GTA V has little room for women except to portray them as strippers, prostitutes, long-suffering wives, humorless girlfriends and goofy, new-age feminists we’re meant to laugh at. Characters constantly spout lines that glorify male sexuality while demeaning women, and the billboards and radio stations of the world reinforce this misogyny, with ads that equate manhood with sleek sports cars while encouraging women to purchase a fragrance that will make them “smell like a bitch.” Yes, these are exaggerations of misogynistic undercurrents in our own society, but not satirical ones. With nothing in the narrative to underscore how insane and wrong this is, all the game does is reinforce and celebrate sexism. The beauty of cruising in the sun-kissed Los Santos hills while listening to “Higher Love” by Steve Winwood turns sour really quick when a voice comes on the radio that talks about using a woman as a urinal.
The powerful @EverydaySexism Project catalogs instances of sexism and sexual harassment experienced by women on a daily basis around the world. Women sharing their personal stories about sexism is not only brave but is also absolutely crucial to creating an environment where real change can happen!
[Please note this video contains some candid descriptions of street harassment and assault]
Twitter vs Female Protagonists in Video Games
— Feminist Frequency (@femfreq)
Above is a tweet I made this afternoon in reaction to the fact that none of the games presented at Microsoft’s Xbox One E3 press conference featured female protagonists. Below are some of the Twitter replies to that observation which exemplify the male privilege and male entitlement endemic in the gaming community today. This is also a window into what it’s like to be a female video game critic on twitter.
The notion that cyber harassment is trivial is both widespread and damaging. Because so many refuse to recognize cyber harassment as harmful, women suffer in silence, often sacrificing their female identities and their online lives. A cyber civil rights agenda would change this by recognizing and naming cyber harassment as gender discrimination. By changing the social meaning of online harassment and recharacterizing it as a civil rights violation, we may be able to transform online behavior in a manner that permits women to claim the internet as equally their own.
Harassment, Misogyny and Silencing on YouTube
Here is a very small sample of the harassment I deal with for daring to criticize sexism in video games. Keep in mind that all this is in response to my Kickstarter project for a video series called Tropes vs. Women in Video Games (which I have not even made yet). These are the types of silencing tactics often used against women on the internet who dare to speak up. But don’t worry it won’t stop me!
[MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING]
NOTE: These 60 comments were left over the course of just one hour on YouTube. They represent a tiny fraction of the 2000+ similar comments left on my video.
Disney Princess Sucker Punch
What do you get when you mix Zack Snyder’s horribly, horribly, sexist movie Sucker Punch with the horribly sexist Disney princesses from a half dozen animated movies? Well, intentional or not, you get a riveting story of female liberation!
This amazing trailer mash-up by Breanne Brennan works on several levels. First it serves as a stunning indictment of Sucker Punch by demonstrating just how perfectly the action flick plot matched up with cliché Disney cartoons. On a more subversive level the remix appropriates audio from Snyder’s misogynist film and re-frames the narrative to give us a new story in which Disney princesses liberate themselves from their own sexist movie representations. Breanne’s creative re-editing and juxtapositions manage to actually create the empowering message Sucker Punch so utterly failed to deliver on any level.
For another remixed subversion of the Disney princess theme check out pinkwhig’s Disney/Mean Girls mashup on YouTube.
Versión en castellano del estupendo montaje realizado por Breanne Brennan mezclando el audio del tráiler de Sucker Punch con películas de Disney.