Sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power — not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and they don’t want it to exist.
I made the mistake of reading some of the comments below a video on YouTube about sexism in video games last night. Admittedly never a good idea. The video is Do Gamers Need Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminism? from the PBS Game/Show channel which answers that question with a “YES” and also touches on Carolyn Petit’s recent GameSpot review of GTA 5. Predictably many of the 2500+ comments below the video look to have descended into a festering cesspool of misogynist bile. The general sentiment of the detractors in the comment section is exemplified perfectly by the above user.
GTA V has little room for women except to portray them as strippers, prostitutes, long-suffering wives, humorless girlfriends and goofy, new-age feminists we’re meant to laugh at. Characters constantly spout lines that glorify male sexuality while demeaning women, and the billboards and radio stations of the world reinforce this misogyny, with ads that equate manhood with sleek sports cars while encouraging women to purchase a fragrance that will make them “smell like a bitch.” Yes, these are exaggerations of misogynistic undercurrents in our own society, but not satirical ones. With nothing in the narrative to underscore how insane and wrong this is, all the game does is reinforce and celebrate sexism. The beauty of cruising in the sun-kissed Los Santos hills while listening to “Higher Love” by Steve Winwood turns sour really quick when a voice comes on the radio that talks about using a woman as a urinal.