Margaret Maclennan is a Canadian belly-dancer and Youtube commentator, whose videos on social justice, #gamergate and the exploits of Anita Sarkeesian have attracted the attention of this writer. To wit; in her pong is sexist video, she muses over the beauty of sharing a ping-pong ball being subverted by a “white phallic symbol trampling over black background.” such…triggering words, she uttered, that I felt compelled to contact her for comment. Margaret has kindly agreed to converse on subjects as diverse as feminism, disability and conservative politics and I present our thoughts here.
She self-identifies as a catholic, conservative cripple. A few years ago, Margaret has been diagnosed with auto-immune disease, requiring the removal of her large intestine and forcing her to live with a stoma. In the time she was required to take off to recuperate, she delved into Anita Sarkeesian’s feminist frequency videos, and came up with a surprising proposition.
Her video Anita – it’s time to stop, Margaret underscores the fading relevance of the tropes vs women series, even in its context of a feminist media critique, by pointing out that among other problems, only 6 games released after 2014 have been covered. She then proposes that she will complete Sarkeesian’s project by cataloguing and examining the several hundred games mentioned in the series and publishing the results online. At the time of writing, this video has 224,000 views and Margaret’s subscriber base is growing.
We contemplate what might be achieved by stock-taking the games mentioned in feminist frequency videos. Margaret elaborates:
“With enough data Femfreq will be able to be replaced by a formula so you can plug in the year, console, name, designer, dev studio and genre and get an answer as to whether it’ll be sexist or not. Femfreq doesn’t use this approach. Analyzing game-by-game is insane. There are thousands of new games every year, and now we need a feminist to crawl through each one of them? Femfreq doesn’t provide a rubric for feminist-approval, and even with games include a female character, Femfreq will still rip her up because as Anita says — everything is sexist.”
Indeed, if Sarkeesian’s speech on how to be a feminist, uttered at the Sydney opera house early in 2015 is to be taken at face value, what is even the point of a feminist critique of games, if they are all innately sexist? Can there be the feminist equivalent of a dietician’s approval tick for products and services? However, the purpose of the project is broader than a mere sexism detector;
“I’m at over 250 games and over 40 columns worth of breakdown listing consoles, designers, release dates, countries of origin — I’ll release the whole thing and let the internet do with it as it pleases. It’ll be a lot easier to rip on Sarkeesian when everyone and anyone can pull up a free-to-edit spreadsheet and point out that she, for example, has historically hated on Ubisoft Montreal until her recent turnaround to appreciate assassin’s creed: syndicate with a day 1 review…the faster I finish the spreadsheet the faster other bloggers and commentators can join in on the well-structured fun.”
But enough of Sarkeesian, who is indeed passé, let us move on. Margaret reflects on her interactions with #gamergate et al;
“I’m attracted to social justice because it’s repugnant — hey, wanna see a dead body?
I’ve been a conservative for years. I realized that conservatives – or conservatives in Canada — were the good guys when the liberal media’s threats that the sky would fall should the right honourable Stephen harper win the election in 2006. Nothing happened, and I liked the direction he and his party took. So I stopped consuming the media that lied to me and found out that reality is conservative and that if someone warns you that something is evil that you’re better off finding out for yourself.
I’ve been watching #gamergate since it started. I’ve been going to sci-fi conventions for a few years and noticed that social justice and safe spaces and leftist pushes against dissenting opinions had already taken hold. I’m a bigger star trek nerd than a video game nerd and i’m right to assume that without a massive pushback against sjws now then the next trek series in 2017 will be a pile of leftist politically correct trash. Tng and tos were preachy but creatively so, but at this rate there’s no telling how awful the show will be if it has to conform to tumblrisms.”
On the matter of feminists responding to her work, Margaret muses that;
“Feminists and SJWs will respond to my tweets and arguments but simultaneously ignore the fact that I exist. They’ll talk about me as if I’m not real, because I can’t possibly be real.”
“For a bunch of evil misogynists, I get a lot more respect (and YT channel traffic) from atheist white men despite me being a right-wing catholic disabled female, because those evil misogynists aren’t getting wrapped up in my personal list of attributes, only my arguments against feminism.”
This sounds all good and well, but my innate sense of devil’s advocacy can never allow me not to ask, “what is the problem with political correctness to begin with?
“Political correctness is a slippery slope. Political correctness is like being polite at a party, except the whole world is watching you…[but] you can’t live your whole life being polite to everyone with varying levels of sensitivity. And what’s polite in one society is not in another…every society has different standards for being polite, and being politically correct means adhering to dozens and dozens of different standards which effectively retards communication.”
I would have to agree, that socialist government can be likened to a cocktail party in the sense that no-one’s counting the money paying for the booze and snacks.
“The left believe that the government knows better how to regulate an individual’s money and behaviour. They’re hosting a party, but it’s for literally everyone and it’s for your entire life. When someone at the party pipes up and starts offending the others, the solution is more government. Install another hostess by that guest to threaten to take away their canapes privilege unless they start regulating their behaviour. In real life, it’s lefties who abandon ideals like free speech before right wingers.”
The inevitable question effervesces to the surface, “What do you think about the 2015 Canadian election?”
“Trudeau’s party won because the NDP lost. The ndp lost sight of their target and the conservative heavyweights bailed when they saw the writing on the wall. Our finance minister Flaherty died recently. Peter Mckay retired to be with his family and Baird left to work privately. The prime minister’s office lost touch with reality. They kept hiring people with family connections and degrees in political science and it really showed. The ads were lame, they ignored social media. Lots of my friends who would normally volunteer on campaigns (myself included) didn’t want to get involved for one reason or another. Maybe we just ran out of steam.
I’m looking forward to seeing the spring cleaning after getting our butts handed to us. Whoever is in charge of hiring needs to burn every resume on file and stop hiring people who only want to move to Ottawa for the cocktail parties.”
The elephant in the room – Trudeau’s feminist cabinet, remains untouched, which I feel is an interesting way to go about it as the real issue is much deeper;
“Frankly all I ever wanted out of the conservative party was for them to shut down the liberal’s media wing, the cbc. It would’ve been political poison to kill it, but they lost this election anyway.”
Would that not be, gasp, censorship? No, it would not, as Margaret asserts;
“Cutting off funding to the cbc isn’t censorship. They get 1.1 billion in taxpayer dollars every year and trudeau sweetened them up with the promise of an extra $150 million. Despite this, we don’t even know how much their main players and big name anchors are paid every year. The crtc (the canadian censorship racket who doles out radio and tv signals) are our quasi-governmental censors and we don’t get to vote for their head, just like we can’t vote for the head of cbc. The cbc has contracts with big newspapers like the globe and mail and the national post to share content. With money like that pouring in from the government and to the major media outlets, it’s not censorship to stem that unearned tide. The big media names are literally incestuous — americans can look up the name “andrew coyne” to see among other highlights that his cousin Deborah Coyne (who very nearly broke up Canada during the Meech Lake accord) is the mother of prime minister Justin Trudeau’s half-sister.”
Can a parallel between social justice and the religious right in the realms of prohibition and censorship be a better comparison? Again, margaret begs to differ;
“I’m not sure it exists. I only ever hear of the religious right when someone is accusing another of being a part of it, or when a conservative is claiming that they aren’t a part of the religious right.”
But tipper gore, pmrc, they wanted to sensor songs…
“tipper gore is a leftist. She’s not religious right, she’s a leftist who had too much free time and too big of a megaphone in her media-beloved husband. Without incredibly strict government control (and hiring hundreds of censors) there are no laws to ban heavy metal and you’d sink millions into regulating it.”
Indeed, the time has now passed where censorship was advocated on the grounds of offence to religion. Those of us from the 80’s may remember this, but the 80’s have been over ever since guns n roses broke up in 1995…
“it’s lefties who want censorship. They aren’t liberal. The left hates reality. It’s lefties who run the hate mobs on campuses. It’s lefties who threaten violence. Lefties are communists: they hate their country, they hate the natural world.
Gather up all the main perpetrators of hate against men and gamers and take stock of their political background. John macintosh supports Bernie Sanders. The current thugs at mizzou are led by a student, peyton head, who met obama in 2011 and may have interned with Rahm Emmanuel. The only people who have consistently supported #gamergate is the conservative-friendly breitbart.
The right wing have been smeared unfairly for decades. The left states our opinions for us and gets them wrong on purpose to try to make us look evil. They’ve never read our books and they won’t read our sources. They heard from buzzfeed and cracked that we’re monsters and that’s all they need to know.”
I could muse on the left-right divide at length, or the questionable use of “right-wing” and “conservativism” interchangeably, but instead I ask a more direct question, “why do you think conservativism is unappealing to young people?”
“the media never shows young conservatives without branding them as such. On tv, it’s not “here’s Jimmy, your new classmate!” it’s “here’s James JR the 3rd” and he’s wearing a suit and being an asshole. The media puts all conservatives into the cigar-chomping suit wearing old businessman box. It’s conservativeface and I find it very triggering.“
And here it is again – media portrayal. It would seem that many of the world’s problems can be mitigated by switching off the tv (as I have done more than a decade ago and would encourage you to do the same also). Media portrayals are not evidence, they are at best, thinly-veiled propaganda. It has been discussed on this site at length before, that the propagation of feminist ideology though the media is one part of the problem with perception of men’s issues as opposed to men themselves being the issue, feminism for its own part not being evidence-based and at best wishful thinking, utopian apartheid at worst, but those are my thoughts. As for Margaret’s, I pose the question, as to what she thinks of feminism’s basis in reality, she answers;
“modern feminism is not evidence based. It stopped being evidence based ten years ago when they realized it was effectively finished. Feminism has a point in other countries. After WW2 the western world lost confidence in itself and we stopped trying to bring western civilization to 3rd world countries. So now it’s up to those countries themselves to author their own revolutions. Unfortunately, without a document like that one signed in 1215 it will continue to be a difficult slog for them.”
Reflecting on her own physical condition, Margaret writes;
“I’m a part of the disabled community and I’m realizing just how many terms and demands modern feminists have stolen from the cripples. “listen and believe” is a useful term for someone like me with a very specific diet and bathroom needs — yes, I could explain to you why I can’t eat this, but it’ll take 10 minutes.
Thing is, I can actually explain to you why I can’t eat spinach or whole wheat. Feminist can’t explain why they need — wait, what do feminists actually want?
The pay gap is especially cantankerous. Having an ostomy bag takes a few extra grand out of my wallet every year for medical care, a special diet and even a wardrobe that will fit me without compressing my midsection. #giveyourmoneytocripples, because unlike women we really do have challenges that keep us from certain occupations. And this is from a low-level cripple! People with more severe mobility problems are fantastic sources of rants against feminists and their moaning.
Feminists want to be seen on the same level of victimhood as the disabled but without the daily trouble. I have a disease and condition twenty-four hours a day. Feminists are oppressed only when there’s a man around. One thing feminists haven’t adopted from the cripples: the sense of humour you need to survive.”
Why does she think feminism is so humourless?
“Humour is humiliation. Feminists can’t take a joke because you have to make them look ridiculous. Unless someone is being ridiculed (including yourself) it’s not funny. Feminists have ruined “that’s not funny” and they now judge jokes on whether it’s making fun of things they love or hate. The only funny jokes are ones that mock things they hate.”
With the personal being the political, humour gets uncomfortably self-denigrating for most people that way inclined. But that’s the bed they made for themselves, no-one else…
Ultimately, life moves on and margaret has been able to resume dancing;
“I danced my first gig back 7 months after my surgery. With my ostomy I can dance on my own but planning for classes or gigs can be difficult. Finding costuming that covers my ostomy has been a challenge. I made a black and leopard print costume a few months ago that’s been workable, at least. Custom costumes made in the middle east that would work with my ostomy are expensive, at least $800 with shipping for plain ones.”
She continues to publish Youtube videos, the most recent highlight for me being her commentary on Anita Sarkeesian appearing uninvited at the housewarming party for Minecraft creator notch. The Sarkeesian games spreadsheet project is nearing completion also with a few more instalments to follow accompanying videos.
With that, I’d like to thank margaret for taking the time to talk to me and wish her the best of luck in the future. I would encourage the reader to view her work here.