Not So Frequent Feminism

Jenna Rigsbee; 2018; rigsbeej@wittenberg.edu
Oct. 15 could have been a day for the books – and not in a good way. Feminist video game critic and founder of Feminist Frequency, Anita Sarkeesian was supposed to give a talk at Utah State University about feminism, but, unfortunately, that never happened, due to threats of an attack on what the television/radio show “Democracy Now” would call the “deadliest shooting in American history.”

The name “Anita Sarkeesian” has almost reached the same level of taboo as the word “feminism” itself. It wasn’t the threat of massacre that led Sarkeesian’s talk to be canceled; she was forced to cancel because of Utah gun laws that wouldn’t maximize security. However, the topic of controversy isn’t threats against her life. The real issue is why men — and occasionally women — feel threatened by women with power and by the word “feminism.”

English Professor Lori Askeland says that feminism is seen as a threat because it is so “radical.” Feminism is the wild notion that women are “fully human.” It is saying that women should be valued for what they do instead of how they look.

In video games like “Mafia II: Joe’s Adventures,” there is a scene of two men having a gunfight over a dead woman’s body. Similarly, in “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood” women are referred to as simply “whore.” Both examples along with numerous others can be found in Sarkeesian’s video “Women as Background Decoration (Part 2).”

Evidence of anti-women sentiments and misogyny are all over society, including in the “Wittenberg bubble.” There are the posters of scantily-dressed women in male dorm rooms and houses. The posters are seen as normal and stereotypical, but that doesn’t make them any less offensive, legitimate or appropriate because they still encourage men to view women as nothing but sexual objects. Jobs working closely with students, or, “care-giving” jobs, as  Askeland calls them, are paid less than the jobs done behind the scenes, like in financial aid.
An anonymous student who calls herself a casual gamer said that she doesn’t like telling guys that she is a gamer for fear of being challenged. Those challenging her doubt she is as knowledgeable as they are about games or she doesn’t play the same games as they do. She even says that when she tells guys that she is a feminist, they ask if it means they can punch her. Their reaction can be perceived as evidence of how feminism is “trivialized” and made fun of in today’s society, a point made by Askeland.

The anonymous student calls Sarkeesian “compelling,” and the repugnant remarks against her “ridiculous.” She is also much too aware of women being seen only as sexual objects in video games, saying they are “hyper-sexualized.”

While sexism at Wittenberg isn’t to the scale of mass violence and threats that Sarkeesian and others like her face, it can be a part of students’ everyday lives.

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