Nerds and Male Privilege 3: Cross Assault, Sexual Harassment And You

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Ok, I wasn’t planning on this. After two separate articles on male privilege, women and the geek community, I had been planning on leaving the topic well enough alone. I mean, I’ll freely cop to enjoying and appreciating the attention and links it gets me whenever I strike that particular hornet’s nest, but the last thing I want is to either a) turn my blog from dating advice to gender relations studies and b) I don’t want to give the impression that I keep going to this well whenever I feel like I need more pageviews.

Plus, diminishing returns and all that.

And then someone sent me the Giant Bomb article about Aris Bakhtanians and the treatment of Miranda Pakozdi and that plan went right out the goddamned window.

So let me explain…

No, is too much, let me sum up.

I challenge you not to read this in Inigo's voice now.

Cross Assault is an online elimination-style reality show sponsored by Capcom, where two teams of five players – one team of Street Fighter players and one of Tekken players – compete for a cash prize. Twitch.Tv livestreams the multi-hour competition on their website, featuring commentary from the players and the team coaches. On Day 5, Twitch.TV host Jared Rea, made comments regarding the use of potentially offensive sexual language by the fighting game community – once considered to be incredibly insular and closed off – might be alienating potential new fans. Many of the players bristled at the idea that they should clean up what their act. Team Tekken coach Aris Bakhtanians stepped in to insist that sexism, sexual harrassment and abusive language is an inherent part of the fighting game community.

 You can’t. You can’t because they’re one and the same thing. This is a community that’s, you know, 15 or 20 years old, and the sexual harassment is part of a culture, and if you remove that from the fighting game community, it’s not the fighting game community–it’s StarCraft. There’s nothing wrong with StarCraft if you enjoy it, and there’s nothing wrong with anything about eSports, but why would you want just one flavor of ice cream, you know? There’s eSports for people who like eSports, and there’s fighting games for people who like spicy food and like to have fun. There’s no reason to turn them into the same thing, you know?

– Aris Bakhtanians

A little while later in the broadcast, another voice (whom I can’t identify, my apologies) mentions that Team Tekken member Miranda Pakozdi is there and begins to speak for her. When she  tries to add her two cents about the sexual harrasment, she’s shouted down by Aris.

As offensive as the Keystone stuff is […] they know where the line is. You [Aris] don’t know where the line is.

– Miranda Pakozdi

Later on, Pakodzdi deliberately forfeited two matches… apparently because she was frustrated and tired of the stream of harassment from Bakhtanians.

Fast forward a few hours, and I’m seeing that Aris is insisting that sexual harassment is morally equivalent to liking spicy food.

And that’s just about when I lost my shit.

“You’re trying to figure out a way to make me wrong, when I’m not wrong”

Gaming news site Destructioid posted a You Tube link featuring footage from Day 1 of the competition. In it, Bakhtanians jokes that Pakozdi participate in a mud-wrestling match with another female player… and that Bakhtanians gets the winner of the match as a prize. He also demands to know what Pakozdi’s bra size is, whether “it’s number one or number two” when she gets up to go to the bathroom while wishing for a camera in the lady’s restroom and makes fun of her for “not being sufficiently mean enough” for Team Tekken.

(Warning: NSFW language.)

It’s 13 minutes of some profoundly uncomfortable shit. And this is on day one. As other have pointed out: the chat with Bakhtanians where he desperately tries to justify sexually harassing women as part of the community is on day five of the week long competition.

Let’s just think about this for a second. Five days with Bakhtanians, that shining example of humanity making constant and seemingly unending offensive comments about her looks. About her body. About wanting to watch her pee, sleep, wanting to fuck her and pimp her out. Listening to him scream “Bitch” over and over again with all of the joy of a five-year old who’s figured out that naughty words make his parents react, then scream “RAPE THAT BITCH!”  when a female character is taken down.

Look, man. What is unacceptable about that? There’s nothing unacceptable about that. These are people, we’re in America, man, this isn’t North Korea. We can say what we want.

– Aris Bakhtanians

Going by tweets, which she later took down, Pakozdi intmated that the only reason she was sticking around was because of a contract that required her to be there for the entire week.

So not only is she dealing with a creeper making rape jokes over and over again.. she’s legally stuck with him. She literally is not allowed to leave, at the risk of violating her contract with the competition.

She’s effectively trapped in there with him.

And before some of you decide to leap on me for using hyperbolic language, ask some of your female friends how they would feel dealing with that level of behavior day in and day out, with absolutely no recourse. Everybody else around her seems to be content to let it happen, if they’re not joining in on the “fun”.

To be perfectly honest, I’m kind of astounded she didn’t jam something large and blunt up his rectum and hoist his scrotum on a bloody pike as a warning to others. But more on that in a second.

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