It’s no secret that if you play video games online, someone at some point is going to call you names and threaten to rape and murder you, your family, and your pets. It happens to male gamers and female gamers alike. But considering how women experience a much higher incidence of domestic violence in real life, it should come as no surprise that women experience a disproportionate amount of harassment in gaming spaces.
Anita Sarkeesian is a feminist pop culture media critic working on an upcoming video series that looks at how female characters are portrayed in video games. Because she has a vagina and opinions, she’s been the target of a massive outpouring of harassment. But all that negative attention has a silver-lining – her Kickstarter goal has been exceeded tenfold!
Anita Sarkeesian of FeministFrequency.com has already covered a lot of ground in her previous Tropes vs. Women videos produced for Bitch magazine. Covering tropes like The Manic Pixie Dream Girl and The Smurfette Principal, Sarkeesian’s videos are smart, well-produced, and most importantly, popular.
Earlier this month, the feminist commentator announced that her upcoming series would shift its analytical focus to the world of video games. In response, her Youtube video was met with comments like “that’s what women are for, breastfeeding babies, making dinner and offering their cunts. I mean they can’t even quickscope, what did you expect?” and “you look like a stupid whore. is this an attempt at setting back equal rights? fuck off.”
The harrassment garnered positive attention from sites like The Mary Sue and The Escapist, drawing more attention to the project than ever before. While Sarkeesian was only looking for $6000 to fund the series, she’s received over $64,000 in pledges at the time of this article’s posting.
There may be a lesson in all of this. Online harassment, no matter how distressing it may be, can be a powerful lightning rod for attention. The most vocal of Sarkeesian’s critics did her a solid favor in proving how problematic the gender dynamics of online gaming communities can be. While the original series promised only to look at the portrayal of female characters, the critical response and surplus of funds may very well lead to a more in-depth look at the experience of being a girl gamer. I can’t wait.