Facebook can be amazing. Over the past year or two I’ve steadily curated my Facebook friends lists to provide me with utter joy on a minute-by-minute basis. I can log on and be in touch from people around the world at any hour of the day and my main feed reflects the absolutely wonderful fuckers that I call my friends.
However the downside to Facebook means that occasionally you see a comment from a friend of a friend that isn’t something you would want on your daily feed of happy.
Recently #GamerGate has been in the news and since I have an awful lot of friends working in tech and gaming it’s getting commented on. Alot. Which is great because almost every post that I see on my feed is largely positive about the whole debacle.
But occasionally you get someone, a friend of a friend, who loudly protests that this isn’t what they see in their industry. By saying that they don’t see it, they’re basically silencing the voices of those who do. They’re saying ‘your point is invalid because I don’t see it in my day to day life’.
I’m not seeing the vast quantities of sexism I’m supposed to be seeing. Maybe it just doesn’t affect the company I work for, or the community built around our game.
Yesterday I pointed out that of course the chap in question hadn’t seen anything like the degree of sexism that us women experience because he is a man. Do you know how he responded to that? He told me that now he had experienced sexism because of my comment to him. My comment to him was apparently sexist because I pointed out that the fact he was male means he doesn’t experience systematic gender-related oppression. The problem is that there’s no answer to this. I can’t counter his claims that I was sexist to him because it’s a personal thing. I feel sorry for him if he believes that genuinely is sexism because he will never understand the pain and hurt that so many of us go through on a regular basis, but I can’t help him with that.
The thing is, I’m a gamer. There, I said it. Something that I don’t often admit. Do you know why I don’t admit it very often? Because people go ‘oh, that’s cute’ and then either assume that I play computer games because of some fictional boyfriend that I may or may not have, or that I play ‘girl games’. I confess, I’m actually a Warcraft addict. But it all started way back when I used to play games on my Atari ST and mess around with programming. Then came Tomb Raider for the Playstation and my Dad and I used to sit in my bedroom on the floor for hours playing it together. I’m also a God Sim addict and haven’t found one that can defeat me yet. Oh, and I like to write databases for fun. So no, I’m not a fucking ‘healer girlfriend’.
Where were we. Yes. I’m a gamer. Warcrack. I have experienced the fear of not using microphones in raids because you just don’t know if you’re going to get some misogynistic prick who thinks that women shouldn’t play computer games. In fact I joined my awesome guild because they were a mature guild who didn’t let children – or bad behaviour – be a part of it all. For the last five years I’ve played with an awesome group of ScaNorwegianDogs where we treat each other like humans. But that doesn’t mean that every now and again I don’t dip into the public chats and raids for some reason. Even on a roleplaying server – which are generally more mature in nature – within a few minutes of being in the city chat channels I can experience homophobia or misogyny.
And really all this is pretty amazing considering that around 48% of gamers are now women.
48% of gamers are women. WOW I hear you say, that’s some motherfuckingawesome equality RIGHT THERE.
Well yes it is. And no. Because #GamerGate continues.
Female game developers, journalists and critics are under mass fire right now. I’m even writing this blog tentatively because I know it’ll eventually get picked up on searches. Already a while ago there was an attempted hack on my twitter account because during the #ZoeQuinn business I dared to question the men’s rights activists who were so active during that mess. And I’m just a small fish in a massive pond. Imagine that those big fish feel like.
No wait, we don’t need to imagine. This week the University of Utah has been threatened because Anita Sarkeesian is speaking there tonight. And I don’t just mean a little threat, I mean some pretty fucking graphic shit has been written to them.
If you do not cancel her talk, a Montreal Massacre style attach will be carried out against the attendees, as well as students and staff at the nearby Women’s Centre. I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs. This will be the deadliest school shooting in American history and I’m giving you a chance to stop it.
You have 24 hours to cancel Sarkeesian’s talk. You might be foolish enough to just beef up security at the event, but that won’t save you. Even if they’re able to stop me, there are plenty of feminists on campus who won’t be able to defend themselves. One way or another, I’m going to make sure they die.[…]
Anita Sarkeesian is everything wrong with the feminist woman, and she is going to die screaming like the craven little whole that she is if you let her come to USU. I will write my manifesto in her spilled blood, and you will all bear witness to what feminist lies and poison have done to the men of America.[…]
Feminists have ruined my life and I will have my revenge, for my sake and the sake of all the others they’ve wronged.
This is the rage that is incited by Sarkeesian. Do you know what Sarkeesian does? She critiques video games from a feminist perspective, pointing out that they’re rather hateful and misogynistic an awful lot of the time. (Wow, that was pretty polite of me…).
1999: gamers demand we stop blaming school shootings on videogames. 2014: gamers threaten a school shooting because videogames.
— Dead Cousin Squinky (@TheSquink) October 15, 2014
Multiple specific threats made stating intent to kill me & feminists at USU. For the record one threat did claim affiliation with #gamergate
— Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) October 15, 2014
Let me remind you again. 48% of gamers are women.
But this isn’t the first time that Sarkeesian has been targeted for her work. Here’s the TED Talk from 2012, shortly after she kickstarted her Tropes vs Women project (which I should point out, funded at almost $160k for making a feminist video game series for YouTube).
I’m going to use a trigger warning here. I hate them. But this video does contain depictions of actual online violence against Sarkeesian.
You’ll notice something very telling on the YouTube video page.
Sadly, not an uncommon sight on anything involving feminism on YouTube. It seems that men’s rights activists and anti-feminists can’t actually be trusted to engage rationally. How often do you see comments disabled on a MRA video because the feminists are threatening sexual violence against the MRA? Yeah. Quite.
Anyway, I’m not sure where I’m going with this now. I think that the big frustration for me is that people still say ‘I don’t recognise this industry, this isn’t the industry that I work in’. Guys, we need you. We need you as allies. We need you to educate yourself so that you can see this batshit crazy behaviour and help us call it out. Because sadly much of society still gives more weight to the voices of men.
We need you to actively look for this behaviour in your friendship circles, your workplaces and your industries and we need you to call it out.
Because this weekend more than one female game developer has had to flee her home due to threats of sexual violence and violence being made against her and her family and this isn’t acceptable in the gaming and tech industries. Or any industry. Or just generally in the world. At all.