The Sketchy Feminist

Staring down the male gaze, or: Looking at looking at women in popular culture

Tag: feminist frequency

The Not-Really-A Timeline Continues (only this time I didn’t make a timeline): More Feminist Frequency Stuff

Apparently I’m following Anita Sarkeesian’s career. And while I’ve been interested in her projects ever since I first heard about her, and that was well before the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series ratcheted up her visibility like woah,* I never really actively planned to keep tabs on her.

But she just keeps cropping up. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her name in so many different print and online publications as I have over the last year (especially from, say, around October 2014 on). Not to mention that Colbert Report interview. Months ago (because I am a lazy, lazy person), I started putting together an “Anita Sarkeesian media sightings” post-type thingie. And then I kept procrastinating on finishing it, and then, hey presto, Sarkeesian and her team went and made my job all easy for me (as well as sorta redundant), by releasing an annual report. (And even then I still failed to post this immediately.)

That’s right, folks. If you have trouble keeping up with all of your Sarkeesian-related news, there’s a handy document over at the Feminist Frequency website in the form of a downloadable PDF (note that the link is to the page where the PDF is hosted, not the PDF itself): “Feminist Frequency 2014 Annual Report.” It has links! It has graphs (and other data visualization stuff)! It has pink and teal headers!

There’s also a “Media Interview Link Round up for October 2014,” just to prove there really was a spike in the Anita Sarkeesian news coverage at around that time.

And one of the big reasons behind that spike? See the following introduction to said “Media Round Up” on Sarkeesian’s site:

I was invited to speak at Utah State University on Wednesday October 15th, 2014 about women’s representations in video games. Sadly, the university received a series of emails threatening to commit “the deadliest school shooting in American history” if I was allowed to speak on campus. When USU and Utah police refused to screen attendees for firearms, citing the state’s concealed carry laws, I was forced to cancel the event. Below is a round up of media interviews I have done recently speaking about the threats in Utah, the epidemic of gendered harassment online, and the larger problem of sexism within the games industry as a whole.

— Anita Sarkeesian, “Media Interview Link Round up for October 2014,” Feminist Frequency

So, basically. More terrifying death threats! And gun control laws (or the lack thereof) that make those threats even more terrifying.

Since the “Annual Report” was released, Sarkeesian has posted two new videos (with transcripts) to her site. They’re both from panels at the “All About Women” conference, described on its “About” page as a “festival [that] aims to invigorate discussion on important issues and ideas that matter to women, and to bring global and Australian perspectives to the stages of the Sydney Opera House.”

One of the two speeches was given at a panel entitled “What I Couldn’t Say”; the other was given at a panel entitled “How to be a Feminist.” They’re both short (running at around 4 and a half minutes on the one hand and 5 and a half minutes on the other) and both worth a watch:

“What I Couldn’t Say” speech

“How to be a Feminist” speech

In the second video, Sarkeesian (briefly, obvs) articulates how she developed her own feminism, which is cool if you’re interested in or even just curious about where she’s coming from, and the kinds of frameworks she’s been using/is using to contextualize her arguments–whether on sexism in popular culture or on the systemic misogyny of online harassment.

On a somehow lighter but also somehow terrifying note, David Futrelle–at the hilarious but also soul-crushingly depressing MRA-mocking blog We Hunted the Mammoth**–has been following the development of the “Sarkeesian Effect” project, and you can find a bunch of those posts under the “Sarkeesian Effect” category tag at his site. What, never heard of the The Sarkeesian Effect? (I wouldn’t have, if not for Futrelle’s blog.) Well, you’re in for a . . . um, not a treat, but . . . a . . . a something. Anyway, the Effect is apparently a proposed “feature-length documentary” about exposing the evils of the evil SJW agenda. So, there’s your sign, I guess. For in-depth mockery of both the project and the dudes making it (and I can’t wait to see what up-and-coming comedy duo gets cast as Davis Aurini and Jordan Owen in Anita Sarkeesian’s first biopic), see Futrelle’s posts on the subject.


* That’s right, haters. I watched Feminist Frequency videos before it was cool. A hat tip to my bestie, L, for introducing the series to me.
** I say “soul-crushing” because I can only read so much misogyny–even secondhand, on a blog that exists for the express purpose of mocking said misogyny–before it starts to get to me.

Something Like a Timeline: Feminist Frequency Stuff

March 2014: Anita Sarkeesian awarded the 2014 Game Developers Choice Ambassador Award (link to video and transcript).

Also March 2014: Sarkeesian and the award ceremony organizers receive bomb threat at the Game Developers Choice Awards. A quote from the article:

In a statement, the award ceremony’s organizers confirmed that 25 staffers received the following anonymous email early on March 19: “A bomb will be detonated at the Game Developers Choice award ceremony tonight unless Anita Sarkeesian’s Ambassador Award is revoked. We estimate the bomb will kill at least a dozen people and injure dozens more. It would be in your best interest to accept our simple request. This is not a joke. You have been warned.”


June 2014:Women as Background Decoration (Part 1)” released.

August 2014:Women as Background Decoration (Part 2)” released. (Yay!) This video comes with a special, super-strong content warning on account of its content. And I recommend heeding said warning.

Also August 2014: Sarkeesian shares some truly disturbing, stalkerish tweets that she has received with her followers, because “it’s important for folks to know how bad it gets”: Here is the scary stuff. CONTENT WARNING for threats of rape and other forms of sexualized violence, including blood drinking.

Still August 2014: Jezebel publishes “Misogynistic Trolls Drive Feminist Video Game Critic From Her Home” (article by Callie Beusman)

Still, still August 2014:Saints Row Dev Responds to Feminist Frequency Critique” (GameSpot article by Emanuel Maiberg)

September 2014: The FBI investigates the scary, stalkerish threats against Sarkeesian and her family: “FBI Investigating Death Threats Made Against Anita Sarkeesian” (GameSpot article by Zorine Te)

Also September 2014: Sarkeesian makes appearance at Portland XOXO Festival: This Feminist Gamer’s Brave Fight Against Online Misogyny Just Earned Her a Standing Ovation (Identities.Mic article by Marcie Blanco)

In other words, Anita Sarkeesian continues to earn her epic badass cred. Props to her, her family and the cool, game-loving people who continue to support her at events like XOXO and the Game Developers Choice Awards.

Hey, A New Feminist Frequency!

Hey, there’s a new Feminist Frequency video! And it’s been up for like, over a week (but I didn’t notice it until now)! Whee!

This is part of Anita Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series. Today’s (er, June 16’s) trope: “Women as Background Decoration.”

::Skips off to watch::

New Feminist Frequency!

I haven’t updated much lately, but the good news is that Anita Sarkeesian has. On November 18th, she released the video “Ms. Male Character – Tropes vs. Women,” which is the 4th installment in her her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series.

So go check it out!

Anita Sarkeesian is an Epic Badass

Anita Sarkeesian Portrait Sketch

Anita Sarkeesian, looking sharp at her TEDxWomen Talk about Online Harassment & Cyber Mobs.

This post is just a shout-out, or an homage, or a what-have-you, to say that Anita Sarkeesian is an epic badass.

So, for those of you who don’t know, Anita Sarkeesian is the creator of the online video series Feminist Frequency and she is basically the Internet’s Bill Nye for feminism. In her series, she discusses the treatment of women in and by the media, explains feminist terminology and deconstructs the (often harmful) tropes used in the presentation of female characters. She explains her findings and her arguments in an accessible, step-by-step way, which is usually augmented by visual aides in the forms of still images, clips and bullet points.

I like her videos a lot, and my favorites are generally those in her series (sub-series?), “Tropes vs. Women.” As most of the Internet knows by now (it seems), not-too-long-ago, Ms. Sarkeesian began a kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a new line of videos, “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games.” And something happened.

Something not very nice.

A particularly nasty sub-community of gamers (who represented as predominately male) took offense. Lots of offense. All the offense. A quite staggering and bewildering amount of offense, really. And these . . . enthusiasts . . . began a campaign of their own, to discredit and revile both Ms. Sarkeesian and the project through a torrential rain of misogynistic online harassment. And you can still find a lot of it out there if you want to look, and Anita Sarkeesian saved some of it so you can find it through her website, but I don’t feel like going into the details here, as looking at all of that vitriolic, threatening bullcrap for too long makes me feel all depressed and queasy.

So what did the Feminist Frequency creator do? She turned it around, made all the money (with support from gamers and fans of her series that was in part a backlash against the trolls’ original backlash), expanded the project to include more videos and made Feminist Frequency her full-time job. (She even hired staff.)

Also, and importantly, she started raising awareness about online bullying and harassment, using her own experience as a kind of case study. The above sketch is of her giving a presentation at TED talks about the phenomenon that is the “cyber mob.” (The video is available on her site and through the TEDxTalks channel on YouTube.) In this video, Ms. Sarkeesian details how the harassment campaign launched against her was thought of and treated by its ‘players’ as a “massively multiplayer online game” in which she was cast in the role of villain. (Even now, with all of the awareness and support that she has gathered, two of the first three versions of this talk that show up on a YouTube search have more than their fair share of ignorant misogynistic vitriol in their unfiltered comments sections. One of them is even a–and I use this term loosely here–“parody” video*: an edited version of the original talk to which some enterprising soul added a laugh track and crickets chirping in the background . . . sigh. And commenters on the other unofficial version wonder why commenting was disabled on the official channel.)

I don’t like bullies.** My own experiences of being bullied in school have stayed with me well into my adulthood and they’re not just a memory. They affect me. They manifest in both emotional and physical ways, as trust issues and stress-related disorders and other lovely things that I will not go into now.

As a result, however, I have a lot of admiration for someone who can stand up to bullying on such a massive scale, and who has the drive and ability to step back and turn something so potentially poisonous into a teachable moment.

* * *

*No, I won’t link to it. Why would I do that to you? Last I checked, it had received under 700 views, anyway. Let’s do our best to keep it that way.

**Feel free to imagine Danny Phantom‘s ghost kid Sidney Poindexter (from “Splitting Images”) wailing “Bullies! . . . Bullies!” here. I know I do.