Sarkeesian Promises to Release First Video this Month, but Who is She Working For?

by W.F. Price on February 4, 2013

Most readers are not all that interested in Anita Sarkeesian, because they are not avid gaming enthusiasts. I am not a serious gamer either (although I enjoy gaming), but I find the Sarkeesian saga a very instructive case study for how feminism works and rewards “activists” like Anita Sarkeesian. It also demonstrates how feminism is not actually hostile to power or the establishment, but works with it. This is why I’m keeping this story alive to its conclusion.

A few days ago, Sarkeesian told Kotaku that her first video is coming out this month, and she has already been releasing bits of it on Tumblr:

Anita Sarkeesian, the controversial feminist critic whose plans to produce a crowdfunded video series about female tropes in video games led to someone creating a video game all about punching her in the face, is almost ready to show her work.

Sarkeesian quietly launched a Tumblr called “Bits of Tropes Vs. Women in Games” this week. It shows images from one of the tropes she’s certain to explore in the series: the damsel in distress.

The site’s “about” page states that the image collection is “a work in progress and not meant as a complete comprehensive list but hopefully it can help to demonstrate the scope and history of this problematic trope. Plus, you might just find some interesting bits of classic video game nostalgia here.”

Ironically, the “damsel in distress” trope is exactly what Sarkeesian has been using since launching her project. It has netted her a great deal of money and sympathy, and she’s played the damsel in distress in several media and academic venues since, highlighting the awful, nasty things people said to and about her. So, Sarkeesian should know a thing or two about it. We’ll see what she has to say in her video this month, or whenever she gets around to it. I do think she’ll eventually produce it, and gamers might want to thank (or blame) me at least in part for putting the pressure on her to do so over the last couple months.

However, this will not be the end of the story. You see, Anita Sarkeesian was involved in something interesting before launching her tropes fundraiser. She was “engaging” with game developers, having been invited on at least one occasion to speak to them last year in Bellevue, WA. While it is unclear whether she was paid to do so, she obviously saw an opportunity in the industry, and thus was born the Tropes vs. Women project. The smashing success of her fundraiser sparked a lot of interest, and while she put the video project on hold, she went around the world talking at events, handing out media kits and so on.

Although Anita may not have been making much money giving talks before her Kickstarter campaign, since she grossed $160,000 she has been hired by Electronic Arts as a “consultant.”

In a screen grab of a gamer discussion posted on Mundane Matt’s Tumblr, an anonymous commenter responds to a question about what EA and Sarkeesian’s cooperation is all about. According to the commenter, she has been paid to praise a game called “Battlefield 4,” and to declare it feminist friendly. Her job is to provide political cover and perhaps bring in a few female gamers.

This may or may not be true, but there’s little doubt that Sarkeesian is in fact working for EA, which is an enormous company with billions in revenue. This being the case, how could she possibly give her Kickstarter backers an objective critique of sexism in video games?

She can’t, and now it becomes a little more clear why she has been so secretive over the past months. She’s been playing a double game. On the one hand, she’s taking on those big bad sexist capitalists, and on the other she’s working for them. It’s a classic conflict of interest, and in the end one side is going to get stiffed.

So who will get stiffed: her little fans who each gave her a one-time donation to complete an ill-defined project about “tropes,” or the multibillion dollar international corporation she works for now?

I think we already know the answer.

So, to those who supported Anita Sarkeesian, I’m sorry to say it, but if she was taking money from the gaming industry before releasing her “Tropes” video, she’s already betrayed you. There’s no way you’re going to get an objective series now, because Anita Sarkeesian works for the video game industry.

You’ve all been had.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

jay February 4, 2013 at 14:45

Serves the donors right.

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geographybeefinalisthimself February 4, 2013 at 14:53

“So, Sarkeesian should know a thing or two about it. We’ll see what she has to say in her video this month, or whenever she gets around to it.”

While I’m glad the donors have been had (but do not know if they will become MRA’s as a result), I do not anticipate a video coming out before 03/04/2013; incidentally this is the day on the calendar that sounds like a command (march forth).

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scatmaster February 4, 2013 at 15:06

As you say they have been “had” and they aren’t getting laid which I suspect was their fervent hope. Losers.

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Days of Broken Arrows February 4, 2013 at 15:20

Why would you need $160,000 to shoot a video when millions of others shoot videos for free and put them out on YouTube. GirlWritesWhat spends nothing on her videos, yet they’re extremely educational.

For $160K, we’d better be getting Discovery Channel-styled documentaries.

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Thos. February 4, 2013 at 16:34

She strikes me as someone with little experience outside academia. Her critique of holiday songs was particularly telling. In it, harmless ditties like “I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” were picked apart like snuff porn. There was no sense of perspective as to the ordering of problems that need to be solved.

(That and her analysis is typically a mile wide and frustratingly shallow.)

She reminds me of a lot of people who want to work in marketing because they have no well thought out ambitions and no clear skill set.

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ar10308 February 4, 2013 at 16:38

I think the real answer here is for them to stop treating women as objects of desire (which motivate the hero to go through harrowing tribulation in order to rescure said damsel) and to start treating them as an objects of burden which is much more true to life.

Imagine in Resident Evil 4 if you could just feed Ashley to the zombies and not have to bother with any of those stupid protection missions.
Or Super Mario wouldn’t have to run and jump over all the Mushroom Kingdom to save the princess and could just chill in his bachelor pad with Luigi, making pasta and pizza.
Link wouldn’t have to travel through wind, water and time to save Princess Zelda. He could have just stayed on his farm, the Kokiri village or fishing pond and had a great time living the easy life.

Females as damsels in distress makes the assumption that the woman is worth saving. When you start to question the truth of that underlying assumption, you start to wonder why you bother to play video games…

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AnotherJay February 4, 2013 at 17:20

Go here. In the Examples section, click Video Games.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DamselInDistress

Phew, all this research is exhausting. I’ll have my $160,000 now.

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Uncle Elmer February 4, 2013 at 17:23

While women were complaining about sexist “gaming tropes” and the lack of women in “tech”, men created another revolutionary technology : 3D Printing.

Young men are gonna use it to produce erotic statuary. And that’s just the beginning.

Looks like Sarcheesian is a little behind the curve.

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TFH February 4, 2013 at 17:50

Meh….. a feminist ripping of manginas is not the worst thing.

The ‘tax’ of being a mangina should rise, and if this is the way, so be it. If they can’t call her on it, and in fact donate to her next fundraiser (I bet she still gets donations next time for a similar project, despite this episode), then manginas are paying the mangina tax.

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TFH February 4, 2013 at 17:56

Check out the performance of Electronic Arts stock, in relation to the S&P500, over the last 4 years :

http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=EA+Interactive#symbol=ea;range=20090210,20130204;compare=%5Egspc;indicator=roc;charttype=line;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=on;source=undefined;

As always, once a company starts to make ‘feminism’ a priority, it underperforms.

The biggest example of this is none other than HP, where a good CEO was fired by a misandric Board of Directors over…nothing really. HP has since lost 75% of its market cap. This was one of the premier technology companies of the last half-century.

Here is a chart that compares both Hewlett Packard and EA to the S&P500, over the last 3 years :

http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=EA+Interactive#symbol=ea;range=20100318,20130204;compare=%5Egspc+hpq;indicator=roc;charttype=line;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=on;source=undefined;

‘Feminism’ is expensive. Always short shares of any company that is showing pedestalizing, feminist tendencies.

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V10 February 4, 2013 at 18:39

Considering the time and money invested, not to mention the river of virtual ink written by her and her white knights, it should be riveting and insightful.

It SHOULD be, but it won’t. It doesn’t even have to be right, but it has to show something to justify the budget. I’m going guess there’ll be at least professional video editing, shouldn’t be too hard to scrounge up some beta with a little talent. They’ll smooth and shellac that turd to a mirror sheen, if nothing else. Content, I’m going to guess a mix of biographies of fictional female characters in video games, some token interviews with women working in the industry, and a very generous topping of grrrl power juxtaposed with feminist sob stories.

I’m a serious gamer, and most of the players I’ve kept company with don’t give a damn if a girl joins in. At least not until the girl decides to make their gender an issue. Several guilds and clans (online gaming teams) I know specifically mandate No Girls Allowed. This isn’t some kind of throwback to preteen boys hiding in the tree fort in fear of cooties, but a lesson learned from experience. Girl gamers tend to cause Drama, capital D, and that is poisonous to the teamwork and camaraderie. They sext and flirt with the dominant personalities, whine for special treatment, spend hours backstabbing anyone who slights them and demand their enemies be expelled. Relevant comic: http://fiztheancient.deviantart.com/art/Girl-Gamers-87395341

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Jean Valjean February 4, 2013 at 20:39

It never fails with feminists. No matter what the evidence shows, they can never view women as anything other than victim of men.

Ironic that this trope isn’t recognized by Sarkeesian.

Of course, as we’ve seen again and again there is nothing which gains more privilege for women than portraying themselves as victims.

But let’s be clear here; it’s only sexism to portray women as victims when men do it.

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Glenn February 4, 2013 at 22:09

She included Bump ‘n’ Jump, an arcade game from 1988? WTF? It also appears most of her game selection are console, not PC titles. That will skew the readership down to the 15-23 age group, not adult PC gamers, myself included.

As the author noted, sarkeesian is a game industry employee (I will not call her “the token girl”…yet) so her perspective will be biased, not objective. Those that donated have well and truly been hosed down.

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JFP February 4, 2013 at 23:40

Hah, she’s working for EA. The producer/developer with the worst reputation in the business for screwing over employees, developers, and customers.

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MRA February 5, 2013 at 04:29

Battlefield 4 is FPS shooter from EA about…..well it is called Battlefield you can see on youtube videos from Battlefield 3 and ask yourself, what does feminist has to do with this?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zw8SmsovJc

The irony that someone point out the other day on reddit is that Sarkeesian has spend more time creating some youtube videos with 160K than a Hollywood studio creating a whole season of one high budget TV show, to put it in one example, the TV show “Games Of Thrones”, its cost is 50 millions and that is just the first season.

But here we have Sarkeesian spending more time to produce 8 min videos about how video games oppress women.

I like how women jumped the bandwagon as soon as video games hit the mainstream, just some years so close as 2009 you could see women laughing and shaming gamers but now that the pop culture is not the same there is suddenly a geek/nerd culture that the mainstream pop culture want to absorb.

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Yldri February 5, 2013 at 07:24

To ar10308:
That’s actually an excellent point (rescuing a damsel in distress implies that she has value and is worth saving in the first place even if that means endangering male lives) that provides the other 50% of my own, with regards to how feminists always blame men for things that, in all its practical applications, is very positive towards women. Allow me to quote myself:

“The most surprising (or not) absence in here, and I suspect will also be absent of her videos, is exactly the same thing that is happening in all of feminism.

So, “back in the days”, women were oppressed horribly: they were forced to stay home and care for their children, while the men were doing all the fun stuff, which is crawling in the mud for months before getting their guts sliced by a sword in a stupidly useless attack, breaking their backbone sixteen hours a day in the coal mines, or in the fields.

And now, in videogames (and films too… in fact, in life), you have male characters, nameless and faceless, whose only purpose is to die horribly by the thousands, possibly in games that make a point that it is a very funny and creative thing to do.

What do women complain about? A female character, who is important by her sole virtue of being female, and is invariably made attractive and loved by the main cast.

These men don’t even have the luxury of having a shallow personality revolving about being loved by everyone. Their only reason to be in the game at all is to die. Seriously, being loved? Who would want that? I prefer being killed, maimed, tortured and mutilated over having a bare belly and a love interest.

Feminists showing once again their lack of insight about the most obvious things, and how they are fine with female cruelty and lack of empathy, nothing new, move along.”

The average woman in a videogame is fine. At least, the damsel in distress is the object of love, she will actually be allowed to live, and her future is guaranteed.

The average man in a videogame is a toy to be murdered in the most horrible ways possible.

But they conveniently hide and forget that fact, simply because they are male protagonists, i.e. two men compared to thousands for any given game. I would like to be oppressed like women are.

And if she says that the thousands of nameless men who get mutilated and murdered for fun don’t count just because they are not big names, congratulations, you have completely proven my point.

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keyster February 5, 2013 at 08:33

…then manginas are paying the mangina tax.

The mangina tax is constantly deferring to females with the expectation of getting laid, or at least some small token of appreciation like “aww, how sweet” and not even getting that much. It’s being in the “friend zone” while fantasizing your f*cking her. All that time wasted meeting at Starbucks, listening to her complain about her boyfriends.

Manginism is the distorted belief that if you support feminism, righteous/equalist women will view you as hot and desirable. Short of not being able to connect sexually in any other way, it’s all an emasculated eunuch has left in his arsenal of attraction. Well that, and maybe the latest Axe fragrance and membership in some animal rights cause.

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Towgunner February 5, 2013 at 10:13

@TFH

Just want to say, that was a great post. Short companies that go feminist.

For me, at the center of this silly issue of video games and women is this – the primary consumer of video games are males, so, from a market perspective, what do you expect, said games will be reflective of the interests of their clients. If this cretin wants more female focused games etc then let females decide on their own to play more games, because if they do the market will respond to that demand. I assure you where there is demand for something there will be plenty of people willing to supply that demand. What doesn’t work is when you try to create demand when there is an insufficient amount or none and worse when you apply politics to see it through; this results in arbitrary action and market perversion. And on that note, this women is not the first to try to make games more appealing to women, Nintendo and the Wii made huge strides forward on that front and guess what they needed no smear campaign to do it. Matter of fact, I think the entire video game industry would love it if they could find a way to convince girls and young women to become gamers too, theoretically you can 2x sales (women ½ the population). If these multinational companies aren’t finding a market in girls (ahem with literally $100’s of millions in R&D and marketing), well, girls are just not that interested, period. And it’s not because games are “sexists” or “exclusionary”, if girls want more first person shooter games, someone will give it to them. But they don’t so what’s the problem? This isn’t just games either, Harley Davidson, tried to make biking more appealing to women too, for the same reasons I listed above, new demographic, greenfield opportunity, ultimately more sales – who wouldn’t want that? Turned out, women aren’t that excited about motorcycling so much, and this was proved by the rather lackluster results of Harley Davidson’s female-centric venture. Talk about shorting companies, a feminists would have you believe that motorcycling is a male-dominated space and there is oppression and imaginary ceilings made of glass and only if those bikes were pink and those men not as manly and intimidating more women would be bikers? ?? Okay and then what, you rouse women into action just to buy something out of spite that they don’t need…whose really getting screwed in this? Truth is, like most sports, video games, motorcycling, fighting, lifting heavy weights, hunting, fishing…etc etc women if left to make their own decisions just would not tend to do these things. Is it really capitalistic “oppression” if some outlier women can’t find form fitted camouflage hunting trousers? Moreover, as TFH alluded too, you harm the whole organization, why, because pandering too imaginary clients might disenfranchise your real clients and, as we all know, clients come first…well, except in a feminist economy. Think about it. This woman won’t make gaming popular among women at all. When Sony or Activision finally release a game that resonates with girls and young women then it will happen. What this woman will probably end up doing is making sure that there are an equal number of female characters as there are to male, that in the next call of duty it follows a female around, that the next Madden football will have everyone observing “breast cancer awareness” and have female refs and maybe even female players. ??? And what will that accomplish? Disenfranchise your clients, yep, but for the inelastic demand (the addicted escapism clients, which there are many in gaming) maybe you’ll turn them into that shooter in CT?

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Jaego February 5, 2013 at 11:14

Strong thumbs up to the previous posters. Romance and Chivalry are largely Western cultural constructs with a well defined history – a rise and a now a fall. Some of it came from Islam via the Crusades. It was then Westernized by the troubadours. Also there was another native stream coming from King Arthur stories. At first it was only for the upper class . But somehow, probably because it is profitable, it survived the end of feudalism into the Capitalist era. And then was passed down to the new middle class.

It is not found in Asia to my knowledge. Love and romance are, but within reason. No other culture believes loves conquers all. Some Sufis have stories about mad love, but it’s a metaphor of the love between the soul and God. And some third world people have no concept of romance at all. When told about the damsel in distress faery tales, they say why not just get another girl.

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TexV February 5, 2013 at 14:10

Specifically, she works for the American video game industry, which has been in the thrall of feminist political correctness for decades. She’ll be useful for attacking the sexy sirens in foreign games where they don’t follow the American pattern of feminism. This is all to the advantage of companies like Electronic Arts and Activision, which can’t engage in direct protectionist lobbying against foreigners, but can get foreign games labelled as sexist. (Similar to the feminist crusade against “mail order brides” from Russia and Asia.)

The old excuse for censoring “sexy” foreign games, that games are for kiddies, no longer washes. However, it successfully caused a lot of ham handed censorship in foreign games in the past, giving “good old” American games which take the feminist view of female sex appeal (that it’s evil and depraved) an advantage, because there was no need to censor the American games. Now, as the wave of overt feminism sweeps across the American gaming industry, there will be pressure on Russian, European and Japanese games to tone down the eye candy in order to get an American release without a lot of controversy, picketing, and snide comments from feminist-biased reviewers.

It’s brilliant.

If Anita Sarkeesian didn’t exist, the American gaming industry would have found it necessary to create her, since they would be less competitive against foreign games that weren’t operating under the PC-feminism handicap.

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V10 February 5, 2013 at 17:35

MRA: “I like how women jumped the bandwagon as soon as video games hit the mainstream, just some years so close as 2009 you could see women laughing and shaming gamers but now that the pop culture is not the same there is suddenly a geek/nerd culture that the mainstream pop culture want to absorb.”

I’d attribute a significant part of that to increased online gaming. Before, it was just 1 or 2 guys playing in the living room, or the occasional LAN party. Now, large groups of people are gaming together and regularly. A large social environment is created (mostly young males). And whether it’s because women are very communal creatures or because they can’t stand the thought of men having a good time without them, girls have taken to it with a vengeance (should that be ‘for vengeance’?).

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TFH February 5, 2013 at 18:30

Towgunner,

Just want to say, that was a great post. Short companies that go feminist.

Thanks, man.

While all companies will be feminist to some degree, when a bit of news that indicates over-the-top feminism in the corporate culture comes out, assume that your red-pill knowledge has been converted to free money.

Once can similarly short the bonds of countries known for being completely dominated by feminism, so that 70-80% of government spending is a transfer from men to women. The US, UK, and Canada all qualify, and the US is now spending $1.60 for every $1 it collects in taxes. But this strategy takes much longer to manifest, as this is an entire country as the underlying basis, rather than just a corporation.

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TFH February 5, 2013 at 18:33

V10,

or because they can’t stand the thought of men having a good time without them

This is a large part of the whole thing. This is why women want to be in gaming, in the corporate workplace, and even in the military (which they wrongly assume is ‘fun’, from watching movies).

If men are having a good time without women, men might not work as hard to produce the resources women need to survive. This terrifies women.

This why women hate it if their husband has hobbies that don’t include her (while men have no problem if their wife has a harmless hobby). It is also why women hate the Superbowl. It is because for those few hours, women are not the center of attention, so their ‘I will run out of resources’ survival alarm goes off.

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video games review February 5, 2013 at 19:26

The donors remind me of what Aurini said about how men are responsible for feminism.

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