The Rabbit Hole I Went Down – Feminism in the Gaming Industry

“Courage in Women in Often Mistaken for Insanity”

I love celebrating strong women, women who make change in either a big and public way, or in a small subtle way that is sometimes not recognized immediately.  Recently I found Anita Sarkeesian’s web series Ordinary Women Daring to Defy History :  I knew of some of the women she highlights, Emma Goldman, Ida B. Wells, Ching Shih, but the others were a new revelation.  The web series is quick (3-6 minute) synopsis of each woman’s mark on history and I felt it was a good medium to share with my daughter, friends and other parents I know with kids.  So I posted a link and received one remark; that Ms. Sarkeesian is vile, that she fabricates stories and is part of a core group of feminists who are caught trying to frame the entire gaming world as potential murderers and rapists.  WHOA there!  Isn’t that a bit harsh, I thought to myself.  So I went down the rabbit hole of trying to find out why this person felt that way.  And what a rabbit hole it was.

I searched the web. And I found so much information I was lost in the YouTube and article world of the web for the greater part of an afternoon.  The first hits that pop up, after the Wiki, Twitter YouTube etc., are actual journalistic articles written by solid sources: Washington Post, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Time and the Houston Press.   All of the articles are about the GamerGate controversy and the subsequent backlash of hatred against Ms. Sarkeesian; assault threats, pornographic manipulated imagery of her, death threats against her and her family to the point of her having to leave her home due to someone claiming to know her home address and threatening to kill her at her home.  Some of her speaking engagements had to be cancelled due to death threats.  Again, WHOA there!  Isn’t this a bit harsh, I thought to myself?

Back to the web search I went for the opposing side of the issue and found mostly YouTube videos, as no one seemed to publish actual articles condemning her.  Oh wait, there is one, The Federalist, claiming Ms. Sarkeesian likes to stir controversy and is boring and then proceeds to describer her in a physical non-appealing (schoolmamrm-esque) and unintelligent 80’s like Valley-Girl manner.   The YouTube videos seem to be equally as rambling and condemning of Ms. Sarkeesian based on sexual appeal or sexual ideologies.  Gad Saad’s YouTube video condemns her lack of scientific content analysis by comparing her research to research done by others looking at romance novel titles to understand women’s mating preferences of their idealized man or of porn and the types of sexual depictions targeting heterosexual men do determine their sexuality preferences.   He goes on to say that Ms. Sarkeesian “…cherry picks to show what she wants, saving the damsel in distress as patriarchal oppression and isn’t submitted to scientific journals because it won’t pass the rigorous requirements.”  Mr. Saad, I don’t recall Ms. Sarkeesian ever claiming she was doing scientific research or had any sort of formal scientific research training.  Naked Ape’s YouTube video (aggressively named “Why I HATE Anita Sarkeesian/Feminist Frequency) is a bit more objective, and although he doesn’t come right out and say, he alludes to agreeing with Anita on some points, even going so far to say “Yes, the gaming industry is pandering” toward white males.  Yet, he refuses to acknowledge her points other than saying he despises her because she says “If you support these video games, you support sexism.”

It seems the argument against Ms. Sarkeesian is based on her lack of sexual appeal to those who are opposed to her, or is a violent, threatening reaction to her claim that the gaming industry creates sexist images of women and by and large creates games geared towards males.  Both arguments, in my mind, seem to make her point even sharper; an intelligent woman, who calls out an obvious observation, is harshly condemned by those who feel threatened by her.  Ironically, even the gaming industry is beginning to question the sexist culture of the gaming industry, as written about in this article on Gamasutra.  Even the big names in the gaming industry like Wil Wheaton are speaking out against the sexism and trolling remarks.

Unfortunately, history continues to repeat itself.  Part of the problem, as Sarkeesian sees it, is a historical one. “I’ve talked to mentors and older feminists and they say, ‘We were dealing with that, but they were throwing rocks at us.’  And it’s true, our Foremothers fought hurtful words and violent actions, and sadly, it’s still happening today.  We haven’t evolved from being violent against those we perceive as a threat against our comfort zones.  So, let’s keep talking about it, and calling it out, and let’s celebrate the brave people who are leading this movement.  And doing so with humor, Stephen Colbert, is a great way to break the ice.

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Bridging the Gap

I’m seeing so much being written about the gaps in America (and the world, for that matter) right now; the gaps in political view, the gaps in equality, and the gaps in beliefs.  And it’s true, we all have a fundamental right to our own ideas and beliefs, but what we’ve failed to do is understand or objectively discuss with other people their beliefs and ideas, and in doing so we’ve allowed The Other, this sensationalized monster of people who aren’t us, to become a mainstream figure.

I came across this article by Andrés Miguel Rodón, How to Culture Jam a Populist in Four Easy Steps, where he compares Trump to Chávez, his points are painfully valid and eye opening.  While I see my social media peers posting their ideas, beliefs and frustrations and although I deeply appreciate the knowledge that I am not alone in my beliefs, I have been challenged to resolve how to bridge the gap between my beliefs and those who feel very differently.  What Rodón points out in his article is that by not bridging the gap, I am the enemy in so many people’s minds; I am the elite and not the victim, I am the swamp that Trumps wants to drain.  I have nothing in common with The Other.

But that isn’t the case.  Just as Rodón states, by reaching out to The Other and by finding common ground we can disarm the populist platform.  We can disarm Trump’s entire platform.  That gives me hope that inspires me.  And I’ve seen this in action; my brother and my husband have radically differing views on almost everything; from eating meat, to guns, to politics, they are polar opposite.  But during the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle they found common ground and in discussing their similar views, they found respect for each other.  They still discuss politics with each other to this day and those discussions are very different than they were before 1999.

With the recent executive order banning entry into the US of immigrants, I too have found common ground with politicians I never expected to agree with; I mean, Dick Cheney of all people.  The list of Republican politicians who have spoken out against the executive order is heartening.  And yes, I will call them to thank them for voicing their views, because that too, helps bridge the gap.  We need to acknowledge our commonality.  We need to de-sensationalize the frenzy around The Other.  We need to come together as a country to rebuild this country to what is Great means for all of us.

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President Trump’s First Week

Talking about this feels a little like the old school assignment, “What did you do over summer break?”.  If only we were talking about three months instead of four years.

I waited a week to see what President Trump might do to get his agenda started.  I have to say one thing in his favor – he certainly wastes no time.  I could rehash the laundry list of his executive orders and pronouncements but I’d rather talk about the man and how his vision impacts the American citizens and our place in the world.

Let’s start with his vision.  I think the moniker “Make America Great Again” in reality is closer to, “Make America not quite the greatest, maybe 2nd or 5th…” because he has opened the door for other countries to shine.  President Trump has articulated that America will lead by peace through strength but his executive orders from day one contradict that statement. China, for example.  China has stepped up to be one of the leaders in green energy.  As reported in The Guardian in January, 2017, the largest solar farm has been built in the Qinghai province, providing clean energy to a country often dubbed the “climate villain” as it works to uphold its commitment to the Paris Accords.  China wasn’t necessarily prepared to take on the mantle of leader in clean energy but with grace and commitment, they have stepped up and if we continue down our current path, will be the leader in this effort.  Thank you China. The United States on the other hand, signed a deal with Canada to continue building the Keystone Pipeline, to transport crude oil from Canada to the Gulf States, continuing a committed dependency on oil as a non-green energy source.

The international gag order on providing foreign aid for any organization globally that seeks to provide reproductive care for women that might also include abortion was curtailed on the President’s first day.  This happens often, but it demonstrated that the United States will not be a leader for the women in the United States or an advocate in the world.  We will be less than what we were or could be.

We can spin a wheel and pick a topic on which the United States will be diminishing its positive impact on the world as a leader of peace and strength.  Humanitarian aid, support of the United Nations; economic globalization; clean energy; healthcare options for our citizens; education (we were never a leader here); reduction of homelessness and poverty; respect for race/gender/sexuality. The list goes on.

Vision is most decidedly an extension of the leader.  They possess compassion; command respect; share their humility; support innovation and creativity of others; are filled with integrity and honesty.  A leader that does not possess these characteristics can never truly lead.  Our President has shown a thin-skinned, ego-obsessed, narcissistic, vengeful, bullying personality.  With the support of a conservative-led Congress and a potentially unbalanced Supreme Court, he wields his personality, not a vision, unchecked. The effects of his decisions will be felt globally, but quickly they will be manipulated if not dismissed as the rest of the world moves on to great things and we will be left with a red hat, asking ourselves “how will we make America great again?”

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A Call to Action

It’s morning.  Regardless of the hour it is like waking from a hazy sleep. For years, despite my fervor for political discussions and the delight and relish in a healthy debate, I let myself fall into a Rumpelstiltskin type of dream state believing that our country was on the right course.  I didn’t need to join in at my district at home, I didn’t read as much news even though the newspaper was delivered daily. I excused the memes my friends posted on social media as irritating but, whatever, it is their view.

And then I woke up.  On November 9th to be exact.  I woke up to realize that the haze that had been shifting over the past year had dissipated to reveal the dawn of a new day.  A new world.  A new world full of uncertainty, anger, frustration, ebullition, confusion.  No one really spoke about Trump but here he was.  It was a done deal.  There was no getting around the fact that he was to be number 45.

I proceeded through the steps of grief quickly and ended up solidly in anger and disbelief for a week or so.  Fiery comments on social media, not substantiated by any thing other than my self-entitled opinions when a friend suggested that I take time and wait and comment on Trump after he’s had one week in office.  Give him that.  It felt like a prison sentence to be sure, but I agreed.  It was the best thing for me really and here’s why.  You couldn’t be just angry.  You had to become resolved.  Those are two completely different things.  Anger – about the election, the Comey decision, the rhetoric, the administration that is now in power – being angry wasn’t productive.  It felt good, no doubt, but it was lacking completely in any productiveness for myself or anyone within miles of me personally, professionally, emotionally, digitally.  Something else needed to take anger’s place.

I resolved for the first time in a long time to do something.  What to do I wasn’t sure.  I started with posts on my personal social media reviewing the Constitution, article by article, section by section.  This would give me some relief.  What it provided instead was education, and insight.  The Constitution came to a conclusion and I didn’t necessarily feel better so I asked myself, “What’s next?”.  What now?  I started reading.  Reading articles on my social media, sharing articles on social media, commenting on social media – all the while averting specific comments about the new President.  I noticed that all my news was very liberal in nature. That’s not right.  First rule in college was read all points of view to create an informed opinion.  Where is the opposing view?  I had to search it out. If I’m having this issue – others must be as well.  It was about this time that the fake news story exposes became rampant and we realized that the duping and propagandistic nature of our news slapped me in the face.  Unacceptable.  Beyond the fake news became the Niagara Falls of news spilling over my social media, email accounts, friend’s texts, my news source – it needed to stop.  It didn’t need to stop – it simply needed a better navigation.

I needed a way to control the way I take in digital news.  We devised a plan to bring about a better news stream for people to digest over time in the hopes that if we are seeing all sides of a story or a topic, we could comprehend without condoning and have a conversation.  This was possible.


On Friday, January 20, 2017, I was on a flight with women in their pink hats, or pink scarves, or t-shirts going to stand and confirm for America at large that we are not a second thought in our society.  We are not cattle.  We are not property.  We are more than the sum total of our parts.  We are concerned about more than the sum of our parts.

Today will be a day of incredible speeches, camaraderie, determination, and hope.  But what will Sunday bring?  While political protest affirms the voice that we share in unison, on Sunday we each stand alone to create the next step?  What will you read in your social media?  Will you go beyond, to that one website that provides news that you don’t condone but know that you need to comprehend? Will you talk to someone in line at the grocery store, at the office, at home, on social media, at happy hour about the issues of the day?  An article you read?  A comment on social media that you shared?  An article or blog post here?  What will you do to stretch the conversation, accepting first the ability to comprehend another person’s point of view before expressing your own?  Where will you give your time or talent? Will you fall into a haze on Sunday or will you, with bright eyes, insist that for not one more day will you let the divide that stands between us now not be mitigated by the actions that you take today.

Saturday will be inspiring.  Sunday?  Only you can say.  As for me, I will be hard at work.  Join us.

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“Trump call to Putin could include discussion about future relations, sanctions “

Article by – Joseph Weber

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The risk of death by cancer may depend on where you live

Article by Reuters – Lisa Rapaport

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Refugges detained at airports, prompting legal challenges to Trump order – UPDATE: One of the detained Iraqi individuals has been released from the airport. Good news!


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Solar employs more people than oil, coal, and gas combined in the US

Article by IFL Science – Katy Evans – Jan. 19, 2017

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The level of workload expected of teachers is not improving schools, but it is wrecking lives

Article by – Colin Harris

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My Response To “I Am A Female And I Am So Over Feminists”

Article by The Odyssey – Hannah Kruger

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I Am A Female And I Am So Over Feminists

Article by The – Gina Davis

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