This is one of my favorite episodes, because in it, Sarkeesian talks about the duality of female sexuality in pop culture and culture in general – the idea that women’s sexuality is dangerous and potentially evil, and that you never know what is lurking beneath the surface of an attractive woman’s face.
I’ve written about this before, because I think it’s an interesting way to view women and sexuality and it has been with us for a very long time. It is the basis for the othering of women as something strange and alien, something to fear.
What else is woman but a foe to friendship, an unescapable punishment, a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a desirable calamity, a domestic danger, a delectable detriment, an evil of nature, painted with fair colours!
– Heinrich Kramer & James Sprenger, i översättning av Montague Summers – Malleus Maleficarum: The classic study of witchcraft.
This is particularly interesting in light of GamerGate, and the stories told about the women who were targeted by GamerGate in particular. Among the first things I heard about Sarkeesian and Quinn when supporting them against the veritable onslaught they had to suffer was this – they were evil, manipulative, liars. Pairing this with the supposed infidelities of Quinn, this is a classic fallback to the early ideas of women as temptresses and manipulators. In other words, this is not a new narrative. In fact it’s a fairly standard way of besmirching women. Either you go the grotesque way or the manipulative way, depending on how closely the woman follows the normative beauty standards.
I find this immense fear of women and women’s sexuality fascinating, and I’m really happy that it is part of the Tropes vs Women series, because it bothers me to no end that these stereotypes are still being used and propagated through games.