As a human who keeps his reproductive organs on the outside, I feel I am ill equipped to discuss this. But as it’s probably the most important issue in gaming since, well, ever, I feel it’s my duty to chime in on the subject.
The kraken of misogyny has risen out of the murky waters of online gaming in what seems, to me, to be very recent times. As a white, heterosexual male who prides himself on not acting like a complete cockshine, I wasn’t aware it existed.
A few months ago, I requested to add a fellow Twitter user to my PS3 friends list, as she enjoyed a game of Modern Warfare 3 now and then. Her response was “Only if you promise not to get abusive if you get beaten by a girl.” I thought she was joking, but I soon discovered that she wasn’t. I was shocked, disgusted, and most predominantly baffled by what I discovered as I discussed the matter with other female gamers.
Don’t take my word for it. One only has to look at Fat, Ugly, or Slutty to see what female gamers have to put up with on a daily basis. Or look at the completely uncalled for abuse directed at Anita Sarkeesian and Felicia Day. As I implied earlier, this doesn’t directly affect me, but you can be as sure as shit that it indirectly affects me.
I happen to quite like women. I have many female friends. Online, offline, and in JPEG format. My wife’s a woman. My daughter will be one eventually. I’d quite like to share the experience of multiplayer video games with these people, but these misogynist dickslaps are ruining it for me and everyone like me. When I ask a woman to play games online with me and her first response is to ask me not to abuse her, things be fucked.
So where does it come from and why does it happen? Women have been poorly represented in video games for decades, but I don’t remember any hatred towards them like we’re experiencing now. I remember that the editor of Your Sinclair was famously a woman. Danielle Bunten was a transgendered game developer, but nobody cared. She made M.U.L.E. for fuck’s sake, why would it matter?
My humble opinion is that it comes down to two simple facts: 1) Gaming has truly opened up to the mainstream now. It is no longer reserved for nerds. 2) Xbox Live, the PSN, and online PC gaming has given all the honking great fuckwits both a voice and anonymity.
Given those two enabling technologies, misogynist gamers can now yell at women what would once be muttered towards their shoes.
That doesn’t answer the why though. I have no idea why it happens. Do these people have something to fear from women playing “their” games? Are they intimidated by the presence of women? Do they just truly dislike them for no discernible reason? I have no idea.
I’d like to round this off with a helpful answer and a joke, but I don’t have an answer and it really isn’t a laughing matter. Real people who I like and respect are being threatened with death and rape on a daily basis. Real women are being driven away from something I care about by the most obnoxious of arseholes.
The only thing we can do is confront it when we see it. Don’t let it go without comment. Report it to the gaming service provider. They generally do give a shit. Make it unacceptable.
As another female, gaming friend of mine once brilliantly said, “Politely point at the ‘No Douchebags’ sign on the wall.”