When I decided to write Player vs. Player, a great deal of it was inspired by events that happened a couple years ago to Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency and Jennifer Hepler, formerly of Bioware.
As the months have passed nearing the book’s publication, I worried that people would think I had hashed up an outdated incident and exaggerated it for story fodder. But I haven’t.
The reality is actually much grimmer.
Before I go any further, I will need to apologize. I’ve gotten three hours of sleep in the last 48 hours, I’ve had no coffee this morning, and my blood sugar is so low that I’m trembling. And I’m deeply upset and just… heartsick. My soul hurts. So I’m not necessarily at my coherent best right now, but I don’t have much time to post this before I need to leave.
Today as I woke up, looking forward to attending GRL, I discovered that Anita Sarkeesian has been forced to cancel an appearance at Utah State University. Apparently, the fact that this woman wants to speak about the treatment imaginary female characters receive in imaginary worlds and how that treatment reflects in our real-life culture is so intolerable that men have resorted to terrorist threats to try to silence her message.
This is after I’ve spent a week watching the #ineeddiversegames hashtag on Twitter and following the why-i-need-diverse-games blog on Tumblr. Which has also received a great deal of harassment from misogynists, racists, and homophobes who don’t see the lack of diversity in gaming as a problem.
Meanwhile, unarmed Black men are being murdered by the police forces who are supposed to protect and defend the people. And women are being assaulted and murdered for having the audacity to ignore catcalls or refuse unwanted advances on the street.
Do we not see that the reflections (or lack thereof) that we see of women, people of color, and MOGII/LGBTQIA+ people in our media (like video games) informs the culture in which women can be shot in the head and have their throats slit for not responding favorable to street harassment? That the portrayals of people of color in these games as being villains or victims or cannon fodder but never heroes whose stories we experience contributes to the dehumanization of people of color, to the point where young Black men who aren’t threatening anyone, who aren’t armed, who have committed no crime.
And the people who point out this issue are being threatened with rape and massacres and harassed until their voices are drowned out.
Maybe it’s my lack of sleep or lack of caffeine or lack of food, but today I just can’t with it all. We live in a world that hates women, that hates people based on the color of their skin or who they love or whether or not their gender matches their genitalia. And I just want to cry.