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Feminist Frequency Kickstarter project smashes target, extends reach

Anita Sarkeesian's appeal gathers nearly 15x cash goal despite hate campaign

Anita Sarkeesian's Tropes vs. Women in Video Games Kickstarter project has received nearly fifteen times the amount of cash backing originally targeted, despite a "coordinated" hate campaign of misogynistic abuse.

The videos will be part of Sarkeesian's Feminist Frequency program, which addresses the representation of women in various media. The success of this particular Kickstarter, which originally sought $6,000 but had reached $86,283 by the time of writing, means that Sarkeesian has been able to extend her planned series of five videos to twelve. 70 hours remain before her project closes.

In the series, Sarkeesian promises to analyse the common stereotypes and tropes applied to female game characters, including those she sees as being positive, alongside a broader examination of sexism in the medium.

"Last year I released a video series called Tropes vs Women analyzing female representations in the mainstream media," says Sarkeesian.

"This previous series was highly successful and shared all over the web. Not only did it provide people the language to understand the media they were engaging with, but it's even served as a guide for some professional writers and media creators to actively avoid gendered character stereotypes and create more in-depth, and more engaging female characters."

Although the Kickstarter has been a tremendous success, Sarkeesian was subjected to a torrents of misogynist abuse and hate-filled commentary via her Wikipedia entry, YouTube page and on the appeal's page itself. Coordinated attempts to derail the appeal were arranged via gaming forums and online communities - attacks which shocked the academic in their voracity, but only spurred her on to complete her goal.

"As some of you may be aware, this project has recently been subject to a coordinated online harassment effort waged by various online video game forums vowing to 'take me down'," writes Sarkeesian in an update to her Kickstarter page.

"I always expect a certain level of harassment when discussing gender issues online. This time however, it's a more organized and sustained effort than I've experienced before.

"The intimidation and harassment effort has included a torrent of misogyny and hate speech on my YouTube video, repeated vandalizing of the Wikipedia page about me, organized efforts to flag my YouTube videos as 'terrorism', as well as many threatening messages sent through Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter, email and my own website.

"These messages and comments have included everything from the typical sandwich and kitchen 'jokes' to threats of violence, death, sexual assault and rape. All that plus an organized attempt to report this project to Kickstarter and get it banned or defunded. Thankfully, Kickstarter has been incredibly supportive in helping me deal with the harassment on their service.

"The sad thing is this kind of backlash happens all the time whenever women dare to speak up about gender and video games."

The response to Sarkeesian's appeal from the community highlights the shamefully misogynistic treatment which many female journalists and academics receive when writing about games, and particularly the sexism therein, but also the will to educate on and counter that tendency, as displayed by recent reactions to both the infamous Hitman trailer and an article asking readers to 'rate' E3 booth babes.

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Dan Pearson avatar

Dan Pearson