Anita Sarkeesian has played video games her whole life. In 2012, after observing that women represent about 40% of the gaming audience, she launched a crowdfunding campaign for Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, a web series that would “explore five common and recurring stereotypes of female characters in video games.” She hit her goal of $6,000 on the first day and ultimately raised more than $150,000. But she also became the target of vicious, misogynist harassment that included death and rape threats, pornographic vandalism of her Wikipedia page and a coordinated effort to have her Kickstarter flagged as terrorism. All of this because she wanted to have a conversation about the way women are portrayed in video games.
Anita is just the latest woman writer to prove the law coined by journalist Helen Lewis: that the sexist comments on any article about feminism justify feminism. In the face of hysterical and childish abuse, Anita has refused to back down. She continues to speak around the world about the role of women in video games and popular media. She also talks about her life as a target in the online culture war known as Gamergate, waged by entitled male gamers who fear change in an industry that is evolving while they seem determined to remain 15 forever.
Anita is a feminist for the digital age, using modern tools and platforms to engage thousands of people who want to hear her thoughts and respond to the challenges she raises. A lesser person may throw up her hands and unplug her game console, but Anita is determined to ensure that video games are inclusive and representative of everyone who plays them. As her detractors grow increasingly unhinged, we have proof that her efforts are working.
Wheaton is an actor and the author of Just a Geek
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