Never thought that I would be seeing this. A grand moment when two hucksters would come together to try and make some kind of grand point that everyone can latch onto. When these two ideological charlatans would try and change definitions and move goalposts to a place where they are in the right. Oh wait, we see that kind of shit all the time. No joke, it’s been the bread and butter of modern feminism. They spend so much time trying to redefine everything they can that it makes one wonder if there is anything that they can agree on what it means. Now, we have these two trying to redefine a lot of things. And because Sarkeesian was just given the ultimate echo-chamber in which to voice her thoughts, she decided to give a whole interview. Naturally, because Valenti can only “Listen and Believe,” there was no fear of any kind of contradiction. And because The Guardian has no standards of any kind, they put this shit on their site. Here’s a link to the article. Now let’s talk about it.
Anita Sarkeesian doesn’t give me the address of her San Francisco apartment over email. Instead, she texts it to me a few hours before we’re set to meet. After thousands of rape and death threats, a bomb scare and an email promising a mass shooting at one of her speaking events, a woman can’t be too careful.
I see that Valenti wastes no time helping Anita get up on her cross. *obligatory statement that I, in no way, condone death or rape threats. I just know that someone will try and use that against me, so I’ll just head that off now*
For some male gaming aficionados, the most frightening enemy isn’t an animated foe but this 31-year-old feminist with a penchant for hoop earrings, sitting across from me. They’ve called Sarkeesian a con artist, and raised thousands of dollars to film an exposé-style documentary about her (which exposes nothing). Some even created a game in which users can punch an image of her face until it is bloodied.
We don’t consider her a “frightening enemy.” We consider her a minor annoyance. She was a more major annoyance, but after all the garbage that has been dug up about her, along with her, along with her extreme sex – attitude coming to the forefront, this woman’s days of relevance in the gaming community are numbered. Oh, and it isn’t the fail-tastic “documentary” that we believe exposes her. I know that Valenti is utterly-incapable of doing impartial research, but Sarkeesian’s own words damn her. Or did you not see the “I’m not a gamer” video. It’s easy to find on YouTube, Valenti. Listen and Believe.
Sarkeesian, who wears red glasses that match her dye-tipped hair, is extraordinarily friendly and upbeat, considering the level of vitriol directed at her. “It has less to do with the actual content of the work than with ‘How dare a woman say anything about our toys’ – especially a feminist,” she tells me.
No, Valenti. We don’t like a huckster coming into our community and putting out videos where her “research” is other people’s Let’s Play footage and using bad reasoning to give this perspective that video games are sexist and hateful against women, when anyone who has involved themselves in this industry knows that to be patently false.
She found academia somewhat alienating: “The texts are impossible to read if you’re not trained, and I wondered why we would lock away this information for just a privileged group of people.” The feminist theory she read seemed more approachable: “bell hooks used media in the classroom to engage with her students; that idea of pop culture being a common language really resonated with me.”
This line is telling. There was a great video by Investig8ve Journalism where he looked at Sarkeesian’s work, including her Master’s Thesis, and was able to extrapolate that because she isn’t smart enough to look critically at complicated things, she looks critically at simple things. That says a lot about Sarkeesian and her worldview. Yeah, academic texts can be dense. There’s a reason that I prefer reading Nietzsche to Machiavelli. That and Nietzsche basically made his works giving the finger to other philosophers for how pretentious he saw the whole exchange. Fun guy. But you read things that are complicated because you want to learn. Sarkeesian doesn’t want to do that. She wants things that she doesn’t have to think too hard about. She admires women who dumb things down for her. And this is reflected in her videos, where she dumbs things down for her audience to the extreme. While also ignoring dissenting voices. Because if lesbian and bisexual women don’t exist in her worldview, then she doesn’t have to treat their opinion like it matters.
But the vitriol sparked more interest and support, and by the time her Kickstarter ended, Sarkeesian had raised almost $160,000. The attacks haven’t stopped since: some detractors have manipulated images of Sarkeesian to make them appear pornographic, or depicted images of her being raped by video game characters. All because a woman wanted to make a YouTube series about video games.
People gave $160,000 to a con artist. I love how you don’t mention the fact that it’s been over three years, and she still hasn’t kept ANY of her Kickstarter promises. Not one. She’s three years late on everything, but she is totally in the right. Feminist logic on display. And Valenti, do I need to explain to you how Internet trolls work? How they are loyal to no one, and just want to stir up shit? How they are ideological mercenaries who will go with whatever idea they can use to make trouble? Should I also talk about how Sarkeesian has been doing nothing but feeding the trolls for years? It’s so utterly ironic that she has gone out of her way to feed the trolls, yet now condemns what they do in response. Methinks this Mrs. Valenti and Ms. Sarkeesian doth protest too much.
While Sarkeesian admits the harassment has taken its toll – how could it not? – she brings the conversation back to the bigger picture. “There are a lot of people who are being targeted who don’t get the attention I do. Women of colour and trans women, in particular, are not getting media attention and not getting the support they need.”
Again, not a mention one of lesbian or bisexual women. This is not an accident. The moment, the second that Sarkeesian admits that these groups of people exist (people who may not agree with her assessment of how sexist and awful hot women in games are), her house of cards built on lies comes tumbling down. It’s all one big joke, really. The punch line is that you are helping to tell it, Valenti. That is just awesome.
It got even harder once GamerGate happened. For the uninitiated, GamerGate is a Twitter hashtag, which became an online movement that purported to be about journalistic ethics, but which actually focuses on attacking and harassing women such as Sarkeesian.
Given how Valenti has shown that she does not do any research outside of her echo chamber, the fact that she is so misinformed doesn’t surprise me.
She is frustrated by the way GamerGate has been covered in the media. “All the stories kept decentring the fact that it was domestic violence,”
Remember what I said about redefining terms? Here’s a good example. Valenti and Sarkeesian try to redefine Eron Gjoni’s blog post about the end of his relationship with Zoe Quinn as a form of “domestic violence.” A statement that is both annoying and laughably absurd. It’s annoying because I am DYING to know how a blog post airing out their dirty laundry is domestic violence. For real, come on here and explain to little ol’ me how that blog post can be conflated with an act of violence against women. They could call it libel or any number of things (which it isn’t, as testified by the fact that Quinn is trying to drop her legal case against Gjoni), but domestic violence? How the fuck does that work?
To GamerGaters, Gjoni’s post laid bare how female game designers get preferential treatment from the media – leading to the movement’s much-mocked mantra, “It’s about ethics in journalism.”
Mocked by people in your echo chamber, Valenti. Real nice way of showing how biased you are. Where did you get your journalism education, again?
Besides, as Sarkeesian points out, if this “movement” was about journalism, why wasn’t it journalists who had to deal with a barrage of rape and death threats?
Funny you say that, Valenti. I guess that you didn’t know about the knife and needle full of an unknown substance that Milo Yiannopoulous was sent in the mail. Or how a writer for The Escapist was driven to hide herself from social media because her and her family were getting so many threats. And these people are pro-GG. Gotta love those research skills you have. Real winner you are, Valenti.
The truth, Sarkeesian says, is that GamerGate existed for years before it had a name: the same core players, the same harassment, the same abuse. The hashtag just put a name on this “loosely organised mob” that attacked women in gaming, she tells me.
Of course she does. You’re giving her a pulpit in what was once a respected publication that has become an SJW rag. Of course she is going to say the most inflammatory things she can about GamerGate. She does feed the trolls, after all. She wouldn’t want them to starve. Where would her next article about how much of a victim she is come from?
“That’s the reason I don’t like the words ‘troll’ and ‘bully’ – it feels too childish. This is harassment and abuse,” she says.
And here we go. This is kind of what I wanted to get to. Sorry it took so long to get here. This is the new deal. See, Sarkeesian isn’t winning the culture war. She knows this. I give credit where it’s due, and she is a brilliant con artist. But she is aware of just how little the media cares, and how the gaming companies care. So, since she can’t win the war of hearts and minds based on merit alone, now she has to try and move the goalpost by redefining terms so that she seems even more the victim. The goal being to get the rest of the media to come back to making her out to be a hero. It’s brilliant, when you think about it. A way for her to look like the angelic hero fighting tooth and manicured nail against the EVIL GamerGate. Since she has no other leg to stand on but her victimhood (because her arguments are garbage and nobody who matters takes them seriously), this is the best she can do. Since I actually play games, I can have a real discussion with people about them. I can talk for hours about my favorite games, and debate with people the merits of certain games over others. When’s the last time that Sarkeesian talked about games without segwaying into her victimhood? Outside of her hit-piece videos, I mean. What public event has she done where she’s not a victim? All ears.
I mention that I’ve noticed an uptick of younger online abusers. Ten years ago, the harassment I received (not uncommon for feminist writers) was mostly from middle-aged men. Today, I get comments calling me a “cunt” on Instagram from boys too young to grow facial hair.
Oh, I see you there, Valenti. Getting in on that victim train narrative? Well, you are a third-wave feminist. No surprise there.
“It sucks,” she says. “It really sucks, and I don’t want to think too much about it, because I can’t do anything about it. It’s my new normal.”
I don’t believe for a minute that any of it bothers her. Not one. She’s worked too hard to cultivate this victim narrative for it to genuinely be something that hurts her feelings. Sarkeesian has made herself into the ultimate martyr, and it’s what she wants. She wants all this attention and adulation. She lives in this hugbox of love from all these women who think that she’s so great. They give her money. Boatloads of it. The press has given her so much positive coverage. Her name was bigger than ever. She went on The Colbert Report, and that big shit-eating grin of hers told me all I needed to know – she knows she’s on TV Stuff like that makes me think that not one bit of this bothers her. Unless she has become so good of a con artist that she is conning herself.
Sarkeesian is exhausted – she hasn’t taken a break since 2012 – but she’s not willing to give up. Even with the death threats, the obsessive abusers, the fear and the enormous personal cost, she asks a question asked by so many change-makers: “How can I give up now? I’m not going anywhere.”
Neither are we, Anita. You may ignore every opinion that isn’t from a white man, but we are still here. Gamers have been dealing with this bullshit for forever. For as long as gaming has been a thing, we have been dealing with disapproval from society. But you are losing the culture war. You showed your hand too early. You started adopting Jack Thompson’s ideologies. You won’t address that women who like sexy women exist. You are making too many mistakes. And now we have AAA devs coming out in support of GamerGate and just wanting the politicization to stop. Your side is losing this battle, and thank the Spirits. This battle needed to end years ago. Now, maybe we can actually focus on moving forward. You will keep up the victim narrative, so long as you see dollar signs in it. People like Valenti will keep sucking up to you and heaping praise on you, because she is a needy worm. But this is what it will be. Gamers are willing to stick this fight out until the end. A battle of words, that you will eventually lose. What’s more, I refuse to believe that Sarkeesian hasn’t planned for that. As good a con artist as she is, she must have an end game to this. Or maybe she is overconfident. Maybe she genuinely believes that she can win this out. As I said, she may have started to con herself. If so, then her delusions will destroy her.
Until next time, a quote,
“It’s an election year. We would prefer that voters didn’t use common sense.” -Aaron Sorkin