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In this video series, Feminist Frequency will explore five common and recurring stereotypes of female characters in video games
6,968 backers pledged $158,922 to help bring this project to life.

Project Evolving with Classroom Curriculum and Bonus Video #2

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!

I feel inspired, energized and hopeful by all the incredible feedback and support from folks of all genders about this project.  Ultimately, I think we all see the amazing potential in gaming as a medium and believe that better representations of women and less sexism will make games better. And better games are good for everyone!

I've been getting quite a few messages recently inquiring about how this project might evolve.  Amazingly, we have already reached the production quality stretch goal and still have over two weeks left on the Kickstarter clock.  So here's the plan for any additional money pledged between now and June 16th when the fundraiser ends.

$24,000 - Tropes vs Women in Video Games Curriculum
I believe that video games and gaming in general should be integrated into classrooms and educational institutions to a much larger degree.  With this in mind, I will create a curriculum with teaching guides and classroom activities to accompany this Tropes vs Women in Gaming video series.  My hope is that this curriculum can serve as a small example of how discussions around gaming can be an important part of media literacy education.  These mini-lesson plans and classroom exercises focusing on female representations in video games will offer teachers an easy way to encourage critical thinking, enhance media literacy skills and promote conversations about gender representations in the mass media with their students.  This curriculum will be Creative Commons licensed making it available for anyone to download and use with their schools, organizations or families.

$26,000 - Bonus Video #2 - The Top 10 Most Common Defenses of Sexism in Games (and how to respond)
Anyone who has dared to offer criticisms of sexism in gaming on the internet will be familiar with the inevitable counter-arguments that arise in defense of sexist representations. If you've braved the comment sections below almost any post on this topic, you will recognize classics like: "But it's just entertainment," "But it's just fantasy," or "But sex(ism) sells," just to name a few. I've even seen these types of defensive knee-jerk comments surface on gaming blogs and online forums discussing my (as yet unmade) Tropes vs Women in Video Games series.  One commenter even suggested that I have now displaced Hitler as the worst human being to have ever existed on account of this Kickstarter project (this would be funnier if it were the first time I'd been compared to Hitler).  I keep a running list of the most common counter-arguments used to dismiss, deny and derail concerns about the representations of women in gaming. I think it might be useful to round out the series with one additional video that deconstructs the top 10 typical defenses of sexism and offers some helpful rebuttals to those arguments.

Thank you all so much for your continued encouragement, feedback and support!

ps. Stay tuned for updates on the project including our 'Best/Worst Female Characters in Video Games' survey (which I'll send out in Update #4).


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    1. Matt C on

      Congrats on the amazing success, Anita. I know we'd all love to hear an update on plans now that you've quintupled even the 3rd stretch goals...

      Feature-length documentary, anyone?

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      Karl Malm on

      And now the kickstarter is up to 1100 percent. I'd take credit but I only just found this place and chipped in a few minutes ago.

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      Ross Wilson on

      Well put, Atarun. That's an excellent point, clearly-stated. I think an important goal of feminism is to liberate *both* the sexes from harmful stereotypes, and it's certainly harmful for (often young) males to be programmed to idealize violent, emotionless, brutish in-game role models. A video discussing this would be apt. And this in-game male stereotype IS a trope that's also "vs. women", since real-life women have to deal with the men who are influenced by these role models.

    4. Atarun

      Continuing last comment (sorry for the cut): I think this is essential in that it negates the false analogy completely. I often read, hear or even get told that "women should stop complaining about female stereotypes because it's the same in reverse for men" which is obviously a false equivalency because male sterotypes are not targeted at women. It doesn't "even up" anything to have a brutish, emotionally-dead muscle-bag in place of a male character, because that clearly is not meant for female titillation and enjoyment.
      So while I don't think making male characters the average straight female wet dream (which would in all likelihood make them slim and princey and submissive and somewhat girly... look at which actors are reliably picked as most sexy by women and male characters in romance novels targeted at women... you'll see hyper-masculinity, violence and emotional-barrenness are NOT common tastes, to say the least) would avenge anything, I'm really sick of the obviously false equivalency.

    5. Atarun

      About "Tropes vs Men". Something I don't often hear or read when tropes of men and women in video games are compared and that seems entirely obvious and essential a difference to me is: both sets of tropes target men.

    6. Thom Blake on

      @jsullivan543 It's not that I believe in everything Amon stands for - it's just that benders have been pushing non-benders around for far too long.

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      Corbin Dallas on


      To clarify, I wrote my initial comment *not* in the context of Anita's later post about her detractors, but rather in the context of this thread alone, where only Thom Blake (who I assume is a backer as only they can post) had left a single request and Kristina Brun Madsen had responded. I think you understood this, but I just want to make that explicit.

      I really think nothing I've written is in disagreement with what you have written.

      John: "I actually DO there think there are systemic constructions of gender role stereotyping/norms that are quite harmful to men"

      Jarrod: "the systemic marginalization of men doesn't exist, and is therefore not perpetrated by tropes in games."

      I agree with both of these essentially and I'm glad you put it the way you did. Marginalization isn't what is going on, but if many games are taken as representations of patriarchal norms then they may be systemically limiting to both genders. Shakesville has tread this territory:

      I actually don't really care if there is ever a Tropes vs. Men, I just felt you could ask for it sincerely within the scope of a feminist perspective.

    8. John Horstman on

      @Todd regarding Tropes vs. Men: I'd also add that no one is stopping e.g. the misogynist trolls swarming YouTube complaining that the focus isn't on THEM (for once) from making their own video series examining how video game tropes harm men (I'm not lumping you in with them, but using them as a much more extreme example along similar lines). I actually DO there think there are systemic constructions of gender role stereotyping/norms that are quite harmful to men the hyper-violent, hyper-masculine, functional-sociopath hero being one of those that shows up frequently in video games, though, as Jarrod points out, while this does systemically HARM men (and women, who are on the receiving end of plenty of the about 90 percent of violent crimes perpetuated by men), it doesn't systemically DISADVANTAGE men relative to women.

      Male privilege predicates violent responses from some men accustomed to EVERYTHING focusing on them or treating them with deference; it's so jarring and noticeable exactly because almost everything related to video games is targeted to and focuses on men. Even if men were equally disadvantaged by common video game tropes, it still wouldn't be Anita's responsibility to advocate on their behalf; if they were serious about their concerns, they'd be asking for pointers on getting "Tropes vs. Men" off the ground instead of making sandwich and rape 'jokes'. The fact that they're not exposes the truth: the complaints are simply a silencing tactic. I very seriously doubt that this is what you're trying to do, and I think that Tropes vs. Men is a great idea to which I would be happy to donate as well, assuming it was done by a reputable (read: not misogynist) party. It's just not Anita's focus nor responsibility (though I also get wanting her to do it, since she's pretty good with analyzing tropes and women).

    9. Kristina Brun Madsen on

      "the systemic marginalization of men doesn't exist, and is therefore not perpetrated by tropes in games"
      Very nicely put.
      Related to this is the point that male characters, when they are portrayed in a negative way, are not disdained *for being male*

    10. Jarrod on

      To people who are arguing for a "Tropes v. Men" video, I would respectfully offer two bits of advice:

      1) Remember that she's always talking about SYSTEMS of power and SYSTEMIC issues. Of course there are individual exceptions, but systemically, women are objectified and marginalized. Especially in the video game market. I realize that you probably already know this, but the systemic marginalization of men doesn't exist, and is therefore not perpetrated by tropes in games. Of course, individual men might be objectified, but it isn't systemic.

      2) Study and get to know third-wave feminism and intersectionality theory. Both go a long way to provide analysis of why individuals have power in some situations (think black man vs. white woman in 2012, or rich black woman in 1960 vs. poor white man in 1960), but that doesn't mean that there isn't a hegemony that gives privilege unequally to different demographics. Power isn't a static position that's determined by one factor. It's dynamic, and it slides.

      Great to see you hit 26k, Anita. You're doing great work, and sparking so much GREAT discussion!

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      Corbin Dallas on

      I agree that men and women are not equally let down by video games and I in no way meant to imply that.

    12. Kristina Brun Madsen on

      Men and women are not equally let down by video games, not even remotely. I disagree that it's time for 'what about the men' again already.
      I share your good opinion of Anita, though.

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      Corbin Dallas on

      "A video game that has a fairer take on its female characters will automatically have a fairer take on its male characters, too."

      Okay, but then wouldn't a Tropes vs. Men analysis just make the ways video games unfairly portray men more visible? If portraying women more fairly also portrays men more fairly, it would be useful to explain how men are portrayed unfairly to those who don't necessarily see it.

      I don't think asking for a Tropes vs. Men analysis is necessarily claiming men are losing anything at the expense of women - just that there is something there to be analyzed in contrast to women. Anita does an excellent job of bringing to light treatments of characters representing women in pop culture that are, at least to me, surprising and troubling. I have no doubt she could do the same for characters representing men.

      That said, Anita clearly has a right to analyze whatever she wants and there's only so much time and money to do anything. (Nice that the money limitation just got raised a bit though!)

    14. Kristina Brun Madsen on

      To the people here who argue in favour of a Tropes vs. Men analysis: I think you are approaching this whole idea of feminist critique a little awkwardly. The point of imagining a feminist way of making video games is not to elevate women's representation at men's expense. A video game that has a fairer take on its female characters will automatically have a fairer take on its male characters, too.

    15. Kristina Brun Madsen on

      @jsullivan543: LOL, seconded!

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      multijoe on

      Can we get a $30k stretch goal next just to erect a huge sign that says 'Eat it, MRAs'?

    17. Malene on

      I really hope we can reach 26k, because that video would be for so much use to us who really want to open people's eyes and it would help us how to deal with the ignorant bunch.

    18. Kristina Brun Madsen on

      The stretch goals are really exciting! Related to the apologism from people who defend sexism in video games, are the arguments put forward by people who want to explain away the pervasiveness of sexual harrassment in gaming culture. Here is an enlightening take on that:

    19. Dude Wellen on

      Want the $26k video made! I'mma dude but it doesn't matter, important to end ignorance.

    20. Hillary Lauren on

      As a curriculum and educational game developer, I'm particularly interested in your idea about lessons on video games. If you would like feedback while you are developing materials, I'd be more than willing to help. Hillary

    21. Atarun

      Wow! Amazing stretch goals! I really hope we reach $26k! :D

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      Weimann on

      I think it would be interesting to see a male version as well. There's no discussion that women are worse off in terms of stereotypes, but it's not like men don't have them as well (as does every group, to some extent, but we're focusing on gender here).

      I just watched your previous Tropes vs. Women videos and I think they are very valuable! Really good work. I'm not the most experienced guy when it comes to sexualization and feminism, so I really appreciate the entry-level, approachable take you offer on some aspects. :)

    23. Missing avatar

      Gabriella Barnett on

      As a soon-to-be Health & PE teacher I'm very excited about the curriculum edition!

    24. Missing avatar

      multijoe on

      Thom Blake - Equalist

    25. Jarrod on

      I truly hope you reach 26k, because I think that might be one of the most important videos you could make.

    26. Thom Blake on

      Any chance of a "Tropes vs. Men in Video Games" stretch goal?