In Defence of Liberty

Driven by data; ridden with liberty.

A Reply to Brief Criticism

I may disagree with some of what Anita Sarkeesian says, but that does not make her a bad person. (Edited: Jim Wilson/The New York Times)

I may disagree with some of what Anita Sarkeesian says, but that does not make her a bad person. (Edited: Jim Wilson/The New York Times)

My WordPress account allows me to see how people come to my blog. I have received multiple referrals from an ‘rllmuk’ forum discussing Anita Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs Women in Video Games series. The user citing my blog says:

Here is a chap who criticises Sarkeesian’s videos without calling her a lying bitch or accusing her of conspiring with skeletons.

My first thought upon reading was: is that how low the bar is now? Eighteen minutes later, another user replies:

A quick scan suggests that his analysis is not as deep as he states – the dichotomy he posits between normalizing and abnormal is a false one – and the comments are as expected. It’s a step above the usual Gamergate level though.

I’ll take the compliment. It should be noted that nowhere do I directly state how deep my analysis should be. I suggest in the comments that: “I think these videos should endure an intellectually-rigorous criticism.” My blog aspires to offer clear and logical argumentation, backed with evidence and data from credible sources. In writing, I do attempt to constrain the length of the articles, but I am willing to amend articles – upon receiving criticism – if errors, unintended impressions or cursory analysis are reasonably demonstrated.

With regards to the comments, I usually publish all comments on my blog, unless they are identified by WordPress as spam. I also try to respond positively to comments: I attempt to discover a point of agreement, whilst also making benign criticism. I’ve had several situations where a commenter has engaged in unreciprocated aggression towards me. On separate occasions, I’ve been accused being “far right”, being “dishonest”, and wanting men to be imprisoned on false rape accusations.

With regards to this supposedly false dichotomy, Ms Sarkeesian does not define the concept of ‘normalisation’ in her videos. According to Your Dictionary, the sociological definition of ‘normalisation’ is:

A process whereby artificial and unwanted norms of behaviour and models of behaviour are made to seem natural and wanted, through propaganda, influence, imitation and conformity.

Ms Sarkeesian says computer games frame gendered violence “as something abnormal”, and its inclusion is “normalising and trivialising” the experiences of victims of domestic and gendered violence. At best, this is peculiar. At worst, it is a contradiction. This dichotomy is not false.

This forum user provided a very brief criticism of my articles, but I am happy for that user to elaborate that criticism if they so wish.

Critical Analysis

I enjoy watching Ms Sarkeesian’s videos: I find her to be intelligent and eloquent.  Her argumentation is usually strong, precise and supported by bountiful examples. Similar critical analysis has been applied to films, books and television programmes. Its application to computer games suggests the acceptance of computer games as art.

Such critical analysis is always a subjective exercise, so one person’s critical analysis should never be regarded as an unquestionable edict or the unassailable truth. However, personal attacks on Ms Sarkeesian neither validates or invalidates her work, so these attacks are pointless, rude and cruel.

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One comment on “A Reply to Brief Criticism

  1. evilhippo
    October 19, 2014

    “I find her to be intelligent and eloquent.”

    Indeed, which is why it is actually quite appropriate to call her a “lying bitch” as she knows exactly what she is doing. Her brand of feminism (i.e. the modern mainstream variety) is just applied Critical Theory, and Critical Theory is just a systematic technique of lying in order to achieve political objectives.

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