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Web Video: Feminist Frequency

Feminist Frequency is a web series created by Anita Sarkeesian to analyze pop culture from a feminist perspective. The point of the series is to point out female character archetypes, mostly negative criticism towards what she regards as the Unfortunate Implications that ensue from various shows and movies. She has created a six-part mini-series on "Tropes V.S. Women" and is in the process of creating a 12-part mini-series on "Tropes V.S. Women in Video Games", both of which just so happen to use this very site as inspiration.

Feminist Frequency has earned some rather...controversial reactions, so please please please observe the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement.

Tropes discussed in the series:

  • The Bechdel Test - She suggests an addendum to it that interactions between women should amount to more than a minute of screen time, to clear up debate over cases where there are only one or two sentences. She also points out a corollary for the portrayal of people of color in films, where two or more of them talk to each other about something other than a white person.
  • Each of the "Tropes V.S. Women" episodes focuses on a particular trope she considers to be negative:
  • The Tropes Vs Women in Video Games has started being released:
    • The first three are about the Damsel in Distress.
      • The first focuses on the definition (a woman rendered completely helpless so the hero can rescue her) and the history of the trope from some of its earliest incarnations up to the year 2000.
      • The second focuses on more modern games and the trope's combination with other tropes for a Darker and Edgier twist. Murdering the hero's wife and forcing him to rescue his daughter combines the Damsel in Distress with Stuffed into the Fridge. Some combine the two (called by Sarkeesian, "Damsel In The Fridge") by getting the hero to rescue the murdered wife's soul (usually from hell), and some have the twist of getting the hero to murder her himself at the end of the game to rescue her from mutilation or just to get at the villain, sometimes with her begging to be freed (combining it with Mercy Kill, called by Sarkeesian "Euthanized Damsel"). She then places the games' violence against women in the context of reality, focusing on the fact that the final combination rationalizes violence against a woman for her own good and the fact that this is typically the rationalization used in abusive relationships.
      • The third is about role reversal and the differences of the Distressed Dude from the Damsel in Distress. In it, she also discusses the continued use of the Damsel in Distress, portrayal of ironic sexism in indie and mobile games, and the distinction between subversion of the trope as opposed to parodies of the trope.
    • The fourth is about the "Ms Male Character" trope, a subtype of Distaff Counterpart, with digressions into the Smurfette Principle and Put A Bow On Her Head.
  • Most Writers Are Male: Discussed most of the time.
  • Stalker with a Crush: How she sees Justin Bieber's version of "All I Want For Christmas Is You".

Works specifically discussed in the series:

  • The Nostalgia Chick: Cited as a reference source.
  • Veronica Mars: Praised it for interpreting women (the main character specially) for being tech-savvy and the use of non-violent conflict resolution. Panned the third season for literally villainising feminists.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Although she hasn't discussed the show in an episode, she has mentioned it often as one of her favorite shows and characters. She has also published one dissertation in which she compares Buffy to Bella Swan.
  • Twilight: Unsurprisingly, she finds it to be awful. Although in her video about it, she discusses how male viewers often hate Edward for the wrong reasons.
  • Dollhouse: She considers it misogynistic because the Villain Protagonists are sympathetic at the same time they do horrible things to women.
  • The Sarah Connor Chronicles: She considers it wonderfully feminist for presenting a strong, independent single mom and for having a lot of character development.
  • True Blood: She finds it sexist for promoting female dependence to alpha male types represented by the murderous raping vampires.
  • Mad Men: She considers it sexist and doesn't buy that presenting retro sexism to make us laugh at the 1960s removes the element of sexism and thinks that it ultimately serves to make sexism be perceived as acceptable.
  • True Grit: She likes Mattie as a smart young woman but argues against other feminists calling it feminist because Mattie promotes masculine violence instead of feminine cooperation.
  • Sucker Punch: She calls it a "steaming pile of sexist crap."
  • Dexter: She doesn't like having a crazy serial-killing man as a part of popular entertainment.
  • Bones: As with above, she doesn't like it for having crazy serial-killing men as a part of popular entertainment. She describes it as sexist but doesn't go into why.
  • CSI: New York: As with above, she doesn't like it for having crazy serial-killing men as a part of popular entertainment.
  • Firefly: She considers Zoe a wrong way to write a female character.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender : She likes Katara. With regard to the film The Last Airbender, she finds the Race Lift casting racist.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: She approves of it but hasn't gone into detail why. Although she has expressed disappointment in the idea of Equestria being a monarchy, especially in light of Twilight Sparkle ascending to the throne.
  • The Hunger Games: She likes the first book for its portrayal of Katniss as the strong, reluctant warrior but finds the premise unrealistic. She considers the later books to pointlessly distort the story into a Twilight-esque romantic Will they? Won't they? and simplify the Katniss character into sexist cliche. She likes the film adaptation but finds the Race Lift casting racist.


Tropes invoked during the series:

  • Accentuate the Negative: Largely focuses on what she finds sexist in the media.
  • Actual Pacifist: Her continuous praise of non-violent resolutions in media suggests that she is this. She associates masculinity with violence, and femininity with non-violence, and so incorporates discussion of violence into feminist analysis.
  • And That's Terrible: She argues that Hollywood "should feel really guilty right now" about using the Mystical Pregnancy trope.
  • Black and White Morality: She believes that characters who perform violence against women should be completely evil and unsympathetic.
  • But Not Too Evil: Anita doesn't care much whether it's the good guys or the bad guys who are being sexist.
  • Colbert Bump: Was given one in the wake of the extreme trolling of the announcement of Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series by major sites, like Kotaku and 4chan (especially 4chan).
  • Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: Anita has made a few research mistakes. Among them:
    • Lumping Y: The Last Man and the Daughters of Amazon therein as an example of "crazy man-hating Straw Feminists without any realistic feminists showing up" when not only do calmer, more grounded feminists appear, but Brian K. Vaughan explicitly created the characters as examples of one type of feminist school of thought and other characters as opposing ones.
    • She also lists Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as a straight example of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, even though she is a character who was an outright subversion of this trope who actually says to her romantic foil: "I'm not a concept. Too many guys think I'm a concept or I complete them or I'm going to make them alive, but I'm just a fucked up girl who is looking for my own peace of mind. Don't assign me yours."
    • She has been accused of doing this in her Bayonetta review (which has been edited, see here.), where she made several inaccuracies regarding both the plot and the characters. When criticized for it, she said that it was a misunderstood joke, leading her to edit it to remove the inaccurate statements.
    • In her description of Starfox Adventures, Dinosaur Planet, she states that the game was meant to be "her [Krystal's] own game", and that Fox McCloud replaced Krystal, when in fact he replaced a different character, Sabre. The closest to a mention she makes of Sabre is when she says that Krystal was meant to be "one of two playable characters".
    • She will occasionally use games with a gender-neutral protagonist as male-centered, such as claiming Borderlands 2 features male-on-female violence, when the player can play as two female classes, or Fable II has a girl die for the sake of a supposedly male protagonist.
    • Her criticism of Kanye West's music video of "Monster" states that that the video is trying to fetishize the "dead women are sexy" trope, which isn't how a fetish works. She also Completely Missed The Point of the song, video, and the album as a whole, which was meant to be a critique about the depravities and vapidness of Western Society in general, hence the use of dead women. In the same video, she then criticizes Amanda Palmer's album "Who Killed Amanda Palmer" as being apart of this same "trend of fetishizing dead women" in media, which is especially baffling as the album title and artwork are meant to be a Shout-Out to Twin Peaks in the first place, and secondly she seemed to have never listened to any songs from the album itself, like "Oasis.".
    • Dollhouse:
      • She says "Dollhouse is basically a glorified brothel." For one, she fails to distinguish between Dollhouse, the show, and the Dollhouse company in the story. For another, she says it like a Wham Line, revealing something telling about the show that the show itself never realizes. In fact, the Dollhouse is described repeatedly in the series as an institution of prostitution and human-trafficking. The season one finale "Epitaph One" even uses the word "brothel."
      • After describing how the second season would move toward the themes of the season one finale, she rants about how horrifying she found the episode "Omega". While "Omega" was the last episode aired in the States, the Dollhouse season finale was "Epitaph One", an episode available for viewing on Hulu and iTunes. "Epitaph One" is a Deadly Distant Finale, and season two would explain how everything reaches that state. The events of "Omega" are irrelevant.
    • Sarkeesian cites Heike Kagero from Super Punch Out as a homophobic/transphobic caricature of effeminate men. In reality, he's nothing of the sort. Heike Kagero's appearance is based on oyama, male Kabuki actors who take on female roles.
  • Men Use Violence, Women Use Communication: Discussed in her videos for True Grit and Veronica Mars.
  • Not So Different: Many of her supporters point out that the tropes she criticizes in video games are also complaints levied by gamers.
    Moviebob: It's okay if we say Princess Peach has been kidnapped too many damn times, but if a feminist says it, she's coming to take your balls away!
    • At least some gamers, however, are criticising those things from the perspective of a specific franchise, however, while Sarkeesian criticises it as part of a wider context, so it's not quite the same. Then again, some gamers (such as Moviebob himself) clearly agree with her critique on this point.
  • One of Us: She indicates she loves Sci-Fi and fantasy shows, and does a trope-based segment. She also says she loves many of the franchises she critiques, including the Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda franchises. While a throwaway comment she made during a 2010 lecture saying she's "not a fan of [violent] video games" indicates that she may have misled in her depiction of herself as an avid gamer insofar as the term indicates familiarity with mature fighting games, it is clear that she at least casually plays both phone and console games and grew up with them.
    • I am not a fan of video games, I had to learn a lot about them. I would love to play video games, but I don't want to go around shooting people, and ripping off their heads, and it's just gross.
  • Sarcasm Mode: In the latter part of the Tropes Vs. Women videos.
  • Viewers Are Morons: Sometimes justified in that her videos are intended to be accessible to children as well as adults and to be played in classrooms, as well as predominant criticism indicating an ignorance of basic discussed concepts.
    • In the first Tropes vs Women in Video Games video, about a minute is spent describing to the audience what a Damsel in Distress is, even though the trope is very well-known.
    • She emphasizes at the beginning and end that you can be a fan of something and be able to see its flaws.


Limyaael's Fantasy RantsBooks on TropeFenimore Cooper's Literary Offences
Fear Of GirlsWeb VideoFilthy Frank

alternative title(s): Feminist Frequency
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