As some of you may know a harassment campaign is being waged against me because of my Tropes vs Women in Video Games project on Kickstarter. This coordinated attack was launched by various online video game forums and has included attempts to get my accounts banned, a torrent of hate on YouTube, plus countless threats of violence, death, sexual assault and rape. As part of that intimidation effort the Wikipedia page about me was vandalized with misogynist language, pornography and racial slurs.
I went back and forth about whether or not to share this publicly because I don’t want to inadvertently encourage this kind of behavior or scare other women into staying silent out of fear something similar may happen to them. But ultimately I’ve decided I’m going to document and strategically share what is happening to me because these types of online harassment tactics are used against women, feminists and people from oppressed and marginalized groups every day.
About a year ago I noticed someone had made a Wikipedia page about me. It’s a simple stub in the Women’s Rights Activist category and contains two short paragraphs mostly pulled from my online bio. Very little had changed on the page since it was created, that is until last week.
The image below shows the result of the vandalism that took place over the course of June 5th and 6th, 2012. This was not done by just one or two trolls but was a coordinated cyber mob style effort involving a whole gang working together. The screenshot below was downloaded directly from one of the internet forums organizing the harassment. They were proudly posting this image as a trophy to boast about what they were doing and to encourage others to join in.
Here is a very small sample of the harassment I deal with for daring to criticize sexism in video games. Keep in mind that all this is in response to my Kickstarter project for a video series called Tropes vs. Women in Video Games (which I have not even made yet). These are the types of silencing tactics often used against women on the internet who dare to speak up. But don’t worry it won’t stop me!
[MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING] NOTE: These 100+ comments were left over the course of a two hour period on YouTube. They represent only a tiny fraction of the hundreds and hundreds now thousands of similar comments left on my video. The screen capture is unedited.
NOTE: The Kickstarter campaign has ended. Thank you everyone for all your support!
See the final results here.
Earlier this year, I was invited to speak about developing female characters in video games at the BUNGiE offices in Bellevue, WA (you probably know BUNGiE as the developers of the Halo series). It was a great experience engaging with creators and developers in the gaming industry so I decided it’s time to dedicate an entire series to female characters in video games.
UPDATE: Wow! I’m honored and excited by all the positive feedback and support. Thank you all so much! First, we reached our initial funding goal in less than 24 hours! Next, we achieved our first set of stretch goals in under 1 week! Now we have met our second set of expanded goals in just 2 weeks!
The Hunger Game is one of the most popular young adult novel series rivaling Harry Potter and Twilight. As the first of its film adaptations was just released in March 2012, readers and audiences have been pleasantly surprised at this fresh, dynamic, young female protagonist. In the second of my two part series on The Hunger Games, I’ll compare the book to the movie and talk about some of the shortcomings of the adaptation and a few things that the film actually did better than the book.
The Hunger Games is one of the most popular young adult novel series rivaling Harry Potter and Twilight. As the first of its film adaptations was just released in March 2012, readers and audiences have been pleasantly surprised at this fresh, dynamic, young female protagonist. In this video I’ll explore Katniss’ character in the first novel as it relates to gender and portrayals of violence. Be sure to check out Part 2 where I compare the book to the movie.
I contributed a chapter to the anthology FANPIRES: Audience Consumption of the Modern Vampire edited by Gareth Schott and Kirstine Moffat. The chapter that I co-wrote with Jennifer Jenson entitled “Buffy vs. Bella: The Re-Emergence of the Archetypal Feminine in Vampire Stories” explores the differences between Buffy Summers from the popular TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Bella Swan from the Twilight saga. This chapter further explores how the narratives of each fictional universe can limit or expand the way fans interact with each character.
This collection of essays addresses the renewed interest in the cultural resurgence of the vampire, evident across a broad range of literature, film, television, graphic novels, and games. The appeal of vampire mythology and its associated folklore for modern audiences is examined in an age characterized by the transformative possibilities of the internet with both its low barriers to artistic expression and the erosion of the boundaries between author and audience in terms of the construction of narrative, character and fictional universes. This collection examines how audiences respond to and “use” the vampire in their own practices. From evil villains to tragic heroes, modern appropriations of the vampire, evident in popular manifestations such as the Twilight saga and the televisual adaptation of The Southern Vampire Mysteries (True Blood) are noted for their focus on the everyday. These vampires are found nested within communities, seeking to temper their urges and coexist with humans.
It’s been a few years since I’ve checked in with The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies so I thought it would be a good time to look in on Hollywood and see if there’s been any substantial improvement in women’s representations on the big screen. In this updated video, I go through the 2011 films nominated for Best Picture at the 84th annual Academy Awards and see how they measure up to the Bechdel Test. Keep watching because I also propose a small addendum to help clarify the spirit of the test and provide a solution on how Hollywood can fix the glaring problem that the Bechdel Test exposes. I’ll also address the question, “What about the reverse test?” and I’ll show an alternative test that has been adapted by critics to identify the presence of people of colour in films. Sprinkled throughout this video I offer a few movie recommendations.
In part 1 of my two part LEGO and Gender series, I explored how LEGO went terribly wrong with LEGO Friends and provided a brief history of LEGO’s ridiculous and slightly hilarious attempts to market to girls since the late 70′s.
In part 2, I delve into how LEGO shifted their products from their initial relatively, gender neutral building experience to a more male dominated and male identified one. The LEGO group intentionally did this in three ways: 1. Marketing exclusively to boys, 2. Producing male identified and centered themes and sets and 3. Focusing on stereotypical boys play scenarios with an emphasis on combat. The strong focus on boys has effectively kicked girls out of the LEGO club house. Keep watching until the end where I provide a few suggestions to LEGO on how to fix their gender segregation problem.
LEGO announced that after 4 years of intensive research, they have finally come up with a LEGO product that fulfills the desires of “how girls naturally build and play.” This new theme is called LEGO Friends and it’s a pink and purple, gender segregated, suburban wasteland populated by Barbie/Bratz style dolls. Many parents, educators, feminists, and media critics have spoken out against LEGOs attempts to separate girls into their own stereotypical isolated enclave within the LEGO universe.
In part 1 of my two part LEGO and Gender series, I’ll explore how LEGO went terribly wrong with LEGO Friends and provide a brief history of LEGO’s ridiculous and slightly hilarious attempts to market to girls since the late 70’s. In part 2 I’ll delve into LEGO’s intentional strategy to market almost exclusively to boys since the mid 80’s by developing and marketing sets that are male identified and male centered. In conclusion, I’ll offer LEGO a couple of suggestions that they can consider when creating and marketing new products.
You’ve heard them about a bagillion times before, and every December they are played over and over again, yup, it’s the same old Christmas and Holiday songs. But have you ever noticed that some of the lyrics can be just down right creepy? Check out this video for my Top 5 Creepy and/or Sexist Christmas Songs.
NOTE: I include Mariah Carey’s song “All I want for Christmas Is You” only to illustrate the larger overall pattern in mass media where women are constantly presented as “only wanting a man”. Carey’s song itself is not really a huge issue but the larger media pattern is definitely problematic.