So, this post is an introduction to my finally, hopefully, going through all of the Tropes vs Women videos and commenting on them. There are a few reasons why I’m now deciding to try to push on doing this, but they mostly follow from the fact that Sarkeesian is not going to go away, which could be good or bad depending on what you think of her views. She’s being tapped for more and more things and might be more influential, and so we’re likely to be hearing from her for a long, long time to come. Which pushes me to comment on her videos because:
1) This is going to be an on-going debate, and we do have to have a debate on this. My putting this out is my contribution to that, even if few ever read it and even fewer care.
2) The main purpose of this blog is to get me to write down the things that I think about a lot so I can stop thinking about them. With Sarkeesian constantly coming up in video game discussions, I’m going to hear a lot about it, which will remind me of the things I didn’t care for in the analysis. At least this way I can say that I’ve already written about it and, hopefully, can then stop thinking about it or feeling bad because I haven’t talked about it yet.
So, in this post, let me outline my overall and general issues with the series:
1) The things that she says that are true are not new. They’ve been talked about for ages and ages in various places. Now sometimes you do have to repeat true things, and also sometimes someone can be lauded for putting those old ideas in new, interesting, and clearer ways. The issue is that Sarkeesian generally doesn’t; her approach is not particularly interesting and often seems muddled, particularly because …
2) … the things that she says that are new are almost certainly not true. She tosses in a lot of what are at best very controversial ideas in the same context as the old and true ideas, and tries to link them all together, which weakens the overall argument that her videos are trying to make. She also judges a lot of things on a rather shallow assessment, which means that as soon as I note the issues she has in interpreting Dragon Age: Origins I start to wonder about the other games as well, which again weakens the overall point of the videos.
3) It really seems to me that underneath all of the feminist theory and psychology and the like, that at the end of the day her argument boils down to “We need more female protagonists” … which is not a particularly interesting comment and goes against a lot of her recommendations and her criticisms of gaming companies and gaming in general.
But I hope to make this more clear when I post on her specific videos.
One thing that I need to address are claims that this will only increase the harassment of her as people use my charges that she’s, well, wrong about things to harass her for being wrong. That might happen (I personally doubt it, considering how small this blog is). But I still have to be able to criticize her views if I think them wrong, no matter how others might use that. We simply cannot say that a lot of people are jerks to her so no one can criticize her. That’s an artificial stifling of debate, and that’s not acceptable. We might just as well insist that she not talk about things that people will disagree with as say that people ought not disagree with her because of the potential for harassment. I will strive in my responses to be fair, charitable, and argue for my position with as strong arguments, reason and evidence as I can. That’s all anyone can expect from me, and that should be acceptable.