Comprehensively addressing the stupid, intellectually dishonest critique of Anita Sarkeesian

You said

One thing I dislike about her project is that it brings out the whole “you dislike Israel the country, therefore you are an antisemite and your argument is invalid” school of fallacy.

This suggested to me that (a) you thought that fallacies being slung around was a bad thing, and (b) that you thought that her project was the cause of such fallacies being slung around. As an example of such fallacies, in this thread we’ve seen people repeat the argument that since she doesn’t like certain games, she clearly isn’t a gamer and should be ignored.

She is obviously responsible for her project. Hence it seemed to me that you were claiming that she was (indirectly) responsible for all the fallacies being slung at her (along with the death threats). If you still can’t see how that’s “blame the victim”, I’m not sure how I can make it clearer.

Her supporters don’t enter into this discussion.


You know those two points are almost exactly what Anita keeps saying in these videos - if you bother to listen. Change your first line to: “No, but you are killing them because they are presented as dangerous female antagonists” and leave the rest of your comment as is and it’s spot on.

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The “because realism” response seems a bit shallow in that it’s an extremely selective form of realism. Other elements of real war are routinely excised or given a facelift because they’re boring or not fun. To pick out the presentation of gender roles as an important element of realism but ignore pretty much anything else looks more than a bit arbitrary. It appeals to a certain idea of verisimilitude, perhaps, but is that genuinely realistic or just pandering?

No one is saying you must. In fact, no one* is even saying that the presentation of women salaciously is necessarily outrageous or to be disallowed. The point is that these tropes are extraordinarily common–it’s not rare or occasional, it is most of the time, even in games where there’s no justification for it.

*Yes, there are some people who really are saying this, that’s hyperbole. The point is, they’re rare, and they don’t include pretty much anyone actually involved or surrounding this discussion, including, so far as I know, Ms. Sarkeesian.


In fact Sarkeesian went to town on this in her most recent video. The argument apparently goes that while we can suspend our disbelief for almost anything (dragons, magic, a soldier who is able to take ten bullets and kill hundreds of people) it is just too unrealistic if women aren’t being sexually abused. Personally, I think the laws of physics are harder to violate than cultural realities, but it would seem that many people disagree.


For what little it’s worth, I can’t see that at all in the things you’re talking about. Your argument doesn’t make the slightest sense to me, and it appears that you are engaging in a diversionary personal attack because somebody politely made a point you disagree with (this is derailing 101).

I expect you may be outraged that that’s my perception of your posts, and immediately believe that I am deliberately distorting your words or some such: perhaps that experience will afford you some insight.

Thunderfoot’s criticisms is flawless. He takes most, if not all, of Anita points and completely deconstructs them.

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How many games have you played where you infiltrate the enemy compound to rescue the husband/son of the (female) VIP?


And which point would that be?

I just disagreed with the “Look what you made them do” argument. I maintain that the only people responsible for crappy arguments being thrown at Sarkeesian are the people making those arguments.

Even if someone posts flamebait, the only person responsible for your response is you.

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Rational people seem to disagree.

I myself can’t make it through his smarmy longwinded anti-feminist screeds.


I think I’m beginning to understand what you’re trying to say, and from it I can infer that the two of us have diametrically opposite interpretations of the posts you were responding to, which would explain why the response that appears reasonable to you appears entirely unreasonable to me.

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So she’s only ‘human flamebait’ because ehs’s talking about video games?

Those were two separate premises. She’s human flamebait because the discussion that her project leads to in pretty much non-constructive. Read this whole topic, for example. Every time something she does comes up the topic is about her, defending her, calling people who disagree with her names, call those people names in turn. Nothing constructive has really happens. As for the difference…

Books are allowed to have things that happen in the real world (misogyny, racism, hatred), and we give them a pass. We allow books a greater latitude. I just read a book with a woman getting raped and murdered (Haruki Murakami’s new novel), and no one is going to call the author a misogynist. Read something by Cormac McCarthy, and then picture how the perception would change if it was a game (Red Dead Redemption vs. Blood Meridian). One is art, the other is trash? Why? Heinlein? Hemingway? Both are considered classics, but if they made games?

I’m pretty sure we’re applying different standards here. I’m not justifying them, or attitudes in books or games. To me that isn’t the interesting bit, I’m more interested in the discussion. How people react is fascinating, on either side. From breathless, uncritical defense, to threats of violence, to huge volleys of strawmen and ad hominem from either side. And in the mean time, can we really say we’re doing anything to improve anything? There is nothing constructive here.

Heinlein gets plenty of (deserved) criticism.


Read up on some modern theories of art and criticism. This is where I’m coming from. As I’ve now said 6 times, Anita Sarkeesian, the person, doesn’t matter one bit after he works “go live”. So her supporters, AND detractors matter more than she does since they are the ones who breath life into the work. Really, if I wanted to wander down the critical theory road, I can say that Anita Sarkeesian matters even less, since she is only producing work from the social and cultural milieu in which she is embedded. Her works exist solely as cultural artifact, and the idea of authorship is mostly irrelevant.

Why do you want to take this negative so much? IF she was responsible for her own death threats (which I’m not claiming she is), wouldn’t she also be responsible for the idiocy of her followers? Also, why bother making a difference between fallacies on either side of the line? A fallacy is a a fallacy, no matter if you agree with the speaker or not. In short, If we take her to be responsible for the reaction to her works, then she must own EVERYONE reacting to her work. This is pointless, since all of this is counter-factual to the actual argument I was making.

Again, since for some damn reason I need to state this over and over, I AM NOT BLAMING HER FOR ANYTHING, MUCH LESS DEATH THREATS TOWARDS HER. If I did, I would be stupid.

Not enough, in my opinion. He is still, for some reason, a nerd favorite.

You’ve obviously missed this but this is what we (including Sarkeesian, and including you) are doing. We are all offering our opinion on different issues. It’s called discussion. Sarkeesian’s videos are nothing more than her personal opinion on the issue of sexism in computer games - she offers little beyond quasi scientific studies. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. But let’s not imbue her opinion with any more validity than anybody else’s. It’s opinion.

[quote=“themadpoet, post:146, topic:40229”]
Odd how you missed that the game uses sexual assault against the lead character [/quote]

It’s been a while. I played the game twice. Lots of crazy shit. I don’t remember my character being sexually assaulted. Not saying it didn’t happen but, like I said, lots of crazy shit happened. But Jesus, why are you obsessed with sex? Of all of the things that beset Lara in the game, you hone in on a sexual assault? This seems to be (jeez, there I go again with ‘seems’) something that you and Sarkeesian share. Only you and she can answer why.

So there are women who think Anita’s wrong? Do you have any specific examples?

And it’s certainly strawmanning for Anita to say “some popular video games have misogynistic stuff like this clip from that game”, then show a clip, and sure enough it’s disgustingly misogynist stuff, because that’s what “strawmanning” means, right?


Anita has never called a game or developer misogynist. So yes…

I don’t necessarily agree with you - I think there are enough books out there so that not every book is about (or uses) these topics. I do not think they would if 9 out of 10 books used abuse of women as a plot device.

I’d say it’s having an effect. You can also note that Tim Schafer got into the action. Simply put Anita is only one of a handful of causes (including game developers - women refusing to be silent, and media outlets) that are causing a groundswell of change and attitude shifts. It’s certinaly not just her - but it does seem that the groundswell is that enough is enough - and to acknoledge the fact that women make up almost half of gamers and are spending money on the product.


Pretty simply for me - I saw the pre-release trailer that focused on that moment. It was touted by one of the devs that “gets taken prisoner by scavengers on the island. They try to rape her, and- […] She’s literally turned into a cornered animal. And that’s a huge step in her evolution: she’s either forced to fight back or die and that’s what we’re showing today.”

It was a huge controversy at the time. I (having purchased and played every tomb raider to that date oddly enough) - did not buy the game due to that reason. I did end up getting a copy for free with a video card purchase much later - and that scene creeps me out - it’s the only part of the game I don’t like - and I can’t for the life of me see how it added anything to the game at all - if it were removed I’d enjoy the game more, but that might be because in reality women who are assaulted don’t tend to view it as a opportunity for evolution.

The fact that you don’t even remember that scene in a game you played twice - should shock you.


But they never are. Ever.

[quote=“daemon23, post:151, topic:40229”]
The “because realism” response seems a bit shallow in that it’s an extremely selective form of realism. Other elements of real war are routinely excised or given a facelift because they’re boring or not fun. To pick out the presentation of gender roles as an important element of realism but ignore pretty much anything else looks more than a bit arbitrary.[/quote]

Talk about selective! I made the point that MMO fantasy games routinely featured female antagonists but that shooters modeled themselves on real life models (y’know, armies that don’t have orcs and elves?) and you talk about ‘selective realism.’ Using your logic, these games would be compelled to feature baddies holing up in strip clubs, etc., 'cos, y’know, in real life, that’s actually where they frequently hang out.

That link? It’s excellent, not too long, highly worth reading.