Andrea Braithwaite

Andrea Braithwaite is a communications professor who writes about discourses of feminism, post-feminism, anxious masculinity and sexualized violence in popular culture. In her article “Seriously get out’: Feminists on the forums and the War (craft) on women” written in 2014, she discusses how gender politics have found their way in the virtual places. In the article that was published in News and Media was solely dedicated people who are involved in gender politics. She also points out to the people who love gaming habits and usually play games either online. Whatever the gamers express is also found in the larger world in the public and political world. The cultural world is all the same with the same tendencies.

Braithwaite who is a feminist notes that the virtual places have become places of discussions about gender politics. The politics of gender has always been a point of discussion by many people including feminists and anti-feminists. The anti-feminists have always found a way to suppress feminism by trying to bring them down. They have extended this to the virtual community. Braithwaite uses the debates on World of Warcraft forums to pass her point across. War of Warcraft is a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) which is played by many people across the world. The inhabitants of the games use the platform to pass across points about feminism and anxious towards masculinity.

The author is trying to ignite the debate on feminism. Even if feminism has been there all round, people have gone a step further to spread their message on feminism. They have taken to virtual places that people often meet today. The virtual places give freedom to people to talk about anything and people from all round are able to debate about topics that are said to be controversial. People have access to these virtual places than before. She uses the gaming aspects and how people view the topic. People in gaming sites have formed opinions about the characters of a game. Many have a problem with how the female characters are depicted in the different games. The experiences in the gaming community are so not different from whatever is perceived by today’s society when it comes to everyday ideologies about gender, power and privilege, Braithwaite (2014).  People with different views therefore find it easier to exchange ideas with people of the same school or a different school of thought. Different scholars have debated about feminism and continues to debate about the same.

The article focuses on how gender politics have become sites of struggles in the virtual community. The writer investigates how feminism is understood by the virtual communities. Braithwaite argues that feminism is seen as “a powerful, hysterical threat” in these forums. In this article, Braithwaite engages in the debate about feminism. She focuses on the people who will anything to sabotage feminism even when it comes to virtual places. The virtual places are places that people nowadays often meet. The gender politics have been around for quite sometimes and women are always fighting for their equality with men.  There are people who will do anything to sabotage the equality between men and women. Many people still believe that women should not hold high offices in government. Other people believe that women should always be below men. In the gaming community the depiction of female characters might not be so appealing to people like feminists who believe that women should be treated as men, equally.  The feminism debate has always been there. Braithwaite however puts focus on the digital platforms and how they are pushing for anti-feminist views.

The writer holds the view that people who are against feminism have found their way on the virtual community to spread their campaign on anti-feminism ideas. The digital spaces are just another avenue that the gender politics have been extended to. A slight mention of the issue brings about debates with everybody trying to defend their views. There is a group of people who feel that the fight for gender equality is a total waste of time and people should not engage in it. These people will do anything in their power to make sure that anybody who holds views from a feminist’s point of view should not be allowed anywhere. Games have found a way of depicting female characters in lower light than their male counterparts.

When presenting her argument Braithwaite was able to use the MMOG game World of Warcraft as the basis of her argument. She analyzes the comments from the feedback section that was generated by fans of the game. One player notices that the character Ji Firepaw uses a flirtatious tone to address the female character.  A character Ji Firepaw greeted a female and male character in a different manner suggesting that the woman was more beautiful rather than strong. The male character was depicted as strong and poised. The comment by Aislinana, generated a lot of comments. The generation of all those many comments showed that people were still interested in the topic of feminism. After the comment by Aislinana Ji Firepaw was changed which sparked more debate on the same. The comments featured anger at feminists, anxiety around masculinity and concerns about forms of player agency. All these happen in an attempt to cast feminism out of the game. All the comments were also made with a tone of outrage from the people who were writing the comments.

Braithwaite structure of argument is quite persuasive. The mode of which she presents her argument makes her points to come across as they were supposed to. Her mode of presentation is the one that she quotes materials from the original texts to make them more compelling to the reader. She knows how best to capture the attention of her audience. Citing and quoting the primary text makes presentation of the material more appealing. She also uses materials from other authors who have covered the topic before. The use of this method of persuasion captures the attention of the reader and the reader is able to relate to whatever she is writing.  “All posts have been reproduced verbatim, to capture and convey the posters’ perspectives as accurately as possible,” (Braithwaite, 2014, pp 706). The tone that is used in the work and quoting other scholars work was also another method of persuasion that was used by the writer.

The evidence that is presented in this study is compelling and it acts as a mirror of the general context, what happens in our everyday lives. Braithwaite was able to provide substantial evidence that indeed the gender politics is just an extension of anti-feminist to trample on the feminists. The inhabitants of the game were keen enough and were able to notice that Ji Firepaw was using a sexist statement. Instead of enjoying the game, a discussion came up about how the opening statement towards the female character was sexist. It depicted the male character as strong while the female character was depicted as beautiful. The panderean society, the society upon which the game is set, value strength and self-confidence as gender-neutral traits but the woman was just depicted as beautiful  instead of strong just like her male counterpart. When the dialogue of Ji Firepaw towards the woman was changed to march that of the man, there was an outburst about the change in the various forums. There are many people who did not like saying that they are people who should be fighting for equality elsewhere and let the people who enjoy the game to do so in peace.

There are some players who felt like the people who complained about the sexist comments were just a distraction to their enjoyment of the game. Some of the comments were quite extreme showing how the issue on gender politics has really evolved over the years. As quoted by Braithwaite (2013) some players felt that the people who were concerned about the gender equality should be busy fighting for gender equality in the United States and they should focus their energy on that instead of ruining the game for them. Braithwaite was able to bring across the points that she wanted to put across in a manner that was compelling and acceptable. Reading the article one can clearly see that gender politics are far from over and they are widely spread all around us.

Feminism has been a topic of discussion over the years. People with different views always come together and discuss their views. Everybody have their own opinions with some feeling that women should never be equal to men and therefore try their best to cast out feminism. Braithwaite (2014) notes that “video games themselves are the product of larger cultural contexts” pp.707.  Whatever is depicted in the video games is whatever it is in the community at large. The cultural depictions across the public and political world are not so different from what is depicted by the gamers. The presentation of points by Braithwaite is appealing and compelling.

 

 

 

 

References

Braithwaite A. (2014) ‘Seriously, get out’: Feminists on the forums and the War (craft) on women new media & society Vol. 16(5) 703–718

 

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