Rebutting Feminist Frequency's "Culture of Violence"
"It is both possible (and even necessary) to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of its more problematic or pernicious aspects." ~ Anita Sarkeesian
And I would add the same is true, not just of media, but of people and organizations and ideologies as well. You can love them while still being critical of them, which is what I'm going to be doing here.
The title of this article actually serves dual purpose. In the first sense, I'm going to continue rebutting the caricature that Feminist Frequency is just a man-hating, money-grubbing cult like an all-girls Church of Scientology or something, now that I have new evidence and progress to report on that front. Then, in part two, I'm actually going to provide my own pushback against their proposition that video games, and media in general, create a culture of systemic violence and sexism; but I'm going to do it in a respectful and nuanced way.
So both defense and offense in one.
In a previous article, I'd gone to great lengths to defend Anita Sarkeesian's good character and what I believe to be her honest, heartfelt intentions. In that article, I rebutted many of the criticisms levied against her and made a very thorough and (I believe) fair case for why I think Anita is a person worthy of profound respect and admiration, even if you completely disagree with her postmodernist ideology.
That you can disagree with her, while still not being against her.
I left myself an out, of course, in saying I was willing to change my mind if anyone came forward with proper evidence of wrong-doing. Some people have tried since then, but their arguments all failed on the grounds that they were attacks levied against her feminist ideology, not her character, which again I said was fine to criticize, just do it respectfully.
Case in point, in one thread, someone sent me links to Thunderf00t's critiques of Anita, which in their intros teased at evidence of fraud and sock-puppets, but then never actually got around to providing said evidence to support those claims. What TF does do is a thorough job of dismantling her arguments about violence and sexism in games like Hitman but that's about it.
Ironically, someone actually thought I was a sock-puppet account of hers, which just goes to show how emotionally wound-up some of these people are. Ultimately, we talked it out and I was able to prove to their satisfaction that I wasn't. Sort of like how some people think I'm a Russian bot created by the Kremlin to shill for Donald Trump, until I point out that I'm in fact from New Jersey.
Unless the Russians are also free speech advocates who supported Kim Guadagno during the election.
Returning to the topic at hand ... in other instances, people have made comments on Anita's videos that would have actually been answered if they'd just watched the damned video. Case in point, someone asked what she thought about patrilineal monarchy in Black Panther, which she answered quite thoroughly in that very video.
To me, that's just disinterested, lazy thinking. You're not there to debate, you're there to bitch and moan and troll. It's the same intellectual dishonesty that Scott Adams or Jordan Peterson face on a regular basis wherein people respond to things they never actually said, just creating strawmen to defeat in their own self-aggrandizement. It's the same crap Stefan Molyneux got on his Why People Hate Donald Trump video, in which he said it was gonna be long from the onset and then people bitched about how long it was in the comments.
On that same point about monarchy, that particular video is good example of how Anita is actually quite capable of receiving criticism and being swayed. Clearly her cohosts, Carolyn and Ebony, disagree strongly with Anita on many things, yet there is an understanding of friendliness and humanity between them which underscores their criticism. At one point, Ebony even facetiously revokes Anita's visa to Wakanda, which is just hilarious and they all laugh and take it in stride. They can laugh about stuff like that because there's an implicit understanding of respect underlying their relationship. Anita knows her friends only criticize her, not because they hate her, but because they love her. They're not out there looking to destroy her, but to make her a better person - a stronger and wiser person more in line with the truth as they see it - which is my point to all of you people.
It's not what you say so much as how you say it.
So yeah, thus far, no one has yet put forth a compelling argument to change my mind about Anita's good character. Maybe someday they will, but I doubt it.
Frankly, internet, if this is your best, I'm really disappointed in you. It just shows the weakness in your own arguments, or at least your lack of confidence in your ability to assert them, that you have to resort to petty ad hominem attacks before you even have the full information.
You may as well just quit while you're behind.
Then again, half of you reading this also seem to think Donald Trump is an evil Russian-backed dictator who'll put women, brown people, and LGBTs in detention centers, while at the same time you also think it's somehow a good idea to get rid of your guns and that you can just talk and/or punch your way to victory against fully-armed "Nazis," (ya know, just like we did in WWII) who, at least by your definition of the word, currently make up about two thirds of the country, so ... I guess the bar's set pretty low.
Seriously, someone's gonna have to square that circle for me.
On the plus side, I did actually managed to persuade a few people about Anita, getting them to come around to my way of thinking, which makes me happy, knowing that my #HealTheDivide campaign is working. As time goes by, hopefully more people will start to back off with the ad hominems and maybe we can start to get somewhere productive. 38D
I also said in my article that there were many points I disagreed with Anita on and I would quickly pivot to offense if one of those particular topics came up.
(The preceding paragraph on Trump and guns being one of them.)
Towards that end, and in keeping with my promise to not treat her like a pariah, but as someone worthy of conversing with as equals, I'm now going to show you how to use the Persuasion Filter to express your disagreement in a way that she will (hopefully) be more receptive to. But first, a little detour to set the table.
Some of you might still not be convinced she'll listen, but I have reason to think she will.
As I already showed, if you listen to her podcasts, you'll notice there are many times in which Ebony and Carolyn disagree with her on stuff and get her to change her mind. So you have to admit it's at least possible, you just don't know how to do it effectively.
You might then say, "Well they're all friends and that's different from her listening to someone like me."
Fair enough, I suppose.
Speaking just of my own efforts, though, I've reason to believe that not only would she listen to someone like me and be persuaded, but in a way, she already has.
I should point out from the outset that, what persuasion looks like to the layperson will be different from how it looks to someone employing the Persuasion Filter. It's not magic, even though it sometimes might seem that way. There are things it can do and things it can't do. Those of you who follow Scott Adams already know this well enough. For the rest of you, let's just say I wouldn't expect Anita to ever put on a MAGA cap and suddenly start carrying an AR-15 around with her. That much seems highly unlikely to me, though I'll stop just short of saying it could never happen, if only because I was once a commie too at one point and people can change if they're wiling, but that conversion took many years of deliberate study in my case.
A more reasonable expectation would be if I could get her to clarify a misconception or maybe shift her perspective of a single issue by one or two degrees towards my own. That much is attainable and I'm willing to claim I've done just that, while remaining open to the possibility I could also be misreading this entire situation.
I'm still only an apprentice wizard compared to Scott,
but I've still got a few tricks up my sleeve.
I also wanna go on record and say, if the following assessment happens to be completely wrong, then I owe Anita an apology beforehand for what otherwise must surely appear to her a bunch of conceited, narcissistic ramblings. Hopefully, she's willing to cut me some slack since I'm trying to divine all this from afar. It'd be a lot easier if the two of us could just sit down and talk. We could clear up a whole lot. Maybe someday. But, I've high confidence I've got it right.
So what actually happened since last time?
Well, without going into too much detail, I actually got a response from Feminist Frequency about my recent online activities. I'm not gonna post the contents, but hopefully they'll forgive my sharing a few tidbits if it's in the service of improving their public image.
I'm assuming Anita wrote it (either her or Ebony; it was just signed Feminist Frequency) and she was in fact quite diplomatic and kind in her approach to criticizing what she perceived to be some of my more pernicious behavior (which wasn't actually pernicious at all, at least not intentionally, but I can see why she might think so at first blush). Keep in mind I'm not a mind-reader, so this is all just speculation; but even without her expressly saying so, I'm about 95% confident - based on that one email and the podcast she did that same week - that she actually read my piece on her (or at least part of it).
The other 5% could simply be that I repeated stuff from my blog post in debates with her critics in what she called my "pervasive presence" on her Twitter feed. I had screencapped whole sections of that post (including the part I'm thinking of) to avoid rewriting out the parts I'd covered, so either she read the whole thing, or she at least read those parts.
Either way, she is at least aware of my "vigorous defense" of her, which is a good start.
She didn't like how I implied we were friends, which is a shame. Hopefully that changes someday. There's no reason I can see that we couldn't be, since trust and communication are the twin pillars of any relationship. If nothing else, I at least consider her my friend, even if she doesn't yet reciprocate. At this point, it should be fairly apparent that I I trust her (or else I wouldn't have willingly given her a Sword of Damocles to hold over my head in the first place) and am trying to communicate more directly with her.
The only way to make someone trustworthy is to trust them, as the saying goes.
Now, I wanna be careful not to presume too much influence at this point, and I'm cognizant of the fact that all this careful diplomacy and rapport-building could easily fall apart very quickly if I happen to say the wrong thing; but suffice to say, I've demonstrated proof of concept if nothing else. That you don't have to be a jerk to illicit a response from her, and in fact that approach just flat out doesn't work, whereas being nice and polite and helpful actually does pay dividends, however small they might be.
Hopefully that will convince you to ease up on her, which I'm sure she'll appreciate in the long run, even if things are still rocky in the short-run.
Despise not humble beginnings, as my teacher used to say.
At the moment, Anita and I at least have what appear to be the beginnings of a cordial dialogue going on, though at this point it's still a bit like the remote back-and-forth between the U.S. and North Korea going on right now (minus the threats or name calling), with lots of indirect signaling taking place as we try to suss out each other's true intentions and whether or not we can trust each other. I think we can, but that remains to be seen, I suppose.
The only fire and furry here is my ever-growing certainty she's a Leo.
From what I can tell by her response, Anita seems like she's not really sure what to make of me. That I'm completely outside the domain of her prior experiences, in part because I really am unlike anyone she's ever met before. In her mind, that holds both great danger, but also great promise. She's just not sure which of those is the case.
(Hint: It's the latter.)
In my analogy of the culture war, I said the tribes are like two ideological fortresses atop their own mountains, separated by a great divide, with their identities being the flags they wave from the parapets of the keep, safely surrounded by the high walls of emotion. Several months ago, I followed Sargon of Akkad down from MAGA Mountain after watching his epic failure to scale Mt. Fem Freq and the resulting battle that took place at VidCon; but in learning from his mistakes, I didn't follow him up the other side. Instead, I just stood there at the bottom of the chasm, sitting patiently, waiting, listening. A smile on my face and a bag of gold in my hand as tribute.
The female sentries over at Feminist Frequency took the money, shot me a strange look, and gave a tentative, "Thanks ..." before heading back up the mountain to do their show, leaving me where I was.
You all mocked and berated me for this, saying it was a waste of time and money, but I then asked you all to kindly shut the fuck up as I was trying to listen to their discussion. From this low and humble vantage point at the foot of Mt. Fem Freq, I could actually start to hear some of what they were saying more clearly than I could from way up on MAGA Mountain, and a lot of it was exactly what I'd come to expect from Anita and her cohosts, but a great deal more of it was completely different from what I'd been hearing about them.
My first thought was, "Oh my god! Everyone is so wrong about all of this!"
For months, I tried to reach out to Sargon to tell him what I'd overheard, but thus far, I haven't been able to get through to him. I'd been left standing outside the gates of Fort Liberalist. So instead, I went back down to the valley and continued to remain there and just observe.
I had no idea what I was waiting for, I just knew to expect a sign of some kind from the universe.
Just the other night, in fact, I was listening to a Rubin Report interview in which Kelly Carlin talked about this same idea of how positivity and humanist observations of people have a far more persuasive effect on others than do negativity and hostility. Now, you might be thinking, "So what? Who the hell is Kelly Carlin?" Well, apart from being George Carlin's daughter, Kelly's also a Jungian psychologist, which would make her sort of the progressive feminist equivalent of Jordan Peterson (whom we all love).
In fact, the two of them seem to overlap on many observations about the world, so if you like Jordan, maybe you'll appreciate hearing the argument from her:
(Relevant part at 26:50 if it doesn't go automatically.)
I know Anita herself believes at least some of what Dave and Kelly are talking about here, since she once wrote an article talking about the power of a positive tweet.
"Truth, whoever speaks it, is from God," as the legal maxim goes, so maybe Anita's argument will seem less petty and frivolous to you now that you know that someone like Dave Rubin agrees with her on that particular point.
I know that's technically an appeal to authority fallacy, but we're just talking pathos here, not logos.
Anyways, returning to my metaphor ... so I spent several months just sitting at the bottom of the valley, listening to Anita and friends with an open mind. Every once in a while, the guards would come down from the tower and note my presence, take my tribute (which I was more than happy to give with a smile on my face), and go back up Mt. Fem Freq. Every once in a while, I'd let them know I'd overheard something they said and leave a friendly helpful comment along the lines of, "Ya know, that's not actually what the people from the other side are saying," or "Ya know, here's a different way of thinking about that thing you said back there."
There'd be times when I'd offer them complements or condolences and other pleasantries. In one instance, I referred Ebony to a list of black superheores she'd asked for. In another, I provided resources to help Anita with her dream interpretation. Little things like that, which I'm sure none of her other critics would have done.
For a while, I began to wonder if everyone was right, that my words were just falling on deaf ears; but ultimately, it seems as though they heard at least some of what I'd said.
Getting to see the human side of Anita and her talking about fairly personal things really helped win me over. I'll not say what specifically, but there were little moments - particularly in her bonus segments - that really warmed the cockles of my Piscean heart, wherein I could see that this was a woman filled with immense light and love deep down. Someone profoundly misunderstood, and how tragic that her innate goodness was being led to produce bad arguments, bad policies, and bad outcomes by a cultural Marxist ideology.
Eventually, I'd heard enough to become convinced of her good intentions and so I wrote my article in defense of her, essentially broadcasting back up MAGA Mountain with a report of what I'd witnessed, parsing what she and her cohosts had said into a language (I'd hoped) the other side could more easily understand and accept.
While it was mainly directed at her critics, I wrote the article with the possibility in mind that Anita herself might read it and process it; which again, I've high confidence she did.
Essentially, I'd done what Scott Adams did on previous occasion and what I'd done in my articles on Gamer Gate and Make Feminism Great Again. I stood in the valley and used the Persuasion Filter to rip open a portal in space-time. This didn't catch nearly as much attention I'd hoped, but it caught the attention of at least one important person I'd hoped would see it, and she looked out and probably said something like, "Holy shit! There's a fucking wizard with a portal gun on our stoop and they're from the enemy camp no less! How the fuck are we supposed to deal with this new development?"
Obviously, I'm being hyperbolic and rhetorical for effect, but you get the basic idea. My presence caught her attention and was unlike anything she'd ever witnessed before, which most likely scared her, but also forced her to reconsider to some extent what she thought she knew up to that point.
It left her and her followers "scratching their heads," as she so euphemistically put it,
meanwhile, the very fabric of her reality was beginning to crack around her.
I did reply to Anita's email with a lengthy response of my own, which (hopefully) should allay some of her concerns about my intentions.
Again, not wanting to presume too much, but I may have triggered some level of cognitive dissonance in her and helped deflate some of her present hysteria about her opposition, giving her a window into how the other half lives, what they really think, and what their motives are (at least some of them). Indeed, I may have provided her with an entirely new framework to view the world, wherein someone could unironically have #MAGA in their Twitter profile and still treat her with the utmost respect.
Most of you know her as having a reputation for blocking people, but in my case, she at least seems willing to tolerate my presence, so long as I continue to behave while on her turf, which I'm fine with, and I even told her as much in my reply.
Maybe this very article counts as a strike against me by her rules, but it'd still be worth sharing to again demonstrate proof of concept to everyone else.
"Yeah, she only tolerates you cuz you're paying her. She has to be nice to you."
Actually, this may really surprise many you, but I can now confirm first-hand she doesn't care about the money at all. That's not why she's doing this. Yes, she's obviously immensely grateful for my donations, as we live in the real world that money makes go round, but she also told me in no uncertain terms that she'd be willing to stand on principle and cut me off if I didn't address the aforementioned (perceived) pernicious behavior.
Me, the person who's defending her.
Now ask yourself, if she's willing to refuse my money for the sake of her ideals, how many others do you think are out there to whom she's given that same ultimatum? People who aren't necessarily as kind to her as I've been. I can think of at least one other example in which she publicly declined money from a TERF and made it clear to her audience that neither she nor her organization would tolerate that shit, even from paying supporters.
That seems kinda hard to square with the idea that she's supposedly
this shifty, maniacal fraud sitting on a war chest of Kickstarter plunder.
I think we can safely lay such conspiracy theories to bed now. She's not a fraud and she never was. She's not doing it for the money. To her, the money's just a necessary evil along the path towards following her passion, which is making the world a better place.
Whether her particular aims and methods align with what's actually better is a separate issue, but yeah, you can go ahead and stop accusing her of that shit now.
In my case, I'm not a TERF. I've done nothing wrong to Anita (or anyone else). Her only real objection to me seems to be my ideology, which is probably why she stopped just short of following through with bringing down the ban hammer.
That's actually quite tolerant if you think about it.
It's even more tolerant when you contrast it with what's been happening to the likes of Count Dankula, Lauren Southern, Brittany Pettibone, Steve Crowder, Sargon of Akkad, Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, Battle Beagle, and the like. Entire swaths of centrists and conservatives getting shut down online and at events, yet the woman whose reputation is shutting people down on social media is willing to resist making snap judgments about me.
Do you think maybe, just maybe, that reputation is unearned? That the problem might not be her, so much as with most of the people she's had to deal with up to this point? Is that remotely possible? Do I need to crack open another portal for your doubting eyes?
Look to your own sins, dear reader, for the night is dark and full of terrors.
That's not to say Anita doesn't have strong feelings about my beliefs. She is, after all, only human like the rest of us, and #ItsOkToBeHuman.
(And no, that's not a white supremacist sentiment. Just the opposite, in fact.)
She made it clear that, on the one hand, she greatly appreciates my support up to this point, but that on the other hand, her finger is hovering over the block button, just itching for me to fuck up and prove I'm like everyone else she's encountered from MAGA Mountain thus far. Hopefully, I can manage to avoid that, but still I'm only [trans]human as well. Hopefully, my instincts about her are right and she's willing to listen and understand with an open mind and a patient heart and maybe she and I could accomplish some good stuff together the way that Laci Green and Chris Ray Gun have done.
I don't know if she can yet be considered a part of the Intellectual Dark Web, but wouldn't that be something if she joined its ranks? I mean, she is an anti-authoritarian who makes her living spreading grass roots messages. Dave Rubin did call this the year of unusual alliances:
Feminist Frequency certainly falls outside of what I call the media-political complex, even in spite of its cultural Marxist narrative. It's far closer to alternative media than mainstream media. I think we can all agree on that.
Anita and her cohosts see me clearly sparring with her critics on the other side and no one from either camp is quite sure whose side I'm on. The truth is, I'm not really taking sides in the culture war, except on an individual basis. I serve who best serves me.
I suspect she also can't shake the fact that I've clearly proven my willingness to come to her aid already despite her impression that we should be at odds. That not only did I defend her against "my own team," but I may well have written the best defense of her anyone ever has, outside of her own inner circle of friends at least. #HumbleBrag
That's hard to ignore, especially when I do it sincerely.
You can think of me like the Agent Ross to her Wakanda.
The helpful outsider who's just trying to understand and do what's right.
In my reply to Anita, I let her know in as clear terms as I could that I hear her, I appreciate her reaching out to me, that I understand why she has strong feelings about the concerns she raised, that I'm willing to talk about it respectfully and civilly, that I'm not against her (because repetition is important), that I'd like us to be friends, and that I'm unlike anyone she's ever encountered before.
We'll see what happens with that.
By this point, you may be wondering what evidence I have to claim such confidence. You've only my word about the email whereas you may be wanting something more explicit that you can see with your own eyes. Well, truthfully, it's only circumstantial evidence at best. Only Anita really knows for sure and, short of telling me, I can only make an educated guess, and it's entirely possible I'm wrong.
However, the odds of that happening in this particular case seem highly unlikely.
Recall I said her email was only half of the reason I came to suspect she'd read my article (or at least certain parts). The other half came in the form of the podcast that Feminist Frequency put out the same week I'd received the aforementioned email.
They record their podcasts on Mondays. I got the email on Wednesday. In my article, I made the very specific reference to Anita's "Trust No Man," pendant, which she had on her Twitter banner. Something I and many others had been wondering about. Unlike everyone else, though, I took a more sympathetic position, wanting to understand the events that led to that decision rather than simply berating her for it in ignorance.
In the episode, Anita and Carolyn explained that it was actually a running joke:
(Relevant part at 2:29 if it doesn't go automatically.)
And here, you probably doubted me when I'd said her talent stack as a Master Persuader includes a particular sense of humor. 38D
Anyways, I'm relieved to hear that her reason is rather benign, as what I'd imagined was something far darker. I also wanna emphasize I think responses like this are profoundly beneficial, not just in helping her own PR, but in allaying the concerns of the general public as well who might not have otherwise understood and made the snap judgement - as I and many others had at various times - that she just flat out doesn't trust men. This also puts an entirely new spin on the Man-Hater comedy show, by the way, seeing that it's just rhetoric and not actually a sincerely-held belief.
So we can safely lay that particular criticism to rest as well.
Besides the timing and the specificity of her response, though, the part I find most interesting is Anita and Carolyn's tone while explaining the meaning behind her pendant.
Tell me if you pick up on this as well.
Doesn't it sound to you like they all have a heavy heart about it? A certain weightiness to their words, as though they'd just recently come to a profoundly troubling revelation of some kind?
Carolyn definitely does. You can hear it in her voice.
Admittedly, I'm not a mind reader or a CIA-trained expert in micro-expressions, but I am an empath equipped with the Persuasion Filter. I'm sure their pride is probably hurting a little such that they'd be reluctant to admit it if any of this were true (and I have great sympathy for them if that's the case), but doesn't it sound to you that they aren't just responding to a bunch of angry internet trolls in this clip, so much as someone who was really sincerely worried about them, and they're just trying to allay that person's concerns for their well-being? That's what it sounds like to me.
I put it to you, if that is indeed how they feel, that person could only have been me.
See, the reference I made to her pendant (the only reference I'd made) was buried more than halfway down my article, meaning she would have passed a lot of my pacing and leading, my compliments of her, my defenses of her (as well as Carolyn), and even several criticisms as well.
Thus, it's reasonable to conclude she at least read that far down and was persuaded to soften her position on at least this one topic - and who knows potentially how many more?
By that point, I'd basically demonstrated she's a capitalist in practice.
What do you suppose the odds are of all that just being a coincidence? Slim to none? Is that fair to say?
Why else would they pick now of all times to address it when, by their own admission, they get tweets about it everyday? Something was different this time. Something recent prompted them to change their attitude and address it directly. Maybe it was their guest and the Man-Hater Comedy tour? That's certainly a possibility as well, or it could even be a combination of both. I don't know. The comedy tour could also be what Scott Adams calls the fake because. Again, I have confirmation she knows I'm defending her. That part is clear. The unclear part is just how much she read of my arguments.
So for now, I'm gonna claim credit, short of Anita coming forth to say that isn't what happened and it really was just a coincidence. Again, leaving myself an out.
Maybe it's proof we live in a simulation that these things all converged synchronously.
Even if I'm completely correct, I just wanna restate, this is still only a seed that's been planted. It may take a long time to grow and produce fruit; so for now, expect her to continue on business as usual, but don't be surprised if you see more of these types of explanations and clarifications of her views going forward (one of which I'll even address later in this article).
Speaking of emails, another of the frequent criticisms Anita gets that I addressed in my last article can hopefully be put to bed now. That has to do with the overall concept of Feminist Frequency not following through on their promises, specifically with regards to their videos. Well, as it turns out, one of the things that was promised to me, as a founding patron, was this specialty tote bag. They were supposed to go out weeks ago and I'd seen others tweet that they got theirs, but I never received mine. I emailed Ebony Aster about this, and she promptly replied back within like a day and we got the whole thing resolved. Turns out, it was a simple mix-up with my email address that I never got the request form for where to have it shipped.
If you read my prior article, do you remember my specific argument about the videos being late, but otherwise all there as promised? That sometimes shit happens when you run a business and it's not necessarily malicious?
Now, most of you, had you been in that same situation, likely would have torn these women a new asshole for something so petty. Personally, I didn't care about the bag, but something Anita tweeted reminded me of it, so I thought I'd ask, since it meant a lot to me that I could show they do in fact keep their word, and it seems like they do. True to form, I was calm and collected in my inquiry, suggesting it was probably a mistake.
Not only did they treat me respectfully, but I suspect my inquiry may have also prompted them to wonder whether anyone else had had the same issue. So we wound up helping each other.
So yeah, just be nice to them and they'll be nice to you is the take away. 38D
"Bad times make strong men. Strong men make good times. Good times make weak men. Weak men make bad times." ~ Proverb
Right, so this is supposed to be an article in which I rebut points made by the hosts of Feminist Frequency, but it's also a lesson in persuasion and how to do that effectively. Hopefully, between my last couple articles and the first part of this post, you can see how my methods greatly differ from those of Anita's usual critics and how that translates into different results.
As I said, the title of this article serves dual purpose.
There's still a long way to go before that divide is fully healed - far further than I'd originally anticipated, sadly - but it seems like my instincts were thus far correct and things appear to be moving in an overall positive direction, which is encouraging.
How much of that is because of me, I can only guess. Probably not as much as I'd like to believe, but still something at least.
Now, there's a wealth of things I could critique here, but I'm going to start with something fairly simple and not too controversial. As I said in my article Ending the Culture War, we can talk about Trump, but we're nowhere near ready to have that conversation yet, because there are so many things that went into the formulation of those two divergent opinions. We'd have to first find some common ground.
So let's start with something that Feminist Frequency and I both emphatically agree on:
Donald Trump is 100% wrong to blame
gun violence on video games!!
I made sure to put it in big bold letters so you know I'm serious. Now, is that a controverial opinion? Did anyone have a stroke while reading that? Anyone surprised that someone with #MAGA in their profile would dare speak such heresy against the beloved god emperor? No?
Well, you shouldn't be, cuz that's just stupid. Almost as stupid as blaming video games for gun violence.
If I've taught you anything thus far, it's about the importance of pacing and leading. That people are more likely to agree with you on stuff if you first establish a baseline of something you already agree with them on. So thus far, I've paced Anita Sarkeesian with my continuous defense of her character, and paced her critics by revealing the fruits of that endeavor.
Pacing and leading is good persuasion.
In this case, we're all gamers.  We all agree that blaming violent video games for mass shootings didn't work at Columbine or any time since then:
(Relevant part at 27:10 if it doesn't go automatically.)
My first instinct upon reading Feminist Frequency's description of the episode was to roll my eyes and prepare to make the argument that pretty much everyone makes in this instance, about the irony that Anita (rightly) opposes Trump blaming video games for violence, but then turns around and does the exact same thing with regards to sexism.
A lot of people predictably made that objection.
I didn't, and in retrospect, I'm glad I waited until after listening to the entire episode before commenting, because Anita and crew actually pre-empt that argument and address it. See what happens when you listen to understand, rather than to just respond?
I know you're not gonna like hearing this, but I have to say, I really appreciate the self-awareness and nuance with which they address this point. It's a well-reasoned, well-articulated, well-thought-out criticism given the underlying premises they're starting from.
That said, it's still wrong at a foundational level. Allow me to explain.
So Carolyn and Anita attempt to draw a distinction between direct causality vs. the creation and perpetuation of a systemic culture of sexism and violence. That part is so far correct. The problem is, their entire feminist worldview would suggest that just the opposite currently exists and that things have actually gotten better over time, not worse. If we accept for sake of argument the existence of the patriarchy and all the systemic abuses that intersectional feminists claim were levied against women and minorities historically, then they would have to conclude that things are better now than they were ten, twenty, thirty-plus years ago.
That part I know they've acknowledged many times, even if things still aren't quite where they'd like them to be.
In that same period, however, games have gotten more prevalent and arguably more violent as well, which shows a clear inverse correlation between the levels of violence in video games and cultural attitudes towards violence in general. Something as dark and gruesome as Game of Thrones, House of Cards, God of War, or Binding of Isaac would not have occurred in, say, the 80s or 90s. Yeah, you may have films like Body of Evidence in that same period, but then also consider it's sex-positive feminist Madonna playing the role of the on-screen rape victim in that film.
The reason for this inverse correlation between violent media and incidents in the real world is not at all surprising, or at least it shouldn't be. Things like video games, porn, and the like all serve as an outlet for deep-seated aspects of our darker human nature. Don't think so? Just ask yourself this simple test question. If something like pedophilia were incurable, would you rather a would-be child molester take out their sexual frustrations on a doll or a real human child?
Some of you reading this would prefer pedos eat all the bullets, all of them. Trust me, I get that we all agree it's sick and disgusting; but the point of the question is to calibrate your moral compass.
Of course we'd all prefer they fuck a doll over the real thing. Obviously, we all agree that's a better outcome, even if it's not ideal. Ideal in this case being a complete end to pedophilic tendencies, because harming children is just about the worst thing there is.
None of us disagree on that, right?
(Outside of the police in Rotherham and Telford, that is.)
Ok, so if we all agree we'd prefer a culture that tolerates the existence lolita-bots to one of child abuse, then how are sex bots in general any different? How is porn any different if it leads to less rape and less sexual assault? How are VR simulators and violent, sexist video games any different? Should we not all be on the same side that anything that diverts human aggression onto virtual pixels and away from real people is a good thing? We can agree it's not ideal, and that those things come with other problems of their own (such as addiction or social detachment), but it's certainly pragmatic and a shift in the right direction compared to the world we have currently.
In some ways, Anita's actually ahead of the curve over many of us, pushing the limits of the Overton Window into new territory. It's just that many would probably prefer she do more to pace her audience and reassure them that she also is concerned about the major issues they care about.
I'm sure she is, she just needs to communicate it better is all.
Part of why I'm a transhumanist is because I believe technology can solve social problems. In fact, there's a good case to be made it's the only thing that ever does or even can. It's certainly more effective than the utopian idea of trying to build a better human; though in time, that's also possible thanks to technology. Until then, we have to get by with imperfect solutions, like ensuring people have jobs so they don't go out and riot because they're bored or can't otherwise fulfill their needs.
Science suggests we're simply programmable moist robots. If you just occupy our minds with toys and keep us fed, we won't cause problems.
The main criticism levied against Feminist Frequency along these lines is that obviously most people can draw a distinction between fantasy and reality. If they couldn't, then that'd actually be a clear argument that people like Donald Trump are right to ban pernicious media, as there would be direct correlation.
But we already agreed at the beginning that that's not the case.
Indeed, the whole point of games and movies and porn and VR is to experience the sensation of doing things you otherwise can't in real life.
I'm sure even Anita herself does horrible shit in video games that she would never do in real life, because she's a sane, rational, moral, empathetic human being who knows that the initiation of force is wrong. Often times, she's the one making that argument.
No one's putting her in jail for beating up a virtual hooker in GTA (she's not Count Dankula), but they obviously would if she tried to replicate that in real life. People understand that, and those who don't have a much bigger issue in that they were probably abused or neglected as children and never taught a proper moral code in the first place, which is a much more foundational issue than depictions in media, that I think we'd both agree needs to be addressed:
I guess it boils down to most people feel like she's being condescending and stating the obvious, telling them stuff they already know. I can understand that sentiment; though, as I said in my Make Feminism Great Again article, sometimes it's better to err that way in case it really is the first time the person is hearing it. Perhaps a better approach would be for her to incorporate more nuance and talk about basic stuff but also deep stuff and general political stuff every now and then, to demonstrate well-roundedness, similar to what Stefan Molyneux or Styxhexenhammer do on their channels.
Off the top of my head, I can't recall if Anita ever played Wolfenstein or not. I'm sure she did. Does that mean she's likely to go shoot Nazis in real life? No! It's just a game.
I know Brianna Wu played Wolfenstein as part of her political fundraising campaign and I know Wil Wheaton said he did during the JoCo Cruise. I made a point of this in my article on ending the culture war that they probably do that precisely because they can't in real life, even though they desperately want to kill Nazis. For them, it fulfills an emotional need without hurting anyone.
In the case of Wil Wheaton, he expressly admitted this and Anita laughed along with him about it.
Personally, I found Wil to be insufferable in that interview, but I'm coming from a pro-Trump bias, so that doesn't really count. I'm sure the feeling's probably mutual.
If I had to guess, I'd say Anita probably found him just a bit insufferable as well for the same reason of he seemed to be just a bit too into the whole "punch a Nazi" thing; but since neither of us are mind-readers, the polite and empathetic thing to do is just smile, nod, and give him the benefit of the doubt that he's just venting and would never actually do that in real life. That seems to be what she did during the interview and is also what I've chosen to do.
Peace through strength means never having to actually resort to violence,
even though you know you could win if it ultimately came down to it.
Returning to the topic at hand, Carolyn goes on to acknowledge this very argument that video games are a form of stress relief, though she remains deeply skeptical about it, not sure if the data actually supports that.
Allow me to clear this up for you once and for all, Caro.
The data does support that hypothesis. Very much so. Overwhelmingly so, in fact, to the point where we even give Xboxes and PlayStations to high security prisoners to stop them from causing prison riots due to boredom or aggression or whatever else drives their criminal behavior. And I only see things getting better going forward as new generations grow up with violent video games being an inherent part of their environment and learning how to navigate the morality of that.
We know it works quite well to reduce violent behavior because it's a tactic of placation that's been in use since ancient times.
It's bread and circus, fundamentally.
Now, there is a way in which it could still appear that things are really violent in support of your argument, Caro. You're not gonna like hearing this, and I know you're a gentle soul who's been through a lot of crap personally, and I sympathize with that, I really do; but I trust you're also not so fragile that you can't handle ingesting an occasional red pill now and then. It might hurt your feelings what I'm about to share, but I promise it's a harsh truth born of tough love that will ultimately make you stronger, and I only say it to make you a better person because I truly care about you. I want you to improve and gain some emotional toughness to deal with the wolves that exist out there in the world.
I'll let my friend Bill Whittle explain, since he puts it so well. He's also from California, by the way.
Again, I know what you're thinking. I know you've faced your own brand of hardship, related to being a trans feminist. Ebony's had her own hardships that come from being black, and you've all had the particular hardships that come from being women. You had to deal with Gamer Gate and online harassment, and I'm doing my best to help others understand that; but here and now, I'm just letting you know there are other hardships in the world that you may not have been aware of because you were never exposed to them, and it's those experiences that drive the political discourse in your detractors, particularly conservatives, capitalists, Republicans, and Trump supporters.
I'll save the details for another time, but just think about that for a moment. Maybe watch American Sniper or Shooter or Charlie Wilson's War and try to empathize with the values and experiences of the protagonists in those stories, for instance.
Here's a really great life lesson about the nature of violence from Shutter Island:
Essentially, it's the "might makes right" level of Natural Law that I described in The Origins of Morality.
Again, I know you're all peaceful and loving. The world is a scary place. I'm not saying you have to like violence. I don't like violence, but I'm at least aware of the fact that the world is innately violent and has been since time immemorial and that it's up to us as individuals to protect ourselves against it, because the government sure as hell isn't going to do it. They've already proven time and again that they're incapable, which is why people feel so strongly about gun ownership. The whole point, as I said in the beginning of the article, is to prevent the rise of authoritarian dictators so we don't become like Venezuela, Nazi Germany, or the Soviet Union.
The night is dark and full of terrors,
but the fire burns them all away.
For the record, I hate interventionist wars too, particularly the Iraq War, and I think Bush and Cheney should be in jail too, so we agree on that.
Returning to video games, why is violence the primary means of conflict resolution in games, as Anita asks? Well, number one, because it's often an effective solution for many problems in the real world, especially when people are trying to kill you and take your stuff. Games like Call of Duty are set in actual war zones. Games like Assassin's Creed or God of War are about vigilante justice.
Violence is sometimes a necessary and useful tool and we forget that at our peril, which was the point of that Bill Whittle video.
Number two, for those times when it's not, it serves as escapism. Why does Link smash pots when he could just as easily reach inside them? Why can you crash vehicles into things instead of being forced to stay in your lane? Why do you bomb walls instead of digging at them with a pick? Because there are no real consequences for doing it, unlike in real life, and there's something cathartic and liberating about that. You get to exercise a power you never had. Creation is valued because it's hard, whereas destruction is easy (and often irreversible), which is why it's forbidden, unlike in video games where creation and destruction can be made equally difficult, which is to say not difficult at all. We enjoy the chance to indulge in it precisely because we know that it's a social taboo. Just think about how you feel crushing ice beneath your feet on a winter's day or popping rolls of bubble wrap.
Destruction feels good, that's why it's dangerous if left unchecked, because it's addictive.