Our guest on the Cool Tools podcast this week is Anita Sarkeesian. Anita is a media critic and the host of Feminist Frequency Radio. She has a new book called History vs Women, which she wrote with Ebony Adams.
In her new series The FREQ Show, Anita Sarkeesian digs into insidious, pervasive Hollywood stereotypes about Muslims and Arabs, and how those stereotypes fuel real-world Islamophobia. As Sarkeesian puts it: To so many Americans, people in the Middle East have never been established as human beings with real lives, hopes, dreams, and struggles. When almost every story you’ve ever seen about a particular part of the world paints the people who live there as monolithic, evil, and scary, you’re a lot more likely to believe that it’s actually true. And it’s not just fictional representation that’s a problem. According to a study by University of Illinois professor Travis Dixon that analyzed 146 episodes of TV news programing between 2008 and 2012, 81 percent of the terrorist suspects discussed on TV news were Muslim. In real life, however, Muslims accounted for just 6 percent of actual FBI terrorist suspects during that time period.
In her new series The FREQ Show, Anita Sarkeesian digs into insidious, pervasive Hollywood stereotypes about Muslims and Arabs, and how those stereotypes fuel real-world Islamophobia. As Sarkeesian puts it:
To so many Americans, people in the Middle East have never been established as human beings with real lives, hopes, dreams, and struggles. When almost every story you’ve ever seen about a particular part of the world paints the people who live there as monolithic, evil, and scary, you’re a lot more likely to believe that it’s actually true.
And it’s not just fictional representation that’s a problem. According to a study by University of Illinois professor Travis Dixon that analyzed 146 episodes of TV news programing between 2008 and 2012, 81 percent of the terrorist suspects discussed on TV news were Muslim. In real life, however, Muslims accounted for just 6 percent of actual FBI terrorist suspects during that time period.
As part of her Ordinary Women series, Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency examines the impressive achievement of Ada Lovelace, the “mother” of computer programming.
You can also watch the Ordinary Women profiles on Ching Shih and Ida B. Wells:
Technologists have a dismal pattern: when it comes to engineering challenges ("build a global-scale comms platform") they rub their hands together with excitement; when it comes to the social challenges implied by the engineering ones ("do something about trolls") they throw their hands up and declare the problem to be too hard to solve. Read the rest
Charlie Warzel of Buzzfeed has written a long piece about Twitter's apparently inability to prevent neo-Nazis, rape apologists, death threats, and racism from flourishing on the platform.
Read the rest
In 2013, Caroline Criado-Perez launched a campaign to put Jane Austen on UK currency and quickly became the target of more than 50 rape threats per hour — which forced Twitter to roll out a “report abuse” feature for individual tweets. The feature came roughly six years into the company’s history and more than five years after [Ariel] Waldman’s ordeal. “It feels like, not only did they have opportunities early on to tackle this, but they had the ability to step up and be a leader in this space — to be proactive instead of reactive,” Waldman said. “That they haven’t done that is beyond me and it’s reckless.”
Around that time, high-profile harassment cases became a weekly, if not daily, occurrence, especially in the UK. Sinéad O’Connor was driven off the service in 2011; she later told the Daily Mail she was “getting too much abuse.” Downton Abbey actor Lily James quit after she became the target of hundreds of hateful tweets about her appearance. Actor Matt Lucas had to shut down his account after trolls wouldn’t stop harassing him after the death of his partner. In the US, stories of Twitter harassment of women, people of color, and religious minorities appeared with increasing frequency, coming to a head in August 2014, when Robin Williams’ daughter Zelda was forced to quit Twitter after trolls flooded her mentions with photoshopped images of her recently deceased father.
With a couple of days left, Feminist Frequency is about to hit their funding goal for Ordinary Women, a lavishly animated series about women who dared defy their times--and who history hasn't given their dues. Below is the complete set of preview videos for Ida Wells, Ching Shih, Emma Goldman, Murasaki Shikibu and Ada Lovelace; go help push them over the line at Seed & Spark.
Ida B. Wells (by Sammus)
Ada Lovelace (by Teddy Dief)
Ching Shih (by Jonathan Mann)
Emma Goldman (by The Doubleclicks)
Murasaki Shikibu (by Clara Bizne$$)
The creators of the series are Anita Sarkeesian (of Tropes vs. Women in Video Games fame), Laura Hudson (recently of Boing Boing and Offworld) and Elizabeth Aultman (producer of Yosemite) Read the rest
Ordinary Women: Daring to Defy History is a video series about women overlooked by history raising production funds at crowdfunding site Seed & Spark. Creators Anita Sarkeesian, Laura Hudson (recently of Boing Boing and Offworld) and Elizabeth Aultman plan to feature Murasaki Shikibu, credited as the first modern novelist, 19th-century computer pioneer Ada Lovelace, womens' rights advocate Emma Goldman and others.
Unusually for a crowdfunded production, the series will be lavishly animated, reports Bustle, creating a work of art in its own right.
It's an exploration of women throughout history who have decimated gender stereotypes and contributed to humanity in truly impactful ways. The series will seek to remind us not only that these kinds of women — the rabble-rousers, the undercover reporters, the activists, the pirates — are extraordinary individuals, but also that women doing extraordinary things is actually quite ordinary. And that's a good thing. Here's why.
Women kicking ass and taking names shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, because we've been here all along, propping up society with our accomplishments. Unfortunately, the telling of history has a way of being whitewashed, male-focused, and more, excluding the contributions of far too many women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and other marginalized groups. With this new video series, Feminist Frequency hopes to address that glaring imbalance by bringing to life the stories of some of history's most rebellious and remarkable women.
USA Today reports that the creators hope it will inspire more women.
Read the rest
“We want to normalize these women in history,” says Sarkeesian.
Feminist Frequency's excellent Tropes vs Women in Video Games has a new installment on the prevailing ways that characters' butts are presented in games: with female characters, they're emphasized, centered and revealed; with male characters, it's often literally impossible to see their butts. Read the rest
The scale and virulence of internet harassment often lingers in the news, but three women who have faced down the bullies are sharing their guide to staying safe online.
The advice is eminently sensible, well thought-out and derives, sadly, from all-too-familiar experience.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t have time to read the whole thing? Start with these three steps:
Created by Feminist Frequency's Anita Sarkeesian, Women, Action & the Media founder Jaclyn Friedman and Saying Abortion Aloud author Renee Bracey Sherman, the guide was made necessary by "the failure of social media services to adequately prevent and deal with the hateful targeting of their more marginalized users."
As this guide details, forcing individual victims or potential targets to shoulder the costs of digital security amounts to a disproportionate tax of in time, money, and emotional labor. It is a tax that is levied disproportionately against women, people of color, queer and trans people and other oppressed groups for daring to express an opinion in public.
Even if you're an old hand with the online safety basics, the miscellaneous tips are still unexpected and useful. For example, did you know can use free, throwaway VOIP numbers from Google to conceal your real cell number? Read the rest
Who can resist the allure of downloadable content? Not Feminist Frequency, which just released a tongue-in-cheek "DLC" mini-episode that examines how women (and their bodies) are often used as rewards in, well, video game DLC.
If you missed the original "Women as Reward" video from Anita Sarkeesian (a friend and colleague of Offworld) check it out below, and then enjoy all the sweet, sweet bonus analysis of gender in media.
This totally free supplemental add-on content pack for our Women as Reward video examines how women’s bodies are used not just as a reward for in-game actions but also, via paid downloadable content, as a reward for spending actual money. We then address the most common defense of this kind of objectification and commodification of women’s bodies: the argument that “sex sells.”