Yes please, explain to me again how this has nothing to do with sexism.
[TRIGGER WARNING for EVERYTHING]
This dominant narrative surrounding the inevitability of female objectification and victimhood is so powerful that it not only defines our concepts of reality but it even sets the parameters for how we think about entirely fictional worlds, even those taking place in the realms of fantasy and science fiction. It’s so normalized that when these elements are critiqued, the knee-jerk response I hear most often is that if these stories did not include the exploitation of women, then the game worlds would feel too “unrealistic” or “not historically accurate”. What does it say about our culture when games routinely bend or break the laws of physics and no one bats an eye? When dragons, ogres and magic are inserted into historically influenced settings without objection. We are perfectly willing to suspend our disbelief when it comes to multiple lives, superpowers, health regeneration and the ability to carry dozens of weapons and items in a massive invisible backpack. But somehow the idea of a world without sexual violence and exploitation is deemed too strange and too bizarre to be believable.
In the wake of the horrors that have been inflicted on Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, and those who support them, Tim Colwill of Games.on.net posted an announcement today telling “readers who feel threatened by equality” that they were “no longer welcome” on his site. What does that make him?
A big damn hero, sir.
Ain’t he just? Here’s a snippet:
So, here’s another change for you: if you really think feminism, or women, are destroying games, or that LGBT people and LGBT relationships have no place in games, or that games in any way belong to you or are “under attack” from political correctness or “social justice warriors”: please leave this website. I don’t want your clicks, I don’t want your hits, I don’t want your traffic. Leave now and please don’t come back.
I’m asking politely. You’re free to think whatever you like and to complain about whatever you like, but do it somewhere else. Comments are closed on this article, because this isn’t up for debate. I’m not seeking any input on this, or any carefully worded thoughts on how we need to take these concerns seriously or to hear “both sides of the story”. As long as I am in charge of this ship, I will happily admit to pushing an agenda: I want better representation in games. That’s my agenda. That’s our agenda.
Keep in mind that for every Colwill there are many others who do not speak out. They are afraid of losing business. They are afraid of being ridiculed. They are afraid of being attacked and ruined the way Phil Fish was when he spoke out.
It’s very important, therefore, that people like Colwill get the credit and the attention they deserve. Tell people about it. Put it on Twitter and Facebook.
I have a little girl that I’d like to one day introduce to video games, but I increasingly see the gaming community as something I should be protecting her from rather than something I want her to join. Arthur Chu said of his own hypothetical girl yesterday, “ I feel like the responsible thing to do is to save my daughter the grief and keep her out of gaming, or at least warn her that ‘It’s Dangerous to Go Alone.’”
Colwill shares my hope for a gaming world that is safe for girls and that represents them respectfully, and he is willing to stand up for that hope, even knowing that others who have taken a similar stand have been subjected to horrible abuse. He deserves some attention and gratitude for his courage. Give it to him.
Thanks for reading.
Tasha Robinson, in a piece for The Dissolve in June, provides us with a great questionnaire for determining if a “strong female character” is really all that strong:
So here’s a quick questionnaire for filmmakers who’ve created a female character who isn’t a dishrag, a harpy, a McGuffin to be passed around, or a sex toy. Congratulations, you have a Strong Female Character. That’s a great start! But now what? Screenwriters, producers, directors, consider this:
- After being introduced, does your Strong Female Character then fail to do anything fundamentally significant to the outcome of the plot? Anything at all?
- If she does accomplish something plot-significant, is it primarily getting raped, beaten, or killed to motivate a male hero? Or deciding to have sex with/not have sex with/agreeing to date/deciding to break up with a male hero? Or nagging a male hero into growing up, or nagging him to stop being so heroic? Basically, does she only exist to service the male hero’s needs, development, or motivations?
- Could your Strong Female Character be seamlessly replaced with a floor lamp with some useful information written on it to help a male hero?
- Is a fundamental point of your plot that your Strong Female Character is the strongest, smartest, meanest, toughest, or most experienced character in the story—until the protagonist arrives?
- …or worse, does he enter the story as a bumbling fuck-up, but spend the whole movie rapidly evolving past her, while she stays entirely static, and even cheers him on? Does your Strong Female Character exist primarily so the protagonist can impress her?
- It’s nice if she’s hyper-cool, but does she only start off that way so a male hero will look even cooler by comparison when he rescues or surpasses her?
- Is she so strong and capable that she’s never needed rescuing before now, but once the plot kicks into gear, she’s suddenly captured or threatened by the villain, and needs the hero’s intervention? Is breaking down her pride a fundamental part of the story?
- Does she disappear entirely for the second half/third act of the film, for any reason other than because she’s doing something significant to the plot (besides being a hostage, or dying)?
If you can honestly answer “no” to every one of these questions, you might actually have a Strong Female Character worthy of the name. Congratulations!
Find the whole piece here: We’re losing all our Strong Female Characters to Trinity Syndrome
Last year, in total, British police officers actually fired their weapons three times. The number of people fatally shot was zero. In 2012 the figure was just one. Even after adjusting for the smaller size of Britain’s population, British citizens are around 100 times less likely to be shot by a police officer than Americans. Between 2010 and 2014 the police force of one small American city, Albuquerque in New Mexico, shot and killed 23 civilians; seven times more than the number of Brits killed by all of England and Wales’s 43 forces during the same period.
The explanation for this gap is simple. In Britain, guns are rare. Only specialist firearms officers carry them; and criminals rarely have access to them. The last time a British police officer was killed by a firearm on duty was in 2012, in a brutal case in Manchester. The annual number of murders by shooting is typically less than 50. Police shootings are enormously controversial. The shooting of Mark Duggan, a known gangster, which in 2011 started riots across London, led to a fiercely debated inquest. Last month, a police officer was charged with murder over a shooting in 2005. The reputation of the Metropolitan Police’s armed officers is still barely recovering from the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent Brazilian, in the wake of the 7/7 terrorist bombings in London.
In America, by contrast, it is hardly surprising that cops resort to their weapons more frequently. In 2013, 30 cops were shot and killed—just a fraction of the 9,000 or so murders using guns that happen each year. Add to that a hyper-militarised police culture and a deep history of racial strife and you have the reason why so many civilians are shot by police officers. Unless America can either reduce its colossal gun ownership rates or fix its deep social problems, shootings of civilians by police—justified or not—seem sure to continue.
(Shown: my kiddo, two years ago today.)
Happy second birthday, kiddo.
"Kiddo" is my second choice of a pet name for you. I prefer "baby girl", but — as you are constantly reminding me — you are not a baby anymore. You are starting to string multiple words together in ways that I never taught you to. You count all the way to 13 when you come down the stairs. You know most of your letters. And you’re huge, as tall as some kids who have a year on you. You’ll make a fine power forward some day.
So, “kiddo” it is.
You don’t understand yet, but it’s your birthday. That’s why I gave you an extra graham cracker this morning and let you eat it out of your high chair. Don’t expect me to make a habit of it (unless you smile real big at me).
I’m glad you like the new comforter and sheets for your big girl bed. No pretty princesses for you, just alligators, zebras, monkeys, giraffes, penguins, and tigers. When you noticed the design, you pointed at the comforter and said, “Ammals,” (you don’t have the middle syllable of animals yet) and I knew your mom and I had made the right choice.
It’s not that we have a problem with pretty things, or that we don’t want you to be pretty. We do, and, by the way, you are (seriously, strangers still come up to us to tell us how pretty your eyes are). But soon, much too soon, the world will start bombarding you with messages that you’re not thin enough and that your worth as a person is measured by your attractiveness to men. I want you to learn first that there are much better things than being pretty, and I want you to have fun with your ammals for as long as you can.
You have another birthday present coming today, too. Your mom has knitted you a plush of Cat from your favorite TV show Peg + Cat. I know you’re going to love it. I’m so happy you’ve chosen a show starring a smart, spunky, musical girl as your favorite show. It gives me hope for the future.
It’s a cliché to say that being your daddy has changed my life, but it’s true. As the song I sing to you every night starts, “[e]verything I see is new”. You have completely changed the way I see things.
This blog is about things you have helped me see. I never called myself a feminist before I was your dad, not because I didn’t believe in gender equality but because I didn’t understand how far away gender equality really is. Being your dad has helped me see things in myself and in the world around me that aren’t fair — things that will challenge me as I try to raise you from an awesome girl to an awesome woman. These are the things I started writing about.
But enough about this vain little blog for now. What I’m trying to say is, you are a big deal. You are a big, important, monumental, life-changing deal. You have shaken me to my foundations, and you are making me into a new person every day. I hope you understand how special you are.
Kiddo, I love you.
(Everyone else, thanks for reading.)