Why Do Feminist Video Game Critics Want to Ban Male Fantasies?

It seems increasingly evident that Anita Sarkeesian, the feminist critic of alleged sexism in video games, wants to ban men from having sexual fantasies.

Male sexual fantasies have been the main focal point running through Sarkeesian’s video series, “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games.” In her latest video, Sarkeesian explores what she calls the “Women as Reward” theme in gaming. Sarkeesian defines this trope as follows: “When women (or more often women’s bodies) are employed as rewards for player action video games. The trope frames female bodies as collectible, as tractable, or as consumable, and positions women as status symbols designed to validate the masculinity of presumed straight male players.”

 

So, when guys play video games, they like to fantasize about enduring hardship and making it through difficult obstacles to be rewarded at the end (or sooner) with the attentions of a gorgeous, sexy woman? And this is a problem? Like most feminist zealots, Sarkeesian strings together an indictment without carefully unpacking the language she uses. Sarkeesian assumes the accuracy of her definition of male sexual fantasies. The error of that assumption undermines her entire argument.

Sarkeesian assumes that video games portray women’s bodies as collectable, tractable (easy to control), and consumable. In reality, the male fantasy can be an expression of the exact opposite. Rather than representing women as a reward that a man can control, a woman, and particularly a woman’s body, can represent his greatest challenge and most intoxicating opportunity for genuine freedom. Sarkeesian is absolutely right on one count: men do fantasize about consuming women. We dream about consuming their beauty, their tenderness, their spirit, and their goodness in the hope that it will make us better human beings, not to mention good fathers and best friends.

To Sarkeesian, a woman in a bikini might represent someone much more complex than it does to the average male. H.L. Mencken probably put it best:

The allurement that women hold out to men is precisely the allurement that Cape Hatteras holds out to sailors: They are enormously dangerous and therefore enormously fascinating. To the average man, doomed to some banal drudgery all his life long, they offer the only grand hazard he ever encounters. Take them away, and his existence would be as flat and secure as that of a moo cow.

There are no doubt some guys out there with disturbing fantasies about violence and control. Why does Sarkeesian assume that it’s all of us?

Because Anita Sarkeesian is a zealot. Even some of her supporters are beginning to see this. Gamer Aymaro supported the Kickstarter campaign that allowed Sarkeesian to create her “Feminist Frequency” series, yet after seeing one of Sarkeesian’s more recent video offerings, Aymaro was disturbed. In an online forum, Aymaro (sex unknown) left the following comment:

Having watched the last “DLC” video [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcqEZqBoGdM], I have the impression that Anita is trying to criticize the male fantasies at their core rather than their application to video games. I mean, most of the paid add-ons she mentions have no gameplay value at all, no meaning either: is it wrong for males to pay for just some eye-candy?

Reinforcing stereotypes is bad, I get it, but is there a place at all for such stereotypes? Would male fantasies change for the better if they didn’t include any trace of objectified women? And is that even possible or conceivable? These questions are more about liberalism than video games, but I don’t think they should be dismissed even if it means going beyond the scope of the video series.

It is indeed about liberalism, which in 2015 seeks to control our money, our education, and our private sex lives—and now even our fantasies. Sarkeesian recently reviewed the game “Assassin’s Creed,” giving it positive marks for its cast, which includes women, transgender people, and “people of color.” “Assassin’s Creed” is set in the 19th century, long before the era of political correctness and visible transgender people. No matter, says Sarkeesian:

While it might seem unrealistic to imagine women, people of color, and trans folks who are treated and respected as full human beings in 1868, realism is not really the goal in a game where assassins and templars have been waging centuries-old war over artifacts created by an ancient civilization, and were you can leap from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral into a pile of leaves and walk away unharmed. The inclusion works not because of realism but because of believability and internal consistency.

In short, you’re allowed to have fantasies—as long as they’re the right kind of fantasies. A woman in a bikini is forbidden, driving fast cars is out, but a trans man in 19th century London and people of color in 15th century Ireland are great. All this may be a difficult thing to learn—or rather unlearn—but don’t worry, your social justice superiors are here to help.

“Because male entitlement is a learned attitude,” Sarkeesian says in one of her videos, “it can, through education and conscious effort, be unlearned, and game systems are part of that transformative process.” Yes, the wrong kind of fantasies will be forbidden. It’s a small price to pay for progress.

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21 responses to “Why Do Feminist Video Game Critics Want to Ban Male Fantasies?

  1. Have a gander at this article from what we might call the anti-“male fantasies” community, with particular attention to the following paragraph:

    We stop upholding “fun” as the universal, ultimate criterion for a game’s relevance. It’s a meaningless ideal at best and a poisonous priority at worst.Fun is a neurological trick. Plenty of categorically unhealthy things are “fun”. Let’s try for something more. Many of the alternatives will have similarly fuzzy definitions, but let’s aspire to qualities like “edifying”, “healing”, “pro-social”, or even “enlightening”. I encourage you to decide upon your own alternatives to “fun” in games (while avoiding terms like “cool” and “awesome” and any other word that simply caters to existing, unexamined biases).

    These people detest anything that’s not explicitly political. Their mantra for decades has been “The personal is political.” Note how completely they condemn anything men — especially young men — do for the sheer fun of it. I am put in mind of something Julia said in Orwell”s 1984:

    ’When you make love you’re using up energy; and afterwards you feel happy and don’t give a damn for anything. They can’t bear you to feel like that. They
    want you to be bursting with energy all the time. All this marching up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour. If you’re happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother and the Three-Year Plans and the Two Minutes Hate and all the rest of their bloody rot?’

    To the would-be totalitarian, there must be no sphere of personal privacy, within which an individual may choose and act entirely according to his preferences. Therein lie the seeds of divergence — dissent — rebellion. It must be stamped out. Note how later in the novel, when O’Brien is declaiming to the captive Winston, he crows about the predicted abolition of the orgasm. It’s all of a piece…and it’s being urged upon us by these viragoes of the anti-fun Left.

    1. “We stop upholding “fun” as the universal, ultimate criterion for a game’s relevance.”

      Well, that there shows they are stupid. Games being “fun” is the most basic requirement for a game, you ignore that and there is no point in a person playing it. Depression Quest isn’t a game, not because it isn’t fun, but because it is an executable that loads a website for the most part. Yes, there were MUDs back in the day, but those required more interaction with the reading (typing in commands) on top of reading and the story in the MUDs was entertaining, unlike the poorly done, allegedly true stories feminists are pushing. I just don’t understand why the media fought Jack Thompson, but are rolling over for Sarkeesian.

      1. See, here’s the thing: You can HAVE media that “conflicts with its purpose”, so to speak.
        When somebody says “game that isn’t fun”, I think of “music that’s unpleasant to the ear”.

        There’s a place for such things as part of the kinda… artistic tapestry of any given media type. But for some outside group of fascists to come down and say, “NO! ALL ALL MUSIC SHOULD BE EXPERIMENTAL AND FUGLY AND ALL GAMES SHOULD BE UNFUN EMOTIONAL EXPLORATIONS!”

        I mean, that’s as stupid as some traditional idiot claiming all music should be classical and all games should be retro platformers.

          1. Liberal means that you agree that everyone should be free to do as they see, she is authoritarian and things women are a class and femminsm is not about individuality.

            So no she is not liberal she is a authoritarian marxist.

          2. You just described conservative. Liberals believe the government should be involved in everyone’s life. Conservatives believe in personal freedoms and letting the person solve their own issues.

            “Liberals believe in government action to achieve equal opportunity and equality for all. It is the duty of the government to alleviate social ills and to protect civil liberties and individual and human rights. Believe the role of the government should be to guarantee that no one is in need. Liberal policies generally emphasize the need for the government to solve problems.”

            “Conservatives believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty, traditional American values and a strong national defense. Believe the role of government should be to provide people the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals. Conservative policies generally emphasize empowerment of the individual to solve problems.”

            “NOTE: The terms “left” and “right” define opposite ends of the political spectrum. In the United States, liberals are referred to as the left or left-wing and conservatives are referred to as the right or right-wing. On the U.S. political map, blue represents the Democratic Party (which generally upholds liberal principles) and red represents the Republican party (which generally upholds conservative principles).”

          3. No i described liberals, sjws are not libearls they are communist marxists and dont talk to me about conservatives, they are fine with guns and they do not allow abortions but when the child is born they want nothing to do with it.

            ” Conservative policies generally emphasize empowerment of the individual to solve problems.””

            By constantly going on about their god and kiling the rich with high taxes.

            Come on.

          4. Don’t blame me for the definitions of each group as I didn’t make them. As for abortion, liberals are for abortion because they don’t consider a fetus to be a human life so therefore it has no individual rights. Conservatives believe life starts at conception and having an abortion is murder. I’m more inclined to the conservative view as I feel abortion is only okay if the woman will die trying to have the baby. The other two cases I may bend on is if they get pregnant from sexual assault or if they used protection and it failed (ie condemns AND birth control, not either or). There are adoption services for women who don’t want the children since there are hundreds if not thousands of families that want children and can’t have their own. If you willingly have unprotected sex and end up pregnant, then I wholeheartedly believe the woman should have the child as abortion should not be a get out of responsibility free card.

            Are you sure about the tax thing though because doing a search says liberals want higher taxes so the government can make more jobs while conservatives want lower taxes to give people incentive to save, invest, etc. and believe that government help makes people lazy.

          5. Holy crap you are so full of crap, liberals ARE about personal freedom, that is what its like being liberals and if you did care about human lives you would allow people to live theirs the way they want.

            “Conservatives believe life starts at conception and having an abortion is murder”

            Say the people who want nothing to do with immigrants and like guns.

            “government help makes people lazy.”

            RIIIIGHT its not like the goverment let wallstreet do what the heck it wants and they screwed up badly with eveyones money and now everyone has to pay for it with austerity, newborn babies for crying outloud have a godamn debt.

            The only think conservatives dont conserve is their own ego and the enviroment. Everything else but be done at a small rate. As far as the enviroment and their own ego, they can do what they want.

          6. “in school during the 90s.”

            there is your problem. 90s were the neocon era, now its the new marxist era.

          7. Except one problem, I said that site mirrors what I was taught about liberal v conservative in the 90s. The site was written in 2005, updated in 2010 and I’m not seeing anything that states it is different in 2015.

          8. No, she isn’t liberal because I’m liberal. Liberals believe in free speech, freedom of expression, etc. She went to the UN and said that being told “You’re a liar” and “You suck” is sexist as well as harassment and wanted something done to censor it from the internet. Sorry, but in the real world, if you have videos of you saying you “aren’t a fan of games and it was something you had to learn while making Women vs Tropes” and turn around years later telling news reporters that you “have played games your whole life and loved them”, that constitutes a liar. You don’t even have to get into her cherry picked claims in the videos that she gets completely wrong when trying to sell her point; like the fact that GTA doesn’t require you to interact with or even kill a prostitue rather you kill wave after wave of men; Watchdog tells you from the beginning that you are to stop crimes, while she claims you get to watch the crime happen and go after them; or Hitman where she claims you are rewarded with using a dead woman’s body to distract guard, but ignores that you are penalized for killing any civilian in the game.

            Her latest thing shows harassment, but the kicker for me is only one of them uses the GamerGate hashtag. If the group was hounding her as much as she claims, wouldn’t she of displayed more? http://femfreq.tumblr.com/post/132152537305/talking-publicly-about-harassment-generates-more

    2. Oh it is simplier than than i was listening to one of the sad puppies saying “they have this marxist view of the world that if a piece of art doesnt forward their ideological benchmark they discard it as useless”

      In case you dont know the sad puppies are sci fi writers who got tired of seeing awards going only to books that push social justice rather sci fi.

  2. Radical politics zealotry is a cancer when applied to free market.
    It’s called free because it’s not supposed to be ruled by any ideology.
    Gaming should definitely not bend over to lobbying by some US radical, gaming is GLOBAL.

  3. Our society is androcentric and has been for at least the past 2000 or so years… and she’s right, there should be games for those who prefer to NOT see women objectified… The wonderful thing about this age of the Internet is that there IS space for such niches. Make a gender neutral games and counter-mainstream games. It will make everyone better by existing. Criticize and point out fallacies… but don’t seek to shut down and disallow the mainstream androcentric…. Those types of feminists hold hands with right wing Christian fundamentalists, who also seek to control sexual expression and who also perceive that “mainstream media” is hostile towards them.

    1. “Our society is androcentric ”

      Not it has not been for many years, you mean the market? Well who is buying those things? Men, who built those industries? Men. It will be like whinning that soap operas and the products adevrtized at the time they air focus only on women.

      “there should be games for those who prefer to NOT see women objectified…”

      They have always been, she thinks EVERYTHING is objectification, anything that doesnt potray women characters as female versions of male characters (eg interchanchable soldiers no matter the gender, waiting for the player to kill them) is “mysoginistic” according to her.

      Yet giving mysoginsitis exactly what they want, killing women, by actively encouraging women to be killed by the player by putting them as yet another expendable soldier, is not, according to commandate sarkeesian who by the way is a marxist puritan femminst who believes there are no diffirences between genders and believes that inviduality is bad because women cannot make the right choice and make choices that “reinforces” sterotypes about women, in her worlds making the patriachy work for them is bad.

      Unless you agree with her..or more properly jonathan mcintosh who writes her stuff, then you are a mysoginst

      No other choice other the very specific ideological benchmark she advocates for can be accepted. Because it is mysoginistic.

      It is complete marxist madness.

      If you get her to argue with another intersectional femminst like lacey green they will dissagree on everything, lacey green is sex positive, sarkeesian is a puritan.

      ” there IS space for such niches.”

      She is not going after niches though she is going after well established franchises while she knows nothing about it even lying about them, her bull on hitman absolution are blatant slander and manufactured narratives.

      “Make a gender neutral games”

      There are there always where anita’s problem is not that games arent playable by both genders, her problem is that they are not all marxist with a mandatory female character and token minorities and disabled/ trans character.

      She is a marxist anything that doesnt push her ideology is discarded.

      Tomb raider 2013 did not objectify lara she argued it did because her pain voice was apparently mean to arouse men, just like killing women in hitman and LOSSING POINTS is supposed to “derive some sick sexual prealsure out of it”

      She is a liar and knows nothing about games, so apparently the new tomb raider is taking place in snow and what she says “nice to see she is wearing a jacket this time and its not a dlc”

      AHHAHAHA

      1.What about all the other games? Oh wait you never played the older ones.

      2.She is in snow obviously she is gonna wear a jacket.

      3.wearing trousers and nerfing the breats wasnt enough, she must cover up, god forbid women are good looking or show a bit or skin, cover up the puritans demand it.

      I dont get this attack on lad culture, men dont demand that movies and games clearly focused to women should change to appeal to men.

      Her problem with doom 4 was that it is soo violent and gory same with mcintosh, her problem with fallout 4 was that the crafting system is designed “only to kill stuff” completly ignorign the settlement building and farming, her problem with dishonored 2 and female link is not that they dont do women right but that the male character is also a option.

      “Those types of feminists hold hands with right wing Christian fundamentalists, who also seek to control sexual expression and who also perceive that “mainstream media” is hostile towards them.”

      exactly.

  4. When I play my video game I imagine all the women in it to be slaves that can and will do my bidding, or else I punish them, and I make them wear the skimpiest of clothing. Why else play then?

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