The old joke, when women stopped going to college to become teachers and nurses, but to become whatever they wanted to be, was that what a husband earned was theirs and what a wife earned was hers. It wasn’t a very feminist view, but then, we were still able to make jokes back then, so everybody laughed at it.
Brianna Wu of GamerGate notoriety has announced that she’s going to run for Congress.
By “all of us,” she means all of her.
While Wu hasn’t officially started a campaign, she posted a promotional Facebook picture indicating that she would run, and confirmed her intentions in a statement to VentureBeat. Her policy platform will include an emphasis on women’s rights and “a bolder Democratic party” that addresses the gap between supporters of mainline Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and more left-leaning primary candidate Bernie Sanders.
Some may not be aware that Clinton was the “mainline Democratic” nominee, instead reading her as the champion of a couple marginalized identitarian tribes at the expense of the interests of America. Wu hopes to be the champion of fewer people.
“When I started speaking out about harassment, I thought something would change. But it hasn’t — every single system failed us,” Wu wrote on Twitter earlier today. “We’re getting diminishing returns on writing and speaking out about harassment. I think next step is running for office and passing laws.” She referenced a recent Washington Post article by journalist Sarah Jeong, who has drawn connections between Gamergate-related harassment and the present-day “alt-right” white nationalist movement, as well as the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.
The goal is to champion her personal self-serving cause and vindicate her personal self-serving butthurt against the “alt-right,” which has expanded, according to Jeong, to be everyone who isn’t her. Or, to put it in less savory terms, she wants you to shut up and do only what she allows you to do.
So is it wrong for Wu to run for Congress? No. Not even a little bit. That’s the nature of politics, that anyone can run and should. And if voters agree with her, and decide she’s better than (or not as bad as) the alternative, she will be elected. To prove the point, consider that the nation just elected a man as president who demonstrates no capacity to do the job because the uncertainty of what he would do was preferable to the certainty of what Hillary Clinton would do.* Rather than grasp Trump’s election as a rejection of the progressive agenda, Wu is running on the premise that it wasn’t progressive enough. The voters will decide.
Without inviting a rehash of GamerGate, Wu’s elevation to digital poster girl arose out of women in gaming. Not being a gamer (‘Roids was the last game I played with any regularity), it raises a question of whether gaming is a microcosm of societal sexism. Reliably, the New York Times is on it:
Last week, after a wait of almost a decade, the world’s most popular video game series, Super Mario Bros., finally came to the world’s most popular video game machine: the iPhone.
Unfortunately, despite Nintendo’s history and reputation, Super Mario Run is not a family-friendly game — or at least not one my wife and I will be letting our 6-year-old daughter play. The game is rife with stale, retrograde gender stereotypes — elements that were perhaps expected in 1985, when the first Super Mario Bros. was released in the United States, but that today are just embarrassing.
On the one hand, it’s “the world’s most popular video game series” that “unfortunately…is rife with stale retrograde gender stereotypes.” The disconnect here goes unnoticed by its writer, Chris Suellentrop, a former Times op-ed editor. Popularity is organic. People play what they want to play. It’s a video game, not propaganda for gender stereotypes. They tried that with Ghostbusters and the new Star Wars flicks, and it turns out that people really aren’t keen on socially engineering their fun time for identity politics.
This sense of identification gives video games an enormous capacity to create empathy for other people. There are video games in which you play as the parent of a dying child, as a transgender woman beginning hormone replacement therapy, as the son of an alcoholic. But it also presents more conventional game designers with an opportunity to create games in which young girls, and not just young boys, actually become heroes themselves.
If video games are fun, people will play them. No one stops women from creating video games that are loved. Then again, no one can force gamers to love a video game because its hero is a transgender woman. It’s not that the game isn’t available to be loved. It’s that it’s not loved. You can’t make people love it just because you do, just because it comports with your idealized vision of society.
And more importantly, it’s just a game. It’s played for fun, not as a weapon of gender hegemony. Just as humor has been politically outlawed, together with what used to be called speech and is now called harassment, games are on the chopping block.
If Wu’s complaint was that female game devs failed to achieve the success of males, even with the occasional bedroom tickle, the problem wasn’t misogyny, but that they just didn’t create games enough people wanted to play. And so she’s going to run for Congress in the hope that she can use the bludgeon of law to force gamers, people on the internets, society to play her game.
Gamers voted by playing the games they enjoyed. Voters will do the same. But the losers will not take away the lesson that people don’t want to play their game. Instead, they will huddle together for self-comfort and attack society for being deplorable. Society won’t care much because it’s too busy having fun playing Super Mario Bros. on their iPhone.
*Except for the voters in New York and California, who are entitled to disagree with the rest of the nation, but don’t win because the rules of the game don’t change if they don’t get their way.