I find feminism really interesting, especially in the history of media. It’s interesting to look back over the last few decades of film for example, and see how the depictions of women have changed over time. The same can be said of many different sects, such as race, age and sexuality (I just finished writing my dissertation on elderly women in the media, which had me looking at such patterns).

But for some reason, when the issue of feminism is brought up in the gaming community, people cry foul, sometimes in extremely offensive ways, just see the treatment of Anita Sarkeesian as proof.
People seem fine slapping Twilight about for having a horrible representation of women and setting the image of women back 50 years, but when someone mentions the “Princess is in another castle” trope, armies are rallied. Why is that?

I’m not going to pretend to have all or any answers, I’m just swimming some depths here. I may even update it or write a Part 2 over time.

My main thought is that of Identity; I love games and consider them an extension of who I am and I’m sure there are many others that feel the same way. Growing up I would be picked on and teased by both friends and family for my fascination with them. Nothing too severe, but enough to make it stick.

The point I’m making is that whenever people waved games away as a silly pass-time, I couldn’t help but take it as a personal insult. There are always people, mainly politicians, that complain that video game violence is the cause of all of our problems. The truth of the matter is irrelevant, but the fact that people could be so dismissive of something I loved bothered me.

Fast-forward to 2007. Mass Effect, one of my all time favorite games, was featured in the pillar of “fair and balanced” news that is Fox News. They were citing that it’s depiction of sexual conduct and “hardcore nudity” was offensive to women and warps our children’s minds. I don’t remember ever getting so mad about something that didn’t directly affect me. It was as if they were calling ME out on their misinformed nonsense.

Is this why people get annoyed by the mere mention of feminism in games? Do gamers see it as some sort of attack? As if mentioning it is somehow calling the player themself a misogynist! I have trouble understanding why there is so much passion and hatred on the matter otherwise.

It could also help explain the reasoning for hatred towards the person that brought it up. Sometimes the best way to ruin an argument is to discredit the source, or in many cases, ridicule it.

The reason for writing these thoughts is fairly basic. To me, the idea that women are usually just damsels in distress while men go off on adventures, going through tortuous ordeals to win them back is a fairly obvious and simple one that the majority of us can recognise. Yet when feminists look at it in any great detail, the pitchforks come out. I hope it really is just a simple misunderstanding and not a more serious issue of misogyny.

I’d love to hear some thoughts!

About The Author

I love me some games. RPGs, action, adventure all that stuff. I also write: http://www.facebook.com/ManFeelingsComedy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1338620597 Mike Jones

    because feminists feel like they’re too good to mute rude people in lobbies like us lowly cavemen….because feminists know that the fictional patriarchy is conspiring to keep all women out of the gaming industry….and because feminists know that every little girl that ever saw a female video game character being saved would instantly think they are a weak,useless creature that is only alive because men of the world keep her safe….(or they’re all psychos who refuse to grow up and get over these tiny first world problems) :)

    • http://twitter.com/thekevmiester Kevin Kennedy

      But why does people looking at the media from a gender perspective bother you so much? Do you get as annoyed when people study race, religion, sexuality etc as well? That’s what I’m trying to get at and presuming that the entertainment section of the media lives in it’s own private little bubble and never impacts our lives holds no water with me and in fact has a feint whiff of ignorance to it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1338620597 Mike Jones

        doesn’t bother me….the only reason the media reports on these things is because the squeaky wheel gets the grease and that’s whats boosts ratings/site views….who cares about men when you can listen to women…who cares about straight people when you can talk about homosexuals?…its normally the edgy position to side with minority groups whether their grievances are real like those mentioned above,or not so real like people claiming sexism in gaming…just the nature of the beast

        • http://twitter.com/thekevmiester Kevin Kennedy

          Are you trying to say the straight white men don’t get attention, have their voice heard or are catered to in the media?

          Your assertion that sexism doesn’t exist in games is making that “feint whiff” get a little stronger. Again, it’s not a direct attack against anyone, just an interesting way of looking at the media. Just like in mainstream films, women tend to be only cast as a love interest or damsel in distress (or both). There are exceptions of course but those examples are usually very notable for that reason. Besides, creating a few narratives where women are leads wouldn’t change the perspective overnight, as it’s more to do with the given attitude to portray sects like this (I highly recommend the documentary “The Celluloid Closet” which looks at the representation of gays in film since its very creation, a very interesting watch).

          This is not the point of the article however (though would maybe be a good addition if I do a follow up). I’m curious, did you read the article? Because I’ve just realised that the answers you pose in your original comment don’t seem to have much to do with it.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1338620597 Mike Jones

            the title of the article is why is feminism in games such a touchy subject…i gave examples of the delusional reasons feminists use to claim sexism….i think i stuck to the subject matter fairly well but eh…no i didnt say that straight white men dont exist in the media,merely that one could never claim discrimination and have anyone take them seriously….if there was a movement half as large as this ridiculous argument of sexism towards women in gaming done by men it would get little to no attention and be laughed off…try writing an article on how youre tired of most of the men in games being portrayed as steroid junkies who have no emotions and skills include blowing shit up and spouting cheesy 1-liners…see how many clicks from n4g you get

          • http://twitter.com/thekevmiester Kevin Kennedy

            But I’m not talking about feminists, I’m talking about how many gamers, such as yourself, seem to get somewhat upset by the very mention of it. THAT’s what the subject is. Are you saying that there is absolutely no place for studying perceptions and trends in the media?

            It’s hard to take the notion of the persecuted white man seriously because in western culture they classically come from a position of privilege and power. In history, they’re the law makers and trend setters and to say that they’re somehow being persecuted is somewhat ridiculous; if they are shown negatively, it’s safe to say it has nothing to do with their appearance. Are you trying to claim to some sort of discrimination? The young white male demographic is probably the most catered to in gaming.

            I hear the argument often of “what about men in games? write about that” and I see absolutely no reason why that can’t be, in fact it’s safe to say that it has already been covered; I know plenty of people who don’t like games like Gears of War for this very reason and the Call of Duty crowd is called out often for being that way, especially when playing online. The “action man” has changed greatly over the last couple of decades, spouting one liners and looking buff used to be the way to do it, though that is usually only portrayed nowadays in an “ironic” sense, now they are more like Bourne, silent deadly killers. I’m sure it would make an interesting article but it’s just something that doesn’t interest me at the current time, I like to write about things currently on my mind and that I have a passion for. Don’t take silence as some sort of submission.

          • http://twitter.com/thekevmiester Kevin Kennedy

            I’ll amend one thing that I said actually, it’s not uncommon for rich white men to be portrayed as bad guys in films, oil tycoons and such.

          • http://twitter.com/thekevmiester Kevin Kennedy

            Though again, that could be categorised into wealth and status. Hah, after a while I’m just talking to myself, I’ll stop there.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1338620597 Mike Jones

            you’re talking about the few hundred politicians at any given time….and the ceo’s of the fortune 500…ill even make it what,the fortune 5000?…how does that accurately represent white people in general?…this is my point people like to latch onto what they find interesting alot more than they do with the truth…rampant sexism in gaming is not a reality,and trust me when i say i’m not upset about it i’m just tired of having to see another 20 links a day to articles talking about something that isn’t nearly the issue that such a coverage rate would suggest…and i think you over estimate the amount of gamers as a whole that are upset by this the only people who are really out there raging over the subject are either the very same 13 year old idiots who were being a douche and telling some girl to get back in her kitchen,or just another common troll…stigmas about everything go away with time naturally,just seems alot of folks can’t understand that simple fact without trying to make it the next big thing thats all im saying at the end of the day

          • http://twitter.com/thekevmiester Kevin Kennedy

            I didn’t say that they represent white people as a whole, only that they’re the trend setters; look back over the history of Hollywood for example, back in the 1930’s – 50’s it’s run by white men, same as advertising, music industry etc. If the industry is run by them, it was only natural that movies would be made to appeal to their sensibility. That’s the point I was trying to make, sorry if it wasn’t clear (hah, no matter how hard I try, it’s always going to sound sarcastic when I write it down).

            Yes but how do these stigmas go away? Through silence? Through pretending that they don’t exist? No. It’s through making it public and accepted knowledge. If you’re truly not a misogynist then good for you, feel free not to click on the countless links about feminism and announce that sexism is over.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1338620597 Mike Jones

            the only two that were really big movements was the original feminist movement and civil rights for blacks….there was never a big gay movement and nobody bats an eye at it anymore other than religious people(and who cares what they think about anything)…this sexism in games falls under a much smaller category hardly qualifying as some form of oppression as females are well within their rights to play any game and their are already a number of females in the industry….the stigmas about both are light years ahead of what they were even a decade ago with no organized movement of any kind…another decade or so will pass and nobody but the most immature morons will even take notice that a girl is playing in a lobby with them,much less start insulting them….and hey if im wrong about that then in 2023 ill totally go hop up on a soapbox of my own :)

          • http://twitter.com/thekevmiester Kevin Kennedy

            Never a big gay movement? A simple Google search will give you countless examples of massive gay rights movements (that film where Sean Penn played Harvey Milk was only few years ago).

            I appreciate your optimism and reckon you’re right about the future but due to things like this here internet, there will always be a place where guys who find it hard to talk to girls will get together and say they are the root of all evil. Hopefully they’ll grow up and their kids wont even think of being like that, but as long as girls have to stay quiet when playing online for fear of the usual verbal abuse, there are fairly strong movements by said immature morons who literally stalk female gamers down and effectively bully them into leaving WOW servers and as long as there’s at least one person who is shunned by a gaming community because of their sex, we still have a problem.

            One last thing, I’d like to agree with you about “who cares what religious idiots think anyway”, but they do have a huge amount of followers, as ill informed as they are. It’s due to them that idiots like Todd Akin can give his “magical vagina” speech on national television. At times it can feel like the “just ignore them” strategy is best but in such large groups, the absence of a dissenting results in just one voice being listened to.