Anita Sarkeesian and the “ordinary” but “remarkable” women

Right now Anita Sarkeesian is running a campaign, seeking support for her “non-profit” organisation in order to create a series of videos to “challenge stereotypes, smash the status quo and be defiant.” on women who have done remarkable things.

If this all sounds very familiar you might remember the 12 part video series that Anita Sarkeesian ran a similar charity drive for. It was to produce feminist videos about the inherent sexism of the video game industry, to be called Tropes Vs Women in Video . And despite raising a considerable amount of money and having all the time in the world, she has only produced 3 videos.

However, they have pocketed over $400,000 of the donations. How do we know this? Well, like all non-profits in the US they must complete a IRS 990 form and this is public record. Here is theirs.

Needless to say, the people of Reddit have pulled it apart and expressed quite a few concerns about the legitimacy of some of the statements it contains. Certainly the $384,329 collected in the Kickstarter for a specific purpose and then simply put away in the bank… that’s raising a few eyebrows.

Anyway, before I get off topic.

It would appear, according to Sarkeesian, that women cannot imagine world that “women doing revolutionary things, isn’t incredible at all”.

Actually, on that point isn’t doing something truly revolutionary likely to be regarded as incredible? I mean “revolutionary” and “incredible” are not actually gender biased.

But I digress… it seems all you poor ladies don’t have the ability to recognize women who have done remarkable things. So I can only assume you’ve never heard of Rosa Parks, Marie Skłodowska Curie, Margaret Thatcher, Benazir Bhutto, Eleanor Roosevelt, J.K.Rowling, Angela Merkel, Grace Hopper and the list goes on and on and on and …..

Ordinary women like “Ada Lovelace” – At which point I cracked up laughing.

Ada Lovelace… or not, rather.

Firstly, I heard all about “Ada” some 27+ years ago  during a computer studies class. Most people would not have heard of her, because it was rather specific. In the same way that a lot of people will not have heard of Alan Turing and almost nobody would have heard of Tommy Flowers.The later being the telephone engineer who actually designed Colossus, the world’s first programmable electronic computer. And why did he disappear from history when Turing didn’t? Secrecy about what he did.

Back to little Ada, she wasn’t an “ordinary woman” that Anita would like to portray and she wasn’t called “Ada Lovelace” either!

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, was the only legitimate daughter of George Lord Byron and Anna Isabella Milbanke, Lady Wentworth. Apart from being super rich she was also very privileged as well. There’s absolutely ZERO credibility to her “Doctor said she had a feeble brain” story because she was highly educated, studying long hours and on subjects including history, literature, languages, geography, music, chemistry, sewing, shorthand and mathematics to the level of elementary geometry and algebra… BEFORE SHE WAS 11!

The fact that Anita Sarkeesian appears to be oblivious to the fact Ada was highly privileged and highly educated really does undermine her argument. But that she then goes on to suggest she created the first programming language… Oh my. That’s all kinds of wrong. She wrote an algorithm.

Now I’m not downplaying her intelligence, she was an intelligent person and was well regarded as such in her own lifetime. But the idea she was a mathematical genius who wrote the worlds first computer program stupidly wrong.

There’s even considerable evidence to point to the fact that Charles Babbage, himself of relatively low family connections, used her notoriety in order to  attract funding for his mechanical computing devices. I could go on, but this is all known.

Anita, if you are looking for that perfect role model of computer genius… why the hell didn’t you say Grace Hopper? Grace Hopper has humble beginnings, was a genuine computer genius and prospered in the male dominated world of the US Navy. Is it because she isn’t very photogenic I wonder….

 

Sarkeesian’s first remarkable woman is to be Ching Shih, the infamously brutal Pirate commander of a fleet of over 300 junks. She kept control using terrorism, public executions,  flogging, clapping in irons, or quartering. She also had an interesting policy of female prisoners. Ugly ones set free, others can be either forced to marry a pirate or be ransomed. Truly an iconic feminist role model there. It makes you wonder who’s next? Myra Hindley, Belle Guinness or Elizabeth Báthory perhaps?

 

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