Blog Post 4 – Jose C

FeministFrequency is a video webseries created by Anita Sarkeesian to discuss the representations of women in pop culture narratives [1]. Taking a critical eye to the visual media we often overlook as mere “entertainment,” Anita has made it her mission to explore the narrow and often damaging representations of women that we are exposed to daily. Her use of examples from mainstream media texts to discuss potentially abstract, academic concepts like feminism and patriarchy has allowed the videos to become not only very popular, but easy to engage with. On youtube alone, her videos have accumulated almost 12 million views.

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Her popular “Tropes vs. Women” series features Anita breaking down the common and overused tropes that perpetuate the patriarchally-defined standards of femininity as they occur in television shows, movies, commercials and most recently, video games. The importance of this work is most potently explained in the words of Susan Douglas who talked about the importance of media critique in regards to breaking down the images and representations (of women) we’ve come to see as normal. “See, if enough people think studying the media is a waste of time, then the media themselves can seem less influential than they really are. Then they get off the hook for doing what they do best: promoting a white, upper-middle-class, male view of the world that urges the rest of us to sit passively on our sofas and fantasize about consumer goods while they handle the important stuff. [2]” Anita echoed this sentiment in one of her FeministFrequency videos, where she explains the importance of not only consciously engaging in the media that surrounds and influences us, but to question and critique the images and representations it shows us [3].

FeministFrequency was created with Bitch magazine in 2009, initially with a focus on science fiction [4]. While Anita regularly released videos and her viewership on youtube grew steadily in the years following, FeministFrequency’s big break was the Kickstarter campaign for new webseries, “Tropes vs. Women in Videogames” in 2012. Sadly, it was not the work itself that garnered the attention, but rather the vitriolic internet hate campaign that was waged on her for being a woman with something to say about video games [5].

ImageEverything from cyber-bullying, harassment and even “beat her up”-flash games poured in and soon, everyone had something to say about FeministFrequency [6]. Anita made it a point to document some the harassment she was receiving and posted it onto her blog [7]. Fortunately, thanks to the news media bringing to light what Anita had been dealing with [8], there was a backlash to the backlash and many people came to support her work, with her Kickstarter campaign was well over-funded by June 16th, 2012 [9].

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This incident of harassment and bullying is not uncommon for women in the video game culture [10], in fact what Anita had to deal with was more the rule than the exception. Like many other fields of media, the world of video game culture has long been seen as another boy’s club where women have to work twice as hard to get half as far, both within the culture itself as well as in the gaming industry where women struggle to reconcile the expectations placed upon them by the males around them [11]. It is this environment of new media mired in old patriarchal ideology that FeministFrequency and other media critics are fighting against.

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Resources:

[1] http://www.feministfrequency.com/about/

[2] Susan Douglas – Where the Girls Are

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efA1PGMA6sY

[4] http://www.salon.com/2012/06/14/lara_croft_battles_male_jerks/

[5] http://www.gamespot.com/articles/from-samus-to-lara-an-interview-with-anita-sarkeesian-of-feminist-frequency/1100-6382189/

[6] http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/internet/2012/06/dear-internet-why-you-cant-have-anything-nice

[7] http://www.feministfrequency.com/2012/06/harassment-misogyny-and-silencing-on-youtube/

[8] http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/internet/2012/07/what-online-harassment-looks

[9] https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/566429325/tropes-vs-women-in-video-games

[10] http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/08/sexual_harassment_in_the_gaming_world_a_real_life_problem_for_female_gamers_.html

[11] http://kotaku.com/5963528/heres-a-devastating-account-of-the-crap-women-in-the-games-business-have-to-deal-with-in-2012/all

After writing this, I found that Anita did a better job collecting these news items than I did: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/566429325/tropes-vs-women-in-video-games/posts/247064

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