Women as Background Decoration: Part 2 – Tropes vs Women in Video Games

This is the second episode exploring the Women as Background Decoration trope in video games. In this installment we expand our discussion to examine how sexualized female bodies often occupy a dual role as both sexual playthings and the perpetual victims of male violence.

A trip down the anti-feminist rabbit hole

After posting this latest video in her ‘Tropes vs Women in Video Games’ series, Anita Sarkeesian had to deal with the usual vitriol she has come to expect, plus this time threats to herself and her family. It’s all incredibly, incredibly depressing. A few hours into this abuse she tweeted a screengrab of one particular email:

Abusive email screencapture

The reference to this ‘thunderf00t’ caught my eye however. Could this possibly be a prominent rational figure with some intelligent counterpoints? Another side to the story?

Well, kindofmaybe. The conclusion I drew after an hour or so dredging through YouTube, forums and various blogs is that Sarkeesian has probably exaggerated her gamer credentials and – perhaps worse – taken some lazy, cost-saving shortcuts in her research and in the production of her videos, including pinching footage from various Let’s Play videos without asking for permission or giving any credit. In other words, not all of her examples may be placed in their proper context. Having not played these games myself I just don’t know, but it’s hard to imagine what context could justify the scenes of violence seen in the video above and the functions they serve.

However, I found nothing like a convincing rebuttal to the actual issues raised by Sarkeesian in her Feminist Frequency videos. A couple of barely-relevant personal attacks are the best defence these people seem able to offer.

If you want to throw an hour or so down the toilet yourself, the video titled Why ‘feminism’ poisons EVERYTHING by the aforementioned thunderf00t covers all the basics. He has 200,000 subscribers on YouTube and 20,000 Twitter followers. His bio on both reads “The true beauty of a self-inquiring sentient universe is lost on those who elect to walk the intellectually vacuous path of comfortable paranoid fantasies.” So yeah.

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