Tropes vs. Women: How misogynist trolls accidentally funded feminism

After telling of her harassment, a feminist video-blogger raised over $100,000

Here’s a story the sums up everything awful and awesome about the Internet.

Anita Sarkeesian is a feminist video-blogger and media critic who did her grad work at York. She went on to video blog for Bitch magazine and her own Feminist Frequency site, where she produced a series of short videos called Tropes vs. Women, each of which examined a recurring sexist stereotype in TV or movies. Example:

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a cute, bubbly, young (usually white) woman who has recently entered the life of our brooding hero to teach him how to loosen up and enjoy life.

Sarkeesian’s videos are smart, lo-fi deconstructions of troubling things we see in pop culture all the time but may not look at too closely. They’re fairly popular as well, some having been viewed over 100,000 views. And they’ve been used as teaching aids in many classrooms, for free.

Last month, Sarkeesian launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce a new series of videos focusing on sexist tropes in video games. She set a modest target of $6,000 for five videos. The Internet responded.

Anita Sarkeesian thanks her supporters

It responded positively, with enthusiastic donors helping her reach her target in a matter of hours. And just as swiftly, it also responded with hate. Sarkeesian became the target of a vicious, and sadly not unusual misogynistic backlash. Comments ranged from half-witted counter-arguments to death and rape threats. Her Wikipedia entry was vandalized with porn, her attackers maligned her looks while demanding to see her breasts, the vitriol toggled between sexism and anti-Semitism, and a disgusting time was had by all.

Sarkeesian blogged about the harassment.

After she did, something great happened. Things went viral. Supporters took a stand against her detractors by wildly over-funding her project. The more the haters hated, the more the donors donated. Tropes vs. Women in Video Games now has over 6,000 backers, who have kicked in over $141,000 to Sarkessian so far. As I write, there are still a few hours left in the campaign, so if anyone has something nasty to say about Anita Sarkeesian, hopefully they’ll do so, and make her some more money.

Jesse Brown is the host of TVO.org’s Search Engine podcast. He is on Twitter @jessebrown




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Tropes vs. Women: How misogynist trolls accidentally funded feminism

  1. See I think feminism like this is totally absurd. Isnt it only sexist if it only Applies to one gender? Have you ever taken a look at the male characters in video games? They are the definition stereotypical and 90% are ripped like herculese. But you don’t see men up in arms about It? Why? Because video games are fantasy. They are meant as exaggeration s. should I go take a woman’s romance novel and protest it because all the men are completely absurd? No of course not. The same thing applies he And believe it or not there are video games with strong female characters out there. Here in the west you really do live in an age of equality. Yes some men are dicks, but some women are dicks too. It’s time to get off your high horse

    • LOL. Your argument is stupid and you should feel bad about yourself.

      • ROTFL you have no argument,only insult tooffer, and you should therefore refrain from engaging in debate and/or conversation if ad hominem’s the best you can come up with.

    • If you are going to “go and take a woman’s romance novel and protest it because all the men are completely absurd”….you would have to prove that 1) they misrepresent men and 2) that they are demeaning men. I won’t comment on the misrepresentation of men….however, in EVERY women’s romance novel the man evolves into a sensitive, loving hero whose pure goodness always surpasses any of his physical attractiveness, which by this point in the book is a total aside (they often have epilogues where both the female and male protagonists are married and have aged considerably). …..hardly …demeaning….think Jane Eyre ….scarred and lost his eyesite but she still loves him because he’s devoted and he loves her. I have just told you how every romance ends.

    • I’ll tell you what: the next time you go in to see if you can get Employment Insurance and they tell you no, because you’re attractive enough to get employment as a prostitute instead of being on E.I., then you get to say “oh it’s just the same for men.” Yes, the portrayals of men in video games are also unrealistic, but it’s a false equivalence. And *this isn’t about men*. This article isn’t about how unfair the portrayal of males is in video games; it’s about how a woman saying she was going to look at the portrayals of women in video games was attacked to an unbelievable degree and with an unbelievable amount of vitriol.

      Please don’t minimize my experiences as a female by saying “Oh men go through it too.” You really don’t.

      *Points at icon* Look at the icon for “nameless, faceless, anonymous person on the Internet. Is it gender neutral? No. It’s obviously a guy. “Oh you’re just being over-sensitive and *looking* for something to be offended by.” No; it’s a symptom of a society where, yes, I do have a lot more freedoms than many other women in the world. I can vote. I can leave the house unescorted. I can show my face.

      Woo. This should not be something to celebrate. This should be *expected*.

      Meanwhile, though, the background assumption is that the average “man on the street” is, well, a man. Movies are targeted to that key 18-24 *male* audience. So is TV. So are games. So is, well, *everything*. Even the icon here for an anonymous user automatically assumes that I’m male.

      It’s like the entire world is a great big clubhouse with “No Girls Allowed” on the door. So please don’t point to the portrayal of *men* in video games and complain about how unfair *that* is when the topic at hand is about how unfair the portrayal of *women* is. Well, actually, about how unfair shitting all over one woman for saying she’s *going* to talk about the portrayal of women in video games. Please stop making it be all about men. That immediately excludes 50% of the population, and we’re tired of having the world automatically assume we’re not actually a part of it.

      • So women get rejected by EI and told to go work the streets? You’ve been reading Rabble.ca again haven’t you?

    • the ‘exaggerated’ men are not targets for abuse and rape in these video games. it’s not about ‘absurd’ it’s about violence and disrespect

    • p.s. the violence against women is not just in video games, and is not an exaggeration…read the paper or watch the news sometime

    • Because the way men are portrayed in games is about power fantasy. It’s about giving the male gamers someone awesome to play as so they’d want to be that character, while most female player characters are there for male gamers to drool over, not to provide an avatar that a female player would want to be. There is a very big difference.

  2. It’s great, she can get a new car and not have to worry about doing much because of the idiots funding her after seeing articles like this that paint her as the victim (Wait a minute isn’t that what she’s against?).

    At the end of the day whether she is right or wrong, she managed to sucker all those idiots out of almost $150,000, which is kinda hilarious.

    • So you’re saying she’s not a victim?

      • How could she be a victim?

        She used the “big mean misogynists” to her advantage and it got her coverage on way too many websites and with that her Kickstarter (a website made for people to get funding for video games not to get money to do videos that are both unneeded and have already been made with zero funding) went viral which =/= loads of money for her, so no she is not a victim.

        If anyone is the victim in this, it is the idiots who are funding her.

        • The whole death and rape threats thing, you idiot.

          • Sorry for the double post.

          • You mean alleged death and rape threats, right?

            As FancyLad put quite well, she engineered this whole thing to bait teen aged boys to attack so this whole fiasco would get picked up by the media and let’s face if you take those threats from those kind of teenagers seriously you should probably get off the internet,

          • lol “alleged”

            You’re awfully quick to accept shit as “just teenage boys lol”.

            And as to “Just get off the internet”? Fuck you. Seriously. Think about the implications. If anyone can be silenced by a large quantity of hate, is that a world you want to live in? Maybe if you’re part of the majority and don’t give a shit about anyone else.

            You’re making the world a shittier place.

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          • I like how I’m a bigoted waste of space for not getting sucked into her bullshit but you aren’t one for insulting anyone who insults her which considering all she’s doing is using idiots like you to get money she kind of deserves to be insulted and note I said insulted NOT threatened or anything like that, anyone threatening her is an idiot but anyone supporting and/or backing her is even dumber.

            Speaking of other projects look at this – http://www.indiegogo.com/misandryinvideogames

            They’re basically doing her thing but for men but if you look you’ll see some key differences like for example any money they make is all going to charity while Anita get to keep it all for herself.

            Just to take a little extract that should say it all
            “Creating videos for Youtube is hardly an expensive practice, so we
            feel that demanding money for what should be an altruistic venture is a
            morally reprehensible thing to do. Especially when there are so many
            great causes that DON’T get the attention and funding they deserve.”

            So, nuff’ said you absolute idiot.

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          • Let me guess that means I should “check my privilege” and go on to support this “womyn” and her cause.

            I do love your double standards though from “how dare you hate her for getting money when she doesn’t any to do what she intends to with said money” to “LOL look at the dumb men getting money(which is all going to charity) to do a youtube channel that looks at men in video games”

            This better be some inane trolling attempt otherwise you are one sad human being.

          • Did she plant the explosives in the WTC and shoot from the grassy knoll, too?

          • How about we get those “teen aged boys” off the Internet instead?

            And as for her scamming people; I was really disappointed to see the Kickstarter project had already closed, because I would have loved to have also thrown my five bucks in just to piss off the trolls.

            Why the hell do you *think* she managed to raise so much? It’s not because her supporters were going “Oh you poor victimized woman!” They were going “Well, fuck you too, then, Internet trolls lol”.

            I figure she deserves every penny she raised just for pissing off teenaged boys trolling on the net so hard. LOL!!

        • Actually, kickstarter isn’t just for funding video games. It can and has been used to fund almost anything. Lately, I’ve seen the place used to help turn webcomics into novels.

          In fact, the home page only states it’s for funding creative projects. That can include a lot. Go back and visit and see what I mean.

      • She’s can be as big a victim as she wants to be.

        She engineered travesty and a media happening out of a non-issue.
        Deliberately baiting 15 year boys and aspie’s into trolling you online, just so sensationalists and hand-wringers in the press can pretend that “The Man” is trying stick women back into the kitchen and then anoint you “Victim”, is apparently what modern feminism has been reduced to.

        When you see women still treated as chattel in so many places worldwide, and then you read garbage articles like the one above, you then realize what a disgusting joke western contemporary feminism has become.

        • What evidence do you have that she deliberately baited anyone? I guess if you wanna call “dared to threaten to talk about stereotypes in video games while owning a vagina” “deliberately baiting trolls” then go ahead. That doesn’t make it any less stupid.
          Unfortunately, people like you are the reason why feminism is still necessary. By that of course, I mean you claiming “boys will be boys” and “lol internet” and “First world problems” over western feminism. Sure it’s not as bad as it used to be, but your attitude is like looking at the story of that kid who was shot by an over enthusiastic Neighborhood watch member for being a black kid walking in a rich white neighbor, while claiming he was a suspicious character, shaking your head at all the outrage and telling Civil Rights activists they need to cut it out because since black people can vote and eat in the same restaurants and everything now, racism doesn’t exist anymore. That people actually say this shows how blind people still are.

    • It’s great, she can get a new car and not have to worry about doing much because of the idiots funding her

      This is a fine example of the “internet tough guy” version of “WINNNING!!!!!”: we couldn’t make her go away, so now we’ll insinuate the money will be wasted and belittle the people who decided to support her despite our far superior arguments about how she needed to get laid, demanding to see her chest and suggesting she go back to the kitchen in response to… well, nothing really. The opponent hadn’t even put an argument to be mad about on the table yet.

      But boy do some people seem scared out of their pants that she will.

      It’s kinda sad behaviour really and stands in stark contrast to the other big event of the week: The Oatmeal VS FunnyJunk (I’ll use PopeHat for a nice family friendly legal breakdown of things – Oatmeal’s initial response is… for the NSFW crowd at least, less so), where folks raised $170K and counting for cancer research and the National Wildlife Foundation in response to a completely frivolous lawsuit proposed by the later against the former.

  3. There are stereotypes everywhere in media, but it seems only women are so sensitive to be offended.
    If I troll 4chan and they hurt my feelings can I get some money too?
    There’s a sucker born every minute, especially when a woman gets her feefees hurt.

    • This comment was deleted.

      • fabulous counter argument for a child of ignorance.

  4. what is it about the internet that even the hint of systemic bias against women leads to a flock of privileged men gnashing their teeth? Teitel’s story on the men’s centre, the tropes blog itself, now this…

    Is it because the internet is mostly 13 middle and upper middle class boys?

    • Because begin anonymous on the internet automatically makes you an asshole.

      Also, it’s Youtube.

  5. There’s a very good video that’s been made about this very subject of this lady being bullied, harassed and belittled for daring to suggest her subject. BEFORE the films get made! http://www.animalnewyork.com/2012/ill-doctrine-all-these-sexist-gamer-dudes-are-some-shook-ones/ Please, if you are male, speak up! For god’s sake don’t just sit there and shrug your shoulders and say “but I don’t do it” and leave it at that. Speak UP! Overcome the apathy and SAY something. We need nice guys to break through the niceness of not saying anything to drown out this hatred of women and their ideas and ideals and hopes and dreams. It is NOT okay to sit idly by and ignore it, and/or condone it.

    • There are sexist people on the internet. Speaking out is at most very limited in what it can achieve and probably is not going to do anything about it. It certainly wont magically make trolls disappear, as much as I wish we could do that. The problem is that peoples anger is being misguided. People were originally angry that someone is getting money who doesn’t need money and because of some “misguided people” everyone got the wrong idea and assumed everyone who opposed it were sexist. I am not opposed to somebody needing money to fund there channel, but she does not need that much money so she better donate at least half to charity, considering she is a feminist in her channel, perhaps a womans support group from domestic abuse or breast cancer society would be fitting.

      • I think your first sentence should have read “There are sexist people in the world,” as the people of the internet are in fact the real living people of the world.

        Let’s try a couple of other versions of it:
        - “There are sexist people in the world. Speaking out is at most very limited in what it can achieve and probably is not going to do anything about it.”
        - “There are racist people in the world. Speaking out is at most very limited in what it can achieve and probably is not going to do anything about it.”
        - “There are homophobic people in the world. Speaking out is at most very limited in what it can achieve and probably is not going to do anything about it.”

        If all these groups took your advice, women would still not be able to vote or have jobs, Blacks and Asians would still live in North America only as slaves, and homosexuals would be even more oppressed than they continue to be today. Speaking out is the best thing we can do if we expect any change for the better in our world.

      • I think you seriously need to re-think your logic. ‘angry that someone is getting money who doesn’t need money’??? really? weak. there are a lot of others out there getting money for projects who don’t receive this kind of an onslaught of abuse. Also, shedding light on something is not futile….if one person’s lightbulb of awareness went on because of her speaking out, it was worth it. Let it spread.

      • Newsflash: You can’t donate funds from Kickstarter to charity. It’s against the rules. It has to go to where it was pledged to and nowhere else. It’s not her fault they over funded her. Buying video editting software and games/game consoles to play for research purposes costs money. Just deal with it.

  6. Yeah she trolled 4chan knowing full well what would happen and when it did, she cried victim to the media. She just conned her way to $150,000.

  7. This is absolutely ridiculous. Ignoring whether or not she’s an extreme feminist who believes that women should be treated better than men the point is she is a con artist plain and simple. She purposefully went to the most foul sites on the internet in order to provoke an irrational response that she could then use in order to spur controversy and rage to accumulate funds. Corporations do this all the time. Look at the fiasco that resulted from the Dante’s Inferno promotional campaign where they paid people to protest the game in public. The problem is that people are easily manipulated and are easily persuaded to hate on big companies but then rush in to defend a “poor mistreated girl”. Hold on…her videos are about how women in games are always viewed as women in distress or sexualized and it needs to stop and yet here she is bringing down a full flame war in order to make herself out as a victim in need of saving in order to make 150 thousand dollars. Huh look at that. Regardless of these facts let me be clear. I fully support men and women being treated equally. I know there is a problem in the gaming community where all genders but primarily women are misrepresented. These need to be fixed but this will not occur by having some self-righteous feminist zealot who cannot formulate a cohesive argument beyond the superficial such as “look that girl is in a bikini” or “that woman is cleavage with legs” making pointless videos. All I can say is actually watch her videos, she is unable to present any newfound information or explore in depth any facet of this problem that you cannot uncover through a first page google search.

    • Grimwear, how do you know she purposefully went to the most foul sites on the internet? As she was asking for money to conduct her research, I presume she has yet to survey most of the websites needed for her project.
      When her research is complete, hopefully, she’ll list the gaming websites she visited, and you can evaluate whether it was a fair and reasonable sampling.
      If she is, indeed, “bringing down a full flame war,” hopefully, those guilty of calling her foul names and sending her death threats will realize the tactic in the future, and use more restrained language to critique her attempts to raise money.

    • When exactly did she say she believed women were better than men? And no matter what anyone might say about youtube commentors, I’d hardly call Youtube one of the foulest places on the internet.
      Of course I know what you’re talking about, but nothing I’ve seen while following this suggests she ever went anywhere near 4chan. The /b/ tards don’t need her to come to them in order to get into their heads to harass her.
      Where is your evidence for this claim? I really don’t understand where this comes from. Is it common practice to assume that kickstarters that get overfunded through no fault of their own get accused of scamming?

      • *”are scams,” what the hell brain?

  8. Something great happened…6000 people jumped on the proverbial bandwagon to support someone who doesn’t need support because of internet trolls who troll everyone anyway. Ive been trolled so do I get to have money donated to me? This is just emotion driven bullshit.

  9. Misandry is born.

  10. Femfreq is such a pathetic liar, ebegger and flame baiteryoutube.com/watch?v=OExCdOImmVA&feature=player_detailpage#t=623s

  11. It’s sort-of-like the Bra-burning 70′s, unfortunately without the braless smiles.
    Yep, wish u guys’gals luck and real justice with respect for ALL, truly.
    ….’cause I ain’t touching this with Harpers 2-inch pole, even with the promise of employment. ;)

  12. I don’t appreciate sociopathic censors telling me what I am allowed to fund, read or watch, thanks anyway.

    I don’t appreciate them trying to intimidate women off the internet or to claim ownership of public entertainment.

    If you don’t like her argument, well here’s a thought: don’t listen to it! Is that a familiar-sounding argument to you? Or how about putting together a decent counter-argument? I presume you actually have one and you weren’t all acting like this because you didn’t?

    But of course there is a small problem with doing that – she HASN’T told anyone what her argument IS yet.

  13. LOL As if men are NOT stereotyped…

    Hey who wants to talk about the men in Twilight, Trueblood, and any other romance novel or any other media with mostly women audience/readership? How about that “Christian” Grey dude, which is what, just a beauty and the beast trope?

    The title is really what you need to notice. Idiot misogynists knee jerked to a feminazi. Neither are adhering to gender equality.

  14. i doubt there exists demographic data on misogynist trolls, but from my own observations and experience, they are largely perfectly average, neurotypical men in their 20s and 30s – not “teenage boys and aspies”, as one commenter claimed.

  15. I respected Anita before she baited 4 chan to boost her kickstarter and use it as a “get out of criticism free” card. Its a good thing she advertised on 4chan, a site well known for being.. 4chan and not any forum that might have got her caught in an actual discussion!

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