Thank you, Jonathan Mann (AKA my post on the "Factual Feminist" video and its unfortunate attempt to weigh in on issues around women and gaming)

Lately, I've been pretty involved in the discussions around women in gaming and what we do about promoting equality, respect, and safety within the gaming community. Truth be told, it's been a difficult journey for me. Since I'm no longer a visible figure in the gaming industry and don't run a communications department where my personal opinions might draw more attention and endanger myself or negatively impact the company and products I work to promote, I've found myself being more engaged in this topic and help further this conversation in a productive way. 

Man, it's been fucking exhausting and oftentimes soul crushing. 

This week, The Factual Feminist published a video on YouTube asking "Are video games sexist?" Not gonna lie - at the end of the 6 minute video I was actually shaking and wanted to personally say some very unkind things to the woman in the video. Instead, I decided to write up a point-by-point rebuttal to the video (since that seems like a more productive way to further the conversation while also squashing really asinine and bullshit viewpoints.) Those thoughts are below - however, I'm excited to say that Jonathan Mann made an amazing autotune of the video, complete with well-sung points refuting all the claims and assumptions bandied about in the 6-minute monstrosity. Jonathan's video also has an added bonus: I no longer have to post a video I think is so terrible I don't ever want to promote it but I still have a very awesome way to show you that original content (with breaks so you get a breather in between the infuriating blather!) 

Check out the video and give my thoughts a read - and please, remember to think critically on these subjects. These issues aren't black and white. 

Jonathan Mann's awesome video. 

My rebuttal of Factual Feminist's shitty "are video games sexist" video attempt. 

I'm going to go through this video point-by-point. 

Is there a gender gap between men and women when you count the demographic that plays game more than 20 hours a week (I suppose any kind of game here although it appears she is counting only some games as valid which I have serious issues with) – yes. How are we going to fix that? Or is her thesis here that it’s okay? Because if that’s the case, fuck that noise. 

Then she goes into how games are purported to be sexist – and immediately switches tactics to “games are violent and people claimed that would cause violence and there isn’t a correlation!” This has absolutely nothing to do with games being sexist and doesn’t actually say anything to refute the point. Probably because you can’t: lots of games are sexist. 

And then her insult towards Anita by basically demeaning her as “oh, just another hipster.” Are you seriously fucking joking?

AND THEN going on to say “well there ARE games that aren’t sexist and don’t treat women as sex objects. Because at least a couple exist, there’s clearly not a problem.” How the fuck is this an argument anyone takes seriously? 

Sure, probably some want the video game culture to die – just like some people want women to not have birth control and be property of their husbands. Because I, and people like me, think that the vast majority of games are lazily written and treat women very poorly does not mean I want any culture to die – unless it’s a toxic, hateful one. Then yes, no matter what the subject matter, we should stand against that. 

The argument that “boys will be boys” is also bullshit. And also: I haven’t heard a claim that games are MAKING men sexist. Maybe that’s out there – but going back to her claim of cherry picking (seriously, is this woman a pro-gamergate’s mother? Because putting that bollocks into a woman’s mouth doesn’t make it valid) she is cherry-picking herself and actually sounds like someone who read someone’s summary rather than actually listening to Anita’s work – because if she had, she’d not be saying this stuff. 

Men are less sexist than before? SWEET. And about “female perspective” shows? One, men and many people DO insult and demean those shows and to my knowledge, Oprah’s content doesn’t hinge on obvious story lines around men as sex objects. 

As someone who has spent a decade enduring this abuse and not being allowed to speak up about it for fear of it escalating (and also it permanently hurting my job prospects) I can say that I’d like to tell this woman to fuck herself and her couple weeks of research. Do people not care about my age, race, sexual preference? Yes. Yes they do. And I’ve been abused for it since I started gaming back when AOL was the cool thing – since before (and now after) I left the gaming industry. So much so that I, too, want to say fuck off to the entirety of the gaming culture – because honestly, it isn’t worth the abuse. Call me a New Culture Critic or whatever insulting and demeaning term you want, but I’d prefer to call myself a human with self respect. 

If people just wanted to game, no one would attack anyone (male or female) for having a critique or opinion about games, gaming culture, or anything of the sort. Anita’s argument could be agreed with or otherwise – no death threats and huge movements needed. If you want to game, please game, and stop threatening, attacking, and insulting women and just fucking do your thing. 


2 Comments on "Thank you, Jonathan Mann (AKA my post on the "Factual Feminist" video and its unfortunate attempt to weigh in on issues around women and gaming)"

Oct 01, 2014 at 5:59pm
Okay, since this video was about the hastag #GamerGate I'll post a transcript of the video so you can read it and understand it was done in defence of gamers on the hashtag. I'll make a comment on your blog later when I have the time to make a reasoned answer.

Just read at let it sink in. It's done in defence of vast majority of gamers that is a very diverse group of people.

"When I took a look at the Entertainment Software Association study, I was a little surprised to find that yours truly, the Factual Feminist herself, counted as a gamer. I do not recall playing a video game since Pac-Man in a bar in Cambridge, Mass—in 1980. The study counted anyone who plays, however occasionally, simple smartphone games like Bejeweled or Angry Birds. I don’t fault the researchers for their findings.

It’s great that the world of games is expanding and there are more women creating and playing games. But a distinction is in order. There are casual game players—and there are hard-core gamers for whom highly complex, competitive video games are a primary life passion.

Adult women are not a key demographic here. Consider just one typical data sample: Researchers at UCLA have been studying the pastimes of college freshmen for more than 40 years. For incoming freshmen, 65 percent of girls but fewer than 19 percent of boys said they played no video games at all in a typical week. Among hardcore gamers who play more than 20 hours a week, the ratio of boys to girls is 7 to 1. This huge gender gap has persisted since the researchers first started asking about video games in the mid-1990s—and it looks like it’s here to stay.

But are video games rife with sexism? Do they promote a culture of misogyny and violence that must be dismantled? My answer is no. As I looked into the literature on gaming, I discovered that gamers make a lot of people nervous. Not only are most of them male but the games they like tend to be action-packed, competitive, and often violent. And they like to play them a lot.

Gamers have long faced disapproval from moms and teachers and—above all—researchers and politicians, concernocrats, both liberal and conservative. For years, games such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty were said to cause violence, even though no one was able to establish a clear correlation.

Those concerns died down when Psychological Bulletin published a major article in 2010 declaring the video game scare “much ado about nothing.” One graph showed that as video games have surged in popularity, youth crime has plummeted.

But now, gamers are dealing with a new army of critics: gender activists and hipsters with degrees in cultural studies. These critics are concerned that gaming is a largely hetero-patriachal capitalist pursuit. Why isn’t gaming more inclusive? Why must there always be male heroes? Why are the few females always portrayed as either Damsels in distress or sex objects? These critics have made some useful points about “sexist tropes and narratives.” But they ignore the fact that the world of gaming has become more inclusive.

There are games that fit a vast array of preferences, and games with responsibly proportioned and appropriately garbed female protagonists. Yet the video game gender police have become harsh and intolerant. Many of them want more than more women on both sides of the video screen. They want the male video game culture to end. Male gamers, as a group, do evince a strong a preference for games with male heroes and sexy women. Could that be because they are—male?

There is no evidence that these games are making males racist, misogynist, or homophobic. In fact, all the data we have suggests that millennial males born and raised in video game nation—are far less prone to these prejudices than previous generations. Imagine if a group of gender critics attacked women-centered shows like Oprah or The View, or women’s magazines, for privileging the female perspective and treating men like “the other.” The fans might be tempted to tell them to bug off—and find their own shows. That is what many gamers did. And most did it with logic and evidence and humor.

But recently two feminist critics received and publicized email death threats. No one knows who sent them. There are millions of gamers and I'm sure they include a few sociopaths. If it was indeed gamers that send the threats. But many of the new culture critics have ceased on the emails as a patriarchal pathology at the heart of gamer culture. According to one academic pontificator "What we are seeing is the end of gamers, and the viciousness that accompanies the death of an identity. Well, I have been looking the last few weeks looking into the gamer culture, talking to gamers, looking at the data. I don't see pathology or an imminent death. What I see is lively smart creative subculture consisting mostly tech savvy guys from all over the world but including a small but distinct group of very cool women.

Now if you love games, they don't really care about your age, your race, your ethnicity, your gender, your sexual preference. They just want to game. My advice to their critics, "Stand down!" "
Oct 04, 2014 at 1:21pm
That video was not representative of a vast majority of gamers. As one of those people, I rejected that notion and reject anyone who tries to sell that bullshit. It was also not done in defense of women or feminism. Just because you use the word "feminist" does not mean you are one - in fact, she is using it for the purpose of undermining the movement and she's reprehensible.

You are also hilarious that you think posting the words I very clearly and completely broke down and analyzed. You don't agree with me - that doesn't mean I can't or didn't listen. Don't be condescending - you just look stupid and hurt your cause (which is a bad one.)

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