Anita Sarkeesian's TED talk

Anita Sarkeesian, the vlogger behind Feminist Frequency and the Women vs Tropes Kickstarter, has a TED talk, at TEDxWomen 2012, now up on YouTube.  The talk is about the backlash to her Kickstarter -- a huge, organized hate campaign against her and her project. Trigger warning: misogyny.

Unfortunately I didn't have any money at the time all this harassment was going on, so I wasn't able to donate.  As a result, I don't have access to the news updates -- but I do have access to the headlines, which inform me that production started in late July of this year, since which point there have been two further updates.  I can't wait until this series comes out.

Tropes vs. Women in video games: FeministFrequency Kickstarter update

I wrote last week about Anita Sarkeesian's kickstarter, Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. This update consists of good news and (depressingly predictable) bad news. As of writing, there's 63 hours left in the Kickstarter, if you still want to get some money in.

It's at almost $100,000, nearly 4,000 backers, and has passed all the reach goals.  That means not only are there going to be twice as many trope videos as originally planned, and a video on positive female characters in video games, and a step up in production quality, there will also be a classroom curriculum version of the series and a 12th video deconstructing common defenses of sexism in the video game industry.

On the really awful, totally reprehensible side, the online gaming community has gone out of their way to explain by example why we need this sort of series.  From Kickstarter update #4:

The intimidation and harassment effort has included a torrent of misogyny and hate speech on my YouTube video, repeated vandalizing of the Wikipedia page about me, organized efforts to flag my YouTube videos as "terrorism", as well as many threatening messages sent through Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter, email and my own website.  These messages and comments have included everything from the typical sandwich and kitchen "jokes" to threats of violence, death, sexual assault and rape.  All that plus an organized attempt to report this project to Kickstarter and get it banned or defunded.

She linked to a screencap she took of the YouTube comments.  I got about halfway through.  Trigger warning:  here's the link.

EDIT:  Because I spaced on putting these in when I wrote this post.  Here are links to other news sources that have covered this story -- Game Politics, The Mary Sue, The New Statesman

FeministFrequency Kickstarter: Way past goal, still going

Anita Sarkeesian, the vlogger responsible for FeministFrequency, is running a Kickstarter to create an in-depth video series on sexism in video games.

Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

The videos she makes on her own budget are amazing, so I can't wait to see what she does with financial support.  Her initial proposal was to make a set of five videos on gamer tropes that repeatedly depict women in a marginalized or objectified light:

  • Damsel in Distress
  • The Fighting F#@k Toy
  • The Sexy Sidekick
  • The Sexy Villainess
  • Background Decoration

But her donors shot way past the initial $6,000 goal in the first 24 hours, and now the project is into stretch goals territory. The first one was achieved within the first week, the next one the following week, and the project is only about $1000 short of goal #3, creating a classroom curriculum using the materials of the series.

Thanks to the additional donations, we're also getting these videos:

  • Voodoo Priestess/Tribal Sorceress
  • Woman as Reward
  • Mrs. Male Character
  • Unattractive Equals Evil
  • Man with Boobs
  • Bonus Video - Positive Female Characters!
All the videos are going to be online for free, and will be between 10 and 20 minutes long.  They'll be like a pop-culture feminist CrashCourse!

Content like this is important for a lot of reasons.  Anita Sarkeesian's FeministFrequency videos offer a way into a dialogue about sexism in pop culture without requiring a prep course in postmodernism.  The video game industry and nerd culture have some huge problems with sexism, and high-quality, easy to digest content addressing it, like the stuff Anita produces, make it a lot easier (a.) for fence-sitters to see what's wrong with the stuff that might have only made them a little uncomfortable, and (b.) for people in the industry who do want to make less sexist content to make the case for their artistic decisions.  (It's hard to make genuinely progressive games if you're the only one on staff who cares about it and your boss insists that it'll be more marketable if the women are good wank material.)

I won't be able to contribute (I don't have any money) but I hope anyone reading this with some cash to spare pitches in.  This is exactly the sort of media we need.