement based on the stated goal of regaining gaming ground lost to feminists and (ugh) SJWs would not do very well from a PR perspective. But you’re in a bind, because the ethics charges are 1) 98% false; 2) complicated to follow for the layperson; and 3) pretty clearly a ruse given the underlying ideology of the folks pushing this line forward.

(Important side note: A lot of the people calling for “journalistic ethics” quite transparently don’t know anything about journalism — to say that sites should clearly label what is and isn’t opinion, for example, is just plain weird, because a) that distinction is less and less relevant and is mostly a relic of newspaper days; and b) it’s a basic reading-comprehension thing; anyone who reads on a daily basis can tell, pretty simply from various cues in the narrative, whether they’re reading a work of “straight” journalism [outdated, troublesome term], “pure” opinion [again, bleh], or some combination of the two [which is what a lot of games coverage is].)

So I’d make a call, one last time, for honesty: Stop pretending this is about stuff it isn’t. Acknowledge that you do not want SJWs in gaming, that you want games to just be about games. Again: I disagree, but at least then I (and other journalists! you do want coverage, don’t you?) could at least follow what the hell is going on. If your movement requires journalists to carefully parse 8chan chains to understand it, it gets an F- in the PR department.

You guys need to man and woman up and talk about what’s really on your mind, or stop whining about “biased” coverage and/or blaming it on non-existent conspiracies. And that’s my overlong two cents about your movement and why I’m having a lot of trouble taking it seriously.

(Edited right away to fix some stuff; more edits surely to come given that I wrote this quickly and in an under-caffeinated state. Feel free to snap a screenshot—I won’t be making any substantive changes.)

Yes, will you gamers just be honest? Your deplorable antics are transparent. Your “movement” is a failure (here are 10 reasons; some are annoying bc of the “both sides” BS), because you aren’t really focused on corruption in journalism. Oh sure, some of you might be. But most of the GG’s? You’re really engaged in a campaign against feminism, threatening physical harm or sexual assault all because you don’t want progressive minded people intruding into your world. Unfortunately for you, it’s already happened, and it’s going to keep happening. Games aren’t just for you guys any more and that’s not a bad thing.

“We’re in the waning days of the dude-ified gaming world.”
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Dear asshole, let me explain to you the power of words

Over at Pharyngula PZ has a post up about one of the GamerGate shitspigots.  This guy has created a totally insipid, reality challenged cartoon of the differences between a feminist and a feminazi.  You can head over there and see the idiocy for yourself, but what I wanted to focus on is this little gem.

Actually I’m not antisemitic. I love kikes just as much as I love niggers and faggots. Awww have I offended your little SJW feels with my awful words? Suck it up, shithead. ACTIONS are what count in the real world. Words don’t mean a fucking thing. Being offended doesn’t mean a fucking thing either.
I support equal rights for EVERYBODY from every walk of life but I hate word policing and social justice warriors with all my heart.
Get on my level, you hypersensitive little cunt!

(the following is my response over at Pharyngula, which I think is worth repeating)

These little fucknuggets kill me.
They get so mad and frustrated that people dare to criticize them for using gendered or racial slurs so they tell us that these words don’t mean a thing and don’t have any power. Yet they’ve just gotten emotional over the use of words to criticize them.
Then there’s the problem of trying to minimize the power of words when there’s ample evidence that they very much affect us–and not just in one direction (offense).

Words have the power to engage us and draw us in. How many people have read a really fantastic book by a writer that draws you into the world, or gets you engaged in a character such that you actually care about what happens to that character?
That’s the power of words.

How many atheists engage in debates with theists, hoping to sway them (or the other way around)? Debates use words (wow I feel silly saying that). Those words, when strung together properly and with a strong enough argument, can be enough to sway opinions. Words can change minds.
That’s the power of words.

How many people have worked up the courage to ask someone on a date, only to be rejected for whatever reason? Sure some people bounce back and take rejection well. Others get bummed out. They get melancholy. They get morose. Due to words.
That’s the power of words.

Conversely, how many people have worked up the courage to ask someone on a date, and found that person has accepted? Remember that joy? Remember that happiness? Remember those butterflies? You got those all from words that were spoken.
That’s the power of words.

What about grandparents who hear from their child that they’re going to be grandparents?

The college student who finds they haven’t been accepted to medical school?

The lesbian couple who learn that their state legalized same-sex marriage, so they can get married after years of wanting to do so?

Four little words–“Will You Marry me”–can have such power over people. It can cause people to squeem* in joy or recoil in horror. Words did that.

The feeling in your gut…the sorrow…the anger…the frustration you feel when you hear the words “You’re fired”?
All of that, and so much more…that’s the power of words. Words touch us. They affect our moods. They have the power to uplift up us or tear us down to the deepest, darkest doldrums. They have the power to take us on flights of fantasy that we’ve never dreamed of or stir unspeakable rage inside us. They have the power to bring our darkest fears to light and to showcase our greatest triumphs.

To deny the power of words is to deny reality.

But then we are talking about anti-feminists. and dealing with reality is not their strong suit.

Dear asshole, let me explain to you the power of words

Utah State University gets bomb threat for hosting Anita Sarkeesian

Anita Sarkeesian is a Canadian-American feminist, video game critic, and author of Feminist Frequency (a critical web video series that explores the representations of women in video games). She is often the target of harassment, rape threats, and threats of violence to herself and her loved ones.  She received a bomb threat earlier this year:

Continue reading “Utah State University gets bomb threat for hosting Anita Sarkeesian”

Utah State University gets bomb threat for hosting Anita Sarkeesian

Women are 'penis homes' according to the pastor of a megachurch

This is wretched.  Back in 2001, Pastor Mark Driscoll (of Washington megachurch Mars Hill) referred to women as ‘penis homes’:

The first thing to know about your penis is, that despite the way it may see, it is not your penis. Ultimately, God created you and it is his penis. You are simply borrowing it for a while.

While His penis is on loan you must admit that it is sort of just hanging out there very lonely as if it needed a home, sort of like a man wondering the streets looking for a house to live in. Knowing that His penis would need a home, God created a woman to be your wife and when you marry her and look down you will notice that your wife is shaped differently than you and makes a very nice home.

My first reaction to all of that is “where’s my puke bucket”.  Driscoll isn’t speaking about women as if they’re human beings. He’s talking about them as if they’re nothing more than receptacles for a man’s penis. That’s deeply misogynistic because it denies women their very humanity.  To add to that, Driscoll makes a number of blatant assertions about the deity he believes in (and tells others to believe in and give money to).  He talks about his god as if it exists.  Where’s the evidence?  He talks about his god as if it created humanity. Where’s the evidence? He makes pronouncements about the nature of humanity as if he has any clue, but it’s clear he doesn’t.  Like many believers, he simply asserts his opinions as if they’re truths.  Of course when you’re religious, you don’t need evidence for your beliefs, you just need faith.  Have I mentioned how much I detest faith?  Believing in things for which there is no evidence…no reason to believe, it is utter hogwash.  To also hold faith up as a virtue is to say “reality bends to my whims”, despite the fact that that isn’t how reality works. No matter how much you believe it, the Earth isn’t flat.  No matter how deeply held your belief, the sun does not revolve around the Earth.  Women were not created from the rib on a man made from dirt and dust.  Plants were not created before the stars were.  There is no dome covering the Earth.  There was no global flood.  These things (and many more) are (or were) believed by many people for a very, very long time, despite the lack of evidence to support their beliefs.  With the advance of science, we’ve learned that so many religious beliefs were false.  Flat out wrong.  Not correct. Deeply wrong.  Yet people still cling to some of them.  Yes, God still provides “explanations” for various things we don’t understand, but as we’ve come to understand the world, the number of things we do not understand has diminished.  God is increasingly being forced into smaller and smaller gaps in our understanding of the world around us (hence God of the Gaps). Despite this, many people still use god as the support for their beliefs.  Pastor Driscoll is but the latest person to justify his beliefs by invoking god.  Even though he can’t prove that his god exists, nor that his beliefs about women are justified, he continues to hold them.  This is one of the dangers of faith.  It is resistant to reality.  It resists evidence and scientific inquiry.  All while being held up as virtuous.  Because of that, people can hold vile, anti-human opinions and not be ridiculed and condemned (oh, it happens, but not nearly enough).

The beliefs Driscoll holds, vile though they are, are not that different from the views of many elected officials in the United States. In fact, in this country, being a person of faith, not matter how deplorable your opinions are, is treated as a badge of honor. It’s also viewed as a get out of jail free card. How many politicians cite their “sincerely held religious beliefs” that LGBT people should continue being second class citizens?  They truly think that being religious means they aren’t hateful bigots.  That these people are supposed to represent the American populace, all while holding  beliefs that are irrational at best, and bigoted at worst, beggars belief.  These people should be laughed out of office.  They should be viciously mocked.  They shouldn’t even be able to get into office in the first place (the broken nature of our political system is a post for another time).  Yet here they are, making life hell for millions of Americans, and in many cases, it’s because they want everyone to be bound by their deeply held religious beliefs (beliefs with no empirical evidence as support).

Over at her blog  Love, Joy, feminism, Libby Anne (hat tip to her for this post) discusses Driscolls’ misogyny.  You ought to check it out.

 

 

 

 

 

Women are 'penis homes' according to the pastor of a megachurch

Women are ‘penis homes’ according to the pastor of a megachurch

This is wretched.  Back in 2001, Pastor Mark Driscoll (of Washington megachurch Mars Hill) referred to women as ‘penis homes’:

The first thing to know about your penis is, that despite the way it may see, it is not your penis. Ultimately, God created you and it is his penis. You are simply borrowing it for a while.

While His penis is on loan you must admit that it is sort of just hanging out there very lonely as if it needed a home, sort of like a man wondering the streets looking for a house to live in. Knowing that His penis would need a home, God created a woman to be your wife and when you marry her and look down you will notice that your wife is shaped differently than you and makes a very nice home.

My first reaction to all of that is “where’s my puke bucket”.  Driscoll isn’t speaking about women as if they’re human beings. He’s talking about them as if they’re nothing more than receptacles for a man’s penis. That’s deeply misogynistic because it denies women their very humanity.  To add to that, Driscoll makes a number of blatant assertions about the deity he believes in (and tells others to believe in and give money to).  He talks about his god as if it exists.  Where’s the evidence?  He talks about his god as if it created humanity. Where’s the evidence? He makes pronouncements about the nature of humanity as if he has any clue, but it’s clear he doesn’t.  Like many believers, he simply asserts his opinions as if they’re truths.  Of course when you’re religious, you don’t need evidence for your beliefs, you just need faith.  Have I mentioned how much I detest faith?  Believing in things for which there is no evidence…no reason to believe, it is utter hogwash.  To also hold faith up as a virtue is to say “reality bends to my whims”, despite the fact that that isn’t how reality works. No matter how much you believe it, the Earth isn’t flat.  No matter how deeply held your belief, the sun does not revolve around the Earth.  Women were not created from the rib on a man made from dirt and dust.  Plants were not created before the stars were.  There is no dome covering the Earth.  There was no global flood.  These things (and many more) are (or were) believed by many people for a very, very long time, despite the lack of evidence to support their beliefs.  With the advance of science, we’ve learned that so many religious beliefs were false.  Flat out wrong.  Not correct. Deeply wrong.  Yet people still cling to some of them.  Yes, God still provides “explanations” for various things we don’t understand, but as we’ve come to understand the world, the number of things we do not understand has diminished.  God is increasingly being forced into smaller and smaller gaps in our understanding of the world around us (hence God of the Gaps). Despite this, many people still use god as the support for their beliefs.  Pastor Driscoll is but the latest person to justify his beliefs by invoking god.  Even though he can’t prove that his god exists, nor that his beliefs about women are justified, he continues to hold them.  This is one of the dangers of faith.  It is resistant to reality.  It resists evidence and scientific inquiry.  All while being held up as virtuous.  Because of that, people can hold vile, anti-human opinions and not be ridiculed and condemned (oh, it happens, but not nearly enough).

The beliefs Driscoll holds, vile though they are, are not that different from the views of many elected officials in the United States. In fact, in this country, being a person of faith, not matter how deplorable your opinions are, is treated as a badge of honor. It’s also viewed as a get out of jail free card. How many politicians cite their “sincerely held religious beliefs” that LGBT people should continue being second class citizens?  They truly think that being religious means they aren’t hateful bigots.  That these people are supposed to represent the American populace, all while holding  beliefs that are irrational at best, and bigoted at worst, beggars belief.  These people should be laughed out of office.  They should be viciously mocked.  They shouldn’t even be able to get into office in the first place (the broken nature of our political system is a post for another time).  Yet here they are, making life hell for millions of Americans, and in many cases, it’s because they want everyone to be bound by their deeply held religious beliefs (beliefs with no empirical evidence as support).

Over at her blog  Love, Joy, feminism, Libby Anne (hat tip to her for this post) discusses Driscolls’ misogyny.  You ought to check it out.

 

 

 

 

 

Women are ‘penis homes’ according to the pastor of a megachurch

Rape and Death threats for criticizing video games?!

Yep. That’s the reality for women who criticize video games.  Just ask Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist and a media critic who is the author of Feminist Frequency, as well as the series Tropes vs Women  and Tropes vs Women in Video Games.  On the latter series, Feminist Frequency has this to say:

The Tropes vs Women in Video Games project aims to examine the plot devices and patterns most often associated with female characters in gaming from a systemic, big picture perspective. This series will include critical analysis of many beloved games and characters, but remember that it is both possible (and even necessary) to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of it’s more problematic or pernicious aspects. This video series is created by Anita Sarkeesian and the project was funded by 6968 awesome backers on Kickstarter.com

Earlier this week, she was forced to leave her home after receiving death and rape threats, for the “crime” of making a video that encourages video game makers to treat women better.  In what world is “I’m going to come to your house and rape you” or “I’m gonna slice you up” a reasonable response to someone requesting that video games treat women better?  First off, those responses are completely and unequivocally fucked up.  I do not support violence against anyone because I value the right to life of other humans. I don’t think violent rhetoric should be espoused either, as it can help create an environment where extremists might act on said rhetoric.  Even if I *did* think violent rhetoric was sometimes justifiable, it is not in this case.  Sarkeesian isn’t seeking to destroy countries and enslave populations.  She’s not trying bring the down the economies of entire countries.  She isn’t a comic book villain bent on world domination.  She’s a woman who wants video game producers to treat women better.  That’s it.  As Games.On.Net said:

Literally the worst possible thing that can happen here is equality. That’s the worst outcome, that’s the nightmare scenario. If, today, every AAA publisher said “We will start to include women more in our games and represent them better”, the only actual difference this would make to anybody shrieking about how feminists are destroying games is that they might have to pick their gender in the next Call of Duty game. Terrifying, isn’t it. Stuff of nightmares.

Yep.  That’s about the it.

Yet that right there causes a segment of the gaming population to get in a tizzy.  They rant and rage, spewing hateful bile, filled with violent, and often misogynistic imagery.  Another woman, indie game developer Zoe Quinn has become the target of harassment in the wake of details of her life being spilled onto the net by an ex-boyfriend.  I’m not a huge gamer, but even I’m aware that these are not a couple of isolated incidents.  Harassment of women in video games has been an ongoing problem.

Dealing with harassment and hatred is all too common for the everyday gamer. One moment you’re enjoying your favorite MMO and the next you’re being bullied.

Maybe you’re an LGBT gamer, or you’re a woman who commented in a forum that maybe it’d be nice to have more female characters to play. Then suddenly you’re faced with mean and bigoted comments from fellow players. The amount of bile in game culture is unfortunately almost equal to the amount of support found in the video game community. It has inspired numerous calls for change, especially at gaming conferences where panelists attempt to address the issue.

Greg Tito, editor-in-chief of The Escapist, moderated a panel at this year’s PAX East titled “What You Can Do to End Bile and Hatred in Games Culture.” To Tito, this year has especially hard, with story after story hurting the image of gamer culture.  

“Back when PAX was a new experience, it was this kind of get together where we could be ourselves and we didn’t have to feel embarrassed. We found people like us and there was this great togetherness and I feel over the last year that’s kind of eroded away, even at PAX itself…” he said.

Tito and others have written about bullying in gaming and found it’s an issue some just don’t want to hear about. Commenters remark on their stories that they’d rather just read about games.

That’s one of the big problems in gaming (and other areas, such as movies, comic books, television and more):  a segment of the population is perfectly fine the way things are and do not want the status quo to change.  Unfortunately for them, another segment of the population also enjoys the same things and want those things to become better.  Yes, there are gamers who are LGBT, PoC, women, and people with disabilities.  They would like to see better representation of themselves in video games (and I’m sure they’d like to see a reduction or elimination in the vitriol directed their way).  Those who are kicking and screaming the loudest are like petulant children who want everything to cater to them and their needs, not realizing that the world doesn’t revolve around them.  They need to fucking wake up and become better people.

Rape and Death threats for criticizing video games?!