Brandon Strader

Tropes vs. Women / #GamerGate Conspiracies

2,105 posts in this topic

I understand her aim is to spur discussion of the topic, but the constant beating of the "violence and degradation of women" drum is getting old really quick. I already know the problems with females in games, I want to know some SOLUTIONS. As a male, I'm not entirely qualified or informed enough to make those decisions. But as a feminist and a female, she does. I want a female perspective on how to fix this problem. So far the only solutions I've heard that make any sense are from Jim Sterling.

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I understand her aim is to spur discussion of the topic, but the constant beating of the "violence and degradation of women" drum is getting old really quick. I already know the problems with females in games, I want to know some SOLUTIONS. As a male, I'm not entirely qualified or informed enough to make those decisions. But as a feminist and a female, she does. I want a female perspective on how to fix this problem. So far the only solutions I've heard that make any sense are from Jim Sterling.

Maybe solutions come later in the series? I don't know, maybe she's beating the same old drum because it's still a problem. It's just like George Takei keeps advocating for gay rights in the USA because homosexuals are still treated like second-class citizens here. Until a problem is resolved, activists will continue to draw attention to the problem.

Either way the one solution is simple: teach our children to be fair. Teach our boys not to be aggressive, not to bully, not to rape, not to assume that they're stronger than girls and that it's okay to be emotional sometimes. Teach our girls to not be pushed around, to be competative, to be assertive and strong, to stand up to guys who bully them. Other solutions are harder, because they involve changing the media and government around us: fix the wage gap. Fix hollywood to stop producing these same tropes, as well as stupid girly movie tropes like "it's okay to cheat on your boyfriend because the guy was hot". Fix the game industry. Fix the comics industry. Make it so that these media outlets cover a broad range of subjects and portrayals of people, and not just this same tired ideal that appeals to what the entertainment industry feels is a safe bet.

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that is because your misogyny is SO internalized that even your empathy and care are actually just subsets of your patriarchal, dominating, priviliged nature, and that your desires for revenge/redemption in light of those losses are really just a desire to feel like your privilege-engorged dick is big again

Of course it is all so clear now. Because I was born with a penis, I am what is wrong with the Earth.

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the argument that she is not proposing enough "solutions" is a red herring, a fundamental misunderstanding of both her stated goal and of the issues being raised. we're not talking about fixing a pothole or something; there is no cut-and-dry "solution" to centuries of cultural and sociological development.

furthermore, i would argue that those who say she is being redundant (in only the second video in this series), or that she is raising more questions than answers, are perhaps missing the point of documentaries or video-based essays like this. these videos clearly state their thesis, provide thoroughly sourced research, cogent analysis relating to the larger context of the series, and conclusions as to how the video relates to her overall goal as a media critic, namely the ways in which oppressive societal structures find perpetuation through art. say what you will about her slow output, or the apparent discrepancy between the quality of these videos and the funding received, but you cannot say that she has produced an incomplete argument.

if it seems like she is "beating a drum", perhaps that is less an indictment of her inability to come up with exciting and interesting ways to describe the dehumanization of women, and more revealing of society's short-term memory when it comes to these issues, in both real-world instances and the objects of culture.

i think it's interesting that, according to this analysis, the "damsel in distress" trope was only able to persist by evolving, and that evolution was necessarily a violent one: the player goes from saving the helpless woman, to saving a murdered woman, to murdering the woman themselves. it is a reflection of the hierarchical nature of gender which not only subordinates women to men, but enables both the casual disregard of their actions and speech, while empowering men to determine the fates of women through violent action, metaphorical and literal.

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I think it does her argument a disservice by citing games that use parody or tongue-in-cheek as examples of Tropes vs. Women.

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Either way the one solution is simple: teach our children to be fair. Teach our boys not to be aggressive, not to bully, not to rape, not to assume that they're stronger than girls and that it's okay to be emotional sometimes. Teach our girls to not be pushed around, to be competative, to be assertive and strong, to stand up to guys who bully them. Other solutions are harder, because they involve changing the media and government around us: fix the wage gap. Fix hollywood to stop producing these same tropes, as well as stupid girly movie tropes like "it's okay to cheat on your boyfriend because the guy was hot". Fix the game industry. Fix the comics industry. Make it so that these media outlets cover a broad range of subjects and portrayals of people, and not just this same tired ideal that appeals to what the entertainment industry feels is a safe bet.

"media, stop making things that sell"

"ok"

Do you see why no one pays attention to these things? :neutral:

I always thought, deep down, every man wished he was Dirty Harry (or the Man with No Name), John McClane, or Arnold Schwarzenegger. I suspect there is a similar analogue for women!

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say what you will about her slow output, or the apparent discrepancy between the quality of these videos and the funding received, but you cannot say that she has produced an incomplete argument.

I have no issues with her output or quality of the videos, but her argument does not feel complete to me. A lot of her points are overly conclusory because her analysis of each example of the trope is very cursory. I want to see her do more of what she did in this second video by anticipating common counterarguments and dissecting them more thoroughly.

Although I think her conclusions are probably correct, what bothers me the most is that she cites absolutely nothing that would give the viewer a good reason to agree these depictions are harmful. Is there research that shows media predisposes men and women to think in certain ways? If so, it's a pretty important thing that shouldn't be left out--or at least be put into a list of references. If she is doing actual social-scientific research herself, I want to see it. As it is, I don't consider her to be an authority of anything more than her anecdotal experiences, and that does not make for a compelling argument to me.

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I have no issues with her output or quality of the videos, but her argument does not feel complete to me. A lot of her points are overly conclusory because her analysis of each example of the trope is very cursory. I want to see her do more of what she did in this second video by anticipating common counterarguments and dissecting them more thoroughly.

Although I think her conclusions are probably correct, what bothers me the most is that she cites absolutely nothing that would give the viewer a good reason to agree these depictions are harmful. Is there research that shows media predisposes men and women to think in certain ways? If so, it's a pretty important thing that shouldn't be left out--or at least be put into a list of references. If she is doing actual social-scientific research herself, I want to see it. As it is, I don't consider her to be an authority of anything more than her anecdotal experiences, and that does not make for a compelling argument to me.

i'm fairly with this. conclusory (whether it be a real word or not) is right; she makes her points, talks about how devlopers "manipulated" a "power fantasy" in order to entice young males and then at the end of it makes her little blurb disclaimer of 'well maybe they're not doing that though!'

the first 20 minutes and the last 5 can't really coexist. either she needs to turn her femilanguage WAY down or cut out the last 5 minutes and just go balls deep with her accusatory style you can't really have it one way or the other

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the argument that she is not proposing enough "solutions" is a red herring, a fundamental misunderstanding of both her stated goal and of the issues being raised. we're not talking about fixing a pothole or something; there is no cut-and-dry "solution" to centuries of cultural and sociological development.

furthermore, i would argue that those who say she is being redundant (in only the second video in this series), or that she is raising more questions than answers, are perhaps missing the point of documentaries or video-based essays like this. these videos clearly state their thesis, provide thoroughly sourced research, cogent analysis relating to the larger context of the series, and conclusions as to how the video relates to her overall goal as a media critic, namely the ways in which oppressive societal structures find perpetuation through art. say what you will about her slow output, or the apparent discrepancy between the quality of these videos and the funding received, but you cannot say that she has produced an incomplete argument.

if it seems like she is "beating a drum", perhaps that is less an indictment of her inability to come up with exciting and interesting ways to describe the dehumanization of women, and more revealing of society's short-term memory when it comes to these issues, in both real-world instances and the objects of culture.

i think it's interesting that, according to this analysis, the "damsel in distress" trope was only able to persist by evolving, and that evolution was necessarily a violent one: the player goes from saving the helpless woman, to saving a murdered woman, to murdering the woman themselves. it is a reflection of the hierarchical nature of gender which not only subordinates women to men, but enables both the casual disregard of their actions and speech, while empowering men to determine the fates of women through violent action, metaphorical and literal.

A) Sure, her argument is complete. A complete fucking mess of assumptions and spun-from-wholecloth causal explanations.

-What really bugs me about this is that-

B) Even moreso than having no answers, Anita has no questions. She contributes nothing but a borish regurgitation of her Women's Studies syllabus material from her undergrad indoctrination.

-Which leads to-

C) Postcolonialist diatribes told from an contrived, overused and ultimately irrelevant narrative perspective that ignores the intents, themes, historical or artistic context of a work in favor of half-baked social analysis aren't any more appealing or right by virtue of a scholarly veneer.

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I have no issues with her output or quality of the videos, but her argument does not feel complete to me. A lot of her points are overly conclusory because her analysis of each example of the trope is very cursory. I want to see her do more of what she did in this second video by anticipating common counterarguments and dissecting them more thoroughly.

Although I think her conclusions are probably correct, what bothers me the most is that she cites absolutely nothing that would give the viewer a good reason to agree these depictions are harmful. Is there research that shows media predisposes men and women to think in certain ways? If so, it's a pretty important thing that shouldn't be left out--or at least be put into a list of references. If she is doing actual social-scientific research herself, I want to see it. As it is, I don't consider her to be an authority of anything more than her anecdotal experiences, and that does not make for a compelling argument to me.

Best post in thread and voices my opinion completely.

I have always agreed with the message, but I do not feel at all that she is the right person to convey it. She is more and more becoming akin to a shock jock in presentation, and it over all taints the message others have been trying to get out for a while.

My opinions on her being a social scammer aside (which still is something i believe and will be consistent with), you all have to agree that her approach is not the best and isn't helping the message get out there in the ways people would have liked it to have been.

I hope, if anything, that this does at least allow the more quiet feminists to come out and be loud about how they really feel about things. There have been a few positive youtube videos I have seen of people who are portraying the underlying message Anita is so much better, and I hope we see a lot more of them coming about because of these videos if anything.

Edited by Arek the Absolute

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Is there research that shows media predisposes men and women to think in certain ways?

i'd imagine a lot of research of that kind is regarded as inconclusive or subject to doubt (see: any study on the correlation between video game and real world violence). my interpretation of these kinds of analyses is less concerned with proving an objective, definitive connection between the consumption of a particular media and the thoughts that go through the minds of the people consuming them, and more with the nature of pleasure and identification in art. that is, if an artistic product's success is tied to its ability to resonate as truthful or authentic to its consumers, then what kind of truths do art forms like video games reflect? and, if upon investigations like this video series we are troubled by what we see, what does it say about the very real issues of violence and oppression of women in society, and the way they are enabled by both those who perpetrate those actions, as well as those who have the privilege to deny or ignore them?

If she is doing actual social-scientific research herself, I want to see it. As it is, I don't consider her to be an authority of anything more than her anecdotal experiences, and that does not make for a compelling argument to me.

to be fair, the statistics regarding real-world violence against women, along with other relevant cultural research and media criticism are cited on the blog post for the episode.

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"media, stop making things that sell"

"ok"

Do you see why no one pays attention to these things? :neutral:

I always thought, deep down, every man wished he was Dirty Harry (or the Man with No Name), John McClane, or Arnold Schwarzenegger. I suspect there is a similar analogue for women!

There should be though. If there are male power fantasies, there should be female power fantasies, and I'm not talking Disney princesses. Hollywood isn't going to entirely stop making "gritty" male fantasy movies, because they sell, because half the population is male. The other half is what we're talking about here, I'm one of them, and I want more things aimed towards my gender without it being shaped to fit the traditional girlfriend/mother/sister/housewife role.

Sometimes I just want to watch a movie with a lot of crazy chase scenes and explosions. When I play a game sometime I want to get the biggest gun, the best spell, the strongest skill and then spam the fuck out of it on everything. However I want to view these things with a neutral or shared gender, not make them be male-centric. If I'm playing in some sandbox wonderland, I'd like to play Elder Scrolls where my character's gender is about as relevant as their hair color. Likewise if I'm watching a movie I want women to be in the same kinds of roles as men, and not this sexual dimorphism that is prevelant in movies. There's a reason so many movies fail the Beschel Test. Let there be a movie about a female hero saving her mixed gender buddies, or about a mixed gender crime ring, or let JJ Abrams make blurry action scenes that don't primarily feature men. I'm not discounting what already exists, because characters like Dirty Harry are cool, but we need female equivalents of him. And when we do get female counterparts, they shouldn't be up there in string bikinis and ripped shorts just so the male audiences can drool...not unless there's a lot of shirtless guys with flawless 6-packs for the girls to drool over too.

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Male power fantasy is a dumb phrase Anita made up. It is the way she chooses to see things because she sees men as being powerful and having ownership of some kind over women. Talking about "male power fantasies" or "female power fantasies" is completely ridiculous and laughable. I think the only game with legitimate power fantasies were games like "Black & White" and if I recall that game had gender neutrality.

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I've asked several times in two threads now and still haven't gotten a proper response. What exactly does a female power fantasy consist of?

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Male power fantasy is a dumb phrase Anita made up. It is the way she chooses to see things because she sees men as being powerful and having ownership of some kind over women. Talking about "male power fantasies" or "female power fantasies" is completely ridiculous and laughable. I think the only game with legitimate power fantasies were games like "Black & White" and if I recall that game had gender neutrality.

I think you might need to look a little deeper into what makes people tick. *_*

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I think you might need to look a little deeper into what makes people tick. *_*

I've taken psychology classes, have you? Besides, I have no interest in being Sylar from Heroes. That ends badly.

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Her stated purpose on the Kickstarter page was to help create and amplify conversations about these topics, and possibly "get the attention of the gaming industry to start creating more interesting, engaging and complex female characters, that avoid the standard boring cliches."

This is one of the longest threads on OCR, the discussion quality is fairly high, and there are many discussions like this all over the internet. IMO she is definitely achieving her goal. I think it would have been too lofty to try and not only analyze and raise awareness but also try to solve the problem all at once... surely everyone would jump on her for having the "wrong" solution, considering there is disagreement as to whether there is a problem to begin with.

No one person is going to solve this issue (assuming there is one), but it's only proper to give potential solutions when you see a problem. Not doing so implies laziness, cowardice, or antagonism. This issue has been brought up many times before and, assuming her intent is as she states and not simply to gain notoriety, she could facilitate a much better discussion by presenting potential, researched solutions.

And maybe she will present solutions. But excusing the lack thereof is fundamentally wrong.

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Male power fantasy is a dumb phrase Anita made up. It is the way she chooses to see things because she sees men as being powerful and having ownership of some kind over women. Talking about "male power fantasies" or "female power fantasies" is completely ridiculous and laughable. I think the only game with legitimate power fantasies were games like "Black & White" and if I recall that game had gender neutrality.
I think you might need to look a little deeper into what makes people tick. *_*

I was actually having this problem too, though. I looked up the phrase 'Male Power Fantasy' to see what she was referencing, and all I could gather were specific sexual fetishes (good ol' Google). I did find 'Power Fantasy' on it's own, but that was completely gender neutral.

If someone is going to throw around something and make it central to their argument, I would like it to be a well defined term, not a buzzword to encompass what you're trying to argue against at the time.

Just watched the video, by the way. I can see where she's coming from with this, and overall she is correct (as far as she wasn't saying 'I think this is because...', which she does a lot, unfortunately). Those fuzzy logic moments really do hurt the legitimacy of her position; it would've been appreciated to either keep it more neutral OR flesh out her thoughts more thoroughly (just saying 'I think it's because of male power fantasies' is too open ended - she needed to explain just what that meant, if she was going that route).

Hopefully it's less than a 3-4 month wait for her next video; it will be nice to move forward from the DiD trope, as she has covered it pretty thoroughly.

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I've asked several times in two threads now and still haven't gotten a proper response. What exactly does a female power fantasy consist of?

Quoting because a) I'm actually curious as to what the people in this thread think the answer to this is, and B) I have no idea what one would be, myself.

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If I'm playing in some sandbox wonderland, I'd like to play Elder Scrolls where my character's gender is about as relevant as their hair color.

I'd have to disagree on this point. Part of the fun of made-up worlds and cultures lies in learning and navigating the way they handle various social issues and constructs. I see no reason why every fictional world has to conform to the attitudes of the 21st century Western nations of Earth with regards to gender equality.

The Elder Scrolls series would be more interesting if gender/race/other elements of identity played a more significant role in the way that social interactions and quests play out, and provide a much more interesting reason to play different characters than just "Now I want to play a guy who kills stuff with fireballs instead of with swords."

Edited by yangfeili

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<i>If I'm playing in some sandbox wonderland, I'd like to play Elder Scrolls where my character's gender is about as relevant as their hair color.</i>

I'd have to disagree on this point. Part of the fun of made-up worlds and cultures lies in learning and navigating the way they handle various social issues and constructs. I see no reason why every fictional world has to conform to the attitudes of the 21st century Western nations of Earth with regards to gender equality.

The Elder Scrolls series would be more interesting if gender/race/other elements of identity played a more significant role in the way that social interactions and quests play out, and provide a much more interesting reason to play different characters than just "Now I want to play a guy who kills stuff with fireballs instead of with swords."

this; absolutely fucking this

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the problem with the second video is still the same as the first one; she's pointing out what the problem is but without giving any clear parameters as to what the solution is

This this this this this times a thousand. She's dropping a huge list of "things that are wrong with games re: feminism" and just leaving it there. That's not a conversation, or even the start of a conversation -- that's an accusation, even if she didn't mean it to be. She doesn't come across as saying "a problem exists and we -- as consumers, as developers, as members of the gaming culture -- should try to fix it". She comes across as saying "games are bad and you should feel bad for enjoying them". That's not helpful, because it puts people on the defensive, and the reflexive response is to lash out instead of engaging in any sort of thoughtful, meaningful dialogue.

I think it would have been too lofty to try and not only analyze and raise awareness but also try to solve the problem all at once... surely everyone would jump on her for having the "wrong" solution, considering there is disagreement as to whether there is a problem to begin with.

She doesn't have to come up with a road map to a gaming industry that's a bastion of gender equality, she just has to acknowledge the reasons for the tropes being used and point out ways to avoid or improve them.

Why are damsels in distress such a popular trope in games? Because it's a quick and easy way to give your story some emotional punch before sending the player character off to shoot things. So how do you provide a player with that emotional drive without using "bad" tropes? All she says is, basically "don't use them". That's a useless answer, because it doesn't offer any alternative -- and since games still need an emotional component, damsels in distress will still be tapped to provide it. Nobody wins.

the argument that she is not proposing enough "solutions" is a red herring, a fundamental misunderstanding of both her stated goal and of the issues being raised. we're not talking about fixing a pothole or something; there is no cut-and-dry "solution" to centuries of cultural and sociological development.

And yet, if someone doesn't start by doing something, then the situation will never improve. I think it's entirely reasonable to expect someone who's arguing that a problem exists to discuss possible solutions as well. Even if she says "this is an enormous issue and I'm not sure what, if any, solution to it exists" then that'd be a step up from what she's offered so far.

"media, stop making things that sell"

"ok"

Do you see why no one pays attention to these things? :neutral:

Yeah, it bothers me that she fails to address this. She does acknowledge that most negative depictions of women are systemic rather than deliberate, but she fails to posit any reason why they've become systemic issues, or offer anything that can be used in their place. Women are depicted as damsels in distress because it's an easy way to add emotional punch to a game. So, the problem is that games need emotional punch, and their current method of providing them is bad. "Just stop doing that" is not a valid answer, because it will never happen, any more than "just stop being misogynistic" is a valid answer to the problem of sexism.

I find myself wondering what she would consider an "acceptable" use of a damsel in distress, or if she believes such a thing could exist at all. She talks a lot about how damsels in distress are flat characters with zero depth or development outside their existence as a damsel in distress. So, would a fleshed out, fully realized character (that's then kidnapped or whatever) be acceptable? Or is she arguing that being a damsel in distress invalidates any previous characterization? I honestly don't know.

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Quoting because a) I'm actually curious as to what the people in this thread think the answer to this is, and B) I have no idea what one would be, myself.

If it's this then count me out

220px-Nikki_Fuller.jpg

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The Elder Scrolls series would be more interesting if gender/race/other elements of identity played a more significant role in the way that social interactions and quests play out, and provide a much more interesting reason to play different characters than just "Now I want to play a guy who kills stuff with fireballs instead of with swords."

Fallout's Lady Killer, Confirmed Bachelor, Black Widow, and Cherchez La Femme actually do change the story's outcome on most major sidequests.

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All her videos have shown me is that game writers are POTENTIALLY lazy. I say potentially because I've never tried to write a story for a game and personally think writers are limited to the context of the gameplay when it comes to adding emotion to the game. She keeps describing things as problematic without ever telling why they are. Solutions to these "issues" would be great, but I'd rather hear why these things are actually issues first.

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