Dr Christina Sommers offers an alternative take on sexism in videogames

By Samual Sales – 18th September 2014
Dr Christina Sommers offers an alternative take on sexism in videogames

Offering a refreshingly different perspective on sexism within the gaming industry, former professor and scholar Dr Christina Sommers has released a new video on YouTube simply titled “Are Video Games Sexist?” Check it out below:

If you haven’t heard of Doctor Sommers before, don’t worry. With all the political anger currently directed at the gaming industry, we’re currently seeing lots of opinions surrounding the ongoing scandals from people that have nothing to do with the industry, including figures such as Adam Baldwin, Joss Whedon, and editorials from political websites such as the Guardian and Breitbart. The good doctor is arguably the most interesting person yet, a classical feminist from the free loving 60’s with a PhD in philosophy and writing positions on websites and newspapers on all sides of the political spectrum.

Her lengthy experience and qualifications seem irrelevant to many commentators however, with controversial gaming outlets such as Kotaku and Polygon, who have been heavily involved in the recent GamerGate scandal, have dismissed the entire piece, slandering her as a conservative and anti-feminist for her dim opinion on industry personalities such as Anita Sarkeesian- whom she called out as unqualified ‘Hipsters’.

The reason behind this? It’s because the video was published by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank whose members also include former members of the Bush administration. Now, let me make something crystal clear. Dr Sommers is not the AEI. They are just the folks that publish her videos onto YouTube. To balance things out, she also writes for ‘liberal’ publications such as Slate, TIME, and the Huffington Post. Putting the cherry on the cake, Dr Sommers is also a registered democrat. Remember what I said about slander? Yeah. The politicisation of sites like those owned by Gawker and Vox has become a real issue within the industry, and this unprofessional behaviour from the full time professionals is pretty damning proof.

Where do you all stand on Sommer’s video? Is this just another political pundit muscling in on the scandal, or does the doctor offer valid points? Remember to stick to GamerHeadlines for all you objective and corruption free gaming news.

  • Hendrickson

    A good video, I recommend people watch this, its only 6:34 minutes of your time and Doctor Sommers raises some good points in the video especially at the end.

  • thanks for putting this all up really enjoyed this video.

  • Creslin321

    Great video. Dr. Sommers represents what I thought Feminism was before all this nonsense happened. Something that stood for equality between the genders, something I could really get behind.
    Now though, it seems that some feminists spend their time trying to create the impression that there is some great misogynistic conspiracy oppressing them…when really, there is nothing there.
    I find it extremely ironic that Sarkeesian’s first video series is all about how females are constantly portrayed as helpless “Damsels in Distress” in games and must be saved because they are too weak to save themselves. And yet, it seems like that sums up Ms. Sarkeesian’s own strategy in all this.
    All she seems to do is post about how she has suffered some kind of terrible abuse at the hands of the great Internet Satan and a legion of supporters appear on their white stallions to save her.
    Anyway, I’m definitely against abuse and harassment (duh), but I feel like maybe Ms. Sarkeesian should watch her own video and fight her detractors with logic and sound arguments, instead of playing the damsel she seems to despise so often.

    • anon

      “Gamer” has started to become a dirty word in all of this but the flip side is that so has the word “feminist”. Neither terms deserve that.

  • Velkare

    Watched this when it first showed up, but I’m glad you’re covering it and telling people what it really is. I think the reason that so many people from outside the gaming industry are getting in on this is because they want to prove the corruption from SJWs isn’t just in the video game industry, and it’s a real problem.

    I also laughed when she called them hipsters. Even if it was a little unprofessional of her, it was still hilarious.

  • Ole Einar Bjørndalen

    Conservative? She’s pro-choice, pro-LGBT, and a registered democrat. Me thinks Kotaku and Polygon are pandering to the majority.

    • Madbrainbox

      You must forgive them.Kotaku&co don’t have any journalists on the payroll so there’s no one there that can do the research.

      • Junoh315

        They probably had one at one point but they were scared off by the lack of ethics.

  • Ryumoau

    I’m so glad Sommers is open minded enough to contribute to sites of all types of political view points, instead of just wasting her talents on far left sites (Huffington Post, Slate) like most ‘feminists’ do.

  • Sean William Robertson

    Dr. Christina Sommers is what feminists SHOULD be like, but it is what they are. Its always the angry, misinformed, and bigoted morons like Anita Sarkeesian who believe that the only way to equality is to take everything from men and give it to women so that women have the upperhand (more of an upperhand that they already have in this culture where they are protected by almost everyone)

  • ZackRoyer

    I think it is a big slap in the face of those sexist wolfs in feminist sheep cover.
    As I predicted, some youtube comments are calling her sexist and so. Hahahahaha

  • EW Parris

    Yep. And you can find conservative scientists who say there’s no such thing as man-made global warming.

    If you buy this woman’s BS you should start listening to Rush Limbaugh and watching Hannity’s America. They’re selling the same kool ade.

    • Dehydration

      How does that make sense? A person’s political inclination doesn’t shape everything s/he believes in. Don’t make this an issue of left versus right when it isn’t.

      • EW Parris

        This is an either naive or corrupt viewpoint. Everything we believe in shapes our political inclination. If you believe that the depiction of women in video games is always appropriate you’re not going to be comfortable around people who believe in equal pay for women for equal work for example.

        Limbaugh and Hannity are going to be more comfortable for folks who think “bitch slapping a virtual ho” is a good way to spend an evening alone.

        • Dehydration

          And why is that? Are people who love retro games and are fine with its depictions of women not allowed to believe in equal rights? It’s true that beliefs can leak into each other, but beliefs do not come in a package like that. Especially when the two points are tangentially related. For example, believing in natural selection in the modern world does not prevent you from also believing in socialist policies and altruism.

          You’ve claimed that Sommers’ views are wrong because she’s spoken for the AEI and is thus a right-leaning nut. Consider that she’s identified herself as a feminist, wrote for other left-leaning publications and is also a registered democrat. Making such sweeping generalizations towards ideologies and beliefs like that can and will cause valid points to be hidden away unfairly.

        • merri

          ” Everything we believe in shapes our political inclination.”

          But political leanings do not detract from one’s reason or credibility, by DEFAULT.

        • EricHobsbawmtwit

          Does every depiction of every character in every game always have to be “appropriate”. Who decides what’s “appropriate”? You? The Police?

          And what the hell are you talking about “not going to be comfortable around people who believe in equal pay for women”. What? How dare you suggest something like that. Absolutely disgusting.

    • PRAFTD

      Except she actually understand’s what sexism actually is and isn’t being a overly-sensationalist foul-calling SWJ who thinks every single thing they they don’t agree with is “sexist” when it actually isn’t.

      Most people these days think modern feminism is a complete joke. Want to know why? Because most feminists are complete nuts like Sarkeesian.

      • Lukas Lundh

        I am incredibly provoked by this statement. I have watched everything Sarkeesian have published and I see nothing but valid points and fair observations. Could you please take the time of day to explain to me why Sarkeesian is completely nuts? And this woman, Sommers, does not understand sexism in the least. The only thing she is doing is defending a harmful stereotypes about men. Boys will be boys? Fuck no, I want diversity and inclusiveness, both which are depressingly lacking in the industry today.

        • EW Parris

          Boys will be boys so long as no one stops them and teaches them to behave like men of honor.

          Honorable men don’t abuse women, verbally, physically or sexually.

          • mrbah

            are you going to challenge anyone who disagrees to a duel?

          • Kamelguru

            “Men of honor” is vague. A boy growing into a man is only as good as the rolemodels he can emulate.

          • merri

            There’s always going to be assholes and criminals. It’s a bit disgusting that only men are recognized for it.

          • Chad Chandler

            I tip my fedora in your general direction mr Parris.

            That was an hella of a sexist statement, you are saying only men should not abuse.

            Let’s save those damsels amirite?

          • EricHobsbawmtwit

            Do you have any idea how much abuse Sommers has been getting recently?

        • Dehydration

          To me, it’s because she does tend to take things out of context. Take her statement that ICO is a damsel-in-distress misogynistic game. It’s not – Ico can’t do anything without Yorda in the game. Also that her reduction of Peach and Zelda into ‘damsel in distress meant merely as a reward’. Both are ruling parties of their respective kingdoms and it’s pretty clear that restoring order is the goal of those series. While it is nice to have Peach and other female characters have agency, Zelda DOES have agency in many of her games and Link’s actions often depend on her help too. She also puts a lot of games that really have nothing to do with her arguments in her collages. For example, she had SMT: Devil Summoner in iirc the Damsel in Distress video. I don’t understand why that’s there at all.

        • Kamelguru

          Diversity and inclusiveness is gaming’s strongest points. There are ten-thousands of games, and whatever you’re interested in, you will find a wide catalogue of games available to you. And while you will find ill-behaved people in gaming, the vast majority are upstanding people who are happy to share their hobby with others. As long as you’re not a teamkilling douchebag.

        • merri

          “…nothing but valid points and fair observations.”

          She uses far-reaching examples, and postures many of her claims. She makes causal claims about the effects of games on people, with absolutely zero reference or citation to any type of academic study. She even states, “evidence shows…” when making some of the causal arguments and claims.

          She suggests that certain characters are portrayed in sexist ways, which is largely bullshit, or so incredibly innocuous that it’s difficult to take her seriously when so many of her points are based off of really, really bad examples.

          There are valid criticisms, but many of her’s are baseless, and she’s not simply criticising, but actually making the same types of claims that Jack Thompson was a decade ago, and he was proven completely wrong by actual study. She cherry picks certain instances, and brushes the entirety of gaming with a single broad stroke based on those picked instances. She takes things out of context, and spins them however much she can to fit a particular narrative. There are lots of videos out there that point out many/all of these things. You should check them out and see exactly why many of her arguments and claims are fairly baseless. I mean, she describes women as background decorations, but won’t concede that, in some of her examples, male characters were depicted worse. She describes the damsel in distress trope, without also addressing how society values the lives of these damsels more than the males who are slaughtered in the same context, and she also takes fantastical, medieval fairytale-derived games and applies suggests sexist tropes from that, but certainly not from any egalitarian standpoint.

          Furthermore, she certainly seems a liar considering she claims that she’s always had a love of video games, and has been playing them since she was a child, but other statements from some years ago, suggest that video games have not, at all, been a hobby of hers. If you wonder why people can’t take her seriously, then you should probably look at her “work” a little more critically. Ask her to take her “studies” to peer review.

          You claim diversity and inclusiveness are lacking in the gaming industry?! Aside from the very vocal, juvenile assholes of the internet, I.E. gaming on CoD with a microphone, the gaming industry is probably one of the most inclusive out there. Considering the market is male-dominated by about 90%, you STILL see a massive amount of diversity. Perhaps you only bother with the triple-A industry, in that case, they’re catering to their largest demographics. You’ll not find another industry and market though, that will develop and design entertainment with so much cultural diversity. Despite the core gaming markets being male-dominated about 10:1, much of gaming’s history is defined by female characters and protagonists.

          You see people like Sarkeesian and Quinn driven away not because of their goddamn gender; it’s their toxic, horrible personalities that people don’t like, but many people defend them because of their gender, and THAT’s pretty damn sexist.

          • Didgya

            Wow Merri, that was good :)

        • lazydude

          Heavenly Sword
          Final fantasy 10X2
          Tomb Raider
          Kings bounty
          Aeon flux
          Assassins Creed: Liberation
          Infamous : last light
          Final Fantasy 13
          Beyond two souls
          Remember Me
          Resident evil (Most to of which you plays as a female protagonist)

          Alice Madness return

          These are only a few titles that comes to the top of my head when you tell me that video game need to be inclusive. As a gamer I vehemently am against Anita claims, due to the fact that she only describe how video games are preserve representation of male dominance. Instead of pulling up games where females are in the spotlight and empowered to tell their stories. Most of my favorite games are the ones with the clueless male characters and its usually have a smart and intelligent female character leading them. An example of this would be in the legend of zelda series, where Anita sees the damsel in distress, she fail to notice that throughout the story you have a female fairy that leads you, who is a clueless brute, throughout the game.

          Another topic, that people brings up is the sexism in game. Is there an abundance of skimpy female costumes in game? Yes, but there also male character whom also wear skimpy costume. Its not as relevant as females but there are some.

          One of the things I cherish about the gaming scene is how self secure most people are with their body. If you ever been to a convention where you meet all kind of gamers and self assured people. I like to believe that the game we play bring out this sense of not being shame of your body. We see alot of men cross dressing as their favorite female characters and women creating fabulous cosplay or their favorite female characters and they are not a shame to do it. This type of environment would not come out if these individuals let sexism dictate what they do and how they should cloth themself. An if you think about it, where else can you see so many people be open to do all this stuff outside off the gaming industry.

          • Hypersapien

            Beyond Good and Evil

            The Longest Journey (and sequels)

    • Brandon

      As a liberal, I can’t help but laugh at your idiocy.

    • The BS you buy into is the false left/right paradigm. Thinking that MSM assholes like Hannity and windbags like Limbaugh are representative of all conservative thought is akin to thinking Kool-Aid is representative of all beverages, which you probably believe, as you appear to drink plenty of the co-opted left’s kool-aid.
      I guess you think Harry Reid, or Juan Williams are the big thinkers on the left too, right?
      Do you realize you’re on the plantation?

    • EricHobsbawmtwit

      Science has nothing to do with politics. Science has nothing to do with consensus. With respect to BS, I’ve read more alarmist BS coming from the liberal media, many things that are scientifically untrue or unprovable or unfalsifiable or just downright lies, than I’ve heard from the other side in this argument.

    • Skiddywinks

      Yeh, and this people can be disregarded because they have no evidence. Being conservative has nothing to do with the facts. Some liberals disbelieve global warming.

      Attack the argument, not the person.

  • dt

    “To balance things out, she also writes for ‘liberal’ publications such as Slate, TIME, and the Huffington Post. Putting the cherry on the cake, Dr Sommers is also a registered democrat.”

    I find this line of reasoning odd. Who cares about her political viewpoint? Why this attempt to “defend” her as a liberal?

    She’s socially liberal, but she’s obviously a supporter of conservative views. I mean, come on. She’s hired by a conservative think tank — it’s LITERALLY HER JOB. When a conservative think tank hires you, they hire you to do what? Promote conservative ideas. (There’s also nothing wrong, per se, with being a conservative either.)

    Why not just say that she has some interesting ideas regardless of her political position?

    • Dehydration

      I guess it’s to try and give her opinions credibility or something – there are many people who outright refuse to listen to people not on their side of the political spectrum.

    • merri

      “I find this line of reasoning odd. Who cares about her political viewpoint?”

      reason that it is notable, or being said, is that her remarks were
      dismissed altogether by the assumption, or “accusation” rather, that
      she is a conservative and part of a “conservative group.”

    • EricHobsbawmtwit

      It’s not odd. She’s being attacked for it, so in her defence it can be argued she’s a liberal in many respects. Most of us hold a range of views, both liberal and conservative. Only very few people break entirely on one side or the other. Cultural Marxists aren’t even Liberal (in the classical sense). They’re something entirely different. The clue is in the term.

  • Themyscir Knight

    it’s funny because of how apeshit SJW go at the “fake geek girl”, but a “fake liberal girl” is actually completely ok by them

  • Kamelguru

    I am non-partisan, have a degree in child care and welfare, and I approve of and agree with Dr Sommers’ message. About time someone qualified weighed in on this, considering how important gaming is to millions of children around the world.

  • Madbrainbox

    Found this site because of this.Looks cool.

    • ZackRoyer

      We (users) welcome you!

  • Gina

    The leftist social critics are only dismissive of politics when it’s conservative politics. Their own slant gets a pass, because they see it as the only reasonable, reasoned POV. “Objectivity.” We have dismissed that claim.

    • Hypersapien

      It’s the extremists on both sides that are the problem. There’s not enough free and rational thought in politics.

  • John_Sydney

    Here’s a thought: Dr Sommers thinks for herself! She requires neither your approval, nor your attempts to define her politics, nor your instructions on how to do her job.

  • Jorge Cervera

    This is a real femenist not that liar of Anita.

  • Chaz Davis

    Thank god for someone else speaking up about sexism in games, I was tired of the echo chamber that gaming has been the past 2 years

  • Ørjan Kristoffersen

    The smearing articles of Sommers were quite frankly, ridiculous. They were obvious to the point of being laughable. The Kotaku article for instance didn’t address a single word she said, instead dwelling for the longest time on who her Co-workers had previously worked for.

    If your hit-piece can’t even address the person in question, but has to go after her colleagues, just don’t write it in the first place.

  • Le Random Chinchila

    Dr Sommers is great person and she doesn’t care what you think about her, she’s not even a gamer and yet she defends us

  • Topgeartony

    My god. How dare you use logic. God, you woman beater you. Danm you should know logic is my trigger, you should automatically know and be accountable for every person triggered this way, ever. God my headmates are fronting so bad….. Give me attention.

    How can people who type liked that (see above) even stay sane? I just can’t. They don’t hear themselves when they talk?

    Where’s that autotune manbaby? I need an idiot to validate my point by attempting to sing these exact words in a condescending manner. Only then will I feel validated and be able to get hard.

    Oh. Great piece by the way GH.

    • ZackRoyer

      Sanity? No sane person would be like that…
      Not even people who go through Lovecraft shit get that level of insane, those people must be really nuts.

  • Rob S.

    I’ve read quite a few articles disregarding Dr. Sommers’ words and I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why. Compared to some of the other feminist figures that we’ve seen in gaming – looking directly at you, Anita – I think that Dr. Sommers is the kind of individual that more modern-day feminists should take the word of. Not only is she rational with the words that she speaks but you get the feeling that she wants to look at the proposed sexism in video games with both sides in mind.

    She reminds me of that one professor in college who isn’t interested in lecturing you about a certain viewpoint but rather all viewpoints, whether she believes in them or not. Dr. Sommers, in my view, has proven her credentials with her commentaries and the fact that she’s looked down upon (for what reason, I really don’t know) speaks volumes about just how warped the gaming media truly is.

    • stryk

      The biggest joke of all is that, unlike Sommers, none of them actually use any evidence or research to back up their claims. Even if you don’t 100% agree with Sommers, you cannot deny that she actually took the time to look into what she is talking about. That is why her detractors have to resort to auto-tuning her arguments and ad hominems because they have none of their own.

      The piece written by Colin Campbell from Polygon is the most hilarious one of all as he claims that games like The Last of Us and the Tomb Raider reboot (yes, I shit you not) would’ve been “unthinkable” years ago because they have female lead roles! He doesn’t even realize Tomb Raider has been around since the 90s!

  • Subjective

    I like that this website is a place where I don’t always regret reading the comments (as opposed to Kotaku…)
    I’ve just felt so weird and confused since this whole mess started. Websites and authors I had previously liked, even defended! turned out to be extremely biased, and it’s getting worse every day as they repeatedly dismiss my opinions, my beliefs and my genes as being, clearly, dangerous , violent, sexist, immoral and retrograde, because I dared reading deeper into the issue.
    This past month has been humbling (I’ve seen my opinion of many events, especially stuff concerning Quinn and Sarkeesian, intensely shaken and drasticallly changed), disappointing (I quite liked Leigh Alexander before she decided my being male and uneasy with the situation meant I was a monster) and incredibly depressing (seriously, I’d never have thought I’d see most of my gaming news sources concert into wishing for my disappearance and maintaining their narrative through falacious evidence and argument). The longer it lasts, the further it reaches (I trusted you, Cracked. I trusted you.) and yet, it seems everyone goes crazy when in contact with this whole situation.
    All in all, thank you, Gamer Headline, for daring to wait, listen and report on what others try to kill. And thank you for that video. It helps me remember there are still rational people out there.

    • bazzar

      I don’t know why you’re complaining about Cracked, I laughed my head off at Literally Who’s article, Cracked still delivers A grade comedy though perhaps inadvertently.

      • Subjective

        What I (usually) like about Cracked articles is less the humour than the rigorous fact-checking you wouldn’t expect from a comedy site. However, they really dropped the ball on this one; even though it had been going on for quite a while, they gave Zoe Quinn a no-strings-attached soapbox (leading us once again to believe she derives her self-worth from the size of her victim complex) and went ahead adding a “disclaimer” that was actually just a rehashing of the most offensive and tone-deaf insults #gamergate supporters get.
        I figure I’m just not cynical enough to laugh about it yet. I feel extremely strongly about collusion (I’m even uncomfortable about normal, widespread professional networking that is a normal part of any career), so I have a hard time maintaining an emotional distance with this whole thing.

    • stryk

      I didn’t feel bad about the other sites being garbage. Kotaku has been a joke for years with their clickbait and Ashcraft’s usual barrage of “LOLOLOL LOOK HOW CRAZY THOSE JAPANESE ARE”. Polygon was a joke since Day 1 especially with their famous SimCity review. I wrote off RPS because of that terribad X-Com preview, the Heroes of the Storm interview, and that bitchfit over the Dead Island statue.

      But Gamasutra REALLY did a number on me. I also quite liked the site and the dev articles it had.

    • Joel Hruska

      Translation: The authors I previously respected and even liked actually saw something in my own character that I found troubling.

      Instead of examining the idea that there’s something wrong with ME, I found a new bubble to hide in where no one challenges me.

    • Thomas Zell

      Kotaku is part of Gawker media and is based in the Cayman islands. With all due respect, some of these foreign media outlets just don’t understand America or American culture. The BBC and Al Jazeera are both very good at being unbiased and accurate, but Gawker doesn’t eve have that going for it, they are as bad as fox news.

  • FrillArtist

    I’m glad that I’ve found a new gaming news website. I recently blacklisted IGN and GameSpot due to their corruption and bias.