When bad feminists go worse…

March 10, 2014 10:20pm
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I never really cared for this Tropes vs Women in Video Games series when it came out last year.

And granted, while the author certainly didn’t deserve any of the hateful threats that came her way as a result – including a flash game where players could beat her to a bloody pulp on screen – I can understand the more general reaction of why the gaming community in general reacted the way they did because I think a lot of longtime video game fans frankly just felt threatened and offended by the lack of respect and reason that her $160k Kickstarter funded, in depth analysis actually brought to our beloved pastime.

Again, I make no excuses for the truly vile responses, but a lot of us actually did watch her videos honestly and listen to what she had to say, and I know that my own personal issue was that by the very first one, it became very clear what kind of feminist the author actually wants to be. In my mind, there are two types:

  1. The feminist who wants to highlight sexist issues throughout our society where we could stand to improve.
  2. The feminist who wants to make a career out of preaching to other feminists.

The thing is, I don’t have any use for the latter and at the end of the day, I don’t really think that society at large does, either. Just look at any political or religious organization in the world – you don’t make actual progress by preaching to the choir … it’s by branching out and persuading others outside of your sphere that you’re actually able to spread the message that you’re trying to spread. But I think the author does a particular bad job of that by the way she belittles a point down to absurdity and refuses to acknowledge even the positive female influences that exist throughout video game lore…

I’ve honestly never really cared enough about the whole issue to actually write anything up about it, but then I came across another series of videos the other night that I thought did a pretty good job of dissecting her own efforts, so I wanted to share them here:

There’s a couple of videos in that series that pretty much hit on every point that I could possibly make, and actually this one is pretty good, too (also this!). It’s kind of too bad because don’t get me wrong – I do think there’s a good conversation that could be had here about sexism in video games (or anywhere!), but you need the right person to lead that discussion and this woman just clearly isn’t that person. I like to consider myself to be a proponent of women’s rights and have a handful of feminist-ish friends with whom I share interesting comment threads from time to time, but when they share links to certain sites (yeah, you), I know that it’s just better walking on.

I’m happy to have a conversation about how we need more stories with powerful female characters in them, but when your next sentence is citing that even the powerful female characters that already exist are just doing so in the emulation of men, there’s not really a conversation to be had there anymore. Sometimes you have to know when you’re just setting yourself up for a conversation with a brick wall…

So all of that said, the reason any of this is even on my mind is that a few days ago I read on Twitter that an old internet friend via my LiveJournal days recently discovered that the author of said feminist web series apparently lifted some of her artwork to create the logo for that very Kickstarter campaign that earned her $160k and started this whole ball rolling in the first place! She claimed Fair Use, but has yet to provide anything substantial to back the claims up … that whole not making a profit != non-profit thing. And there have been plenty of circling unknowns as far as Cowkitty’s actual rights to the artwork because it was fan art (from Dragon’s Lair) and not an original character…

…but even legalities aside, it’s pretty lousy to have someone so haphazardly scouring the web for art to use that they can’t take the time to ask/credit/acknowledge the actual artists, or even in this case realize that they actually have fan art whereas if they’d just made an original screen grab, they’d have probably been completely fine under the concept of fair use by referencing what they’re actually editorializing on in the first place!

Then again again, there’s a reason why more ethical creators like Weird Al Yankovic and the creators of the up and coming Stripped documentary specifically ask for permission even if they legally might not have to because it’s the right thing to do (and because legally can still land one in court for the debate!), and because if someone really doesn’t want their work to be a part of your project, you should honor that from one creator to another.

So anyways, interesting food for thought, that’s for sure. I know that I kind of danced around two separate issues throughout the post, and I tried to keep them fairly mud-free from one another – for the original work, I never really had much use for it anyways on account of its actual content, and as far as the less than ethical use of Tammy’s art, to me that’s a ding in the character of the person creating the work before you even get around to the work itself. Her message is poorly executed anyways, but issues like these types of accusations certainly aren’t going to help her cause … although from what I’ve seen so far, her prerogative seems to pretty much just write off any criticism as hating without further consideration.

…which is another reason why she’s not doing her feminist cause any real justice. Dialog is essential, and those of us who are actually open to having a serious discussion don’t pay much attention to the creeps shoveling legitimate hate in your direction anyways. Talk to people who actually want to talk back and you’ll have a much better chance of actually getting somewhere … but you actually have to be willing to harbor that discussion, too.

Or you could just keep making videos for people who already think exactly the same way that you do – whatever floats your feminist boat. 🙄

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