Brandon Strader

Tropes vs. Women / #GamerGate Conspiracies

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And what is the alternative if you don't assume a lack of social awareness on the part of the writer? If a writer consciously includes an element in a story that he fully understands to be problematic, isn't that way worse? Us assuming a lack of awareness is basically cutting the writers some slack through the application of hanlon's razor ("Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained through stupidity/ignorance")

You're forgetting games like Spec Ops: The Line, which took one of my most hated tropes in gaming and purposefully chose to base its game around it, so as to critically examine it and the mentality it spawns. Smart writers are more than capable of doing that, with as much subtlety - or even more so - as the writers for that game did.

Which is not to say that some writers are carelessly using these tropes because they're easy, btw.

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I think you're going to have to be more concrete with defining who the people are that advocate the things you are arguing against. I can't emphasize enough that I don't want quotas, censorship or 'mandatory' gender equality in videogame writing, and I think pretty much everyone in this thread is on the same page in that regard.

The word sexism IS being thrown around a little loosely. It's in the title of one of her own videos, albeit unreleased, and it's been used several times. The observation seems to be, this is all bad, this shouldn't have happened, look at how wrong this all is, look at this objectification, it's so disgusting and embarrassing, etc., etc. If you're saying that, you're saying things would be better without that. How you get from point A to point B is interesting and while no one's explicitly mentioned quotas or what not, that might occur to someone, somewhere... But see here, I'm agreeing there's a need for more variety and depth, but disagreeing that getting there involves demonizing what's come before, dismissing as "lazy writing" what at the time was probably afterthought in the process of focusing on the stuff they simply cared more about (time is finite), reading -isms where they need not be. I want a more EXPANSIVE idea of what games can be, not more restrictive. This path leads towards the latter.

This isn't a bad time for me to mention that I agree with some of Camille Paglia's views on feminism.

If we bring it back to the video for a second, it's mostly focusing on gaming a few decades ago. What Anita does is identify a particular trope, give a few examples, and explains why she thinks it is/was a bad thing. She's not explicitly advocating anything either.

Sure. I'm saying it'd be preferable if she identified the trope and moved on to the next, without that last bit. It'd be more persuasive to me that way - the "here's why this is/was bad" ... is bad.

Of course there is more social awareness in videogame writing nowadays, but it's still not perfect, and there are still quite a few bad apples. And again, nobody is advocating any kind of 'babysitting'. At most it's, as I said, an effort to make writers more conscious of what they are doing and consider the use of the trope from different perspectives.

"still not perfect"... interesting phrase. Don't you see how I mentally connect phrases like that with ideas about quotas and sanitizing? Thank GOD it's not perfect. There are still sexist people out there, and thus there should still be sexist games, de facto. I personally never want any medium of art to exclude anyone on the basis of their prejudices. Seems to me art should reflect people, flaws, vices, and all. In terms of being concrete, I'm gonna have to ask you - what do you think "social awareness" is, and why is it critical that all games have it? Fine, you don't want quotas, but you seem to think it would at least be preferable if ALL games were, as you say, socially aware. Not sure I even agree with that. Some of those bad apples are amazing, and open doors, and change minds, and at the very least allow the medium to paint a picture of who we are. If the argument is that games ON AVERAGE aren't socially aware ENOUGH... maybe I can see it. But then you get back to quantifying what "enough" is. And why look to the past?

And what is the alternative if you don't assume a lack of social awareness on the part of the writer? If a writer consciously includes an element in a story that he fully understands to be problematic, isn't that way worse? Us assuming a lack of awareness is basically cutting the writers some slack through the application of hanlon's razor ("Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained through stupidity/ignorance")

It's a good razor, but I guess I'm not seeing the need to make the assumption in the first place, either way, and I'm iffy on how problematic its usage - past and present - truly is.

Edited by djpretzel

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You're forgetting games like Spec Ops: The Line, which took one of my most hated tropes in gaming and purposefully chose to base its game around it, so as to critically examine it and the mentality it spawns. Smart writers are more than capable of doing that, with as much subtlety - or even more so - as the writers for that game did.

Which is not to say that some writers are carelessly using these tropes because they're easy, btw.

You're right, I would totally be okay with a game that treats the DiD trope as cleverly as Spec Ops: The Line did with most modern shooters. I was admittedly mostly thinking of older games.

The word sexism IS being thrown around a little loosely. It's in the title of one of her own videos, albeit unreleased, and it's been used several times. The observation seems to be, this is all bad, this shouldn't have happened, look at how wrong this all is, look at this objectification, it's so disgusting and embarrassing, etc., etc. If you're saying that, you're saying things would be better without that. How you get from point A to point B is interesting and while no one's explicitly mentioned quotas or what not, that might occur to someone, somewhere... But see here, I'm agreeing there's a need for more variety and depth, but disagreeing that getting there involves demonizing what's come before, dismissing as "lazy writing" what at the time was probably afterthought in the process of focusing on the stuff they simply cared more about (time is finite), reading -isms where they need not be. I want a more EXPANSIVE idea of what games can be, not more restrictive. This path leads towards the latter.

I think it's important to distinguish between the use of the trope in older games (where it's also about looking at the historical context and as you said, the fact that the plot was usually an afterthought) and in modern games. In the first case I really don't think pointing out the flaws in those games automatically means you're demonizing them, and I really am convinced that the prevalence of the trope is primarily because the plot was so unimportant and not because of any maliciousness on the parts of the writer. It's still important to examine those games because modern games are basically their direct descendants.

I'm totally on board with creating diversity and expanding the spectrum of writing in video games rather than restricting it, but I don't think it necessarily clashes with my idea. Suppose that you're a modern day videogame writer and you're thinking about including the DiD trope in your story. Ideally I would like for the writer to take a step back and realize that it's A. kind of a lazy/ outdated plot point and B. that the way it treats the female character might be problematic. After that it's up to them! Maybe they simply don't care enough and play the trope completely straight (and catch negative criticism for it), or maybe they realize that they can do something way more interesting with it and put some subversive twist on it. In short, I want writers to be critical of their own material and hopefully build on old, flawed material in interesting ways rather than directly rehashing it.

"still not perfect"... interesting phrase. Don't you see how I mentally connect phrases like that with ideas about quotas and sanitizing? Thank GOD it's not perfect. There are still sexist people out there, and thus there should still be sexist games, de facto. I personally never want any medium of art to exclude anyone on the basis of their prejudices. Seems to me art should reflect people, flaws, vices, and all. In terms of being concrete, I'm gonna have to ask you - what do you think "social awareness" is, and why is it critical that all games have it? Fine, you don't want quotas, but you seem to think it would at least be preferable if ALL games were, as you say, socially aware. Not sure I even agree with that. Some of those bad apples are amazing, and open doors, and change minds, and at the very least allow the medium to paint a picture of who we are. If the argument is that games ON AVERAGE aren't socially aware ENOUGH... maybe I can see it. But then you get back to quantifying what "enough" is. And why look to the past?

'Perfect' might have been an unfortunate choice of words on my part. But no, I don't think all games should be socially aware, I think the writers should be! What I mean by social awareness is that if your material is going to be reaching a wide audience, you should be aware of any controversies it might generate.

Which leads me to my next point. One of the best ways display this awareness is by 'playing' with the trope and doing something new with it. In one episode of the sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, one of the (white) characters wears blackface in a homemade movie. In and of itself pretty controversial and racist, but this is then mitigated by the fact that the blackface issue is commented on in-universe and the controversy is acknowledged. The joke at that point doesn't come from the fact that a white guy is acting out a racist stereotype, but because of the fact that this character is so unsympathetic and maladjusted that he thinks it's a good idea to do something as crazy as wearing blackface in this day and age. This adds a whole new layer to the trope, and has the necessary in-universe meta-commentary on the controversy that shows that the writers really *have* thought it through.

For this reason it's also CRUCIAL to look to the past. How can you truly understand a trope if you don't know how it historically gets contextualized? There was a recent incident where a football player in Greece made a nazi salute after scoring a goal, but subsequently claimed that he was just pointing to a fan, and didn't even know what a nazi salute looked like. I think that in many ways, videogame writers that lack social awareness are like that football player.

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This sort of cheerleading adds absolutely nothing to the discussion in this thread. If you have nothing to contribute or dislike the thread, don't post in it. I don't post on this forum often, but I'd prefer if we could get a decent conversation in when I do.

how about don't minimod

sorry he's much better at debating this with you than we are. we agree with him. that's part of the conversation.

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I don't consider a small piece of Ab's post to be minimodding. On the other hand, one-liners and "I agree." posts really don't add anything to the thread. He's right. I've been agreeing with Ab (and Monobrow, Vilecat, Tensei, etc.) for basically the whole thread but you don't see us just posting "+1 agreed" and nothing else in response. This has been a very high quality discussion so far and it would be good to not crap it up with posts that literally add nothing. If you agree with someone, try to expand on why you agree or add something new to the discussion.

If you want to discuss this further take it to PM with me, I'll continue to delete posts that are outside the actual discussion.

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I don't consider a small piece of Ab's post to be minimodding. On the other hand, one-liners and "I agree." posts really don't add anything to the thread. He's right. I've been agreeing with Ab (and Monobrow, Vilecat, Tensei, etc.) for basically the whole thread but you don't see us just posting "+1 agreed" and nothing else in response. This has been a very high quality discussion so far and it would be good to not crap it up with posts that literally add nothing. If you agree with someone, try to expand on why you agree or add something new to the discussion.

If you want to discuss this further take it to PM with me, I'll continue to delete posts that are outside the actual discussion.

I agree because this is a good point and the thread has been pretty good.

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http://www.gamespot.com/bioshock-infinite/videos/the-break-room-interviews-ken-levine-6405619/?tag=Topslot;TheBreakRoomInterviewsKenLevine;QuotweCanKillTheInd

i think around 25:00 this is relevant to this conversation and also a wider scope of not just women but minorities, sexuality religion etc.

Very good points made there that I was trying to explain earlier, mentioning how shoehorning character types into positions in the game doesn't work. I think though there's room for any type of game out there and we shouldn't demonize any character or storyline or "trope" just because there's a chance some part of it might offend. In fact, in terms of entertainment as a whole, I feel the more likely it is to offend (minus the more extreme shock-value types) the more likely it is to be interesting or thought-provoking.

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I'm totally on board with creating diversity and expanding the spectrum of writing in video games rather than restricting it, but I don't think it necessarily clashes with my idea. Suppose that you're a modern day videogame writer and you're thinking about including the DiD trope in your story. Ideally I would like for the writer to take a step back and realize that it's A. kind of a lazy/ outdated plot point and B. that the way it treats the female character might be problematic. After that it's up to them! Maybe they simply don't care enough and play the trope completely straight (and catch negative criticism for it), or maybe they realize that they can do something way more interesting with it and put some subversive twist on it. In short, I want writers to be critical of their own material and hopefully build on old, flawed material in interesting ways rather than directly rehashing it.

Just following up - I don't disagree with any aspect of the above, and am also completely cool with how it's phrased. I especially like the word "might" because some of what rubs we the wrong way is the absolutism often expressed about things being de facto problematic, instead of potentialities.

'Perfect' might have been an unfortunate choice of words on my part. But no, I don't think all games should be socially aware, I think the writers should be! What I mean by social awareness is that if your material is going to be reaching a wide audience, you should be aware of any controversies it might generate.

Yeah I don't know... if it comes from an honest place, who's to say? Also, one culture's/country's idea of social awareness is different from another, and you can't always predict who your audience is going to be. All things being equal, though, I'll agree that it's an important concept and would usually be preferable.

The joke at that point doesn't come from the fact that a white guy is acting out a racist stereotype, but because of the fact that this character is so unsympathetic and maladjusted that he thinks it's a good idea to do something as crazy as wearing blackface in this day and age.

A large part of what I'm objecting to is putting the DiD trope in the same category - or even in the same vicinity - as something like using blackface un-ironically and without awareness. I don't like the analogy/equivalence at all. The point I want to emphasize about DiD is that it's not problematic in isolation, but rather in its ubiquity - hence "trope". Even in a socially-aware context, every once in awhile, I could see DiD being employed and it being fine. I don't find the concept inherently offensive, because I understand that fiction is not trying to present every single character as a role model. The only potential issue is the overuse. With blackface, well... ANY use that didn't acknowledge the impropriety would be instantaneously controversial. It's the difference between "might be problematic" and "DEFINITELY PROBLEMATIC", and it's the difference between a problem of narrative overuse versus outright racial insensitivity. I find this difference extremely significant, personally.

For this reason it's also CRUCIAL to look to the past. How can you truly understand a trope if you don't know how it historically gets contextualized? There was a recent incident where a football player in Greece made a nazi salute after scoring a goal, but subsequently claimed that he was just pointing to a fan, and didn't even know what a nazi salute looked like. I think that in many ways, videogame writers that lack social awareness are like that football player.

See above; again, I don't disagree, I just end up in a different place. I wasn't saying you don't need to look at the past at all, but rather that trying to ascertain w/ any degree of certitude the EFFECT a trope like DiD has is iffy. The narrative overuse alone should be reason to "employ with caution," if only for the sheer sake of creativity. Bringing in agendas and "speculating with authority" as to what's happening in the subconscious of gamers - male or female - is what I find unnecessary & troublesome. That's not contextualizing, that's projecting.

Edited by djpretzel

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How else would you critique a work for being sexist? What I take issue with is the idea that we should not argue that something is sexist if we see it that way unless it is the most obvious possible example of sexism possible. I don't really know where that line is, but I'm pretty sure the goalposts can be moved easily even if we were to find it.

I don't believe there can be an intensional definition of -ism words like sexism, racism, etc., where we list out each element of what constitutes the thing. There don't need to be such definitions either. I favor more ostensive definitions that involve a "you know it when you see it" approach, using examples to create a better understanding of what we mean, even if it is not precise. For example, no one knows how to precisely define "burgundy," so the best we can do is point to burgundy-colored things until one gets a functional understanding of what the idea means. Similarly, no one will be able to precisely define the elements of sexism. People who experience the harm first-hand will gain a better contextual understanding of the idea, and of course use the word "sexism" as a more loaded term.

Some people necessarily have a truer understanding of what sexism or racism mean than others because of first-hand experience. Unfortunately, such people using these ostensive definitions sets up a subclass of people who just don't understand as well, and feel vulnerable to being labeled “sexist” by those with first-hand experience. This is why less privileged groups like women and other minorities have to work extra hard to make their arguments palatable to more privileged groups. But frankly, I don't believe that requiring less privileged groups to tip-toe around offending privileged groups is constructive to any sort of progress in the grander scheme of things.

If a woman like Anita Sarkeesian explores this medium and notices patterns that she feels are harmful, I think we should be more deferential to her and other women who feel there is a problem. In this area, the impact on their demographic is more directly relevant than some dudebros like ThunderF00t and The Amazing Atheist.

Edited by Ab56 v2 aka Ash

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I don't believe there can be an intensional definition of -ism words like sexism, racism, etc., where we list out each element of what constitutes the thing. There don't need to be such definitions either. I favor more ostensive definitions that involve a "you know it when you see it" approach

that's the most nonconstructive thing i have heard in a very long time.

what you're essentially saying is 'let's not define it, so when i think it's sexism it is, and there's no definition telling me i'm wrong.'

Burgundy

Color coordinates

Hex triplet #800020

sRGBB (r, g, B) (128, 0, 32)

HSV (h, s, v) (345°, 100%, 50%)

there's the definition of burgundy by the way.

i don't mean to say sexism doesn't exist, it does. but saying 'it's undefinable and intangible. but it's definitely there when i say it is!' is a line used by people who believe in love in first sight, ghosts, and supernatural powers. by not basing your discourse on anything other than circumstantial evidence, you have made no progress. all the circumstantial evidence in the world can make it *very likely* that something is true, nearly indisputably so, but there is no progress made on why, how, or possible solutions. you are in the realm of social science. you can't just not define sexism.

also i find it incredibly ironic and problematic that you say we should listen to women like Anita because they're women so they know better, and then subsequently negatively refer to the male equivalent of an Anita Sarkeesian as 'dudebros' that aren't worthy of anyone's time, because you know, they're guys. at least try to act like you're not being prejudiced.

Edited by The Derrit

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How would you describe the color burgundy to a person who has been blind all their life?

Language, being a human construct, has no objective/universal definitions of things, unlike mathematics or physics. It's purely consensus-based, that's why you can't objectively say that someone is right or wrong in calling something sexist. This actually came up earlier in the thread where The Coop maintained his own definition of sexism, and all I could really do was point out that most people who partake in these discussions typically use a different definition.

Edited by Tensei

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How else would you critique a work for being sexist? What I take issue with is the idea that we should not argue that something is sexist if we see it that way unless it is the most obvious possible example of sexism possible. I don't really know where that line is, but I'm pretty sure the goalposts can be moved easily even if we were to find it.

Part of the problem is that you're dealing in labels - booleans - which often oversimplify things. It's unfortunate, too, because part of what's being oversimplified as de facto "sexist" is the oversimplification of female roles itself, and the analysis falls into the same trap it is attempting to expose. I have no problem with arguing that something is sexist, and I agree about trying to move the goalposts - although I disagree that they can be moved easily... History has shown that moving them is actually rather challenging, with every inch hard-won, so your optimism almost seems trivializing to me... At any rate, if you're gonna argue, argue - make a cogent case. That doesn't need to involve projecting, mind-reading, layers upon layers of assumptions, or the same type of oversimplification you're attempting to point out in the first place. I want accusations of sexism to be persuasive, I want them to be heard, and I want them to move goalposts, that's part of why I decided to participate in this conversation. Critique doesn't need to be so reductionist and so Boolean, and when it is, those misfires open doorways to parallel implications you might not want to be associated with... read on to see what I mean.

I don't believe there can be an intensional definition of -ism words like sexism, racism, etc., where we list out each element of what constitutes the thing. There don't need to be such definitions either. I favor more ostensive definitions that involve a "you know it when you see it" approach, using examples to create a better understanding of what we mean, even if it is not precise. For example, no one knows how to precisely define "burgundy," so the best we can do is point to burgundy-colored things until one gets a functional understanding of what the idea means. Similarly, no one will be able to precisely define the elements of sexism. People who experience the harm first-hand will gain a better contextual understanding of the idea, and of course use the word "sexism" as a more loaded term.

No one will ever experience the harm of the DiD trope "first-hand" though - it is only a potential problem in its ubiquity, and even then it requires fuzzy, indirect, & nearly unmeasurable causality to be felt. If you start throwing the "sexist" label at it, it dilutes the label.

Part of your point in the first place is that too many people DON'T know it when they see it. If the standard by which "it" is being determined is individual perspective, you've got some major problems. Unless you disagree with the fundamental tenets of democracy, you're basically opening yourself up to identifying bias using majority perspective as a barometer. That's a shitty barometer for something like minority oppression, for all the obvious reasons.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potter_Stewart -

To the general public, Stewart may be best known for a quotation, or a fragment thereof, from his opinion in the obscenity case of Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964). Stewart wrote in his short concurrence that "hard-core pornography" was hard to define, but that "I know it when I see it."[12] Usually dropped from the quote is the remainder of that sentence, "and the motion picture involved in this case is not that." Justice Stewart went on to defend the movie in question against further censorship. One noted commentator opined that: "This observation summarizes Stewart's judicial philosophy: particularistic, intuitive, and pragmatic."[12]

Justice Stewart later recanted this view in Miller v. California, in which he accepted that his prior view was simply untenable. Justice Stewart commented about his second thoughts about that quotation in 1981. “In a way I regret having said what I said about obscenity -- that’s going to be on my tombstone. When I remember all of the other solid words I’ve written,” he said, “I regret a little bit that if I’ll be remembered at all I’ll be remembered for that particular phrase.”

You should note a few things here... one, the individual most associated with the "know it when I see it" phrase recanted it and regretted its implications. That's a little incidental, but he was a smart dude, was actually arguing AGAINST censorship (i.e. saying he DIDN'T see it, in this case), and later acknowledged that something a little more deterministic would be helpful. Two, the context in which the statement was made dealt with obscenity, and censorship of obscenity. That's the etymology of the sentiment, and so you can see why myself and others might draw some parallels. Third, let's extrapolate a bit here...

  1. "I know gratuitous violence when I see it... "
  2. "Violence in games will clearly lead to violent acts, because people are so impressionable that they can't tell fiction from reality."
  3. "We need to address this problem!"

You could accuse me of making a slippery slope argument, I suppose, but I disagree, because it's step #2 that's so damn troublesome to me, and it's step #1 that you're articulating right here, right now. You're doing it on the side of an issue that I AGREE with, but that doesn't excuse its faults or exempt it from scrutiny.

Some people necessarily have a truer understanding of what sexism or racism mean than others because of first-hand experience. Unfortunately, such people using these ostensive definitions sets up a subclass of people who just don't understand as well, and feel vulnerable to being labeled “sexist” by those with first-hand experience. This is why less privileged groups like women and other minorities have to work extra hard to make their arguments palatable to more privileged groups. But frankly, I don't believe that requiring less privileged groups to tip-toe around offending privileged groups is constructive to any sort of progress in the grander scheme of things.

A truer understanding? A more personal understanding, a more emotional understanding... but a truer? "I know it when I see it" sounds a lot more like feeling than truth, to me. Feeling is important and by contrasting the two I don't want to diminish it, but the distinction is nonetheless important. It's not about making arguments palatable, it's about making arguments at all, as opposed to knee-jerk labeling and oversimplification that uses the same mechanisms that the Jesse Helms' of the world employ. No one is requiring that ANYONE tip-toe as part of this conversation, so that does come off like a straw-man, unless you're reaching for a much broader scope. At any rate, this specific analysis of video games doesn't feel like working "extra hard" to me at all, it feels like the exact opposite, and that's what I'm objecting to.

If a woman like Anita Sarkeesian explores this medium and notices patterns that she feels are harmful, I think we should be more deferential to her and other women who feel there is a problem. In this area, the impact on their demographic is more directly relevant than some dudebros like ThunderF00t and The Amazing Atheist.

More deferential... than we would be to whom? Or more deferential than we're being? And if so, who's the "we"? I generally give everyone the same starting degree of deference, and from there they either get more or less depending on their words & actions. Am I doing it wrong? I don't think so...

As for direct relevance, well, those "dudebros" - I notice you've engaged in pejorative name-calling you'd label as crude and sexist in a heartbeat if it were reversed! - also happen to be gamers. And from the perspective of that demographic, there's a pretty direct relevance, since we're talking about games. I wouldn't for a second align myself with their views, but by the same token, you're dismissing their opinion as being less relevant and of less worth by default, whatever it happens to be.

Take a good long look at this latest post of yours, and then in the mirror. Know that I agree with you on a fundamental level about equal treatment for all, but without hubris or even satisfaction, I feel like I've pointed out some serious flaws. I hope you consider at least exploring this possibility.

Language, being a human construct, has no objective/universal definitions of things, unlike mathematics or physics. It's purely consensus-based, that's why you can't objectively say that someone is right or wrong in calling something sexist. This actually came up earlier in the thread where The Coop maintained his own definition of sexism, and all I could really do was point out that most people who partake in these discussions typically use a different definition.

First sentence paradox... mathematics and physics were both invented using language and are both expressed by it. Clearly, when we try really, really hard, we can do a pretty good job of pinning things down, and usually such energies are well-spent. The problem with a capricious attitude towards accusations of sexism, racism, or any similar issue of bias that is difficult to pin down is that they at least have the potential to be exposed as whimsical, reductionist, dishonest, unfounded, prompted by ulterior motives, etc., all of which one would suppose would have SOME weakening effect on the perception of legitimate claims.

I'd never want that concern perceived as grounds for people keeping quiet when they feel compelled to speak out; what I'm trying to say is that speaking out in and of itself is a bold and brave act and should be optimized for maximum impact, and that no one gets, or should expect, a free pass from civil scrutiny.

Edited by djpretzel

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First sentence paradox... mathematics and physics were both invented using language and are both expressed by it. Clearly, when we try really, really hard, we can do a pretty good job of pinning things down, and usually such energies are well-spent. The problem with a capricious attitude towards accusations of sexism, racism, or any similar issue of bias that is difficult to pin down is that they at least have the potential to be exposed as whimsical, reductionist, dishonest, unfounded, prompted by ulterior motives, etc., all of which one would suppose would have SOME weakening effect on the perception of legitimate claims.

That's not a paradox. Mathematics and physics express universal concepts that are observed rather than invented. Gravity will exist whether we are aware of it or not. Language definitions on the other hand are never objective and vary by culture, time period and demographic.

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That's not a paradox. Mathematics and physics express universal concepts that are observed rather than invented. Gravity will exist whether we are aware of it or not. Language definitions on the other hand are never objective and vary by culture, time period and demographic.

So sexism is invented, and will cease to exist if we're not aware of it? 8O

I understood your intention with the statement, but I don't see it as any sort of excuse not to work towards more solid definitions for the fuzzier terms of human interaction, as was being implied.

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I agree about trying to move the goalposts - although I disagree that they can be moved easily... History has shown that moving them is actually rather challenging, with every inch hard-won, so your optimism almost seems trivializing to me...

Optimism? I'm confused. I believe if anything, men would move the goalposts further to make it harder to argue that something is sexist. I'm being more pessimistic here than anything. This happens in discussions on any sort of -ism constantly. Frankly, I'm okay with -ism words like sexism or racism overlapping a bit into the territory of being a feeling. I'm interested in the idea of what people mean, not the semantics of whether something is or isn't sexist.

As for the deference issue, if the harmed group in question is women, then we should pay some deference to them as opposed to men when it comes to issues involving women. Where I think you misunderstand me is that you believe I mean we should automatically accept what women say and dismiss men. I never made that argument. I fully agree people who argue something is sexist should make a cogent argument as to why it is sexist. That may entail citing to social psychology, which is necessarily driven by studies on how actions make people feel. I simply believe that that we should be putting greater scrutiny on arguments men make, while being more open to listening to women, the harmed group. We should acknowledge that the phenomena we are discussing may be outside the realm of men's experience. Thus, we should measure our comments accordingly.

If a woman wants to call something sexist, I'm okay with that. I don't really care about the label, so I'm not as worried about "diluting" it as you are. I'm interested in her argument as to why she thinks that is. Anita Sarkeesian offered her rationale, and I'm not saying we need to unquestioningly agree with everything she says.

I know about Justice Stewart's opinion and Miller. I've read both, as law is my trade. It is inappropriate to apply the same standards used in law to academia or casual discussion. Rules created in constitutional law take into consideration many, many factors that the outside world is not limited to, including how a decision would impact courts and the role of the courts in our complicated system of democracy (federalism, separation of powers). The rule that replaced the "I know it when I see it" idea was not especially less vague:

(a) whether 'the average person, applying contemporary community standards' would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest ... (B) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and © whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.’"

The words I bolded are all subject to interpretation, and I would bear down on the case law surrounding that vagueness if I were looking to argue an obscenity case. True, perhaps "I know it when I see it" is not an appropriate standard for a Supreme Court Justice to use, since he or she does not represent the community or its subsets. However, the first part of the test essentially amounts to the same thing, but replaces the judge with the jury in defining the "I" of "I know it when I see it."

For the record, while I'm not as smart as these Supreme Court Justices, I will never shy away from challenging their opinions. They are not always as robust or consistent in principle as one might think. While they often do give persuasive opinions, several other Justices and attorneys just as smart as they are will reasonably disagree. I would like to say that even in this discussion here about sexism, I believe reasonable minds can disagree and arrive at opposite conclusions based on sound reasoning. There does not need to be a clear-cut answer.

Two, the context in which the statement was made dealt with obscenity, and censorship of obscenity. That's the etymology of the sentiment, and so you can see why myself and others might draw some parallels.

We are not talking about censorship here. I insist that we don't go down this path.

As for direct relevance, well, those "dudebros" - I notice you've engaged in pejorative name-calling you'd label as crude and sexist in a heartbeat if it were reversed! - also happen to be gamers.

I'm not buying this false equivalency, but it's beside the point nonetheless.

And from the perspective of that demographic, there's a pretty direct relevance, since we're talking about games. I wouldn't for a second align myself with their views, but by the same token, you're dismissing their opinion as being less relevant and of less worth by default, whatever it happens to be.

I want to emphasize that I am not dismissing their opinions. On the contrary, throughout this thread, I've still watched and heard their opinions. However, I have looked at them with greater scrutiny and suspicion because they are not part of the group I believe is harmed by the DiD trope. I have not automatically agreed with everything Anita Sarkeesian has said either, but I am indeed trying harder to understand her perspective on this matter.

Edited by Ab56 v2 aka Ash

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Calling those men "dudebros" is not the same as calling women sluts, cat ladies, or whatever the implication was. The social context is different. The most you can fault me for is being tactless, which I will accept.

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the implication was that it was an insult and if the sexes were reversed you'd be accused of being sexist regardless of what the actual insult was

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Saying that I would accuse a person of sexism "regardless of what the actual insult was" would be presumptuous and pretty insulting to my intellect. Respectfully, I don't want to attribute that position to djp, who has not made personal attacks so far.

Edited by Ab56 v2 aka Ash

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I don't think it was actually an insult at your expense so much as a minute comment on the double-standards created by the idea of false-equivalence being abused but I don't want to put words in his mouth and I may be wrong

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I don't think it was actually an insult at your expense so much as a minute comment on the double-standards created by the idea of false-equivalence being abused but I don't want to put words in his mouth and I may be wrong

But if I make it look like you're attacking me personally, it's a free ticket to not feel obligated to think about what you say!

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We are not talking about censorship here. I insist that we don't go down this path.

Oh okay; I insist that the global supply of cheese be transferred into my personal care, so I can throw the biggest fondue party ever. Let's see how our demands pan out... I legitimately think that a large part of why Anita's arguments are met with such hostility is due to their uncanny resemblance to arguments made advocating censorship. I've already pointed out the similarities for you:

  1. Using an unclear definition of a loaded term and accepting "know it when I see it" burdens of proof as being acceptable and...
  2. Drawing solid lines of causality between fictional entertainment and real-world actions/implications, with more certainty than is appropriate, and less scrutiny.

We've got the first two-thirds of the formula in place. You're absolutely right that no one's explicitly suggesting the third, but... does it matter? If you're buying into fuzzy standards and tenuous causalities without much scrutiny, aren't you basically endorsing the same methodology?

We don't need to talk about censorship, we can dance around it all you want, but I insist that you meaningfully differentiate what's happening here with the first and second points from what has happened elsewhere with the third "c-word" result. We can call it Charlie if you want, or chimichanga.

so is "false-equivalence" just like a free password to say whatever you want now or what

Bleck, well... you're Bleck. But I *did* lol at that one.

Edited by djpretzel

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My free time to spend on this thread has ended, so this will be my last comment here. Snark aside, all I have to say is that comparing what Anita is doing to advocating censorship is disingenuous. Censorship occurs when the government restricts the freedom of speech and expression of ideas. The freedom of expression is not freedom from the consequences of that expression, which includes criticism. Anita is literally fighting developers' creative expression using her own speech. She is not silencing developers or preventing them from creating any sort of game or story they want. She is not even saying "you shouldn't be allowed to create games that promote sexist ideas." All she has offered to the table is her perspective on what she sees as a problem in gaming culture in order to generate more discussion on it. That discussion and inevitable disagreement is what will get developers thinking, paving the way for more creative characters and plotlines--be they more or less like whatever Anita envisions as a positive game character, or maybe something completely different. If anything, this is the opposite of censorship.

Anyway, that's all I had left to say. Thanks for the discussion. I'm out.

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