(This is another edition of , a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)
A recent Kickstarter project caused a bit of an outcry this week due mostly to the disproportionate backlash perpetuated against its founder. For those not in the know, Anita Sarkeesian wanted funding for a new video series, “Tropes vs. Women in Videogames.” A seemingly benign project, the series aimed to look at the tired and weary narrative tropes that developers trotted out when representing women in games. A simple idea, and one that was doing reasonably well in the funding department. Then some of those wacky hardcore male gamers got ahold of it, and did what a frightened majority does best — it attacked. Now, you can look anywhere online for a rundown of the harassment that followed — from rape and death threats to racial slurs — but the upshot is that the attacks resulted in the opposite of their intended effect, with the project now swimming in $144,501 … and only a $6,000 goal.
In response, the majority has done that other thing majorities do really well — they got jealous of the minority. Like a child that screeches for a new toy if they see another child get one, gamers in various forums and comment threads started demanding that sexism against men start getting looked at and given equal footing with sexism against women. Because of course, those born with greater privilege and advantages can definitely count their struggles as equal to those of a minority group that has to fight to be taken seriously in any avenue. In a world where rich white males are deciding what women can do with their own bodies, it’s certainly time we stopped worrying about women and started looking at what those poor, unrepresented men must suffer through.
So it is that accusations of misandry in the game industry are flying thick and fast (there’s even a snotty Kickstarter project for an opposing “Men vs. Tropes in Gaming” video series), and I think many of us in the sane quarters of the Internet are all thinking … just grow the fuck up, you whimpering little manbabies.
I am reminded of fundamentalist Christians in the American South who whine and cry about how their religion is being marginalized by those evil Muslims or sinister atheists — despite the fact that half a dozen TV channels are dedicated to their faith, there’s enough of them to vote their favorite Christian politicians into power every year, and there are lobbyists from the churches pouring millions of dollars into getting their God’s demands written into American law. Yet still, they have the fucking nerve to complain about victimization because, every now and then, someone suggests that one of their privileges — their privileges, not their rights — ought to be removed. As a resident of Mississippi (for the time being), I can only think of how the people around me lobbied and protested and cried over the building of a mosque in the local area, all because they couldn’t stand the thought of another religion having just ONE place to go an worship. Just ONE damn mosque, in a town where we have Christian churches built FACING EACH OTHER ON THE OPPOSITE SIDES OF A ROAD! To be so unaware of one’s own power while crying about weakness and victimization … I can never fathom how one becomes so compartmentalized.
So it is with these manbaby gamers trying to argue that they’re just as discriminated against as women. I’d like to know how many of these people were threatened with rape. Exactly how many gaming misandrists threatened to rape one of these poor male gamers? Definitely zero. Absolutely, positively, definitely zero. That imbalance alone makes me scoff at the idea of trying to suggest men have it just as tough as women. A woman can’t even suggest that her gender is poorly represented in games without being stalked, abused, and threatened. A man can pretty much say whatever he likes and get off with maybe a few angry comments.
Misandry as a widespread problem in the games industry just doesn’t exist. Now, I am not saying individual misandrists can’t exist. There are women that hate men irrationally, just as there are all sorts of irrational people with irrational hatreds. But an industry-wide problem, big enough to be called out? Hardly. Games are made predominantly by men, predominantly for a male audience. The executives are almost entirely men. The producers are almost entirely men. And when we’re talking about the games that are being claimed as sexist — Gears of War, Halo, titles with big burly meathead protagonists — the audience is made up of a vast majority of men (or at least boys). Now, you can call the deluge of hulking male protagonists unimaginative. You can call it a stereotype. You can even make a case for it being an issue of how men see themselves, or how companies think men want to see themselves, and suggest it is something that can be addressed. But misandry? A hateful attempt to put men down? Fuck off. It is a case of men stereotyping themselves for an audience of men that happily buy into the stereotype.
As with these Southern Christians, and as with “White Power” groups or those that claim heterophobia exists, the wails of a majority that they’re being oppressed or hated just reek of fear and jealousy. Fear that their time at the top might come to an end one day, and jealousy of anybody other than them finally getting special treatment for a change. I see these people, so used to being the powerful ones with all the attention and focus on their needs, furiously grinding their teeth at the idea of some “other” group getting the spotlight. It’s like when straight people oppose gay marriage — it boils down to something THEY have, that they don’t want some outside group to get their hands on. It’s selfish and it’s jealous. When I see this backlash against the suggestion that games could stand to be more inclusive, I see an extension of those that claim there is a “war” on marriage. I see a group of people who want something all to themselves, and will jealously guard what they have or otherwise scream oppression when someone asks they share.
Start. Fucking. Sharing.