Freedom? Why talk about freedom?


#1

Continuing the discussion from Game of the year 2013, not for girls:

The issue is that this is a zero-sum approach and lacks any consideration of a middle-ground between the extremes. Think of it this way: we’ll always have trolls and individuals who “get off” on inflicting harm and hurt on others. When a certain segment of the population adopts a zero-sum, rather extremist position couched in aggressive attack and without a desire to treat those who believe and think differently as human beings (in fact, most interactions devolve into accusations of character flaw/evil intent quickly and without any actual discussion) is it a surprise that these trolls and assholes take the route-to-harm which pushes those same buttons that have been announced so loudly? When you have arrogant and awfully simplistic demagogues like Sarkeesian peddling simplistic and lacking-in-nuance aggressive opinions while also manipulating the discourse for a pre-determined endpoint is it any surprise that the masses attack in the way that the victim self-identifies as “the worst”?

It’s like Achilles taking the battlefield and yelling as loudly as possible, “THE BACK OF MY HEEL IS MY WEAK SPOT PLEASE DON’T SHOOT ME THERE!” and expecting those who he’s trying to kill to not do everything to hit him right there.

These are serious conversations and there is a culture that does in fact need to shift and evolve. But that’s the issue, because the demand isn’t for evolution or change, it’s for enforcing a code of conduct where certain persons are held above others for reasons of identity and genetics. The issue is that the Sarkeesian side are so wrapped up in having the whole conversation in terms which benefit them and hinder others that there’s no means to actually engage and work through the issues.

Harassment in gaming is not, despite what the loudest voices say, limited to certain persons as victims. I got sick and tired of the caustic community on XBL so I quit. I disliked a few of the TF2 servers I was playing on, so I found new servers with better communities. I couldn’t, now, go back and play Halo2 MP anymore like I did when it was “the thing” because my skin is thinner now and I don’t desire for every match to be a string of profanities and homophobic/racist/sexist comments. Where has the outrage been? I remember back in 2006-7ish a group of “Gay Gamers” (may have been gaymers or a similar proto-organization) tried to get attention and action against the rampant homophobia in games. Where were all the social justice warriors then? oh right… it went pretty much unseen and unheard and certainly little changed.

I draw a line when people desire their own self-interest and paint it like a social issue. While our culture has a long way to get toward actual equality, the reality is that women are being treated like anyone else: as targets for trolls and assholes to get their kicks off by putting down others. By couching this issue in such narrow, self-interested terms the whole discussion is a parody of it’s own aims and goals. Want people to be nicer and better to each other? me too. That’s the core of this and the “men vs. women” trope has really shown to be lacking in any care for anything other than middle-class sensibilities and a misguided aim toward strong-arm policy.


#2

Maybe I wasn’t entirely clear, but I was critiquing zero-sum approaches towards free speech. Absolutist positions that trolling is a necessary part online debate are mistaken because the point of trolling is to suppress debate. Certainly there are always going to be the determined trolls, but any pleasure is derived from attacking those with a dissenting opinion. Trolls rarely pick on those they agree with, which was the whole point of the originally linked article.

[quote=“CrowingOne, post:1, topic:18354”]
When a certain segment of the population adopts a zero-sum, rather extremist position couched in aggressive attack and without a desire to treat those who believe and think differently as human beings (in fact, most interactions devolve into accusations of character flaw/evil intent quickly and without any actual discussion)[…] When you have arrogant and awfully simplistic demagogues like Sarkeesian peddling simplistic and lacking-in-nuance aggressive opinions while also manipulating the discourse for a pre-determined endpoint[…][/quote]

Now this is an extraordinary bit of self-indicting irony. If you think ad hominem is bad for debate then why are you engaging in exactly that with Sarkeesian? Having seen her work, I don’t understand why you think she was denigrating some people’s basic humanity. If you think her deconstruction of sexism in video games was mistaken, that’s fair game, but what does accusing her of evil intent do? Does it actually refute her points? Frankly I think character attacks on Sarkeesian amount to an attempt to suppress an unpopular opinion, because it sure isn’t considering her argument on its own merits.

You’re blaming the victim. Sarkeesian proposed she would do a video series critically examining the portrayal of women in video games, and a huge amount of the response to it was threats of violence. How is that at all a legitimate response that she deserved? Do rape victims deserve it because of what they were wearing? Because they’re bad people? And if Sarkeesian manipulated things like you allege to get this response, all it proves is there is a very large proportion of the gamer community that are misogynist creeps who moronically fell for her nefarious plot. Which either way clearly suggests there is a role for feminism in video games since such attitudes lurk barely restrained just below the surface.

[quote=“CrowingOne, post:1, topic:18354”]
These are serious conversations and there is a culture that does in fact need to shift and evolve.[/quote]

I agree we need serious conversations about this issue, but you’ve dismissed one the most prominent advocates of such a conversation for spurious personal reasons and that her opinions are too “aggressive”. Sarkeesian sits pretty clearly within mainstream feminism, she’s not one of those [mostly mythological] man-hating lesbian separatists. If you think claiming there is a sexism problem with video games is an “extremist position”, you’re saying that this serious conversation shouldn’t be too serious.

Honestly, this is one of the oldest anti-feminist canards. It has two parts. The first part implicitly denies the validity of claims of unequal treatment and the second part then recasts the demand for equality as one of supremacy. It presents one gender’s gain as the other’s loss in entirely zero sum terms. And you don’t like zero-sum situations with no middle ground right?

Sarkeesian has not demanded to be treated better than others. If you watch her videos, the solutions offered are much more in line with your evolutionary approach. Basically that designers and developers should think more about the content of their games and not lazily repeat old tropes. As for codes of conduct, what’s wrong with those? Every website has one, and the problem is they’re either poorly written or poorly enforced, and often both.

No one has claimed otherwise. It’s that certain groups are more often the target of harassment than others. I applaud you for realizing that there is an issue with discrimination within the gaming community, since so often its existence is denied or brushed off as the need for a thicker skin. However, I’m surprised you don’t realize there is also lots of activism targeting more than just sexism in video games. Most often the activism realizes that each kind of discrimination is not separate, but related to each other.

You know what happened to the attempt to deal with the rampant homophobia in games? Well, they were subjected to the same thing Sarkeesian has been. Denial of the problem, grow a thicker skin, threats, tone policing that they were too “aggressive” and “extreme”. And seven years ago it was also easier deny there was a serious problem. Now, games are more mainstream, gamers are more diverse, and these things are only going to keep growing. A larger and more diverse audience is going to be less tolerant of discrimination, and be in a stronger position to deal with it. The other “social justice warriors” weren’t there to help in 2006 because they were just as weak. You don’t think that there were groups prior to that trying to tackle things like sexism and racism in gaming? Sarkeesian didn’t come out of nowhere, she’s built on what’s come before.

[quote=“CrowingOne, post:1, topic:18354”]
I draw a line when people desire their own self-interest and paint it like a social issue. While our culture has a long way to get toward actual equality, the reality is that women are being treated like anyone else: as targets for trolls and assholes to get their kicks off by putting down others.[/quote]

Social issues are entirely driven by self interest. To suggest that those who pursue an end to discrimination against themselves as having impure motives because it will benefit them is insulting because it says they don’t deserve equality. It’s contradictory to say that women have a long way to achieve equality and that trolls target everyone equally. Trolling is not unconnected to the larger social reality, and its disproportionate targeting of marginalized groups is both a reflection and reinforcement of existing inequality.

You say you care about these issues in the gaming community, but you’re dismissing Sarkeesian and others based on a caricature. They aren’t advocating female supremacy by any means, nor any strong-arm policies. And complaining about their rudeness after they have been subjected to far worse has to be the biggest shout out to middle class sensibilities ever. It’s not zero sum, you don’t have to reject her analysis and methods utterly or embrace them totally to agree that she has made some progress on the same goals.


#3

Are you saying that because there is homophobia in gaming, misogyny doesn’t exist or isn’t as important? Does that mean there is no racism either or that it doesn’t matter? You do know that talking about one particular kind of harassment doesn’t mean that others don’t exist and that we aren’t aware of that, right? I don’t think she is saying white, straight women are the only ones who are harrassed in the gaming community. She is just laying out her experiences within the gaming community, with consideration towards the issue of gaming journalism. Why is that a bad thing?

While I think there is some truth to this (and you could throw in white, cis-gendered, too, btw), I just don’t think that talking about an aspect of a larger problem means that she is necessarily ignoring other aspects of the same set of problems. When we don’t acknowledge the realities others face, all we end up doing is negating each other and talking past each other, and the homophobic, racist, misogynistic assholes win again…


#4

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