Friday, June 15, 2012

Let's Play a Game Part 2: Women vs. Tropes + Trolling Felicia Day

I'm telling you, I think the internet finally went too far this past week. Well, okay, I know not really...but it seems like, for once, people are actually paying attention to online harrassment and what a detrimental and unpleasant pall it casts on geek culture. Obviously it's focused on games right now, but you could apply it to anything where women create/discuss something and guys become frothing mad bullies about it.

I'll freely admit that I don't understand the impulse to troll, just like I don't understand the impulse to bully. Both are unintelligent, nasty, demeaning, and pointless, other than to make their target feel like crap. I personally think they're interchangeable words for the same/similar activity, except trolling is more online exclusive and can be just stupid instead of nasty. However, trolling does seem to be catching on in real life to a worrying degree. See anything regarding women's health or our current political "debates" for reference.

I don't get it, not because I'm some kind of amazing person, but because I am able to both sympathize and empathize with others. And because, since I also make things, I would be pretty ashamed of myself if I attacked someone else for doing so, even if whatever they do isn't my cup of tea. There's also a world of difference between a thoughtful critique of a work, which if you put it out there you are opening yourself up to, and heaping abuse on someone just because you don't like something they made/did/said. It would kind of be like if I walked up to people on the street and started screaming in their faces because I don't like their pants. Their pants are not my problem, I'm fully capable of going about my day without making a comment about them. The only time I might confront someone about their pants is if they're, like, attacking other people & strangling them, on fire, or missing altogether in a public place.

Of course, online anonymity makes this a lot easier for some people. I use handles myself but I don't use them as an excuse to be an asshole. If I say something I own it. And I personally believe in courtesy, even if the exchange is happening in a comments section on a website with strangers. That doesn't mean I don't get passionate or snarky from time to time. But I don't, for instance, call people names, threaten them with violence, or otherwise behave like the internet is my own personal, private, shit show. The fact that some people just go straight to that baffles me.

I'm sure people can (and have) argued that this is "just how the internet is". And most of us who spend any time here know that a certain amount of crap comes with it. However. That doesn't make rape/death threats okay, nor does it mean that we can't work towards making spaces better, and calling out awful when we see it. To me, very few things have ever changed by ignoring them. Which is not to say you should engage with every online troll you run across, that would take forever. But sometimes engaging can be important and you should do it when and if you feel safe to.

This brings me to the two instances this last week that really brought the this whole issue of Being a Woman on the Internet front and center for a lot of people. Since I'm an active feminist I've seen many versions of this already. Blogging While Female, Blogging While Feminist, Men Call Me Things, Crap Email From a Dude, and other examples of what women face (many daily) when they discuss gender politics (or just politics) and/or are just female and do stuff online. You don't have to be doing anything divisive or political or activism-y to warrant it.

So, there's this awesome Kickstarter project, Women vs Tropes: Video Games. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/566429325/tropes-vs-women-in-video-games
It's a project by Anita Sarkeesian, who does videos criticizing pop culture media with a feminist bent. They're all awesome and you should check them out. You can check out the one the Kickstarter is for here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8I0Wy58adM.

The shitstorm basically happened when that same Youtube video was trolled like whoa, with some of the most disgustingly misogynist comments, threats, and ugliness I've ever seen. You can check it out, she's left them all up to make a point about why this is such a problem. Beyond that, her Wikipedia page was basically defaced with a porn shot and liberal use of the word "cunt", and I suspect her email inbox was flooded with additional crap. Whether you agree with her premise or project is beside the point. Wanting to discuss tropes and issues in video games shouldn't result in rape threats. But then, in an industry that thinks giving Lara Croft a rapey backstory gives her "depth" and weirdly paternalistic "sexiness", it just shows how necessary the project is.

I'm happy to say that not only is Sarkeesian standing up and talking about this, her project is funded, and has raised a whopping $155k+. That's a goodly amount more than the original $6 thousand goal. So, kudos internet trolls, you just made sure she'll be making a LOT more of these, and opened up a massive can of worms that no one who isn't a giant asshole is going to defend.

Finally, we have Felicia Day. Who had the apparent audacity to write, produce, sing, and make a video of a charming little country western song about a gamer girl and a country boy. It's sweet and fun and I'm not even a country music person. It also made the trolls come out in force, mostly with weird accusations about "gamer girls" who aren't real gamers and just play them to get attention...and other assorted stupidity. I watched the video and...the point, they missed it. By a bajillion miles. Yeah, sure, her "character" dresses up in cos-play. I was not aware that dressing up as characters you like means you're not really a geek. Someone should tell all those authentic Stormtroopers they don't really like Star Wars, they just want attention. I'll wait.

Anyway, Day wrote a very thoughtful blog post about it (http://feliciaday.com/blog) and it's pretty clear that sexism played a major role in the kind of comments she got. Since she's a visible geek (who is also a woman), and a successful one who needn't prove herself to anyone, she bore the brunt of what looks like a lot of petty jealousy and girl-hate. Whether you like the stuff that Day does or not, there's no doubt that she works hard and cares about what she's doing. And she has the brass ovaries to put it out there, knowing some people won't like it, and for that she gets a troll storm.

Whatever. I'd really like to see any one of those commenters do even a third of the things she does. It's always people who do nothing but have a lot of opinions that seem to feel the most entitled to crap on anything anyone else does in the least intelligent manner possible. I'll eat my shoes if a single one of them is a legitimate writer/musician/math degree wielding/geek/gamer/actor, who produces their own successful web series, site, and book club. Not to mention comic book writer and assorted other stuff, like going to a ton of conventions and doing charity work. But let's totes yell at her, you guys! Sheesh, you'd think she was ACCOMPLISHING something.

The point of all this is that when women do things, there's a certain sort of person who wants to put them down and silence them. Not because what they're doing is bad or wrong, but because they're daring to do it at all. Sometimes it's because they're discussing sexism directly and working towards better awareness of how it pervades the culture. Other times it's because they're making things in fields men feel entitled to be the arbiters of, and their sheer presence neatly undermines a lot of common sexist stereotypes people don't appreciate being made to re-think. Bonus if they have the audacity to be accomplished and good at it, too. Whoops. That's a big old no-no, apparently.

But I think this latest blow up kind of put in sharp relief just how wrong and off this all is. The Women vs. Tropes Kickstarter funding is one way that's indicated. The amount of people coming out in defense of Day is another. But even more, maybe, are the sheer number of articles and blogs dedicated to discussing this all as a real problem within gaming culture, and the culture at large. There're only so many times you can see this kind of thing and not start seeing how it's all connected. Unless you're really obtuse, in which case, whatevs, life is going to be difficult for you.

And the thing is, some people will say "well, whatever, this isn't a REAL problem" like they do with pretty much any issue that effects Not Them. That's happens with literally every problem that effects women no matter how big or "important" it actually is. Curiously, something else is always "worse". But I think the real problem is that people don't understand that it's all interconnected. How you treat women online who say things you don't like is directly related to how you view women in general. It also relates to how you view female characters and what kind of backstory gives them "depth". It relates to the casual use of rape threats to try and silence uncomfortable discussion about gender in media. Which then relates to the problem with our rape culture, where 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted. Which can then be viewed by how in some places in the world women are raped as a form of genocide. That is then related to the fact that we're currently seeing some of the most regressive reproductive health laws/bills in the U.S., and being told that "women don't care about it", they care about the economy, only we were just denied equal pay, again. Then there's how women's economic power is directly related to issues of poverty, and that the more economic growth women have, the better the world wide economy is, not to mention improvement in education and children's welfare.

So, sure, I guess you can dismiss this stuff as "silly" if you really want to. But the reality is that if you treat women as "things" to any degree, you're part of the larger problem. And I'm pretty sure women in general are really sick of it.

109 comments:

  1. Bravo! I will definitely be sharing this.

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    1. the term is "brava" when said to a woman... just sayin'

      in all seriousness, i get SO pissed when women are put down just because they are women... this is 2012 (not 1912)...

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  2. I think a lot of people just have issues with feminism. Feminism is the female equivalent to chauvinism. It's also the gender equivalent of racism, and any other negative 'isms' out there.

    Me? I'm an equalist - I believe that all people have equal rights, which is something that regularly gets me in trouble, because people are under the odd impression that it's okay to hate men, but not women, and okay to be racist against whites, but no one else. I mean, look at it this way - it's okay to be a feminist, but nothing else. Being 'pro-male' means you're a chauvinistic male pig creature in today's society. I can't say I've ever found anyone else that shares this point of view, and I long for the day when I can.

    Point is, though, that I don't like the whole current trend of girls getting all up and saying "Hey guys, I'm a GRRL and I'm a PROUD NERD and WOMYN POWER FOREVAH!" all over the internet. I mean, I think people should just be happy with themselves that they're a girl that likes nerdy shit, or being a girl that doesn't - no need to advertise it like it makes you somehow better in some way. Then again, I say the same thing about homosexuals and non-Caucasians - be who you are, fight for your rights, but eventually you've gotta settle down and say "Okay, no one actually gives a shit that I'm gay anymore - time to stop advertising it like I have to."

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    1. If you are for assimilation into the greater culture, you should change your name to Louis. Sticking to Luis is a sign of excessive pride in Hispanic heritage.

      (I don't actually believe the above paragraph, but I believe it could be raised sincerely by someone who thinks along those same lines. Poe's Law and all that...)

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    2. Hi, Luis.

      I'm going to have to disagree with you on a few points here, so bear with me.

      1. It's not really "okay" to be feminist, except in feminist circles and feminist-friendly spaces. What happened to Anita Sarkeesian is, unfortunately, rather common for women who identify as such, and even more so for those who are active about it online. Other feminists and feminist allies obviously think it's fine. But the status quo does not, nor do a lot of individuals who find the idea of gender equality and discussing/working/raising awareness about sexism threatening. Which is quite a lot of people.

      2. Feminism is not the equivalent of chauvinism or racism. It's literally just about working towards gender equality. It's not anti-male, it's actually very pro-men, just not pro patriarchy, which is the power structure that privileges men and their pov over others, and quite frankly, does them a whole heap of harm with it's gender stereotypes. Feminists are not fond of it no matter who it's effecting.

      3. Well, there are plenty of men's rights groups that would agree with you. The only issue there is that they tend to ignore the very real issue of privilege, which on a systemic level, skews things in favor of one group (white, hetero, men) over all others. It's important to note that it has nothing to do with whether individual men have experienced negativity or problems in their lives. It's about a system that perpetuates itself and limits a lot of people's lives in the process.

      4. Likwise, it's kind of difficult for me to say that white people experience racism because, although I'm sure they can experience what it's like for someone to have a bias or prejudice about them for being white...it ultimately doesn't effect their ability to make choices or limit their lives in any way. Because white people (and I'm white) are privileged. Someone disliking us for being white doesn't undermine that privilege at all. So it may suck, but it's not even close to the kind of experience a person of color will have in our society.

      5. All the people you're mentioning are part of discriminated, targeted, ostracized, and/or groups whose very existence is undermined by our culture. Their voices are silenced, threatened, and limited. So they have to speak out, often, and with conviction, in order for their issues to be addressed at all.

      6. I think maybe you should examine why it bothers you that women would want to embrace both their nerdiness/geekiness, and their identity as women, and why you think that means they believe they are "better". That's an interesting assumption you might want to investigate. They likely ARE happy with themselves. We are a sum of our parts, and our gender is often part of that identity. Especially in a world that very clearly values one gender over another.

      As a straight, white, person...it's very easy for me to never question my privilege because I just have it. It's just there, all the time. There are certain things I never have to deal with, ever. That's reality. What I can do, however, is be aware of that and examine my assumptions and that privilege. I can actively listen to those who don't have it and make the effort to consider other people's pov. It's hard and it's often uncomfortable, but overall, it makes for better discussions and awareness.

      And finally...our society caters to the straight, white, male, pov. But to anyone who isn't those things, it feels oppressive and silencing, because it is. They're not advertising their otherness, they are addressing the fact that they are othered. It's a luxury and a privilege to have no shortage of representation in our culture. People who question that privilege are rightfully asking why the status quo is so threatened by anyone else seeking the same.

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    3. I have to disagree here; feminism is one half of the fight for equality, but it's not inherently sexist. Nine out of ten feminists support men's rights, because supporting women's rights makes it ten times easier to argue for men's rights too.

      I'm a straight, white man. I'm very lucky to be those three things. Yes, there are issues that come with being a man, with being straight and with being white, but they are not as great as the issues that would come with being gay or female or black.

      When a man tells a woman to get back in the kitchen, it's a slap in the face to every man who likes to cook. When a man criticises a woman for working instead of raising her child, it degrades every man who stays home to raise his children. Fight for one person's rights and you get the other one's right as a freebie...

      I think you have an interesting (if shockingly out of touch) definition of feminism. Most people who call themselves feminists are fighting for equality. Most people who fit your narrow definition of feminism are not actually feminists. If the term offends you, try reading the context and ignore the word; I'd say that this post is by one of the good ones, so take it in the spirit in which it was written.

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    4. As a fellow straight white male, I can understand where you're coming from. When you spend every day of your life not being discriminated against, it's hard to imagine what it's like for everyone else. We all live in our own little worlds, and if it doesn't affect your world directly, it must not be that big of a deal, right?

      But the reality is that your world is only one teeny, tiny speck on the surface of the planet. Not everyone's life is like yours. Across the world, pretty much everyone who is not a straight white male deals with discrimination every single day.

      Here in the US, it's rare for someone to get dragged naked down the middle of Main St chained to the back of a truck -- though it does happen now and then -- and because most discrimination is more subtle than that, it's easy for those of us who don't experience it not to see it. But if you have actual meaningful relationships with anyone who is not a straight white male, you should be able to see how it affects them.

      While there ARE plenty of man-haters out there, many in the feminist community, that's not what feminism is about. Feminism is about fighting for women to be treated equally to men. If you're truly an "equalist" and want to life in a world where everyone is treated equal, then you ARE a feminist. But you're not helping the cause by burying your head in the sand and pretending we're already there.

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    5. Bravo to Luis for opening a respectful dialogue of his concerns.
      Luis and many others have been told to beware of "feminists" because they are "man-haters" or want women privilege. No, Luis. We (including many men), want fairness. I don't want my daughter or mother treated like a second-class citizen, getting just the scraps, and being the scapegoat whenever anything goes wrong. And I do NOT want my father or husband or sons to get put in that position either. They shouldn't bear the sole responsibility for making the world a better place. Value women.
      Acknowledge how they like yourself have been formed and deformed by cultural gender prejudice since birth. Recognize their potential as unique, complex individuals within a very narrowly defined class.
      Men control the resources, the money, the government, and often the homes in this world. As a man, you have the power to bring justice and enlightenment. Be a man and help protect women's rights to fully live their lives.

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    6. No. You seem like a nice guy, and it probably makes you feel better to think that it's a good sign, but it's the opposite. Trolling to that depth of viciousness is a sign that many men think it is acceptable; that there is not just more disdain for womanhood, but actual white-hot hatred, that either cannot be contained or there's a sense it doesn't need to be contained because it isn't really wrong as long as it is done to a woman.
      Bullying has always existed, but a rape-culture exists where bullying (threatening, pushing, hurting) women is a male-bonding experience.

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    7. You never found anyone else? That's weird because your comment looks like a satire of the comments you can find under any article concerning feminism on popular news websites. Top it with the "reverse racism" claim.

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    8. This is a very well-worded response, bravo.

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    9. 2. Feminism is not the equivalent of chauvinism or racism. It's literally just about working towards gender equality. It's not anti-male, it's actually very pro-men...

      I'm going to disagree with this..and I mean in a general sense. I believe Feminism is born out of insecurity more than anything. I believe both women and men have different places in society but obviously, I'm going to get heat for simply saying that and be labeled as 'wrong'. This is usually bred out of the innate desire for a woman to control a man, or men, just as men wish to do the same. Just as a man learns to accept or carve out their place in society, why is it not possible for women to do the same without the axe to grind? Truly, I don't believe any woman should be a leader of men, and if that is the case then I guarantee there are serious issues to be had. Right now we have a woman who is a prime leader of the world in the Queen of England. How is the world working out in general for both men and women with what going on? Not too great is it? The spirit of Jezebel is definitely at work.

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    10. You are amazing. Thank you for expressing that so perfectly.

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    11. Mariah,

      I really enjoyed this blog and am glad a friend posted it. I identify with a lot of what you've said, since I've been discriminated against for being female, I think especially because I look small and weak. I am going to have to disagree with part of what you've said in this reply, though.

      Those Feminists you associate with may not be man haters but a very large portion of the women that I know who identify themselves as "Feminist" are big on bashing men and feel that women are a superior gender. It's not always about equality with them. Not all of these women are that way, but a lot of them are. And this is coming from another female. There is this underlying resentment for men that carries through with some.

      I was with a young woman from a college class, a friendly acquaintance who in class discussions identified herself as a feminist, and we were leaving our building for the next round of classes/lunch/etc. A young man held open a door for us. I walked through with a smile and thanked him. She gave him a dirty look and said "I'm capable of opening a door." I felt like it was an unnecessary discouragement of just a small courtesy. It made me sad. I hold doors for people all the time (the elderly, people with their hands full, or even just somebody who happens to be coming along behind me, male or female.) He wasn't suggesting we were incompetent, he was being courteous.

      I know not all feminists are this way, but you cannot deny that they exist. I've heard many other stories from men of my father's generation who were raised that these types of courtesies towards women were a show of respect for them that are very similar to this experience.

      I think that particular type of feminist is the kind that Luis is referring to. The ones that aren't in it simply for equality but seem to hold this underlying resentment of men.

      And briefly, there are active cases of white people are discriminate against. I was an employee for a business where it was very difficult to be hired if you were white. They wanted all of their employees to either be from India, Pakistan, or be someone more dark skinned. I was the only employee hired that was white in the whole time I worked there. Friendly discussions during work were always about their culture and it was quietly made clear that I would not endear myself to them by speaking about my own cultural background, only that I express interest in theirs. I'd been without work for a LONG time so it was important for me to keep the job, so yes, I was limited by that bias. So those cases may be more much more rare than minorities being discriminated against but it does happen.

      Thanks again for writing something to make us all reflect and think!

      Brianna

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    12. Yeah, Luis. I'll shut up about women's rights, gay rights, minority rights, poor rights, etc. Just as soon as those groups actually *do* receive equal treatment in society and under the law.

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    13. I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you as well on several points, surely from the limited microcosm of both my own experiences as a recent college graduate and my peers' experiences/perceptions. For whatever minor difference it may make, I come from a family in which the women almost universally run the show, which to me, is the status quo. I have no problem with this, as the men in the family tend to be somewhat inept.

      1) I do agree that in most circles feminism is not well received, excluding the company of like moved people.

      2) I'm afraid I must somewhat agree with Luis here. Any group identifying themselves as an -ism is inherently biased. My experience with self-identifying feminists is sadly largely in line with the stereotype: man-hating war machines. Politely holding a door is insulting, and opening a car door is unforgivable. Men are the enemy and the world would be better without them.

      Rather than feminism, I'd love to see people identify as equitarianists. Even if, as you state, that's what feminism is about, the name alone carries bad implications to most.

      3) I don't disagree about ignoring privilege, my experiences (again, limited I acknowledge) has only shown me a desire to replace it with the opposite problem: systematic privilege of women. It seems to me that often, when a group that has been previously oppressed attempts to change it, a vengeful "see how you like it" attitude creeps in toward the majority group.

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    14. 1WhoGoesB4-
      Unfortunately, your post has a lot of assumptions built into it that aren't really accurate. There is no "innate" desire for women to dominate all men, nor is that the goal of feminism. Equality means exactly that. It's, by nature and definition, not about domination. It's the radical notion that women are people, too.

      As for the Queen of England, she's a figurehead at best. Political decisions are made by Parliament, so, I don't think she has a whole lot to do with how the world is currently operating. Margaret Thatcher, however, was a good example of a female leader who was deeply problematic. I'm pretty sure I didn't make the claim that women are "better", either. Just that we are human and should be treated as such. We're just as flawed as men.

      The gender binary, which is what I assume you're talking about when you say men and women have "roles", is largely a socialized condition. It's difficult to determine what is and is not "inherent" to each gender because of that, because we define it so rigidly and start literally at birth, conditioning children along those lines.

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    15. Brianna-

      Thanks for the thoughtful response. I think that the man-hating feminist cliche, however much you have seen it personally, is largely due to a few factors. One is a total misinterpretation of the concept. I've done a lot of feminist studies and I've never, ever, seen "man-hating" on the agenda. Have some writers in some movements had what I consider to be radical and ill-conceived ideas along those lines? Sure. But painting all feminists that way is unfair.

      For instance, the term "feminazi" was coined, I believe, by Rush Limbaugh. And the stereotype of the "man-hating" feminist was largely dug up around one or two vocal writers who identified as feminists, but never represented the movement as a whole at all, to dismiss or devalue the issues feminists discuss. They did the same thing with Civil Rights, so it's important to bear in mind where those ideas come from.

      Also, young women in college are usually learning about this stuff for the first time. And it's usually upsetting and galvanizing. They may be prone as individuals to misdirected anger and frustration. They're learning.

      As for discrimination...I don't want to belittle the experience you had, but I do have to point out that it's not the same as systemic racism. What you experienced was certainly bias, but on an individual level. It doesn't mean the culture at large isn't still deeply entrenched in white privilege, and that in most areas of life as a white person, you have privileges poc's don't. Of course all of our personal experiences vary, but it doesn't change the general items under discussion.

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    16. William-

      I disagree. Feminism is about the radical notion that women are people. It has been associated with ideas and concepts that it's not about by the statu quo, to undermine the valuable issues of inequality it addresses. Without feminism women would not be able to vote, have birth control, make reproductive decisions, and a whole lot of other things besides. You can be a feminist and also a humanist or whatever other phrase you want to use to express your dedication to equality. I'm not personally going to shy away from the identifier, or let those who want to undermine it define the term.

      Your anecdotal experience, as you admit, is limited. And the thing is...isn't it also possible that your view of these women is at least influenced by prejudices instilled by the culture? There is nothing in the philosophy of feminism that says women are superior. Equality has nothing to do with superiority.

      I also think it's understandable when groups who are othered or discriminated against are angry at the privileged group. When you are ignored and silenced and oppressed, it's not always going to come out in the constructive way. It's up to those who are privileged to acknowledge the legitimacy of those complaints and work towards redressing them. Not constantly looking for ways to excuse said privilege or undermine the validity of the criticism of it, however it's presented.

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    17. All-

      Something I'd like everyone in this particular thread to consider before posting again: It's very curious to me that in a legitimate discussion about how women are targeted online, the topic was neatly derailed into being about supposedly "man-hating" feminists. Neither Sarkeesian, Day, or myself fit into that idea, for one thing. And for another: it's not actually relevant. That girl you knew in college who was angry at men? Unfortunate. But it has nothing to do with how pervasive misogyny and sexism is in our culture, or how ingrained it is in various geeky sub-cultures because of that.

      It's interesting to see how fast this discussion became about how "bad" some feminists are. That's, quite frankly, a massive strawman.

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    18. I agree with you about being an "equalist", but I have to take issue with your equating feminism with the other isms. Feminism is about opening up a closed system and moving things up to an equal level, whereas the other isms (chauvan- and rac[e]-) are system that seek to close and to create/maintain inequality.

      I would love to have a new word for male gender consciousness, but "masculist" seems awkward.

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    19. I probably should have written my response today, and not late at night while tired - perhaps I could have clarified my position a bit better. Let me respond to some of your points, in order:

      1. I don't agree with feminism at all. I also don't agree with chauvinism, or masculism, or any genderism. I believe in equal rights for all genders, races, nations, sexualities, etc. My issue is that feminism seems to promote women over men - undoubtedly, there are plenty of feminists that are gearing towards equality and respect men, but the loudest ones are the ones that are pro-women (ahem, sorry, pro-womyn) and anti-men. I'm just pro-everyone!

      2. See above point. I guess it's no different to anything else: there are people that are against things, there are people that are for things, and the are people that for all things. I'm not saying YOU are 'LADIES GOOD, MEN BAD!' but I AM saying that it's the loudest component of the feminist movement, which annoys me.

      3. There are men's rights groups? Really? Well, I disagree with those, too!

      4. I'm a middle-class white male - yet I still get prejudices. Affirmative action is one example of what I disagree with - people should be hired on their merits, not on their gender, sexuality, or race. Every group of 15 new employees at my job has a specific minimum number of women, non-Caucasians, and non-heterosexuals, and a lot of the time, they're not qualified. A lot of the time they are, but it goes to show that there's a preference to keep the boxes ticked for the 'We Hire People That Aren't White Males!' section of the yearly paperwork than actually getting people that are good for the job.

      5. Yep, they were and are. And it sickens me! I refuse to be married until my gay friends can be, too! My opinion is, though, that we should stop giving a fuck who someone is. Here's an example: a guy at work is gay. He makes sure everyone knows by putting on the affectations, dressing a certain way, putting pictures of near-naked men on his cube walls and all that jazz. No one actually cares that he's gay, but he annoys people with his 'gayness.' Even the other gay dudes (all great fellas!) dislike him. Same with an African dude (actual African, not African-American) who keeps reminding us that he's black, and that his people were persecuted and made slaves and such. He pulls the race card to get his way, complains when people give him shit for being lame, and makes regular formal complaints when he has it in his head that we're being racist against him because we asked him to do his job.

      6. I have no issues with women, geeks, or geek women. Shit, my dream is to have a geeky girl for my own (note, feminists: not some heteropatriachial blah-di-blah possession yadda yadda ownership kind of statement). My issue is with geek girls who aren't really geeks (you know what I'm talking about - DERP, I'm hot! Derp! I'm scantily clad while holding a controller! I'm tottes geek and shit!) and geek girls that use their geekiness and their gender as some kind of badge to flaunt superiority over others.

      So yeah. I guess my arguments boil down to a single statement: be who you are - don't wear it as a badge to make yourself feel like you're better than others.

      I'll forgive you if you don't understand. I'm not eloquent enough as it is, let alone at the tail end of a killer headcold. It regularly gets me in trouble: I have stout opinions that fall against the norm, and while they make perfect sense in my head, they tend to come out as totally wrong in writing and people hate me for it.

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    20. Men don't endure a fraction of the discrimination, bias and negative media imagery that women do. Yes, it might be nice if "everyone was equal" but it's not even close -- and the fact that most men are incapable of seeing or acknowledging that is part of the problem.

      Discrimination against men isn't "okay," but neither is trying to make discussions of feminist issues all about the men. It's too frequently used as a means of trying to control the discussion and say "hey, women, your problems aren't worth discussing, because men have it just as bad." They don't.

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    21. I think this devolved into a discussion about "man-hating feminists" because it's the aspect that ties into the rest of the problems and is the most controversial so everyone has a strong opinion about it. Trolling unfortunately is, as you stated, being ignored.
      You mentioned earlier how everything was linked together; In the real world I'm sure the amount of "femi-nazis" is ridiculously small, but this discussion was started by 2 incidents on the Internet and that's where I'm going to focus on. There are tons of blogs, tweets, Facebook posts etc. posted by women that declare themselves feminists with only the message of "I hate men". Are these most likely just made in anger about something that happened during their day? Probably, yes. But a reader doesn't know what that thing is. All the reader sees is angry man-hating female and begins to associate that with what feminism is. Instead of fighting to be brought up to equality with men, in takes on a message of wanting to drag men down.
      Again I realize and can't stress enough that this is NOT the reality of the cause and isn't prevalent in society, but it is sadly what the majority of men are exposed to on the Internet. It's an unfortunate detriment to a cause that everyone should believe in, but I've heard from many people (okay mostly men) that it makes them less sympathetic to the plight of women because it seems like women don't want their help.

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    22. @1WhoGoesB4 - How can you say that feminism is about insecurity and female control issues? Study some history. Before 1920, women in the U.S. didn't have the right to vote. We've moved beyond that to what Mariah is discussing. According to a few, very vocal misanthropes, women don't have the right, or the ability, to enjoy things like video games or action sports.

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    23. Luis:

      My saying you don't agree with feminism you're actually saying you don't believe in gender equality. If what you mean is "I don't believe in women being superior to men" that's fine, but that's not the same thing. You're attempting to redefine what feminism means and, frankly, that's not up to you.

      It's also not the loudest, it's just misguided. Most of the major feminist sites don't have that view or promote it. Most of the prominent feminist writers don't either. Gloria Steinem, for instance, writes elegantly and kindly about how important it is for balance and equality. Not superiority. You're choosing to view it that way because it fits your bias. Which is something you need to re-examine.

      Your entire argument really boils down to two things: 1. your perspective, which is privileged and 2. an assumption that the playing field is even/equal when it demonstrably is not. You say you want everyone to be equal...but then you want to dictate how they act and how equality is defined. By your set of standards. That's not equality.

      Individuals doing things you don't like has no bearing on systemic racism/misogyny/homophobia. You not liking how someone else presents as gay or black or whatever is also not the point. The entire world caters to your privilege, to who you are, as a middle class white man. You don't have to consider any other perspective if you don't want to, but you're falling short of your goal of really being for equality if you do.

      Your statements, actually, don't fall outside the norm. Most people think the way you do. It's people like me who fall outside the norm and disagree on a fundamental level because, while I respect your right to believe what you do, it's coming from a privileged place that doesn't want to question it. Most of what you said here indicates that you are "for" equality, so long as no one demonstrates their otherness around you, or acts in ways you don't approve of.

      It's easy to say "be who you are" when what you are is not discriminated against, denied basic rights, or subjected to hate. What you really mean is "be the way I want you to be" and that's not equality.

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    24. To the anonymous poster above-

      Well, no, "man hating" is not actually connected to this, it's a distraction. I think a lot of people want to believe feminism is about hating men because it's easier than looking at the reality. I don't see a random Facebook post by someone and conclude that everyone else must think the same way they do. It's because of bias and prejudice that a few anecdotal comments are used to represent feminism as a whole, or dismiss the very real issue of how women are treated all over the world. It takes a special kind of obtuseness to keep insisting something is something it clearly isn't. Which is not really feminisms problem at a certain point.

      The other thing is, even if people do think that, it doesn't excuse what happened to Sarkeesian or Day. Neither one of them has ever said anything even remotely "man hatey", and Day doesn't even get particularly political. And yet she got trolled because of misogyny.

      I think a lot of people come to conclusions about feminism long before they actually encounter a feminist, and then conveniently only see it as "man hating" no matter what someone actually says. I've never in my life played "men" for systemic misogyny, but I've been accused of being man-hating. Because people don't bother to find out the difference between systemic and individual, or patriarchy the structure, and men as individuals. At a certain point, that's not my or any other feminists responsibility. And what's more, it just derails conversations to have to constantly address it.

      I get what you're saying and I do appreciate that there are some people who get feminism wrong. But the fact that ALL feminists are painted with that brush is actually proof positive of sexism in action. Because women are "othered" people will take the views of one woman and apply them to all women, as though we are a monolith. Because of sexism.

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  3. I'm really glad Wil Wheaton quoted you, or I'd never have seen this, and that would've been a shame. My reaction to a lot of this was a gut instinct to line all these assholes up, tell them to act right, and if they don't, they get punched straight in the mouth until they do. I think your response is better. I firmly believe in civility, but trolls make it really hard, because they don't respond to it. They have their own sad little agenda of...what? Upsetting everyone with whom they come into contact? I'm not really sure, it seems to go against natural human instincts to form relationships, so I don't get it. I find it really disturbing to think that all of these men are walking around with these fairly horrific attitudes toward women.

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    1. I think at least some of them think like that:
      1. I want to talk to people and be part of a group!
      2. Violence is respected in the part of the Internetz I know the best, if you don't like it they say you're humorless and a slut, etc.
      3. I'm gonna be an asshole and people who are already trolls will think I'm cool (as long as I don't attack /them/.)

      Then I know one person who lived in a rough ontext which made it seems normal, so didn't think it wasn't on the Internet until going to other parts of it. She didn't even want to be cool, just to talk to some persons and didn't know how until she saw other parts of the thing and discovered new "ways" to communicate, new social codes.

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    2. No, your response is definitely better. Trolls wouldn't read anything fifteen paragraphs long, so at least your approach would make an impression.

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  4. Love the expression "brass ovaries", I will have to use that somewhere! Now off to read part one :)

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  5. I've been noticed lots more posts about sexism and feminism on the internet recently. Which is great because it seems like there's more awareness being raised about the subject. I hadn't even heard of 'rape culture' until about a week ago.
    And the more articles and opinions the read the more I wonder *How can this situation be changed?* And all I can think of from my limited knowledge, is that the people working towards getting gender equality have one hell of a tough fucking job ahead of them.
    But then I don't think it's ever not been a tough job anyway.
    Ah well, there's some of my thoughts about this whole mess. ~ Chris

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  6. The reason for the jerks-being-annoying kind of trolling is that people are desperate to feel they have any power at all over the world.

    That said, I should point out there's a much older form of trolling, which is still sort of around, where the goal is not to be obnoxious but to be funny. This is where you get stuff like dozens of people agreeing that of course ATMs print money, what, you think they leave twenty thousand dollars in CASH in those boxes? Some great entertainment value to be had.

    Not in any way disputing the rest of your points. I was totally, completely, shocked to find out that Texas's mandatory-rape law was a law, not a proposal that was being laughed out.

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  7. Great post. I actually wrote a post on why I didn't get into comics as a kid despite being a nerdy girl and one of the first comments I got on my facebook link to it said that it was MY fault that comics are this way because I didn't buy the good comics.

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  8. Thanks for bringing this issue to light. I'm a guy, and I play games. But, I'm not really exposed to the bullying and misogynist comments that you ladies are exposed to. I like "gamer" girls, they're cool... just like "gamer" boys... maybe even cooler :) Gaming is supposed to be fun, so I really don't get why people verbally abuse others online. I think, those people have found a way to vent online without any repercussions, and so they do. Their life is probably full of crap, and they need some counseling, which they seek through online gaming.

    Anyways, informative article. Without all the rude comments on W vs. T II, actions spoke louder than words, 155k+ raised. That's wickedly awesome! +1

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  9. Similar response to Scalzi's 'Lowest Difficulty Setting':

    http://tinyurl.com/cngqk4h

    And Jim Hines Fantasy Poses Pictures:

    http://www.jimchines.com/2012/01/striking-a-pose/
    http://www.jimchines.com/2012/01/follow-up-to-the-fantasy-poses/

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  10. Really amazing article, I hope this makes the rounds!

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  11. I am proud to share a gender with you. Thanks for the thought-provoking blog post.

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  12. An excellent piece which summarises the very real abuse that comes with being a geek/gamer and having no Y-chromosome to speak of. Though I'm curious about your views on the movement towards removing anonymity which has been tried in some places, such as NY state.

    I'm not one for censorship, but it is clear that something needs to be done, as you say, sitting on our hands doing nothing will solve nothing. There is a good Extra Credits video on Penny Arcade that details some possible measures we could take to try and reduce online trolling and general misogyny within the gaming sphere. If Fat, Ugly Or Slutty has shown us anything, it's that online game services like Xbox Live or PSN need to, if you'll pardon the phrase, up their game with respect to controlling online abuse. Even if I can't condone censorship, the idea of doing nothing isn't palatable either, so education and bringing in some form of repercussion for this kind of act is what, to my mind, is needed. In the UK, we just had a case in the courts where a person was harassed online and won the right to know who was involved in the trolling (was sure Facebook already gave a good idea who they were via their name, but I digress) and possibly take legal action. That may be one extreme; the other could be simply shunning those who troll in gaming arenas by tarnishing their access to services once a certain level of respectability has been eroded.

    These won't come overnight, or be particularly easy or foolproof, but it at least starts raising awareness of the issue.

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  13. "Resistance and Criticism

    "If you find yourself criticizing other people, you're probably doing it out of Resistance. When we see others beginning to live their authentic selves, it drives us crazy if we have not lived out our own.

    "Individuals who are realized in their own lives almost never criticize others. If they speak at all, it is to offer encouragement. Watch yourself. Of all the manifestations of Resistance, most only harm ourselves. Criticism and cruelty harm others as well."

    - Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

    I think you might be on to something.

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  14. As a man I really don't get the whole misogynist thing. Sure I listen to music thats down right offensive, and I am guilty of objectifying "hot" women in my head. But thats normal guy. The Asshat F#$ktards that trolled Felicia Day ore examples of how society has failed. She did a charming video with a catchy tune about two opposites meeting and getting it on, I don't see how people could be angry about it... I know writing a good song is hard, I know pleasing everyone is impossible, but at the same time I can appreciate art. And Ms. Day is a fantastic artist and performer. Her entertainment products have actually cheered me up on bad days, her characters are people I want to know, her videos are fun, not my genre usually, I don't actually like country but her song was fun. So I hope Felicia reads this and knows that one guy gets it. Keep up the commentary in your art, don't be afraid to take chances, and most of all always be yourself. You shine!

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  15. I was always taught that, if you don't have something nice (or at least constructive) to say, then you shouldn't say anything.

    Somebody needs to teach the internet this concept. The anger and hatred that boils up against any kind of unexpected success (especially people who aren't "one of us") is frankly terrifying - and as a straight white male (who's never accomplished anything of note) I'm unlikely to be on the receiving end. I can't imagine how white-hot the rage is for someone in its focus.

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  16. Personally, I think the trolling is a good sign. Felicia Day is a great example of what a strong, gutsy woman can do, and that can threaten some people's world view--a view that needs to be threatened, demolished, changed, etc. So the trolling just means she's doing it right.

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    1. I'm not sure how comforting it is to read the vitriol thrown at her for doing it right. I'm not sure that, at the end of the day, after reading all this vitriol, that one would be able to think "I'm doing it write. I'm so happy I have all these hateful comments to prove it!"

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    2. I wouldn't accept as a premise that being heaped with abuse is a sign that one is doing the right thing. That's the sort of logic the Phelps family would use to justify their actions. Also, it's really hard to be the recipient of this kind of trolling/abuse even if it is a good sign. Why should anyone have to endure this?

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    3. I don't think Michael is suggesting that the vitriol is acceptable or something we should just tolerate... but he's saying that it's an indicator that things are changing.

      There's a quote that goes like this: "First they ignore you; then they ridicule you; then they fight you; then you win."

      The ridiculing and fighting aren't good, nor desirable... but they're at least evidence that you've moved past the state where you're basically just ignored. And I think that's happening... and I think that change, that progression, is the part that's good.

      At least that's how I interpret Michael's words.

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    4. I don't think it's good that Day is enduring this kind of abuse, but I think it is an indicator that “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

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    5. Wendy - true, but as Kathy Sierra said in her blog "Creating Passionate Users", if you get people polarised, some love you, some hate you, you're making a difference & doing something right. Better to be Marmite than bland & forgettable. That said, rape & violence threats need to stop. It's not big or clever & it makes us guys look bad.

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  17. What an excellent article.

    Nice to read this. I have always thought female gamers always got forgotten in game design, or are accused of beings there just for show. No girl gamers are some of the nicest people to ever play on-line with. They are kind and helpful. I just wish some lads were like that.

    Felicia Day is a great figure head for all girl gamers and I wish her well in all endeavours.

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  18. Mariah, thank you for writing this, (h/t Wil Wheaton for link). I've never been able to understand how the difference in genetics is justification for hate. I understand that gender and sex and language and skin color result in different shared experiences and different cultures. As a white male, I have put my money where my mouth is (donations) and walked the talk (march on Washington). (Un)fortunately, I just don't associate with these trolls and asshats so I have not been able to make a true difference. My apologies for not standing up with you.

    Mariah and all women, please keep up your great work no matter what they say.

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  19. Very well written. Lucid, informed, sensitive, and TRUE. Thank you.

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  20. I had hoped you'd also address the recent attack on Aisha Tyler, where, in her case, she was attacked because of her race as well as her gender, but she's handled her own rebuttal and I'm sure others have addressed it elsewhere. It's not like this is the first time such examples have been brought to public attention, nor the first time people have written thought-provoking posts like yours. The hope is that posts like this (with thanks to people like WW bringing attention to them) will do something to finally help bring about change. As in, the trolls will finally read such things and finally realize that their trolling isn't the least bit funny or justified.

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    1. Yeah, it only occurred to me after that it's also a pretty awful and important example of the same problem.

      To me, in some ways, it's less about the trolls and more about the individual feeling able to address it. Being bullied is usually humiliating and people don't feel like they can talk about it. It's important that they do, if they feel safe to...not because you're necessarily going to change every bully/troll's mind, but because it needs to be said for you.

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  21. I think a lot of people forget that the trolls are people too. They're hurt and feel the need to strike out, you don't know what's happened to them. I'm not saying it's right for them to lash out but I am saying it's wrong to treat them like they don't need to exist. Very few people are born evil and even less need to commit their evil online. Think of them as being mind-controlled by their own weaknesses. I'm not saying I know how to fix people but I am saying it's stupid to stoop to their level and getting trapped in the stupid loop.

    It's all stupid and a nigh impossible task to get rid of. But I've just never saw the reasoning in attacking it. Those doing the trolling will just feel obligated to say and do nothing until they lash out at a later date in more force. The only thing that cures it is time. Either the trolls find what they need or they die. A lot of hate is made at birth by our parents so any idealistic society may one day exist (I'm an optimist) but there is 0% chance it'll happen soon (realist too, sadly).

    That's how I feel. I get aggrivated when people don't realize there's more than just one way to look at things. The world is layered inside layers upon layers upon layers upon layers upon layers. It's a beautiful mess of a world we live in.

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    1. I don't forget that trolls are people, but it's not really my or anyone else's responsibility to take their feelings into consideration when they're trashing other people's work, defacing their sites, and threatening them with rape and violence. There's no justification for that kind of behavior.

      There's a difference between "feeding" trolls, and discussing how to make online spaces safer and more productive for discourse. Because that we can do something about. Of course people will continue to troll. But that doesn't mean we have to accept it.

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  22. Alright, I do see your points Mariah, but I do have a few comments about trolls and bullying via the internet.

    Rape and sexual assault are never funny. As a gamer girl (I've been gaming on MMOs for about 11 years), nobody has ever threatened to rape or sexually assault me. If they did, it would be crossing a huge line and in most games the person would be banned or at least suspended since it's against... probably all EULAs.

    I've certainly experienced TONS of misogynistic comments though. The thing is, they don't bother me. It's not because I'm not proud of being a woman, or have penis envy. I love being a woman, I definitely don't want a penis, my life's dream isn't to be "one of the guys". I'm not a tomboy but I do love gaming.

    They don't bother me because 98% of it is joking. I'm the kind of person that thinks that laughing one of the most important things in life. Never take yourself, your life or anything too seriously and you will be happy.

    If you don't want random trolls calling you names and saying stupid shit to you, don't broadcast your life on the internet, it's not for everyone.

    I also think that online bullying cannot be compared to real-life bullying. For one, everyone is physically safe, behind your computer, inside your home. If you're smart, nobody knows where you live.

    In a lot of real-life bullying situations, the person being bullied is afraid of being physically injured. The troll can be bigger than you, stronger than you, faster than you and more physically capable than you but it doesn't matter because they can't touch you.

    You can also turn off the bullying anytime you want to. Block the person, turn off comments, turn off the computer. Oh, and NEVER go on reddit.

    Everyone who spends a decent amount of time on Youtube knows you don't read the comments... It's 70% trolling, 20% spam/chain comments and 10% actual comments.

    I also know a lot of girl gamers that wear the girl gamer badge for attention. But after a while you find out you're not rare, there are millions of female gamers, we're still outnumbered by men but it's not like there are only 10 girls on the internet.

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    1. I'm curious...why does it matter if some girls wear the "girl gamer" badge for attention? They'll either grow out of it or they won't. It's also interesting to me that that's a criticism I mostly see made about women in these spaces. I mean, geek culture has a tendency to be competitive about who's a better/bigger geek...but women in these spaces have to "prove" on a whole other level, usually the "attention" one. I don't see too many guys being accused of dressing up for attention. Which seems problematic to me. And extremely gendered.

      As for bullying and trolling...no. Whether it happens online or on the street, it's not okay. Because of the culture it creates, perpetuates, and validates. Namely a misogynistic one where it's okay to threaten women with sexual or physical harm because you don't like what they say/do. Women are sexually assaulted at a very high rate in real life, and while a rape threat isn't the same as being raped, it's part of the exact same environment/sexist concepts. So it can't just ignored. It won't change if it is.

      It's fine that you as an individual have no issue with misogynistic "jokes", but...that's not really the point. I have a healthy (and downright twisted) sense of humor. I think Louis C.K. is brilliant and Patton Oswalt routinely makes me stop breathing from laughter. My individual sense of humor is not the issue. People routinely cover up misogyny with "it's a joke!" so they don't have to question what they're saying or what it contributes to.

      Being visible on the internet doesn't mean you "deserve" to get trolled, which is kind of what your comment implies. Putting your work out there is what some of us do and we accept that it will be judged and not everyone will be nice about it. It still doesn't entitle anyone to abuse us and I personally feel I have an obligation to say that as much as possible. For myself and for all the people I know who work hard and make things. It's just not a valid argument. It's just another way to excuse bad behavior and blame the people who put work out there instead of the people who choose to be shitty about it.

      I'm not naive enough to think that trolling or bullying is something that can easily be fixed or solved. But I think change starts with awareness and talking about a problem. We all choose what we will stand up for, and this one of those things I will always be vocal about.

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    2. As someone who has suffered from both on-line and real-life bullying... you have no idea. on-line bullying can be as damaging and horrible as real life bullying with the added problems that (a) it involves more people, and whatever community you're involved in, it can make it almost impossible to remain there. (b) Bullying is rarely just about physical danger - it's about pulling down the person's self-esteem. And all you need for that is words.

      You don't need to broadcast your life on the internet to get bullies, you just have to be there and say anything.

      And allowing people to make sexist comments as jokes is allowing the thin end of the wedge. People like you, is what gives the wannabe trolls permission to get nastier - because you allow the little things - they go for the big things.

      In real-life bullying situations, just like on-line - it's not about 1 bully, it's 1 bully and their cohorts. They don't have to be physically capable or anything, they just have to have a lot of people with them. If you're getting picked on by 40 people the main bully doesn't have to be physically stronger than you, nor do they even have to threaten you physically.

      If you haven't been bullied before you often just don't get, if you haven't haven't the empathy.

      Being told to avoid it, to grow a thicker skin and just laugh it off - is another way of saying the bullies are ok to be bullying.

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    3. Online bullying is as bad as "real life" bullying. The difference is you can't face your attacker; you may not know who it is. You may not feel physically safe; esepcailly if the troll seems to know where you live.

      I've know such things to cause panic attacks, anxiety, depression and prevent people from leading normal lives. Much bullying doesn't reault in you being afraid of violence - it attacks your self esteem and sense of self.

      When I was bullied at school I ended up physically attacking my bully. It may have stopped them, but 35 years on I still have a black dog whispering in my ear telling me I'm worthless - and online bullying of the nature we're discussing would make it worse.

      Your sense of humour is not the point. The point is that no one - male or female - should be threatened with violence or rape - online or not.

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    4. Yes, you can escape online bullying by going offline. Just like you can escape physical bullying by shutting yourself inside and pulling down the blinds so you never meet anybody.

      It's not a great solution. It still requires you to give up a hell of a lot to escape bullying, especially if you have friends in the same places where the bullies are.

      And yes, it's prudent to be cautious with your private information and not let strangers know who you are or where you live. But we should never stop fighting the arseholes who make those precautions NECESSARY.

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  23. A while back there was a thing where trolls competed to see who could get the most responses. Is there such a thing as flash mob trolling? I haven't read the comments for Day's video, so I don't have a sense of whether they might have been part of an organized effort. I suppose all it takes is something like reddit to attract the sharks.

    What motivates these individuals? Simply put: the desire for power. What thrills them is getting a response, because then they know they've had an effect. It's not personal. Perhaps on a deeper level they are impotent or frustrated or who-knows-what - the answer will vary from individual to individual and it doesn't matter. This is a case in which a response, even a negative response, is more rewarding than no response at all.

    So the best response is no response... Really?! There are thousands of trolls out there, and if one grows weary of your lack of response, another will just take his place, right? As I heard one preacher say, "It is the triumph of vulgarity."

    Until someone devises the technology to identify, track, and block trolls (which is probably never), you can only cope. Use filters, and learn to skim and mentally block comments before they have a chance to fully register in your brain. Look for key words and phrases that tell you where a post is going, and instantly skip to the next comment if you see one.

    Imagine such comments were written by a bunch of mousy, wide eyed little teenagers in dark rooms around the world, whose big hope in life is that a few words written by you about them will appear on their computer screens. You ignore them, and they wait. They wait until their screens go into power-save mode and they are left slouching in complete darkness.

    And if the comment is "I'm going to rape you. I know where you live" - well, then let your blog host know so that they can get the troll's IP address. Your host can block the IP address, or contact the troll's ISP and tell you more about the location of the offender. That information may help you decide whether or not you should contact the police and/or (if you're rich) hire some personal protection.

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    1. And yet nothing has ever changed through ignoring it. I agree that you can't address every troll nor should you, and that many of them just want a reaction, whatever it is.

      That doesn't mean that the solution is never discussing it or what we can do to make whatever corner of the internet we personally inhabit better. You can choose not to, that's your right. But I think it's important to acknowledge that ignoring it isn't a solution, it's, in some ways, taking the easy way out.

      Sometimes I think we do have to say something and we get to choose when and what we will address. I'm not taking on every internet troll, but I'm perfectly fine with discussing the problems I have with it within the spaces/industries I work in/am involved with. Awareness is one of the first steps towards acknowledging something as a problem and coming up with strategies and solutions. Are we going to "solve" internet trolling? No. But we absolutely can take steps to minimize it's effect and create places that are less hostile.

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    2. A writer friend of mine was recently quoted as saying, "There's no shame in ignoring negative reviews if they don't make you a better writer." We have to choose our battles. That said, I admire your determination. Don't ever lose that sense of mission.

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    3. I don't care what's going on in the mind of a stranger who's screaming bigotries at me, any more than I care why a stranger spit in my food or stole my wallet or kicked me in the stomach.

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  24. Don't let the bastards get you down.

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  25. The more I read these articles, the more I feel like we're going to need an entirely separate women's rights movement just for the internet. It's really sad that, even as things get better (relatively) in the real world, the way women are treated on the internet and in gaming and geek culture communities seems to be heading for rock bottom.

    For my part, I just can't understand why misogyny and hate speech are even a thing. It's the Golden Rule, people! How hard is it to just treat people like...people? It boggles my mind.

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  26. This was a really great post. I've followed Felicia Day's work for a while and I was simply baffled to see the responses to that video. It is totally ridiculous to me the insane standards that some misogynists out there will put on a woman before she is... I don't know... worthy? As if all the innovative work she's done at the forefront of making webseries, producing, writing, and acting haven't done enough to "prove" who she is?

    Unfortunately, it also seems like addressing this problem invariable brings out the straw man that somehow excuses stuff like this - the "feminazi," or the "girl who's only a gamer for attention," as though women are the only people who ever do something for attention anyway.

    Finally, I like that you addressed the refrain of "this is just how the internet is." I don't see how that makes it okay. I shudder to think how the world would be if "this is just how [such and such] is" was an accepted line of reasoning in every field.

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  27. Thank you, Mariah, for this post. I am every day amazed that gender, race, and orientation biases still exist. I'm not naïve enough to think they ever went away or that we've gotten past them as a culture, but it makes me profoundly sad that it is even still a question. It seems a massive failure of logic that such discrimination continues. I mean, for the love of Pete, the Civil Rights movement was 50+ years ago! How is this crap not sorted out yet? *sigh* I guess it's so easy to get caught up in our technological advances and say "we've come so far," but the truth is that we're still only a hair's breadth from the medieval mindset.

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  28. The main issue, as I see it, with trolling is the very point of anonymity: when people know that there will be absolutely NO personal repercussions against them, their true colors always begin to show. There are people in the world who are hateful, cruel, conniving, destructive, and bitter toward everyone, be they man, woman, or transgendered. Hate crimes (which is what these instances are and should be treated as such) directed against anyone is wrong. However, I have always believed that censorship is also absolutely wrong, so "shutting them up" will never be an effective strategy. What CAN be done, however, and what I have been attempting to promote for years, is to take away their anonymity, and make their hate-speech an actual crime. If everyone was obligated to post comments under their real name, and verbal assault was criminalized, as it should be, this issue could be mitigated very quickly.

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  29. I'm not certain that there's any more sexism than before. Unfortunately, the Internet gives *everybody* a voice, including insecure, maladjusted 14 year olds (or their mental equivalent).

    Before, they had no chance to anonymously spew their insecurities before anyone else besides their peers. Now they can safely reveal their inner demons to the world, and it's not pretty.

    It's also pretty much inevitable. Most grow out of it (and end up cringing when they remember their adolescent behavior) , but they're simply replaced by the next generation of insecure, maladjusted 14 year olds. Sadly, I don't think there's any maturo-ray that we can beam at these youngsters.

    So, let's hear it for moderating comments.

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  30. Hello

    I am not really clued up on this as my exposure to women are really limited. Does the equal rights mean you want to be treated like men? Can you maybe highlight in a logical way what you think equal is?

    Sorry it just feels a bit vague when you say I want equal rights for women when half of us can barely understand what the issue is.

    Is it being called names and threatend and stuff cause I have been threatend online alot of times while playing games smack talk and trolling is part of the culture a really horrible part of it.

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    1. Hm. I think you need to go research this on your own first, honestly. There's a long history of women having to fight for what rights they do have, and we're currently in a political climate where they're being eroded state by state.

      It's not just about how we're treated online, and this goes beyond "smack talk". When women are threatened online it's to silence and undermine us, especially when what we're doing is discussing gender discrimination.

      For instance, the only right under the constitution women have is the right to vote. We also earn less than men, are routinely having to fight for the ability to control our own bodies, are disproportionately the victims of sexual abuse, and all over the world, are more likely to be living in poverty. And that's just some of the problems this half of the population experiences.

      In this specific case, two women made things and put them online. And were subjected to gendered trolling because of it. It happened specifically because they were women. I don't like trolling period, but what this does is shine a lot on the very problematic issue of misogyny in geek culture.

      Misogyny as an issue limits women's lives, choices, and ability to be treated as full human beings. You can start with a simple wikipedia search to get some basics on feminism and go from there. And I can't recommend Anita Sarkeesian's videos highly enough for illustrating what the current dicsussion is about.

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    2. I think a lot of well-meaning guys don't understand these issues because they honestly can't imagine that anyone would treat women any differently then men. They don't realize that it's something that needs discussing because they've never experienced the kind of harassment and belittling that the vast majority of women have.

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    3. I think there is a lot of truth in what you write, Kristy. I am one of those "well-meaning guys" who for a very long time couldn't "imagine that anyone would treat women any different [than] men". The concept seems completely foreign to me. The fact that there actually seems to be quite a few of us should be a good sign that things are going in the correct direction.
      I also don't think that most of the trolls and bullies actually believe in what they write. Which as I think of it raises the question if this really is a problem of sexism/misogyny or a problem of bullying. A bully doesn't bully because they think someone is less worth or needs to be put in their place. A bully will bully anyone they can find an excuse to. The excuse itself is rarely important.
      Perhaps in this case addressing the reasons for bullying would be more effective than promoting equality. Not saying that promoting equality is not important.

      On the topic of equality I have to say that as one of those people to whom the thought of treating people differently based on any criteria is completely foreign and in theory agreeing with the principles pretty much 100% I also cringe at the word "feminist".
      Being raised in Sweden, for a long time the leading country in equality, I saw very little of these kinds of problems. And, while most people in Sweden, when asked, would say that they are feminists or if confronted with the principals of feminism would say that they agree, I find that people who refer to themselves as "feminists" tend to be one of two categories. First is women who talk more about bringing men down than they do increasing equality between genders which makes them appear, rightfully or not, as "man-hating". Especially to men who are not part of the "patriarchy". Very often using language that drive men like me away rather than towards the cause. The second category is male politicians who use the word "feminist" to score political correctness points simply to further their political careers.

      So we are a generation of men who agree with the feminist ideals but dislike the sound of the word "feminist". We were not convinced by feminists fighting the "gender war" to change our chauvinist ways we were simply raised to think of people as equal. Now I know this was a result of the feminist movement but clinging to the word "feminism" in an era when it to many people who genuinely believe in the message feel it has a negative sound might be foolish. The name is not important only the message is. Talking about equality instead of feminism also enables you to encompass not only gender equality but also ethnical and sexual equality into the discussion and makes it sound a little more, for a lack of a better word, mature as it acknowledges that while admittedly not nearly as often sometimes men can be discriminated against as well. I hope this can help to provide some insight and further our mutual cause, whatever we may choose to call it. :)

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    4. Anders-

      It's both. It doesn't matter if they believe what they write, it matters that they write it, and that they choose misogynistic terms/ways to do it. I also don't believe that anyone who truly doesn't believe these things would take the time to send rape/death threats or the rest of it. At best it's cognitive dissonance.

      As for the word feminist - please see my above answers and my latest post. The word is not the problem, it's some people's perception of it, which they are choosing to cling to, because of bias or anecdotal experiences that they let define an entire movement.

      The name is important, actually. Feminism is talking about equality, and it also seeks to address more than just gender issues. Being a feminist doesn't mean you aren't also an advocate for racial/ethnic equality, and I can't see why anyone would think that. Feminism does acknowledge that men are effected by gender issues, particularly gender norms and the gender binary. Feminists are huge proponents of paternity leave, gay rights, and a lot of other issues that directly effect men.

      Also, and this is important: if you're a man you benefit from the patriarchy. The patriarchy is not a person, it's a system that gives one pov/gender preferential treatment. We're all a part of it because we reside within cultures that are patriarchal. The fact that some women get angry or frustrated about it, and that then makes some men decide to discount legitimate gender concerns because of it, is not feminism's fault or problem. That largely has to do with being uncomfortable with privilege and acknowledging the legitimacy of that anger and frustration.

      The truth is women are not going to "overthrow" men anymore than poc's are going to "overthrow" whites. It's a strawman, no matter how many people you've heard say they'd like to. It's a convenient thing to focus on instead of the actual problem.

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    5. @Anon

      "I am not really clued up on this as my exposure to women are really limited. Does the equal rights mean you want to be treated like men? Can you maybe highlight in a logical way what you think equal is?"

      Tbh, online, I think limited exposure to women is part of the problem with trolls. They're inexperienced with women in real-life, so all they have to go on is representations of women and then actual interaction goes...badly.

      "Equal" doesn't mean "the same as." And to say "treated like men" is kind of weird as...I know lots of men, and they're all different. Equal to me means wanting to be treated with the same *respect* as other *human beings*.

      Men and women are not the same, anymore than any individual is not the same. All women are not the same. All men are not the same. Women and men have different issues that may apply to them however, and recieve different treatment.

      The problem comes in when treatment recieved is grossly disproportionate, and when women's rights are infringed on - sometimes something supported by both women AND men, just to highlight that 'men' are not the problem here. It's the systems that people support that are the problem.

      And yes, there are people who would suggest women's rights was hard fought but job done now...To which I suggest they look at the regressive policies towards abortion in the southern states of the US.

      And yes, it's easy to dismiss that as a fringe of the religious far-right, but politics and religion are clear examples of those "systems that people support" that marginalize women and other groups.

      @Anders

      "So we are a generation of men who agree with the feminist ideals but dislike the sound of the word "feminist"."

      Um, no offence, but regarding the negative connotation of the word 'feminist' I think that's just ignorance. The reason I don't mean that to be offensive is because it's an opinion I shared, which, in retrospect, was my own ignorance in the matter.

      In college, I remember someone (a woman actually) saying "I hate feminists" and I agreed, saying I was an "equalist." I think we both had the preconception of 'feminists' as hardline radicals, frothing at the mouth with something of an entitlement and inferiority complex, with a very simplistic and narrow 'us vs them' outlook.

      In university, when we were actually *taught* something about feminism it appeared as far more complex than that. Feminism seemed, far from being about 'us vs them' to be identifying and dismantling systems that create 'us vs them' - heirachies of power and binary thinking.

      When I was complaining that I was an equalist, rather than a feminist, I said this because I didn't want women to have power over men; I didn't want *anyone* to have power (or, at least, I wanted everyone similarly *empowered*) I hadn't realized that this 'equalism' is essentially feminism.

      The negative connotation of feminists and feminism as "man-hating" is misleading and I have to wonder to what extent manufactured. Certainly it's what I thought feminism meant before studying it. I can't tell you from what aspect of culture I absorbed that information as a teenager, but I doubt it was direct experience.

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  31. Excellent essay, Squidy Girl. Thank you for your civil, courteous and well-reasoned writing. And thank you to Mr Wil Wheaton for linking to this discussion.

    I appreciate the comments I have read - I find them well-written and -considered for the most part.

    If I may add my two pieces of copper...

    As has been said, ignoring bullies does not work but gives a tacit permission to continue with the bullying. However, I would take that assertion a step furthur, and assert that ignoring bullies also implies that the person being bullied is actually responsible to not respond to the bullying - which seems to me is akin to saying that women should not respond to being raped. As though it is my fault for being bullied....

    People talk about freedom of speech, as though that gives them the right to say anything that crosses their minds - as though what they think is the truth, because they are thinking it. However, freedom of speech carries with it several responsibilities - one of which is to accept the consequences of what you say. Addressing the misogynistic American culture being overtly expressed in the gaming world means applying direct consequences when people say hate-filled things.

    What might that look like? Consider that Eve Ensler and Lisa Brown performing the Vagina Monologues outside the Michigan State Representative House, as a response to Lisa Brown being banned from making comments on a bill up before the House because she said the word "vagina" is a direct consequence, and response to, the misogynistic actions taken by the Michigan House.

    What might applying consequences look like in the gaming world (a caveat here: I do not participate in the online gaming world) - what might be an appropriate response? Someone mentioned the possibility of tarnishing someone's access to the game - (I like the word "tarnish" in this context) but could mean a lot of resources being required to police the comments. I don't have any ideas myself, I ask the question to bring it furthur into the conversation.

    And people who bully often never learn to relate to what they do to others as having a impact on those others. A good example of this would be Mitt Romney's actions while at school, actions he asserts were simply teasing, joking around, while the recipients of his attentions were physically, psychologically and emotionally traumatised.

    Carrying a flashlight and shining it on the kinds of hate speech we see and hear is one way to address it. Educating people as to what misogyny actually looks like and how subtly it can be expressed is another.

    In the long-term, perhaps it is time to start taking this furthur, and start in the public schools, with education. After all, beyond a certain age, that is where most of us get our information about the world beyond our skin - that is, the world outside our selves.
    Bullies do not relate their actions to the world outside their own skins. Perhaps that, then, is a place to start.

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  32. The part that frustrates me the most about all of this is that the trolls block out all legitimate debate about an issue. I have some issues with Sarkeesian's project (though I'm sure there are more than a few points I'd agree with), but that doesn't mean I think she's a bad person, attention whore, or any of the other far worse things she's been called. I'm not interested in backing the project, but I still think it has a right to exist. And who knows, maybe something she ends up creating will change my perspective, if not make me reverse my opinions altogether.

    But there's no real good medium for people to discuss the issue in good faith. I'd love to sit down with someone and dig deep into the issues and why we disagree. But internet discussions aren't any place to do that because someone like me could easily get lumped in with the trolls, sexists, and antifeminists, or at least be completely overshadowed by them. Complex opinions get eclipsed by the simple, binary nature of love/hate that seems to reign on the web.

    In sum: this is an important issue in gaming that warrants discussion. Even if Sarkissian does a phenomenal job expressing her points, the issue will never be fully explored without intelligent counter-arguments. And what the trolling out there really does is prevent that counter-argument from ever being explored intelligently. Without that, we deny both sides from a more full understanding of what is, in my opinion, one of the most important issues in gaming right now.

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  33. "brass ovaries" might be my new term of the month! :)

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  34. The thing that really bothers me is that nothing ever changes. It's 2012 and we're still talking about this. People are the same sexist, racist, homophobic, judgmental assholes as they've always been except now instead of harassing you to your face, they hide behind the anonymity of the internet. What really hurts is that my 16-year-old daughter is afraid to say that she's a girl online because of the harassment that goes with it. Her best friend is afraid to post anything on the internet because she's afraid of being harassed. I tried to explain to them that by silencing themselves or hiding the fact that they're girls means that the trolls have won. I hope their proud of themselves. Also, I'm getting sick and tired of being told that girls can't play video games, girls don't like superheroes, girls can't read comic books, girls don't like science fiction, girls don't like action movies, girls can't be computer programmers, girls aren't good at math or science, girls can't even be writers or artists. What the hell else is left?

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  35. Mariah I commend you for talking about this and thank Wil Wheaton for sharing your post on his profile.

    As part of my college classes preparing me for a teaching degree one of the small format discussions I participated in was about labeling and stereotypes. Everyone does this to some extent because it is a simpler way for a persons mind to take in information and categorize things. This is part of the way people think and make interactions with people and especially strangers easier for our minds to deal with.

    How these stereotypes are formed and the labels we attach to them is the problem. As an example if I refer to someone as a feminist or a chauvinist each of our minds as we read those words brings up a set of labels which we attach to those words and gives us an expectation of what it means. The labels are based on what our personal experiences and influences are.

    Now if a person reads and understands what the real meaning of those words are it is likely that the concept brought forth into their mind a moment ago is not the same as the actual meaning.

    Feminist: A person who believe women should have equal opportunity to men in all things. It is not a declaration of equivalency of gender in all matters merely that equal opportunity should be made available.

    Based on the actual definition most people will identify themselves as feminists, but based on sterotype and labeling people won't.

    Chauvinist : a belief that members of a group are superior to those who are not in the group. The belief of superiority is based on an inflated sense of worth, or distorted perception of worth of those in the group and allows for making those who are not in the group to feel inferior by their exclusion.

    Chauvinism is about creating stereotypes of other people as inferior in order to maintain a greater feeling of worth and working to reinforce that perception. There are chauvinists based on what part of town people live in (rich / poor), what activities people participate in (geek / jock), sexual orientation and any number of other types of chauvinism. Chauvinism is the first step in bigotry and justifying treating people as second class because they are not part of the group.

    Based on this most of us can identify any number of chauvinists we know, we merely need to identify what their chauvinistic beliefs are based on and I would like to think in most developed countries people will identify themselves as feminists.

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  36. To keep it short and sweet, Mariah has been on point with her discussion and has made clear and concise replies to nearly every (if not all) who have posted here. It seems fairly obvious she's done the digging where needed, defined things for anyone who may have a misconception, and taken the time to clear up any confusions. And to all of that, I admire her. Sure I may be some random passerby, but reading through here has maybe made that little inkling of a difference that may later grow into some deeper understanding for the future. For that, I am thankful.

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  37. "It's always people who do nothing but have a lot of opinions that seem to feel the most entitled to crap on anything anyone else does in the least intelligent manner possible."

    This should be everyone's response to every troll ever.

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  38. I'm curious. Does the fight for equal rights for women include being included in a military service draft? I feel like most women wouldn't want that.

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    1. Personally I don't like the draft for anyone, but there are other countries that have have mandatory military service for both genders (Israel, Sweden, etc). I don't think it's fair to draft men and not women, and there are plenty of women who do want to serve in the military (and do already). So, to me, yes, that would be a matter of equality. It's paternalistic to insist women can't be in the military.

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    2. Actually Sweden has since 2010 no longer mandatory military service for anyone. Military service for women was always voluntary.

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    3. I would also hazard a guess that most men wouldn't want a draft either.

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  39. So I though perhaps I should actually contribute something that is actually on topic.

    I think the post is good and thoughtful even tho there is nothing really new it is a subject that needs to be discussed simply for the point of saturating the collective consciousness with it.

    I do however think the whole Lara "rapey backstory" thing seems to have been blown out of proportion and using it takes a little bit of the credibility away.

    As for why people dislike "gamer girls" dressing up to get attention. That is not about actual geeky girls dressing up as characters they like. The part that people get upset about (especially actual geek girls) is when someone pretends to be interested in something and use their sex simply to get attention. It is the geek equivalent of dressing in revealing clothes and flirting with guys just to get free stuff. It is cheap, manipulative, hurts actual geek girls reputation and servers to further the objectification of women as well as insulting to male geeks.

    Now I want to make perfectly clear that Felicia Day is definitely NOT one of those girls as she is truly a geek and a great creative person and I really liked that country song even if the country guy needs some work on his miming.

    I'm sorry if this came across as overly negative but simply stating all the parts with which I agree seems pointless :)

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    1. Anders-

      You should see my previous post that addressing Lara Croft and Catwoman. It's not blown out of proportion, it's part of a larger problem with how female characters are treated across several different mediums. The rape backstory is a very old and very crummy trope that has a history of being overused. Go check out Women in Refrigerators and go from there.

      I've addressed this before but...who care? Dressing up to get attention is something literally everyone does. Men do it, women do it...there are plenty of guys at conventions who dress up to get attention. They aren't dressing as Superman because they want to be ignored. They did't make that authentic Stormtrooper outfit and wear it in 80+ degree heat so no one will want to take their picture. It's just as easy to ignore it if you don't like it, and most of the time people just assume they aren't "real" geeks because they're girls. I must have missed the memo where we had a test for that kind of thing.

      While I do think there's a valuable conversation to be had about objectification and women who, for whatever reason, are complicit in it, I know a lot of very geeky women who like to dress up in various costumes for shows. Sometimes it could be considered sexy, sometimes they're just badass, and other times they've extremely complex. A lot of it is relative.

      I guess that sort of thing hurts my reputation as a geek girl...in the sense that people choose to view all other geek girls by the actions of another, because, you know, sexism. Just because one girl (or even several) do that, doesn't mean we all do. And quite frankly the number of girls doing that stuff "just for attention" is really small...and just being a girl in a geek space can get you labeled that way. So you'll excuse me if I take that all with a grain of salt. It seems super convenient to pin the blame on the girls and not, say, those who make sweeping assumptions about all girls.

      My point is that there are issues underlying why a woman might dress that way for "attention", since our culture teaches women from birth that our biggest value is in how we look...and there are issues underlying the assumption that geek "girls" aren't really geeks no matter what they're wearing.

      In any event, Day didn't deserve that attack, as though she's responsible for whatever it is those guys don't like about some gamer girls. That's just an excuse for bad behavior.

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  40. Don't forget female privileges, like these. It is interesting that feminists like to say that feminism is about equality and not just advancing women over men and they insist talking about male privileges, but don't want to have discussion about female privileges...

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    1. Anonymous- Well, no, we just don't want to have to talk about how "men have it rough too" in discussions that are not about them. That's derailing. You can have that conversation elsewhere. The whole internet caters to it.

      As for that list...er...a lot of it is NOT privileges. Most of them are things that come with added gender baggage and negative associations because women are considered weak/less than. There are a few I would agree with...like we can certainly express certain emotions more easily than men. Of course, if we do, we're being "emotional" women, who are unreasonable and illogical. Which neatly negates a lot of that list. The ones I do agree with: motherhood is definitely lauded over fatherhood and there are privileges that come with that.

      So the reason we don't talk a lot about female privileges is that most of the ones people think we have, we don't. I could counter every single one o those in that list but I have actual things to do with my day.

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  41. All- Okay, we're getting to the repeat-o portion of commenting now. I really don't have time to address any more misguided "feminists hate men"/this issue doesn't matter comments. See also asking me to use a different term.

    Please see this video (which is also in my latest post). I thank everyone for the conversations!

    http://vimeo.com/44117178

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  42. Thank you very much for your blogpost and for your very informed replies. I enjoyed following this discussion and I do hope it and other discussion like this will have an impact.

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  43. This was a really fantastic read and you made some great points, I especially liked the conclusion where you linked everything back together. I hate, haaatee trying to explain gender issues to someone only for it to be blown off as "not that important" in the "grand scheme of things." You've definitely given me some thought for how to combat that!

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    1. Lexi- Thank you! It does get frustrating sometimes and I myself lose patience all the time. But I'm a big believer in how things are interrelated and that the more we see how it's all connected, the more likely we are to be able to get to the real roots of the problem/s.

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  44. Hi Mariah, just want to add my appreciation for the thoughtful, clear and respectful way you articulate your position and views. Your detailed responses to so many individual posters is a huge commitment in time and patience, specially as you note, things often go around in circles or distract from the point.

    I always remember an interesting study from education. The researchers had measured the teacher interactions in the classroom and identified that something like 80% of interactions were between the teachers and male students; for a whole lot of reasons. They put some processes in place to actively focus the teacher on having more interactions with the female students. After some time they reached a point of say 70% male interaction and 30% female interaction (I can't remember the exact figures, but this is close enough for the point). The interesting part wasn't really the change, but how the students felt about it. The male students all said that now the female students all spoke more than they did. Even though the male students still received significantly more teach time, they perceived the shift as an increase over what they received.

    I've always remembered this study as it seems really relevant for understanding how people perceive shifts in power. If you accept the status quo as the norm, then someone elses gain must be your loss, and if you've lost, then that must be unfair.

    One thing I do really notice and like in a lot of the threads I've been reading lately is the large number of men adding their support. Its always problematic when change for equity is left to those in margionalised positions to achieve. Perhaps understandably (and probably necessarily) the lead for feminism always tends to come from women, indigenous rights from indigenous peoples etc - although its always pretty cool to see more men represent in equity issues when its done with authenticity and balance. It always sucks when margionalised, oppressed groups are required to carry the burden of discrimination AND the responsibility for change...and often nagged to solve the problems of the poor crew in charge ;)

    Which sort of brings me to all the posters asking about men's rights... If you believe men's rights need championing - and I'd agree there are some issues men need support for - then get off the couch and do something about it. My caveat would be that I only want to advocate for action that makes the world a better place for all, not just exacerbates the existing problems. There is often a risk that when the majority mobilizes, even with good intentions, its to the detriment of progress on equity - mens violence prevention workshops are perhaps an example. These programmes receive the majority of funding in domestic violence prevention, victim support/women's refuges receive little, and its sometimes questionable the extent that men's groups result in meaningful change and reduced recidivism...

    Sorry for the diatribe, just really wanted to say I enjoyed reading your writing Mariah.

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    1. Moonglow- Don't apologize, that was a really thoughtful and interesting post on perception of power. I think that it's demonstrably true that now that women have made some progress, but are not actually equal, you see this kind of backlash people who claim that only women are considered or only their concerns are valid. Which isn't true, but is clearly their perception now that we have a modicum of ability to push back and be heard on some issues.

      It make it difficult to have a conversation with people coming from that pov, because they're predisposed to believing something that isn't the case, so no matter how reasonable you are, what they hear is something else. But we keep on keeping on. :}

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  45. Thanks Mariah, appreciate the validation.

    What often worries me about feminism is the grey abyss between minimising the issue and whatever it means to have real change. I don't mean this to argue against a push for change, but rather to question what change might look like. There are few examples in history of transfers of power that didn't involve violence. Seldom has a state transferred power without a revolution of violence. I think Freire's theories are fundamental when thinking about power; the oppressed take on the tools of the oppressors. I've often admired many feminist theorists for their fortitude in pushing for change while resisting the dominant discourses and methods owning of power. I think that's both a strength and a limitation. Two authors spring to mind Marge Piercy and Sherri S Tepper, both have some really poignant examples of the slowness of change, the burden of the current state, but also the pervasiveness of the issues.

    Gender discrimination and racism have some similarities; but the biggest difference to me is that while every white person may or may not know someone of color, everyone has a mother and often a sister. While I'd like to say that means we should all care for the cause, I think it actually means that most of us have grown up with inequality and some degree of misogyny from birth. Its often so subtle and ingrained that its like air, you don't notice it till its gone or something changes.

    Change then means a critique of all the authority in our lives, but also a critique of ourselves. I think its a hard ask, and I guess I'm curious, other than a sense of justice (and perhaps that's no small thing) what motivates people to own the flaws of their home environment, to question everything they've grown up with?

    Its a big question. I remember at uni, friends could identify men they felt comfortable disclosing to, and men they didn't. I was always curious about the defining differences between the men. We often shared similar backgrounds and experiences, how come some seemed to get it and others didn't?

    I believe in equity really strongly, but I find it curious that I don't really understand why I care and others don't. Which I consider to be a bit like natural sports players; they can be great at a sport, but have no concept of the core skills necessary to be able to teach (not implying I'm great at sports or equity).

    So the short version, what makes for change? If non-violent power transfer requires those in power to consciously and willingly to give up some level of benefit, whats the motivation for those in power to make this change?

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  46. Part 2

    The irony, while I've typed all these posts (and I type slowly over cooking dinner, drinking wine and watching tv) I've been watching Sons of Anarchy. I mean this is a show of serious bloke culture, full of swearing, violence, porn and drugs. But it has some amazing paralles to this conversation, some awesome female leads, Gemma from season 1 to 4 is such a dominant thred to the story, but also female characters challenging all the archtypes and conventions that are so assumed, not just in biker culture, but culture in general. Its kinda crazy, that while we're talking about a pretty overt discrimination in a margionalised subculture, that there is a mainstream show debating gender roles in baby changing in an overtly bloke culture (and I always argue that equity comes down to who handles the sh!t as a matter of routine).


    The good news, this discussion is about graphic novels and that shouldn't take a revolution to achieve. It's even got a strong motivator, like you and a few other bloggers have noted, this is about the fastest growing audience in geek history.... while its about women wanting to read stuff they can affiliate with, it has a direct money benefit. But I really believe that its about men too, and the fastest tipping point needs a critical mass of men to demand something different. Something they aren't embarrassed to show to their mother, their sister, the women in their lives.

    PS Sons of Anarchy season 4 has some great stories of men struggling with the consequences of violence for the women in their lives; but also the preferential treatment of sons. Its sometimes subtle but its crazily poignant if you've followed the seasons. On the surface its about bikers, but its got threads of power struggles and the implications and the consequences of change all through it.

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  47. As a man I can tell you that one thing that makes it hard to have conversations about feminism or women's rights is the way viewpoints are expressed. From my limited experience many feminists will talk about how "men" do this or "men" say that and often sound like they think all men are that way (obviously we aren't and obviously I know you don't think we are). The problem is if I, as a man, make a similar statement using the term "women" (for example: women like to cook) I will be told that I am sexist because not ALL women like to cook and obviously I know all women don';t like to cook.

    When the language that is allowed to be used is so different it makes me feel very uncomfortable in those conversations. When you refer to "men" in your posts it makes me feel like you are talking about a much larger sample of the population than you probably are and that leads to conversations where men are already on the defensive and it inhibits us from really talking to each other about issues/things.

    Granted I do agree with the concerns you raise I just wanted to give one man's perspective on why it's difficult to join the conversations about women's rights.

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    1. Anonymous- I hear you, and I do understand that when people make generalizations about anyone, it poses problems. One thing I do personally to try and mitigate that is contextualize it. When I refer to "men" in this post, I refer specifically to those who trolled these two women. Because that's who overwhelmingly did so. Obviously it wasn't all men everywhere, or all male gamers. And I said as much in the post. It's a very specific sort of person who trolls, and trolls in a misogynistic way.

      Something that is often pointed out in conversations where a less privileged group is criticizing a more privileged group...it's not really about you, unless you do the things they're talking about. Frustration with a situation can make people generalize, and it's possible some individuals think "all" men are a certain way. But Feminism as an ideology doesn't.

      One reason the language is different is because of privilege. It's like if I as a white person asked poc's to discuss white people or white privilege only in terms I find comfortable. They're not required to indulge my privilege like that and it would be pretty much proving the point for me to ask. Do I get uncomfortable in conversations about how "white people" are like x? Sure. But I remind myself that it's not really about me, specifically, and that I have the responsibility, as the privileged party, to really listen and put my bias aside. I do a lot of listening, for instance.

      At the end of the day it doesn't really matter to equality if my feelings got hurt. What matters is constantly striving for a better life for everyone.

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  48. I think one of the main issues associated with 'feminism' is its altered form. In its formative years it stood for the principle of equality, pure and simple.

    At the time of its conception women where, and in some areas still are, treated in a manner that is not equal. And that principle applied to the treatment of everyone.

    After all, you cant champion the cause of equality while condoning or ignoring inequality in other areas. To provide an example, you cant champion the fair and equal treatment of women while ignoring the presumption that women are frequently granted custody of children in divorce cases simply because of their 'motherly nature'.

    Somewhere along the line 'Feminism' became identifiable with the plight of equality for women - possibly due to the name and a lack of understanding regarding its founding principles and the philosphical implications of striving for an equal society, for everyone.

    Its heart warming and refreshing to see that the previous posters recognise this fact and the importance of equality for all. Inequality in all its forms and all its perversions is something the world could do without.

    For me 'feminism' is about promoting the concept of equality in humanitarian terms. It isnt about taking sides in an us and them conflict.Its about recognising the value of difference while promoting a social and legal framework that ensures everyone receives equal respect and consideration - irrespective of the circumstances of their birth or lifestyle choices.

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  49. Darn. I was all set to finally use my math degree for something, and then realized I'd have to be against Felicia Day. I don't want any part of that—she's awesome.

    Great blog post by the way.

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