#GamerGate: The Players and the Played

The #GamerGate controversy reached a new high (or low depending on your perspective) recently when one of its main protagonists, the radical feminist and cultural critic, Anita Sarkeesian, was featured on the front page of the New York Times. Ironically, in view of the focus of her criticism about passive female characterization in video games, she herself was cast as the “damsel in distress”, under threat from active male protagonists.

Ostensibly, headlines like this are a direct validation of her work. Sarkeesian asserts that video games directly contribute to a culture of gendered violence in real life and – hey presto – there it is!  

But are radical feminist claims about games promoting violent norms really correct?  Studies of violence in video games say no. Last year the U.S. Supreme Court evaluated the evidence and came to a disappointing conclusion for people, like Sarkeesian, who are fond of using ideological rhetoric to win hearts over minds before all the evidence is in.

It appears that video games, even violent video games, have more positive effects on people than negative. Where negative effects were noted, these were with people who had already scored highly on tests showing a predisposition to anti-social behaviour. But, as the following graph shows, the case for the corruption of society by video games, is weak.

violence vs games graph

*What makes people angry with Sarkeesian (anger is allowed, abuse is not), is that she is unaccountable. Her videos on sexism and toxic masculinity are used as educational aids in schools, yet they are based on ideology not evidence. Sarkeesian has no academic credentials. She has legitimate critics, I am one of them, but she refuses to engage in open debate and instead directs attention to the abusive minority. That’s cowardly and manipulative. There is no logic that dictates that women are any less corruptible by power than men. To suggest otherwise, in fact, would be sexist. 

This is not to excuse threats or suggest that such harassment isn’t traumatic. What reasonable person would not condemn the criminal harassment of women, (or men), in any industry? That is surely moot. What is less moot, is who is actually responsible for these threats.  

Sarkeesian is adamant that the culprits are the supporters of #GamerGate. Yet the evidence points to third-party mischief-makers and anonymous trolls being equally vicious to both sides. Journalists are disseminating the radical feminist narrative uncritically, but they themselves are implicated in the scandal, so their impartiality cannot be taken for granted. The involvement of the notorious hacking/trolling group GNAA (who are experts at tricking the media into panic-mode) should also send alarm bells ringing.

Absent further evidence, claims about the identity of the anonymous trolls are pure speculation. There have been no arrests. People on either side of the barricades have been subject to abuse, although coverage has focused mostly on one, photogenic side. In a story about games and players, it’s difficult to discern just who is the player and who is the played. 

Who are the most likely suspects? GNAA aside, in every 100 people there will be one bona-fide psychopath. Twitter alone has over 200 million active users per month! There are estimated to be around one billion “gamers” worldwide. That certainly leaves room for a sizeable minority of psychopaths who would jollily send prominent women obscene emails. I’m inclined to think it’s these kinds of people who are responsible for the threats, and a recent study of online trolls supports this. A lazy trend in the media towards favouring the narrative of lunatic minorities on Twitter to draw sweeping conclusions about gender and culture is not a healthy one.

But I spy another trend. I am a gamer, but I am also a researcher in evidence based gender studies. I see this squabble not as about games or journalism but an expression of a wider battle that has been spilling out into popular culture for a few years now. A battle that was surrendered, and whose unintended consequences are now emerging. When Sarkeesian made the front page of the NYT this battle also went mainstream, yet very few people are aware of it. It is the battle for feminism. 

Radical feminism has already won this battle. It is documented in the denouncement of the woman who launched the second wave, Betty Friedan, as an anti-feminist, by Susan Faludi in Backlash. Many equity feminists dropped “feminist” and took up “egalitarian” instead. The unforeseen consequence of this was a vacuum of authority that allowed radicals to claim the “feminist” brand. Now people who attempt to challenge radical feminism are, like Friedan, labelled anti-feminist, as if “feminist” and “woman” were synonyms. They aren’t.

The dictionary definition of “feminist” is in urgent need of revision!

 Radicalism is the orthodoxy in feminism today. Radfem mater familiar Germaine Greer went so far as to announce this summer, “We’ve gone as far as we can with this equality nonsense. It was always a fraud!”

The radical feminist script; about men and masculinity, female passivity, objectification and patriarchy, was written in the 1960s and 70s, but you can still hear it echoing down the generations in the sermons of people like Sarkeesian, who has a long and troubled relationship with “straight-male” sexuality.

gender raquel 2
Radfem questions are always rhetorical. The answer to, “Is it sexist?” is always, “Yes.” They see sexism and misogyny everywhere, the way Abigail Williams saw Goody Proctor with the devil.

In the face of increasing tolerance of sexual expression, radical feminism has refused to adapt. More worryingly, it has refused to listen to the voices of dissenting women. This raises an important question: Does feminism exist to support women, or do women exist to support feminism? Unlike radical feminist questions, this one is not rhetorical.

So when radical feminists protest that gamers are “anti-feminist”, remember this does not mean “anti-woman”. In the modern context, it is more likely to mean “pro-equality”.

Radical feminism is a separatist movement, not a conciliatory one. One which “Bathes in Male Tears” while David Haines and other members of an accursed class of “straight, white males” pay an unimaginably terrible price for the freedom radical feminists take for granted. Radical feminism is about building walls between the sexes. Egalitarianism is about building bridges.

In an interview before she died, Friedan wondered, “if women are alienated from the women’s movement because it is antagonistic toward men, I understand that…Maybe the women’s movement has to be superseded by a larger political movement.” That movement is egalitarianism.

#Gamergate is an egalitarian push back against a modern feminist doctrine which explicitly wants to suppress “problematic” elements of human nature. History is littered with the damning results of such attempts. But history also shows that humans – men and women – fight back. Against the last wave of radical feminism comes a rising tsunami of egalitarianism.

*edit 25/10/14

146 thoughts on “#GamerGate: The Players and the Played

    1. haha. Thank you Cody.

      I definitely see this as part of what we have seen in the sceptic and atheist communities. Radical feminism is trying to control cultural discourse.

      To expose them the questions we need to ask them are,

      “Do you support free speech?”

      “Do you support the principles of egalitarianism?”

      If they reply to any of these questions with, “Yes, but…” you know where you stand.

      1. >Radical feminism is trying to control cultural discourse.

        I am squarely in the GamerGate camp because of the above reason.

        I was explaining this to a friend of mine over dinner last night and since we are both comic book fans, I made an analogy to Frank Miller and his widely lauded graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns. You see, Miller’s personal politics are something that I find rather repellent in several places and his hard right tack on social issues comes through brilliantly in his work. It’s hard to read his stuff if you’re a person like me and not, at least for a moment, be challenged by what you believe in. It’s also… incredibly good.

        As I explained to my friend, the consequences of this control over public discourse is that it forces out voices that have something to offer us. Today, the comic industry has been absolutely infested by this particularly pernicious brand of far left radicalism and it’s taken it’s toll on the medium. In today’s comic industry, not only does Frank Miller have to fear the angry Twitteristas, but he’d probably not even be allowed in the first place because of his unrepentant Islamphobic and fascist views.

        And to me that’s the irony of this situation. These young children, running around like modern day brownshirts, are enthusiastically bringing around the climate of “change” that would silence many of the very things they love. The Dark Knight Returns is gone, Sin City is gone, 300 is gone, Poof. Great books and stories that never existed because we were unable to tolerate dissent.

        I see the same thing happening with video games right now and I have to say, as a life long gamer and developer, I am pleasantly surprised that it’s my fellow nerds who are finally standing up to this beast of cultural colonialism. We might not win this fight, but we’re the first ones to give the bully a black eye and hopefully we won’t be the last. And if any game journalist out there is reading this message, I have just one question for you “When did you decide to start hating video games?”

        There’s a funny post from 8chan.co going around the internet from the “Leader of GamerGate” that outlines a list of demands. Some of them are farcical, but some of them are incredibly insightful for a group that is mostly slandered as retrograde internet reprobates. The one that resonates the most with me however is the final one:

        “anon finally gets to spend the day playing vidya instead of saving the world from fucking idiots”

        Yes anon, that’s what I’d like to be doing as well. But maybe it’s a good thing that the culture war finally landed on our doorstep. Maybe the nerds are going to be the ones to once again lead a modern day revolution.

      2. I almost referenced The Dark Knight in this piece re radical feminist narcissism, “Some [people] aren’t looking for anything logical. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some [people] just want to watch the world burn…”

      3. Where the hell have you been all my life? That is a wonderful deconstruction and analysis of a movement that is as socially destructive as SJWs. Why can’t people be more like your intellectually adept mind? Though I will say that this is not a push back, it’s an outright expulsion of an oppressive group that cares about nothing in the things they want to change to meet their own ideologies. Good Work.

  1. As a woman who burnt her bra in the 70s, your writing resonated strongly with me. I’ve been an unhappy feminist for some years now because of what I see as the intellectual paucity and hypocracy behind decrying behaviour in others by adopting that very same behaviour. Policing thought and expression has never been a part of my ideals of toleration and equality, only of my fears of totalitarianism. As a gamer, albeit casual, I’ve watched #GamerGate develop and support it, both in its call for transparency of the gaming media and in the broader strokes of standing against culture warriors. What has, however, distressed me the most is reflected in this astute point you made: “The lazy trend in the media, towards favouring the narrative of lunatic minorities on Twitter to draw sweeping conclusions about gender and culture, is not a healthy one.” The passing of Ben Bradlee seems an apt time to declare that the age of ethical journalism where it was more important to be fair and accurate, to be even-handed, to be always questioning, is gone. Perhaps it never existed and Mark Twain was right, but it certainly doesn’t now. Thank you for this article

      1. Yes, exactly same here, Tickletock. I am so tired of radicals and tribalists calling the tunes and damaging people and intellectual surroundings.

        Paula, thank you – your thoughts are fresh air, seriously. And thank you for including an expository quote from the sociopath, Germaine Greer – whose unqualified detailed revelling in physically hurting another woman in one of her book signings was the thing that marked the beginning of the end of my relationship with feminism. I was a radical too once…and would probably be still a believer if not for GG – and Myra Hyndley fanclub, another beauty of those days. If only i knew people like you….

      2. I truly hope more do.

        One thing I’ve found, among quite a few others, during gamergate is that there are still Feminists who aren’t totalitarian shame-mongers.

        The kind who have intellectual integrity and the willingness to submit their ideas to public scrutiny, accept the criticism of those ideas and provide rebuttal to such criticisms.

        The kind that you can argue with and come away having learned something new, instead of being told you’re a misogynist for not ‘listening and believing’.

        The kind who genuinely pursue equality by building people up rather than focusing on knocking other people down.

        So, thank you for this article.
        Not just for the content, but for letting me and others know that feminism is more than certain radicals who have the reigns at this time would like anyone else to believe.

  2. I see a lot of parallels emerging between modern, radical feminism and the old school hardcore Christians. Both see sin in absolutely everything and everyone (or in the radfem case, mostly just men, and women who oppose them) and, while you can never truly rid yourself of these imagined crimes, (I’ve seen cis het privilege compared to original sin on many occasions,) if you agree to be indoctrinated into the Church of Sarkeesian then maybe there’s a chance, just a chance, that you can be redeemed.

    The psychology is also almost identical: They tap into a person’s innate feelings of guilt and inadequacy and convince them that only they have the answers that can help make them a better person (see: the images from xoxofest telling you to ‘get rid of your past self’). Even that could be considered subtle, though, when compared to Anita’s ‘if you’re not a horrible person, you should stop supporting GamerGate’ statement. The language is extremely deliberate: it’s not ‘I know you think what you’re doing is right, but consider…’ she speaks in absolutes: supporting GG makes you an awful person, and since no one in their right mind considers themselves to be such a person they are immediately being stripped of their ability to make reasoned decisions.

    Anyway, sorry for the rant, this was a really good article!

    1. Sarkeesian is an idiot. Every one of her videos establishes that as objective fact. Robust, mocking criticism of idiots is not “hate” or whatever else she wants to call it. Nor is it new.

      1. And yet somehow people, not even stupid people, continue to paint her as some sort of martyr. I really can’t understand the mental gymnastics these people must have to engage in to disregard all of the evidence, not only in her videos but in her other work and public statements, that she is a complete and utter con artist manufacturing drama to incite backlash which she can then leverage to raise her own profile and get paid speaking engagements across the country.

        Because if you strip away all drama, she would be nothing. She is famous for receiving threats from anonymous people on the internet and literally nothing else. All of her academic work is a complete joke, she doesn’t have the first idea about what constitutes good research –which should be obvious to anyone, given the way she and her ilk snub peer review– and she is unable to remain impartial when critiquing even the most basic of points.

        I honestly can’t fathom why anyone who wasn’t also in on the con would buy into her nonsense.

  3. it’s so strange to see a critical light being shined upon them for once. It’s normally the sort of thing we whisper about among ourselves where we hope it won’t come back to impact our lives. I don’t know how this will end up, the spin is real, and relentless. Luckily for us, we”re real, and we’re relentless too. I won’t say Now is the Time, Join us. But if you are feeling brave, if you are a gamer, if you are a customer, if you care about protecting freedom of thought & expression, consider joining the tag for a bit and asking what you can do to help – We could always use a few more.

  4. Damn Paula, you blew this whole thing out of the water with this dynamite article! Truly, I am in awe of your perfect summary of the current events. Thank you so VERY much for writing this! Don’t know if you run ads, but this is Whitelisted!

      1. In today’s internet culture, many users run adblock to stop seeing annoying ads on sites.
        The very act of proclaiming to “whitelist” a site, should be seen as the highest praise a website can get.
        It means the user/s agree / like a site so much they are willing to see ads to support it, and tell about it to their friends.

        In short: keep up the good work.

      2. whitelisted is a group of sites/blogs/posts that have nuetral to pro gamergate balanced information.

  5. Thank you. It is a relief to know that this crazy ideology is seem as such by people outside #gamergate. I can asure you that egalitarian feminism is welcomed with open arms by #gamergate… as it is the prevalent mood in any civilized society.

    1. I am actually a gamer myself as well as a researcher. I don’t want radical feminist ideology in games. Games are a social utility, they are all about fantasy and vicarious experience, switching off the grey matter and indulging our primitive instincts in safe environments. Radical feminists have no idea what the negative unintended consequences of their crack pot ideas could be.

  6. Gamergate is made up of crazy people, and comparing atheism to believing some woman slept with multiple people to get a good game review because her exboyfriend said it is insulting to atheists.

    1. Actually, no. We know she at least had a relationship (at the very least a friendship, hell, he’s thanked in the credits of her game) with Nathan when he gave the game good press on Rock, Paper, Shotgun and Kotaku. Not a review (no one ever said it was a review) but positive articles about her game without a disclaimer that she’s his friend. We don’t care about her sleeping around, at all. It was never about her sleeping around. It was who she was doing it with and the press he’s given her game. It didn’t even get that big until Mundane Matt got falsely DMCA’d on a video of him criticising her which is when TotalBiscuit hoped on board. Another thing that got others on board was when any and all conversation of it was censored everywhere on the net. This resulted in a mass exodus from 4chan because 4chan was even censoring talk of it. They shadow banned someone right in front of Julian Assange for christ’s sake. When 10 major gaming websites released articles all spouting the same thing we assumed something was up (i.e collusion to write off the critics of the journos as white, straight males that hate women something they kept pushing until #notyourshield was made in response) which was confirmed with the release of the mailing list GameJournoPros and conversations had there. The Escapist has stayed neutral in this (the people they’ve hired haven’t but enough about how much of a horrible human being Bob Chipman is) doing actual journalism and they’ve been left alone as a result.

      The people behind gamergate are the same people who have been bitching about bought reviews, agenda pushing and the like in games for years. We just want ethics in journalism. We want the journos to admit bias when they give a game positive press like admitting through a disclaimer if they’ve donated money to the game via kickstarter or know the developers personally. We called them out on this and they’ve done nothing but paint us in broad strokes because of some trolls (trolls that are screwing with both sides mind you) an ignored all criticism. We’ve said, we’re boycotting your sites and telling your advertisers why. That’s all. If you want to know what gamergate is doing at any time just head over to 8chan or the reddit board they have now for it. Everything they do happens in the open.

      1. Trying to watch that video had me weaving in and out of agreement and alarm.

        Something that I’d heard Sargon of Assad say in his video response to Emma Watson keeps coming to mind. I’ll paraphrase. That equality is equality of potential and what she (they) are talking about is gender parity. Where everyone is forced to be equal in all ways as opposed to being given the same opportunities that one can do with to one’s own ability and preference.

      2. Ok…I stopped watching when she mentioned sports and crap. If Women want people to recognize their athletes they need to increase the popularity of their sports. We as a society have had women only leagues for such a long time. If those owners and others can’t make the league more popular blame them, or you know blame yourself that you’re not watching the sport.

        What you don’t do is sit there and go “Well the men didn’t give us a chance, so lets destroy this all in a fit of rage”. Men and alot of women have built the popularity of the sports for their leagues. So why does it seem women league fans can’t help further build things up like WNBA or the Women’s League in Golf?

        You can’t expect the world to either fund you or pay attention to you when you yourself are doing nothing of worth. It reminds me of when people cry that either WNBA isn’t involved in NBA2k14 or the women’s League in FIFA isn’t represented. It isn’t worth the money if the real life sport isn’t profitable in the first place.

        These people want the same outcome from less work compared to others who have worked more and earned it. Nothing is stopping the women’s leagues from flourishing besides themselves.

  7. This was greatly written. I just came across your twitter through Christina Sommers. These 3rd wave feminists are just to intense, and sadly, it’s taught in classes. I heard things taught in classes I had that are essentially the same thing these anti-GGers are saying. The reason I have heard it was because I took some classes which were also gender studies, or linguistic, classes as well. Also, your mention of blank slaters was great, haha. These people absolutely hate people who don’t agree with the blank slate beliefs, which is why I hear many talk about how they hate evolutionary psychology, and how everything is culturally relative, and nothing in inherent in genetics. They need some Steven Pinker in their lives.

    I hope to read more from you! 🙂

  8. Thank you so much for this article!

    You mentioned that you are a critic of Sarkeesian; has she ever responded to your critics?

    Again, thank you, this whole article is spot on!

    1. No. The only way to engage with her is via Twitter as she does not allow comments on her videos. We need to continue to ask her to be accountable though. Telling children and young people that heterosexual masculinity is toxic needs to be robustly challenged.

      1. Yeah, I thought so… Well then, it’s great that you’re one of the people who’ll continue to pursue answers from her (or at least SOME form of debate).

        You’ve just gained a follower by the way, keep um the great work! =)

    2. No. I don’t expect a response. But I will always remain civil. I may sometimes make a joke at her expense, may even call her analysis idiotic. This all comes within the remit of satire, something which has existed for millennia for people to speak truth to power when power refuses to listen. Satire is an essential tool of democracy. It’s certainly not “harassment”.

      Maybe Sarkeesian feels something is harassment if she feels harassed by it? She does kind of make things up as she goes along.

  9. Wonderful article and very accurate. I’d only raise one issue with it and that’s that #gamergate supporters typically prefer the hashtag be associated with consumer activism in response to media corruption, rather than the battle against radical feminism and their hordes of white knight supporters. It was always supposed to be a response to the lack of ethics and the downright unprofessional behavior of the “journalists” covering gaming. However, our opponents knew full well they couldn’t win that fight and have been working mightily to reframe the issues so as to move the battle to their own home turf. Supporters of #gamergate have been forced to address this feminist manufactured circus sideshow, just so we could continue with our revolt against the media.

    Don’t get me wrong. I know how much a threat these radical feminists are and how effective they are at media manipulation and spreading their message of guilt to the guiltless. I’ve been watching them co-opt one social sphere after another, infecting them with their hate-filled rhetoric. This is why I know that to beat them, you can’t face them head on. That’s NEVER worked. Instead, you kick out their support systems and that means, the media crusaders who carry their banner. On that front, we have an objective that any neutral party can understand, that no amount of emotional blackmail can obscure. When that’s done, deal with the radicals who will no longer have a free pass by an ideologically driven press.

    I’m personally looking forward to the day that mainstream media, who currently fawn over the likes of Anita Sarkeesian like she foreign royalty, start asking the questions that those of us in the know have been asking since she first attacked our industry. Show us your research. Show us your proof. And that will be the point when she finally stops talking.

  10. A voice of reason. Thanks for this.

    This article is the closest I’ve come to my own interpretation of #gamergate. That is, a backlash against a sexist and puritanical assault on freedom of thought and expression. These “radfems” and the moral puritans who support them have underestimated the strength and unity of a group of people bound together by the simple pleasure of indulging their fantasies through gaming.

    Many of these gamers LIVE on the internet. It’s home turf, a safe zone. Moral Crusaders are NOT welcome.

    1. Yes, I think there is a case to be made for men asking for their own safe places on the internet. I don’t play games designed for 16 year olds. I didn’t play PoP: Warrior Within because I found the machismo puerile. But do I think these things should be changed because they don’t conform to my tastes? Definitely not! Gaming is already one of the most diverse entertainment and art forms. Radical feminist interference is the death of diverse representation.

  11. I took evidence-based LGBT studies in college, which is a subset of Women’s Studies.

    THANK. YOU. Anita has no credentials or evidence, I have been saying this over and over again. You have made my night. 😀

  12. You start off by correctly pointing out that violent games don’t cause violence IRL. That’s great but she’s not arguing that so what’s the point?

    As for a lack of evidence… Sarkeesian points out that women in games are often treated as background objects, not people, for example. Her video’s are full of examples of this and anyone who plays games can see this happening all the time. Claiming this isn’t the case and she has no evidence just makes you sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about. I mean yeah of course you might not agree with her or her conclusion’s, but you’re just wrong there.

    Honestly it seems you’re mainly just interested in pushing your agenda, not seeking the truth of the matter. But whatever that seems to be par for the course.

    Personally, I’ve played games all my life and honestly feel a little embarrased when I see how women are often depicted in them. Very strange that so many people get angry that someone points these tropes out, but whatever that’s people 🙂

    1. She is arguing that games are “pernicious” (her word), that’s the point. They are not.

      “Sarkeesian points out that women in games are often treated as background objects, not people”. They are not people, they are not real. Sarkeesian constantly refers to video game characters as if they are real. They aren’t! People do not play games in a vacuum. They interact with real people all the time. In video games, the main buying demographic is young men, hence games are targeted at this demographic, at archetypical (not stereotypical) tropes. These tropes are expressions of our evolved sexuality as a sexually reproducing species. Sarkeesian chooses to think that female characters are “background objects”. Was Helen of Troy a background object to the Trojan Wars?

      Sarkeesian simply refuses to see or – to be more generous – is simply unaware of the immense power of female sexuality and the influence it has has, and still has, on the shaping of our species. She is ignorant of that. She knows nothing of the complexity and beauty of human nature. She projects her limitations on to the world around her. It is a barren, cynical world she sees, but she is unaware it’s a projection of her own barren and cynical soul.

      My “agenda” is to better understand human nature. And to do this via accountable avenues of study.

      And this isn’t anger. No one here is angry.

      1. Thanks for the response, I appreciate your perspective on this and it’s helped me understand a little better.

        And apologies, I didn’t mean to accuse you of being angry, I’ve seen a lot of anger directed towards her from other parts of the internet since she announced the video series. I think a lot of people who identify as gamers feel personally threatened by critiscm but that’s neither here nor there.

      2. “‘Sarkeesian points out that women in games are often treated as background objects, not people’. They are not people, they are not real. Sarkeesian constantly refers to video game characters as if they are real. They aren’t!”

        THANK YOU! I’ve been trying to address this point for years! Whenever people say “there need to be more female characters in games”, the idea is so absurd, that all I can ask is “Why?” Females don’t exist in games. Males don’t exist in games. They are collections of pixels or polygons shaped to look like females and males. Further, how would the existence of more female shaped avatars make things better? It’s not like being either male or female ever really factors into how the game is played.

        And to be clear, I’m not against female characters. I play them all the time. It’s irrelevant to me. I’m interested in the GAME, regardless of what collection of polygons the game says represents me. I could be (and have been) a red square in games. It didn’t disturb me that my red square didn’t have testicles somewhere in his hypothetical, representative pants.

        The only reason I can think of that people are demanding (and yes, that’s exactly what it is) more female avatars in games is because they just don’t like playing as men. To which, I must again ask: “Why?” What is it about maleness that so disturbs these people that it interferes with their ability to enjoy a game simply because they’ve been told their avatar is male? Because let’s face it: in most games, you spend almost no time looking at your own character. You’re looking at the environment, the obstacles, enemies, collectibles, etc. Why throw a conniption fit over something so completely trivial and that raises very concerning questions about your own psychology?

      3. “…is simply unaware of the immense power of female sexuality and the influence it has has…”

        Sarkeesian needs to understand she is, in fact, sitting on a fortune? Well for a few years, anyway.

      1. No worries.

        The issue about anger is interesting, when it is used by radical feminists especially, as they are the people who use anger as a political slogan.

        “It’s time to get angry again”

        should actually, read

        “It’s time to get angry again…except with us…because then it’s harassment”


  13. This was a terrific article, however one small correction: the Supreme Court case you are referencing (Brown v EMA/ESA) was in 2011, not 2013 (last year). Unless you are referring to a different SC case, in which event sorry!

  14. “Radical feminism is a separatist movement, not a conciliatory one. One which “Bathes in Male Tears” while David Haines and other members of an accursed class of “straight, white males” pay an unimaginably terrible price for the freedom radical feminists take for granted.”

    This is not quite correct. See Scott Alexander’s blog post for the most thorough analysis of what is actually going on here:

    1. I was going to discuss the psychology of tribalism but wanted to keep the word count down. In my next blog, which will be an extended discussion of “The Fight for Feminism”, I will be discussing tribalism

  15. Thank you. Your post made my day.

    Sometimes it feels like the next generation of feminists are being indoctrinated into some weird nostalgic time warp because our higher ed institutions fail to contextualize feminist social theories in the times and places they were conceived. Sure, outdated cultural criticism retains historical value, but we cannot simply repackage feminist theory from a quarter century ago and try to sell it to women who live in a world with so many wonderful, liberating possibilities that previous generations never had.

    Is it totally lost on of Anita Sarkeesian that she become a self-made global pundit, widely published and cited across all major media when she herself is fresh out of college with barely any career experience or peer-reviewed academic publications? She is invited to conferences and universities to speak as an expert in a field where many feminist scholars have worked much longer because she took advantage of the incredible technologies available to formerly ignored or actively oppressed voices. Surely we are living in a different time when women are not nearly as reliant as we used to be on the approval, gatekeeping, or taste-making of male dominated industries. Sarkeesian herself proves we are living in a much more accessible time when any woman can get on Twitter or YouTube and reach a global audience simply by taking old hat literary criticism and applying it to predictable genre fiction (which by definition relies on its tried and true tropes to deliver its entertainment value to genre fans expecting prostitution in stories about organized crime and saloon girls in stories about spaghetti westerns). Thirty years ago, I don’t believe Anita Sarkeesian would have been published, much less a global influencer, at this point in her career. But technology, from guns to social media, continues to prove itself to be a great equalizer, a lever of playing fields bringing previously unattainable opportunities within reach.

    Society has changed rapidly, and I don’t feel that feminism is keeping up. When I was in high school I felt Faludi’s Backlash was brilliant. But I wouldn’t trot most of those arguments out in our current culture because so much of it is rooted in a world where women were still waiting for permission and approval, to be represented and included. Now we can self-publish, self-promote, self-teach, and share among ourselves in a global community for the price of a computer and internet connection. We make movies, write books, develop games, and fulfill our own needs in the market. Have we achieved perfect parity with men in media, technology or any other public realm? It’s all debatable, shifting, and wonderfully accelerated. Women are outpacing men in many sectors. Who knows how gender divisions will fall in the next 5, 10, 50, 100 years?

    If feminist theory can’t keep up with the changing reality of media created by and for women, then egalitarianism and other ideologies will displace it. In the meantime it is very awkward to see stale feminism repackaged and sold to a generation that didn’t read Faludi, doesn’t realize how old and irrelevant some of this stuff really is (and how big a waste it is of women’s time to busy ourselves criticizing the past rather than building our future).

    My favorite bit from your piece, which I am sure I will quote many times in the future:

    This raises an important question: Does feminism exist to support women, or do women exist to support feminism?

    Indeed, this is the gist of what I am increasingly asking myself whenever I find my life, work, sex, gender, and politics being policed more frequently (and abrasively) by fellow feminists than any other group.

    A feminist in a tech community I’ve been a member of for many years recently told me that she will not support any woman who doesn’t support women (the context of this was her telling women in tech to stop marketing themselves as anti-feminist just to impress and kiss up to insecure males in tech). In our disagreement about how women should or shouldn’t identify/behave (and why they owe fealty to feminism in the first place), she offered me a link to a youtube personality (a bright girl, but just a few years older than my eldest daughter) with a title like ’50 reasons you should be feminist’ and I was taken aback. I reiterated that I was already a loud, proud feminist. This woman then asked me if I wanted to know what she really thought. I took the bait. Her response? “I think you don’t really want to learn.” and then she wished me a good day. So… with feminists like that, it’s hard to see the movement surviving its own self-serving indifference to the thoughts and feelings of, you know, other feminists.

    1. Totally agree. Ideas are like organisms. Those that don’t adapt to changing environments will soon perish. Radical feminism is making news a lot, but I these are the death throes as it puts all or nothing into it. Egalitarianism will win out.

  16. You could certainly see your skills within the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who arent afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart. kddckebbckgdedab

  17. Couple of typos (“so far as to announced this summer”) and Vimeo video isn’t properly linked.
    Brilliant reading otherwise. It’s great to see women push back, even if I don’t see it as a winning battle.

  18. Excellent article. As an aspiring writer myself, my only goal as such is to entertain as many people as I can for the sake of entertainment. People like Sarkeesian have an agenda they want society to follow and see culture as means to an end rather than an end in itself.

  19. Ms. Wright,

    Sarkeesian will ignore this piece (as she does any sort of criticism) and it will probably not get the coverage it deserves, but thank you for a great read that puts #GamerGate in an historical context.

    When people say that GG is merely a consumer revolt, I disagree. I think you’re right, it IS a microcosm of a broader cultural war.

    Anyway, thanks again for the great read. Hopefully you and Christina Hoff Sommers can use your considerable smarts and understanding and help us change the narrative.

    1. I think it’s both. It has to be both, because in this instance, the two are intrinsically tied.

      Gamers have been shat upon for decades and in recent times, outright abused by “our” own press. We’ve been called entitled for asking questions “our” journalists won’t ask themselves. Now we’re being called misogynists, nerds, and noninclusive – despite all evidence to the contrary. Gamers have a press that is completely out of control, and it’s being spurred on by these radical feminists and wannabe academics (er, that is to say they want the authority that comes with being an academic, without actually being knowledgeable or putting in the work). They’ve taken root here and exploited the existing system of corruption to promote unchecked those with similar dogmas.

      So yes, it is a consumer revolt and a cultural backlash.

    1. I think it’s more complicated than that. Sarkeesian is a pretty woman. But it seems she bought into the whole radical feminist narrative when she was young, before she understood her own sexuality never mind other peoples, so she has already invested probably a decade of her life in this. She is emotionally invested. Radical feminism is part of her essential identify. It is very hard for people to give up things after so long. But it’s better to wake up and smell the coffee at 30 than stay in denial until your 70 as Greer has done.

      But radical feminism is a strategy for people who want to opt out of the heterosexual mating game, either for reasons of insecurity or something else. I went to a Germaine Greer gig and she basically, unwittingly said that she became a radical feminist because she was angry that men didn’t want to date her. So she made a pact with herself only to kiss people she was prepared to have sex with and ended up having lots of souless, awful sex. This is what she based her idea of male sexuality on! It’s tragic. It’s also very sad. Genuinely. For someone to have been so lost, to constantly be looking without for something to blame, when the answer was within.

      These women have keen intellects, but they are led by their emotions. And make frequent, sometimes, terrible errors

      1. I supported the Feminist Frequency kickstarter before there was a controversy. In certain ways, I think her first few videos were informative and I took them as a narrative on how women could view the tropes being cited. She seemed to be arguing that their overuse could be off-putting, not that there was an inherent problem with their use, period. The tone continued to get aggressive from there.

        I even defended her choice to not allow comments on the videos and decried the “abuse” that she was receiving over these videos. Come to present and it’s hard not to feel a little betrayed.

        I wonder if #gamergate has given Anita and her ilk their fondest dream. Before now, the “abuse” she received was by this nebulous group that could only be referenced vaguely and each person had to be viewed individually as to what their stance was. Now, #gamergate has given a face, so-to-speak, that they can heap their accusations onto. It’s no longer an indistinct group. The small amount of loose cohesion to the cause has given them something tangible enough to paint a target onto.

  20. Amazing article, superbly well-written. I typically don’t engage in the feminist debate because in my opinion neither side ever gets anything from the argument. This article put my real life experience into context, the problem is I’ve always debated with radical feminists!

    Also, if reference to the video above, anyone here who is a game can look at her hands on the xbox controller and discern that she has absolutely no idea what she’s doing… I had that thought before I even saw the candid classroom admission!

  21. OMG thankyou. I have be disappointed with the media’s “laziness” is its coverage of the issues surrounding gamergate. Even respected outlets like NPR and PBS have allowed the PR machine of a few radicals sully their good name. The thing is that it is not just “white, cis gender” American males who strongly disagree with the opinions and tactics of gaming journalists and Sarkeesian, but also the international gaming community. I really hope that as the story continues to play itself out, that the mainstream media recognizes its own failings in peddling a false narrative and self-corrects.

  22. Thank you very much for this article. My wife and I get very frustrated when the only message that’s getting traction in any mainstream media outlet is the misogyny in the industry. It’s maddening to hear radical voices convince people that there are active systems in place that exclude them from employment. I have read quite a few posts from younger people about how they are afraid to get into games because of the sexism and harassment they are 100% going to face.

    I think one of the main reasons Sarkeesian gets so much hatred is not the basic idea of her critiques, it’s the lack of evidence and how the games she points to are grossly misrepresented and then she touts that misrepresentation as fact. If people have a solid message and don’t load it with charged language and point to actual facts – not personal opinions, they don’t garner hate mobs. Of course they don’t garner large audiences or attention that way either.

    Case in point, broteam (youtube manchild who screams at videogames) put up an excellent and shockingly well-worded view of Zoe Quinn’s abhorred behavior and the way the media has completely glossed over it, just to protect her image. http://www.broteampill.com/forums/index.php?topic=4721.msg81555

    His post and those coming from more moderate voices will probably be ignored because criticizing Zoe Quinn and others means you hate women. Except in his post, there are excellent points and it would be very hard to spin such a narrative.

    At the end of the day, I just wish everyone could have an honest discussion about concerns on both sides of the issue. In the current environment, any critique is anti feminist and, by extension, anti women. Just like any critique is now anti gamer because a bunch of journalists wanted to defend their friend from scrutiny and decided it was a good idea to claim gamers to be over and dead. You could argue they were defending a developer from harassment, but if that was the goal, they would have come to the rescue of Jack Thompson or the CEO of stardock who they crucified when they got wind of a sexual assault lawsuit being filed. Those guys got the same death threats, possibly more in Thompson’s case, but you didn’t see a barrage of articles claiming gamers to be the creators of a toxic environment that breeds harassment and death threats.

    Sorry, I’m writing a book in your comments section, I’m just frustrated and speaking out in public is dangerous and this article just kind of got to me (in a positive way). Please, if you folks read this, read broteam’s post. Read the original thezoepost. And go read articles that disagree with pro GG viewpoints. Try to find things that challenge your views and the talk to each other. Both sides keep cool. Don’t yell. Don’t demonize each other. Don’t name call. Just talk.

    Broteam post again, because it’s reasonable words and no one will care: http://www.broteampill.com/forums/index.php?topic=4721.msg81555

  23. Fantastic article and a fresh, objective and well researched analysis at all of this controversy and the reasoning behind it. It’s always great to see well founded criticism without vitriol.

  24. I disagree with the claim that the “trolls” are anonymous on both sides. We see jerks like Sam Biddle and Felicia Day and such all the time harassing and threatening people of #gamergate. Infact you can google “gamer gate harassment tumblr” and see the collection of tweets etc against #gamergate supports. Hell, a boston globe journalist lost his job for his treats, Luke someone I believe.

    So maybe that also needs more addressig, and less apologizing from #gamergate supporters for Alleged threats made against Exclusively feminist women that support misandry against gamers and using alleged victimization for profit.

  25. As a computer scientist I have observed the exact same kind of radical feminism in my own field. The people change but the pattern is the same: People with a very strong feminist agenda inject themselves into a field they’re not part of and then claim to have always been there. They actively seek out isolated instances of sexism or intentionally misinterprete in order to proove that misogyny is omnipresent. They hold talks complaining about this constant misogyny while making it obvious that they are not actually aware of what happens within the industry. Any and all criticism is simply deflected by calling the critique sexist or downright ignoring it. A constant request for donations seems to be a common pattern in both fields (gittip is the patreon pendant in the tech industry). Don’t get me wrong, everybody is allowed to ask for donations and receive them, but this downright hate for men and the inability to question it has more severe consequences. There are several instances of people getting fired (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5398681 “dongle” is a common word, e.g. “Wifi dongle”, “forking” refers to copying someone elses publicly avaiable code and maintain a seperate version of it. Neither of those have any sexual context whatsoever.).

    So when I saw #Gamergate and how people wouldn’t stop voicing their opinions after groundless allegations of misogyny I got curious. It reminded me of another problem in the tech industry: Every time someone invents a new way to encrypt data they are accused of enabling terrorists and pedofiles. Everyone arguing against those accusaations is labeled as a supporter for either or both. This has been a much bigger problem in the past but luckily these allegations are now mostly dismissed as what they are: groundless and a tool for a much different agenda. I sincerely hope that Gamergate is the pivot point that will allow us to address ungrounded allegations of misogyny and bring back actual arguments to such discussions.

    Luckily, as a German I’m not yet affected very much by third wave feminism (I refuse to call them feminists), but it’s slowly getting here and I’m worried what the implications will be. I always called myself egaliarian instead of feminist in order to not be associated with those kinds of people, at the same time I feel sorry for feminists that had the title taken away from them and abused.

  26. You are the best. That was a magnific read. Than you so much for this, I agree with everything
    And you are a damn good writer
    Keep up the good work

      1. York University, M.A., Social and Political Thought, 2008 – 2010

        California State University-Northridge, BA, Communication Studies, 2005 – 2007

        from her LinkedIn profile.

        Great article!

  27. Paula, I’m so excited to find you and your article!

    I have been studying evolutionary biology/psychology/sexology (informally) for several years now, and am also fascinated with feminism, the gender wars, and all that good stuff (LOL). I consider myself a “student of human nature” and see that you obviously are too. I just finished Pinker’s “The Blank Slate”, and have also read books by Darwin, Dawkins, Coyne, Gould, de Waal, and others. I am not a gamer, but given my interests, I cant help but be fascinated by GamerGate. Much of what I have been thinking, I see in your article!

    I hope to read more from you. Please keep up the good work!

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