(Just here for the video? Skip down to the bottom for the next episode in the series)
2015 was our first full year as a nonprofit, and throughout the year I assessed what Feminist Frequency’s short-term and long-term goals should be. After seeing the goals and scope for Tropes vs Women in Video Games balloon far beyond my initial imagining, it's important to me to set reasonable expectations for future projects. So, I spent a fair bit of time last year laying the foundation for FemFreq to grow. I continued and expanded our advocacy and consciousness-raising efforts, worked on a complete overhaul of our logo and website, and put together a great team who have been diligently helping me prepare exciting new programming to launch this year.
I’m really proud of the work we have done with Tropes vs Women in Video Games; we took traditional feminist media criticism and developed our own framework for analyzing and deconstructing games via an accessible and engaging format that appeals to a wide-ranging audience. As I’ve talked about before, this project took on a life of its own beyond anything I could have conceived of on that spring day 3 1/2 years ago when I hit publish on a modest Kickstarter. As with many early Kickstarters that were wildly overfunded, we expanded the project accordingly, increasing its scope with each stretch goal. I was so excited that you were so excited about feminist media criticism. By the time we started creating the episodes, however, it was clear the project had become an ambitious beast. Each trope started becoming its own multi-part miniseries that took months and months of research and writing and production. So here we are, over three years later, working on a project that I thought was simply going to take six months to complete.
The reality is that Tropes took over my entire existence, both personally and professionally. For me, the work of Feminist Frequency has become synonymous with constant daily harassment, death threats, bomb threats, intense public scrutiny and profound violations of privacy that have spilled over into the lives of my friends and family. Along with all of this came an impossible pressure to never get any detail or fact wrong; even when our research was impeccable, harassers would act as though we were lying and start wild campaigns to generate more hostility toward us and our work.
The enormous amount of stress caused by the harassment, along with how the project unfolded, took a huge toll on my physical and emotional health. I have been dealing with depressive tendencies for the better part of my life but with my physical health declining and the added pressure of this project, my depression became quite intense. Looking back from a place of greater clarity and balance, I don't know how I managed to survive from day to day, let alone how I continued to step into the public eye online, in newspapers and magazines, and even on national television. Many of my personal relationships were strained or collapsing, and getting out of bed every day felt like climbing up a mountain. There was no end. I was going to be doing this tropes project forever. FOREVER.
In short, I burned out. In some activist communities we talk a lot about burnout because so many of us sacrifice our health, our relationships, our personal lives, in order to try and make positive change in the world. But I don’t believe this needs to be an either/or situation. I realised there had to be a way to balance my health and this project I deeply believe in. That’s why I’m making a change to how I complete this project, and I think you will like it.
But first, just a recap of what we have done already:
And we are currently working on:
- Bonus Video: Top 10 Common Defenses of Sexism
- Classroom Curriculum and Lesson Plans
We plan on completing Tropes vs Women in Video Games within the year but it’s going to look a little bit different. Instead of incredibly long videos that focus on one trope and deconstruct hundreds of examples, we are going to break it down into smaller bite-size pieces. We’re going to publish shorter, more focused episodes, by taking the theories and concepts from the remaining tropes and presenting them in 5-10 minute long videos around a very focused topic. These are the topics we will create (titles might change):
I’ve been working hard with my team and am excited to show you the new format - With no further ado, here's the first episode. I hope you enjoy it.