By: Rachel Auslander
Anita Sarkeesian is a woman on a mission. That mission is to educate the world about the
portrayal of women in pop culture narratives, and change the future representation of
women in media for the better. She began her efforts by creating a video series, “Tropes
vs. Women,” published on her website and YouTube, Feminist Frequency. In this video
series, she analyzes sexism in pop culture, from advertisements to the Bechdel test in
movies, to make feminist theory more accessible. With the rising popularity of her
videos, she began to focus only on the portrayal of women in video games, discussing the
damsel in distress, as well as other issues. Women make up half of all gamers, yet most
of the video game industry objectifies women as sexual objects.
Sarkeesian’s videos have not pleased everyone, unfortunately, and have received major
backlash from male gamers. Sarkeesian, as well as game developers Zoe Quinn and
Brianna Wu, received a huge amount of online harassment during the gamergate
controversy, in which the girls’ private information was leaked and they were given
numerous rape and death threats. The harassment hasn’t stopped, and Sarkeesian speaks
out against online threats and harassment, and showcases some of the worst tweets
against her on her Twitter. Male gamers, as well as other men, have been intimidated by
Sarkeesian’s videos, due to the fact that she is breaking the objectifying mold, and is
being heard, not just seen.
Online harassment is a huge problem and really needs to be taken seriously. Domestic
violence against women in real life is just beginning to be reprimanded for, and online
harassment needs to be seen in that manner as well.
When Sarkeesian talked to Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report, I couldn’t really tell if
he was kidding at first. He interrupted her, and made some comments that sounded more
derogatory than sarcastic. By the end of their talk, Colbert proclaimed himself a feminist.
However, he didn’t end up facing online harassment after he said that, despite the fact
that there are plenty of people who talk about being a feminist online and in real life as if
it’s an insult. Sarkeesian and many other young women face online harassment everyday
just for trying to educate people about feminism. Last time I checked, that’s a double
Time Magazine referred to Anita Sarkeesian as the “Video Game Avenger,” which is a
perfect title. Sarkeesian has been fighting for the representation of women, and like the
Avengers, she has a lot of power to reckon with, so the angry gamers better shape up.