— Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) October 29, 2014
Stephen Colbert has officially been inducted into the ranks of famous feminist men, joining Benedict Cumberbatch, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Legend, Joss Whedon and of course, Ryan Gosling, among others.
It happened Wednesday at the end of an interview with media critic Anita Sarkeesian on “The Colbert Report.” He invited her to the show to talk about Gamergate, the movement responsible for targeting game developers such as Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu and critics such as Sarkeesian, Leigh Alexander and Felicia Day with online harassment and threats of death and rape. Sarkeesian was recently forced to cancel a lecture at Utah State University due to threats of a school shooting. It’s a movement based in false accusations against Quinn — that she traded sexual favors to advance her career — and mushroomed from there.
“As a man, am I allowed to be a feminist?” Colbert asked.
Sarkeesian: “Do you believe that women should have equal rights to men?”
Sarkeesian: “And that we should fight for those rights?”
Sarkeesian: “Great. Then you’re a feminist.” They shook on it, just to seal the deal.
Since he’s a man, chances are Colbert won’t wake up today to a barrage of death and rape threats, one of the main points of his interview with Sarkeesian.
“Why do you think women are being threatened? Because it’s almost entirely women being threatened in Gamergate,” Colbert said. “[Former Minnesota Vikings kicker and loud opponent of Gamergate] Chris Kluwe talked about this. He hasn’t been threatened. Other men haven’t been threatened. Why do you think women are being threatened in this exchange?”
Stay tuned. That may change:
— Skeleton Illuminati (@SJWIlluminati) October 30, 2014
“I think women are perceived as threatening because we are asking for games to be more inclusive,” Sarkeesian said. “We’re asking for games to acknowledge that we exist and that we love games.”
Colbert: “Why not just have a separate game? Have separate-but-equal games?”
There are actually quite a few different types of games more artful and non-linear than traditional first-person shooters, “Grand Theft Auto,” fighting or sports games — the ones big companies such as EA and Activision spend oodles of money promoting. In recent years, the definition of “gamer” has expanded, with adult women now considered the largest demographic in gaming thanks to huge growth in mobile and social games. Gamergate pushback came from those who don’t necessarily want to make room for those games or see them as legitimate, especially compared with console games, something Kluwe articulated in a recent post for Medium:
When people think of “gamers,” I want them to think of Child’s Play, and athletes who play competitive League of Legends, and all the normalization we’ve accomplished over the years. I want them to think of feminism, and games as an art form — something more than mass entertainment. I want them to think of all the amazing things that video games have done, and can do, because that means we get to keep playing more games. … We are winning the culture war. There are multiple TV shows about nerds as role models. For f—’s sake, in House of Cards, Kevin Spacey plays a godd— U.S. Representative who relaxes by playing first-person shooters!
“Let’s call this what it is,” Colbert said. “You and the other feminazis in the gamer world are coming for our balls to snip ’em off and put ’em into a little felt purse and take ’em away so we have to play your non-violent games, right?”
“No,” Sarkeesian answered. “That’s not true.”
“It’s a culture war,” Colbert said. “It’s a subculture war.”
Sarkeesian started to answer: “There is something going on, and what it is is women being harassed and threatened and terrorized — ” but Colbert cut her off.
“After you first attacked male gamers for enjoying looking at big-breasted women with tiny armor that barely covers their nipples,” he said, leaning in to play up his signature brand of faux-sincerity. “What is wrong with that? I like what that looks like. I’m a man, baby. Newsflash: I like it!”
“Well, one of the problems with that is that it reinforces this myth that woman are sexual objects — sexual playthings for male amusement,” Sarkeesian answered. “And we’re not.”
Despite the fact gamers are no longer necessarily synonymous with pale, basement-dwelling boys who possess all the social skills of a cactus, Colbert took the opportunity to get in a few easy licks: “Gamers have complained about anti-gamer, anti-nerd bullying for following their ‘traditional gamer lifestyle.’ Yes, there is a traditional gamer lifestyle. God ordained that it is one man, one joystick. Read your bible. Read your bible, folks. It’s right there in Sega Genesis.”
Colbert is actually a gamer himself, and named “Dark Souls” and “Assassin’s Creed” as two of his favorites.
“No matter what all these feminist critics say, I’m not ashamed of my hobby — that’s why I do it alone in my basement,” he said. “Because news flash: What I do in a video game doesn’t reflect the way I act in the real world. I love ‘Mario Kart,’ but I don’t go around throwing banana peels out of my car. Because turtle shells are much more effective.”