In the aftermath of the Anita Sarkeesian Kickstarter shit-storm, everybody even marginally involved in the games industry jumped at the opportunity to pen an "editorial" in her and her project's defense.
I myself wrote a long-ish article. If you're too lazy to read it, the gist of it is that Sarkeesian has every right to ask for donations and finish her project. More than that, it's a good thing that somebody cares enough to do the research, for educational purposes, even if the end-result is less than accurate and that's because we, the core gamer community seem diametrically opposed to looking past what we have already established and using that thing called 'critical thinking'.
I stand by that piece. I still believe every single word I wrote. But since Sarkeesian's "Tropes vs Women in Video Games" made news, I happened upon many articles, written by people a lot smarter than I am and a lot more relevant to the games industry.
These ranged from defending the project, to talking about a problem, to suggesting ways to fix the aforementioned problem and ending with an embarrassing piece on the Escapist, the somberly-written account of a rape-victim, supposedly offering another view on the whole Tomb Raider "rape" controversy that coincided with the abuse Sarkeesian took over her Kickstarter.
Oh, I don't have a problem with the writer, obviously; even I'm not a big enough asshole to antagonize the victim of a horrible violent crime, as much as I disagree with his conclusions. My problem lies with the Escapist, one of the biggest gaming websites that decided to exploit this victim and host a blog post, written in language so very manipulative -even if unintentionally- to draw in readers and influence their opinions.
Don't take my word for it, read the fucking comments section (and then read the Facebook comments below the article itself). Most comments are about commending and congratulating the writer for his bravery instead of discussing the point of his piece. Readers automatically focus on the tragedy of the situation and eagerly abandon any sense of critical thought, in fear they will be vilified for it (even subconsciously)!
I showed the post to a friend of mine, not up-to-date with the latest news, I pointed out everything that was bothering me about it and he was completely hung up on the ordeal this man went through, unable to even counter my points.
This is why nobody takes games journalism seriously! I understand that the immediacy of the Internet allows everybody to say their thing. I'm writing for a blog myself, for fuck's sake! But there is a reason why more respected branches of journalism wouldn't stoop this low.
Instead, they would task a journalist that KNOWS how to write with taking the account of the victim and then relaying it onto the public, allowing them to formulate an opinion based on critical thinking, instead of pandering to a rhetoric and guilting the readership toward one and only one conclusion. That's why we used to have journalists, because personal accounts tend to be, you know, PERSONAL!
The picture featured on top of the editorial alone should've been thrown out by any editor-in-chief with any sense of integrity.
Article after article, post after post and re-tweet after re-tweet, I kept seeing the same condescending, patronizing arguments. "This is better for you, so listen to ME and let it happen" (and I don't exclude myself from this).
So, let's get something straight: there is no problem regarding the depiction of women in video games.
I realize this generalization makes me sound like an ignorant pre-adolescent XBOX Live dickback, but a problem means something is rotten to the core, it has to be fixed and fundamentally changed. This is not the case.
Our view of women in video games (at least insofar as their portrayal in them goes) is a little immature, quite myopic, narrow-minded and it begs to be expanded, evolve and consider diversity; but it's not inherently problematic. This means, the medium isn't one closed off to women by default and it doesn't need to change, it merely needs to expand and evolve. The same goes for its established, mainly-male audience.
Thanks to the extreme reactions from Douchbag League International, none of us stopped for a second to think why they reacted at all. Video games have always been a predominantly male medium and while I can't see anybody caring that it stays like that, I can see why many -myself included- would like not to lose one of our last bastions of "bro-ship".
Men need this type of space. We need to be able to act as we wish amongst our kind. Ever since women got into clubs formerly dominated by men, we've been losing this comfort.
Before anybody flips their shit and starts typing below just to yell at me for being the misogynistic pig you'd like to pretend I am, no man ever minded women getting into these clubs. What we did mind was the fact that WE had to adjust our behavior and our conduct as to not offend or alienate our new female peers. The workplace and its often-times draconian sexual harassment laws are the best examples of this.
Do you really think that a thirteen-year-old dipshit that spouts one misogynistic remark after the next while playing Call of Duty or at least Halo on LIVE actually HATES women? He doesn't hate women, he probably doesn't have the stones to go near a woman yet! He's likely the same awkward nerd we were his age, only HE has a pack to go to and relax and act as immaturely as possible among people of his kind.
That's why when women DO show up in these games, established male gamers start acting like idiots. They don't hate them, but for the purposes of their escapism, they regress to the basic "girls have cooties".
Why do you think young boys and girls don't like socializing with each other before that accursed age that one's lower regions start feeling funny around one another?
Yes, it's a matter of maturity, but we kind of NEED to be immature every now and then and especially in our escapism. We need to drink our beer and burp and head-butt each other on the chest. We don't necessarily mind women being around for all this, but we do mind the criticism and more than that, we mind the complaints.
Is it any wonder that people reacted when they thought Sarkeesian was going to take their shit away from them? They were wrong and they were being assholes about it, but there was a basis for the reaction, especially if one is familiar with Sarkeesian's previous work.
Because, honestly, I'm not willing to part with Lara, or Rayne or Juliet either. Sarkeesian's new project doesn't claim it will make me do that, or at least knowing her work, it doesn't have the power to do that, which is why I defended it. But then, I started reading reactions from all around and now I actually have a valid reason for concern.
Every fucking time an issue pops up in this industry or, indeed, anywhere in the western world, we never think. None of us does; we only REACT. We rely on our knee-jerk reactions and then rationalize them and put them into arguments, without actually having used that thing I mentioned earlier: critical thought.
So when the legion of retarded chipmunks flocked to berate Sarkeesian, everybody else instantly rushed to distance themselves from them by going to the other side. They (we) rationalized this reaction and started making patronizing arguments and featuring them in "editorials". They blew up topics that are facts of the industry and merit actual discussion and instead marked them "problems" that require solutions and damn you if you think otherwise, 'cause then you're with the terrorists!
The "decent" people in the industry, staff or audience, started scolding each other to distance ourselves from the assholes, because we irrationally feel guilty about something we didn't do. It's not the first time previously-male-dominated groups have done this; it happens regularly in western societies.
But this isn't in defense of women and it certainly doesn't do gaming any good, since it's diverting attention from the actual issue; this is in defense of feminism. And fuck feminism! The industry needs more women, it doesn't need feminism!
It'd be nice if we finally stopped equating the two. Feminism isn't a lifestyle, it's not some arbitrary moral foundation or an ethics code. It's a movement with a self-serving agenda that has absolutely nothing to do with equal rights. Fuck, in most of the western world it's a movement that lobbies to influence both public opinion and government policies and laws. That sounds like something that merits blind devotion and trust?
I'm tired of sitting idly by scared of saying anything against it, because my penis automatically makes me sub-human scum!
The industry NEEDS more women. It needs them to have their voice and it needs that voice to be the exact equal of that of men. They should be able to influence the industry just as much as men do. We know that this isn't the case so far and this is a goal to work towards, absolutely. But it must be THEIR voice, their success, not OUR compromise.
The Tomb Raider rape issue is a prime example of the above. It's a great thing that so many spoke up against it, because it made no fucking sense. It was a decision made by a bunch of guys that obviously had no idea what they were doing and somebody should point them to the right direction. But the fact alone that this was ground for controversy points to a maturing of the industry and its audience and not just on the grounds of political correctness.
If anything, if the fear of offending was leading us, as feminism would have it, the issue would have never been brought up and we'd all be a little stupider today.
Diversity of the portrayal of women in games is paramount and they're the most capable to see this come to fruition. In my humble opinion, what female audiences need more than mere diversity is power-fantasies. We have countless of those, from Mario who saves the princess, to Nathan Drake, to Kratos, to Solid Snake. Women have none.
But ultimately, this is not for me to decide. My point is, there are gigantic gaps in terms of women's involvement in the video games industry. We can't deny this nor should we, really. But there is no inherent problem and there's definitely nothing that it's up to us, the men, to "fix".
Women, with their skills, their talent, their views and their ideas can influence video games just fine without us needing to put on our white knight armor and blow every issue out of proportion just to look like the "good guys".
There are tons of bad things about being part of the most immature branch of the mainstream entertainment industry, but there is one good thing as well: we have enough left of a clear, untainted mind to think.
Collectivist attitudes, such as the ones we express via movements or knee-jerk reactions, toward either side of spectrum, are cancer to mature thought and evolution. Both sides in this latest issue gloriously proved that, by regressing to defense mechanisms, instead of thinking the whole thing through and out.
I just can't see how this does video-games, or us, any good.
PS: Google Image search for "Juliet Starling" returns (a lot) more cosplay pictures than it does actual snaps from the game. Make of this what you will.
NOTE/UPDATE: I only just heard about that Perez guy's comments toward Felicia Day, i.e. the above was written without that in mind. This doesn't change anything, as everything can still be applied (especially the way everybody's looking to unearth some deeper problem in the industry by latching on to one asshole's misdemeanour), I'm just clarifying why I'm not mentioning the incident.