It’s garnered a bigger and more hateful response than anything I’ve written previously or since. There would be even more comments on the post if the threats of violence and classic anti-feminist name calling remarks hadn’t been deleted before they ever saw the light of day.
In fact, it garnered enough attention that Gearbox CEO, Randy Pitchford himself, stopped by the blog to respond. And despite the fact that I called his companys creation “misogynistic crap”, he managed to leave one of the most mature comments of them all.
Rather than respond to every comment individually (not to mention the waste of time it would be – I receive a new comment notification every day that spews the same bullshit) I decided to make a post. Something to sum up my feelings towards the response in a (sort of) brief summary.
So here goes:
Let’s start with the whole “I’m friends with a woman, therefore that makes me an expert on the matter/a feminist scholar/the decider on what constitutes misogyny”. Similar to the argument “I’m not racist, some of my best friends are black” a response such as this just makes you sound like you failed sociology 101. I challenge any commenter who claimed to know more than me about feminism and women’s studies to name a book title of Bell Hooks, quote Gloria Steinem, or even tell me who Kathleen Hanna is, without googling it.
Also – if your defense consists of calling me a: bitch, lesbian, cunt, whiny feminist, or tells me to shut the fuck up, congratulations, you just supported my argument, and failed at making your point by resorting to misogynistic name-calling.
If you think I don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, obviously you don’t read this blog very often. I’ve been a gamer for over twenty years, and occasionally write posts defending games. I’m not calling for censorship, never have, never plan on doing so. Gearbox Software has the right to make these games, and I have the right to call them on their bullshit. So, no…not like Jack Thompson.
And as for women having all the rights, getting free rides to college, and being treated so much better than men – women’s lives are so easy. Well, I could list hundreds of links here proving you wrong, or you could spend a whole 30 seconds of your time on google.
So, feel free to continue to comment, even though not one of you has managed to make a compelling argument. In fact, thanks for the continued inspiration to write. You all make me realize how important my voice is in the echo chamber of gamers who’s philosophy tends to be something along the lines of “STFU BITCH”
With the game now on sale, and gamers uploading videos to YouTube, it turns out, I was right in my assertion that it was “misogynistic crap” all along.
I feel his body against mine, and then I feel his erect penis on the small of my back. I squirm, pressing myself against the wall, but he puts a hand over my mouth, hissing into my ear to be quiet so no one hears. He pulls my underwear down and struggles to align his penis with my vagina as I try to push him away and utter muffled cries. He penetrates me.
He flips me onto my stomach, repositioning himself on top of me. He pushes my face down, his weight crushing the breath from me. I struggle to say, “No,” and he growls, “Quiet bitch,” as he yanks my arms back.
“Aw fuck – red! Red!”
“Oh god, I’m so sorry! Are you all right?”
I sit up, immediately released from his hold, and roll my shoulders. “Yeah, you just grabbed me sort of weird and it hurt…and not in a good way.”
He apologizes again and I assure him it’s all right.
I shower, dress, and kiss him on the cheek as I depart for SlutWalk LA.
This article has been updated and revised in light of the information released a few hours after it was posted.
Most of what is covered in this column deals with the sexist crap spewed forth by the video game industry. However, Fox News posted a story, a couple days ago, proving that the sexism surrounding video games doesn’t solely lie with developers, retailers, and gamers.
Fox News posed the question: “Is Bulletstorm The Worst Video Game In The World?” They didn’t outright answer whether it is or not, but I get the feeling they hoped readers came away thinking “Yes!” Now, if you think it’s the worst video game in existence, I’m already going to be questioning your knowledge of the form of media.
For a little background, Bulletstorm is rated M (Mature), which means it’s only considered suitable for players age 17 and over. It’s not law – but, neither is the MPAA. These are guidelines, and much like the “R” rating on any one of the thousands of incredibly violent movies that exist, it is the responsibility of the parent, not developers or artists or filmmakers, to make sure that the product doesn’t fall into the hands of children.
The author interviewed psychologist, author, and “expert” (quotes because it’s still not clear what exactly she’s an expert in), Carole Lieberman. She stated there was a direct link between sexual content in video games and sexual violence – something that is “highlighted so well in Bulletstorm” Unfortunately, there are no links, explanations, or statistics supplied in the article to support her assertions.
The gaming community, essentially accused of being on the brink of turning into sex offenders, based solely on their fondness for playing video games, began to fight back. Lieberman’s books have been flooded with negative reviews on Amazon. K-Mart has posted a blog on their gaming site refuting the accusations made by Lieberman and the other “experts” interviewed.
Kotaku, the Gawker Media gaming website, that originally brought much of the communities attention to the Fox News article, called Ms. Lieberman this afternoon, in an attempt for clarification of the statements she made in the original story. She agreed to an interview, and told Kotaku that “The more video games a person plays that have violent sexual content, the more likely one is to become desensitized to violent sexual acts and commit them.”
When asked for a source that supported this, Ms. Lieberman referenced “thousands” of studies that prove her assertion. However, she was unable to provide the name, author, or title of even one study. Accusing gamers of being on the verge of becoming rapists and sexual offenders is disgusting, and damaging – to gamers, women, and feminists. To drag the victims of sexual assault into a debate with not one fact to back it up, isn’t just stupid (as it doesn’t take into account that women now make up almost half of the gaming community), it’s irresponsible as well. Lieberman admitted to Kotaku that she hasn’t played any video games in her lifetime; making video games the villain of society is nothing new, but Carol Lieberman has taken fear-mongering to a new low.
Dead women, clad in lingerie, hang by chains around their necks
West makes sexual moves toward dead or drugged women propped up in a bed
A naked dead or drugged woman lays sprawled on a sofa
Rick Ross sits in view of a dead/drugged woman & a plate of raw meat
If that’s not enough, a behind-the-scenes clip of the video includes a semi-naked dead woman laying spread eagled on a table in front of Rick Ross as he eats a plate of raw meat. It is likely we can expect more brutal images in the full-length video.
The victims in this video are clearly women. Only women. And the men, Kanye West, Rick Ross, and Jay-Z are far from bothered by the female corpses. They seem to enjoy being surrounded by lifeless female bodies, apparent victims of a serial killing.
The official release date of the full-length video has not yet been announced. Let’s make it clear to Universal Music Group, the controlling company of West’s record label, Roc-A-Fella Records, and MTV that the music industry’s portrayals of women’s pain, suffering, abuse, objectification, and victimization as valid forms of entertainment are not acceptable.
Dead women hang by chains
We call on Universal Music Group and MTV to combat violence against women by refusing to support, promote, and/or give airtime to West’s “Monster” video.
After posting the latest disturbing images from Marc Jacobs the other day and connecting it to the larger array of images in advertising in the ad-round up, I have found a few of the images from his 2005 ad campaign. The series of images below are not complete. They are the only 3 I have found (so far) in my mammoth private collection of ads over the last decade. The image in the middle is from the January 2005 issue of Vogue. I did not accurately label the other two images but they were also found in mainstream fashion magazines from the same time period.
What’s particularly interesting and disturbing about these images is how much they resemble the work of photographer Melanie Pullen. In 2005, I went to see Pullen’s exhibit High Fashion Crime Scenes at the ACE Gallery in Beverly Hills. Pullen recreated from files obtained from the Los Angeles and New York Police Department’s and various coroner’s offices, crimes that took place at the beginning of the last century. She recreated these crime scenes by outfitting models in high-fashion clothing (Prada and Gucci) and shoes (Jimmy Choos and Marc Jacobs, ironically). Her work is coupled with an artist’s statement that indicates her intention in critically examining the glamorization of violence and the distraction of that violence through the use of beautiful women in beautiful clothes. The fashion industry barrages us with seemingly normative images of violence against women in mainstream magazines advertising everything from clothing to perfume. These instances are exactly what Pullen is attempting to examine.
The difference between Jacobs and Pullen? Pullen’s work is accompanied with an artist’s statement and takes a critical eye at this rather gruesome trend and asks that we become aware of our tendency to focus on the beauty of the images while ignoring their brutality (they are images of actual crime scenes, after all). Jacobs’ work does not come with an artist’s statement. Instead, he is on the other side of the issue.
CNN reported on the latest [apparently, not the latest: see comment below] atrocious video game that allows the player to rape a woman over and over again while choosing a variety of methods to initiate the assault.
RapeLay, a video game that has gone viral since people, especially women’s rights groups, have reacted in outrage (and rightly so). Rapelay, a video game that, as CNN reports, makes Grand Theft Auto (the game that stirred up a firestorm of criticism upon its release in 2008) appear as harmless and “clean as Pac-man.”
Given the statistics on domestic violence, assault, and rape, it is difficult for me to conceptualize this video game as a “game.” Our media landscape is (and has been) populated with endless streams of images and messages glorifying, eroticizing and diminishing the serious nature of violence against women, an issue that some have called a hidden pandemic and others have labeled an epidemic of global proportions.
Viewing repetitive and stable images decreases our sensitivity to an issue, it normalizes the images and themes contained therein. Violence against women is an issue that we, as a culture, are already desensitized to on many levels. The systematic objectification and dismemberment of women (see Jean Kilbourne‘s film Killing Us Softly 3 and read her book, Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel) is rampant in and a staple fixture of our mediated culture, reinforcing images of aggression and violence against women as normative and unremarkable.
“Games” that continue to use images of gratuitous and unapologetic violence as a source of “entertainment” frighten me because the inevitable results are horrifying. We know that dating violence among young people is increasing. We also know that the level of mediation and amount of time young people are exposed to messages constructed by the mass media, including video game makers, is increasing (there are even treatment programs for young people addicted to video games). Taking these variables into consideration and recognizing the correlation between the level of mediation and one’s attitudes, expectations and behaviors creates a dismal picture for girls and women (and this isn’t even taking the construction of gender and the corresponding expectation of violent masculinity and submissive femininity as normative into consideration).
Given that, I think it is safe to say that rape, virtual or real, is never simply a game, at least not for the victims of that violence, virtual or real, and its social, physical and emotional consequences. In the end, we’re all negatively effected by a culture that makes violence against *anyone* a game.
The bottom line is that Chris Brown’s assault on Rihanna the eve before the Grammy’s is a teachable moment. The couple has been a media staple as a couple and individually as mainstream musical icons. No matter what we think about the media and it’s passion for celebrity lifestyles, the media’s coverage helps construct reality and influence public opinion on a range of issues.
Our society’s tolerance of women being battered is glaringly obvious from the statistics:
1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime
One third of female murder victims are killed by their intimate partner
Men’s violence against women is the No. 1 cause of injury to women—surpassing even car accidents.
Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to police.
Yet women stay in these relationships. Do they have some sort of mental illness? No, Smith tells me. It’s a social behavioral problem on the part of the victim and the abuser, not a psychiatric disorder. “The crux of the problem is that violence is something the perpetrator uses to get control of the other person. [An abuser] may also isolate the woman from her family and friends so she feels like he’s the only one she can rely on.” Of course, financially strapped women, especially those with kids, might have a hard time breaking away, and some justifiably worry that they’ll be killed if they do. Rihanna doesn’t seem to be in this situation, but Smith says it’s often hard for a woman to simply break the emotional bond with the person she’s still in love with.
There has been a growing awareness of domestic violence in recent years. One men’s organization, A Call to Men, is working to change men’s attitudes through education. The group sent out a press release saying that “possibly much of what [Chris Brown] has learned is unfortunately, from the collective body of men, which continues to teach our boys that male dominance, control, privilege, and entitlement is the correct way to behave.”
As stated above, the couple’s rumored reconciliation is another teachable moment. Oprah has taken this event and utilized her own celebrity and access to the cultural mainstream to send strong messages about the prevalence and pattern of domestic violence and the danger of reconciling with one’s abuser
“And also, love doesn’t hurt. I’ve been saying this to women for years: ‘If a man hits you once, he will hit you again.’ “
Oprah clearly understand the power of both Chris Brown’s and Rihanna’s actions and their influence and impact on young fans.
“It makes me so sad that I said to the producers, ‘I want to do a show about it this week dedicated to all the Rihanna’s of the world,’ ” Winfrey said, citing a statistic that one out of four women in the country are battered.
Sitting at the table with Winfrey, Gayle King echoed her friend’s sentiments while she also weighed in about the pop stars’ relationship.
“My thing about this is, if you guys want to get back together, I’m okay with that, but at least take some time,” she said. “I’m so worried that she’s sending the wrong message to the fans. And him, too.”
The media and it’s celebrities can influence us for better or worse. I hope more media outlets and media figures utilize this tragic moment as a reality check and a teachable moment for young fans.
Sadly, the coverage by Cosmo Girl! was severely lacking in depth.
This is some pretty sad news to start the week off with, but it is certainly worthy of talking about. Perez tells us that Chris Brown was arrested after a pre-Grammy party on Saturday night for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend Rihanna. Apparently the couple was arguing in their car when it turned physical and she ended up at the hospital in tears with “contusions and bites.” Brown turned himself in to police the next day, posted $50,000 bail and was released. Both he and Rihanna backed out of the Grammy’s the day of. That is just so sad (we even named them one of the Best Couples of 2008), arguments with your significant other should never turn violent. We wish Rihanna the best and for Chris to get help.
The rest of the “article” discussed the Grammy’s various performers.