Avengers Director Offers Support to Feminist Frequency Creator After Death Threats

Joss Whedon says Anita Sarkeesian, who was driven out of her home this week after facing a raft of abuse and death threats, is "just truth-telling."

No Caption Provided

The Avengers director and Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon has spoken out in support of Feminist Frequency creator Anita Sarkeesian, who this week revealed that online abuse and death threats drove her to contact the police and leave her home.

Writing on Twitter, Whedon urged his followers to watch Sarkeesian's Tropes vs. Women In Video Games series, which examines gender cliches in the video game industry. "Even if you think you get it, the sheer tonnage makes misogyny seem newly appalling," Whedon said.

"I watched a bunch of women get sliced up in video games and now I'm watching it on my Twitter feed," he added. "[Anita Sarkeesian] is just truth-telling. Deal."

Since Sarkeesian's Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series debuted, she has faced a raft of criticism, but things got truly terrifying this week.

"Some very scary threats have just been made against me and my family," she wrote on Twitter. "Contacting authorities now." A follow-up tweet read: "I'm safe. Authorities have been notified. Staying with friends tonight. I'm not giving up. But this harassment of women in tech must stop!"

The most recent episode in the Tropes vs. Women In Video Games series, the second part of a program called called Women As Background Decoration, was published on Monday. The series was successfully funded on Kickstarter in 2012.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Join the conversation
There are 1434 comments about this story
1434 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for robertnewton

Why are there so many upset comments here? She isn't criticizing any of you personally, nor making any judgement of you for playing these games. All she offers is a very accurate critique of how much better male characters are developed than female characters. This isn't about being politically correct or denying history, it's just about being fair to both men and women.

I'm reminded of something gender activist Jackson Katz brings up whenever he speaks, that typically "the establishment" will react to any criticism with cheap character assassination. Look at the way men have demonized the word "feminist" to mean something much more terrible than someone who believes opportunity shouldn't be limited to gender. All of you that agree men and women deserve to be paid the same for the same work are feminists.

The world is better with women in it and as we break down archaic notions of what we think women are, we can also break down false notions of masculinity and what it means to be a man (something that should appeal to the video game community, if we're going to rush to stereotypes).

Avatar image for aegis_kleais

<< LINK REMOVED >> Yeah, I think male egos get offended very easily here. The male ego barely would concede a defeat to another male. let alone a female's view (myopically, of course).

Thing is, a female can never tell you what it means to be a man. They simply will never know. They may have a slew of judgmental observations about traits they feel are ideal for a man to have, but they can never know what it is to be male. They can never know the primal instincts we have, nor can they comprehend it; and this holds true for men's views of women. What right would we have to tell women what it should be to be a female? That's for them to decide; we are all individuals responsible for that very fact.

Am I a feminist? Sure. I believe if a woman can do the job as well as a guy, she better be paid the same for it. Nothing wrong with equality. But what I don't agree with is that men and women are the same. What I mean by that is, we are equal in worth, but we are different in our genders. And I think that should be celebrated. Though stereotypical, and not true in all instances. What do many women love about men? The masculine trait of protecting and providing? And what do men love about women? The feminine trait of nurturing and sensitivity. These are things that make us different, but that draw us to each other; so they should not be forced to be made equal, but instead celebrated for their difference.

Avatar image for SpicaAntares


The intellectual level in the great US of A is very low and religion still plays a major role in brainwashing a large part of the population. Add to this the obsession with military power, wars every few years and a long history of racism and genocide, and it's easier to understand how any threat to male domination is a stress to some. Some are never far from walking down the street with a white pointy hat.

Avatar image for mecher3k


It's funny that the only real sexism is coming from those who support Anita.

Avatar image for veemonro

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Threat to male dominance? First of women are the dominant there are more women out there then men in the last census. All women have a right to vote, so nobody would stop women for passing whatever legislation theyd want.

But the fact is that this is a made up problem. Anita and many feminists like her dont offer any ways to "fix or improve" things. She just points out "i dont like this i dont like that" but they never say how they think it should be done.
Its just a bitch and complain army using their opinions and "studies" as facts.

The media is all about making monney and what sells. Its imoral. It doesnt care about men or women. They're mostly like Do big tits sell? Yes? Ok more big tits in movies.
Do fat bald men with pimples and crooked teeth sell? No? Less fat bald men people dont like realism, add more Chris Redfield men in video games.

Its easy , its not rocket science. If you want things to change dont buy stuff. Then companies would switch acording to the ammount of monney you're giving them.

Avatar image for veemonro

<< LINK REMOVED >> Because she is a thief. She got 150k$ and made 4 youtube videos. She does no research. In fact she even admits in a video before she started her kickstarter that she does not like games.

She is a con artist and does this to get donnations.

If you're really worried about death threats. You go to the police like any sane person would do.

This isnt the fact that she is a woman. I get death threats every time i play dota 2. This is about her beeing a crook. A disshonest person and some one who tries to rip people off their hard earned monney

Avatar image for robertnewton

<< LINK REMOVED >> Given that she released a "women as background decoration" video 4 days ago and another 2 months before that, it would seem she is still fulfilling the return on that Kickstarter campaign. Feel free to criticize her for being slow and taking so long to put those videos out without bothering to put it in to any context for how busy she might be doing other things.... like receiving a Game Developers Choice Award or speaking at a TedXWomen conference.

Her videos are researched; have you watched any of them?

It's possible that there she is a con artist, but it's more likely this became a much larger project than she originally expected (do you remember that she originally only asked for $6000 on the kickstarter?). Also asking for donations on her blog hardly makes her a con artist. There's another website I frequent that is always asking me for money even as the most of the people creating the bulk of their 33 million pages go unpaid... it's called Wikipedia.

Nobody has created a video game that depicts violence being done to your person or photoshopped images of you.

Compare the legitimacy of the way she is spreading her message to the way her critics are spreading their message about her. Why is it that Ben Spurr didn't receive an ambassador award for his game Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian?

It's so ridiculous that people are reacting angrily to this at all; even if she is COMPLETELY WRONG, how is anybody being negatively affected by her doing this research? What's the worst that will happen here, some video games with interesting, developed (in ways other than chest size) female characters will be available hat nobody is forcing them to play?

Avatar image for veemonro

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> The croudfunding was in 2013 march, we are now in 2014 august, its over a year later. the number of videos she has produced, the production value and the research for those videos does plus the fact that she did not buy any of those games (like she claimes) does not add up to the 150.000$ she got.
In fact she made ANOTHER crowd funding campaign during this time. All this information is available on wikipedia (aparantely she doesnt block the comments there).

The research she did is 0. Not only did she not play the games she was talking about but she took lets plays from youtube, without giving credit to the lets players.
I mean for a person who claims to love gaming (she doesnt) << LINK REMOVED >>

There are thousands of youtube videos debunking her videos with arguments showing why she did no research and why she twists the information in order to make it look like the games are made around her points, instead she is distorting reality.

The worse offense is when she says hitman is a game about killing prostitutes when its clearely not and its obvious for anybody who played it. There are just 2 levels where you actually can find prostitutes and not only you dont have to kill them but the game punishes you severely for trying to do so.

The reason I say she is a con artist is because she plays the victim card so well in order to draw atention. Jurnalists give it to her because it gives them in return more clicks to their sites. People who dont know better click the donate button. And the fact that she lies about playing games or liking them, that she lies about what the games are to fit her agenda, makes her a liar and a thief thus a con artist.
Even 6000$ arent justified. No jurnalist in the world makes so much for doing some youtube videos. Especially when she, and again i repet didnt buy any games, didnt do any reviews, didnt play any games and the production value of standing in front of a green screen and talking is probably around 600$ if im extremely generous here.

Nobody has created a game that has violence towards some one else?
Well how about this punch president george bush?


Oh snap. I guess there are games like that BECAUSE ITS THE INTERNET.

And guess what no one cares. Its a sick joke i agree, but its not news worthy. Nobody cares. Im sure there is a punch phil fish game out there but people dont care about that cause he doesnt have a vagina.

Neither ben spurr nor anita should recieve the game ambasador award. Anita shouldnt recieve it because she is not a gamer, she lies and manipulates facts, she uses her fame to get MONNEY. She is not passionate about gaming.
Her tropes vs video games not only does not explain why its wrong for some one to help his loved one in need. I mean in anitas eyes Snow white, sleeping beauty and rapunzel are sexist story ment for little boys to get a boner for thinking themselves as prince charming. But she doesnt say that the trope was mostly used in the 8 bit era when the story had to be severely limited to a few frames due to space constraint on the cartridge.

Srsly since 2010 take the best games you remember and put them on a list. How many of them are about a man trying to rescue a woman? I bet its less then 10% because besides some new mario games and stuff im really strugling to think of any.

Its basicly a problem thats not there.

What is wrong and why it pisses me off is when a liar be them male or female gets so much atention and is considered the ambasador of the comunity, She is not doing research, she just comes with a feminist ideea like women are objects to be acted upon and then looks through games and finds footage to suport her ideea.
I feel offended and find that very sexist. I am a man and I do like to watch movies and play video games. But i would NEVER treat a woman like an object. The simple thought that all men are like that in her mind makes me hurl.
The fact that she goes out of her way to find a scene in assassins creed to find ONE scene where a girl etzio tries to save gets killed just shows how hard she is trying to suport her facts.

Avatar image for SpicaAntares


So, if we follow this great reasoning of yours, its natural for anyone who makes videos without 'researching' to get death threats? Here, I've got an idea for you, why don't you 'research' a little, then think some more, before posting.

Avatar image for veemonro

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Wrong, In my ideea everebody gets death threats. Yet I dont see the article where jurnalism was cuddling Totall Biscuitt because he was recieving death threats.

Just because you have a vagina doesn't give you a free pass to play the victim card.

And btw. Do you even know what a threat is? Its the promise of some one doing harm to you or causing you something ilegal, that causes a great fear inside you.

So if i were to say Im going to fucking kill you. Its not a threat. Because you know I have no ideea where you live, I have no ideea who you are, and its on the internet.

Now if you're going to scream bloody murder every time a 13 year old behind a keyboard says something bad about you, then you're either the kind of person who is afraid of its own shadow, or you're beeing disshonest.

The reason I say she is beeing disshonest is because instead of going to the police she went to thumblr.

Now I don't know about you. But if id have an ACTUAL fear like some one broke into my house. Id call 911, I wouldnt go to thumblr.

This and the fact that it coincides with the ZOE quinn scandal and now everebody is talking about her and not zoe quinn, drags ANOTHER red flag in my book.

And aparantely in 2014 you dont need proof anymore, just an acusation to believe some one. So if she is saying she is getting death threats and shows no proof of it, then I can say she is doing to cover her friend zoe quinn and dont need to show proof for it.

Avatar image for Guest1001

Do Gamespot ever approve pending comments? Just checking, since I don't want to go through the process of figuring out which words I used aren't allowed.

Avatar image for loafofgame

<< LINK REMOVED >> In my experience they do not get approved, or it takes so long that it doesn't really matter anymore. I've only been pending twice, though.

Avatar image for Guest1001

<< LINK REMOVED >> Damn. Thanks.

Avatar image for loafofgame

<< LINK REMOVED >> I mean, the words you aren't allowed to use are pretty obvious, so you can copy your text, place asterisks and post it again. And I believe some words are only allowed once or only when isolated. S*x, k*ll, r*pe. ;-P I just had my third pending message and I think it was because of repeated use.

Avatar image for Guest1001

You know what I'm sick of? One-sided news reporting from game journalists. There was a great Wordpress blog today about the hypocrisy of when men are harassed online vs when women are harassed online:


You don't even have to read the entire thing to get the gist. I grew up in the 90s, where sitcoms portrayed men as bumbling simpletons who were barely capable of tying their own shoelaces while women rolled their eyes and solved their problems. Commercials featured men being too simple to perform various tasks while the more intelligent women outperformed them or perved on them (Diet Coke). How times have changed, huh?

Then there's games. Japanese games present us with male characters with appearances less attainable than male supermodels while Western games make them look like bodybuilders but according to feminist critics "men want to look that way! It's a male power fantasy!" Actually, studies have shown that men suffer body image issues more than women, so I'd say they're worth mentioning. According to Anita herself "one reinforces pre-existing stereotypes about women, while the other does not re-enforce any pre-existing stereotypes about men". In other words, it's Oppression Olympics; it doesn't matter when men are objectified because for women, it's a stereotype y'all!

Then there's violence. Games like Dynasty Warriors and Heavenly Sword have you killing hundreds upon hundreds of men in every level! The level of violence is also more acceptable; more games feature torture of men than women, as well as gore (ever wonder why there aren't any women in Outlast? The real-world reason is because of that). Yet it's rare to hear about how common and institutionalised violence against men is, even though the fact that nobody discusses it is evidence of that.

Then there's just Anita's ridiculous claims in general! In the video before her latest one, she actually stated: "[Women's] status as disposable objects is reinforced by the fact that in most games discarded bodies will simply vanish into thin air a short time after being killed." Yes, really. Nothing to do with the GPU rendering fewer polygons to help the game run more smoothly. It's about women being disposable. This is just one among many ... but this comment's long enough.

Anita Sarkeesian is an all-round unpleasant person, expressing arguments that are one-sided, cherry-picked and sexist. She's admitted on film that she isn't a gamer. Male game developers, journalists and Jack Thompson have all received similar levels of insults so she is not a representation of how women are harassed. Female gamers and developers have spoken out against her. Gamespot - Stop giving her attention.
Avatar image for ThAdEa82

Is Joss Wheldon too dense to realize that Sarkeesian is a misandrist?

Avatar image for PodXCOM


Avatar image for Dieknochenblume

Pretty impressive how the whole "death threats" issue escapes most comments. Leave the feminist side of the story if you're sick of it, but you can't deny that freedom of expression is being limited by serious harassment and threats. This is something that can't be tolerated, regardless of what you think about gender equality and tropes, or whether you like Sarkeesian or not. It goes beyond that, and it does not imply that other things are not equally important. Just read the news for info if you're interested, it's not an attack on gamers.

Avatar image for veemonro

<< LINK REMOVED >> Funny how the death threats are so convinient. They come when she looses popularity. Instead of going to the police she posts about them on the internet.

Oh and btw. This is the internet. I get death threats every time i play dota 2. Yet you don't see me complaining that people are trying to kill me, because in reality they're not.

She is just a con artist. She is playing the victim card in order to get more donations and publicity.

If you're really worried about some one trying to kill you, you go to the police. You don't whine about it on the internet

Avatar image for deactivated-58b0b257815cf


People are so f*cking stupid. She rides this professional victim crap to the bank every time.

Avatar image for MuffintopX

Strong opinions get strong reactions. The topic could be about misogyny in video games or what the best type of cheese is. Mmm... Cheese.

Avatar image for apnu777

Wow the immature comments of gamers on this article is everything that's wrong with gaming. Trolling is never acceptable. If people want gaming to get respect, the trolls got to go.

Avatar image for gamergrlsgarage

Where was he when Jack Thompson was getting all those "misogynistic" rape and death threats just for being a female... Wait...

Avatar image for JusticeSoulTuna

You know what'd be funny? If she made a video talking about the 'women with father complexes' trope and takes aim at Ellie from The Last of Us and Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite. What will the gaming media do then ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

People need to understand that this woman is on no one's side other than her own. She's gonna wait until she's as irrelevant as possible and then release a new video showing how every type of female character is wrong in some way. Can't wait to see how those game devs will react when their characters are being criticized. I anticipate she'll take aims at the father complex women, then the sexualized fighting game characters, then the RPG female characters, then the MOBA characters etc.

Avatar image for Revolver391

Spot on... The thunderfoot videos on YouTube regarding her highlight this in great detail

Avatar image for edgardpoe

yeah, specially cuz her youtube videos cannot be commented. She must be a virgin.

Avatar image for _termahnator_

Da fuq you say to me?

Avatar image for JusticeSoulTuna

One thing I respect about Eddie Makuch's coverage of these kinds of stories on Gamespot is his impartiality. He just tells the news and nothing else. You know, actual journalism?

Avatar image for _termahnator_

What are feminist view on say, Lara croft saving her best friend, who is a girl, from kidnappers?

Avatar image for Zerabp

<< LINK REMOVED >> She has breasts while doing it so it's not okay.

Avatar image for RossRichard

I would bet she is trying to out-attention Phil Fish and Zoe Quinn. The timing of this debacle is telling.

Avatar image for deactivated-589b58f0d8bc1

<< LINK REMOVED >> Correlation does not imply causation.

Avatar image for veemonro

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> no but its not something id put behind her and the fact that she chooses to cry on the internet about death threats and not to go to the police is suspicious as ****

Avatar image for Zerabp

While Anita is a dishonest hack, whose voice should be ignored (not silenced). This kind of thing is what allows the people like Phil fish and Zoe Quinn to get away with fraud.

Avatar image for captmidnight93

Some of those games are medieval fantasy like game of thrones of course they're going to have prostitutes. Do you want us to erase history just to be politically correct? these games also have power female sorcerers and female warriors. Feminists are just nitpicking.

Avatar image for Pewbert

She is just a tr0ll who is getting tr0lled.

Avatar image for blackothh

calling twitter before the police seems to me that some priorities are out of order here

Avatar image for _termahnator_

She's gotta Make sure her donaters are entertained

Avatar image for 50cratez

<< LINK REMOVED >> yes maximus i am entertained.

Avatar image for blackothh

<< LINK REMOVED >> It seems so. I know that comment entertained me.

Avatar image for snacky_smorez

Videogames are fantasy. So of course they are going to have a degree of misogyny since they are developed primarily by males. She is arguing just to argue. With that being said no one should send death threats. That's really crossing the line. Just ignore her and she will go away.