Why the Trope of Anita Sarkeesian Matters
Written by Jacqueline Spiegel   
Saturday, 14 July 2012
Article Index
Why the Trope of Anita Sarkeesian Matters
Kickstarting a storm
Why this matters
Unite against online violence

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest

In case you had missed it, as I had, a quick recap – Anita Sarkeesian posted a Kickstarter campaign to fund her 5th season of the Video Game Tropes vs Women. She asked for a paltry sum of $6,000 and received close to $160,000 – as well as a maelstrom of abuse the likes of which most of us are unfamiliar with. The article by Helen Lewis, This is what online harassment looks like, in the NewStatesman tells the story in graphic detail - do not click unless you are prepared to be seriously disturbed.

In a subsequent NewStatesman article Helen Lewis writes:

One of the reasons I write regularly about online abuse/trolling/harassment (or, as I guess you'd have it, "confine myself to" writing about it) is because a staggering amount of people aren't aware that it exists, and are grateful to be made aware of it." 

Yup, that would be me, and maybe you too. 

And just in case you have even more of a stomach than you thought you did, try the entirety of abuse as selectively posted by Anita and also the abuse that female gamers themselves are exposed to regularly just because they game, as Anita also does.

Who are these people anyway?

I actually have spent a lot of time trying to figure out and label this segment of the population who believe it is ok to:

post graphics images, draw and post pornographic images starring the subject, alter wiki pages to incorporate pornographic content, claim to Kickstarter that Anita is as fraud so that she does not receive the money, post her address on line, invite others to or say that one will physically and in groups assault

(I am using super tame language here, not because of me – trust me I can barely contain myself– but because we can't stoop to the same level.)

And the first clue is that although Anita Sarkeesian was no stranger to this kind of abuse when she started the Feminist Frequency vid-blog, it is poignant to note that this abuse skyrocketed with her Kickstarter.

To the best of my ability – and I implore others to research this and expose this situation – expose each and every anonymous thug – it is a group that is threatened by the idea that Anita Sarkeesian is out to change the safe gaming world which represents female characters as, according to Anita:

"The Damsel in Distress, The Fighting F#@k Toy, The Sexy Sidekick, The Sexy Villainess, Background Decoration, Voodoo Priestess/Tribal Sorceress, Woman as Reward, Mrs. Male Character, Unattractive Equals Evil, Man with Boobs."


And the reason they are upset enough to behave this way did not begin with Anita, she just knocked the concern out of the ballpark, because apparently the safe cushy world of gaming has been changing for a while, no longer is it a safe place for a group who needs it that way, and women, I suppose, who are now 55% of gamers are starting to have some affect on a world that predominantly was theirs alone. 

Now most articles on this topic would have stopped at this point, and maybe cut it down to about third of what I have written. But I am not going to do that. I am going to introduce you to Anita, and explain why she is so damned important. Because otherwise, frankly, she is relegated to symbols and images, and truly Anita Sarkeesian has a lot to say, if only we can open our ears to hear it.

Who is Anita Sarkeesian



 Photo Credit: Helen Lawrence


Anita Sarkeesian is a media and culture critic whose video blog and website Feminist Frequency focuses on women and how they are portrayed throughout the media including books, movies, tv, internet culture, popular culture and games.

Her work has been incorporated into the curriculum of Law Schools, Universities, and lower schools. And make no mistake about it, what Anita Sarkeesian does is extremely important. She has made a career of pointing out tropes that most women (and I include myself in this), see as one-off degrading experiences. She takes the time to identify that it is a trope in the first place, research the trope across all media, comment on it, and package it in a pretty bundle that is not too offensive or tedious to digest.




Wait a minute, What's a Trope?

I needed this definition as well, so thank you Anita Sarkeesian for supplying it:

"A trope is a common pattern in a story or a recognizable attribute in a character that conveys information to the audience, a tope becomes a cliché when it is over used, sadly some of these tropes often perpetuate offensive stereotypes"


Last Updated ( Monday, 16 July 2012 )