The Trials and Tribulations of Women in the Virtual World
By Lucia Rossi
Sexism in the gaming world is very much alive and is an issue that needs to be addressed.
In CSI, Bria Jordan, a female gamer, has witnessed this sexist behavior first hand in the classroom.
When Jordan brought up an incident where someone assumed she didn’t play video games because she is a female, a male student responded “Well, yeah. All girls who play video games are attention whores. They don’t really like video games. They’re fake gamers.”
He tried to save himself by telling Jordan that she’s “an exception. You play real games,” which started a discussion about what a “real game” is and why it’s stereotyped as something only for men. “Call of Duty” was the example of a “real game” because it was assumed that women only play to impress men. Most women find this statement offensive because it isn’t true.
“You can play Candy Crush Saga all fucking day and I’ll snicker at you, sure. But that doesn’t make me a ‘better and much more real’ gamer than you are,” Jordan said. “We just have different interests. And that’s okay. Just because somebody has a vagina, or is attractive doesn’t mean they’re pretending.”
“Call of Duty” causes serious harassment issues. Polygon did several case studies about women in the video game industry and their stories about cyber-bullying, sexism, and harassment. Nicole Tanner, a former editor of IGN and one of the founders of the all-women podcast “Girlfight,” was shocked at the demeaning comments left on YouTube for their panel at Pax.
Some read, “I thought they would put some fucking hot girls up there to fucking look at. AM I RIGHT?” and “Only 1 out of 5 is hot, and that is Jessica. The rest need to be in the kitchen.”
Brianna Wu, author of the Polygon article, leads a development studio that makes games and regularly has been threatened with rape.
“Women are the niggers of gender,” one email to Wu said. “If you killed yourself, I wouldn’t even fuck the corpse.”
Wu did not write the article to evoke sympathy, but to share what successful, powerful women in the industry actually experience because they love video games.
Clearly, it is time for the gaming culture as a whole to face the reality of sexism in the industry. Who is really to blame? The insecure, ignorant, sexist, and undereducated men? Or the gaming industry for not providing strong, fully clothed female protagonists and avatars? Perhaps it’s both.
There was a study done in the journal PLOS One by Michael M. Kasumovic and Jeffrey H. Kuznekoff who discovered that there is a prominent link between the hostile behavior towards women from men who perform badly in games.
“Dominance is tightly linked to fitness in men…low-status and low-performing males have the most to lose as a consequence of the hierarchical reconfiguration due to the entry of a competitive woman,” the study said. “As men often rely on aggression to maintain their dominant social status, the increase in hostility towards [women] by lower-status males may be an attempt to disregard a female’s performance and suppress her disturbance on the hierarchy to retain their social rank.”
People make up myths about women and their behavior regarding sexism that need to get straightened out, like how women are too sensitive. In reality, there is a severe amount of hostility and criticism towards women.
There is the myth that women get special treatment because of their looks when in truth, it is men who give the idea that a woman’s value is determined by her appearance.
There is also the myth that women should just ignore, laugh off, and not take harassment personally, when that is actually the kind of behavior that can do a lot of damage to people and cause long-term effects.
Lastly, there is the myth that video games are just for men, but really, they aren’t. Women love video games too, even the “real” ones, get used to it because it’s not going to change.
Consider these myths debunked and don’t cry when we kick your ass online.