Experience Points: GTA 5 And The “Feminist Agenda”
Feminism is finding a resurgence in gaming, where gamers, members of the press and academics are giving views and perspectives that contradict the major dominate paradigm. The latest furor labelled as overtly promoting the “feminist agenda”, was a review of GTA V by a female games reviewer, Carolyn Petit, from GameSpot. Rage-fuelled gamers are labelling her exploration of the misogyny present in GTA V as decidedly unprofessional, a propagation of a feminist agenda and an all out attack on GTA V, regardless of the fact that she gave the game a 9 out of 10 rating when all was said and done. Merely bringing up the point of misogyny in GTA V was met with rage, flaming and calls for Petit to be fired from GameSpot for daring to diverge from the status-quo.
Sadly one comes to expect these types of reactions from the gaming community, and gamers in general. Generating solid discussion about misogyny in games is very difficult, and when a highly popular and mainstream game, like GTA V, comes into the fray valid discussion is near impossible. The reality is that GTA has always contained misogyny, an overzealous obsession with displays of violence and sexism. The game is built on such notions. But this does not exempt the series from valid discussion, when it is facilitated correctly. In the case of Petit’s review of GTA V her viewpoints and questioning of the misogyny present in GTA V was a very real concern, and the way that said concern was brought to fore shouldn’t have been outright attacked, and regarded as an assault on GTA V. The review praised the positive aspects of the game and offered an overall pleasing review in general. Having one point of contention with the game’s design is valid. If we choose not to allow a space for critical discussion of misogyny in games to occur, even in a review, than mainstream gaming will remain static and complacent with the current approach to female characterisation.
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I found Petit’s exploration of misogyny in GTA V to be inconsequential to the success of GTA V, and it didn’t offend my own sensibilities in the slightest. From time to time, gamers have claimed that feminist-infused discussions display an over-sensitivity by the female propagators of a discussion. Funnily enough gamers have proven to be the most sensitive when it comes to these types of talking points, and this GTA V fiasco pretty much proves the point. Anita Sarkeesian is one of these feminist critics who has been attacked for generating discussion about female roles in videogames, which has led to a resurgence in feminist debate surrounding the medium. The problem with Sarkeesian is she promotes her own version of the “feminist agenda” which doesn’t allow open discussion, that ironically is a criticism she levels at her detractors as not being capable of. Of course, if you try to promote open discussion with Sarkeesian you will more than likely be labelled as a harasser. The following video pretty much highlights the hypocrisy and dishonesty of Sarkeesian’s attempts at open discussion of gender roles:
Sarkeesian has been found to be inconsistent with her views on gaming and videogames, and in many cases has attempted to pigeonhole games where it suits her agenda. She offers a limited perspective about a game that only suits her point of discussion. These sentiments towards her overarching approach and argument are brought up quite nicely in this video, which I’ve previously referred to. Technically Sarkeesian has boosted the dialogue on sexism and misogyny in games. However, her approach has been far less appealing and reeks of a misrepresentation of what feminism is truly about. Petit’s approach to the subject is far less aggressive and brings about the point of misogyny in games quite naturally, without being a hypocritical mess.
As I’ve stated before, there should be no issue taken with Petit’s point about misogyny in GTA V, as it is a valid criticism and point of discussion. Her approach to the subject in her review is in no way inflammatory. In that regard, Sarkeesian is far more inflammatory with her remarks about misogyny in videogames and presentation of the subject matter. There is no doubt that GTA V is misogynistic and it is a good place to start discussing the implications of misogyny in games, be it in a game’s treatment of females and their characterisation. The GTA series is a trendsetter in the games industry and it should be expected that the game is an origin point for discussions about misogyny in videogames.