Halo Reach, Sexual Violence and Rape Culture

This post contains explicit language and profanities.

I like to play video games and Halo has been my favorite for many years. Halo 4 came out earlier this month and it made me reflect on Halo Reach, what I liked about the game, and what I did not like. One thing I found very off-putting was the constant bantering and aggressive verbal behavior displayed during matchmaking. That was one reason why I rarely used a microphone while playing.

Here at Feminists for Choice we often discuss the concept of rape culture, which is the notion that sexual violence is in many ways condoned. We often hear or experience the normalization of rape, which often leads to blaming the survivor rather than the perpetrator. This normalization of rape and the use of threats of sexual violence are very common in Halo Reach as players communicate with one another. Interestingly enough, I have never witnessed any females partake in such a discussion, or in the one-sided arguments where putdowns and remarks are constantly made. When it comes to discussions and remarks about rape the message is one of power, domination and subjugation. The verbal threat or use of the word rape is therefore used to display the threat of subjugation and the power and domination certain players hold over others.  [Read more...]

Feminist Explains Connection Between Parenting, Body Image, and Video Games

Feminist Conversations is a weekly column here at Feminists for Choice, where we talk to activists from across the interwebs to find out what feminism means to them. Today we’re talking to Chris Cruz-Boone, a life long geek and a professor in the Department of Communications at California State University, Bakersfield. She lives in Bakersfield with her partner John & their children Inara and Nathan. She is teaching her first Introduction to Video Games studies course in the winter.

1. When did you first call yourself a feminist, and what contributed to that decision?
The first day of my first Women Studies course the professor asked, “If you consider yourself a feminist, please raise your hand.” I was in the front row & when I looked behind me I realized I was the only person in a room of 45 people that had raised my hand. That moment was the first time I realized that I called myself a feminist and learning more about the feminist movement has only committed me further to my position.

2. What does feminism mean to you?
My initial understanding of feminism was influenced by the girl power movement. Media icons like Xena and Buffy made me feel both powerful and kick-ass for being a woman. Early on for me this is what feminism meant.

After reading bell hooks, and more recently Jessica Valenti, I have reframed feminism to be about more than kicking ass; although being kick-ass will always be part of feminism for me. Feminism is a belief in recognizing and challenging the oppression of all people. Feminism is not just fighting for women’s rights but because of historic and institutional oppression women are often at the center of unfair policies and mindsets. For me, feminism is not just a mindset but a way of life. [Read more...]