Monday, February 7, 2011

In his words: why Jim Sterling is, in fact, very sexist

[This post is very long, because I wanted to give Jim plenty of rope to hang himself. As you might have guessed by the length, this took a few days to put together, which is why I didn't return to posting as quickly as I wanted. Also, trigger warning for slut-shaming and jokes about abuse - especially the stuff about Fat Princess.]

[ETA: The writer behind GJAIF is Ben PADDON, not Ben Padman. Sorry about that, Ben!]

Amusingly, I'd been planning a post on why Jim Sterling is a paragon of male entitlement and sexism in the gaming industry when the flap broke out on twitter and the affiliated internets about a twitter exchange between Jim Sterling and Daphny over some "fanfic" that depicted Sterling having gay sex. (The "fanfic" was in response to Jim's defense of David Jaffe for his comments comparing the NGP to a "fresh vagina", which I won't address in this post since that's an entirely different kettle of fish.)

There's been a lot of heat generated from the pro and anti-Sterlingites out there. I want to make clear that I have mixed feelings about Daphny's actions. Definitely Jim Sterling deserved to be called out for calling his defense of David Jaffe "journalism". But were some of her comments homophobic? Maybe? Apparently, Daphny is a lesbian - but that doesn't give her a free automatic pass. One of the problems with discrimination is that minorities often engage in oppressive language and actions against their own group. Women certainly don't have a Get Out of Jail Free card when it comes to sexism, so I'm not convinced by the arguments that Daphny CAN'T HAVE BEEN homophobic because she is herself homosexual.

THAT SAID. The things that Jim said in this twitter exchange are absolutely inexcusable. Instead of doing the reasonable thing and ignoring her, or responding in a measured way, he IMMEDIATELY started flinging misogynistic insults of the worst sort:

Jim Sterling/Daphny twitter conversation highlights (Click the link to view the conversation in its entirety)
I know exactly what cunts look like. I'm talking to one right now
Just ask your husband for permission before using the computer next time.
People like you *revel* in sexism, so sure. I'm just giving you what all attention-seeking little bitches crave.
You're the embarrassment. To your gender, your species, and all feminazi sluts like yourself.

Pretty shocking stuff. Understandably, there's been a lot of flap over what was said, and a fair amount of backpedaling. CLEARLY Jim only meant these comments to apply to Daphny, and in no way should these comments have been interpreted as a general hatred of women! Even weirder, Ben Paddon of GJAIF (whose blog I do love, btw) attacked Jim's comments but defended him as not sexist, which was more than a little surprising.

And you know what... okay, it's the internet. People have internet-freakouts. It's a thing that happens that I've done myself more than once. But the thing is that Jim's comments are hardly an isolated event. When you look at the larger picture and actually read the things that Jim Sterling has attached his name to in the guise of "game journalism" over the years, his sexist insults look less and less like an isolated freakout and more like a representative sample of Jim's views of women.

So here is a collection of quotes by our friend Jim, with links to the original articles included to make sure I'm not "taking things out of context", which is how a lot of pro-Sterlingites have been defending his comments. I've loosely categorized them for your reading convenience. Any italics is purely my emphasis. My comments are added in brackets.

Breasts make everything better

The bigger the breasts, the better the fantasy. (Huge Breast Fantasy gives away free breasts)
[Clearly, any fantasy without breasts is sub-standard. I'm looking at you, Lord of the Rings! Clearly, LoTR was a steaming pile of fail with nary a nipple, sideboob, or cleavage to be seen.]
Yep, Mai Shiranui and her milktumors are returning to the series. For fans of nipplepillows the world over, this is certainly great news! (King of Fighters XIII bringing back Mai's breasts)
[And isn't that what matters? Who gives a shit about graphics improvements, new game modes, or new characters? What really matters here is MAI'S BREASTS. I mean, because we all know that the only value a woman has is what titillation her breasts can provide to male gamers. Sorry, ladies. Those of you who who have had mastectomies or who are transgendered will just have to face the truth.]
You have two choices when Agarest War launches -- the aforementioned PSN download or an Xbox 360 version that provides a sexy bundle, the centerpiece of which is a mouse mat with big breasts. ... Sorry, but absurd, boob-related items always win. (Breast-Flavored Record of Agarest War Gets Release Date)

Deep cleavage, skimpy leotards, side-portions of breasts and fleeting, partially-obscured nudity? Sounds like the perfect night in, right? One again, the ESRB has completely sold me on a videogame. (ESRB Final Fantasy XIII has side portions of breasts)

People complain about the lack of a strong female character in gaming, but they don't come much tougher than this one. Jenova is one MILF who can taste my Lifestream any day of the week. Plus the head comes off, and you can do some proper Patrick Bateman shit with that. (
[Okay, that's just disgusting. I'm not a guy, but I'm pretty sure it's not normal to fantasize about popping a woman's head off and sticking one's dick inside it.]
Boobs and video games: They pretty much are like peanut butter and jelly. (Another boob list geek lotion stock refilled)

Tits or GTFO

Slightly repurposed from an earlier Bayonetta figure, this one was been given a more natural pose and less, less, less clothing. Which is awesome. (This sexy nudey Bayonetta figure kit is sexy and nudey)
[Ladies, if you want to be deemed "awesome", you need to wear less clothing.]
Well, if she wants to show the skin, far be it from me to stop her liberating herself. What kind of man would I be if I suggested she should cover up? A low-down, rotten sexist is what! Well, I will take a stand for feminism and applaud this strong woman's decision to have her arse and norks prominently displayed for all [sic] the see. (More X-Blades screens, still less clothing than is sensible)
[For fuck's sake. This is a fictional character designed by men for men. At what point does her costume constitute a choice? Exposing yourself for the gratification of male viewers is not feminism. Read a fucking dictionary.]
We're dedicated to bringing you only the most relevant and hard-hitting weekend news, which is why we bring you grave word that Soul Calibur IV's Ivy might show a little less of her fat wobbly tits in the American version of the game than in the Japanese version -- JOURNALISM! (Japan keeps all the boobs for itself, Soul Calibur cover-up scandal)

Namco Bandai, hear this! I demand that Ivy's lactoids be on display for all to see. We've already lost the fatalities in Mortal Kombat; we refuse to surrender our snuggle pups, loblollies and twangers. We deserve the sweater meat as much as any Japanese gamer. (Japan keeps all the boobs for itself, Soul Calibur cover-up scandal)
[Ivy's tits being slightly covered is a scandal? I do not think that word means what you think it means, Jim... Seriously, this is an example of the sort of entitlement that just has to stop. Namco Bandai makes the games, and if you want them you give them your money. At no point does this entitle you, the customer, to DEMAND that publishers give you more tits in your games. Seeing tits is not an inalienable right that you are born with. If publishers decide to cover up some tits, then go buy an issue of Playboy.]

Fat Princess rules, feminism drools

It is quite ironic that (ugly) Feminists believe looks shouldn't matter, yet are judging Fat Princess' book solely by its cover. How hypocritical of them. Anyway, Fat Princess is obviously about the protection and veneration of women, and does more for the fairer sex than Feminism has ever done. (How Fat Princess is blatantly better than feminism)
[Right. Because we know that all feminists are shambling, drooling horrors. It's been proven by science! Anyway, feminism hasn't done anything for women. It's also been proven by science!]
"Heteronormative" is one of the most pretentious words I've ever heard. This is obvious proof that Fat Princess is better than Feminism, since someone who claims to be a Feminist once used the word "heteronormative" and now I've decided that all of them use it. Dropping little made-up words to try and sound clever just makes you look like a pretentious dickhead, and it's incredibly prugamatic to commit such indefenderable verbulascur offenseries. (How Fat Princess is blatantly better than feminism)
[So... you're saying that sounding like a pretentious dickhead is something you have expertise in? (Okay, a little below the belt, sure...)]
Fat Princess won't get pregnant in order to trap you: Everybody knows that women do this. They love getting themselves all preganted up so that they can force you to marry them and be stuck with their cancerous hides forever. (How Fat Princess is blatantly better than feminism)
[d00d, there's nothing women love more than fucking up men's lives - and what better way to do that than to get yourself pregnant? Who's with me, fellow feminists? Let's all go get pregnant RIGHT NOW. That'll show those bastards! If you're already pregnant or unable to reproduce, you can still join the party. Just bring home random foster children! And those of you with same-sex partners, well I guess you'll have to decide which men in your life you hate most and steal their sperm somehow. For feminism!]
In Fat Princess, everybody has a role to play. This is quite contrary to the idea that every single Feminist has, that women are better than men and make better drivers and that men should be forced to have their sperm hijacked at birth so women don't have to fuck them anymore. (How Fat Princess is blatantly better than feminism)
[Oh, shit. He's on to me! As a feminist, I do hate having sex with men. It's hard for me to get over my feelings of inadequacy long enough to do the deed since I'm so hideous and all. Sometimes I cry myself to sleep because I'm not a lesbian and can't have hot lady-sex where men can see me and get off on colliding ladybits.]
Seriously, fuck this idea that the social pendulum has to swing a little in favor of one group before balance can be achieved. (How Fat Princess is blatantly better than feminism)
[YEAH! Hear that, oppressed minorities? STFU! Hispanic men, you're just going to have to learn to be happy making 57% of what white men make. You want wage parity? Well FUCK THAT.]
Since women are basically just 3D porn, what is an anti-pornography stance if not an anti-female stance? (How Fat Princess is blatantly better than feminism)
[You know, sometimes I get tired of being porn. Like, the other day I was at the grocery store and these two dudes were following me around and masturbating at me and it was really inconvenient because I was like - "guys, you're blocking the cereal, can you move?" and they wouldn't. But then I couldn't really do anything because, you know, I'm porn and that's what porn is for. Still, it's inconvenient having to order my pizzas for takeout. The last time I ordered pizza for delivery it was cold by the time I got to eat it.]
If pornography is to end, then all women on Earth have to be murdered, and that's just not my scene. Perhaps it's okay for Adolf Hitler and his cackling Feminist cohorts, but we reasonable people who aren't Nazis don't agree. (How Fat Princess is blatantly better than feminism)
[Okay, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that there's a difference between Nazis and feminists. Also, I'm pretty sure that women can't be equal to men if they're all dead, which makes me pretty sure that I'm not advocating for the systematic murder of millions of people. But then again, I am prone to sleep walking, so who knows? I guess you'd better watch out because I'm pretty tired and... zzzz.... ALL WOMEN MUST DIE! IT IS OUR SACRED DESTINY! WE MUST... zzz... sorry, was I saying something?]
Fat Princess is a game about having fun, first and foremost, which is something that Feminists are 100% against! Just take so-called Woman Suffrage , for example. The American government denied women the right to vote for a joke, and a bunch of stupid women took it too far and then had to be force-fed through tubes because the silly bitches wouldn't eat thanks to some idiotic hunger strike. If they'd have laughed along like they should, they probably would have gotten the vote in another fifty or sixty years anyway. Whatever happened to patience being a virtue? (How Fat Princess is blatantly better than feminism)
[Silly bitches, votes are for men!]
Perhaps I'm just too heteronormative to understand the terrible evil that this game represents. Or maybe self-styled "feminists" who think that the movement is all about getting angry and using buzzwords are simply retarded. Who knows? (Feminists sh*t all over Fat Princess, real people laugh)
[Hey, guys I'm a feminist and... uh oh, I feel the stupid coming on... herp derp! Derp derp derp!]


screw ICO, and screw Yorda, the bedraggled, moth-brained, slack-jawed tartlet that she is! Terry Schiavo would have been a more effective ally than that ridiculous bitch. (Things I'm sick of games making me do)
[I'm blown away by the implication that mentally impaired = slut. Is keeping your legs together a higher brain function that only kicks in above a certain level of intelligence?]
Being unable to travel anywhere on your own because a bunch of shadows will drag off this mute mongoloid at a moment's notice. Where's the option to just say "f*ck it" and let the shadows pull her away? Chances are the shadows will throw her back anyway once they realize what an awful slag she truly is. (Things I'm sick of games making me do)
[Because once a woman has sex once, her value as a human being disappears. True story.]
Koei Tecmo employees will get $1,000 for their first child, $2,000 for their second child and a whole $20,000 if their loose and flapping vaginas can squirt out a third. (Koei Tecmo paying people to f*ck in the name of repopulation)
[Those whores. Think of how much sex you'd have to have to have a third kid. You'd have to bone a dude at least, like, half a dozen times. What are those skanks thinking?]
During these times of recession, it would be great if Walmart could pay its mostly braindead and poor workforce not to f*ck. (Koei Tecmo paying people to f*ck in the name of repopulation)
[... okay, I can't even be sarcastic on this one. As someone who grew up in the midwest and left because of double-digit unemployment BEFORE the recession... fuck you, Jim. Fuck you.]

Abuse = funny? (NOT for the faint of heart!!)

If you love drawings of impossibly huge breasts, you'll likely have heard of Ikki Tousen Xross Impact already. If not, then you're in for a treat. It's a fighting game for the PSP that recently launched in Japan, in which mammararily gifted young females lose more of their clothing as they take damage. Garmentry disintegrates as the battle wears on, and since the girls don't seem fond of wearing underwear, there's plenty of skin on show. Great fun for fans of domestic abuse, in any case. (Disintegrating clothing boob game gets boob wallpaper for bob fans boobs)
[Because we all know that domestic abusers are a key market segment that video game companies pursue...? ...seriously? Holy shit, dude.]
In fact, the message of this commercial seems to be that if you consistently beat your woman and mess with her head until she's a hopeless, despair-ridden wretch, all it takes is one material gift and she'll instantly forgive you. So, a pretty realistic portrayal of all women. (Abuse your virtual girlfriend, make it all better with a teddy bear)
[Seriously. Whiskey tango foxtrot.]
The key words banned by online shop Dejipare include things like torture, bondage, loli and rape. Regular Christian sex will still be perfectly acceptable, but it seems that the whole underage rape thing that has been seen in many an ero title will no longer be tolerated ... Thanks a lot, RapeLay. This is why we can't have nice things! (Japan's erotic game sensitivity continues)
[This is as entitled and privileged as it gets. I don't care if Jim is serious or not with these comments. It's one thing to demand that Ivy show her "fat wobbling tits". It's another to demand access to games that center on rape. Even if it's "just a joke", these kinds of jokes are never, ever, EVER okay.]

So that's the stuff that's in the past. There was a fair amount of backlash over this whole thing that even resulted in some industry professionals like Mikey Neumann stating that they would not allow Jim to interview them. Predictably, this resulted in a lot of backpedaling by both Jim and his supporters, but the responses don't really do anything but dig an even deeper hole for himself:

Jim's responses to comments on Destructoid

Otherwise, you basically said it all. I responded in kind to some incessant abuse by someone who was using anti-male slurs and homophobic implications, and they started acting like the victim. (Jim Sterling's comment history on Destructoid)
[No, Jim. You did not respond in kind. Sure, I'll admit that Daphny's depiction of you having gay sex with David Jaffe was disgusting and utterly tasteless. But your response was like killing a fly with a bazooka. She implied that you were gay, and you called her a "cunt" and a "feminazi slut". That is a completely disproportionate response, akin to running over someone with a tank because they threw a rock at you. It's not okay to throw rocks, but it is never EVER okay to run people over with thanks.

Furthermore, at no point did Daphny ever "act the victim". Go back and read the conversation again. Are those the words of someone who feels victimized? They're not. But you know what, even if she had felt victimized she would have HAD A RIGHT TO.]
I want to disagree with that statement. I do not think feminism, at its heart, is a bad thing. I think true feminism is a noble endeavor, a quest for equality and for women to not feel subjugated. I agree with that endeavor. (Jim Sterling's comment history on Destructoid)
[This is the biggest load of horse shit I've heard from you yet, Jim. The only reason you're saying this is because you finally crossed a line and alienated people in the industry - which is impressive given the base level of misogyny that exists in the gaming industry. But how can you reconcile this profession of support for feminism with all of your previous statements about feminists? Please, do explain this to me. Because you can't say that ALL FEMINISTS are ugly, silly little bitches who hate men and want nothing more than a good dicking and then expect me to believe you when you say that you support feminism. I would have to be as retarded as you claim all feminists are in order to believe that.]
This is why I specifically said "feminazi" and not "feminist." I believe there is a sub-set of poser-feminist that uses the movement as an excuse to demand special treatment and dampen free speech by using the accusation of "misogyny" as a weapon, a way of terrifying people into being quiet. I believe the blending of "feminist" and "nazi" in this regard -- since it's a brand of female using fear and bullying to quieten people -- is quite fitting. (Jim Sterling's comment history on Destructoid)
[Feminism, like any movement, is a collection of people. People being what they are, any group of people sufficiently large enough contains assholes who are motivated out of self-interest more than anything else. So sure, I'm sure that there exists a small minority of feminists out there who use their feminism in this way. But you know what? Those people are still NOT NAZIS. The nazis systematically exterminated millions of people, including Jews, Catholics, gays, the disabled, and political dissidents. These asshole feminists? They behaved like assholes. Trying to equate the two is an insult to the people whose lives were ruined by the Holocaust and an insult to the families of those who were killed by the Nazis.

But aside from that, you're familiar with the maxim "where these's smoke, there's fire"? Maybe the reason so many people are calling you a misogynist is because, I don't know... YOU'RE A MISOGYNIST.]

And this is why I called her an embarrassment to her gender. When you throw the "misogyny" card out there like the boy who cried wolf, using it to attack writers, comedians and others for simply making jokes or treating you how you've treated others, it belittles the entire female population and makes people roll their eyes at the thought of feminist issues. (Jim Sterling's comment history on Destructoid)
[No, Jim. You're the one who is making people roll their eyes at feminist issues. You're the one who has systematically belittled women and feminism. You're the one who has a large body of writing that supports the system of privilege that keeps women "in their place". Being a comedian does not mean that misogynist jokes are okay. Being a writer does not mean that misogynist writings are okay. That is not "crying wolf". That is speaking out against injustice. Learn the difference.]
In essence, Aurain, I believe you just demonstrated the damage this type of faux-feminist can do. You just wrote feminism off as a bad thing, and that's the image that people like "Daphaknee" have helped to spread. (Jim Sterling's comment history on Destructoid)

Anyway, I'm done with this. After three days of disproportionate harassment, I've had my fill. (Jim Sterling's comment history on Destructoid)
[Oh noes! Poor Jim Sterling! People have been "harassing" him for THREE WHOLE DAYS! Those jerks! Don't they know that they hurt his fuh-fuh-feeeeeeelings? ...sorry, Jim. You crossed a line, and you deserve a lot more than three days of internet controversy.]

I'm not sure about the chronology of the Destructoid comments as relates to the twitter "apology" that follows, but here's the "apology" that Jim posted on twitter as well...

Jim's twitter "apology" (compiled from 6 successive tweets)

Am I sorry for saying it to the person in question? No. Am I sorry for calling [sic]our her hypocritical faux-feminism? No. If you, as a female or male uninvolved with the discussion, are offended by what I said, then I apologize for that.
[Okay, you know what? Go back and re-read the exchange. Go. I'll wait.

...AT NO POINT DOES DAPHNY EVER MENTION THE WORD FEMINIST, FEMINISM, OR MISOGYNY. She did say that you used a sexist stereotype, but only after you told her to ask for a man's permission before saying things on the internet which is, you know, PRETTY SEXIST. The feminist label was something that YOU applied to her so that you could YET AGAIN demonize feminism and feminists, which is pretty telling and pretty much puts the lie to your comments about supporting feminism.]
It also leaves out the disproportionate and stupid harassment I've had for the past few days, and have mostly done my best to ignore. Their version of events leaves out the homophobia or the fact they got in my face and begged for my attention in the first place. They opened the conversation with homophobic insults and male-specific slurs, and after a LOT of patience I responded in kind. Obviously my comments were not aimed at all women. I never once said women are bad. Just the type of woman represented by who I dealt with.
[I think by harassment you mean backlash, which is pretty well deserved considering how far you crossed a line with your comments to Daphny. Once again, calling someone a faminazi slut is NOT OKAY. Maybe instead of trying to ignore the backlash, you should do some serious self-examination about why exactly so many people are so upset with you. There was no patience exhibited in your responses. In your THIRD TWEET to Daphny, you called her a cunt. It only took two responses before you threw decency out the window and resorted to misogynist slurs. So don't try to claim the high road here, Mr. Stirling, because it does not belong to you.

You may not have said women are bad in this particular twitter exchange, but your body of writing speaks for itself, sir.]

Concluding thoughts

So... phew. I feel pretty dirty having read through Jim's stuff to find all of these quotes, but I feel pretty confident in pointing at these quotes and saying that... you know what? This twitter freakout is NOT an isolated incident. Jim Sterling is, in fact, incredibly sexist. What you have here is a consistent trend of Jim making comments that reduce women's worth to the gratification their bodies provide male gamers, comments that assert that men HAVE A RIGHT to see womens bodies whenever they demand it, comments that trivialize rape and domestic violence, and comments that denigrate feminists, feminism, and anyone who would assert that changes need to be made to further the equal treatment of women. You know what that is? Misogyny.

See, the thing is that you don't have to go around saying "shit, I fucking hate women" to be a misogynist. You don't have to be a member of the men's rights movement to be a misogynist. Misogynists are people who seek to justify and reproduce the subordination of women by men, and that's what all of these quotes are doing. What's more, Jim is a fairly influential guy within the game journalism community. I'll freely admit that his insistence on a correct usage of the 1-10 review scale and disregard of backlash from publishers is admirable and something that game journalism needs more of.

I might not always agree with his reviews, but his consistency of standards is something that has earned him a lot of respect in the gaming community and has made him an influential person. But with that influence comes responsibility. Jim can't have it both ways. He can't insist that he's a "journalist" who wants to see game journalism become less of a schill industry and then turn around and write anti-feminist screeds about Fat Princess and claim that we shouldn't get offended because he's just doing it for the lulz. To use a metaphor that should make sense to Mr. Stirling, you can't have your cake and eat it too.

I'm not going to advocate that Destructoid fire you, Jim, because that would be pretty pointless. Clearly, they have a vested interest in keeping you around because your brand of "humor" creates controversy and brings them pageviews and thus more ad revenue. It's a sad fact of life, but it's true. If you want to be the Howard Stern of the gaming world, there's honestly not much I can do to stop you. But DO NOT try to claim that you respect women, and DO NOT try to claim that you are somehow not rampantly misogynist because the evidence just doesn't support it.