To me, the answer is simple (the answer to the question presented in the headline). The feminist basis of this teaches them that every last possible thing is an intentional or unintentional way to demean and control women and elevate men. Academic feminism and gender studies is geared towards showing this in every aspect of western life. The only refuge from this is feminism itself. This is why slut walks are empowering. They are resisting the Patriarchy, and sexy game characters are disempowering. They are indulging the Patriarchy. Micro-aggressions are a product of this mindset. These things exist as much to create an omnipresent threat to feminists and SJW’s as to give a tool to use against those who may be committing such sins.
It’s a simple summation, but it’s a bit deeper than one paragraph, so buckle up for a long look at the pieces involved.
Starting point: Anita and Feminist Frequency
I will be using a limited set of sourcing to support this article, most from a selection of Anita’s work with some sampling from a few other sources. However, Anita is formally educated, holding a BA in communication studies and using her work as a springboard on the subject isn’t a bad start, not that I’ve personally gone much beyond it.
There’s not much need to, given how many speaking engagements she’s had at various indie conventions, as well as directly to developers and publishers. Her viewpoints can be considered a rather solid cornerstone of current feminist and SJW beliefs about gaming. To successfully refute her work is to refute the majority of the anti gaming and gamer sentiments and beliefs that lead to censoring and self-censoring activity of the gaming industry.
Her master thesis is a fair demonstration of the types of work you’ll find in the halls of feminist academia. “A research paper submitted to the Graduate Program in Social and Political Thought” “For the degree of Master of Social and Political Thought”. Despite the lofty name, this paper is an unadulterated work a feminist academia.
One of the great virtues of feminist academia is the pretense of being academic. In this setting, they source other pieces of work they’ve based their own off of. So while I seem focused on Anita, it would take but a few references to move beyond any of her own claims into the myriad of other works, she and those like her reference.
So, let’s start with the fundamental.
This one is fun. I always had my Internet searches on the feminist definition of “Patriarchy” terminate in a myriad little blogs that never really gave a definition. Ask your average feminist and its decent money you’ll hear something about “personal definition” or “it’s different for everyone.” Bullshit. It’s referenced in academic works over and over again and a baseline justification of their interpretations and half-formed ideas in innumerable “research” papers. Trust me, those papers deserve the “not really” quotes.
It was Anita’s thesis that gave me an actual reference and definition. The definition referenced is from “The Gender Knot” by Allan Johnson. The Patriarchy in this book is described as “A society is patriarchal to the degree that it promotes male privilege* by being male dominated, male identified, and male centered. It is also organized around an obsession with control and involves one of its key aspects the oppression of women.”
As if this wasn’t enough, male privilege has a footnote to yet another book to explain what it means. The footnote from “The Gender Knot” reads “I use the term privilege according to the definition developed by Peggy McIntosh in her classic article “White Privilege and Male Privilege” in Gender Basics: Feminist Perspectives on Women and Men. Privilege refers to any unearned advantage that is available to members of a societal category while being systematically denied to others. In Patriarchy, what men say tends to have greater credibility than what women say, even when they’re saying the same thing.
Access to privilege depends on the prevailing definition of categories such as “Male and “Female” and the advantages and disadvantages socially attached to them. It also depends on related characteristics. A man’s access to male privilege, for example, will vary according to other status characteristics such as race, sexual orientation, disability status, and social class. McIntosh’s approach is important to any understanding of privilege because it refers not to individuals, but to the organization of social systems in which people live.
In other words, it´s a damned long and an interesting insight into these terms (with no doubt). It also makes male privilege a quantifiable value, something possible to ascribe a male privilege number to men (possibly even women). Not only is this a baseline concept that many works of feminist bent social sciences take for granted, using the term with no explanation in their papers, it establishes an omnipresent aspect of society that is naturally geared towards manipulating and controlling women.
This type of concept of omnipresent and naturally-occurring systemic manipulations is the foundation for building towards the idea not just of controlling women, but creating omnipresent threats to women.
Creating threats – Rape Culture
Rape culture is the largest and most successful move of academic feminism in creating an omnipresent threat. Rape itself is a nasty thing, but for the feminist and SJW world, it’s not actually horrifying enough. It needs to be amped up. It’s a popular choice because the basic reaction of any sane individual is revulsion, and revulsion can short out rational thought. So it has to go from being the declining threat actual data shows to a default male condition. They’re not even satisfied with trumpeting real cover-ups of rape, but creating falsified studies and redefining what rape means. Oddly, their definitions use gender-neutral terms, but things like the inability to give consent while impaired in any fashion is only applied to women. In fact, they almost never address the issue of male consent to sex in the first place.
An easy source for dealing with their faulty data is Christina Hoff Sommers Factual Feminist series. Rape Panic is not the answer, Sexual assault myths: Part 1, and Part 2. As to people believing these things, I can easily point to noted gaming figure Jim Sterling repeating a rape culture myth.
“Men rape. It’s a sad fact. If you’re in an elevator, you do need to be aware that, as a man, you *are* a potential rapist. Don’t be creepy. “
I’m willing to infer that various other figures, including the crew at Extra Credits, whom I will be quoting later, either believe similar things, or are working with faulty data inspired by or in the same vein as Jim Sterling’s view on men as defacto potential rapists. This inference against Extra credits touches on a tricky area to deal with on this topic. While it’s impossible to know if a feminist of SJW subscribes to the idea of rape culture without them addressing the topic or repeating its myths, it is unfair to saddle them with the accusation without proof. Nevertheless, it is commonly held enough that it should be considered a prospective factor in any gender motivated negative coverage of games, gamers, and gaming.
Furthermore, the belief that women are in such peril motivates people to deception and unfortunately means that one cannot take a persons denial of rape culture in these circumstances at face value. They may consider admitting belief in it will damage their credibility. Their body of work is going to have to speak to this, and it is a basis of much feminist and SJW action that even if an individual or group in question does not ascribe to the idea of rape culture, they are still working with information and data from sources that do.
Creating Threats – Cyber-Violence
While it’s not as powerfully repulsive to people as rape, a newer fabrication of threat is Cyber-Violence. I suppose it makes sense, as only the nuttier of SJW’s and feminists will buy into the idea that one can commit rape through purely textual interactions online. There isn’t nearly as much data on this new approach and outside of the people already vulnerable to believing the rhetoric, it’s having trouble gaining a toe-hold, but it is essentially Rape Culture 2.0. As it´s a way to make men an omnipresent threat to women.
I don’t have much in the way of sources or references for cyber-violence. Milo Yiannopoulos lampoons a presentation at the U.N on cyber-violence by the U.N. Women group. I can also note some of the speakers that have been added to the SXSW’s online harassment summit, from the initial announcement and the update.
Shireen Mitchell (Founder, Digital Sisters and Stop Online Violence Against Women)
Susan Benesch (Founder of Dangerous Speech Project; also Berkman Center for Internet & Society)
One organization with “online violence” in the name and the other with the notable “Dangerous Speech Project”, which I presume will be pushing the idea of online violence as well.
Why SJW’s can’t leave things alone
So how does the basis of omnipresent threats get to the condemnation of fiction, art, and most importantly in our case, video games? Well, you see according to the feminist and SJW mindset. Every aspect of Western culture is a self-perpetuating manifestation of patriarchy.
Anita sums this up for us more than once. While feminist academia is rife fabricating examples of this, I only have a few references at hand. In Anita’s master thesis, she fingers clothing, casting, names, lighting, editing, and camera angles as deliberately chosen to perpetuate patriarchal meaning. Saying they are “(…) all chosen for specific reasons” before quoting Suzanna Danuta Walters from “Material girls: making sense of feminist cultural theory.”
To quote Anita’s quote, “Even particular kinds of editing, shots, and staging devices are implicated in the process of making (patriarchal) meaning.”
Anita also levels accusations of deliberation, in part, at developers. In “Damsel in Distress: Part 2”: “Developers must be hoping that by exploiting sensationalized images of brutalized women it will be enough to fool gamers into thinking their games are becoming more emotionally sophisticated, but the truth is there is nothing “mature” about most of these stories and many of them cross the line into blatant misogyny.”
While the phrasing of this separates the deliberation from directly trying to cause misogyny, I am completely comfortable accusing Anita of doing this purely for the purpose of deniability. Although I’ve done a little work highlighting what I see as Feminist Frequency’s very deliberate manipulation of information for the purpose of audience manipulation
Extra Credits also provides an example of this kind of implication of deliberation in major business decisions in their video “No Gendered Mechanics”: “Many industries spend billions of dollars to steer our collective perception of gender identities in certain ways.”
This takes things further than just self-perpetuation, making these forces a deliberately perpetuated reinforcement of patriarchal culture (the same thing that creates rape culture and cyber-violence). This is a very implicit connection between these things and virtually all Western culture in helping to cause these horrible fabrications of theirs, such as the extremes of rape culture, domestic abuse, and cyber-violence.
Anita is happy to use these correlations rather frequently. From “Damsel in Distress: Part 1”: “But it’s undeniable that popular culture is a powerful influence in our lives and the damsel in distress trope as a recurring trend does help to normalize extremely toxic, patronizing and paternalistic attitudes about women.”
From “Women as Background Decorations”: “The player cannot help but treat these female bodies as things to be acted upon (…)” “Players are meant to derive a perverse pleasure from desecrating the bodies of unsuspecting virtual female characters.” “It’s a rush streaming from a carefully concocted mix of sexual arousal connected to the act of controlling and punishing representations of female sexuality. “
The constructed narrative leaves no recourse but to remove the things that cause and reinforce patriarchy. That isn’t just a sexy woman in a bikini. That’s a construct that normalizes toxic attitudes towards women. Those toxic attitudes contribute to rape culture and domestic violence. You can’t enjoy it because it is a piece of a monstrous Western patriarchal culture.
The only cure is Feminism
That answers the basic of why SJW’s and Feminists can’t leave things they aren’t going to buy alone. It also lays out that the modern social justice is little more than feminism as well. All of this springs from academic feminist sources. They were happy to operate under the guise of social justice until recently, but now SJW is bearing the stigma that should rightly be laid at the feet of the feminist theory.
However, we’ve come this far, and if you’re still reading, I can probably drag you along a little further to cover this and one additional point. Not only does feminism paint society as inherently hostile towards women, as well as perpetuated by the deliberate machinations of things like corporations, it makes implicit almost all behavior in perpetuating this. Extra Credits: No Gendered Mechanics: “It’s unfortunate, but from the day, we’re bombarded with a lot of societal ideas about what our gender should and shouldn’t like.”
There is also very long Norwegian documentary, “Brainwash”, on this, that talks to both people credited in Gender Studies and people from other fields of study that have done actual tests to try and determine what innate preferences babies may have based on gender. One thing to note that when presented with data and assertions contrary to their beliefs, one of the Gender Studies people flat-out states that since this data cannot be presented beyond a shadow of a doubt, he ascribes to his “theory”, an untested assertion which doesn’t even qualify as a hypothesis, that they are wrong.
Brainwash also goes further in illustrating a common phenomenon you can see with feminism. The denial that biology impacts gender differences, one so-called study that I cannot find in short order attributes muscular development differences between men and women purely to societal encouragement of boys to work out more and eat a diet which supports muscle and size development while discouraging girls from doing so.
This comes together to paint one conclusion. If you aren’t feminist and actively resisting this patriarchal male-oriented influence that causes things like rape culture, then you are inherently supporting it. Even a parents interactions with their child, them having no intention of causing these things, is perpetuating patriarchy, much fewer things like corporations that are spending money to deliberately steer these kinds of gender differences.
The world is evil and the only way to resist it and not be complicit in causing that evil is to be a feminist and watch everything you and everyone else do to stop yourself and other from participating in this evil.
The cognitive dissonance trap
So this academic feminism that these SJW’s run off of paints men and women as perpetrators of evil in the world. Although I have not covered this in much detail, it paints disagreement as harassment and now as violence. The thing is, it’s easy to treat people contributing to such vile things as patriarchy and rape culture badly, as well as retaliate against violence.
They’re not just disagreeing or ignorant. They are perpetuating harm. And the more they fight, in their ignorance, the more harm they create. It is a rare person that can avoid lashing out at least once every so often in the face of such things. Especially when you see tens or hundreds of people stepping up to challenge someone who is actively supporting feminist anti-patriarchy things. That person is trying to fix harm in the world, and these ignorant people are condemning them for it. And some untold number, not just trolls, are actively trying to shut her up, not because they believe the person is wrong, but because they are threatening patriarchy.
One thing I don’t see talked about very often is how people mentally defend themselves from admitting they may have caused harm. The greater the harm, the more they have to avoid even thinking that they could have caused it. The most extreme example would be a family that doesn’t believe their daughter has been raped by the guy she’s living with. Finding out that you’re incorrect about this is an existential horror. You didn’t defend someone you love from a hellish experience and condemned them, by being wrong, to suffer at the hands of their abuser.
Couple this with the famous quote by John Barth, “Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story“. Now this kind of true. It’s true enough. If you want to broaden the idea a bit, “No one is the villain in their own life story” holds more weight in my mind.
Almost no one is going to want to admit to themselves that they caused incredible harm to another person (especially a loved one). Let me pause to note that if anyone who staunchly disagrees with me reads this, that statement is the one that will most likely be turned against me. I just laid out this narrative of how the culture I’m defending harms men and women, after all. They would say I could be doing this very thing I’m describing!
Regardless, how does this create a trap? Let me lay out a definition of Cognitive Dissonance. Merriam Webster defines it as “A physiological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously”. For example, believing that you’re a nice person, but snapping the head off a cashier for a no-good reason. That action conflicts with the idea of being a nice person. Now the dissonance is often described as uncomfortable or even painful.
The next part of Cognitive Dissonance is resolution. The natural reaction to this dissonance is to reduce it by bringing one of the factors in line with the other. In the case in point, snapping at the cashier is brought in line with the simplistic and comfortable “I am a nice person.” Reasons will be sought to justify why a nice person would do such a thing. Maybe the cashier wasn’t focused on the customer, or looked tired. They might start misremembering as well. A cashier with a snippy tone might understandably upset a customer. If the cashier was snippy, then there’s a justification, so the cashier WAS snippy. After all, a nice person wouldn’t snap at a cashier for no reason.
These are the components of the Cognitive Dissonance Trap. It seems justifiable to tell people perpetuating evil and what you see as harassment that they’re horrible. They’re causing harm. Other people need to realize how destructive you believe they are. They’re worse than ISIS. They’re harassers and haters. They’re causing harm to women (both directly and indirectly), women who are just trying to fight evil in the world.
In fact, it gets tiring having to defend against them, to try to shut them down (and to keep focusing on how horrible they are). They’re defending monstrous things. So you tell one of them to die, or that they’re a stupid bitch, or any number of things that a good person wouldn’t say about an innocent person.
They reach a point where they can’t consider they’re incorrect because being wrong means that they have unjustly hurt people. You know, like slandering people, demonizing them as worse than terrorists. Telling others they’re no better than monsters, maybe putting their jobs at risk, or saying that their garbage to their faces. You’re trying to do well. Even if you don’t want to be nasty, they deserve it. They earned it. It’s their fault, not yours, that you say these things about them.
Because if you’re wrong, you were the evil person. You were the one causing the harm, risking people’s social lives. Making others see them as monsters when they didn’t deserve it.
Once someone has hit the point of having to avoid the idea that they’ve been causing harm to others, doing it again is pretty easy. You weren’t incorrect to do those things in the first place, so doing it once more isn’t wrong either. That’s why it’s a trap, and it’s a trap that can turn someone caught in it into a real monster, engaging in toxic behavior towards others and every time they do it again, it makes the painful truth of the damage they’ve caused that much harder to face.
After all, they just want to save the world.
This is a personal opinion of the writer, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the other writers (nor The Gaming Ground´s) opinions.
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