Why Men Should Speak Out About Sexism, Misogyny and Rape Culture

(Once again, trigger warnings.)

I guess THREE POSTS MAKE A SERIES, eh?

One last post on this subject, then I’ll cool it for a little while and talk more about story plotting or how to cook your eggs while using the requisite amount of egg-specific profanity. But I felt this needed to be said as it’s something I’ve been wrestling with over the last couple of days —

I posted the two posts over the last two days about this difficult and uncomfortable topic — the post itself and then the follow-up. And most of the responses are positive from both men and women. Overwhelmingly positive in some cases. Lots of signal boost and agreement and thumbs-ups and high-fives. So: YAAAAAY.

But I’m a guy. I say stuff like this, I get credit for being brave or standing up when I’m doing no such thing. I’m making a controversial argument from what is ostensibly a very safe position. I’m up here on Heteronormative White Dude Mountain (which is a very long name for this mountain so most people just call it “Mount Norm”) and few people dare to fling rocks up at Mount Norm where I sit on my comfortable chair made of Safe, Patriarchal History.

When a woman says stuff like this, they might also get credit for being brave and standing up, but then they also get a tide of venom sweeping over them —

Sometimes in the form of rape or death threats.

My goal isn’t to jump into this conversation and be all like, “DON’T WORRY, LADIES, I WILL OPEN THAT STUCK CULTURAL PICKLE JAR FOR YOU — POP! — THERE WE GO, YOU ARE SAFE NOW. CAPTAIN MAN-PANTS IS DONE HERE.”

Some have even raised the question of, should men say anything at all? Are we just muddying the conversation? Are we just continuing the cultural vibe that women need us to swoop in and save them? We’re the heroes, they’re the victims?

Here’s why men need to speak up:

Because solidarity. Men speaking up are choosing solidarity with the side of change and against the side of sexism and misogyny. If men don’t say anything, it sounds like they agree by default — or are at least not concerned enough to take those two steps up onto the soapbox. And it also sends a message to those rank, rancid assholes — “I’m not on your side.”

(Sidenote: that’s actually a thing about being a white dude. You sometimes get other white dudes coming up to you and in apparent confidence they start spilling racist or sexist shit like, without even knowing you. And when you react poorly they get this look like, “Ohhh, oooh, you’re one of them. See, I thought because we both had these KKK robes for skin we could talk about stuff like this but apparently you’re a Pod Person gotta go.”)

We don’t want the behaviors of this septic culture to become or seem normalized. If we’re quiet about it, we contribute to the normalization of misogyny or any of the other cultural poisons.

Like I said the other day, this isn’t about playing the hero — we aren’t going to fix it with our magical man-hammers, and women are not our Death Star Princesses to rescue. But we can signal boost. We can support. We can be on the side of the angels instead of the side of the diseased dick-bags (they don’t rate being devils, honestly) who want to trumpet their hate and rampant shittiness. We can try to do better and ask that others do the same.

Postscript: Speaking Of Rampant Shittiness

The anti-woman vibe amongst gamers is some of the worst out there.

This isn’t universal, obviously — a lot of gamers are awesome people. Most gamers, probably. But there’s a very strong and not necessarily small contingent of deeply ingrained awfulness out there. (It’s why I don’t generally get on Xbox Live anymore — I can only hear angry 13-year-olds spew toxic racist or homophobic slurs at me so long before I contemplate melting the console into slag and moving to some cozy island where I can raise sheep and tend a lighthouse.)

I actually tweeted about it, referencing the tsunami of hate (warning, reaaaaaaally triggery) cast at Anita Sarkeesian just for saying that none of the Xbox One game demos had female protagonists in them.

And lo and behold, just by invoking her name, I got some troll comments all my own.

My favorite (“favorite” being relative, mind you) was:


Now, at first I just assumed — well, here’s some chump with an egg-avatar on Twitter, so I’m going to look at his feed and it’s going to be puerile boy-rage all the way down. Oh ho ho, no. You look at his feed and what do you see? Someone who wants to work in the game industry.

My deepest hope is that this little human turd would never be allowed through the gates, but then again, given some of the behaviors not only of gamers but also the game industry, I can’t be sure that @steedsoftware won’t one day be among those Captains of Industry.

Point being —

There is work yet to do.

178 comments

  • When walking into a job interview, or some similar situation, I often think of all the additional barriers I would have to overcome if I wasn’t a white male. There’s something to that notion of winning the ‘ovarian lottery’ to quote Warren Buffet, which we all should be aware of.

  • I do my part where I can, but it’s sometimes incredibly difficult just to find and cover all the hate and respond with something more than anti-trollbait.

    Obviously some of the sexism and misogyny that appears on the internet is trolling, but that doesn’t make it any more acceptable.

    It’s a good post, sir, and on behalf of Mount Norm we thank your efforts to elevate the minds of all on this particularly polarized issue.

  • Thank you for talking about Anita! I’m a female gamer and the sexism has gotten to the point that I am losing my love for video games. I came across a thread on the League of Legends forums denying the existences of rape culture. I have sent TWO reports and gotten responses from Riot Games, but the thread is still open. I’m heart broken. I love playing LoL but if they (Riot) are going to allow misogyny, I think that I’m going to have to find a new game.

    • I’m not a video gamer myself (I do LARP), but I think this is very sad. I also think it’s something the gaming industry *really should do something about,* Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because the more women react like you the more fee-paying customers they lose. Women are out there who want to game and have money to do so – and from what I’m hearing from friends, they’re starting to vote with their feet. Games that attract people because both they and their forums are inclusive and female/lgbt-friendly are going to get the cash. Games that are only safe spaces for terrified vicious little asshats, on the other hand…

    • June 12, 2013 at 4:14 PM // Reply

      Hey Bogna! I work at Riot and want to follow up on the threads you mentioned, as that is certainly not a part of our core values. Can you link them to me? Thanks

  • Bogna – I’m right there with you. I rarely pick up a video game, because yeah…bouncing boobs. Seen it. Can we move on now? Apparently not.

    I’ve actually been lucky. I’ve never run into the truly vile side. I’ve gotten the creepy guys following me around at GenCon, but a long hard stare usually makes them go away. Anyhow, in answer to your original question – should men have a voice in the misogyny conversation? I say “yes.” For every creepy, broken guy spouting words he probably doesn’t even understand, there are 10 guys who are decent human beings who – gasp – get that women are pretty cool human beings too. 10 guys and a pissed off woman can easily drown out one sad little coward. One on one is a little more difficult.

  • I was in a cult as a kid. The leader raped young girls. I speak to that, and have even written rape scenes in my books. One woman called me arrogant for writing about something I’ve never experienced. Ah, but I only wrote it from the point of view of a young boy who heard it behind closed doors, which I did experience. Even so, does that matter. If we want to bring the topic of rape and abuse of women by truly arrogant men to the attention of the reader and the public, why shouldn’t we include writing rape scenes?

    • No-one is saying “don’t write rape scenes, ever.” What we *are* saying is “don’t write them for gratuitous reasons.” Your female character needs a “character-building moment”? Don’t make it a rape scene – find something else. We’re saying “don’t write rape scenes for titillation – rape isn’t fun.”

      From what you’re written here, it would seem that you’re doing it right: describing something that is horrific for the person involved, and for that young boy who hears it. And you’re doing it for the right reasons: to bring a horrific act out of the darkness of denial, to say “yes, this does happen, and no, it shouldn’t.”

  • (sorry if you get this twice, servers are playing up at work)

    I’ve been following your posts via email, but haven’t had time to come here and read some of the responses or follow what’s been happening until now (though I gather I missed out on some FUN discussions).

    What prompted me to appear now (other than a free lunch hour at work) was your comment about sexism and misogyny in gaming communities, and I have to voice my agreement that there are indeed certain communities in which women are treat like second-class citizens at best. I, like you, could not tolerate X-Box live, because goshdarnit, them kids are messing up my lawn again.

    Sadly, the availability of online gaming and the prevalence of cheap(ish) broadband has made it more accessible to the unwashed masses (damn them!), which means the interwebs are now FULL of people who have opinions and are going to tell you what those opinions are even if they can barely string a five-word sentence together.

    Now, to sound like a crotchety old cane-waving urban spaceman, I remember the ‘good old days’ of the interwebs (Flash didn’t exist, and all you had to worry about was porn-site diallers trying to hijack your modem—a problem easily rectified by unplugging your phone line) when ‘online gaming’ meant you joined a mud and had amazing ascii-based text adventures with like-minded people… the sort of people who didn’t have 4-second attention spans, or need the bestest best graphics card and uber-RAM to have fun.

    I’m not trying to say that sexism and misogyny is all the fault of newfolks on the interwebs—merely that giving mostly unrestricted access to people unfortunately means that you have to DEAL with those people, and their foolish, misguided or offensive opinions.

    Also, I feel the need to point out that women don’t always help themselves, in gaming communities. I’ve seen it several times across just one community I’ve been active in over the past 15 years. New person joins the forum, and their first post is “Hey, I’m a woman, and I’m playing this game! ^__^” or “Hey, I’m a woman and you WILL fucking respect me for it, sexist pig-dogs!”

    As a gender-lacking urban spaceman, I find it very sad that some people feel the need to sum up their whole existence as it relates to their sex, reducing their entire being down to one little plumbing-related fact. Sadly, for some reason, some women feel the need to trumpet this fact out as loudly as possible, and demand instant attention and/or respect. Now, I’m about as respectful as the next urban spaceman, but I don’t see why I should instantly give my respect to an interstranger regardless of the fact that they’re a woman, or a man, or because of their skin colour, or disability, or popcorn preference (FYI, popcorn is revolting no matter what you smother it in).

    This sort of demand (Respect me because I’m a woman! Respect me because I’m an African American! Respect me because I’m a quadriplegic!) just seems counterproductive. Instead of allowing people to get to know you for your awesome personality, or your excellent taste in 1750s classical music, you immediately demand something which is not a right, but a reservation. Sure, I’ll respect everybody equally as basic human beings. Male, female, black, white, homosexual, heterosexual, vertically challenged… what ever. It’s all just people. General respect for all people is something that should be GIVEN by all people. PERSONAL respect for individuals is something that should be EARNED, not granted just because you have different plumbing or a different skin colour or because you like watching asian lady-boys on the porn sites.

    I guess the point of my rambly ramble is that I do agree with you. For as long as people are going to discriminate based on physical features or aspects, there needs to be champions for equality in all things. But wouldn’t it be great if instead of being men, or women, or GLBT/black/white/whatever denominations, we were all just… well… people? Wouldn’t it be great if gender only became an important factor when you were looking to fornicate, and was completely irrelevant to whether you could climb Everest or serve on the front lines or write busty-babe fantasy books?

    • June 12, 2013 at 9:29 AM // Reply

      So everyone on Mount Norm automatically gets respect, and anyone not on Mount Norm should wait to earn it.

      Congratulations on being part of the problem.

        • “This sort of demand (Respect me because I’m a woman! Respect me because I’m an African American! Respect me because I’m a quadriplegic!) just seems counterproductive.”

          Seems to me, that’s EXACTLY what he is saying. There’s a direct quote for you to chew on, in fact.

          The whole “wouldn’t it be great if we were all just people?” bullshit is classic Not Getting It.

          • What about “respect me because I’m a human being”? Wouldn’t it make sense to first establish a basic respect for our fellow man (and woman)?

            It’s what Cable was going for, when he threatened to throw all of the earth’s weapons into the sun, and invited those wanting peace and equality to live on Providence. Unite everybody, make them equal, by giving them one common enemy.

            In this case, the common enemy would be the basic lack of respect or all individuals.

            Pseudo-philosophy via Marvel. My work here is done.

          • No, see THAT’s the problem!

            We NEED to be just people. Actually, the FACT IS we ARE just ALL PEOPLE.

            I’m not sure if whether or not the OP meant that those not white males need earn respect from that comment. I didn’t see it that way.

            The way I see it is EVERYONE should be on that mountain, without a “because I am ____________” It should just be Mountain Human and it should have respect and comfort for all.

            I’m not sure if that’s what Urban Spaceman meant, but that’s what it sounds like to me and that is what I also believe in.

      • Actually, I read it as meaning that’s he’s pleading for a society with no Mount Norm.

        It’s not because he’s not dealing with the nitty-gritty of making society more inclusive that his opinion is not valid. We need ideals and dreams as well. We need something to look forward to, to work towards.

        • Indeed, Tina. I dislike Mount Norm. I’d do away with it, if I could. Have a world where people can just be themselves in happy equality.

          Sadly, the world just doesn’t work like that. But I’ll keep the dream alive inside my head, and anybody who wants can join me here (I ask that you just keep your thoughts to yourself between 11pm and 7pm — I need a few solid hours of uninterrupted beauty sleep)

      • Uh, no. But well done on totally not understanding the gist of my post *thumbs up*

        My point was, oh-quick-to-judge one, is that it shouldn’t matter whether you’re a SWF from the Bronx or a transgender African pygmy—every person regardless of their gender, skin colour, religion, nationality, should be afforded the same basic level of respect general respect.

        Personal respect above that? Well, that’s entirely subjective m’dear. For example, I can say that I really respect Chuck for what I’ve read in his blogs. Whereas I have nothing but basic human respect for Joe the Shoemaker, who blogs at joetheshoemaker.com because I haven’t read any of his stuff (I also made him up, but just because he’s a figment of my imagination doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve respect)

        And it’s good that people like Chuck are highlighting these issues. Me, I think men are great. I think women are great. Everybody’s great. But I’m not going to give special treatment to someone just because they possess a penis, or a vagina. It’s just plumbing.

        • Sarcastic condescention (“thumbs up”)… Check.

          Belittling language (“m’dear.”)… Check.

          Weasel words (“special treatment” when we’re talking about equal treatment)… Check.

          Wow… you’re just a big ol’ field FULL of red flags, aren’t ya?

          • I ran out of room to respond to you below, so this will have to do instead.

            “(And, as an aside to the troll in question — yes, I said “him” and “he” — your user name is “MR. urban spaceMAN”, so maybe your gender isn’t as cleverly disguised as you seem to think, pal….)”

            In some of my posts, both around Chuck’s site and on my own blog, I also talk about my peoples’ elaborate schemes to monitor the Earth from my spaceship in geosynchronous orbit above the planet. I wrote about it on the interweb, ergo, it must be true?

            Are you telling me that a female cannot use the title “Mr” in a made-up user name? Wow. That’s really sexist. You might want to reconsider which foot your shoe’s on, because MAN, that was harsh.

            You, and a couple of others who have responded to my posts, are prime examples of discrimination in action. Whilst I admit, my response to Cherry Pop (that isn’t a lack of respect, BTW, it’s a play on words–pop is a fizzy drink, whereas cordial is a flat drink) was pretty sarky (sorry, Ma!) I’ve been nothing but respectful to everybody responding to me.

            In return, the same respect has not been granted. You people have no idea if I’m a man, or a woman. You have no idea if I was born into one body but had gender reassignment three years ago because I felt I was living in another. You don’t know about the months upon months of hormone therapy I may or may not have taken, or the constant name-called I may have had to endure.

            All you know is that my opinion does not match yours exactly, therefore I am only worthy of your scorn. Then again, I freely admit that my own ideals (treat everybody the same) are pretty wacky, but I make no apologies for them.

        • June 12, 2013 at 10:02 AM // Reply

          Of course it’s just plumbing. Of course it shouldn’t matter. But it clearly does, and if you don’t see that, you’re looking at the world through privilege-colored glasses.

          Read Gareth’s rundown of your post, because it’s a veritable bingo of red flags.

          • And yet, very unlikely to make me change my opinions or start treating people as anything other than people. My ma always warned me my sarcastic tongue would get me in trouble with interstrangers… guess I should have listened to her.

            *waves a few more red flags just for the sheer delight of it*

          • I wouldn’t bother to engage with him. He’s pretty obviously trolling at this point, to absolutely no one’s surprise.

            (And, as an aside to the troll in question — yes, I said “him” and “he” — your user name is “MR. urban spaceMAN”, so maybe your gender isn’t as cleverly disguised as you seem to think, pal… and that’s as if your arguments weren’t already a dead give-away, being warmed-up leftovers from a 19-year old Reddit MRA’s playbook.)

          • When I read Spaceman’s post, I clearly heard him say that “For as long as people are going to discriminate based on physical features or aspects, there needs to be champions for equality in all things.” I don’t think he’s looking at the currently world through privelege-colored glasses. He’s just talking about how the world SHOULD be – people shouldn’t only be respected because they belong to certain-group or certain-other-group, but they should be respected because they are people. And when we continue saying “respect me because I’m in this-group,” we’re not actually working toward that general respect.

            As far as I can tell, all of the problems with his initial comment (the other comments got pretty troll-y, though) didn’t really take into account the entire comment. I get it, the internet isn’t really the easiest place to make yourself understood, because text (especially lots of text, that people may skim or skip) doesn’t always convey tone very well, but that’s all the more reason to not troll people when they need clarification :p

          • Just to let you know you two are not alone in seeing the glaring problems in his argument, though I’m not going to re-engage an argument that no one is going to try to swallow from their seat of privilege (or, in the off chance that they are not a white male, ingrained sexism/racism).

      • I don’t think Mr. Urban Space-dude is trying to be part of the problem. What I got, he’s just saying that respect should be meted out or not meted out as a result of a person’s actions and performance, not based on irrelevant criteria like sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability status, etc. If a dude’s book sucks, I’m not gonna read it. If a gal’s book sucks, I’m not gonna read it. But if a book is well written, don’t care if its a guy or gal who wrote it, I’m sure as hell GONNA read it. I love well-written books.

        • Yes, it should be. But it isn’t.

          The solution to that problem is none of the following: insisting “but it SHOULD be!” louder; concern-trolling people who should be, but are not, equally worthy of respect; blaming people who are harassed for “coming out” in the wrong way.

          • (And of course, “not equally worthy of respect” above meaning the way people are treated, rather than actually being unworthy.)

          • Perhaps that’s my problem, then. Perhaps I’m simply an idealist. Perhaps my ideals of “everybody treated as equals” and my attempt to perpetuate that by treating everybody as equal is just too crazy for this lil old world.

            And yes, I’m sure I could go picket my local government building next weekend and campaign for womens rights. And then the weekend after I could go picket for gay rights, and muslim rights, and disabled rights. But I’m only one person; the best I can do is vote on things I want can change, send petitions for things I *can’t* change, and in the interim, treat everybody with the same base level of respect.

            Unless, of course, you’d like to provide me with some heavy weaponry. I could definitely get you some solid solutions then.

    • I’m a gamer, and also I’m female. I never walk into a game and go “hey guys I’m a girl”. I find it distasteful. When guys find out I’m a girl and offer me help, I turn them down. Generally I turn anyone who tries to help me down unless it’s a friend, because i’m one of THOSE gamers, the sort who likes to do something by myself. Most of the times I’ve encountered female gamers who go “I’m a girl and I want help”, they were played by male friends who have discovered this gets them a free ticket. And yet I’ve had people accuse me of using my boobs to further my own ends because they found out I was female and assumed this is the only possible way I could get anywhere in gaming.

      I’ve also been in situations where I’ve sat quietly and haven’t said a word about the fairly horrific misogyny running in guild chat, because the one time I did suggest that maybe it was bullshit, (a guild member said girls are losing guys by being too independent, guys just want to rescue girls. I said that independent girls aren’t really losing sleep over losing the attention of the kind of sexist who thinks that way), I was tagged by the GM as “sexist” and never lived it down. I was the Aggressive Feminist. I learned something. You can say what you want in certain gaming circles. You can be sexist, racist and homophobic. Providing what you say can never, ever be taken as something a straight, white male might not say. (If you are a straight, white male, then maybe, just maybe you get to be a bit liberal and against, say, racist slurs. ONLY when you’re straight, white and male though. A straight white female, for example, is expected to find misogynistic, racist or homophobic slurs hilarious like everyone else.)

      I’m not saying all female gamers are perfect, but I think the actual number of female gamers who use their gender aggressively or to get things is a hell of a lot lower than many people assume. Just a thought.

      • Thanks for sharing your experiences—some of them are quite sad. Seems like as far as being a female gamer is concerned, you’re often damned if you do (come out) and damned if you don’t.

        As someone who’s gamed with both men and women, I find the best thing to do is form gaming friendships with like-minded people who share your respect for all individuals. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible. I guess I’ve been lucky. Or just picky. Definitely picky.

      • Here’s a funny story. My husband is a gamer. And he usually creates female characters, which I figure is because he’d rather look at a female character when he plays. So the other players think he’s a woman. And they hit on him and follow him around. Because everyone online looks exactly like their character, right? Or something. As for me, I’m such a girl I don’t like video games because there’s nothing fun to me about killing things. All the games are about killing. That’s fucked up.

        • Not all games are about killing (a lot are, I’d agree, but not all). Some examples being: Portal and its sequel, Wii Sports, Minecraft (while you can kill monsters in this, the whole point of the game is creating things rather than destroying them), and the Myst games.

          An entire genre of games that isn’t generally about killing things is puzzle games (like the Portal and Myst games), because those are about solving the puzzles presented in each of the levels.

        • Have to agree with Thea on this one. There are many, many games which do not involve killing. Some of them are fantastic games, too. Pharaoh is a brilliant empire-building game, and in those like Myst, you don’t even encounter other people. I can highly recommend Darkfall: The Journal if you’re into spooky stuff. In not, there are decent (IMO of course) like Zoo Tycoon which my fulfill your pixel requirements.

    • I think the point you’re missing here, Mr. Spaceman, is that there might be a reason some of the female gamers are identifying themselves and asking for respect. There might be years of disrespect, years of anti-women hate speech that they’ve put up with in the past, and are finally saying, just stop. I’m identifying myself as a woman, I’m playing here too, so enough for the hate-spewing. This stuff has probably been going on around you for years and you haven’t noticed because it hasn’t affected you. You haven’t felt the menace, the threat, of constantly being surrounded by people who hate you, wish you gone, wish you harm, want to make you feel wholly unwelcome from an entire industry. Maybe they female gamers hoped that by identifying themselves, the boys would realize there’s a girl in the clubhouse and pause the gender-based hate speech while she’s there and be good sports and allow her to play, fighting her by the rules of the game, not with rape threats.

      You’ve identified yourself as a Mr. You are telling us your gender because it matters to you, it matters in this context. It does matter.

      • YES. Everything you just said is a perfect response and I am signing onto it wholeheartedly. This is the point Mr Urban Spaceman is missing when ze complains about people going “Hey, I’m a woman and I’m playing here right now.”

      • For bob’s sake, people! The name’s MR Urban Spaceman because the Bonzo Dog Doodah Gang didn’t sing about an urban spaceWOMAN, and because “The Urban Spaceman” was already taken on WordPress.

        This is the internet. My gender is about important to me as my shoe size. I identify myself first and foremost as a human being. Then comes some arbitrary geographical boundaries stuff. Then what sort of music/games/booze/motorbikes I’m into. Finally, my gender factors into it somewhere down the line, probably around Spain.

        I’m willing to accept the fact that I don’t care about gender (either my own gender, or the gender of other people around me, as long as they act like decent human beings) colours by opinions quite strongly. But I can guarantee, if I see someone being sexist on [gaming forum I frequent], I stamp down on it. I stamp down on racism, too, and I REALLY stamp down on people who mock those with disabilities.

        I’m totally up for (or down with) gender equality. And all other types of equality.

    • Mr. Urban Spaceman – you may be misunderstanding what the women you’re complaining about are actually saying. I don’t think anyone is intending to suggest that people are automatically worthy of MORE respect than anyone else if they happen to be female (or black or gay or whatever) – just that we’re not automatically worthy of LESS. You talk about “general respect for all people” as something that ought to be given – but that’s exactly what women (and people in other marginalized categories) are frequently denied.

      In an ideal world, maybe gender would be just “one little plumbing-related fact”. Hell, in some subcultures here and there, it pretty much is. But in the world at large, it’s never going to be that trivial as long as a large portion of the population insists on treating people differently because of it. And before you respond with “But gender’s never going to be able to become irrelevant if you keep talking about it!” – no form of abuse or oppression has ever gone away just because people decide to stop talking about it (especially since that basically translates to “keep passively taking it without complaint”). These things only go away when they’re repeatedly and consistently challenged, to the point where the perpetrators know they can’t get away with that shit any more.

      On which note – Chuck, thank you very much for this whole series of posts. They are much appreciated.

      • Yes- this exactly. Glossing over the subjects of sexism and racism by saying we should just ignore gender and race means that we are not addressing the problems at all. And, if I may add, if the people on “Mount Norm” aren’t going to address their privilege and attempt to step down from it, then yes, women and people of color are going to have to step up and demand their respect.
        And you know what? I commend them for it, because I can say definitively that in a culture where it is not accepted to demand respect (like the gaming community mentioned), it is incredibly hard.

    • ‘Sadly, the availability of online gaming and the prevalence of cheap(ish) broadband has made it more accessible to the unwashed masses (damn them!), which means the interwebs are now FULL of people who have opinions and are going to tell you what those opinions are even if they can barely string a five-word sentence together.’

      What a pompous statement to make. This reads as the working-class having gained entrance to some kind of elite, and therefore, the culprits making most of the online sexist comments, via their untrustworthy little minds. Sexism, Misogyny and Rape Culture occurs across all classes. Apologies is if this wasn’t your intention.

      ‘Also, I feel the need to point out that women don’t always help themselves, in gaming communities. I’ve seen it several times across just one community I’ve been active in over the past 15 years. New person joins the forum, and their first post is “Hey, I’m a woman, and I’m playing this game! ^__^” or “Hey, I’m a woman and you WILL fucking respect me for it, sexist pig-dogs!”’

      We obviously frequent different forums (gaming forums really aren’t my thing), so I’m not ignoring that this may be the case, but just how often has this happened over 15 years? My experience on forums is that, generally, I’m oblivious to the gender of the person posting, unless stated for means of a particular topic.

      Back to the main blog: An interesting post, Chuck. As someone who sits with you on that “Mountain Norm”, it can be a tightrope walk in deciding to speak out without coming across as a ‘White Knight’. However, being the parent of a daughter has made me more aware of the need to suppress this kind of thinking, whether in person or online. Her future may still not afford total equality, but with all genders chipping away at the status quo, at least some inroads can be made in bringing about a level playing field.

      • “What a pompous statement to make. This reads as the working-class having gained entrance to some kind of elite, and therefore, the culprits making most of the online sexist comments, via their untrustworthy little minds. Sexism, Misogyny and Rape Culture occurs across all classes. Apologies is if this wasn’t your intention.”

        Actually, I was referring to the prevalence of 13yr old brats who spend their weekends tea-bagging other players and spewing profanity, but I (ironically?) thought that would be maligning an entire age group based on the behaviour of the minority. So, it wasn’t my intention to slur the name of the working classes (I’m one of the working classes, though I do aspire to become a lottery millionaire in the near future). No apology necessary, as I can understand why it sounded as it did.

        “We obviously frequent different forums (gaming forums really aren’t my thing), so I’m not ignoring that this may be the case, but just how often has this happened over 15 years? My experience on forums is that, generally, I’m oblivious to the gender of the person posting, unless stated for means of a particular topic.”

        Four times that I can actively recall. Each time ended… messy. Moderators had to get involved. Like you, i’m usually happily unaware of the gender (and other aspects) of people I engage in discourse with online–unless, as you say, they specifically state their gender or I get to know the individual well. I like to think of newfolks I meet as androgynous clones of myself, and try to treat them accordingly.

        Though apparently I’m GREAT at waving flags.

        • The problem is that women should be able to say “hey I’m a woman,” and NOT get treated badly because they’ve “outed” themselves. It shouldn’t matter what your gender is and it damned well shouldn’t matter whether people know what it is. That’s like saying, “well, if women would just stop letting us know they’re women, we wouldn’t have to abuse them!”

          Female gamers shouldn’t have to have gender-neutral handles or pretend to be guys so they don’t get harassed. Female writers shouldn’t have to hide behind male pseudonyms or initials so they get the same audience exposure that men do.

          Yeah, it’d be great to treat people equally no matter their gender, race, religion, sexuality, etc. That’s not what happens. So you can continue to spout what you do or what your ideal world would be, or you can acknowledge that things are shitty for a majority of the people you claim to respect equally and start being part of the solution.

          • Hi, Heather!

            “The problem is that women should be able to say “hey I’m a woman,” and NOT get treated badly because they’ve “outed” themselves.”

            It’s not the fact that women speak up and identify themselves as women that I have a problem with. This happens a lot, and it’s cool. But some do it with no tact. What I have a problem with is somebody coming into an established community and demanding instant recognition for what they are, be it women, pro-wrestlers, amputees — it’s more the particular behaviour I have a problem with. Women are by no means the only ones to perpetrate it. Indeed, most women I interact with online are just peachy about it.

            “Female gamers shouldn’t have to have gender-neutral handles or pretend to be guys so they don’t get harassed. Female writers shouldn’t have to hide behind male pseudonyms or initials so they get the same audience exposure that men do.”

            I agree, it’s a sad state of affairs.

            “Yeah, it’d be great to treat people equally no matter their gender, race, religion, sexuality, etc. That’s not what happens.”

            Err… if everybody did it, it *would* happen. And yeah, I know, ifs and buts. Idealistic. Rose-tinted glasses, blah blah. Short of it is, I can’t change the behaviour of others (not without access to a sturdy chair and some electrodes). All I can change is my own behaviour towards others. So, I try to treat everybody equally. And I like to think that one day, if everybody tried to tried everybody equally, we’d be a little step closer to world peace.

            “So you can continue to spout what you do or what your ideal world would be, or you can acknowledge that things are shitty for a majority of the people you claim to respect equally…”

            Oh, but I DO respect women. I have a mother, and a sister, and aunts… I may or may not be female myself (that fact has yet to be established).

            “…and start being part of the solution.”

            Alright. What should I do first?

        • (This is in response to the last post of yours in this thread, but the blog wouldn’t let me reply to that one.)

          So I’ve read that you’ve bowed out with a gracious exit, so there’s really no need to reply… I guess. Still, I didn’t want it to look like a drive by where I threw out accusations and left. And perhaps someone else will get something out of reading this. I’ll try to be brief because I really only have a few points to make.

          People are saying the language and the attitude exhibited aren’t those of an ally. There are three kinds of guys who get into these conversations: allies, trolls, and clueless derailers. Allies and trolls are here for obvious reasons, and they can be summarily embraced or ignored with little effort. It’s the derailer who’s the real danger to the discussion. You’ve come into a discussion about why sexism and misogyny are bad and why men should speak up. This is neither the time nor the place for a statement that amounts to (or was received as) “Yeah, but the problem I have [with women expecting equality] is…” Statements like this are terrible for several reasons.

          1) This conversation is not about you, and yet look at the comments–a good portion of the energy that could have gone into productive discourse about the actual problem was funneled into arguing with you, specifically, about your personal perceptions about potentially made up women on game forums (cause that’s what hyperbole is). That wasn’t helpful to addressing the issue at hand. So the first thing you can do to be part of the solution is to not come into conversations like this bearing derailing personal observations that offend half the women.

          2) Statements like “Well, *I* treat everyone equally” feel very dismissive to many women. Just because you feel like you don’t contribute to the problem, just because you think if everyone acted like you did it would make things better… doesn’t actually make things better and it doesn’t mean that there is no problem. It comes across as “I don’t care because it doesn’t affect me.” it’s like saying “I’m not racist; I have a black friend.” Thinking that you (and even making a sincere attempt to) treat people equally and standup against various -isms doesn’t mean you always succeed. When people are pointing out the problem, being part of the solution means stepping back and evaluating yourself and what you said and really thinking about it rather than automatically trying to defend it.

          We women often feel much, much better about someone who says something wrong and then ends up saying, “You know, I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing. I’m really sorry about that. I’m going to try to understand this and be better,” than someone who says something wrong and then talks around and around why it was okay for them to say that and how we just took it wrong and how but, but, but… So being part of the solution means owning what you say, looking at it closely, and admitting when it wasn’t exactly phrased well.

          3) I’m sorry, but a lot of the points you made actually did seem very sexist at their core. You’ve been more or less pleasant in this discussion, but the basis of the discourse was coming from a sexist bias. You keep saying that people are individuals and that you treat them that way… and yet, you’re still buying into the insidious idea that women are this monolith. There are women who complain about being harassed and don’t want to be treated like sexual objects. Your defense for that seems to be that women do this to themselves because some of them choose to be strippers . That begs logical conclusion that because Woman A choose to strip for a living, men are therefore free to treat Woman B as a sexual object. And this idea also assumes that women just are born with this idea that stripping will be great and that the pressure to perceive themselves as sexual objects isn’t something that’s been ingrained in them by popular media and rampant sexism and social pressures… it’s a symptom.

          In the same vein, you can’t treat everyone as an individual and then also claim that “women don’t always help themselves” if they introduce themselves as female in a game. First, a woman came to your forum, introduced herself as a woman playing the game, went a away for a while, and then came back and inquired about the community’s well being? Did I get the facts right there? That’s not really grounds for justifying women’s (or even just that woman’s) mistreatment in the gaming community. But the crux of it is that A woman did not interact the way you wanted her to in your community, and for some reason, that translated in your head as “women, in general.” Individual guys come onto forums and say stuff you don’t like or pop up and disappear for whatever reason. You need to re-frame that event in your head and stop seeing it as “women do this.” The fact is some PEOPLE don’t participate effectively in gaming communities. And a woman saying she’s a woman (or a gay person identifying as gay or whatever) should never, on its own, gain your ire. That you choose to view that simple statement as seeking attention or demanding respect only goes to show that you do not currently have the mindset of an ally. But you can work on that.

          Lastly… women do not believe we can demand respect simply because we’re women. We believe we believe we can demand respect because we’re fellow human beings. That we sometimes let you know we’re also women should have zero bearing on that fact.

          … that was not brief. 🙁

          • Hi Heather!

            Thanks for your comments—I’ve read them and taken them on board. Appreciate you taking the time to reply to me, even knowing that I’ve stepped away from the actual discussion. Some of your comments were very insightful, and I’m grateful for your calm, in-depth and reasoned responses. I’ll think further on what you’ve said, and try to keep some of your points in mind when dealing with human females in the future. 🙂

    • Guess what, chode-monkey? It’s not us that “reduces ourselves” to our “plumbing” (or skin color or orientation or disability or anything else that marginalizes a person). That’s society.

      Congratulations on being the problem.

      • Thanks! Just remember, when you send my commemorative plaque, Spaceman is all one word–no spaces, no hyphens.

        Also, you’ll note that I said “some” women. Perhaps I should have said “a few” or “a tiny minority.” I did not, by any means, tar every single woman with the same brush. You merely assumed that I did.

      • ….

        …And…and your comment isn’t also part of the problem?

        Seriously?

        It’s okay to insult other people as long as they deserve it? Even if it does nothing to change things and more to spur on more fighting? Really? That’s less of a problem?

    • I like the cut of your jib, @Amber J. Gardner Sorry I can’t reply to your direct post, but there’s no room. You so eloquently translated my ramble, so thank you for understanding! Hope to meet you one day on Providence.

    • Urban Spaceman wrote:
      “… reducing their entire being down to one little plumbing-related fact.”

      No, one’s sex is far more than plumbing. It’s in the brain. Men’s and women’s brains are different, and men and women really do see the world differently. Gay and lesbian peoples’ brains are different from straight people of the same sex. One’s sex is very significant. It’s not your entire being, but it is far more significant than mere plumbing.

      • Alright Y-S, you got me there! Perhaps I should have said “defining themselves by one single characteristic.” One of the anecdotes in question involved on individual appearing on said gaming forum, literally posting “I’m playing this game, and I’m a girl!” and offering absolutely nothing else. Just that; gender. Had it been “I’m playing this game, and I’m a girl from Oaklahoma who likes long walks on the beachs, reading crime novels and teaching dyslexic children the difference between d and b,” then I could have gone with that.

        Instead, shits-storm of guys saying “OMG GURL GAMER!” countered by other guys calling her an attention-whore for making one single post then disappearing for days, which eventually devolved into something of a minor flamewar about whether or not said individual was just the most successful troll ever.

    • ‘Also, I feel the need to point out that women don’t always help themselves, in gaming communities. I’ve seen it several times across just one community I’ve been active in over the past 15 years. New person joins the forum, and their first post is “Hey, I’m a woman, and I’m playing this game! ^__^” or “Hey, I’m a woman and you WILL fucking respect me for it, sexist pig-dogs!”’

      So, I’ve been gone most of the morning, and this was fun to come and see. You’ve kicked over the bee-hive on this one, mister.

      Listen. I get that you’re trying to be inclusive and say, “Hey, we’re all pink on the inside, let’s all have a round of equality.” And that’s fine.

      But statements like the one I quoted above — “women don’t always help themselves” — is, as others have noted, a red flag. Because it sounds an awful lot like you’re blaming women for the attacks that come their way — in this case, online, but it’s also the same kind of thing you hear rape apologists say. “She was asking for it.” “Look at the way she was dressed.” Anita Sarkeesian gets a lot of that — it’s that sense, ohh, she’s being “uppity” with all those “lady opinions.”

      Further, you’re suggesting that someone coming onto a forum and saying, “I’m a woman and I’m playing this game” is a problem. Which it’s not. How could it be? Why would it be? How is that inviting trouble?

      Now, I’ll admit — if anyone comes onto a forum and starts calling people “sexist pig-dogs” before ever even interacting with anybody or offering evidence of said sexist pig-doggery, yeah, fine, that might raise some hackles. But lemme ask you — did that really happen? Is that a true story or are you offering (dangerous) hyperbole? If it happened: please, feel free to throw out a link.

      So, I’m not shocked people are jumping on your shit, because honestly, it sounds like you’re cloaking your Equality-For-All talk in the same old “But really, it’s the woman’s fault” nonsense.

      And your responses doubled-down on the attitude instead of offering mea culpas.

      That probably didn’t help.

      — c.

      • The problem that I see with a woman saying, “Hi, I’m here and I’m a woman,” to a bunch of guys is that she’s effectively saying, “Hi, I’m here and before we get a chance to know each other, let me tell you how we’re different.” I can’t think of a situation where leading with differences rather than commonalities is going to engender a positive relationship.

        • “The problem that I see with a woman saying, “Hi, I’m here and I’m a woman,” to a bunch of guys is that she’s effectively saying, “Hi, I’m here and before we get a chance to know each other, let me tell you how we’re different.” I can’t think of a situation where leading with differences rather than commonalities is going to engender a positive relationship.”

          The only thing that should engender that kind of different right off the back is, “Hi, I’m here and I don’t like games.” If leading off with being a women inspires a negative relationship, then that’s sorta goofy, I think.

          Regardless of whether or not it’s the *best* way to begin a conversation online with male gamers, it still doesn’t make a woman deserving of mistreatment.

          — c.

        • Interesting that you choose to see it that way, and that you assume the community she’s joining is one with no other women in it.

        • That is pretty much exactly how it happened. Established community (FYI, mythago, a mixed-gender community, heavily skewed towards males–teenagers, mostly–but also possessing a few sensible girls/women) sees random newcomer arrive, announce gender, and then leave. She then disappeared for a few days, returned to post a generic “how are you all? *giggle*” response, and then mostly disappeared again.

          To this day we still have no idea whether she was a genuine female, or a massive troll.

      • “So, I’ve been gone most of the morning, and this was fun to come and see. You’ve kicked over the bee-hive on this one, mister.”

        Sorry, man. To be honest, I totally wasn’t expecting it. And if I’d known the amount of stuff it’s likely filled your email alerts with, I never would have posted it in the first place.

        “But statements like the one I quoted above — “women don’t always help themselves” — is, as others have noted, a red flag.”

        Yep, recently established that I have a flag and use it quite well! Perhaps I’ve become a little jaded towards the whole situation. Perhaps I could have phrased it better. But meh, what’s done is done.

        “Because it sounds an awful lot like you’re blaming women for the attacks that come their way — in this case, online.”

        Well, I’m sorry if it came across that way. As I mentioned above, what I have a problem with is the lack of tact in which some people declare their differences. If it helps spread the blame around a bit, I’ve also had one instance of a young Muslim man doing similar (new community, first post, pretty much “I’m a Muslim, I love Allah, deal with it”) though that was one just a little bit uncomfortable as said interspace does have quite a lot of Muslim members. Also seen a couple of homosexual fellows get very aggro about having their lifestyle respected even when nobody was dissin’ it, not to mention the whole Christian/Atheist things. Those turn nasty fast.

        I didn’t mention these bits, however, because your post wasn’t about the treatment of muslims, or our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. My post was merely an attempt to highlight how sometimes, females (in this case, of the gamer persuasion) can hurt their own cause by negatively drawing attention to themselves (posting boob-pics on a gaming forum also doesn’t really help a girl’s case) and acting according to stereotypes (ie, playing up to the ‘camwhore’ thing by posting nudes/semi-nudes, seemingly random attention-seeking posts, etc).

        “Further, you’re suggesting that someone coming onto a forum and saying, “I’m a woman and I’m playing this game” is a problem. Which it’s not. How could it be? Why would it be? How is that inviting trouble?”

        See above anecdote I mentioned to Yob-Sodoff. And below response I’m about to type to Keri.

        “But lemme ask you — did that really happen? Is that a true story or are you offering (dangerous) hyperbole? If it happened: please, feel free to throw out a link.”

        The actual term “sexist pig-dog”? Nah. Artistic licence. But the sentiment behind the words? Definitely. Like I said, though, some people just show up and announce themselves as if they have a grudge against the world. Instead of forming friendships they demand automatic recognition from strangers, for something which is completely out of their control.

        As for the links, I’d rather not. All that nonsense was several years ago, said threads are buried under a ton of random crap, and it is not in any way related to the Urban Spaceman identity I currently interweb under. Sure, you can say that I made it all up, if you like; I admit, the onus to prove my own words is entirely on me. But I’m happy to not cause problems on said interforum by mentioning its occasional weaknesses here.

        “So, I’m not shocked people are jumping on your shit, because honestly, it sounds like you’re cloaking your Equality-For-All talk in the same old “But really, it’s the woman’s fault” nonsense.”

        I’m sorry you read it like that. And I would like to note, not *everybody* is jumping on my shit. Some people do seem to have understood the gist of my post (which admittedly wasn’t helped by its long and rambly nature). Point being, I’d prefer to treat people as people. This obviously doesn’t work in the whole, because some folks don’t treat people as people, and some folks treat people as less than people, but it’s the ideal I work towards. This apparently makes some people angry, as in my treating people as people, I’m failing to address the fact that there is inequality which I could, right this very moment, be actively combatting.

        Apparently, because I’m not part of the solution (I’m still waiting for someone to give me a solution — I’ve offered gratuitous violence if someone can get me heavy weaponry, but I doubt I’ll be taken up on that) I am part of the problem. And if that’s how some folks want to see it… that’s their prerogative. There are some things I lose sleep over, but others’ opinions of me is not one of them. If that makes me a TERRIBLE human being, then so be it.

    • You seem to be trying to identify yourself as some sort of “ally.” However, there are multiple women, including myself, who are telling you that what you’re saying is not the rhetoric of an ally or someone who wants to help women. If multiple women are telling you that what you said has caused them to identify you as part of the problem, instead of getting defensive and denying that fact, stop, look at what you said and how they interpreted it, and CHANGE. No matter what you’re talking about, if someone tells you, “What you said offended me,” that’s it, you offended them. If you care about that, you change your behavior. If you don’t then you give them a fauxpology (“I’m sorry you interpreted it like that,” “I’m sorry if it came across that way.”), and otherwise ignore them. Brushing off people telling you that your sentiments aren’t helping, if anything, only proves them right.

      “Also, I feel the need to point out that women don’t always help themselves, in gaming communities.”
      No one who is actually part of the solution says something like this. No one. You lost all credibility here with me. This is called victim blaming. Don’t do this.

      It’s really awesome that you just want us all to be “people.” However, quixotic views like that don’t change how the world actually is. People divide themselves and others and discriminate based upon the differences they find. You need to accept this. Simply repeating, “But people SHOULD do this,” and, “IF ONLY people did that,” helps no one. You’re just spinning your wheels.

      • Well, tao, thanks for your response.

        “However, there are multiple women, including myself, who are telling you that what you’re saying is not the rhetoric of an ally or someone who wants to help women.”

        I was listening to what women were saying to me. I hear that some of them found my words offensive. But I also heard some of them come out with supportive comments, and to attempt to clarify what I had said how they had interpreted it (which had a decidedly less hostile slant than others believe).

        Why is that? Perhaps because we’re all… gasp… individuals! So whilst some people find my attempt to blanket everyone with the same level of respect to be part of the problem, others find it acceptable and even apparently note-worthy enough to throw their support behind.

        “…look at what you said and how they interpreted it, and CHANGE.”

        I’ve looked, I’ve interpreted, I can see WHY said individuals interpreted it that way, but it wasn’t how I *intended* it. Like somebody said: text-only discussion can be an imprecise science, because you don’t get tone and inflection. Apparently, one comment “Some women don’t help themselves”—which is true, because when one group of women is trying to work against objectification and sexualisation of women is faced with women who actively play into the sexualisation and encourage men to treat them like boobs on legs, it sorta makes the whole ‘treat me like a person, not an object’ fight even more of an uphill struggle—this one comment was enough to blind people to me 1) agreeing with Chuck that there are communities, both online and IRL, in which women are treated like chattel, 2) agreeing that yes, we do need champion for women’s rights… and for black rights, gay rights, animal rights, and so forth. And that these champions from all corners of the globe are a necessity.

        Which is rather sad. If I’m going to be damned for the post I made, I’d like to be damned for ALL of it. Not just for the one part where I pointed out that for every woman campaigning for equal rights (an admirable thing) and for asking to be seen as something other than flesh, you have other women hurting the cause or not caring about it and perpetuating behaviour which encourages objectification. This is what I meant by “women don’t always help themselves”. Not to assign blame, but to point out that actually, women are individuals too. I’ve known women who strip/pole dance. Some do it because they’re in a hard place and they need cash, and they see it as a temporary means to an end. Some do it because they find it empowering, and because they believe, deep down, that they know their own worth and are happy taking their clothes off (and no further) for money.

        So who am I, and who is anyone, to tell the latter group that their feelings are wrong, that their own personal empowerment is less important than the need of women as a whole to be seen as something other than sexual objects? Sure, I could do that. I have no interest in stripping or strippers, so I could take the position of judge and jury here. But then, I would be judgmental, and if somebody, be they a man or a woman, has chosen to do a thing, and they enjoy doing it, then do I have a right to tell them that they are fundamentally flawed?

        ““What you said offended me,” that’s it, you offended them. If you care about that, you change your behavior.”

        Actually, I rather like where I am at the moment, and I’m happy with my spiritual growth. When I get another 450XP I’ll level up and become a Class 9 Tao-Master… I’ll get my secret Lao Tsu decoder ring and everything.

        ““Also, I feel the need to point out that women don’t always help themselves, in gaming communities.””

        And I still maintain that certain actions (for example, coming onto a gaming forum and posting semi-nude web-pics of yourself, or trolling for attention) are not conducive to helping a woman’s cause. Why? Because if a woman demanded respect and asked to be seen as a person and not objectified in any way, and then posted semi-nude pics of herself, this is highly incongruent. I haven’t actually met any women who’ve done that — the few I’ve seen who’ve been happy to post semi-nudes haven’t even talked about how they want to be treated, but they’ve certainly never objected to comments about how hawt they are or how nice their breasts are — but it seems to me that women who think MEN are the only problem where objectification of women are concerned are only looking at half the story. There is also the fact that, as I mentioned above, some women choose to have jobs which are always going to be controvercial, because they encourage men to objectify them, or because they wilfully engage in behaviour which does the same.

        Yes, I’d like to see equal rights for women. I’d like to see women treated with the same respect as men. I’d like women to be able to walk down a street without having to wear a niqab, or get into a train in Japan without being groped or segregated into a women-only carriage. But I’d like EVERYBODY to have freedom to live their life as they choose. And if that means accepting that some women (and indeed, men, for I’m not sexist) actually WANT to earn a living through stripping or dancing, then even though I don’t approve of it and would never do it myself (alright, probably wouldn’t ever do it myself) I respect their decisions, and I’ll respect them as human beings regardless of whether they’re wearing any clothes or not.

        “However, quixotic views like that don’t change how the world actually is.”

        To which I reply, “The infuriating thing about an individual way of living. People are always angry at anyone who chooses very individual standards for his life; because of the extraordinary treatment which that man grants to himself, they feel degraded, like ordinary beings.”

        One of my favourite Fred quotes. Quixotic, you say. Yet were you to travel to, say, a Buddhist or Taoist temple, you’d likely find a whole bunch of monks (these days, some of them even allow women into the ranks) trying to live their lives by their belief in how things SHOULD be. And that’s not a ‘wrong’ way to live, either,

        My views aren’t world-changing—I never claimed they were, and frankly, I don’t want them to be. The world shouldn’t be changed in MY image, because it would probably be very boring, and I might attempt to give everybody blue skin.

        • “And I still maintain that certain actions (for example, coming onto a gaming forum and posting semi-nude web-pics of yourself, or trolling for attention) are not conducive to helping a woman’s cause. Why? Because if a woman demanded respect and asked to be seen as a person and not objectified in any way, and then posted semi-nude pics of herself, this is highly incongruent.”

          Hmm, somewhere along the line your explanation of ‘women that don’t help themselves’ seems to have evolved from announcing “I’m a woman and I’m here to play this game” to “I’m a woman and here’s naked pictures of me”.

          It might help this discussion if you picked a goal post and stuck with it.

        • “And I still maintain that certain actions (for example, coming onto a gaming forum and posting semi-nude web-pics of yourself, or trolling for attention) are not conducive to helping a woman’s cause. Why? Because if a woman demanded respect and asked to be seen as a person and not objectified in any way, and then posted semi-nude pics of herself, this is highly incongruent. I haven’t actually met any women who’ve done that — the few I’ve seen who’ve been happy to post semi-nudes haven’t even talked about how they want to be treated, but they’ve certainly never objected to comments about how hawt they are or how nice their breasts are — but it seems to me that women who think MEN are the only problem where objectification of women are concerned are only looking at half the story. There is also the fact that, as I mentioned above, some women choose to have jobs which are always going to be controvercial, because they encourage men to objectify them, or because they wilfully engage in behaviour which does the same.

          Yes, I’d like to see equal rights for women. I’d like to see women treated with the same respect as men. I’d like women to be able to walk down a street without having to wear a niqab, or get into a train in Japan without being groped or segregated into a women-only carriage. But I’d like EVERYBODY to have freedom to live their life as they choose. And if that means accepting that some women (and indeed, men, for I’m not sexist) actually WANT to earn a living through stripping or dancing, then even though I don’t approve of it and would never do it myself (alright, probably wouldn’t ever do it myself) I respect their decisions, and I’ll respect them as human beings regardless of whether they’re wearing any clothes or not.”

          These two paragraphs don’t play well together.

          Also, please stop condemning real women through the behaviors of imaginary ones.

          This might be a good time to cut bait and run on this argument. You’re hitting your head with the same rhetorical problem points and probably not adding to the discussion any longer.

          — c.

          • Indeed, I don’t feel that this particular branch of the conversation is moving in any direction, so I’ll happily step away.

            Until I can figure out how to turn everyone blue. Then I’ll be back with a vengeance.

    • Goodness. I, too, remember the Olde Dayes of the Interwebs, when we chipped our own 0s and 1s out of flint after walking uphill both ways and they cost money. While there were fewer bratty 13-year-olds, there were passels of grown-ups with the emotional maturity and/or social awareness of grown-ups. There was plenty of sexism and bigotry and shitty behavior. In place of Xbox Live chat, we had IRC and in-game convo and god help us, Fidonet.

      And there were also the same pointless arguments: Hey, if you don’t want to be harassed for being a woman then why did you have an ‘obviously female’ handle?! Gosh, why do you have to say that you’re gay, is that the only thing that matters about you? Why do you have to natter on about social justice and stuff, can’t we all just Be People Together?

    • As I bow out of this round, I’d just like to reiterate my thanks to Chuck for yet another interesting post (I don’t think I actually said the word ‘thanks’ in my previous post) and also thank everyone for the in-depth discussion on this particular topic—I can honestly said that it has opened my eyes. I feel I now have a better understanding about how the opposite gender feels when faced with hostile and often overwhelming negative opinion simply because of who they were born, and I feel I have a better sense of why the subject matter evokes such strong and heart-felt feelings and discussions.

      When I was typing out my original response yesterday, I really didn’t expect to be given the chance to embark on such a steep, yet insightful, learning curve in such a short period of time, and I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to read opinions from folks from all walks of life.

      Kudos to new learning, and new understanding!

  • Men need to talk about it, because the kind of sexism that’s been displayed lately insults them as well as women – the other side of telling a woman not to go out in a short skirt is telling men that they can’t control themselves at a flash of thigh.

    The only way to stem the misinformation and lies is to speak the truth, and men can do that just as well as women. I don’t think this is a man vs woman argument, but a human being vs brainless moron one.

  • Chuck, I *love* that you, and people like you, are stepping into the fray. And you are not coming across as any kind of knight in shining armour*, so I think you’re cool there. That you gain more kudos than a woman saying the same, well, that isn’t your fault even if it IS a symptom of the problem.

    At least you aren’t pretending there isn’t a problem because no one has been sexist to you! Man, I always love that defence.

    Seriously, dude, you’re doing good. Same goes to all the other guys out there are aren’t douchebags.

    *I have experienced this — guys who *appear* to be doing it so that everyone will tell them how wonderful they are, and the poor little womens, they can’t do this on their own because, well, poor little womens, amiright and…and I’ll stop now before I break my head on my desk. Or their nose.

  • Heh. I saw a series of about ten tweets from a feminist on Twitter yesterday that could have directly inspired this post. I won’t name her, out of respect, but Chuck blink twice if she’s in your house and armed.

      • I named no names!

        Seriously though, no insult or offense intended. But I read the previous posts by Mr. Wendig, then read your tweets which seemed to be discussing them (without ever identifying the posts in question), and now I’ve read this post, which could be a direct response to said tweets. I just found it weirdly amusing that you two seemed to be having a discussion without actually addressing each other directly.

        And, looking back, you did have a direct back-and-forth in yesterday’s post, which I did not read. So not as funny as I thought. Sorry.

        • Intended or not, I am insulted and offended. Because obviously my pointing out of an imbalance of response and representation warrants using the term feminist in the perjoritive and the insinuation that I might physically harm a man I happen to have a great respect for.

          Yup. Real hilarious.

          To address the other – sure, that diatribe was, in part, inspired by Chuck’s posts. Or, more specifically, the reaction to them. And issue I took to Chuck himself. But it goes further and deeper than that. See the way people giggle and lift up Jim Hines and John Scalzi for calling out bad artwork of women by mimicking the silly poses. Except Tumblr bloggers Maxi and April (http://maxiandapril.tumblr.com/) have been doing the same thing for the comics world without anywhere near the same amount of fanfare.

          And the White Knight comments at the end of that are not actually about Chuck. I have said and will continue to say that Chuck gets it right. But I have seen too many other dudes step into the role of ally seeking to further some bull notion of chivalry that is just as pernicious as MRAs.

          • Do we really know anything about the motives of Hines and Scalzi to a sufficient degree that we can feel justified in complaining about their actions as being motivated by chauvinism disguised as chivalry? Is there any way that we can get Maxi and April into people’s attention by simply pointing out that fans of the Hines and Scalzi efforts at bringing attention to the issue will probably also appreciate Maxi and April’s articles on the same subject — and oh, by the way, they’ve been talking about it for far longer.

    • What was the point of this? Please, enlighten us. Were you trying to help in some way? Because saying “feminist” instead of “person” seems like you’re equating feminism with violence.

      No, seriously. What was the point?

      • If people jump on people who had no clue they had done anything wrong despite the fact they may have, it will most likely make them defensive or make them disappear, though their viewpoint will probably not change.

        The guy made a comment. A simple comment that in other cases would have been harmless and looked over, but since this is a touchy subject for all, it pulled on some hairs.

        Maybe he wasn’t trying to help. Maybe there was no point.

        • Actually, I probably would have jumped on him regardless.

          What you’re pretty much suggesting here is that we allow people to do misogynistic things and get away with it so we don’t hurt their precious feelings. He did something wrong. He should be called out on it. If he doesn’t like that, maybe he should think twice before hitting, “post.”

        • Excuse me? Where exactly was Gareth “jumped on”? He took something I said on my Twitter that didn’t have any accusation or anger to it and used it as a punchline about me.

          That’s more than pulling hairs. Actually it’s a damned good illustration of my point. A man it’s lauded when he points out gender imbalances. A woman becomes a shrew.

  • When the Anita Sarkeesian misogyny-tsunami first started making waves, I remember reading an article that talked about this as well. I’m paraphrasing here, but the point was that if men don’t speak up against this kind of sexism and misogyny when they hear it, the one spouting it assumes that they share the same views (sorry, I can’t remember the source, otherwise I’d link). That’s a pretty horrible thought. Anyway Chuck, the point of this reply is just to say that I think speaking out against things like this, particularly in this kind of thoughtful and respectful way, is always a good choice.

  • I deeply appreciate men speaking on this subject. One of the encouraging aspects of the whole SFWA controversy is just how many people of both genders spoke up. The sheer number of posts from writers was downright cheering. But then, I speak as someone who is watching the 60 post looming ever closer. The patronizing bullshit is certainly familiar. A few women taking a deep breath and then trying to explain exactly why it is patronizing bullshit is a well known route. That they are then dismissed and derided as “angry feminists” or, charmingly, “feminazis” is a routine I’ve seen played more times than I care to remember. So, hell, yes, what made this different for me is watching the sheer number of women and men who did not need it explained and who were very vocal about how this kind of attitude being displayed in a professional journal is not acceptable, or professional, for that matter.

    I don’t think when men speak out on this subject they are rescuing: they are voicing an opinion on a subject of relevance to both men and women, and girls and boys. Letting other men know that they are not safely situated in some boy’s club where all the guys are in it together is important. And let’s face it, a thirteen year old game boy could not care less about what a woman in her fifties has to say about misogyny. Someone like you speaking out on it has more impact. Maybe not enough to completely change his behavior, obviously. But when enough voices speak out, when suddenly his sexually violent banter is regularly derided? Well, I raised two sons. I know how important cool is.

    I don’t think its about rescuing. It’s about change.

    So, hey, I appreciate the entries about writing and eggs. I sure do. But the last three entries have been a treat.

  • I can’t express how glad I am that Mr. Wendig posted about all this. I am eight chapters into my first novel and just about to introduce my first female protagonist. And while I had no intention of going the bikini clad warrior or damsel in distress route, these posts forced me to re-evaluate and put much deeper thought into how I am going to write her.
    Having been raised by a single Mom I never thought of myself as sexist, but being forced to really think on the subject I found that even I had tendencies that I was not aware of. I am ashamed to admit that I found myself casually tossing out the word rape (i.e. “Dude we just got raped by those Locust.”). I never considered that I may be contributing to rape culture. I will NEVER use it that way again.
    I want the women in my stories to be portrayed as accurately as possible, and I will do so by taking control. While I do feel that stories can take on a life of their own, they are still MY creation. I am the word-smith, it is up to me make sure that the filth of misogyny does not pollute what I am creating.
    Thank you Mr. Wendig. Thank you for addressing the issue in this way and making me think. My books (And I.) will be better for it.

    • And this right here is why this sort of conversation is important. Because there are generally good people out there who have never thought about this issue for one reason or another, and who are determined to do better.

      All we can do in the end is try to be aware of our biases. and when someone points them out to us or calls us on our privilege then stop and really think about them, and then try to do better.

  • I want to thank you for taking the time to really consider this and talk about it. I’m a woman who has fought very long, very hard, and from a great distance, to publish spec fic in America. My dream was to join the SFWA eventually. My debut comes out next year and I was all happy and excited, seeing my lifelong goals achieved–and then the whole SFWA thing blew up. All of a sudden, I found myself wondering what kind of industry I was really getting into. The thought that I had fought so long and so hard only to probably end up being disrespected the way some published, award-winning authors have been was terrifying. But your posts have made it clear that there are voices of reason out there. That the spec fic industry–publishing and gaming–does not just belong to one group of backward-thinking men. Thank you for helping to keep this conversation going, and thank you for letting me know that there are others out there who think like you do.

  • There does seem to be a school of thought out there that says men can’t be feminists. Ludicrous of course. Bill Bailey is a feminist, and Katy Perry is not.

    Thank you for this and the other posts Chuck. You’re awesome.

  • The problem is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. “We will make sexist games about men that sexualise women because gamers are men and women won’t play them.” So women look at the games and decide not to play them. “We told you they wouldn’t play. We were right. Let’s keep making these sort of games.”

  • Thank you for moving this conversation forward. It is the writers who disappoint me the most. If you can’t understand or respect other beings on your own planet who share the same DNA, how can you presume to call yourself a writer of speculative fiction? Is your imagination so limited that you must carry your fear and hatred into the future and into the past? Colonizing alternate worlds with the bigotry of your small mind? As readers, it’s our responsibility to cry foul and not buy these books. As my kids learn in school, it takes three to bully – the bully, the bullied and the bystanders. Silence is complicity.

  • The problem of how women are treated in gaming, and in computer gaming especially, is why I sought out more women gamers last year. I ended up joining the PMS|H2O clan (http://www.pmsclan.com), a group of women gamers and men who support them, and have had a great time over the last year. I’ve met some awesome people and played in some great games. And I’ve had the opportunity to stand up to some of the general dirt-bags that one runs into when playing games on Xbox Live and say “not cool.” It’s a little thing, but it pushes the balance in the correct direction.

    • Sounds like you’ve had a great experience, and one I can identify with. Mostly I’m a lone-gamer, but when I play with friends online, it’s always been in a mixed group of men/women, and we have a whole lot of fun. Maybe because it’s a mixed group, or maybe it’s just because the folks I’m lucky enough to game with are awesome, accepting people regardless of their gender. I must admit, though, I’ve only ever watched Xbox Live gaming, never been a participant myself.

  • Any time I see or hear some kid acting in a sexist manner at a convention, what I really wish most of all is that he be quietly led out of the hall and then deposited — without explanation — at the center of a room, encircled by an equal number of men and women of all colors, nationalities and sizes. The kid would find himself silently stared at for an hour. At the end of the hour, he would be asked to explain his remark or action.

  • Good post, whether you want to call it brave or not.

    In High School, I was vocal, actually too vocal, since I -was- that scared coward with the skewed world-view. If I’d been an A Song of Ice and Fire character, my name would’ve been The Asshole That Talks. Hey, at least -I- grew up — most my friends from then didn’t. But here’s the trouble with growing up, as an almost necessary consequence, you learn when to shut the hell up for your own social good. The result? A man with better opinions less willing to speak them.

    Part of the problem? Most of my growing from proto-Greg into Greg happened at college in the deep south. I can state with authority that the most squicky feeling I’ve felt (moreso than fishing wood chips from a tear in my thigh) was that -everyone- in the South assumed I was on Team White. And if you know anything about the South, you also know their attitude towards conscientious observers. If I stated my opinions, I became a traitor. I couldn’t even defect to the other side — the few black friends that I had refused to speak to me, even to say hi, when they were with their black friends.

    So what do you do when you find yourself in a high-level zone where every encounter’s a social Game Over waiting to happen? Well, I fled to the more noobish areas on the West Coast.

    Three years after that, I made my first appearance at a SF/F convention. I’m talking to someone I met there, an alright seeming guy, when he drops the Mount Norm safety words, “I’m not racist but…” I bite my tongue in preparation, because, well, that’s what you do in these high-level encounters. Defend until you can Escape.

    White Slime Takes You By Surprise!

    White Slime Uses Super-Racist Comment!

    You Take 0 Damage!

    Do you?> Flee.

    But then I thought, “Wait, did I read that damage number wrong? Fuckin’ weak, dude.”

    >Fight.

    As I cut into him, his expression changed from “I Love Glory Holes, But It’s A Secret” in “WHAT THE FUCK, THIS ONE HAS TEETH IN IT!” He fled after a lukewarm apology. When I ran into him again later at the same Con, he went out of his way to avoid me.

    We shouldn’t be here to be made uncomfortable. We should be vocal enough to make -them- uncomfortable. That goes for bigots of all stripes.

  • Thanks for this post. I’m actually presenting an academic paper at a conference in my hometown today about harassment in the video game industry. While the paper was inspired by Sarkeesian’s experience, we had ample material to sift through when researching our report. AMPLE.

    I write roleplaying games and I’ve been lucky to have supportive cowriters, editors, and friends in the industry, but when things go south they REALLY go south. It’s so important for people of any gender to speak up when they see bad stuff happening.

  • What becomes tiresome about rape scenes is that they are, more often than not, scenes of women and girls being raped. No one goes to a slasher movie to see old white guys get stalked, raped, and murdered. The victim has to be a beautiful young thing with boobs. Obviously, I get that hate crimes happen and women are sexually harassed, assaulted, and raped daily. But if we’re going to have violence in everything, why not equal opportunity violence?

    The subtle message behind the choice of victim – I dunno, it’s almost like providing ways for haters to get off, because they get to see the object of their hatred being hurt over and over, usually followed by a white hero from Mount Norm riding in to save everyone on behalf of justice and truth, who by his presence helps the audience pretend they didn’t just get off on seeing someone hurt. It’s a way for audiences to have their cake and eat it, too: see a woman raped, then pretend it bothered you.

  • Oh, the gaming thing is so true! I have a teenage daughter who loves gaming. She uses gender neutral online names because of the crap she has to deal with if and when other gamers find out she’s female. She brushes off the occasional comment, but she’ll object to slurs whether they are based on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.(Dude, that’s not cool.) She avoids certain online gaming communities entirely because the members are so nasty. She has found several places where she plays on a regular basis.
    Sometimes a game component involves a microphone. When the other players hear her voice there’s a stunned silence as the fact of her gender sinks in. (She’ll only use the mike with gamers she has played with for months.) Her gender becomes so much of an issue that it annoys her. She just wants to play. If some other players can’t deal with it and exit, she’s okay with that, but some will make sexist remarks and on the flp-side, quite a lot of the nice guys get carried away. She’s not looking for an online boyfriend. Many of the guys who think it’s really cool that a girl is playing can’t seem to get over the fact that she IS a girl. Are you hot? Can I see your picture? Where do you live? Can we hang out? I bet you picked X character because you’re a girl (all characters are male, but some are considered a bit softer than others). Or the guy’s character just stands next to her character ALL THE TIME like a virtual stalker. She blocks the ones who get too obnoxious and fends off the rest. She’s the kind of person who hates to be the center of attention. It’s just about the gaming for her.

    • Last month I went to my older brother’s wedding, and before the rehearsal, I was at his place and he had a Wii with all the games. His groomsmen were there too. As they talked, I turned on the Wii and started playing Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. It was very interesting when one of them made a comment about me being a girl who could play, like I was a unicorn or something. It was intended as a compliment or perhaps just a comment, and I took it as such, but it did make an impression how men view girls and gaming. And these were men in their late twenties, so it’s not just teens.

  • I’m so sick of talking at this point. I’ve read so many posts and articles lately on this topic. Not that they were bad posts or whatever. These series of posts was awesome and I love how you get it so well.

    But I feel like people read these things and then just shout at each other, and then go about their merry way.

    I’m tired of that. I want a solution.

    Well, it would be more accurate to say I want to carry out the solution I’ve come up with, but am apparently too much of a chicken to go along with it, but yes…

    Just frustrated.

    Still, thank you for this post!

    • “Well, it would be more accurate to say I want to carry out the solution I’ve come up with, but am apparently too much of a chicken to go along with it, but yes…”

      Just out of curiosity, does it involve issuing an ultimatum to all of the Earth’s countries vis a vis sending all their weapons into the centre of the sun?

      Because if so, I’m totally with you.

  • June 12, 2013 at 12:30 PM // Reply

    I come at this as a woman who faces these challenges, and I say: thank you. You standing up and saying that this is bullshit is not you being a knight come to rescue the damsel. There is, sadly, only so much women are capable of doing in a society where they are treated like this. They need men to stand up beside them because these kinds of assholes will not listen to the women. And for women, we need to know that there are indeed men out there who care about these things, who care that our voices are heard.

    It’s kind of like, you’re the knight who just knocked out bad guy #1 so the gals can take down the rest of the army. Equality is a partnership, with all genders needing to speak up and support each other.

  • I wrote about seven comments on your other posts and deleted them before hitting submit. I couldn’t quite figure out what to say, because there was just an itty bitty little something (probably moreso in the laudatory comments than the actual posts) that was bothering my just enough to make my brain feel itchy.

    This post addresses it, though. And I figured out how to say what I wanted to say:

    This is undoubtedly a women’s issue – how could it not be, with women getting rape and death threats (at the mild end of the spectrum) just for wanting to be treated fairly? – but it’s also a human issue. Women don’t need men to fight on their behalf. Humanity needs EVERYONE to stand up on behalf of equality.

  • My problem with Anita isn’t so much her project, as the way she’s constructed it.
    Don’t get me wrong here – she has good points and makes some of them extremely well – and a lot of those points /need/ to be brought up. I think fair bit of the ire she draws comes from gamers who see her misrepresenting some games or taking entire scenes and characters out of context to fit her argument instead of including them as a counter argument against the examples she has that do fit her argument. A woman who has an excellent idea, and a project that’s been needed in the gaming community for a while. Shame about some of the execution.
    She still doesn’t deserve some of the words and insults flung at her that she’s getting, and it makes me ashamed of my community… Unfortunately, the toxicity is almost always defended, even by the otherwise mature and even headed gamers, as “Boys will be boys”, “It’s the internet, nobody means it. Get some thicker skin”.
    That is an attitude that would never stand in real life. Thankfully, there are more moderate people out there working hard to try and change it. The team of Extra Credits addressed it in the video “Toxicity”, and there are men and women making videos alongside Anita’s Tropes series to debate and discuss with the hopes that we can turn the tide.
    Speaking as a gamer, I know trash talk will never go away. And to a degree, it is acceptable. But some terms and mindsets should be outright banned in our community. It should be about enjoying the /game/, regardless of gender. And I for one am fighting whenever I see people being asshats through team chat no matter who they’re doing it to. If more of us did, people might feel like they can play in certain game communities without leaving a session feeling worse than when they started playing.
    … I think that’s enough incoherent rambling and comma abuse for now 😛

  • Isn’t it a bit wonky to think only the specific people affected (women, in this case) should stand up against the mistreatment? That women should take care of sexism and gender bias themselves and don’t need other human beings, in particular men, to add volume to the equality process? If that were the case, no humans could legitimately crusade to stop animal cruelty because, yanno, we aren’t bunnies. Or people who are straight couldn’t fight homophobia. Or people who aren’t children couldn’t seek to eradicate child abuse. Anybody who believes strongly in an inssue — even if it doesn’t SPECIFICALLY impact them, only in a wider cultural or environmental sense — can participate in the repair of social or other ills.

    Granted, it is ironic that the men who join in to this particular issue get more attention and respect than the women — and also get fewer death/rape threats. Still a long way to go, clearly. But that doesn’t mean the men emulate Ken and his plastic, dickless silence.

  • THank you for your writing and integrity. As a woman who has experienced the ramifications of the rape culture first hand, I can say that I am always happy to hear anyone speak the truth, male or female. It is important for men to take a stand against misogyny to let women know it really is not ALL men who hate us. Keep up the writing!

  • The concept is easy; everyone deserves to be treated with respect! It doesn’t matter what they do or say. You don’t have to agree with what they do or say. It doesn’t mean that people don’t have to face consequences for their actions. But if you disrespect someone for being rude or hateful, didn’t you just open yourself to be disrespected by anyone who is offended by what you say? As soon as you invalidate someone’s right of being treated with respect for any reason, it keeps the door open for everyone to individually qualify who deserves respect and who doesn’t based on any number of criteria.
    The problem is that is appears pointless to treat everyone with respect unless everyone believes it. I say, don’t be dragged down by the lowest common denominator. When faced with something rude or inappropriate, address it respectfully. You will most likely fail at shaping the offending person’s behavior; that was a job for their parents, so don’t let their actions shape your behavior! It is going to take a fundamental change in perception for society to change…that will take time. A lot of time! Teach your kids, they are the best chance any of us have to do anything about it!
    I have to work on it daily with varying degrees of success. I am a product of my environment and recognize that. I can’t allow that fact to be an excuse for my poor behavior. Knowing these things gives me the greatest chance to control the actions of the one person over whom I command the greatest level of influence; myself!

    • When I was about 13 or so, I frequented a specific internet board and was, quite frankly, a bully. I managed to ignore my own behavior until someone reported one of my posts. When I read the quote of what I had said in the context of the “We’re taking this post down” e-mail, I was shocked. Mortified, even. It WAS mean, and I had specifically composed it to hurt and belittle the other person without even considering that that was my purpose.

      It’s really easy to get caught up in a conversation – on the internet, especially – and to think “I’m smiting the bad guy!” without hearing what you’re actually saying. (Another way to think of it – there may be a “neutral” group made up of people who haven’t decided their opinion yet, and if all you can show them is spiteful rhetoric you’re not really helping your “side.” Many times you’re debating not to convince your opponent but to sway your unseen audience.) Every interaction is an opportunity, and, like you, I have varying degrees of success. I eventually had to leave that discussion board because it was very difficult to change my behavior in an environment where I had developed so many bad habits (plus I would get so angry that my heart literally felt pain, so something had to change). Nowadays I usually spend a lot of time crafting a response to someone, and sometimes even run it by a friend to make sure I’m not coming off as an asshole. If the person I’m talking to isn’t serious about having a discussion, and instead whip out a fifteen-second response, it’s pretty obvious that the only thing to do at that point is not continue the conversation.

      Anyway, I really appreciated your comment about respect 🙂

  • Mount Norm? The smutster in me had a field day with that… Point is spot on that pro-feminists aren’t there to dictate the aims of feminists but to support where we can. Saying that men shouldn’t get involved is like saying I shouldn’t get involved in an anti-fascist demonstration because I’m white. I’m not just white, I’m gay, disabled, a geek, a writer, a vegan, a fatty and a whole host of other things. If I *can* make a difference, and it’s a difference I *want* to make, why on earth wouldn’t I? I want my women family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, service-staff, etc, to have a slice of the equality cake I’m already munching. So it does affect me and I’ll stick two fingers up to anyone who tells me otherwise!

  • I got into the habit of obscuring my gender online a long time ago, while Baldur’s Gate was still high-tech.

    This was not because of overt misogyny, which I was lucky enough to be able to avoid at the time because everyone I played with was on heavily-moderated IRC and got instantly booted for that kind of thing. It was, in fact, because nobody listened to my battle plans if they knew I was a girl.

    I wanted to lead my guild. No one would listen. So I changed nicknames, came back, won the guild election and led us to GLORIOUS VICTORY.

    At some point after that my true gender came out, but by then no one cared. They had gotten over the initial bias. A blow was struck against the wall dividing us.

    This kind of subtle, insidious sexism – that women are fine and deserve to be well treated but are definitely NOT as competent as men – is still prevalent throughout most of the social groups I frequent. It’s the reason my avatar is a gray symbol and not my face. My words are given more weight when they come from a non-gender-specific source than from a hot chick.

    It’s something to think about as writers because it creeps into our plots, even for female writers, because we tend to internalize this sort of belief. That we are bad at math, bad at spatial reasoning, bad at driving. Bad at war. Bad at strategy. Bad at writing action sequences.

    The fact that women are physically weaker (and this fact cannot be denied without also refusing to accept the laws of physics, I don’t care what anyone says about training overcoming this, I have bones like a baby bird and no amount of badassery will ever make me as physically durable as even an average man) makes fantasy even harder to write and let our female characters be competent. It’s hard to acknowledge the inherent disadvantages without making it sound like a value judgment.

    I think the onus on writers of both genders is to dig way down below the surface and ferret out this kind of subtler sexism. Drag its slimy, pale grubs out into the sunlight for everyone to see, then spray those fuckers with Raid.

  • Chuck: enjoyed reading this series of posts regarding the treatment of women in SF/F publishing. All causes need paragons of leadership (i.e. decent people who stick their necks out). While there are certainly women who are biased against their own sex–thinking here of how Phyllis Schalfly and Anita Bryant were the face of the Anti-ERA movement, which failed to pass thus failed to ensure legal equality to women–in the end, most sexist behavior is expressed by men towards women. Women don’t need to adjust their attitudes or behaviors much to fix this problem (though Mr. Urban Spaceman here attempts to deflect the blame onto women). Frankly, having a man speak out representing how decent men treat women is exactly what the issue needs. Women can talk and talk until we’re blue in the face, but we aren’t the ones who need to change in this situation. After all, it’s nearly impossible to move from being an object of derision to being respected in an environment entrenched with that derision. Men need to set the example for their own sex. Maybe change the meaning of “boys will be boys.”

  • First off, I want to say that I’ve been reading this series and this has been an excellent group of posts on the subject; I agree with just about every point you’ve made, and have found these posts both entertaining and information.

    On your point in gaming, I think that gaming has a deep-seated problem with dealing with *any* kind of ism inherent in the community, simply because it locks up into full-on defensive mode and shouts down anyone making any suggestions that there’s a problem. Without a doubt, gender and sexism are the most prevalent issues in gaming and the most…discussed (I hesitate to use that word considering many of the forum threads that I’ve read regarding such issues) but it appears to be that if someone suggests there are any negative implications of any kind in a game, gamers immediately get up in arms and scream to the heavens in denial.

    For example, when Far Cry 3 was released several people around the internet pointed out that there were several unfortunate implications in its storyline regarding its viewing of White Man’s Burden and the way it treated indigenous people in need of saving by the white male protagonist. In response, the majority of the gaming community basically yelled; “THERE IS NO RACISM IN THE GAME SHADDUPSHADDUPSHADDUP NO *YOU’RE* THE RACIST!!” Seriously, some people even said as much to that effect.

    I think, if we want to try and deal with the bigotry issues that exist within the gaming community/gaming culture, as well as keeping up the good fight as a fair number of people such as Anita Sarkeesian and Jim Sterling are doing, there also needs to be a concerted effort to convince gamers that, yes, there *is* a problem, and yes, it needs to be dealt with, and no, sticking your fingers in your ears and denying that there are any issues is not going to help.

  • Another important reason for men to speak up — if it’s only women talking about these issues, too many people dismiss it as, “Oh, there go those crazy feminazis again, gettin’ all riled up over nothing.” It’s sad, and not fair, and really infuriating, but I think some people only pay attention if a guy ALSO says, “No really, this exists and it is a problem.”

    Basically–we just need more voices added to the discussion. More people saying, “This isn’t right and I’m not ok with it.” So thanks for adding your voice, Chuck.

  • I wanted to comment on your thoughts about girls in gaming. I think anonymity plays a big factor. Would these comments be flung so freely if anyone had to own up to it?
    I blogged about it a while ago and was almost afraid to hit “Post”. I was still putting it up in an environment that thrives on anonymity. In the end I got a lot or feedback, and no one threatened to kill or rape me. So that’s good.

    Thanks for everything involved in this ‘series’ 🙂

  • Thanks for this post Chuck. Racism and sexism and any other ‘ism’ can follow us anywhere on planet earth – its good to have a place to safely vent, and to remember the good people out there, of every hue and colour and nationality and gender!

  • I’m a female gamer and sometimes it just sucks, I’ve found teens to be the worst, they believe I’m not a girl or say I must be cheating as “everyone knows girls aren’t good at games” I’ve had abusive voice messages on my xbox, and some delightful misogynistic name calling, it’s got to the point where I mute everyone on every game, unless I’m playing with my husband, shockingly I get no abuse if I’m with him.
    Now of course it’s not all male gamers, I’ve had some awesome times and the older population seem to be great but this needs to be addressed and brought to the attention of the public more.
    Sorry if this was long winded and not very coherent but I really needed to voice myself 🙂

    • I think it was very coherent and quite eloquent!

      I have to admit, the ‘ignorant teens’ thing is one of the reasons I avoid multiplayer console gaming like the plague. I’m not sure if parents know what sort of things their little darlings are coming out with online, but I suspect some of them would be shocked by the lack of respect.

      Next time somebody tells you that you can’t POSSIBLY be a girl—tell them that you’re not. You’re a woman. 😉

  • Oh dear.

    You mentioned Anita.

    Anita Sarkeesian is perhaps the worst thing to happen to feminism in a long, long time.
    The problem is that she’s a highly visible feminist making highly doubtful claims with no listed sources tainted by serious confirmation bias.

    In essence she is looking for sexism in games and finding it everwhere.

    The videos she has made so far for her kickstarter have been picked apart by various commentators from the abrasive to the politely academic and have found to be poorly researched unreasoning nonsense. If not downright dishonest and deceptive in other places.

    As the face of feminism for gaming she has effectively tainted any other serious argument by simple association or her poor reasoning and bias with all feminists.

    • Whether or not you agree with Anita isn’t really the point.

      The point is that her saying the things she says should not earn her what amounts to a steady stream of vile hatred from a predominantly male sector of the gamer population.

  • Yes. Men who live on Mount Norm need to speak out, because otherwise, the douchebags who perpetuate the woman-hate, who also live on Mount Norm, will think they are the only people living there. And so will everyone else. Since, in my experience, most of the dudes on Mount Norm are NOT douchebags, it’s terrible that this vicious minority should be allowed to speak for them. And that’s what happens if the good guys don’t raise their voices.

    Research has shown (and no, I don’t have studies to hand, but I am basing this on a lot of reading on the subject) that community attitudes have an enormous influence on rates and severity on domestic violence. If abuser, or potential abuser A lives in a community where ‘the bitch was asking for it,’ or ‘what’s a man to do,’ or ‘I couldn’t let her talk to me like that,’ are common expressions when he talks to his mates, the chances of his partner being hit are much higher than in a community where statements like that are met with disapproval. THE APPROVAL – OR OTHERWISE – OF OTHER MEN MATTERS. And that approval has to be expressed in words. It has to be spoken. Silence is not enough. Silence is taken as approval, or at least tolerance.

    The same is true of any kind of hate-speech and hate action. It might come from a place of evil, or of internal brokenness or even just of mischief in the beginning, but if it isn’t countered, isn’t met with a clear statement of unacceptability, it grows and festers and becomes a force of it own. We all need to speak out.

    And in the case of any group being persecuted, it is vitally important that people other than the persecuted stand up for them. If black people are villified and considered non-people, who is going to listen to them when they say they ARE people? They aren’t people, so how would they know (the argument would go)? When women are called bitches and whiners and stupid and intrusive, how do they complain at this treatment without being accused of just confirming the initial accusation? For those who say we don’t need rescuing, no, we don’t. But we could use some support. And no, men who offer it don’t deserve a medal, but they do have my gratitude, because they are boosting the signal in a way and from a place (hello, Mount Norm) that is much harder for the hate-slingers to shout down. And they are helping to provide that environment, that community, that says, out loud, that this isn’t acceptable. That hating someone and oppressing them because of their gender, or any other characteristic, is not on and we won’t take it.

    So, more power to the beard, Chuck. Sing it, brother. This choir needs all the voices it can get.

  • Is it bad that the first thing I want to do is forward that tweet to a bunch of the developers he’s constantly bothering and be like “This is his social media savvy, and even worse, how despicable he is. I’d consider him never.” I’ve never been much of a Twitter vigilante – and it’s not mine to retweet or forward anyway – but damn is it tempting.

  • June 12, 2013 at 7:42 PM // Reply

    I have fucking loved the three posts. I pretty much haven’t been without a book in my hand or a notebook on my lap since I was 10 and the older I’ve gotten the more frusterated I’ve gotten with all the bad shit out in the atmosphere about women. All the stereotypes, the sterotyping from infancy that begets the appearance of truth in said stereotype, the chauvanism, the talking down. Just because it pollutes the air of the real world doesn’t mean it should pollute our stories too. If nothing else, its about realism people. Yes, sexism exists. No, its not an accurate lense by which to view the world. Write real women, damnit!

  • I haven’t responded to any of these yet, but I’m stepping up for this one.

    Yes.
    Yes, yes, yes.

    The specifics of racism, sexism, genderism, etc., etc., etc. are different for each and every group and each and every person.

    But they have one very important thing in common:
    They all involve the oppression of Team Underdog by Team Privilege. We have this in common. Above and beyond every other thing except being humanoids, we have this in common.

    The oppression, repression, and/or abuse of any group or any one of us is, could become, the same for all of us. Period.

    The people who oppress, repress, and/or abuse are in the wrong in every situation and circumstance, and they never seem to target just one group. As you said, the implied “White Dude” club can and will get on about everything. If it’s not gender, it’s something else – race, religion, on and on and on and on.

    So, yes. Thank you.
    Allies are vital. I’m happy to embrace anyone who is willing to stand up and say “What the actual fuck is this crap?” when confronted with inequality.

    Your efforts are appreciated.

  • Okay the whole gaming culture is Officially Freaking Me Out. I’m not a gamer, never have been, don’t see the fun in it (not my gig). My son is though, big-time. Now I feel like I have to go have Talks with him about sexism within his gaming culture. We have some talks like that; he’s got a little sister who at 11 has already experienced sexism and been accused of as “gay” because she doesn’t wear sexy clothes (at 11!) and speaks her mind. (“I’m not gay. I’m just not girly.”) She also likes to do some gaming. Hmm.

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