One of the most irritating side effects of Gamergate is that it’s caused so many male critics, when writing about the issue of feminism and gaming, to adopt a prose style marked by its timidness that drifts frequently into obtuseness, their assholes clenched in fear that the Gamergaters might call them “manginas” if they ever show any level of sympathy for feminist criticisms of gaming culture. Stephen Totilo’s piece at Kotaku covering Anita Sarkeesian’s talk on 8 ways that developers can make video games better for women is one of the most egregious examples of late. I don’t know if this passage is an attempt to mollify Gamergaters or if it’s a result of Totilo having some sympathy with some of their stupid arguments, but either way, it caused me to want to make him squeeze a fucking stress ball, have a beer, get a massage, or whatever. Just learn to relax.
Moreover, it’s worth bearing in mind the obvious, that she’s a feminist and that her view is that men and women are perceived very differently in society. “Equal opportunity sexual objectification is not the answer here,” she said. “It actually isn’t equal.” Her view of how women are seen in much of society and culture is fundamental to her arguments: “Women are thought of and represented as sexual objects to be used by and for the sexual pleasure of others in society, and men are not viewed that way. There’s no long-standing oppressive construct of men being seen as sexual objects and reduced to that in real life.” If you agree with her worldview, you’re likely with her on many or all of these eight things. If not, well, you’re unlikely to see much here you can back.
If you agree or don’t or blah blah blah. Jesus Christ, man, take a side!
Criticism is just that, criticism. It should go without saying that you can take it or leave it. Sarkeesian’s talk isn’t 8 things that video game developers have to do or else they should die in a fire. It’s a list of 8 things you should do if you want to make games less sexist. If you are perfectly fine being a sexist, feel free to disregard her advice and make games as sexist as you want. And you’ll be called a sexist for it, due to the fact that’s what you fucking are.
The problem here is not that Sarkeesian is trying to control anyone. It’s that a bunch of dudes want to have it both ways: They want to wallow in sexism, and they want women to kiss their asses and call them heroes for it. That is a bullshit request. Be as sexist as you fucking want, guys, but don’t start whining and crying like little babies if women turn their noses up and treat you like the gross creep you are. You aren’t entitled to have people like you when you act like a total shitstain.
And please, male critics, stop tip-toeing around the fee-fees of men who feel entitled to both be sexist and to not be called sexist for it. No one is trying to stifle anyone’s creative urges here. It’s just that if the muses tell you to be a sexist asshat, we feel entitled to say that is what you are. But if you sincerely want advice on how to make video games less offensive to women, I think Sarkeesian’s views have a lot to offer you. Considering that so much of gaming is based on choice-making and if-then propositions, you’d think that people into gaming would get this, and yet.