Gaming While Female

If you’re a regular reader of my column, you’ll have noticed that interspersed amongst the dating tips, I take the occasional moment to deal with issues that arrise in the geek community… after all, if you’re going to be knee-deep in nerd, it’s good to take a look around and assess how things stand. Unfortunately, geek culture has a woman problem.

For all the progress that we like to believe we’ve made, geekdom still has a schizoid relationship with women. On the one hand, most geeks would agree that a greater female involvement in the geek community is inherently a good thing… but on the other, geeks seem to be damned determine to make a community – whose population is practically defined by being bullied and ostracized – as unwelcoming to women as possible. Women are welcome in the geek community – but only in a specific role. Be attractive – but not too attractive, it makes the geekboys suspicious. Be prepared to justify your geekiness, because if you don’t reach a specific level of knowledge or experience, you are clearly not a real geek. Acknowledge that you are of a lesser standing than guys and that considerations for you as a member of the audience is secondary to men; geek hobbies are, after all “guy things”. Don’t presume to point out that that the portrayal of women in comics and games might be a little sexist, nor should you dare presume to discuss the subject authoritatively or seek to change the status quo.

And most of all… don’t commit the ultimate sin of gaming online while a woman.

Whenever the topic of harassment comes up in gaming culture, it’s almost immediately dismissed as “not a problem”. After all – so goes the legend –  the online gaming world is a meritocracy; your level of respect from your fellow players is directly correlated to your skill level. Yes, there’s a lot of smack-talking and people running their mouths, but when you’re choosing to stand in the middle of the monkey cage, you have no right to complain when shit gets hurled at you.

"Bring it you little spawn-camping bitch, I'm going to ram that Dragunov right up your fucking ASS!"

“Bring it you little spawn-camping bitch, first I’m going to rip your face off, then I’m going to cover you with my poop, and then I’m going to ram that Dragunov right up your fucking ASS!”

 

Doesn’t matter who you are, man or woman, everybody gets treated the same. If women can’t hack it the way dudes can, well maybe they shouldn’t be taking part, right bro? Right. Brofist.

Yeah. Not so much.

“Your Face Reminds Me of A Wrench. When I Think About It, My Nuts Tighten Up.”

The idea that gaming is a world where everyone is judged solely on their skill and a plucky newcomer can force others to respect her through paying her dues and winning the grudging respect of the veterans is appealing… but it’s also a way of romanticizing shitty behavior and placing the blame squarely on women. After all, when harassment is portrayed as upholding some sterling principle of merit and fairness, it’s easier to justify… not to mention making it easier to dismiss the complaints of women as sour grapes from people who just couldn’t hang with the big boys.

Too bad, loser. Back to babygames for you.

Too bad, loser. Back to babygames for you.

Ignoring whether online games should have a trial-by-fire period enforced by cretins, the cold and hard truth is that women are harassed in online games because of their gender – and that their skill level is, ultimately, irrelevant.

It’s been easy to claim that online harassment isn’t a problem and women are just too sensitive to handle the rough and rowdy culture of Xbox Live and that men have it just as bad – if not worse – than women do when it comes to shit talking and harassment. After all, all anyone has to go one are anecdotes and, as I am often fond of saying, the plural of “anecdote” isn’t “data”.

Except now we actually do have the data.

Ohio University researchers Jeffery Kuzenkoff and Lindsey Rose conducted a study to see the reactions of gamers to different voices during online games. Kuzenkoff and Rose created three Xbox Live accounts using  similar, gender neutral gamer tags1. Each account was represented only by the gamertag and a pre-recorded voice – one male, one female, with the third tag remaining mute as a control. The researchers recorded sets of innocuous phrases – “Hi everybody”, ‘I think I just saw a couple of them heading this way’,”Good game”, “I like this map” and such – playing the clips via a soundboard app at appropriate moments.

In order to control for skill level, the researchers used Halo 3′s matchmaking system to pair each account with similarly skilled players. Kuzenkoff, who is an experienced gamer with a love for first-person shooters, played matches requiring higher levels of skill while Rose – who had less experience – played against lower-ranked gamers, helping to ensure a diverse pool of responses. The pair played over 245 matches in Team Slayer  - 82 as the “female” account, 81 as the “male” and 82 as the mute control account against a total of 1660 individual opponents. The in-game chat was recorded and scored for responses and cross-referenced with the skill level and performance of the account.

(If you’re interested and read reasearch-ese, you can see the full methodology in the published report)

Not surprisingly, the female account garnered three times more negative responses – many of them gendered insults – than the male or mute accounts, including “Shut up, whore” (in response to “Hi everybody”), “She’s a nigger lover”, “Fuck you, you stupid slut”, “Hold on, who the fuck are you? Shut the fuck up, oh my God I don’t want hear your bullshit” and “So whatever that voice was, are you a hooker or are you a dude?” In fact, in one session, every phrase spoken by the female account – again, innocuous, inoffensive phrases like “nice one!” – was responded to with insults.

The female account also received far more private messages and friend requests after each match.

While the study is quick to point out that this is just the results of just one game and that other titles and genres may produce different results, it does validate what many gamers have said all along: female gamers get harassed and abused because they are women.

Hiding In Plain Sight

These findings come as no surprise to many women who spend significant amounts of time online. The blog Fat, Ugly or Slutty is an enormous archive of degrading, creepy and insulting messages sent to women via Xbox Live, the PSN network, Steam and even IOS games, and it’s a treasure trove of examples of what women can look forward to for the sin of daring to venture into the world of online gaming while female. Small wonder why women are less inclined to openly take part in gamer culture when this is what waits for them. In an informal poll of my female readers, a surprising number – nearly 70% – obscure or outright lie about their gender when playing online games in order to avoid near constant heckling, badgering, being called a bitch, a cunt and the occasional fat lesbian whore thrown in for the sake of variety. They would use masculine or androgynous handles, male avatars and character models and – above all else – avoid any form of voice chat; after all, a female voice seems to be all that it takes to invite harassing behavior.

"Who rules Nuketown? I rule Nuketown!"

“Who rules Nuketown? rule Nuketown! Um.. bitches. And shit.”

While first-person shooters seem a natural fit for this sort of behavior – after all, it’s a competitive environment that promotes and rewards aggressive behavior – the genre of game doesn’t seem to matter. Friends of mine have been harassed in World of Warcraft, City of Heroes… even Minecraft.

For many women it’s a no-win situation. Many gamers would agree that more visible women in gaming would encourage  more women to take up the hobby… and yet just revealing that she is a woman is all it takes for the accusations of “flaunting” being a girl or being an attention-whore to come rolling in… along with the dick pics and rape jokes.

Can't imagine how this charmer isn't knee deep in women at this point.

Can’t imagine how this charmer isn’t knee deep in women at this point.

Dismiss, Derail, Deny

Unfortunately, the most common response to this behavior is to delegitimize the woman’s experience. “It’s the Internet,” people will say, as though this some how makes it less offensive or hurtful. They’re blamed for “not being able to take a joke” and that they should “suck it up and deal”… because, naturally, the best thing to do when facing unacceptable or offensive behavior is to pretend that you’re OK with it. Women get told that they’re being too sensitive, that they’re overreacting, that it’s not a big deal and that frankly, their feelings on the matter aren’t legitimate because… well, mostly because the women aren’t people so much as targets who only exist to be the butt of their “jokes”.

Many people in the gaming scene accept that harassment in games not only inevitable – “It’s the Internet” after all – but that is an intrinsic part of the culture… and they prefer it that way.

“The beauty of the fighting game community, and you should know this – it’s based around not being welcome. That’s the beauty of it. That’s the key essence of it.  When you walk into an arcade for the first time, nobody likes you.” - Aris Bakhtanians

Small wonder that 39% of women quit gaming altogether to avoid harassing behavior.

'Cmon, who wouldn't want to deal with this on a daily basis?

‘Cmon, who wouldn’t want to deal with this on a daily basis?

Women are taught over and over again by example that they are secondary considerations at best in gaming culture. It doesn’t help that in Western games, female characters tend to be the spell-caster or support classes, rarely the tank or assault class and almost nonexistant in FPS multiplayer ((There are exceptions, such as No One Lives Forever or Perfect Dark.)) and that female character designs focus the majority of their attention on sexualization. Women who play “casual” games – ignoring the fact that so-called casual games like Angry Birds or Bejeweled Blitz sell in the tens of millions of units – aren’t gamers at all, and the ones who play Call of Duty or Battlefield 3 are clearly inferior players just by virtue of their gender.

It would be easier to accept that this was aberrant behavior – a vocal, if obnoxious minority – if this sort of behavior wasn’t a reflection of an attitude towards women that I see all too often in geekdom. It’s a reinforcement of the idea that women aren’t full participants in geek culture; at best they are hangers on, at worst, they’re pretenders who are only in it for the attention.

So What Do We Do?

When I’ve brought up these issues before, I’ve taken flack for not having solutions at the ready. The thing is, it’s hard to hold out solutions when you’re still trying to get people to acknowledge that there’s a damn problem in the first place. Sexism is still a problem in geek culture, no matter how much we try to pretend that it doesn’t exist and that to be a geek is to be a member of a pure and enlightened meritocracy.

The most commonly offered answer to the problem is for women to only play with friends or guilds, to avoid open chat channels (or using voice chat at all) in order to avoid provoking the other players. Distressingly (and please forgive the comparison) this is painfully akin to telling women to avoid getting raped rather than telling men not to rape. It puts the onus on the women to be responsible for the bad behavior of others rather than calling on men to take responsibility for their own actions.

It would be nice if there were a way to regulate player actions over voice chat and to punish bad behavior… but I can’t see a reasonable way of making that work (that couldn’t be gamed and misused) and frankly, as long as we’re wishing, I’d like to win the Powerball this Saturday.

No, the real answer is that we need to take steps to change gaming culture. It’s not easy, but it is fairly simple: we have to start working to create a culture where this sort of behavior isn’t tolerated. We can’t just throw our hands up and say that The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory is inevitable and there’s nothing to be done about it. It starts very simply with Wheaton’s Rule: “Don’t Be A Dick”, but it doesn’t stop there. It’s not enough just to not be an asshole, you need to not support asshole behavior in others with your silence. When nobody objects bad behavior in others, their silence is tacit consent; after all, if nobody is saying anything, it’s not unreasonable to assume that everybody is ok with it. To not speak up, to not shout down and shut down the assholes is to support them.

It is especially important for other guys to not be silent on this matter. It’s an unfair fact of the culture that male voices in these debates often have a disproportionate impact – so we should use it to make things better. My articles on Nerds and Male Privilege got attention because it was a guy saying these things - even when there were women saying the same things and better. If more men add their voice to the struggle then perhaps we can help boost the signal and finally start making geek culture a place where women feel welcome, included and safe

Bring it.

Bring it.

  1. Xbox Live requires that each gamertag be unique []

Comments

  1. I wonder how long before the old chestnut "But women sometimes flirt and draw attention to their femaleness on purpose!" gets deployed? Because that makes all of this okay, right?

    Perhaps I just be cynical.

    Anyway, awesome article. My 13 year old niece is BIG into the online games, especially Call of Duty and Modern Warfare. I cringe to think of the things she has to hear. I hope that over the course of her adolescence, it gets a LOT better, to the point where she won't know what I'm even talking about when I mention misogyny and harassment in gaming.

    • BritterSweet says:

      Apparently, not long at all.

      Geez, I thought since you called it on the FIRST comment, people would be aware of that derailment and maybe try to avoid doing it. But nooooo! Back to how we can blame women for this!

    • Hugh Myronbrough says:

      It doesn't make it ok. Not at all.

      But regardless, there still are women who use/abuse their sexuality to get money/advertising/attention from male gamers. I mean, compare Felicia Day to the Fragdolls. Day is a genuine geek, an entrepreneur, a woman who loved WoW so much she spent her own money to fund a celebrated and critically acclaimed series that critiques and parodies it.

      The Fragdolls are random women who get paid to do risque photo shoots with controllers so sexually frustrated geeks will buy Ubisoft products

      • And??? I can't read your last sentence any other way other than to tag a silent, implied "and therefore, sometimes, it's okay!" at the end.

        Bikini babes have been used to sell beer during football games for years. Are we going to argue that those vicious sexy women are taking advantage of your average, sexually-frustrated sports fan?

        Besides, it's not like women set up this system. I'm willing to bet you the Fragdolls are a male creation, financed by men to appeal TO men. Why don't you take it up with the bigwigs in advertising?

        • It's double-hilarious. because when feminists work to stop/limit/critique sexist advertising like booth babes and Fragdolls, all of a sudden these "poor, sexually-frustrated geeks" are the loudest opponents of feminist critique and cling the tightly to their sexy ladies.

          • Hugh Myronbrough says:

            I'm not a fan of booth babes either btw.

            But I think there's a difference between booth babes and the fragdolls. The difference is that booth babes make no pretensions about their interest in gaming. They know and everyone knows that the extent of their involvement in gaming is to be a cute girl in a scanty outfit. Nobody in their right mind would ever confuse them with a geek or someone who actually has interest in such games.

            On the other hand, people like Munn, the Fragdolls, etc, actually pretend to be interested in games. I think the deception is what annoys gamers the most.

          • Hugh, I googled Fragdolls because I'm not familiar with the group, and the very first thing I saw in the result for the main site was this: "A team of girl gamers put together and sponsored by Ubisoft."

            Now, I don't know what evidence there is that these girls are not really gamers or interested in gaming, but as Tosca says, that's beside the point. The point is that they're not putting themselves out there independently–they're being paid, by a company, to present a certain image. A company that, given the industry, I'm going to guess is mostly staffed by men. It's the *company* that's using female sexuality to sell a product, the *company* that primarily benefits from it (as you yourself inadvertently acknowledged with your comment about how it's to get people to "buy Ubisoft products"). So why are you complaining about the women and not the company?

            Who do you think has more control over this situation: the women who are taking money offered to them to do a job, or the people who created that job and offered money for it in the first place? What do you think is a more plausible solution: to ask that no woman ever take money she may really need for a job that involves her sexuality, or to ask companies to show more respect for their audience by not paying women to do that (and, maybe, paying women who actually are gamers, if not as "sexy", or hiring more women to their regular staff, rather than treating them as only useful for sex appeal)?

          • Meyer N Gaines says:

            I'm not against women using their sexuality to get what they want (as long as men can use money/power to get what they want :) ), I'm just opposed to the deception. Why not at least be open about it like a booth babe is? There's no reason to disguise your avarice in terms of your fake geek interests.

          • Like I said, I'm not familiar with the Fragdolls, so I don't know how all they interact with fans. But presumably they're paid by Ubisoft to act as though they're into games? A quick glance at the site showed me it's not just photos, it's game system unboxing videos and things like that. It wouldn't be a very good marketing tool if they sat there looking bored about it.

            To me that's no different than a company paying someone to be a spokesperson and appear on commercials and in public talking up how much they like the product. It's acting. And it's not even as if that part of it is hidden. It says right on the website that the group was put together and sponsored by Ubisoft–it's clearly part of the company's advertising strategy.

            Do you really think no actor or actress ever takes a role in a movie they think is crap because they need the money, and then pretends to be enthusiastic because that's part of the job? Or that every person working in a store actually thinks the products they're pitching are the best out there, and isn't just doing it for the paycheck? This is how commercial industries work. I don't get why it's somehow worse when it's women taking the job to target gamers. I don't like that it perpetuates the idea that women are only of interest when they're being sexy, but that's something I'd point fingers at the companies for, not the women.

          • BritterSweet says:

            Who are you to decide whether a woman is a "true" or "fake" geek, especially if this is based on her physical features?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I fail to see the deception. You're assuming they're not interested in video games. Take every female gamer out there (which has got to be something like 25% of 18-34 females), offer money and pick the best looking ones. Statistics will do the rest. In fact, I'd bet good money that if you go through online logs, you'll find their gamer tags predate their employment.

            And while we're at it, let's talk about those fake romance novel fans like Fabio who take money to prey on sexually frustrated housewives.

          • What Mel said, but also, so what? If you think they are just "pretending", just go about your business and ignore them. Success! They failed to entrap you with their wily seductions!!

            And that's why, somewhere buried below, I said this hits really close to the "Fake Geek Girl" trope. To wit:

            "On the other hand, people like Munn, the Fragdolls, etc, actually pretend to be interested in games. I think the deception is what annoys gamers the most."

            Citation, please. How the hell would you know how real their interests are? Or are you just assuming they can't be real geeks because they are pretty? NOW who's perpetuating geek stereotypes of geeks being terminally unattractive and forever alone, hmm?

            Women get so much crap that men don't regarding their "cred" and whether they are "real". And if a woman is at all sexual or pretty, you just assume she is a big faker and not only that, but she is deliberately manipulating poor geeky guys.

    • Unfortunately, it’s probably too late for your niece not to know about the misogynistic rants that tend to pop up online, but hopefully it will get better.

      I played on one of the MUDDs back before graphical-based online games came out. One person emote-raped me, which I got really upset about, and one of the “wizards” suspended the offender’s account.

      I currently play WoW, and most guys are pretty cool, but the “rape” comments (especially about PVP) get really annoying. Sometimes I speak up about it, sometimes it just doesn’t feel worth the energy, but the guys usually do back me up. I had someone really get nasty to me on vent, “Shut up female.” “Make me a sandwich female.” etc. when he pugged into a guild run. I left the guild, partly because the GM/Raid Leader let him continue, and nobody else spoke up about it. Usually if I ask someone to cut it out (about rape comments and such), the guys in my current guild will be supportive and stop them, but they don’t usually take the initiative.

      People are very willing to help me, including if I ask on behalf of someone else. I do seem to get better results by asking than they do if they ask directly. Part of it may be because I’m a woman, partly just that I know a lot of people and help others out a lot, so they’re willing to reciprocate. Similarly, offline, if someone is nice and helpful, I tend to assume that he’s a gentleman and treats everyone that way. Probably some of them do so because I’m pretty, or because of my gender, but it seems sexist on my part (and defensive) to assume that is their motivation.

  2. I'm a geek but not a gamer, and this kind of hostility just baffles and scares the hell out of me, but then again so do most comment sections. I don't understand what's pleasurable about being abusive to others, not even on a theoretical level, and the idea that this is what a large number of people chooses to do when they can hide behind anonymity – and that this seems to be more or less the norm in online gaming – is terrifying, especially when it is directed at women to that degree. Plus as the doctor points out, it's blatantly shooting yourself in the foot when you're part of a subculture that's trying to attract women. Why do guys even *WANT* to behave that way?

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      I would so love to see some answers to this. As a non-female myself, I haven't experienced this much and in gamer (tabletop RPG) groups, even strangers are well behaved towards my girlfriend but I can't promise that's not because I'm around somewhere even if we're not at the same table.

    • Clementine Danger says:

      I can't say I know for a fact, but I have a theory. It's the same theory I have about street harassment.

      See, when a guy starts shouting sexist things at me in the street, it's never just one guy. Sure, you get the occasional lone pushy jerk who really thinks being a pushy jerk is what'll get me to drop my groceries and hike up my skirt, but those aren't all that common. Mostly it's a guy, quite young, in a group of guys. He's not shouting at me to jiggle my tits or take my top off to get to me. He doesn't actually believe that I'll do it, or that he has a shot with me. It doesn't have anything to do with me at all. But his friends laugh. Oh, he's such a cool macho for yelling "sexy" things at a girl in the street, high five! It gets him social approval. His buddies think he's cool. Me, I'm just a stranger, he doesn't have to worry about my feelings at all. I'll be gone in ten seconds and he'll never have to see me again, but his friends are still laughing about that time their bro was such a cool, edgy dude.

      I imagine it's the same online. Just a theory though, but that's what I've gotten from my overall impressions with this behavior.

      • That attitude of seeking social approval from buddies while not giving a crap about strangers has definitely been prevalent in my experiences with online gaming. I've also noticed that sometimes people can see me as a buddy after knowing me for less than an hour in-game and zero seconds in real life, which is also confusing, but useful when combined with the attitude your theory talks about.

        • Clementine Danger says:

          Again, pure conjecture on my part, but there are more than enough dudes out there pushing the idea that verbally abusing and threatening people (because let's call it what it is here) is "part of gamer culture". They'll hear that message before they get the message that it's not actually all that funny, because that's still the dominant message today. So anyone who opposes it must be humorless crybaby who can't handle how edgy they are. To that guy, it all just sounds like the PC police bawling about their pwecious feewings being hurt.

          I can also understand that for a young guy, a teenager of the insecure kind (as geeks sometimes tend to be), it might be difficult to draw the line between giving his buddies a hard time, all in good fun, having a laugh in the group, and then crossing the line into full-on hate speech. After all, his buddies are laughing, and his buddies are cool guys, so it must be funny, right?

          And not to sound like a crotchety old lady whining about kids these days, but it seems to me that we're already living in an age where empathy isn't all that common. I'm hardly the first one to have noticed that.

          Those two factors combined leads to nothing good.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "See, when a guy starts shouting sexist things at me in the street, it's never just one guy…Mostly it's a guy, quite young, in a group of guys…It gets him social approval. His buddies think he's cool."

            That's an interesting theory that makes a lot of sense.

            "
            And not to sound like a crotchety old lady whining about kids these days, but it seems to me that we're already living in an age where empathy isn't all that common. I'm hardly the first one to have noticed that."

            I couldn't find it in a quick search, but I've read that there was some sort of study that said there's been a noteably decline in empathy since texting became popular.

            On the other hand, there's some quote from Socrate's era about "kids these days" so…who knows for sure. The older generation (and that includes me, being 32) sometimes doesn't understand the interactions of the younger generation as well as they do their own.

            Not sure what to think…there was a distinct time about 2 years ago that I noticed that the feel of the dance scene I'm part of changed.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Without commenting on whether or not your correct, its an interesting theory for at least one reason: it means that if more people who gain respect as players DON'T act like assholes, then others will follow suit because now being cool to everyone is part of "gamer culture".

          • Drat! You found out my secret plan for gaming world domination!

  3. Clementine Danger says:

    I used to hang out in the FLGS almost every night for years (I actually lived in the same building), I was a regular there to say the least. Three years of playing WoW with these guys, many more years of weekly tabletop RPG sessions, even helping behind the scenes when they needed me. I really was a fixture there. It was all guys, and I definitely want to start of by saying that most of them were perfectly polite and fun people. From time to time a woman would wander in, usually a girlfriend of one of the other regulars, we'd see her two or three times, and then she'd mysteriously disappear, and some guys would get out their best Nice Guy routine and whine about all the "drama" she had caused by… I don't know, existing, I guess.

    There was this guy… I didn't especially like or dislike him. He was just there. One day I heard him talking about how he couldn't find a fourth player for his tabletop game, and me being between games and looking for new friends really, really wanted in. This is sort of how it went:

    "If you're looking for a fourth, I'd be interested."
    "Yeah but… Well, see, it's a game about space marines, and they're all men, and it'd be a real hassle to write a female PC into that campaign, because of the setting."
    "Um… Okay. Only I know the game and I don't see the problem, setting-wise. It worked just fine last time we played."
    "Yeah, sure, but, you know, women aren't space marines and all…"
    "Commander Shepherd is a space marine."
    "Yeah, and he's a guy."
    "No… Fine, okay, I'd still really like to play, I've played before, and you can't find a fourth, so…"
    "Yeah. Okay, so, we don't want a girl. We really just don't want to have to explain the rules all the time, and it always causes drama and we just don't want that."
    "I just want to play a game."
    "Yeah, look, no girls, okay?"

    And you're going to get people like that. It sucks, but he's just one asshole. These days I don't even remember what he looks like or what his name was, or even what game we were talking about, but I sure as hell remember all my friends standing there shrugging and pretending not to hear it. What *really* got to me is that this conversation was taking place in a group, and I'd known some of these guys for years, I'd gamed with them, they knew I was good. They knew I make those games my first priority, I memorized the rules to fucking Shadowrun in one session, I sit quietly until it's my turn and why am I even listing my credentials?

    They said nothing. Of course. Afterwards, yes, when I insisted privately that they give me their opinion. Some said they saw his point. To my face. But most said that they totally agree with me and the guy is an ass.

    Fucking speak up.

    If you agree that the guy was being an asshole to me, if you felt even a little bit sorry for me for being insulted and humiliated in public like that, don't just stand there shuffling your feet and staring at the ceiling. Fucking tell the dude he's out of line. He's not going to listen to ME. If I get mad, I just validate this idea he has that women cause drama.

    I can tell you a hundred stories exactly like that, literally, and I will gladly do so for hours, but the ending is always the same. Why didn't anyone say something? I get so mad when the same guys who refused to speak up sit around the card table later that night complaining they can't meet girls in the gaming scene.

    So yeah, there's your solution. Speak up. It's not okay, you know it's not okay, so tell the dude it's not okay.

    • Excellent breakdown. I can't even begin to tell you the shit I got for daring to be a new, female DM during a game of D&D once. Ugh. They didn't give nearly half the shit to a brand new dude a year later, and he was brand new to RPGs altogether! These were people who I thought were my friends, but looking back, there was just SO. MUCH. SHIT. I put up with. I was young.

      "Some said they saw his point."

      About fucking WHAT?! Good Glob.

      • Clementine Danger says:

        Yeah, they gave long, apologetic explanation about how girls really DO cause drama in their experience, and they're bad with the rules and can't do quick math, and when I pointed out that they'd gamed with ME and that was just fine, they just called me the exception to the rule. I hate that line. Hate it with a passion. It makes me want to disembowel people and I'm just not going to apologize for that.

        I loved that place. I really did. I loved the games, I loved the people, I loved having a place to hang out like that. It was my home away from home, and my actual home was 20 feet above that place. I clung on for years.

        And the Doctor makes a comparison there that a lot of people might find shocking, but in my personal experience… Well, yes, these were also the guys who didn't speak up when one of their buddies sexually assaulted me, and who thought it would be really awkward to tell him that sexually assaulting a girl is not okay. They were perfectly fine comforting me when I cried in private, but god forbid they take the awkward, uncomfortable measure of shunning the dude at the very least. Because Geek Social Fallacy.

        I had to leave. And that wasn't my fault. I didn't do anything wrong. But that group just rejected me like a bad transplant. Every time I walked in there I had to push through an almost visible force field of prejudice, and every time I left I could hear them talking behind my back. And the horrible thing is that after about a decade, I still miss it sometimes, and I'm still raw about it. And it's not the only time that story has played out. But I'm a gamer. Who am I going to hang out with if not gamers? Damned if I do and damned if I don't, and that's just how it is right now. But it doesn't have to be.

        My little sister is turning into quite the gamer herself, so I'm sort of in a hurry to fix this shit.

        • That is horrific! I'm sorry that happened to you. :(

          That's why any geek group that says they hate "drama" or people who "cause drama" always makes me give the ol' side-eye. It's often code for what happened to you; they don't want to have courage to stand up in bad situations or face uncomfortable truths!

          • Clementine Danger says:

            Thank you. It was a long time ago, and I've given it a place, but it was pretty bad. I had to quit WoW too. After it happened, I was just in no mood to hear people scream about my tits and threaten to rape me for hours on end. That's just not something I could deal with at the time. I still can't. But I do want to point out that most of the bad stuff happened to me in the meatspace, without the excuse of online anonymity or the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory. It was all done by people who knew me, who knew I'd been there for years and would be there for many more, while I was looking them straight in the eye, and they didn't see the problem. And it wasn't just a problem with that specific group. Like I said, it's happened again since then, and it's not an isolated occurrence.

            And I get the exact same reaction when people in that sort of group talk about people who were "mean" and "caused drama". I know the code like the back of my hand.

          • So true! I find "drama" is code for "doesn't take our shit lying down"

        • I'm really sorry that happened to you. That is terrible.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            Thank you. And… You know, I had this urge to go "oh, no, it's fine, thank you, all in the past, I'm over it…"

            But you know what? It IS terrible. It shouldn't have happened, and I'm not over it. Because it isn't getting fixed. And I'm pissed off times infinity because my little sister is about to go through the same thing, and so are my little cousins, and a whole lot of little girls who grew up watching superhero movies and playing video games. It needs to stop, and it needs to stop now.

            As long as I'm venting, I feel betrayed. When I was an awkward, nerdy kid, the geek scene promised me that I'd be safe there, and that we'd all be a united front against the bullies and the bad people who were mean to us, and that it would be us against the world, come hell or high water. And it was a filthy lie. They were bigger bullies than the kids who threw my D&D books in the mud. Because at least those kids weren't pretending to be my friends.

            I'm very angry. I try to direct my anger in productive ways and use it to make a change, but I'm just so fucking livid.

          • I respect and honor your anger–not that you need my honor or respect, I just thought you should know that I stand with you. You were betrayed. You were stabbed in the back. It was wrong and those people were wrong.

            I hope we can all continue to move forward. To have the energy to continue to fight for social equality and not be demoralized. But know, you don't have to do it by yourself. You can take a break when you need to. I have your back.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            Trooper6, I have read some of your comments here, and all I can say is that I'm honored to have you as an ally. Because I'm not going to stop, and this time around I'll make damn sure I've got people like you behind me. Thank you.

          • Add me to the Trooper6 fan club.

          • Jedi Hugs and mutual Fan Club membership all around!

          • Me too! In addition to being awesome he is also really handsome! *Napoleon Dynamites away*

          • Aw shucks! Thanks!

          • This made me tear up a little. You are so right – we should feel safe and protected with our fellow geeks, not further ostracized. I'm angry for you, and for myself, and every girl whose had to feel this way. I'm sending you geeky girl hugs right now!

        • Paul Rivers says:

          "Well, yes, these were also the guys who didn't speak up when one of their buddies sexually assaulted me, and who thought it would be really awkward to tell him that sexually assaulting a girl is not okay. They were perfectly fine comforting me when I cried in private, but god forbid they take the awkward, uncomfortable measure of shunning the dude at the very least. Because Geek Social Fallacy. "

          Wow, that is absolutely awful, and as someone who played D&D and did lots of other geek stuff in high school, let me say that there is absolutely no doubt that if someone in our group had sexually assaulted a girl we would have kicked that fucker out – at the **least**. I'm not sure what we would have done in situations where we couldn't control who was playing (like a store-centered tournament), but we would have all really, really, really hated the guy.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            They never called it what it was. It's so slow and insidious. It doesn't dramatically explode into the group like a bomb. It starts small, in gray areas, and it escalates, and every next step is so close to the last step people don't notice the escalation, and it doesn't register when lines are crossed.

            "He touches your arm when he talks to you? What's wrong with that?"
            "He rubbed against you? Yeah, I know, he says he was reaching for something on the shelf."
            "He slapped your ass? What's wrong with that? It's just what guys do."
            "So he grabbed your tit? Yeah, that's not okay. I'm sure he won't do it again."
            "He touched you at the party while you were passed out? Why did you get so drunk?"

            There's a million excuses. And I was just a kid. I didn't know what to say. But they never called it what it was. It was always just what he did, just who he was, the guy doesn't know any better, cut him some slack. It's so insidious. That's why even minor instances really need to be called out. Because if you tolerate one step, chances are you're going to tolerate the next.

            But he did know, and I knew, and they knew, and nobody spoke up. Part of speaking up is believing a girl when she speaks up. I can imagine how hard it is to tell a friend, an actual friend who has done something terrible that he's out of line and needs to own up and get out. That must be so, so hard. But that guy is not getting the shit end of the deal.

            Anyway, that's not what this post is about. It happened in the geek scene, which is why I brought it up, but it could have happened anywhere. I don't want this to dominate the conversation. It's just part of the larger "please speak up" advice.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            Seconded, Paul.

            I play RPGs and board games regularly with a group that has a pretty even male/female split. I'm trying to imagine what would happen if one of our number were to be sexually assaulted. I suspect it would end very badly for the perpetrator, and I don't mean that in a knucklehead "Kick his ass!!!" sort of way. If he were one of us, ostracizing him would be the starting point. If it happened at a public (or semi-public) venue where we were meeting to play, we'd likely notify whoever ran it that if we don't have their support keeping that asshole at arm's length, we'll be finding a safer venue. If legal action were possible, the lawyer in our midst would be offering the victim all sorts of advice on how to productively get the cops involved.

            I'm sorry you had to go through that, Clementine, and sorry you had to leave. They weren't worthy of you. I sincerely hope you've since found friends who are.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            Thank you, both of you. And thankfully, I have made new friends. I don't have many of them, but the ones I do have are worth keeping around. They've got my back and I've got theirs.

    • I am fascinated by nerds almost allergic reaction to "drama," despite the fact that nerds act in ways almost guaranteed to create drama (not communicating, not setting clear boundaries, pole-vaulting OVER clear boundaries out of awkwardness/misunderstanding/misguided attempts at attention-seeking/humor, including EVERYone despite the majority of the group hating them, etc.)

      Nerds seem to use the "we don't want drama" defense in nearly every capacity (for example, why you're not allowed to express your negative feelings even in an appropriate way), and yet the Geek Social Fallacies* are nearly designed to create drama. What's up with that?

      *http://www.plausiblydeniable.com/opinion/gsf.html

      • Huh, I'd never thought of it that way.

        In a way, I think the two both come from the same place; a lack of experience, skill or confidence in interpersonal dynamics. The Geek Social Fallacies are mostly about a desperate desire for acceptance in a group at all costs – if no one is ostracized no matter what, I'll be safe from ostracization; if anyone criticizes me no matter why, that means they don't love and accept me any more, panic! We must all be together in a totally united front all the time or I might be alone!

        If that's your mindset, overt conflict and open communication seem terrifying, but trying to avoid them is, as you say, pretty much the best way to create them. "I don't want drama" is pretty much code for "I fear conflict and will react negatively to any attempts to handle it like an adult."

        • That's pretty much what I was thinking. As socially awkward/inexperienced people, geeks tend to not like getting involved in conflict. Which is why you'll find that, while there are a lot that will agree that this kind of treatment of women is wrong, they aren't comfortable trying to actually DO anything about it.

          I also wouldn't be surprised if a large number of the people participating in this kind of behavior only do so because they're trying to "fit in." The person who is harassing is seen as a more dominant personality, and so everyone else follows along.

          I think we need to apply some power in numbers, here. I have a feeling that, if we can just get a few people to start speaking up, it will cascade.

      • Ugh. Geeks are TERRIBLE about this. I think there's a bit of magical thinking that goes on in some of these communities. People who have always felt like outsiders have this fantasy that they were excluded for completely unfair and arbitrary reasons (sometimes this is true, but sometimes it isn't), but that one day they'll find their own Isle of the Misfit Toys where they can live in peace and harmony with all of the other unfairly excluded people.

        Admitting that occasionally someone is a pariah because that person's a jerk, or a creep, or a user and that it would probably be best if your circle ostracized them as well stomps all over that fantasy. Like enail said, I think it also makes people feel insecure about their own place in the group. It also might bring up some uncomfortable feelings in people, and make them examine whether their self image as a righteous outsider is correct.

        It doesn't help that failing to deal with interpersonal conflict in a timely manner only makes everything worse, which means people who are passive about these things only see models of "drama" and huge, friendship-ending blowups, which in turn makes them even less willing to confront problems because they've only seen the worst possible outcomes.

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        I learned, if only fairly recently that "drama" tends to be a term for "the problems that develop when people can't express their feelings and deal with things like an adult." People who can deal with other people in a mature way don't fear drama because it doesn't happen to them because they communicate. People who are allergic to drama are the ones who contribute to it and can't admit that to themselves.

    • Paul Rivers says:

      I commented earlier, but it seems to have dissapeared. Maybe because I swore in it, though in this context I think it was appropriate – I want to say that in our group of nerds in high school, if a guy had sexually assaulted a girl we would have kicked his (insert swear word here) out of our group. I mean we would have wanted him to be charged, etc, but we also *definitely* would have exluded him and been super (insert swear word here) at him.

    • Amanda C. Barton says:

      I think it's worth it to focus for a minute on the "girls CAN'T know the rules" stereotype, as if women have a physical inability to understand the rules of roleplaying games. Whether the idea that the rules are too complicated or that the math is too hard for girls (really?), the idea is that women are somehow handicapped when it comes to rules. And I notice that most of the posts in the comments from women here are women who feel the need to defend their abilities.

      I've gamed in several different situations (tabletop and LARP) with several different groups, and I've seen many men ask other players for rules clarification or just plain "I don't understand this mechanic. What do I do?" Rarely with any judgement. Where male players are concerned, they're allowed a learning curve and can consult other players with no loss of face. However, if a woman has a question then "she doesn't know the rule" and therefore "women are no good at games."

      It's a bit distressing that the only way that women can defend themselves in this case is to establish their expertise – and in a lot of cases, establish how they are faster learners then male gamers – in order to prove that they're serious gamers. I never see male gamers held to this same standard.

      • This happens with video games as well. If a male player makes a mistake, or hasn't been in the raid before, he's being careless or is a noob. If a female player makes a mistake, it's because women aren't good gamers or because she's only a tourist in the game who's there to hang out with her boyfriend. There are a handful of women who escape this by being the very, very best players in their group, but there doesn't seem to be any recognition of the middle ground between those two points.

        • Word. This goes for any sphere that is believed to be male dominated. My sister is training to be a cop, and tells me how women in the force are so hard on each other and on themselves, because if they make the slightest mistake, a mistake that would be practically a non-event for her male peers, it becomes yet another reason why *women* don't belong the police service. I've heard guys disparage women in the military, and draw on individual examples to prove their point ("I had a friend who knew a girl in the navy who blah, blah, blah"). Even I've caught myself in the past looking at women I think are acting silly or stereotypical, and thinking to myself "stop, you're making us look bad." (Gross I know). It's not even limited to women, I've heard similar stories from black friends who feel like they need to be the best in their (what's perceived to be white-dominated) fields, because if they mess up they just "confirm" the prejudices of the narrow-minded. These are crazy standards that would stress the calmest person out.

          • FormerlyShyGuy says:

            I have also personally observed the military version of what you are referring to when you say "if they make the slightest mistake, a mistake that would be practically a non-event for her male peers, it becomes yet another reason why *women* don't belong the police service."

            My complaint with women in the military is that there is literally a double standard. The physical fitness test that a woman has to do is is easier than what men have to do. I worked with many highly capable and fit Female Marines but with a few exceptions I know they cannot physical do things that may be key to my survival. I think some will fail if held to the same standards but I think many will become stronger to meet the challenge.
            http://www.military.com/military-fitness/marine-c

            I am happy to say that they are moving toward testing that is equal.
            http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2012/11/mari

          • "fit Female Marines but with a few exceptions I know they cannot physical do things that may be key to my survival"

            You are incorrect. The standards for female soldiers still mean that she must be in great physical condition. It's not as if men must be fit, and women can be softies who can't do any pushups or run.

            There has been a lot of criticism that the physical standards have been tailored so long to male biological strengths (upper body strength, more power but less endurance) that now we see that as "normal", and female strengths (such as leg strength, more endurance but less power) are seen as weak. The truth is, nothing anyone does in the physical tests is any kind of measure for what actually goes on on the job. It's just a baseline measure of fitness.

            I'm always hearing BS like "A chick can't lift an injured man off the battlefield!" But even male soldiers are not expected to lift a fellow soldier out all by themselves. They call it the Two Man (Person) Carry for a reason.

            Recognizing certain biological differences (ex, men generally have larger circulatory/respiratory systems and blood vessels, therefore they generally complete the 1.5 mile faster due to their muscles being better oxygenated) doesn't mean that women are WEAK or can't serve. We make concessions for soldiers of different ages, too, but I don't see anyone claiming that guy in his 30s who can't run like his 18 year old comrade should be booted.

            /training to join the service, Husband in service.

          • FormerlyShyGuy says:

            I am not speaking about soldiers, I am speaking about Marines. Don't get me wrong I am not saying that Female Marines are not fit, I am saying that they are not held to the same standards as their Male counterpart.

            Maybe this is a difference between the Army and the Marines but we still do the fireman's carry, and two other rescue techniques where one person gets someone out of a dangerous situation. We are taught other carries as well but the one carry we are judged on is the fireman's carry. In the Combat Fitness Test one of the two ways we are tested all Marines must carry someone of similar weight.

            The job has a standard, I think some women can meet that standard and some cannot. Just as some men can and some men cannot. Concessions for those who are older make sense, as someone in the military gets promoted they have additional value as leaders and experts in their job field than those the lower ranking members.

            Like I said in my first comment I am happy that the Marines are moving closer to equal standards for both genders. Your comment to me read likes I want to get rid of women with highers standards for them, that is not the case. I think that a lot of women will rise to the challenge meet the new standards and be better for it.

            I thank you for your future service, and your husband for his.

          • You acknowledge that women often have to prove themselves 2x as hard to be taken seriously, or turn on each other due to sexism by men, then you say "My complaint with women in the military is that there is literally a double standard. The physical fitness test that a woman has to do is is easier than what men have to do." So yes, I DID give you the side eye that you felt the need to bring this up in this particular thread of conversation. Why? To show us how easy women have it? To highlight that we have special treatment therefore complaints of having to prove ourselves are moot?

            I'm not being snarky here, I'm seriously asking.

            Why do concessions for older male soldiers "make sense", yet slightly lower numbers for females don't? It's not as if the current female standards for ANY branch are so low as to accept soft and out-of-shape females.

          • FormerlyShyGuy says:

            I don't think I had any reason comment other than the topic of military/police culture came up and I felt like commenting. I didn't have any other motive that I can like of. I agree with the comment-er I originally replied to and I added my 2 cents so to speak on the topic of integrating women into military/police workforce/culture.

            I think it makes sense to make concessions for men and women who have serviced and are growing old because it allows the military to keep around experienced leaders and experts in their fields. There is a value added for the concession. A new female recruit does not have this additional value anymore than a brand new male recruit would.

            I think that high standards are a benefit for the organization and for the individual that must challenge themselves to meet them. I don't think its that is a disservice to women to make things equal for all. I do think that women have to work twice as hard as men at times to prove themselves in the culture, but I think that making evaluations equal could only help the case for women. If I see somebody male or female that can't meet the minimum physical fitness standards I lose respect for them as a Marine, not as a person but as Military member.

            I by no means mean to say that complaints of having to prove yourself above that of your male counterpart are moot, but I do believe that all military member do have to proves themselves physical and their currently a double standard.

            In other areas of evaluation for example shooting there is one standard and women having to do be number one just to appear like she was passing would be messed up.

          • FormerlyShyGuy says:

            *I didn't have any other motive that I can think of. Silly me not proofreading.

            *there currently is a double standard.

          • "I think it makes sense to make concessions for men and women who have serviced and are growing old because it allows the military to keep around experienced leaders and experts in their fields. There is a value added for the concession. A new female recruit does not have this additional value anymore than a brand new male recruit would."

            But there are older first-timers as well. They get to enjoy the age-relaxed standards just like anyone else in their peer group. So that reasoning doesn't exactly fly.

            "If I see somebody male or female that can't meet the minimum physical fitness standards I lose respect for them as a Marine, not as a person but as Military member."

            But why is a female meeting a male standard the only way she gets your "respect"? Why are the official female standards not good enough? Like I said before, the female standards in no way allow out of shape women in.

            I reject the very notion that the female standards are "inferior" when there exists age-related relaxed standards. I reject the notion that just because biology may not have graced a female with a male's upper body strength, that it means she is inferior or a shit soldier. Just because I can't do 50 full pushups doesn't mean I can't drag someone's ass off a battlefield. It doesn't mean I can't shoot a gun or fly/drive a vehicle.

            I want to highlight the ease with which we associate "female standards" with "WEAK". Female standards are still pretty damn good standards that take into account the average fit female's capabilities.

          • Upon further reflection, allow me to give you a couple scenarios.

            Guy is 35, wants to join the Army. The age limit is 40, so he can still do it. He's got a couple of kids and hasn't really worked out in years, but he trains to pass the standards and does so.

            The Army recognizes that he just isn't going to be able to do the same things as the 20 year old kid next to him. It's a biological reality. His muscle mass has decreased, he's got a stubborn spare tire. He's a little slower than he used to be. But that's okay, because he can pass the standards determined to be those of a fit man his age. He doesn't lose any respect because of it. His fellow soldiers may rib him about his age, but there is no doubt he's as competent as they are and deserves to be there.

            But a woman can't have standards designed around her biological realities. I'm not one of those people who want to pretend these realities don't exist. But why does she not get the respect? Why does she have to prove her competence to you and why are her standards poo-pooed as "easy"when they are simply the standards determined to be those of a fit woman of her age?

            Women also have different strengths. My husband is, by all accounts, faster and stronger than I am. But I can out-ruck him any day. I beat him up steep hills with 50-70lbs strapped to my back. He marvels at my ability. I have a low center of gravity with thick, powerful legs. I am like a pack mule. He's tall and skinny with no real center of gravity to speak of, so it's a lot harder on his frame.

            So yes, perhaps I get to do less push-ups than you. It doesn't mean I don't deserve respect like any other solider.

          • FormerlyShyGuy says:

            Your scenario is why I choose to join the Marines. For my own safety I was glad the Marines do not allow men or women with no prior service to join after 28, which is still relatively a young age capable of training to a very high standard.

            "The Army recognizes that he just isn't going to be able to do the same things as the 20 year old kid next to him."

            I personally don't agree that it is a good idea to allow new recruits that are 35 much less 40 to join the military, these recruits are going to have a very difficult time doing "same things as the 20 year old kid next to him." Not only is that brand new service-member not as valuable to the unit in terms of physical performance for working/training/ and combat but it does a disservice to that service-member since they will have difficulty being competitive for promotion.
            I agree that the "The Army recognizes that he just isn't going to be able to do the same things as the 20 year old kid next to him." which is why the Army has reduced the age requirement
            http://usmilitary.about.com/od/joiningthemilitary

            "Women also have different strengths. My husband is, by all accounts, faster and stronger than I am. But I can out-ruck him any day. I beat him up steep hills with 50-70lbs strapped to my back. He marvels at my ability. I have a low center of gravity with thick, powerful legs. I am like a pack mule. He's tall and skinny with no real center of gravity to speak of, so it's a lot harder on his frame."

            I have meet women such as yourself that is very capable at marches, recently a woman kicked my ass on a hike.

            "So yes, perhaps I get to do less push-ups than you. It doesn't mean I don't deserve respect like any other solider."

            Not everybody deserves respect there are great service-members and there are terrible service-members, if you do less push-ups but it is still passing fantastic, but if you do less to the level of not passing the test then you do no deserve as much respect as a service-member as someone that did pass. As a person you will always deserve respect so pass or fail you deserve respect unconditionally. The respect of your peers and superiors that you are capable of the mission is conditional on you being able to pass or exceed the standard.

            Tosca both you and Trooper6 have commented on the poor metrics that are used to measure physical performance, push-ups, dead arm hang, pull ups, crunches, and running just to name a few. Perhaps the value for push-ups/pull up can be reduced and everybody would also have to do a dead arm hang. Or the points for the endurance run could be split with a long march.

            I am not advocating that the standards have to be the same as they are now, they can be changed to better evaluate the capabilities of the service-member. In order to be a good standard it has to meet four requirements. 1. The evaluation must be a accurate means of determining the capability of a service-member. 2. The everybody is evaluated the same. 3. It is slightly challenging to pass. 4. It is extremely challenging to get a perfect score.

          • FormerlyShyGuy says:

            http://usmilitary.about.com/od/joiningthemilitary

            Linked showing the current age limits.

          • The only point I'm really going to disagree with you here is that older members aren't as valuable and don't have as much to offer. The military isn't just about brute strength anymore, especially in this modern era. It's not just about infantry and artillery. Those are still important, yes, but the number of jobs in the military runs the entire gamut, as I'm sure you know. They have scientists and office workers and machine operators and medical staff: things that do not require one to be in the prime of their youth.
            In fact, I would argue that having older members lends some needed maturity and perspective, especially in leadership areas. My 35 year old Lt. husband notices a big difference in the leadership styles and coping abilities of the young officers vs. the older.

            Couple more things:
            "Not everybody deserves respect there are great service-members and there are terrible service-members,"

            Sure, but there are great soldiers that merely pass or do "meh" on their PT, and their are bad/mediocre soldiers that are PT aces. These do not directly correlate. Same way as acing your ASVAB doesn't predict how great of a soldier you're going to be.

            "The respect of your peers and superiors that you are capable of the mission is conditional on you being able to pass or exceed the standard. "

            Yes. There are women who pass and exceed the standards. I've not disagreed with you about this.

          • A couple of things.

            1) Studies found that male marines couldn't do the arm hang as long as female marines. Yet the measure of toughness and high standard isn't the arm hang…though it could be. The PT test itself is not an objective measure of "ability to do the job," it is something we made up–something that favors male physical strengths rather than female physical strengths. It is also a standard that's been lowered since I was in the service because recruits nowadays apparently come into the services less fit than before…they had to lower the standards to meet recruitment goals. And all the those weaker men still do the job.

            2) Neither push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, or a 2-mile run measure whether you can to a fireman's carry. When I did my Primary Leadership Development Course, with almost all Infantry people, I got a lot of crap because they saw me as female…and didn't think women could do it, blah, blah. One of those moments involved the fireman carry. They said, you have to be able to carry a fellow soldier in a fireman carry! So they found the biggest 6+ft bodybuilder dude and told me to carry him by myself. I did it. I was slow and not good, but I did it. A bunch of the smaller guys couldn't do it. But they were in the infantry and I wasn't–nor could I be. All of the rest of the guys? The normal sized soldiers? I could fireman carry them all with no problem. And most women could. Women are pretty good at fireman carry because they can use their superior leg muscles and endurance. But the idea that I had to carry some massive body builder to prove I was a good soldier leads to…

            3) …a standard being something that is not only unuseful in combat, but also hurts combat effectiveness. In a real-life situation, especially if we all don't want to end up with knee and back problems–none of us (male or female) should have been fireman carrying that huge guy. He was a two man carry if I ever saw one. I saw so many soldiers and marines injure themselves doing physical feats by themselves that were really two person feats, but their machismo got in the way. That was a problem.

            But also, here's another story from my PLDC (by the way, I finished that course, tied for the top spot out of 300 soldiers…out of which only 14 were women). They wanted to test me, make a point, or whatever, so in one of our patrol exercises they had me carrying my full pack, the radio pack, the M60, and I think some other really heavy thing. I shouldn't have been carrying all of that. No one should have. That is not combat smart…but they wanted to punish me for seeming female rather than be smart. What happened? Well, I carried it all. I was the last person in our patrol because I had the M60. We were spread out marching in a column. We all had to jump a small stream. It had been raining earlier that day. Everybody leaped across and landed at the same point. I was the last person to make the jump…loaded down with a ridiculous amount of gear. And I made the leap….except. They had me carrying so much stuff to "prove women are equal to men" or whatever BS…that when I landed, the weight of my gear drove my leg into the bank up to and a little bit over my knee. And I got stuck of course. And couldn't get out and needed three people to pull me out of the bank. No guy would've been made to carry all that–because it was stupid. And not good for military effectiveness.

            3) Lastly, you know who didn't have a lot upper body strength? North Vietnamese Male Soldiers. And you know what? It doesn't take a lot of upper body strength to pull the trigger of an AK-47 or an M16. And those thin, weak, malnourished Viet Kong did pretty well against us. We left Viet Nam not as victors.

            We over fetishize upper body strength and despite marine ads with the guy with the sword fighting the dragon, we are fighting in the modern day and not with swords anymore. You just don't need to be massive bodybuilders to be a good soldier. The marines in WW2 weren't, nor the soldiers of WW1, nor the soldiers of the Civil War…the French Resistance…

            This is not actually about doing the job. This is about unstable masculinity.

            Credentialing: Graduated with honors from every military school I attended, including tying for first in PLDC with a bunch of Infantry dude. The Soldier of Year for the Intelligence and Security Command Europe, runner up for the entire Army. 2 Army Commendation Medals, 1 Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, random other Misc. awards, made my E-5 in 3 years, did various things I can't talk about but were very important to national security, during a time of war…and guess what? Despite my hardcore-ness, I, at the time, still couldn't do as many push-ups as most of my male colleagues.

            Trust me on this, it is better for you that I was in the service despite not being able to do as many push-ups. And trust me on this, it is detriment to you that I left after 4 years rather than work at the NSA because of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.

          • You are awesome and hit that shit right out of the park. Thank you!!

          • FormerlyShyGuy says:

            I agree.

          • I am a guy, but I have lived being treated (sort of) like a (sort of) woman for a decent chunk of my life. I have seen first hand how the exact same person (me–and other trans people I know) is treated differently when they are perceived male vs perceived female.

            Women's military history is something that is quite important to me. I get very upset with this sort of very American insistence on massive beefiness = good soldier. Violette Szabo was a member of the French Resistance and she wasn't beefy. But she was a great hero. And when she was tortured to death for months by the Gestapo…yet she never cracked. (Women have higher pain thresholds than men)

            Women have served in combat bravely and effectively for centuries. Sometimes officially, sometimes unofficially. Women have already done it. To say that women can't do it because they can't do X pull-ups…which is a pretty random thing…is an insult to all those women who have already served with valor and distinction. It is an insult to Violette Szabo and Brigitte Friang. To all those women in the Warsaw Uprising, the Italian Resistance. To the women who disguised themselves as men and fought in the Revolutionary and Civil War. To those women who fought in El Salvador, or who fought in the Viet Kong.

          • Amen. As a woman, it's frustrating to have your strength and capabilities dismissed and disrespected just because they don't match some arbitrary male standard. Thanks for sharing your unique and informative perspective.

            It's a goddamn fucking shame that I had no idea who those brave women were before you told me. Thanks a lot, woman-erasing, sexist American public school system. >:(

          • There is a book I recommend very highly, though I don't know if you can get ahold of it easily:

            Shelley Saywell, Women in War

            It is a collection of first person interviews with women who served in various wars. The first chapters are all WW2 women, There's a British Chapter, French Resistance, Warsaw Uprising, Italian Resistance, Russian Women…then she looks at Korea, French Indochina, Vietnam, El Salvador.

            It is a great book if you can find it anywhere…perhaps the library?

            This is the problem about our history. To get all 2nd Wave Feminist, it is his-story. Women's military history is erased. Heck, women's history in general is erased. And not only history, but also cultural production. *gr*

          • If not the library, I recommend AbeBooks! I just went looking for a copy (because this book sounds amazing!) and there's a whole bunch listed there very inexpensively.

          • AbeBooks is awesome! I just found out about BookFinder which is an aggregate search engine that searches through Abebooks and a bunch of others…I imagine it must also ping my other usual suspects alibris and powells.

          • Thank you for the rec!! And to Mel, for where to find.

            And not to worry about getting all Second Wavey. As I'm sure you've noticed, I can get that way too. ;)

          • Wowza this took off! I'm not too interested in debating physical standards for military personel (b/c it's pretty off-point from the article and Tosca and Trooper6 just did an amazing job). I guess my overall point is what previous commenters have noted, is that when "minority" (sociologically speaking) groups of people are entering a space that hasn't/isn't always been totally welcoming to them, they are often seen as a bloc by the privileged, and one mistake by an individual can "reaffirm" dumb stereotypes (in the eyes of the bigoted) about the group.

          • This is very very true. And of course the result of this is that too often the minority group will often end up attacking each other rather than the system that is causing the actual trouble.

            So, Bill Cosby blaming the African American economic and social problems on black people for listening to hip hop rather than all of the system issues plaguing the African American community.
            Or some female nerd blaming nerd girls who wear bustiers for sexism in the nerd community, rather than a larger social system that links sexism with masculinity and then tells nerd dudes they aren't masculine enough, so what are you going to do to proove them wrong?
            Or some poor person blaming that poor person who goes to cheap fast food for meals, causing health and weight problems for the bad image of poor people, without noting that that person live in a food desert where there are no grocery stores that sell decent vegetables, and they work at a minimum wage job so they make $17,000 a year and don't really have much money for good food anyway.

            But, if we fight amongst ourselves, we don't challenge the system, and those who are most vocal attacking others of their group are often rewarded for it by the majority power block.

          • It's interesting that you bring up the race thing, because I read somewhere that they did a study that showed that black people have a tendency to underperform at academics when they know they're being compared to white people. When the black participants were given the same test, but no white people were in the room (or something like that, I don't remember the specifics) their scores were exactly the same as their white peers.

            Maybe this applies to women and video games as well?

      • How It Works (SFW)

        • Clementine Danger says:

          Funny, I was looking for that exact comic in another tab right now. Because yeah, that's pretty much how it is.

          Although I will admit, just between us here, that I actually *am* bad with numbers and game rules. Can't be helped. I'm also perfectly capable of making a cheat sheet and consulting a book outside my turn so as to not interrupt the flow of the game, so there's that. But I'd never admit to it unless I trust the group not to use me as an example of how girls are bad at math and game rules.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            That's OK. I'm great with numbers but don't feel like using my gemoetry, calculus or accounting knowledge recreationally, so I tend to prefer games with simpler rule structures. (Apocalypse World, Smallville and Monsterhearts currently top my list)

          • Clementine Danger says:

            Yeah, give me a simple, streamlined system any day. It's why I fell in love with Savage Worlds, and Deadlands. I loved the setting of the Serenity RPG, but the rules were utter crap, so I did a rules conversion for Savage Worlds. I call it Savage Firefly, and it is so beautiful you'd weep.

            So, actually, maybe not *that* bad with rules and math.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Definitely look up Apocalypse World, which is what it sounds like, and its hacked cousin Monsterhearts, which is a Buffy/Twilight/The Circle/Being Human teens and monsters coming of age game. The character sheets walk you through creation and with two more pages cover most of the rules the players need to know. All of that's free online.

            EVERYTHING is handled by 2d6+x from the players in a standard format of 2-6=fail, 7-9=partial success, 10+=full success. The MC never rolls.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            Oh, that sounds like fun! Thanks for the tip!

      • Paul Rivers says:

        "I've gamed in several different situations (tabletop and LARP) with several different groups, and I've seen many men ask other players for rules clarification or just plain "I don't understand this mechanic. What do I do?" Rarely with any judgement. Where male players are concerned, they're allowed a learning curve and can consult other players with no loss of face. However, if a woman has a question then "she doesn't know the rule" and therefore "women are no good at games.""

        I see this exact same dynamic against geeky guys though, regarding arbitrary social conventions. How many times have I seen eye-rolling and insistence that because a guy looks like a nerd that he "can't understand" some social convention, whereas it's quickly mentioned or explained to someone who doesn't look like a nerd. Regular looking guy wears a fedora? Someone kindly explains to him that there's some whole negative meme about wearing a fedora. Nerdy guy does it? Talking behind his back and snarky comments about how he "doesn't understand" social rules from girls.

        They both kind of suck, just saying I've seen corrolaries.

        I've definitely *seen* guys get judged, but you're right that it's not usually "your whole group is bad at this", usually there's just some general sense of frustration on the part of the group, maybe someone says something, and then people tend not to want to play with that guy any more.

        But I have to say – I've *far* more seen guys put a *lot* more effort into explaining the rules to a girl when they never would have put that much effort into explaining them to a guy. In one in-real-life context girls get more dismissiveness, but another time they'll get more direct help that a guy wouldn't get. And yes – I've sometimes done this, with girls who I liked in a personality way but wasn't attracted to.

        • Ah yes, the man-explaining-to-woman phenomenon. Yes, I've been on the receiving end of many a helpful lecture on rules or game mechanics or comic books or what-have-you. The thing is? Hardly any of them ask me if I actually *need* those lectures. They just assume I'm new and start explaining in excruciating detail without asking. I've seen it happen over and over to me and any other woman who shows up in [Insert Geek Scene].

          My favorite incident was when I was watching Jim Henson's "The Dark Crystal" at a party consisting mostly of Ren Faire folks and other assorted geeks. No fewer than three separate men sat down next to me at different times and launched into detailed explanations of the movie, Jim Henson trivia, and other information delivered under the impression that I had no idea what was going on and had never heard of Muppets. Without checking to see if I needed or wanted any of this information, mind. I just wanted to watch the frickin' movie. Of course, in their minds they were just helping me out and being gallant and chivalrous or whatever, and would have taken it poorly if I acted in any way "ungrateful." (I've had this happen in other instances.)

          It's certainly not as bad as the abuse and harassment the Doctor writes about in the article. But it's another one of the insidious things that serve to alienate women and reveal the prejudices of even nice male geeks.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            I am very, very grateful that my fiancee is also my biggest ally and my best buddy. When guys start explaining games to me and it gets awkward, he's the one who speaks up and says "yeah, dude, she's been playing this game for years, knock it off". I never even had to ask him to do it. He just knows when to tag in. It's just such a relief to have a guy like that in my corner. I should tell him that more often.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Lol…wow.

            Here's an idea – if you're going to hang out with a group of people often stereotyped as socially awkward – don't act quite so shocked that they're socially awkward. As a guy, I have *also* been on the receiving end of many of these long dibatres on some topic I could not care less about. And also had someone act miffed that finally I said something about just wanting to watch the movie.

            But it is not a sign of "insidious" behavior that "reveal's the prejudices" of the people there – it's a sign that you're hanging out with socially awkward people. A month ago I was at a dance exchange and as someone with a car there, I was giving other people rides. A woman in my car would not stop talking..for the 45 minute drive. We turned on the radio. We stopped responding completely to her. Finally, I said something – and it was a very polite mention that we (myself and the other people in the car) would just like to enjoy the silence for a while, and she responds with "Well, when a *man* tells a *woman* to shut up, that just…bla bla bla bla". And she STILL kept talking…

            Somehow – while being extremely annoyed – I did not instantly jump to the conclusion that she was expressing that she thought I wasn't as smart as her like you seem to.

            Guys like to look like they know what they're doing – in front of both girls and guys. Some of them were probably trying to flirt with you, others just trying to make conversation. And that doesn't change that it's annoying – it is – but it is not inherently "I'm looking down on you by explaining this to you". It could be – but it is not inherently that way. Guys have done this to me all the time – and the usual response is to one-up them on your knowledge level of the subject.

            And when I said "direct help that a guy wouldn't get" – I meant help that was asked for. Way back in the day when I first started out, I think I had to ask 3 different people before finally getting an actual answer to "what does d6 mean?".

          • Honestly, Paul, this is a touch insulting. Of course we all know socially awkward people who are prone to over-explaining things or don't know when to stop talking to anyone, regardless of gender. We know people who always have to play one-up-manship games, no matter with who. But many women here have also encountered a whole lot of people who do this ONLY to women, and somehow manage to not do it to men. We see those people interacting with both men and women, and can tell the difference between socially awkward and well-intentioned-but-condescending-and-sexist.

          • "if you're going to hang out with a group of people often stereotyped as socially awkward" We're talking about nerds, right? Well that includes WOMEN too! Yet even awkward women are expected to know lvl. 100 social skills at all times, and give all the benefits of the doubt to dudes even when they are clearly being sexist jerks.

            Seriously, it's tiresome to have all these concessions made for awkward *men*, but not awkward *women*. Sometimes awkward women get erased entirely from these conversations.

            (Closely related to "he has Asperger's so cannot possibly know from creepy", erasing the fact that women also have Asperger's, plus the general ableism in assuming all people w AS are creeps.)

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Plus the fact that I know plenty of Aspies who are passably social by internalizing proper etiquette and social skills on an intellectual level. At least one of them is the life of the party, a great actor and you really have to dig to find any sign of Asperger's. Oh, and let's not forget how many of them are self-diagnosed. Why is it that mental conditions are a badge of pride in geek circles, anyway?

          • Yeah, I've recently made a female friend who mentioned that she was on the autism spectrum. Once she mentioned it, I realized that she frequently makes conversation by stating a series of facts, and doesn't tell stories or talk about how she feels about things very much at all. But she's very polite, and doesn't violate anyone's boundaries, and functions just fine socially as far as I can tell.

          • A person in my immediate family has Asperger's. He is in his early 40s and was diagnosed long before most people had ever heard of it. He struggles with social cues, and interactions that come easily and naturally to most people are often difficult and stressful for him.

            Do you know what he does when he doesn't understand something? He asks me or someone else he trusts. If he's unsure about his behavior, he'll run it past one of us afterward, and if he did something a bit "off," he's willing to listen to explanations of why those weren't the best choices and to learn from that. He doesn't hide behind a diagnosis and use it as an excuse for poor behavior. It makes me so angry and frustrated when I see people using real or self-diagnosed Asperger's as an excuse for trampling on boundaries or otherwise being a jerk.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "Seriously, it's tiresome to have all these concessions made for awkward *men*, but not awkward *women*. Sometimes awkward women get erased entirely from these conversations."

            Honestly, that's fair, and I do think that happens. I'm just not entirely sure how to fix that in my own writing…a lot of responses are in the context of "here's things guys are doing wrong", so the responses tend to focus on that topic. Now that you mentioned it, I think you're right though…

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "Honestly, Paul, this is a touch insulting."

            That's fair, but it was also a touch insulting to respond to my previous comment with "Ah yes, the man-explaining-to-woman phenomenon" as if that was the only outcome of explaining game rules to a girl.

            Everyone I explained to specifically asked for help.

            "But many women here have also encountered a whole lot of people who do this ONLY to women, and somehow manage to not do it to men."

            That's fair, and I don't disagree that women get a lot more of it than guys do. I take a bit of issue that it's *always* sexist. I'm sure it is sometimes, but I've also seen plenty of people who have no problem being condescending without it being sexist to. There's plenty of guys trying to impress a girl while doing it badly – they aren't trying to impress her because they think less of her, they're just trying to be impressive – or make conversation – with a girl. With a gender ratio of 3 guys to 1 girl (or worse), any given girl gets a lot more of it than the guy.

            I'm not saying *some* people aren't sexist, just that it seems like saying everyone is doing it for sexist reasons is over the top. And also, my comment here applies to talking to girls in person – girls getting more crap online is a different subject (and I agree it's a problem, though it's both sexist and a number of other problems rolled into one).

          • By 'phenomenon', I don't think Jay was trying to say that all times a man explains game rules to a woman are motivated by sexism, even benign sexism, just that it is in fact widespread enough to be a phenomenon. Your initial comment did not make clear that you were referring to times when the woman has asked for an explanation – I don't think she or anyone else here was trying to imply that it would be sexist if the woman asked, or that you are sexist if you ever explain things to a woman. I'm sorry if it seemed that way to you; to me it was obvious that this wasn't referring to all men explaining things ever so I didn't clarify that in my comments.

            But that said, your response to several women saying that they have experienced men explaining things to women unnecessarily was to explain to us, in quite a condescending way, why we're wrong that it's sexist. I'd ask you to consider that maybe, like an awful lot of well-intentioned people who would never want to do sexist things, you're unintentionally assuming you know better about women's experiences of sexism and accusing them of overreacting. We're all part of this sexist culture; we all have privileged mindsets that are so ingrained they're almost impossible for us to believe they're privileged at all. But if you care at all about fighting sexism, I'd ask you to try and take a step back sometimes and try and really hear what we're saying.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            Paul, we are not stupid. We have the capacity for pattern recognition. We know the difference between an awkward dude and a sexist dude. Because we *have* to know the difference. It's a skill we absolutely need to develop in order to have any sort of pleasant social life in the nerd scene.

            I keep noticing that pretty much all your examples that are meant to support your points are examples from your own life. I also notice that the only common denominator is you.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            There's a huge difference between a particular girl in real life knowing the difference, and the on-the-internet-claim that every time a girl receives extra attention it's "sexist". Most girls seem to be able to tell the difference, as you mentioned, in real life. But ask on the internet and it sure seems like suddenly people have a real tough time of telling the difference.

            "I keep noticing that pretty much all your examples that are meant to support your points are examples from your own life. I also notice that the only common denominator is you."

            First, that's not completely true as I mention stories from other people I know as well.

            Second, I assume you're being snarky, but of course I I trust stories from my own life far more than I trust carefully chosen stories that I read on the internet which are specifically picked from a multitiude of stories to paint a specific picture. Of course there's a bit of that with my own stories as they're in response to other stories – but even then, not all of my stories are negative. They tend not to come up as much because of the nature of responding to articles or other comments, but I've actually have a fair number of positive examples. They don't come up as much because of the nature of these articles.

            Finally – well, you're just trying to be insulting. Anyone who's had a social life has seen most of these things happen at some point.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            What the hell are you even talking about? I get that you're sore because I'm basically calling you sexist, which you explain away to yourself as "just awkward", but I'm not getting what anti-logic you're using to get there. You're denying that a sexist sort of attention is sexist? What?

            Get your shit together, take two aspirin and get back to me in the morning.

          • "There's a huge difference between a particular girl in real life knowing the difference, and the on-the-internet-claim that every time a girl receives extra attention it's "sexist"."

            Except no one made this claim. In the comment Jay made that you replied to explaining how she was being too harsh and probably a lot of the time the guys are just being awkward, she specifically stated that when this has happened to her, most of the time she hasn't asked for any help and the guys are just assuming it out of the blue, and that was what bothered her. And then… you turned around and claimed that she was incapable of determining what was really going on in her real life, based on the little bit you know of her situation via the internet. And got huffy when people called you out on that being offensive. So what I'm seeing is that you think it's okay for you to tell someone else what was really happening in her personal experiences (and even to casually dismiss her concerns with LOLs and so on), but if someone misinterprets something that you said, oh no, this is a grave offense.

            And seriously–a guy explaining something to a woman who hasn't asked for help or given any indication she needs help (especially if she's in the middle of some other activity she's trying to concentrate on, like, oh, playing a game or watching a movie), if he's doing it specifically because she's a woman, even if he's just hoping to impress her or whatever, it's still sexist. It's sexist to assume that having something you've expressed no confusion over explained to you would be impressive for a woman coming from a guy. It's sexist for a guy to think his desire to impress a woman trumps her desire to focus on the activity she's currently engaged in. Awkwardness and intentions do not remove the underlying sexism.

          • So I, personally, find myself explaining even the most minor aspects of many things I’m interested in to a great many people. I do this whether or not I have any idea what they actually know about the subject in question. I’ve never thought of this as sexist behavior on my part, I just really like to talk about things. I’m also a bit of a narcissist and kind of get off on the sound of my own voice. I know this is a pretty universally annoying trait, but what I’m really wondering is: is this sexist? Are people going to assume I’m doing it because I think they know less because they’re female? That’s really not the case at all. I just want to explain things. I enjoy it.

          • My boyfriend used to do this to me, constantly. No one in our group of friends ever gave me an explanation I didn't ask for, but he, I guess out of kindness, took it upon himself to give me one every time a slightly obscure reference to something came up. Nevermind that I've been a gamer most of my life and he knew it. It drove me crazy, especially when he did it in front of other groups of gamers, because I had two choices: either let him explain and let the others assume I was just tagging along, or tell him I already knew and embarrass him (and possibly look like a bitch in front of a bunch of strangers). I don't think he ever got how condescending that habit of his was.

          • Ooof, I feel you on this one. I met a guy in university and we dated a year or so,later. He went further in that field of study than I did, so he did have more knowledge than I did, but he acted often as if I was completely clueless and didn't know the most basic thing about the material, in conversation. My opinions were also obviously less valid than his because he had the specialised masters and I a mere generalist bachelor's. Even in areas outside of his specialisation, his opinion was the right one and needed to be explained. Despite the fact that I had arrived at my own conclusions after having studied the material myself. Drives me nuts.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      For what its worth, you (and anyone else in this thread, really) are welcome in my games any time. I might even get something going online this summer.

  4. LadyKalika says:

    Great article! I have been in a few situations where players have shouted down guys that were harassing me. It was really great to hear, and I respect those who speak up. It works too! Every time the harasser would shut up, or even leave the server. Plus, if one player would voice his disgust in the harasser, others would quickly follow suit. I'm sure there's some hero/white knight complex going on in there somewhere…

    Oh! I've also noticed admins being better about booting unsavory people. That's nice to see too.

    • Those "What would you do" specials they did on ABC often remarked on this phenomenon. It would take one person initiating action to display to the group that initiating action was okay, and suddenly everyone would stand up to do something, but if that first initial person did not stand up, the horrible behavior was ignored in spite of everyone else in the room feeling uncomfortable and wanting something to be done about it.

      The lesson of this is that yes, there's a psychological effect at work here, but someone has to stand up, so if it isn't going to be anyone else, it's time for us to stand up.

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        I read somewhere that in a social setting where everyone's more or less equal, when someone states an opinion (eg "girls are stupid") that the crowd tends to follow whatever the second person to reply says. Take it for what its worth but try it sometime and see what happens.

    • Oh yeah. I've been in countless arguments in geek groups about feminism, sexism, rape, and other women-centered issues, and it's usually me, the lone woman, feeling increasingly alone and harassed as whoever I'm arguing with bears down on me and everybody else stays silent or even jumps in against me. It's like an awful brick wall.

      The few times when another guy jumped in on my side and helped me out, though? SO MUCH EMOTIONAL CATHARSIS. Anyone who's been pushing really hard at a heavy, immovable object that suddenly moved where they wanted it to go, knows the feeling.

  5. This is exactly why, as a female gamer, I've stopped playing in public games/servers and stick to only playing with friends. You're never good enough for these people. I can't tell you how many times I've been verbally abused for doing something as crazy as playing Left 4 Dead 2 on Steam. I've been called everything from a 'bitch' to a 'fucking fat cunt' for daring to go online. I usually laugh it off and try to go about my business, but there's only so much of that someone can take.

    If gaming is no longer fun, why should I participate in it?

    As an aside: the guy who made that fighting community quote was talking out of his ass. When arcades were a thing and you had to play people face to face – at least in my neighborhood – no one cared if you were male or female, and everyone was welcome to play if you had enough quarters and the skill to play against others. I have to wonder if we, being part of the gaming culture, have lost a great deal of our social growth since we're not physically playing together.

    • What Amethyst said. I used to be able to play MMORPGs as a guy in the early 00s before voice became common, but I only play single player games now because of the non-stop harassment.

      I didn’t grow up in a time when we had physical arcade games, so I never really considered that point. It’s a good one, though.

    • RE: your last paragraph, could be, but for me, all my bad gaming-while-female experiences happened in person. I have very rarely ever ventured into online gaming, because I was afraid. I'd experienced enough crap in person, and I'd been around internet forums enough, to know that it probably wouldn't go well for me.

      • I’m really sorry to see that. It’s that connection I had to other players that gave me the confidence to go online to play to begin with, and that’s a goddamn shame that you went through that nonsense.

        • It could be my age, too. I'm older, and when online games were first coming out, no one ever acknowledged this stuff. Hell, when I was a child, it was just assumed girls didn't play games or like geek stuff at ALL. The past few years has seen a steady increase in awareness. I have hope for the younger set of women!

          • It's interesting you say that, Tosca, because I'm also older, and I've been thinking I never experienced this sort of stuff when I was a girl playing games, and that the gendering of gaming (like the gendering of Lego) seems to have been a more recent development over the past 20 years. When the NES came out, everyone I knew played Super Mario Bros and Tetris, boys and girls. It was a kids thing, adults didn't play, but not a boy thing.

            I'm sad to see from your experience that this was not the case with gaming when you were a child. Maybe my experience was only like that because I lived in a very geeky corner of the world.

          • I will NOT connect my console to the internet, ever. I hate that there are even innocuous games that would expose you to random internet dickishness the moment you even turned them on. I hate that I don't even feel safe connecting "kids games" like Little Big Planet to the internet. I won't touch other games with a 50 ft. pole.

            When I play on Steam, I have one friend, my husband, and we play together. I have no interest in interacting with anyone, ever.

            I hate that I have to live by those rules to protect myself from harassment. I love playing games. I can bash heads with glee, but gaming is not a safe place, and I won't put my foot in that festering cesspool. Games are supposed to be fun.

            So you can add me to the overwhelming majority of girls who opt out of gaming even though I would love to play.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "It's interesting you say that, Tosca, because I'm also older, and I've been thinking I never experienced this sort of stuff when I was a girl playing games, and that the gendering of gaming (like the gendering of Lego) seems to have been a more recent development over the past 20 years. When the NES came out, everyone I knew played Super Mario Bros and Tetris, boys and girls. It was a kids thing, adults didn't play, but not a boy thing."

            Yeah – I *really* miss that. When I was in college I would meet a fair number of girls who had played Mario. Actually, the thing my first girlfriend and I did together was playing Dr Mario (a game like Tetris) because she owned it and it was in her room.

            The girl I dated most recently I met dancing but invited over to play the latest wii mario…

            So I guess there's still a few, but yeah – seems like so many games now are gendered-segmented.

          • It's funny, because in the little bubble of my childhood bedroom, where us kids would all gather to play SNES, there was no sexism. There were my 3 cousins, all girls, my brother and myself. My brother was the only boy, but we all played that SNES til it was smoking.

            BUT, the games all belonged to my brother. See, no matter how much I was into games or Transformers or Legos, my family only ever got HIM those things. No matter how many times I asked for those toys of my own, they just got them for him, then hand-waved that we could share. But the message was clear: these were BOY things.

            As we all got older, my brother's geekery lessened as he got more popular and fell kind of into the cool stoner/musician crowd. I holed myself up in my room even more, with my games, Star Trek, books, art and writing. But our family only remembers how into games HE was. They go to HIM for Star Trek trivia.

            But he goes to ME. :)

          • I had to brothers, and we had a Sega Genesis. The games were "ours" if we went to pick out a new game, it was always ours, and we'd have to debate between the three of us which ones we wanted to get. So many of those old games were fun for all of us. I really miss games with that universal feel. I am glad that it was never once strange for me to be playing games with my brothers, or that playing games was the "boy thing" that I had to push my way into against the "but you're a girl" flack of say football in the front yard.

            Games were games, and we all could play.

      • I grew up while arcades were still a thing, and my next door neighbours (and subsequently my best friends) were brothers. I played video games with them, we rode our bikes and played Batman, we pretened to be in mortal Kombat on the trampoline, I was never treated as anything different than they were. When their friends (all boys) came over to play, they played with me the same way they did with my neighbours.

        Same deal with the arcade, I never really got any comments on my gaming until girls in school started telling me that what I was doing was only for boys, and I was being weird. I let my freak flag fly early on and continued being as geeky as I felt like.

        Once I got in junior high and the first MMORPG in North America came out (Ultima Online), my mom got an account for us and that was my first real experience with sexism. I had people telling me I was a dude because the idea of being beaten by a 13 year old girl in PVP was just unthinkable. As I got older, people stopped pretending I was a guy and started labeling me with words like “attention whore” or “fake girl gamer” or my personal favourite “drama queen.”

        By merely existing and daring to do something I loved, play video games, I was somehow a threat. I used to pride myself on being thick-skinned and able to dish it out just as good as I got it, but it started to wear on me. Years of casual misogyny had sapped my will to play online games. I had turned into an adult, and my time was no longer limitless and waiting to be filled. My time was now valuable and severely limited, and I couldn’t justify using a large chunk of that limited time to listen to assholes call me a fat whore, or stupid cunt, or send me unsolicited dick pics and creepy PMs just so I could play a few online matches.

        I changed my gaming habits. I don’t play with people I don’t know, and if none of my friends are around then I just don’t play anymore. Gamers as a group have finally worn me down and driven me away. I grew up gaming, my mom taught me how to game and is one of the original gamers, I love video games… but I can’t play them online anymore, and I don’t want to put myself in any potentially harmful RL situations either.

        I was raped by friends of a friend, they were in her D&D group. She took their side, I never spoke to her again and I denied myself the pleasure of tabletop games because I associated RP groups with my rapists.

        It’s insidious, that’s the word I keep seeing around here and it’s absolutely spot-on. The undercurrent is openly hostile to women and those perceived as ‘other’ (LGBT), and it’s hypocrisy of the highest order. The bullied have become the worst kind of bullies.

        • I am so sorry about what happened to you. That is awful.

        • Clementine Danger says:

          Someone once said that when given a chance, the oppressed can be just as cruel as their oppressors. There's a lot of truth in that.

          I'm so sorry, Annora. It's horrible and unfair that this has happened to you, and it breaks my heart.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          You know, I usually try to come in to the comments, throw some light and/or witty stuff up, throw some thought provoking stuff up, joke with friend I'm used to seeing here and so forth. After reading two comments to this effect, though, all I'm left with is:

          HOLY FUCKING SHIT! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THESE GUYS? DID THE WHOLE WORLD GO FUCKING CRAZY WHILE I WASN'T LOOKING?

          *ahem* Sorry, had to get that out. Carry on.

    • Also (in response to that guy) these are games. They are for fun. It doesn't matter if you are good or not.

      • Clementine Danger says:

        Tell that to the guy who took a swing at me.

        This was back in the olden days, when WoW kept track of your kill stats, or somesuch, I didn't care then and I've forgotten half of it now. Anyway, one of my AoE spells went bad and killed a civilian NPC. Guy jumps up from his computer chair and runs at me like he's going to punch me for messing up his stats. And then all my friends jumped up and stopped him.

        Haha, no, that last part didn't happen. Me dodging a punch did though. So there's that. Naturally I was to blame for the situation, because… Well, what a bitch I was for purposefully sabotaging that poor dude. Hindsight being what it is, I can see their point. I regret my actions now. It's been years, and my heart still bleeds for that poor guy.

  6. I am very, very lucky in that I've never encountered this sort of behavior as a gaming female. Part of the reason I haven't encountered it is I stick close to real-life friends in online games; in WoW, our guild was made up entirely of people who knew each other in real life. In Minecraft, we made our own server that was just us. The few times I did venture out of the guild, I stayed in less-populated servers. Learning the ropes as a tanking paladin in WoW, people were mostly kind to me, regardless of gender. Counter-intuitively, I think the Random Dungeon Group generator actually helped; people are so thankful to just have a tank/healer they leave you alone, knowing it will take possibly hours until they get another one. I DID just some slight abuse as a female Mage, but I can't tell if that was gendered or because people love ragging on DPS.

    Still, I have stayed away from other online games for this exact reason. Even though I've rarely encountered it myself, the experiences I've heard about from other women has scared me off. I was excited to try the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer mode, until I heard what a cesspool it was; now, I won't touch it.

    It did surprise me that the female tester account generated more friend requests. I was expecting the abuse (sadly), but I was very surprised to see they get tons of messages and friend requests. Is it some weird version of White Knighting, "I'm too scared to stick up for you but I'll be your friend after!" Is it guys hoping for sex after either instigating or ignoring the abuse from the previous game? (Which is a bizarre thought process in and of itself.) What could possibly explain guys online thinking they should friend this person?

    • Clementine Danger says:

      "It did surprise me that the female tester account generated more friend requests."

      Didn't surprise me. There's this weird dichotomy that I won't pretend to fully understand, but in my experience it's perfectly possible for the same guy to despise and deify "women" (the monolith, not the actual people) at the exact same time. I don't know how it works. I've just noticed it. Must be the Geek Goddess thing.

      I've been through that song and dance more time than I can count. "A girl who plays games! I love her! She doesn't love me! She thinks she's better than me! What a bitch! I MUST DESTROY THE WHORE OF BABYLON!"

      I can set my watch by it these days.

      • That is.. bizarre. I'm sure it happens, I just can't wrap my brain around it since I've never had it happen to me. Maybe I come off very masculine online, so guys don't even stop to think I might be female? Or maybe I'm just blessed in that I've only run into guys who treat female gamers as no big deal?

        I've run into the "alpha nerd" "female gamers are a myth" "prove your worth" attitude a lot in person, but not that particular flavor you describe online. I'd love to know more about the psychology behind it. Is it simply idols must always fall?

        • Paul Rivers says:

          I just do not understand the "she doesn't like me so what a bitch!" thing.

          The both "deify" and "what a jackass" thing to the same gender/person is perfectly understandable though – women do this about their boyfriends *constantly*, it's the same thing. One days he's a "giant jackas", the next day he's "so sweet and loveable" – or whatever. I mean it's weird, yes, but not whatsoever a guy thing. Or ask her about her ex-boyfriend, who was "amazing" while they were dating, but after they break up he's only described as a giant jerk.

          It's definitely not a "guy" thing to do that…

          • What Clementine was talking about wasn't guys talking about women they actually know, though–it was guys responding to women in general in online games with both insults and extra friend requests, as if they both want to make a connection with the women but also can't help being hostile to their presence.

            There's actually a pretty good example in that one series of messages DNL shows above, where the guy asks for the woman's phone number in the middle of some pretty awful harassment.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Yeah, but it's the same phenomenon regardless of how well they know them – the simultaneous deify and despisement of the other gender.

            Like I said in another comment, I've seen this simultaneous love/hate behavior work with women. I'm not saying it works with "women" in general, but I couldn't believe that "game" was actually right that there's a whole group of women that respond positively to calling them names or constantly saying negative things about them. I put more words in my other post about – it weirds me out but I've seen it working twice now. It's nuts.

    • Paul Rivers says:

      Lol, why does it have to be a strong negative motivation?

      When I've been in geek friend groups, we often tried to recruit whatever balance wasn't in our group. We had lower standards for girls to join – but that's just because it was pretty much always the case that we had far more guys than girls in the group. Had the situation somehow been reversed – we had a lot of girls interested but fewer guys – I'm certain it would have swung the other way and we would have put more of an effort into making guys feel welcome. But…lol, well honestly, that never happened.

      Guys I known who have played WOW have said that sometimes it's weird – he'll be using a female avatar (he said he'd rather stare at a girl for hours on end than a guy – fair enough) that other male characters would occassionally give him stuff, follow him around, try to be nice to him, etc etc – sometimes even when he's make it very clear that he was a guy playing with a female avatar.

      So maybe some of the reasons are odd, but I think it's to far to say it's the *only* reason to.

      • That second behavior you describe, the following around of female characters and offering them inappropriate help? That definitely happens, and it's not a good thing. A guy who's playing a female character might find it a little amusing, but a lot of women players I know find it condescending or uncomfortable. In a lot of cases, accepting the help or even interacting with that person will lead to a weird little dance where they start whispering you every time you log on, and then escalate to trying to flirt with you.

        • Or worse, when you refuse their help, they whisper abuse at you every time you log on. I came across that one several times in CoH. I reported one guy who was a general asshole, but also because he was playing a character called T.H.E.K.I.N.G.P.I.N. Suffice to say, his reaction was less than optimal.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            That's definitely annoying, and I don't really understand it.

            But – isn't there a way to just block people?

          • Clementine Danger says:

            I've said this time and time again: ignoring a problem or avoiding situations where the problem occurs isn't solving the problem. If I were to back out of every environment that was hostile, I would have to give up most of my hobbies, and the community aspect of all of my hobbies. Why should women who have done nothing wrong back off and make room for people who like hurling abuse at women?

            I don't like drawing parallels between this issue and the civil rights movement, but I really want you to get this, so here we go: I'm very glad Rosa Parks took a stand and didn't just "block" everyone on the bus.

            Blocking out the problem isn't solving the problem. It's pretty much the opposite of that. These people need our silence to keep doing what they do. Social problems grow and fester in silence. That's why we're speaking up.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Perhaps the tersness of my response made it sound differently than I meant it – I hadn't meant blocking was a complete solution, and it's not a solution if you have to leave a group or something for it to be effective. My thought was that in games, unlike real life, one can block annyoing people without an negative consequence to oneself.

            Wasn't try to say those people weren't still annoying though.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            You can do that, yes. But blocking a person is a reaction to something they already did. They still need to do something to make you want to do it. Blocking them is just preventing that one specific person from doing whatever they did to you again in the future. Doesn't take away the fact that they did it, and if you've blocked them you're probably hurt by what they did, and blocking them doesn't take away the fact that it already happened. It also doesn't stop them from just doing it to someone who hasn't blocked them yet.

            (I also know from experience that it doesn't stop them from finding you on the web somewhere to hurl abuse at the fucking cunt who can't take a joke murder rape blah blah, but that's an extreme case.)

          • I realize you're trying to be helpful, and I appreciate that. I'm making this comment not to try and attack you for your original suggestion, but to explain why you might sometimes get unexpectedly annoyed responses to suggestions like this, even if your tone is not at all terse.

            It's often rather frustrating for women to be given suggestions like "why don't you block this person," just as it's frustrating in conversations about street harassment when someone, sincerely trying to give helpful advice, suggests maintaining closed body language or not walking alone at night.

            Because most women learn strategies to try and deflect or avoid various kinds of harassment all their lives; they get taught them implicitly and explicitly, by parents, authority figures, friends, the media; sometimes it's a friend passing along tips she's learned to get by, sometimes it's victim-blaming articles tut-tutting about the rape victim's clothes. This is stuff most of us know very, very well, so sometimes a well-meaning suggestion from someone who hasn't spent as much time absorbing these messages is just a little too much.

    • A quick note regarding ME3 Multiplayer: I don't know about Xbox (AFAICT that's a cesspool in general) or PS3, but on PC the ME3 MP community seems to be pretty reasonable. I rarely play with my mic on in public games, but it's rare for *anyone* to play with their mic on in public games, in my experience. I've never received negative comments when I have used the mic, though.

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        I'd be curious to see a study of RPG's with multiplayer vs dedicated shooter multiplayer games for this sort of thing.

  7. heh .i got into a twitter fight with a dude about the sexism of AMC's Comic Book Men. he told me i was being "oversensitive" and that harassment was "just words" Kind of disappointed in Kevin Smith at the moment, which gives me a sad.

    • It's "just words" to them because they don't have to hear it all the freakin time.

      You know, guys, when a woman is finally complaining of the sexism, you can bet she's probably taken YEARS of the stuff. It's not the one or two incidents that get us. It's the steady DRUM BEAT of it over the course of time.

      In fact, we are conditioned to laugh it off, to not make too much of it, to "be cool", to give endless benefits of the doubt. And that's just conditioning as GIRLS! As Geeks, we get the double-whammy, because Geek Fallacies about not making "drama" or waves of any kind just make it 100X worse.

    • Loxosceles says:

      Kevin Smith kind of disappointed me not too long ago, also. I caught some sort of king nerd reality/game show; people in a house competing for immunity and voting each other into challenges, pretty usual stuff except with a veneer of geek culture painted on top. The contest for the day was a comic book debate (followed by comic book trivia). The debate was… sort of a debate format, assigned positions, alternating arguments, panel of three judges… except they had one collegiate debate judge, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes.

      Kevin Smith apparently doesn't understand how debates work and mostly just voted for whatever he thought of the topic they were given to discuss, regardless of what the contestants actually said. Except when one of the contestants happened to be female. Then he went out of his way to first talk about how rare and weird it was that a young woman liked batman, then to dismiss what she said because she wasn't a guy and therefor could not "win" a comic book discussion.

      I do not know how much of that was reality TV editing room chopping for maximum dramatic nonsense, but I cannot think of a context where any sincere utterance of the things he said would be remotely acceptable.

      Dogma was a really interesting movie. I liked it. The man also tells a really funny story about being asked to script a Superman movie staring Nick Cage. And he wrote a couple comic books that I liked, including a brief run on Spider-Man with a really well done Felicia Hardy. The goodwill he generated from these few things has long since been used up by all the ignorant crap he -also- does.

  8. One of the most disheartening experiences I had in nerddom was when Warcraft tried to tout a real name policy and not one of the men I considered friends gave a shit, despite many attempts to calmly and clearly explain the type of crap myself and other female guildies had put up with over the years in various games. I love gaming, but I became so tired of the leering, penis pictures and outright nastiness that I decided to stop playing online before it killed my enjoyment of it entirely. Single player only these days and much happier because of it.

    • The Real ID proposal was one of the most foolish ideas I've encountered in online gaming. I have no idea who at Blizzard thought that reducing the amount of trolling on its forms was somehow more important than protecting its users from stalkers. I'm sorry your friends were such blockheads.

  9. " In fact, in one session, every phrase spoken by the female account – again, innocuous, inoffensive phrases like “nice one!” – was responded to with insults.

    The female account also received far more private messages and friend requests after each match"

    Yep. That's been my experience.

    Who is telling these dipshits "women love to be insulted and threatened! It will make them wanna bone you all niiiiight!!!"

    What? 0.o
    Huh? O.o
    Seriously? 0.0

    Maybe give her a big ass gun in game. Much better courtship idea.

    • One of the things I dealt with was not so much insults, but every innocuous comment I made (or my female character made) being turned into sexual innuendo. It got so damn tiresome.

      "Nice one!"
      "Huhuhuh, I'll show you a 'nice one'!"
      "That's what she said in bed!"
      "Durrhurrhurr!"

      • Paul Rivers says:

        I don't know the ratio, but I've been in a fair number of all-guy games where the same things have been said when guys were speaking as well…

        • The whole point of the article is that it's been proven that it *does* happen to women more often. We even have a ratio: 3 to 1. (I'm assuming that comments like the one's Tosca mentioned would also be considered "negative responses", because I don't see how anyone could consider them positive or even neutral.)

          No one's denying that guys give each other a hard time in online games too; the point is that they give women a much harder time.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Well my comment was directed at the topic in general, just the "that's what she said" jokes part.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            Yeah, sure, men too and all that, but here's a couple of differences.

            1) Elephant in the room: rape jokes. For most guys, rape is something that happens to other people. Even men who deeply care about this issue and would gladly murder their own mother to stop it don't have to live with it as something that can happen to them. It's not the the sword of Damocles that hangs over every late night walk back to the car, every unplanned trip though a badly lit street and every offer to hang out with someone you don't know very well. For women, both those who have experienced it and those who haven't, it's a very real thing, a thing that happens to their friends and family, and maybe themselves. Men have an emotional and psychological distance from the issue that women don't have. So when someone makes those funny, funny jokes, they're only funny to the people who don't have to worry about it being a real thing.

            2) Someone here called it the steady drumbeat of abuse, and that's just spot on. One incident isn't enough to make anyone snap. Neither is two. Three, maybe. A hundred? Problem. Continuously with no change in sight? That might make a person a little less inclined to have a good chuckle. I'm seeing it happen with my youngest sister now. It was all very funny to her when she was a kid, and she was being a good sport and all, but lately I've been noticing it's starting to wear on her too. Sexism isn't a knife through the gut. It's death by a thousand cuts.

            3) I once talked to someone who compared this sort of abuse to hating a particular song on the radio. Just turn off the radio, was this genius' advice. Okay, let's run with that. Imagine the whole world is hung up on that Justin Bieber song you hate so much. You know the one. All the radio channels are playing it all the time, all the TV shows and movies put it in the soundtrack, every person you meet loves it, every book you read raves about it, every store you ever visit plays it on loop. And you hate that fucking song so much. You can't escape it. And then some douche tell you to just turn off the radio.

            Big picture, Paul. Stop getting hung up on individual instances, because the individual instances are not the problem. Justin Bieber is the problem.

            No, wait, internalized misogyny. Is what the problem is. I quite like Justin Bieber. He's done well for himself.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            1 – I agree with you on the rape jokes, though my comment was about "that's what she said" jokes. Rape jokes are like racist jokes – there's just not a way to tell them in general without offending people, talking about things you don't understand, or subtely perptuating negative ideas even if you don't mean to.

            2 – I don't see "that's what she said" jokes as falling into that category, but I agree with you on a lot of the other kind of "shoots like a girl" bla bla bla kind of stuff. Don't even get me started on the racist or gay jokes…I'm a straight guy, but after the bazillionth "that's gay" joke I really wish I could send an electric shock through the console to the other person.

            3 – lol, well, I think "that's what she said" jokes and Justin Beiber do make a pretty good comparison in that they're both annoying but not dangerous. :D

            But – I'm probably going to be a bit nitpicky, as it bothers me to see again and again things that aren't sexist described as "sexist". It's…as annoying as those Justin Beiber songs to me. I mean – I've been on xbox live and heard the tripe that comes out of that. Why are all the examples things like "that's what she said" jokes when there's **so** much worse stuff out there…

          • Clementine Danger says:

            I think it's best not to divide the world and everything in it into "sexist" and "not sexist". That doesn't help. I often talk to people who really want to do the right thing and be an ally, but then go on to ask for a list of things that they can and can't say and do. First of all that's impossible, but more than that it's missing the point. I can't create a list of all things sexist and hand it out to people so they can not do that. That's not how it works.

            Ultimately, neither you or I have the final say on what's sexist and what isn't, so you can't say that people are describing things that aren't sexist as sexist. We don't decide that. The culture as a whole does. If you feel that much push-back from the culture, maybe that's a sign that it's time to stop looking for the final word, the grand truth about what things are and aren't, and recognize that maybe you've been coming at the problem from the wrong angle. You clearly do not understand what I said. If you did, your reply wouldn't have included smilies and lols. That's no way to respond when someone tells you about a lifelong hurt, and how she's scared for her little sister. I could be wrong, but you seem to completely lack the empathy necessary to truly understand the problem and be an ally.

            At the end of the day, there's no absolute truth here. There's no list. The fact of the matter is that the culture is shifting, and the only thing you control is which side you're on.

    • I hear this philosophy spouted on Reddit and other forums all.the.goddamn.time. And every time I'm wondering," Who the heck does this technique actually work on? Can it really be as widespread as they claim? Furthermore, these guys have been sexist jerks to women for years, and yet are still not getting laid, so obviously there's some flaw in their giant Get P*ssy Plan."

      Maybe the idea that girls love being treated badly didn't come from observations about women, but that guys were already acting that way and just wanted a justification to continue doing so?

      • Paul Rivers says:

        First, I personally think it's probably part of the same thing that happens where women go online to rant and scream about "men" though you rarely hear that stuff in person with the same girl when part of her friend group. Rediculous, over the top rants that a regular group won't put up with get put online a lot.

        Second, there's a LOT more women out there who respond positively to negative attention than you would think. Someone I know met his wife when he was feeling frustrated and sending out borderline-nasty emails to girls on a dating site. Their marriage is a little contentious – that's the way she likes it. I mean – he can occassionally be a jerk, but I know this guy pretty well and he *definitely* prefers to be nice to women. Sending out nasty emails only happened after years of frustration after being nicer and more enthusiastic didn't work. He'll talk about how she trains him to treat her the way she likes being treated and is turned on by – which is not being nice and considerate, or even anything we'd consider "assertive" – it's just being a little bit of a self-involved ass.

        I watched another girl – who was kind of manipulative herself – just *eat up* being negged by this guy. Honestly, emotionally, I was a little uncomfortable but I stuck around because it was so fascinating to watch it happen in real life after reading about it. This wasn't in a club either – this was a girl who I had known for a couple of years.

        This post from "The Rawness" really highlighted it – http://therawness.com/hecklers-part-2-examples/

        Unfortunately, it was a MUCH better post when that clip from the movie was actually on youtube, because the video did of better job of illustrating than writing does.

        The idea that some girls love being treated badly is DEFINITELY true. The real question is portionally how many there are…

        • Obviously every single woman in this comment thread is not one of those woman. Are you still blaming them for this behavior?

          In fact, every single post I've read of yours so far can be boiled down to "But women do it too!!!!" And that makes it okay? Or "some women like it!!!" And that still makes it okay? Did you also miss the part where the harassment in the academic study was a 3 TO 1 ratio? That means that, yes, men get harassed, but it is NOT at the same level as women. It's there in the cold, hard numbers, not your endlessly convenient anecdotes.

          You also have a tendency to trot out your anecdotes as if they trump the experiences of EVERY SINGLE woman who shares hers in these threads.

          • I don’t think Paul is trying to excuse the behaviour there but to explain it (by pointing out that on some women, however small a proportion, it DOES work). Unfortunately, a lot of bad behaviour by men is encouraged by a minority of women who are turned on by it. Of course, that does not mean that other women – or men – should put up with it.

          • Yeah, but does anyone know *any* women who responded well to the type of behavior this post is actually about? This isn't about negging someone in a bar or sending a slightly caustic email on a dating site, this is making graphically offensive and hostile comments to women the guys are gaming with, while also trying to friend them/get their phone numbers/etc.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Mel – Marty said she heard the philosophy mentioned on reddit, so in response to her comment I assumed we were not talking just about online gaming.

            Don't know if this has worked with anyone in online gaming or not – I don't know anyone that (to my knowledge) is that much of a jackass in their online gaming.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Thanks for the mention, Marty wrote that basically she didn't think this worked with anyone and –

            "Maybe the idea that girls love being treated badly didn't come from observations about women, but that guys were already acting that way and just wanted a justification to continue doing so?"

            I was just saying – I've seen it work with *some* girls in real life. The context was "does it work with *anyone*? I think it's just made up". My response was – it definitely works with *someone*, definitely not everyone, don't really know many girls it actually works with…

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I actually like that turn of phrase, Stardrake because I've used it before. Yes, (being encourage by outlier women, your PTSD, your Asperger's, your etc) explains your actions. What it does not do is excuse them.

          • I agree with Stardrake, here. I don’t think Paul is trying to offer up any kind of excuse for this bad behavior. To me it always seems as though he’s actually trying to stimulate the debates by bringing up contrary points of view. And rarely do I see his comments responded to with more than “You agree with BAD THING (A), you are stupid.” Personally, I think these discussions could benefit from a closer inspection of things he is ACTUALLY saying. As opposed to the immediate assumption that he agrees with whatever bad behavior is being discussed. It’s important to not generalize every situation.

          • Oooh, a Devil's Advocate, you say! How refreshing!

            ಠ_ಠ

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Devil's advocate, that's kind of how it ends up being…my comments are always in response to an article or comments, which tends to make my responses end up appearing one-sided. In real life I've said something – repeatedly – then unfriended an occassional new "friend" who would make repeated racist or sexist jokes. If these articles were a mix of both sides, you'd see me arguing the other side just as strenuously – probably moreso, actually.

            Frankly, people *have* definitely brought up viewpoints sometimes in response to my comments that I had not considered and changed my viewpoint.

          • Paris, the reason many of us have trouble giving these comments the benefit of the doubt is that the contrary points of view offered are almost always an attempt to prove something a woman has said wrong, or to talk about something negative women do. It's hard for me to believe that the guys who make these comments are really just trying to provide a wide range of perspectives when they're perfectly happy most of the time to let completely offensive comments about women stand. It creates an atmosphere of us-vs-them which isn't very pleasant. And which is kind of ironic here, given that this post was all about how the best thing men can do to alter the hostile atmosphere online is to call other *men* on their bad behavior rather than shrugging it off or explaining/justifying it.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Possibly, but these comments are always in response to the articles, and the articles with a lot of comments are always "here's something men are doing wrong". I'm not saying I agree with all of the other comments some other people make, but in the context of "negative things men do" articles, it makes sense that contrary points of view would be "negative things women do" in some respects.

            The downside is certainly that the comment threads tend to go into tangents – in reality, I think pretty much everyone who comments actually agrees that the state of trash talk in online gaming in abhorent, both for men and even **moreso** for women, if you're playing with random people you're matched up with on the internet.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            First off, most of these sorts of articles are "some men do this bad thing". In this particular case its more like "the set of men who are in this particular situation collectively do this bad thing more and more severely to women than to men". The contrary point of view would be "men are not more abusive to women than other men in online gaming." or maybe "the set of men who play multiplayer online games statistically treat women better than other men online" or even "this set of people treats women better than the average of all men." The reasonable way to make that argument is to present a study which demonstrates it.

            Nowhere is "some set of women do this other bad behavior in a different setting" a reasonable counter-argument. If you want to find one single example of any bad behavior, you can pick out both a man and a woman somewhere. That's not the point.

          • As Gentleman Johnny pointed out, "women do some bad thing" is not actually a directly contrary point of view to the article.

            And why is it important to you to always have a contrary point of view? Why do you feel it's more important to make sure people think about bad things women do when some negative aspect of male behavior is brought up, or to scan the comments for anyone bringing up anything where women might not have it quite so bad after all so you can jump in and point that out, than to talk about how the behavior being discussed might be challenged or avoided, to look for patterns in how it happens to help us understand the problem better, etc.? Most of the other commenters are capable of discussing topics without bringing up "but women do it too occasionally/do this other thing that's annoying/etc.”. It's not as if making these points is an essential part of the discussion. And as I pointed out in another comment, when the topic here isn't some men doing something problematic, when it's about something problematic being done to men, I don't see you or any other guy (or any women either!) jumping in to say sometimes it's the guy's fault too.

            You've made it very clear in numerous comments that you feel society is too hard on guys, that women are allowed to get away with more, and that you think it's important to keep reminding everyone that sometimes guys are treated unfairly. So you can't pretend you don't have an agenda here, that you're just providing balance to every discussion. I don't happen to agree with your worldview, so I don't agree that certain things you contribute to these discussions are helpful. That's all. (Sometimes you do contribute helpful things–I'm not discarding your opinions wholesale.)

        • Clementine Danger says:

          I once knew a guy who really got off on being peed on. It's no skin off my nose, but I'm hardly going to take it as a cue to start pissing on every guy I like. That just won't work out for me at all.

      • To be fair, Reddit is an awful place full of awful people. I know we're not supposed to recommend the "just give up and leave" approach, but Reddit really isn't worth it. I'm a white dude who doesn't care for religion and Republicans, and even I hate it there.

  10. As a sane male gamer, I have to say that I don't remember facing a situation myself online where a female gamer joined a public server that I was on and getting abused verbally because of that. Heck, I remember when I got Mario kart for the DS, I hopped online to a local forum to find some people to play with. I ended up playing with this girl and we even became friends online beyond the game itself (today we aren't really in touch – I mean I have her Facebook but we pretty much parted to our own ways).

    Sounds like the online community today is a very harsh place for women and I will certainly stay aware and will now actively attack back those who dare to verbally abuse women online.

    A personal view of mine about the online PUBLIC community: I got black ops 2 back a while ago, because I remember playing the original way back and loving it and wanting to see how the newer, modern ones were all about. I obviously have heard about the harsh online environment of it but didn't quite realize just how bad it is – I remember entering a lobby of a certain game, saying "Hey all" out loud – and then all hell broke loose: Someone responded with "shut the fuck up, you fucking noob" and then someone saying something in German, followed by the first dude saying "get the fuck out you fucking Nazi" and then another person saying "yeah, damn fucking no good Germans"……….. (Just to note, they all sounded like they were no older than 13 years old, tops.) All because of a simple "hello"……. I muted myself and have since made sure to stay silent when I play black ops 2, because holy hell, if there is a cesspool of the internet – it is within this game

    • Paul Rivers says:

      Online gaming fps games is a bizarrely harsh place for EVERYONE. Someone on my facebook feed (a guy) just posted some super nasty voice message calling him all kinds of names – the same message he gets every time he beats this guy.

      These games really should have a way to avoid that. We usually manage to do it in real life – while I can "handle" trash talking like that – why the f would I want to? Games are entertainment – when I do play, I pay to play the game, they aren't paying me.

    • Hugh Myronbrough says:

      Eh, just looking at the Black Ops 2 community is enough to make anyone despise the concept of democracy. It's literally the worst place the internet has ever managed to create.

      I used to play that game, and I tried to shove aside all of the rude voice chat. But I couldn't take it anymore after one day where a kid (who couldn't have been more than 17 judging by the voice) spent 3 minutes going into excruciating detail about what he would like to do to me sexually.

      The worst part? I was a MAN.

  11. "If more men add their voice to the struggle then perhaps we can help boost the signal and finally start making geek culture a place where women feel welcome, included and safe. "

    Bringing safety into it? Disingenuous much?

    The only safety risk there is when it comes to online gaming is the danger from chronic lack of exercise. Either that or hitting someone in the face with a flying wii remote.

    Oh wait, I forgot, you're using the double-speak redefinition of the word "safe" that has absolutely nothing to do with literal safety. Because what we actually mean is so correct we have to co-opt words that convey notions of physical danger even though we mean something completely different.

    • Um, you do know that online to offline harassment happens, right? So if a guy says he's going to find where I live and rape my corpse, can I be 100% sure he won't find me IRL and make my life worse? Even if the odds are small, I can't completely discount it.

    • I don't get your point: why is using the word "safe" to convey the entire spectrum of safety (meaning not just physical safety, but also EMOTIONAL safety) a misuse of the term itself? I think that I (and many others here and elsewhere) believe that safety isn't just physical one, but an encompassing array of "safeties" that are equally important. I really don't think that using the term "safety" to convey other kinds of safety that aren't just the physical kind is "Disingenuous".

    • Clementine Danger says:

      You're confusing general safety with physical safety. There's also emotional and psychological safety.

    • 1. Great job at picking on word and completely missing the whole point of the article! Gold star for you!

      2. Safety does not just apply to physical safety, but to emotional safety as well. Feelings matter. Being constantly harassed and called a whore/slut/bitch when all you want to do is have an enjoyable experience in gaming makes women feel emotionally unsafe. Just because there is no physical violence, does not mean there is no abuse. If that was true, then CPS would not bother taking children away from verbally/emotionally abusive households…

    • Um – after a random search for dictionary definitions of safe I couldn't find anything that referred only to physical harm. All the definitions I came across would easily include a meaning of "not being subjected to verbal (or written) abuse". Have a free link – http://www.thefreedictionary.com/safe.

      Are you really this inflexible in your use of language, or are you the one distorting dictionary definitions in your rush to imply that women are oversensitive?

      • Paul Rivers says:

        Unfortunately, it's a classic technique in feminist articles – and politics in general (just watch Fox News) – to use terms that don't really apply, for their negative (but somewhat unrelated) emotional association. What was the last nerdlove article posted on the facebook page – a woman claiming that a minority of men on a forum who didn't like that she started selling mostly-nude pics and saying that she had the right to do it but they just didn't personally like it – was the same kind of thinking that rapists use?

        I mean it's weird, because it really suggests insecurity – they don't think their argument has enough weight to be paid attention to on it's own. But you see it a LOT.

        Like we couldn't just have a discussion on how we're all really sick and tired of the fair amount of juvenile trash talking in online games, and how frankly the vast majority of guys would like to have an environment where women enjoy playing the same games they do? Couldn't we have an actual discussion on how women have to deal with it more than men and that's a bunch of b.s. that's that's true? Why do we always have to go into rediculous hyperbole?

        Women say "I'm strong and independent!" then "I can't handle bad words – it's about my safety!". I don't believe that – I think most women can handle it – they just don't want to. And NEITHER DO I. I play games to have fun, not to deal with some 11-year old who calls everything "gay", makes racist remarks (sometimes I assume because no one will put up with him in real life), and says stupid stuff about women.

        These games should fix this problem – we have the technology. But I don't think I need to drag in unrelated topics to make that point either.

        • I posted earlier. Defending you saying certain things. This post alone makes me look like an idiot for doing so. I am ashamed. Although, on the other hand, I am so often right that I very much enjoy being proven wrong. So I guess thank you proving me wrong in my defense of your stands. (For the record, some of the things you’ve said have been very legitimate topics.)

        • Clementine Danger says:

          Goddammit Paul. I don't know why, but I keep rooting for you, and then you go ahead and do shit like this. Every time I think you finally get it, you go on to say something that gives me facepalm headaches. You make me sad for seeing the potential in everyone.

          • Paul and Suninabox disturb me because they insist that women only can expect physical safety, that it is “creep shaming” and unreasonable to be fearful unless their is a knife or gun involved.

          • Even if we went to the only physical harm sense… HOw does someone threatening to rape, kill and mutilate (not necessarily in that order) me make me feel physically safe?

    • Omg it's like you've been studying Derailing for Dummies. Beautiful~

  12. I recently started writing for an MMO site. My fist column was a retrospective (with some opinions) of the major instances of sexism in gaming in 2012. My editor thought it would have more leverage coming from a woman. (Silly man.) While he expected some backlash, I think the actual reaction kind of scared him. Out of over 270 responses, 40 were outright deleted by the mods, many more were edited by them and the rest… suffice it to say, it was impressive.

    My second article, at the end, contained responses to some of the comments from the previous one. Guess what most of the comments were about? Guess what the tone was? Go on, guess!

    What struck me most about all of it was the sheer amount of cognitive dissonance, boiling down to little more than, "We're not sexist you fat, stupid, crusading attention-whore!"

    Good times.

    Links: http://www.mmorpg.com/showFeature.cfm/loadFeaturehttp://www.mmorpg.com/showFeature.cfm/loadFeature

    • Clementine Danger says:

      I wrote an article for Cracked once. I got some decent feedback from the editors. When David Wong tells you you have a good premise, you fucking sit up and pay attention. I really think I could have gotten it published if I kept at it. But I dropped it, because it was partly about sexism, and one stream of hatemail for a silly comedy article is enough. I just don't have the energy to deal with the inevitable fallout.

      I really, really respect women in the gaming industry, professional or not, especially those who write about these issues. Because I don't have the courage or strength. So I really respect you doing it, knowing full well what the consequences would be. That takes ladyballs. All of the kudos.

      • Thank you for that. The real test will come today. My new column goes live and has noting whatsoever about sexism in it. We'll see how the comments go.

        • Clementine Danger says:

          I'm curious too. Sometimes a female name in the byline is more than enough to kickstart the carousel of misogyny. Anyway, yeah, I meant it. Kudos, and good luck.

    • Perhaps a derail, but I was talking to my co-editor Jill about re-starting our podcast and adding a visual element to them, like the Google hangouts that Felicia Day & co. do for the Vaginal Fantasy hangouts. She said it may have been a good idea, but do we really want to subject ourselves to the massive amount of hateful YouTube comments about our weight, the fact that we're female, and additionally for me, the fact that I'm non-white?

      This sort of shite is totally unacceptable. And additionally, here's my solution to helping to combat this problem:

      1) Stop using gendered insults.

      2) Or better yet, stop using insults.

      3) Don't be a sore loser.

      4) Don't be an aggrandizing winner.

      5) Don't hit on people while gaming.

      6) Be a decent person.

      Honestly, how hard is that?

      • You wouldn't think those would be things you'd have to actually say, would you? Strangely, it seems we do, which is why Edmonton's current anti-sex abuse campaign has been so successful: http://www.savedmonton.com/our-campaigns.html

        It seems that sometimes, the words just HAVE to be said.

        And yeah, using your own image is a tricky question. Do you risk the fallout, or raise the visibility of female faces? Are the questions going to get any tougher?

      • Clementine Danger says:

        I had a friend who did it once. For a small site, small readership, on a site about gaming. Policy was that all regular writers have a picture and a byline for their columns. I know she did not like the idea of that, and sadly her instincts were spot on. Every single comment section was all about how fat and cunty she was, and people jumping in and yelling about how not fat and cunty she was, which was appreciated, but had nothing to do with what she was actually writing about (a comparison of the leveling system in Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim, if I remember correctly). Once she removed the picture and her name for her next article, the whole thing died down and people started talking about what she was actually saying again.

        I don't know how universal it is, but I do know that when I'm looking for examples of online sexism, the first place I look is articles about gaming written by women who are totally open about being women, and I usually don't have to look any further than the first one or two.

      • Loxosceles says:

        If people are following rule six, is rule five necessary?

        I met my girlfriend while gaming. If she hadn't hit on me, we wouldn't be involved. We never would have entered into a relationship that has done all the great things relationships are supposed to do. Hell, half the articles on this site end up suggesting that geeks should look in geeky places for geeky relationships, rather than going to the cool pick up bar where they're uncomfortable and surrounded by people with incompatible attitudes.

        I suspect there are appropriate and respectful ways to introduce the question of romance while gaming. And there are inappropriate and disrespectful ways. If people are being decent, genuinely decent, then it's not something that needs to be prohibited.

        • How about something more along the lines of, "Remember that other people aren't there just for you to hit on." I think most people who game know at least one couple who met that way. The problem is when people assume that any woman who is present at a geek-related activity is either someone's girlfriend, a goddess who will save one of the geeks present from his loneliness by agreeing to become his girlfriend, or an evil teasing bitch who's just manipulating nerdy guys so she can get attention.

          I also see a bit of that attitude in justifications for treating women better in various geek activities. Women shouldn't be accepted in these situations so that geeky guys have more women to date. They should be accepted because they're fans too and should have as much right to participate in these things as men do.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            "Women shouldn't be accepted in these situations so that geeky guys have more women to date. They should be accepted because they're fans too and should have as much right to participate in these things as men do."

            Plus 100 for that.

            For some reason this clarified something for me that none of the other "fake nerd girl" articles have. Namely that this isn't all of geekdom so much as gaming in particular. I say this because I have a lot of friends who do post-apocalyptic. . .er. . .whatever. . .pre-enactment. I can't speak for the SCA but by and large the "one more for the dating pool" attitude is NOT prevalent in this community. There are women in high places in several of the larger tribes. There's a breadth of costuming in both the men and the women and you're as likely to get revealingly beefcake outfits as cheesecake. Then again, doing weekend semi-sirvivalist weekends in the desert does tend to weed out couch potatoes and those who can't function in a group.

            Also, my experience with Ingress has been that players are overall mature, supportive and even congratulatory of their opponents. It may be because there's no voice. 99+% of all interactions are in text comms, on G+ groups and in person. If you can get an invite, join your local group.

          • I don't have anything profound to add, but I just have to say that "post-apocalyptic pre-enactment" sounds kind of awesome.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            There are local tribes all over but the big events are Wasteland Weekend (California City, CA) and the upcoming End of Days (orthern AZ). I had the pressure and the privilege of running a show at WW last year.

        • Paul Rivers says:

          Yeah, "don't hit on someone while gaming" seems like a horrible rule based on the idea that flirting with anyone is somehow shameful and negative. There should be a rule – if someone seems uncomfortable or says "cut it out" – then cut it out without any negative drama about it.

          People should have the right to say "cut it out" without it turning into a huge drama fest, but people should also have the right to flirt with each other if they want to without a constant "flirting is bad and discouraged" atmosphere.

    • It's just…sickening (and amazing) how the very first five comments, right off the bat, are some jerks doing exactly what you were talking about in your article. From, 'I'VE never seen sexism in video games, therefore IT MUST NOT EXIST' to hitting every sexist, misogynist bingo space on the card. and all you asked of them is to consider a different perspective and treat women like human beings.

      It just makes me ill. I want to have a professional writing presence online in the sci-fi/fantasy community and it's things like this that scare the hell out of me because I can't seperate my emotions from it. How many times can you be told, 'die, fat cunt' before it just wears you out? and at the same time you can't stop, or won't because goddammit I have a right to have a presence in the world even while being female.

      Thank you for tackling sexism in gaming and making your voice heard. I think it's important even if you get crap flung at you every single time. It's like we're waging a war so every women's voice online is important and needs to be heard. So, again thank you and keep it up.

    • Just read your second column and the comments to same and I really hope they're paying you loads of money. And I also hope that community really turns around due to your influence.

      • Sadly no, they're not. But it's steady and I don't have to chase it down. And I don't know what my influence will do. Time is more likely to change things than I am. But thanks.

    • Silver lining: those dudes are super easy to enrage, and then their rage just turns into mountains of pageviews. So there's that, I guess…

  13. You. Hit the nail. On the goddamn head. "…it’s hard to hold out solutions when you’re still trying to get people to acknowledge that there’s a damn problem in the first place." I am SO TIRED of people getting mad just because you say something is wrong in gaming. Oh, I didn't offer up 20 solutions? You seriously think I'm in a position to change the behavior of thousands of other people? Oh, cool.

    • Hear, hear. I could care less about solutions *at this point.* Doc is one of the few people actually bringing light to the problem. We have to freaking acknowledge it before we can fight it. I have a few quibbles with this site, but "not offering solutions to deeply-ingrained, wide-spread sexist attitudes" ain't one of em.

    • Clementine Danger says:

      All of the upvotes.

      Every time this discussion happens, there's a chorus of "but what do you want me to doooo!!!"

      It doesn't matter. I could give you a list of every possible situation you may ever encounter and how to respond to them, but it won't help. The mentality change IS the solution. You don't really have to DO anything. Once you deeply internalize the message that all of this shit shouldn't be happening, and that the cultural attitude causes harm, you don't have to carry a list of actions in your pocket to check what to do in any given situation. You'll know what to do, because you understand what the problem is.

      • Doctor Mead says:

        Damn straight! For those who insist on simple things to do, here's my suggestion.

        1). Sit up and take notice that something's wrong (in other words, pull yourself out of your rep grind and see what's happening around you).
        2). Acknowledge that it IS fucking wrong (not "dudes being dudes" or "it's just gamer culture")!
        3). Stand up and loudly declare to your fellow dudes that this shit is wrong and you will not tolerate it in your presence. And don't back off at the predictable rationalizations/minimizations/derailment/accusations.

        Rinse and repeat…and be prepared to keep repeating. This is gonna take time, but it's worth it.

        • "It's just gamer culture."

          I hate that excuse so much. Honestly, yes, sexism and homophobia and racism and biases against people who don't speak English and anonymous asshole aggression are all part of gamer culture. They're the bad parts. Just because something's part of a culture doesn't mean that it can't be criticized, or that you shouldn't try to change it.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Seriously, if that's "Gamer culture" then I want to start a new culture that plays games AND acts like adults.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "It's just gamer culture."

            Dumbest thing I've heard said about it as well.

            I don't online game that much, so maybe I'm out of touch, but I bet if people had a way to exclude other people who were constantly using the language you'd have > 50% of the gamers not using the language. But they don't have that option…it's a nasty situation.

          • SunnyPuppy says:

            Abuse of female gamers just for daring to be female and gamers
            "It's just gamer culture."
            ok, let's take that to it's logical conclusion shall we?

            Paying women less because they might reproduce
            "it's just business culture"

            From here, country specific points will be replaced with letter codes so as not to offend.

            Gender selection abortion, selecting against female fetuses
            "It's just X culture"

            Female "circumcision"
            "It's just Y culture"

            Death sentences for women who don't do as men tell them?
            "It's just Z culture"

            Treating others like they are objects, public property, like being involved in any given aspect of social life means that they "bring it on themselves". Excusing their attackers and abusers…
            It's just rape culture.

  14. Here's something I ran into while shopping at the place I hope to be my new FLGS, and I'm wondering what the rest of the women here would have done:

    I was in the area and had some time to kill, so I popped into a local indie gaming store across the street from a store I was at to see the selection and to see if someone would be able to teach me how to play Magic. I start up a friendly conversation with three people, one of whom was female, and it turns out that she works at the store. I ask her if it's easy to learn how to play Magic, she takes me through a teaching game.

    All goes well, and since I am new to the neighborhood (and the state) I start asking about the local geek and gaming community and how welcome and open it is to new people, especially girls. She responds that it's very welcoming, adding that it's awesome if you're a woman who plays Magic because when she first moved in, all the guys were sweet to her (and falling over themselves to be the first person to be nice to her) and gave her free cards, etc., because of "this."

    And by "this," she gestured to her cleavage, which was indeed very nice and lovely and impressive and displayed in a way that was awe-inspiring but not excessive. i told her that I just didn't "cheat" like that, didn't think it was fair, and besides, it's just uncool. And besides, I'm married.

    But here's the question I have: Is there a danger in letting other women know that playing the "girl" card is as harmful as being a raging misogynist in contributing to this problem? Taking the analogy to an extreme, in a way it's like telling a woman that she shouldn't wear slutty clothes in public, but honestly… much of the mythology of the "drama" surrounding the inclusion of women in gaming groups is because some of that stereotype is true and it can still happen.

    • Clementine Danger says:

      The big difference between slut-shaming and what you encountered is that women who dress "slutty" aren't necessarily dressing slutty AT people, and that slut-shaming has a huge overlap with victim-blaming. I think the biggest reason people rile against that thing is because it shames women for being sexual while at the same time blaming them for whatever bad things befall them. Most women dress in clothes they feel pretty and comfortable in. They're certainly not doing it because they disrespect guys to the point where they think flaunting their female "assets" is a ticket to getting whatever they want.

      If you're worried about slut-shaming girls like that, don't be. Sometimes the stereotypes really are true, and it's definitely okay to call out disrespectful, antagonistic behavior for what it is. The thing about this culture (I don't like to use the word patriarchy because it's such a trigger word, but nobody knows what I mean when I say kyriarchy, so there we are) is that a lot of women buy into it too. It's not just guys.

      That being said, I don't know the woman, but there's a big difference between actively showing off to get attention and stuff and not resisting it when it comes your way. Totally different situations there. I've met a lot of girls who really weren't showing off at all, but got treated like they were anyway.

      • I'm attempting to recall the conversation, and I think she was describing the atmosphere of the guys who frequent this particular store as being helpful to her as a newbie female Magic player *just because she was female* and happened to have a personal dress-style which includes shirts which show off her cleavage. And I think I remember her implying that she may have played up her femininity and didn't mind too much the favors and free cards which came her way.

    • Personally, I don't think so. In fact, I don't even think that what she's doing is bad, or harmful, or really even all that negative. At the end of the day, everyone is responsible for their own actions or behaviors. If guys choose to treat her differently or give her things, THAT'S THEIR CHOICE, even if she encourages and enjoys it. She isn't making anyone do things they don't want to do, and unless there's another part of the story that I've missed, she isn't promising them anything for their gifts or attention either.

      Let's say a very handsome, well spoken, well-dressed and charming man moves into your neighborhood and joins in your DnD campaign. Because he's handsome, charming, and well dressed, he is immediately popular with everyone in your group. Some of them (could be guys or gals), immediately crush on him, maybe they go out of their way to "stop by" his place with cookies, or ~hang out~ with him one on one. Let's say this guy is very much aware that he is handsome and charming and happy to accept these gifts and attention.

      • CONTINUED, BLAH

        Is he "cheating" at the rules of social engagement? Is he "playing the man card"? (I think it's interesting, that there's a "girl" card that women are thought of as playing when they draw attention to their femininity, but not an immediate equivalent I can think of for guys). Is he representative of all men as attention whores in social gaming? Is he representing men in a bad way? Is he going to soon be the cause of 'drama', and does that imply that all nice, handsome charming men are dramabombs in disguise?

        I wouldn't think so. And yet, if a girl is thought of as being pretty or sexy and getting extra attention for that (or encouraging attention) for it, all of these things become applicable.

    • Maybe I'm misreading this, but did the woman say she was intentionally using her cleavage to get favors from guys? Because I'm seeing in the other comments that this seems to be the assumption, but I got the sense before I read those comments that she was just saying guys gave her stuff by virtue of the fact that she simply had ample cleavage. Which, according to Trisha Lynn, "was displayed in a way that was awe-inspiring but no excessive." So…she's a woman with a large chest. Who dressed average. And noticed that guys did things for her because of her bust, but I see nothing about how she actively encouraged that. Maybe she did, but I don't see evidence of that in the initial description.

      How would I have reacted? I would not have said anything to her at all. I *might* have rolled my eyes, but saying anything to her would have made me feel like I was slut-shaming, or blaming her for men's behavior. Sounds to me like she was doing nothing but existing as a large busted woman in a social space that was mostly made up of men.

      What I also would have done is not go back to that gaming store. I would not trust her impression that it was friendly to women. A place that's friendly to women only if they're large-chested is not a place that's genuinely friendly, and I've had enough experiences having my chest stared at creepily from just walking through game stores and purchasing something and leaving.

      I will say, though, that even if she was intentionally using her chest to get stuff, I would not have criticized her. I would have been sad. But…here's my complicated feelings on that. She would have been using her body to get things from men. However, this is a role women have been put in for endless ages. When the playing field is actually, finally equal and even, I will be more critical of this behavior from women. But if this is what this woman had to do to be accepted into the male-dominated community and activity that she wanted to be a part of, and doing so made her happy and comfortable in that community, more power to her.

      It's a sad state of affairs, but I'm not blaming her for it. I could never do that myself or feel comfortable doing it, but I'm just sad about it.

      • That makes me very uncomfortable. If we're going to accept that women are somehow free of criticism for manipulating the system, because the system is unequal, then we have to accept guys' complaints of women as only being into geeky things for male manipulation as true, which opens a whole can of worms. I mean, if women don't call other women on certain types of behavior, aren't we demonstrating that women virtually DO get away with manipulative behavior just because they're women?

        If we also accept that women have the right to intentionally play the system, then we also need to back off criticizing women who get angry about that. I've mentioned before that as a younger geek, I was hostile to women in my nerd circles who hadn't adequately proved themselves, because I was sick of the competition and insecure about being flung aside. If we accept that women deal under the table because the system is so unfair, then we also need to accept that other women will react negatively to this competition, and not immediately label those women "b*tches" "insecure" "jealous," etc.

        It just really rubs me the wrong way that some women can manipulate/play the system, and we non-system-playing women aren't allowed to call them on it. I have a coworker that flirts and presses herself against men to try to get them to do her work for her. For the record, the guys don't like it, but feel uncomfortable speaking out against it. If I call her out on it, am I slut-shaming? Am I automatically insecure or jealous? Since the guys feel uncomfortable calling attention to it due to complex gender relations, isn't it part of me responsibility to help them out, just like we depend on other guys' to call out the harassing behavior of their peers?

        • Clementine Danger says:

          I agree, women do not get a free pass no matter what they've been through or how the world treats them. I really, really want to stress that calling out certain behaviors isn't the same as placing blame. It can be a real kindness. I know I certainly didn't *enjoy* being pulled aside by a friend and having it carefully and kindly explained to me that my behavior was making some people uncomfortable, but it really was a kindness no matter how bad it made me feel, and in the end I was glad to know it. It helped me be better.

          People of all genders, races, orientations and whatnot can and do contribute to the culture that harms them. Being victimized does not give you automatic immunity from being a person who victimizes others. It's complicated, it's messy, and you can be sympathetic and understanding of all kinds of contributing factors, but at the end of the day nobody gets a free pass.

        • As I said, my feelings on it are complicated, so I'm not comfortable extrapolating how I would react in this one situation to any and all situations relating to women in geekdom.

          What I do know is that I am stick *to death* of women criticizing other women for the way they dress/behave/etc. Just sick. I am tired of seeing women in adversarial relationships with each other. Sexism thrives and continues on a grounding of women working against each other and being divided from each other instead of working together. And the status quo encourages this.

          So, my personal reaction to this specific situation and what I would have done regarding it is: nothing to the woman. I just wouldn't have returned to that store.

          "If we're going to accept that women are somehow free of criticism for manipulating the system, because the system is unequal, then we have to accept guys' complaints of women as only being into geeky things for male manipulation as true"
          I'm not sure how that's the case here. My assumption is that the woman in question was really and truly into geeky things. That she wasn't doing it for the attention but was a geek herself. She just found her bust size smoothed her way in what is frequently a hostile environment for women. I don't see how that means she's only into it for male attention. That's kind of the opposite of what I'm seeing here.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            "What I do know is that I am stick *to death* of women criticizing other women for the way they dress/behave/etc. Just sick. I am tired of seeing women in adversarial relationships with each other. Sexism thrives and continues on a grounding of women working against each other and being divided from each other instead of working together. And the status quo encourages this."

            Amen to that.

            I'm also struggling with it. It's so goddamn hard. But while I struggle with it I have to draw the line somewhere, and for now, for me, that line is harmful behavior. If I'm absolutely sure that someone, anyone, is behaving in a way that causes harm to someone, anyone at all, I have to speak up. I'll never criticize a woman purely for the way she dresses or behaves. But when I see harm being done, intentionally or otherwise, I have to practice what I preach and speak up. No matter how much it sucks.

            I just can't live with myself asking guys to be brave and speak up when other guys cross a line and not do it myself when I genuinely, deeply believe that a woman is doing harm to herself or others. I just can't. I can be kind about it and supportive and helpful, but I can't sit there and do nothing. I can't work together with someone whom I deeply believe is hurting other people, or herself. It runs counter to everything I believe in.

            Like I said, calling someone out isn't the same as blaming them, being nasty to them, hating them or harming them. It's not automatically adversarial. It's uncomfortable, and nobody walks away happy, but in the long term it can be a real kindness. That is so very, very important.

          • I'm not saying she wasn't into being a geek; I have yet to meet a "fake" geek girl. But by manipulating the system with her assets, the correlation is VERY easy to make for people outside her head.

            And I completely agree about the adversarial nature of girls. But by continuing to allow certain women to play up their looks/sexuality, aren't we depending the competition and in-fighting? For one woman to gain an advantage, another faces a disadvantage. I will *never* be able to get by on my looks: I have struggled and (somewhat) succeeded in geek circles by virtue of learning and struggling. But it really gets under my skin to have a hot woman come in and purposefully skate by* on virtue of guys drooling all over her. I can't possibly see how this behavior is supposed to encourage camaraderie in the Girl Geek trenches.

            *I am not saying the woman is doing it to be cruel or even on purpose. Like you said, women are raised with certain coping mechanisms. She might not even be aware of it. I think only by talking about it and pointing it out… open dialogue, essentially… can we combat division within the ranks.

          • I've been following this discussion with interest, and I think this comment helped solidify for me how I feel about it.

            Like Clementine, I fully believe in calling out clearly harmful behavior, in both men and women. If a woman bragged to me about pretending to be romantically interested in guys so they'd do things for her, I'd tell her I didn't think that was okay.

            But in this particular case, I'm not sure what we'd be calling out. From what we know, the woman wasn't *doing* anything other than existing as a woman with certain "assets" and accepting what the guys offered. What should she have done instead? Asked the guys to stop being so nice and friendly? Maybe she could have turned down the cards the guys offered if she felt that would be taking advantage, but it could easily see how even that could lead to the guys feeling offended that she assumed they were doing it out of interest, or like she was accusing them of being inappropriate, or some such.

            Sure, if someone offers you something that's obviously way beyond what is normal for a new friend to offer, the best etiquette is probably to refuse, and I would be critical of someone who didn't. But beyond that, I think it's better to take people at their word, assume they really are just being friendly, and if you suspect that gender is playing a role, well, just make sure you're not doing anything overt to give them reasons to expect something from you that's not true.

          • I think what got my dander up is the girl *assuming* she got the cards because she's female, with a nice rack. It's like, she didn't necessarily do anything wrong by accepting them, but her underlying assumption kind of gets to me.

            For all we know, the guys were just being friendly to a new player. One of my friend's brother gave me a couple of his old packs. I didn't assume he did it cause he wants to bang me, but just because he's a nice guy.

            The girl's assumption that it was due to her looks is what strikes me, because I think it encourages her/the guys who overhead her/the girl she's speaking to, to see sexuality in every interaction. She seems to be passively encouraging the mindset that looks + geekdom = attention, not by accepting the cards but by LABELING the act as her boobs got her this thing. The guys who overhear this go "Oh, girls are only in it for the attention," and the girls who overhear this go," oh, you have to be sexy in order to get this thing."

            Yes, there is a chance the guys just gave her the cards cause she had big boobs. But wouldn't it be better if we stopped assuming that friendly geek guys had ulterior motives until they prove they have ulterior motives? Would that potentially decrease the chance of women being seen as geek succubus?

          • I totally see your point there. I guess a reasonable response to that sort of comment from a woman would be something like, "Hey, maybe they were just being friendly because they're friendly guys!"?

          • It's true that the assumption is problematic, and talking like that does perpetuate this whole mindset among both men and women. In cases like that, rather than adopting an adversarial "calling her out" mindset, it's often more helpful to express your own view in a casual and friendly way – "Oh, I hope people are welcoming here regardless of gender or cleavage."

            There are a lot of people who see a lot of this stuff as just the way things are, and sometimes just being a person with a different mindset can be helpful.

          • Sometimes I hate language. I really don't mean "calling her out" as in an aggressive or adversarial way. I use "calling her out" in lieu of "I'd have an in-depth conversation with her about the sexualization of female geeks and the problematic environment created by presenting yourself in my-looks-are-what-got-me-this way." The former is just less work for the fingers.

            Cards on the table, I probably wouldn't say anything at all, but that would be because my first assumption would be "Here is someone who is insecure and sees her sexuality as the primary way to achieve geek points, which means she will probably see me as a threat, so I better peace out."

            I frankly have no idea how to untangle the whole cattiness-insecurity-male attention-nerd cred-slut shaming-jealousy thing. All I know is that it is maddeningly difficult to hear attention-getting girls complain about being judged by their looks (which I agree, not cool!) to then turn around and use their looks to gain the things they want (nerd cred, friend attention, free Magic cards), and having to wrestle with my own jealousy about the fact that such an avenue is not open to me.

          • I've had accusations like that leveled against me, but here's the thing, I *wasn't* using my looks to gain the things they want. The men and women who accused me of it were projecting onto me, IMO. So…be careful with that.

          • And this is exactly what I've been saying. Women calling out other women for some kind of social good, or merely to vent their own insecurities and unresolved internalized misogyny? Who gets to decide who is "using" what? What are the criteria?

          • Same here! I also agree with Mel. Sometimes even when things are offered to you because you're pretty or have big breasts, it's very hard to decline if you are the only woman in the group and want to keep engaging in <geek activity>, out of fear that the givers will lash out at you because they feel rejected.
            If you're a woman, and you're pretty, and friendly, in geek culture, it means you're a flirt and you're just trying to gain special favor, where in reality you are just friendly and want to play the game.

          • Ah, sorry, I was reading "calling out" as being connected to the cattiness-insecurity-etc. stuff.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I managed to get through all the comments leading up to this thread. I admit I've only skimmed it but here's my take on the initial issue that seems to be in dispute.

            Woman dresses provocatively. Does not ask specifically for favors but is willing to accept favors offered. Noting that offers increase when she dresses provocatively, she does so more often. Is this a problem?

            Let's take a counter-example. Good looking guy with nice ass plays Vampire LARPS a lot. At any important local event or any big multi-game get together he wears a short coat and tight, tight leather pants. Miraculously, player finds that these pants always get him bonus XP for good costuming and then when wearing these magic pants, negotiations between his character and female characters (some males, too) go surprisingly well. Is guy taking advantage of other LARPers?

            I use this example because in my 20's, my (female, if it matters) GM noticed and pointed out the power of my "XP Pants", which had been working for some time before it was pointed out to me. Of course, at that point, I went out of my way to work them into any formal costume for major events.

            Its not quite the same in that the player mix was probably closer to 50/50 than Magic's 90/10. Its not equivalent in that I can't speak to the Magic player's treatment when her cleavage wasn't on display. Assuming all else being equal (and obviously there are a lot of issues that prevent it from being truly equal), though, I have no problem with a person who is confident enough to show off a little, enjoys it and reaps strictly voluntary rewards from the peer group. As long as the person is dressing that way because they like it not with the express intention if using their appeal to squeeze rewards out of people I don't see a problem.

          • XP Pants: Photo or it didn't happen :-)

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Not the uniform from the game and a few years later but the same pants: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v167/nomadzophi

          • wrong side.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Tell it to the photographer. Its what I've got. :)

          • Sufficient proof not provided. Your story is invalid.

            EDIT: I've been watching too much Big Bang Theory

          • Looks like the right side to me.

          • I think this is a perfect example of the difference between women playfully flirting/ogling vs. men sexually harassing.

            Neither of us said "Johnny, let's see that fine ass, you know you wanna show it to us, you slut."

            (Oh man, I'm so sorry Johnny, that made me really uncomfortable to write even.)

          • I don't think this is a men vs. women distinction – the tone of the comments, and especially the fact that Johnny's original post had that cheeky, playful tone, makes it different, not the gender of the commenters or the original poster.

          • Well, also the setting, I know it's not a perfect analogy. But, if I was online in a game and I mentioned some pants that emphasized my bum in a primarily male setting, I would get so much explicitly sexual remarks.

            Whereas a man in a primarily female setting, would get remarks like the ones above:
            "Yes, that bum sounds nice, we would like to see it."

            "Also, the other parts are quite nice too, thank you."

          • Fair point. Just wanted to make clear that men are perfectly capable of flirting in a non-sexually-harassing way; it would be really nice if more men were aware of this.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Its a decent anology for the example of the woman who plays Magic, though. There was no implication that she ever got anything but respectfully flirty commentary.

            And no worries on the "let's see that fine ass" comment. The point was pretty clear and the image was enough to make me laugh.

          • There is a guy in my gaming circle who has worn tight, eye catching pants as so many characters that he's been dubbed "Captain Shiny Pants." He unabashedly admits that he wears these pants because it means other characters are more willing to put up with his characters' bullshit. And because he gets lots of compliments from women on how they look on him. He gets some friendly ribbing about the whole thing, but the habit of wearing tight pants is seen more as a joke than as an evaluation of him as a player.

            Compare that to the cracks about women using corsets to enhance their "win on ties" powers and the implications that certain female characters have only achieved their positions of power because of BOOBS. Add in the amount of attention that gets paid to women in skimpier costumes, and what you get is a rock and a hard place situation for female LARPers. You either dress sexy and get people who are willing to roleplay with you (but call you a slut behind your back), or you dress more conservatively and get ignored (and possibly still get called a slut behind your back because you work your ass off for a position that you clearly only earned through Sex).

            As much as I deeply love the LARP community and the people in it, its diversity doesn't make it any less likely to be subject to abusive behavior by assholes.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Anectodes are not data and I have absolutely observed exactly the situations you describe but a major counter-example springs to mind:
            I have an ex who was very well known in LARP circles for a particular character. By well known, I mean multi-state grade well known. She always wore a suit. Also, I really need to dig up photos of my Werewold Wild West LARP from the 90's because most of that western wear was way sexier than the revealing goth club stuff while still being practical.

          • No, they are not. But for many years, people said the same thing to women who told stories about how they are treated in MMOs. There are even people in this very comment section who, despite the actual cited data, still persist in blindly supporting the idea that guys have it just as bad. Women have been saying for a very long time that they are treated worse in many, many ways. We finally have a study which *proves* that in one single way, women really are treated worse. Is it so hard to imagine that a culture in which it is perfectly okay to shout rape jokes at a fellow player because she's female might just maybe possibly in the slightest way be perfectly okay with using different tactics to be abusive to female gamers in other settings?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I meant "anecdotes are not data" as a disclaimer to my ancedotes.

          • Ha! Clearly I've been reading too many of the other comments. Their negativity has colored my responses to yours. My apologies.

          • I'm still unpacking my thoughts about this and trying to understand all of this here. But here's my take on this:

            "But by continuing to allow certain women to play up their looks/sexuality, aren't we depending the competition and in-fighting? For one woman to gain an advantage, another faces a disadvantage. I will *never* be able to get by on my looks: I have struggled and (somewhat) succeeded in geek circles by virtue of learning and struggling. But it really gets under my skin to have a hot woman come in and purposefully skate by* on virtue of guys drooling all over her. I can't possibly see how this behavior is supposed to encourage camaraderie in the Girl Geek trenches. "

            I agree it doesn't encourage camaraderie in the girl trenches. But I don't think the blame for that lies with the woman, unless she is outright insulting you or being a dick to you or other less attractive women. In which case, yeah. She's the problem. I think the real problem with this is the men who respond by treating her differently than they treat you just because she's pretty. Why would we want to call out the woman (pitting us against each other) instead of calling attention to the behavior of the men who should be treating both of you the same. You're both geeks, you're both interested in the activity, you both may be learning or both have more advanced skill levels. If you're being treated poorly and she's being treated well because she's pretty, the problem is not, in my opinion, with either of you.

            Now, I can understand why women wouldn't want to point this out to the men doing it because of the fear of that old "you're jus' jealous" chestnut. I totally get that. Totally. But, isn't it also legitimate in this situation to think that men not behaving in this negative way should point out the behavior to the men who are behaving negatively? That they're treating you poorly; that there's a double standard?

            The pretty woman in this situation may be getting lots of unwanted attention. She may not like all the attention she's getting, but she may be putting up with it to ease her way into the community, especially if she sees that you're being treated poorly. It is an advantage she has that you don't. But the situation promoting that advantage was not created by her or you. You are only at odds with each other, divided against each, other because of the way you're being treated by the men in the situation. Divide and conquer; maintain the status quo. I have sympathy for both women in this situation.

        • The case you describe sounds well beyond the 'showing some cleavage in a hobby situation' example: it sounds like outright workplace sexual harassment, in which case, I think the most useful response is probably to discreetly let the men being harassed know you will support them if they'd like to bring it to HR, or possibly raise the issue with HR yourself.

          You could also speak up casually, "hey, not cool," or something like that, but I'm not sure that would actually be as helpful, since it's likely that it would put the people being harassed on the spot.

        • Workplace flirting is totally a different thing because sexual harassment laws could apply. Hell, I would love to see behavior like that reported as being sexual harassment; you should totally do it, Marty.

  15. Clementine Danger says:

    It's not flirting if you're not interested in the guy and just want stuff. That's just not okay. I agree that it's not as harmful, but it is still basically lying to them to get stuff in return, and it certainly isn't helping matters.

    The assertion that guys giving you attention and things because you flaunt your femininity is the same thing as a friendly, open environment is simply not true, and that's not a good message to carry and spread. That does perpetuate the problem in my opinion. It's basisally telling people that it's cool to single people out as "the girl" as long as you give her validation and nice things in return. I just don't think that's helpful.

    Again, I'm assuming from this story that this woman actively draws attention to herself in return for positive attention and stuff. I find that disrespectful, manipulative and deceptive no matter what.

    And again, like I said below, there's a huge difference between a woman who dresses in a way she likes and as a side effect happens to receive attention because of it, and a woman who wears and does certain things specifically to gain from it. Those just aren't the same thing at all.

    • I just don't see anything constructive about "letting women know" what they're doing in this regard. The ones that are really doing it for attention and to use others? Aren't going to care.

      Some people like to pour on the charm and use it to their advantage. The proper response is to just ignore them.

      "And again, like I said below, there's a huge difference between a girl who dresses in a way she likes and happens to receive attention because of it, and a girl who wears and does certain things specifically to gain from it. Those just aren't the same thing at all."

      But who gets to tell one from the other? To speak with many of these sexist men, simply possessing boobs and a vagina is enough to get you accused of the latter behavior. This just edges uncomfortably close to not only slut-shaming, but internalized misogyny "special snowflake" syndrome. Like, "Look at me, guys! I never wear low-cut tops and I'm not a Slutterina like those attention-seeking whores over there!"

      • Clementine Danger says:

        "I just don't see anything constructive about "letting women know" what they're doing in this regard. The ones that are really doing it for attention and to use others? Aren't going to care."

        I get what you're saying, and this is just my personal opinion on the matter, but I've been saying for this entire thread that ignoring a behavior is condoning it. I personally think that what has been described here (with the HUGE disclaimers I added, those are very important) is just not a good attitude. I think it perpetuates the stereotypes that harm people who do not agree with them, and that that is worth speaking up about. There's no need to be hostile and insulting about it, but it does warrant speaking up. No problem was ever solved by ignoring it. The real die-hard misogynistic assholes aren't going to care about what we say either, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be called out.

        "But who gets to tell one from the other?"

        That really is where it gets tricky. I know. It's almost impossible. But if (IF!) the woman herself tells me unambiguously, in no uncertain terms, that she uses her sexuality to get preferential treatment and nice things, if she's the one making the claim about herself, I have absolutely no problem letting her know that I find that problematic. I have done so in the past. Without displaying vile behavior and using threats.

        Like I said, it's not just guys who perpetuate the culture. Women grow up in that same culture, and many women, including me, buy into it at some point.

        • I think the disconnect is that I don't see the woman, no matter how attention-seeking, as hurting anyone. Let's assume for the sake of argument that we are not talking about sociopaths out to ruin people. A woman, dressing revealingly and flirting, even if she hopes to gain favors, isn't abusing anyone. Like any attention-seeking behavior, you extinguish it by just ignoring it. No one is forcing a man to do favors for a pretty lady, or flirt back, or get her gifts or whatnot.

          Whereas the man harassing women online? He is engaging in outright hurtful, abusive behavior. Now if the woman in our scenario gets spurned, and starts hurling abuse at guys? Only then do I consider her behavior anything like his.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            I see your point. But I'd argue that in the example we have here, there is harm being done.

            Mostly I think the woman is doing herself a disservice. I see it happen from time to time, and as it turns out, attention-seeking behavior is mostly a byproduct of some sort of insecurity. Paradoxically, most of the people who flaunt and strut the hardest are also the most insecure about their ability to relate to people and be accepted. I went through a phase like that myself, where I thought I had nothing to offer BUT my sexuality, and I know for a fact that wasn't healthy for me. I'm sure there's a lot of people out there who just have big personalities. I'm equally sure that many, many women who flaunt their sexuality are doing it because they think it's the only way for them to get validation, which is what the culture tells them to do. The root of a lot of attention-seeking behavior is insecurity, and perpetuating a cycle of putting the locus of your identity outside of yourself (only feeling good because other people tell you you're good) is harmful and dangerous.

            Psych 101 aside, I do think it's harmful to treat people with disrespect. Maybe it's not directly harming anyone, but there seems to be an underlying attitude of "all guys think with their dick, so why not take advantage of this totally true fact"? I find that disrespectful. Men are individuals too and deserve to be treated as such. There's no point in preaching against unfair generalizations about women but also being okay with it when it's done to men. It's an antagonistic attitude that once again divides society into men and women as opposing teams.

            It's also a little bit harmful to me personally, because I don't like it when guys give me stuff and attention because I happen to have breasts, and I don't really want women or men or anything in between telling guys that it's totally okay to do that. (Actually, see eselle's comment upthread. She explains it rather well.)

            "we are not talking about sociopaths out to ruin people"

            Okay, but then you also can't draw a parallel between these women, whose behavior is tricky to analyze at best, and guys who actively harass and abuse women. Those guys definitely fall under the sociopath umbrella and have no place in this conversation. If we're talking about subtle and insidious ways the culture as whole perpetuates stereotypes, extreme cases on either side don't count.

            I think that ultimately, it depends on your endgame. My endgame is to help create a society where men and women as groups do not have an antagonistic relationship based on stereotypes and cultural indoctrination, and this specific situation runs counter to my endgame, so I want to oppose it.

          • Well, she might not be directly hurting anyone, but she could be hurting the overall community by linking "female <> attractive <> attention" in the environment with which she interacts.

            I know part of the reason I become uncomfortable with women who *seem* to be engaging in attention-seeking behavior is because I feel, on a gut non-rational level, that they are betraying our Sisterhood. It gives me whiplash for a woman to complain how guys judge her by her looks (positively or negatively), and how she's sick of not being taken seriously, to then turn around and bounce her cleavage for Magic cards. I want to chase after her and yell "Wait, what about solidarity?!" It also creates the uncomfortable space that the only people publicly speaking out against connecting value with looks are us Ugly Chicks, which makes the message easy to ignore. ("Well, you're just jealous.") A girl who trades (purposefully or innocently) her looks for favors would come across as a hypocrite for expressing the same opinions.

            I also think the attitude of "it doesn't hurt anybody" breaks down necessary bonds between girl geeks. We've often lamented on this blog about girls who throw others under the bus to prove they're "not like them." I myself was (and still struggle with being) one of these Bus-Throwers. I resist the urge pretty well usually, but DAMN, is it hard and annoying and painfully when I actually *am* competing against pretty girls who trade on the male geek attention. Yes, I should channel my anger at the guys for thinking with their second head….. but gosh darn it, Girl, how can you force me into competition with you and then turn around and get angry when I start competing with you??

            No one is forcing the guy to pay attention to the hot girl. But nobody is forcing the hot girl to try to trade favors, either. As an Ugly Girl, I am forced to be aware of how my attitudes and behavior stem from my looks (example: I instinctively hate every beautiful woman the second I meet her.) Is it really so bad to ask pretty women to be likewise aware of how they come across and might be influencing/treating others?

          • @Marty and Clementine, I can see your point too, as I have never been Hot enough to garner any such favor but think on this:

            Women are trained to compete with each other from day 1. If we split into camps, Hot or Not, and us Nots sit over here tut-tutting at those attention-seeking Hots, what does that do except highlight our own insecurities? Does a Hot have to drab herself up, lest she be accused of trying to get head-pats from geek men? What counts as so-called destructive, attention-seeking behavior? Being girly and feminine? Not knowing all the rules? Dressing sexy? Faking helplessness? Because these are all just standard coping behaviors women are taught in our society. I know I've done them. Especially when we are talking about really young women and girls who are not tomboys nor into feminism.

            In my book, a woman can be as hot as she wants. IF she is displaying destructive (to HER), attention-seeking behaviors, I may try to plant the idea in her head that she is worth more than her looks and what she can get from guys. But I WON'T equate what she is doing as being anywhere remotely on the same level as what the people hurling all this abuse.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            I think there's excellent points being made. Sisterhood and slut-shaming are very difficult subjects for me, things I just haven't fully made up my mind about, they're tricky and new and I appreciate all this material for me to mull over. This is a very productive discussion for me, so thanks.

            I guess at the end of the day, I think asking girls to call out women who we deeply, genuinely believe are displaying harmful behavior is no different than asking guys to call out other guys who are displaying harmful behavior. I don't think we're betraying the sisterhood any more than those guys are betraying their brotherhood.

            Buuuuut it's not as simple as all that. I get that. I stand by what I said, but there's obviously so much more to it, and I need to do a lot more thinking on this.

          • I agree, only instead of "you're slut making us all look bad!" *** I approach it more like, "Girl, you're more than your boobs and head-pats from dudes are meaningless at the end of the day. Show me your skills!!"

            ***NOT that I think you are saying this, Clementine!

          • Clementine Danger says:

            I think we both agree on that. I think we all do. "Slut you make us look bad" is never a good response. But I don't think that's what Trisha did. I don't think anyone here advocated doing that at all, or I just missed it completely.

            It's just… Well, we all see the world and the people in it through the lens of our own experiences. And me having the experience of thinking that I was only as good as my boobs colors my perception of the issue. Honestly, my gut reaction is "you don't need to do this. You're awesome, you're worthwhile, you don't *need* to do this". Which is very different from saying "you *can't* do this, and you're a bad woman for doing it". They can sound a lot alike, but they're very, very different.

          • That is totally not what I did. I jokingly told her that even though my covered up rack was probably just as good as hers, I try not to use it to get things because I think it's a cheat. BTW, ran into her at the store again today and she was wearing the same kind of shirt again. If that's her personal style, she really looks great and that should be the end of that, ne?

          • I think the disconnect is you seem to think we're saying it's destructive on the same level. I don't know about Clementine, but I certainly don't think it's on the same level; I do still think it's destructive.

            I think it really does come down to a case-by-case basis, but I think it's wrong to not call out the behavior in cases where it's appropriate. Someone is just dressing girly is not an appropriate place to call a girl out for "attention-seeking." My rule of thumb is, if she was in sweatpants and a t-shirt, would her behavior still strike me as attention-seeking? Yes, speak up.

            I think it's important for us to have conversations about this stuff with geeky men, but also with other geeky women. A Hot doesn't have to drab herself down, but I think it's fair to ask her to examine her behavior through a different lens. If we are challenging the men to tackle sexism, I think it's fair to ask women to start confronting their coping mechanisms and asking themselves if they are the best way to go about acting.

            I don't think us Nots are "tut-tuting" over Hot women out of some sort of insecurity (maybe a little bit, but not entirely.) If we're going to tackle the thorny issue of how women are objectified in geeky circles, then I think it is important for ALL of us to consider our own behavior and attitudes. Hot women should not immune from this.

          • Loxosceles says:

            You don't think that consciously, actively manipulating the expectations and emotions of people is hurting anyone?

            I'm not talking misunderstandings or two people just not wanting the same thing out of their interactions.

            But when someone actually flat out says, states directly with no ambiguity, that they're encouraging the people around them to do them favors and give them gifts, using disingenuous sexual advances as a weapon to control the behavior of others… nobody is getting hurt?

            How about the poor dope who thought she really liked him? Or do his feelings not count?

          • I didn't say it wasn't shitty behavior. What I said was that it isn't AS BAD as the threats/abuse/misogyny hurled at female players because of their gender.

            As we've discussed many, many times before on this blog: certain types of geeky men will ascribe malicious motivations to women NO MATTER WHAT. The woman could just be there, being pretty and nice, and she'll get accused of stringing some "poor dope" along. So excuse me if I'm a bit skeptical at an equal amount of vitriol being reserves for these so-called heartless temptresses of geekdom!

          • Loxosceles says:

            Oh good, we're going to start ascribing some kind of objective numeric value to negativity. Because categorizing the experiences of other people as being more or less important is enormously productive.

            Sometimes people (yeah, mostly but not exclusively guys) will misunderstand an interaction and see romantic or sexual overtures that weren't present or weren't intended.

            Sometimes people (mostly but not exclusively guys) will behave very badly in response to this.

            Sometimes people (mostly but not exclusively guys) will preemptively ascribe some kind of negative motivation to someone they want to bully.

            All of that is very bad.

            I'm just not seeing how it makes other bad things a non-issue. There's no mutual exclusion here, it's not like you have to pick one social problem to solve and the other will exist forever. They can both be bad things. It is possible to be sympathetic towards the woman who's getting crap for daring to step foot in a game shop AND the guy who just spent his rent money buying the Power 9 for a woman who actively, consciously is abusing and manipulating him through their interactions.

          • This is an article about the extreme misogyny women face playing as female. Why is it so important for you to deflect attention away from that and onto poor blokes being manipulated by sexy vixens?

            You don't HAVE to spend your rent money buying someone something. She could send out all the pretty-pleases and cleaveage in the world. You still don't have to do it. "Pussy power" is such bullshit. The men always make a choice to give their power to the "temptress". She has no real power; only what he chooses to give her.

            A woman being harassed in every corner and dealing with threats and abuse can only retreat so far before she is shut out entirely. She cannot exercise any choice in this matter. She can't DO anything to make it stop, other than leave. Then, abusive places are allowed to exist, unfettered and condoned.

            I fail to see how these things are anything close to the same "social issue".

          • Loxosceles says:

            … I'm not the one who brought it up. Tricia was. I merely responded to the comments that it was not harmful, or that it was not "as harmful" or that it was something that could simply be avoided. Which…

            On some level, things like harm and pain are subjective. It is very easy to identify the extremes like brutal human rights violations and free ice cream but a lot of the harm and pain that will get talked about in a context like the comment section of a dating/relationship/life advice website is going to be far less easily distinguished on some kind of objective scale. Incidentally, what is the objective scale supposed to be, anyway? Anyone got a chart or a list I could have a look at?

            Manipulation is a bad thing. It's dehumanizing, whatever the specific methods used, because it acts to make a person be something that they did not choose for themselves.

            In this instance, based on what Trisha said (and as she is the only one here familiar with the situation, her statements are the ones that must act as a definition for the discussion), one person was actively exploiting other people. The men are not obligated to do these things, but if they are encouraged to do so based on the lie of reciprocated interest, it is manipulation and deceit.

            I think it's wrong when anyone, of any gender, is motivated by falsehoods. I didn't even use a gendered pronoun until the final line of my first response to your comment that you didn't see it as hurting anyone. I'm not pushing some sexist agenda here or trying to deflect attention away from the problems women face in geeky environments. I simply did not think it was appropriate for you to dismiss the feelings of a person who had been manipulated by another person as being inconsequential.

            You are ascribing motivations, and actions, to me that are simply not true. I would prefer it if you stopped.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            Well, she said to ignore truly sociopathic behavior, and I was working from the assumption that disingenuous sexual advances purely for personal gain fall under that umbrella. But yes, in the specific example you describe here, there is direct and willful harm being done to the guys, and that's 100% not okay.

          • Loxosceles says:

            It was the specific example Trisha described here.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            Oh, I was under the impression that the conversation had moved away from that specific example. Never mind then. Yes, I agree.

          • Loxosceles says:

            It seemed to me that Tosca was defending that specific example as acceptable.

            "A woman, dressing revealingly and flirting, even if she hopes to gain favors, isn't abusing anyone.

            No one is forcing a man to do favors for a pretty lady, or flirt back, or get her gifts or whatnot. "

            In Tosha's example, the woman specifically stated that she was actively manipulating the expectations of others; encouraging the men around her to give her preferential treatment, to their own detriment, with the disingenuous suggestion of sexual interaction. Or, in other words, because boobs.

            It may not rise to the level of sociopathy. Beats me, I'm not this woman's psychoanalyst. I simply disagree that it is somehow acceptable behavior, or something to be ignored, on the rationalization that some other bad things are being done by and to some other people. When it comes to hurt feelings and social damage, there isn't some priority list of which is worse or which does more harm. Tosca presented a false dichotomy, suggesting that addressing the ramifications of manipulative behavior (to men and women and the entire idea of a local gaming community, as has been discussed) was somehow incompatible with the idea of also addressing the ramifications of misogyny, bullying and gender discrimination.

          • At what point does Toscha say that the woman we're describing was "actively manipulating the expectations of others; encouraging the men around her to give her preferential treatment"? As far as I can tell, she gestured to her cleavage and said, essentially, "That's why they give me all this extra attention."

            That could mean a dozen different things. It could mean that since she has a nice rack and likes to show it off, people by default treat her better (I have seen this all the time in real life, where my friend with very nice and large tracts of land receives different responses from people regardless of whether they're shown off or not). It could mean that she deliberately draws attention to them in the hopes of getting nice attention. It could mean that she is implying that women are treated a certain way just because they have boobs.

            None of those things, to me, demonstrate any kind of "expectation manipulation" where people are promised or denied anything or are doing anything (giving her stuff, being nice to her) against their own will or interests.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            It's really hard to see what posts people are responding to in this comment section. To clarify the matter, the reason I didn't put "direct and obvious harm to the guy" on the list of ways in which the behavior is harmful is because I was working from the assumption that it wasn't a good entry in a list that excludes deliberate nasty behavior. I wanted to talk about the more subtle forms of harm, because in the day-to-day reality of it all, that's the form of harm you encounter most often.

            So on the one hand, I agree. What I said above. Willfully deceiving someone to gain favors with absolutely no regard for their feelings is wrong. It just is.

            On the other hand, I have a lot of sympathy for the fact that every woman I've ever met has been called out for "stringing a guy along" and "being a cocktease" many times over, and while I don't agree with Tosca 100%, and I've made it clear when and why, I do understand the implication that we need to be careful about labeling a woman a cocktease, because the accusation of it occurs a LOT more than the actual behavior.

            In my experience, the situations we deal with on a daily basis just aren't so black-and-white. I have seen women be extremely manipulative about using their sexuality to gain stuff without a thought. I've also seen lots of guys behaving extremely disrespectful towards women. These seem to be extreme cases. Regardless of the facts of which way the pendulum swings and which side encounters more harmful behavior, it occurs and I've seen it occur. Because it's so terribly obvious. It's easy to determine who's right and who's wrong when the behavior is so blatant. It's a lot less clear-cut when it's more subtle, the way it often is, and all the factors are taken into account.

            I don't know the woman Trisha is describing, and I wasn't there for the conversation, I just don't know any of the important details, so I wasn't very keen on going "yup, that's 100% wrong and harmful" and more interested in opening up a discussion on this sort of behavior in general, because it is tricky, and there's usually no mustache-twirling villains involved. Judging a behavior is one thing. Dealing with it is another.

          • No, no, no. I said:
            "I didn't say it wasn't shitty behavior. What I said was that it isn't AS BAD as the threats/abuse/misogyny hurled at female players because of their gender."

            I fail to see where I'm presenting a false dichotomy.
            "

    • Personally I think the real issue is the dudes who throw money and attention at cleavage automatically, without thinking. Those women wouldn't be manipulative if the guys weren't so easy to manipulate.

  16. I have to echo Tosca and Clemintine Danger…this isn't just the Internet. The very worst harassment I dealt with was in person, not on the Internet (which isn't to say the Internet isn't also a problem). I remember being 15 and playing D&D with a group of guys who, after rolling a d12 for penis size, spent the entire game describing graphically how they would rape every female NPC around. The only way my female PC wasn't raped by my fellow PC team members is because when an NPC tried to rape my PC, I had my character castrate him and then wear his shriveled penis around my neck as a necklace. Only that, stopped my character from being the target of constant threats of rape. Though the guys continued to rape their way around NPCs whenever my PC wasn't around…but of course, I as a player, was around to hear it all and be harassed by it. Add on top of this the pressure not to complain or then you are a problem player.

    A person could say, well they were 15! Yeah, well lots of people get into gaming when they are 15, why do you think girls aren't feeling welcome? Even before that terrible semester long misery, was the ways in which guys would try to exclude me from gaming through various means. And here's the thing. I'm a Trans guy, so even though at that time I was labelled female by society, I'm was very much the tomboy and was often taken as male at first interaction. I certainly wasn't sexualized by the guys. I had it bad, but I could disassociate, but I persisted, and I couldn't even imagine what women who were actually women would have had to deal with. Well, I can imagine, which (along with social pressure to be "feminine"–which doesn't equal comic books and RPGs apparently) is why There were almost never any female gamers in my early groups.

    Things changed for me when I was 16 and found a really important gaming group for me. 1) It was not D&D, but Call of Cthulhu, a game that didn't feature cheesecake in chain mail bikinis and had the presence of interesting, non-sexualized female characters…as well as gameplay that didn't push toward machismo, 2) It was run by a female GM and there was a critical mass of female gamers meaning that sexism was just not tolerated, 3) the gamers were in their late twenties/early thirties which meant they were more mature and therefore less gross.

    My mom at first had concerns about me, a 16 year old gaming at the house of 30 year olds every week. But she met them and determined they were okay. They could have said, "No we don't want young'uns" by they welcomed in me and two other friends of mine from school (a woman and a gay man–neither of whom felt comfortable in the peer gaming scene). If it hadn't been for them, I don't know where I'd be now.

    Anyway, I have encountered staggering misogyny and harassment over my 30+ years in geekdom.

    But, I also note that there have been places where it isn't as bad…and again, I have noted that game system often matters. Call of Cthulhu back in the day had the statement, "Sex of the Investigator: The investigator can be male or female. No game rule distinguishes between male and female; neither sex had advantage or disadvantage. Some published scenarios may consider the effect of gender in specific societies, but keepers are free to ignore that if they wish." And CoC had representation of female Investigators. I think it is not coincidental that one of the first games to have a huge female audience, Vampire: The Masquerade, also included female pronouns in the rule book. I believe the convention was player "he" and Storyteller "she"–but they might have just alternated. Anyhow, that game included women both by the presence of important NPCs but also by pronoun in the rules.

    Similarly, comic books often alienated female readers, but Strangers in Paradise, Elfquest, and Love & Rockets drew women because women were respected, included, and represented (and not just as fan service for the male gaze).

    And in video games it is the same, there are games that women play…and *shock* they tend to be the ones that include women, respect women, and represent them as people rather than just objects.

    And not all of these welcoming representations are created or co-created by women. Love & Rockets, Dreamfall, Vampire…all have male creators.

    My point with this last note is that men can be, and must be, a part of the change to dismantle the systematic oppression of women in geek culture and larger culture overall.

    • Clementine Danger says:

      Hey. What you said to me? About having my back? I've got yours.

      Geek fistbump for mentioning Dreamfall.

      • Thanks for having my back! It means a lot.

        By the way, as a side note, do you know about the Dreamfall Kickstarter? Ragnar Tørnquist has left Funcom and formed his own indie studio. He's gotten the Dreamfall team back together and they are making a new game that will complete Zoe's story. It has already made its backing and now we are pushing towards stretch goals. It will be for PC, Mac, and Linux. You should totally check it out and pledge if you are interested!

        Dreamfall fistbump!

        • Clementine Danger says:

          Yeah, I just got an email yesterday about the Kickstarter! I'm so excited. I'm way too unemployed to make a huge contribution, but I'm going to be setting some money aside. I want that game so badly it physically hurts, no joke. I can't wait to see how things turn out after that vicious cliffhanger.

        • Ragnar left Funcom, and is finishing the series? Damn, I need to check my Twitter more often. The Longest Journey is one of my all time favorite games, and it's awesome to hear that Dreamfall is getting a sequel.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            I put April Ryan in the number four spot on my lost of Top Ten Female Characters From Games I Wouldn't Mind My Impressionable Preteen Daughter Playing If She Were So Inclined, so yeah, I have a lot of appreciation for the series. Dreamfall didn't stick with me the way The Longest Journey did, but it's an excellent game too.

            Honestly, for the last couple of years, every time someone assured me that Dreamfall: Chapters was getting made I responded the same way I do when people tell me unicorns are totally real. To see it happen now is pretty much like seeing a real life unicorn being born, which, now that I think about it, would probably be gross, and it's a terrible analogy, but there we are.

          • I think April might be my favorite game character (or maybe FemShep, though FemShep is partly me and my decisions, so I'm not sure if she counts as an independent character). Anyway, I was just the same age as April was when I played the game for the first time, and she was the first character in a video game who actually seemed like a more or less real person, whose story I should care about not just because it involved lots of cool stuff happening (which it did), but because I cared about her and what happened to her.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            The Longest Journey is what got me into adventure games as a whole, and those games do really, really well when it comes to female protagonists who are also humans. The whole genre is more concerned with storytelling and characterization than it is with more traditional game priorities, and there's some real winners in that genre. April Ryan and Zoe, Nicole Collard, Phoenix Wallace, Kate Walker, Liz Allaire, the girls from The Path… You can make a pretty solid list of awesome female characters just from adventure games. Good on them.

            Aaaand I can't help myself. Everyone should play The Path. Please. It's the best game about women I have ever played, and everyone should play it, no matter how weirdly indie and opaque things get.

          • You know, that seems true. I wonder if that's because adventure games have more women fans than some other genres of games, or if the games were always good with female characters and women gravitated to them because of that? Either way, I think we'll be seeing more adventure games being created, since they can be adapted to tablet-based play, which is where I think a lot of game development is headed.

            I've never played the Path. When I googled it, the art looked a little familiar, so I think I've heard of it but never got around to playing it. I'll have to see if it's available on Steam.

          • Aaaaaaah, Kate Walker. <3 <i>Syberia <3

          • Syberia was a lot of fun.

          • Can I make two comments about the "Sexism in Video Games" discussions of folks like Anita Sarkeesian?

            Note: Sexist jerks, please don't read this comment. It is not for you. If is for non-sexist people who already understand that there is a problem with sexism in video games and the representation of women.

            Okay, continuing on. I get frustrated when I read columns on Sexism in video games written by people who characterize the video game industry as if it were completely made up of first person shooters, Action-Adventure games, and beat-em-ups. In these columns, they completely ignore the Adventure genre, which has sad some triple A, high selling games in it like Heavy Rain and well as downplaying RPGs…another big genre. And many examples are all from the 1990s. There are problems, but we need to address it well, fully and critically if we are going to be taken seriously. Additionally, I'm a bit wary of the "Lara Croft is an example of how sexist video games are" considering how many women I know, for whom Lara Croft was really important and empowering. I read a really interesting article once thinking about the implications of all these guys identifying with Lara Croft as active protagonist rather than passive princess. Anyway, I haven't made up my mind on Lara Croft, but I've listened to enough of my female friends to think she is a bit more complicated than just negative. She can be multivalent, and I'm not seeing nuance in reading.

            And the second one, I was reading an article about representations of women in…maybe the Border House, which I normally love, and the author said that they were excluding characters where the protagonist could be either male or female like FemShep…because somehow those characters don't count as women. Which made me crazy. My female Nereverine in Morrowind is one of the coolest female characters ever, and was my female Shepherd or my female Hawke. I don't like to have them dismissed.

            The problem is, that is becomes impossible to have a really good complex discussion about gender in video games because there are too many horribly sexist creeps who do things like madly attack Anita Sarkeesian with threats of rape and murder. I respect Anita. I don't always agree with all of the details of her readings, and I'd like her to be a bit more complex, but I'm on the same team as she is, and the grossness of her detractors makes it almost impossible to engage in a good debate about video games politics.

            I just want people to recognize that some of the biggest games in the last few years (Mass Effect, The Walking Dead) have had space for or actually had really awesome female characters. We are not there yet. There are still serious problems. Serious problems. But momentum is swinging towards improvement I think.

            It reminds me of the discussions of violence in video games and I want to point out that the top selling video games of all time do include shooters, but a lot more things like Madden Football and Mario Kart and Wii Sports/Fit.

            There is diversity in video games and we can only get more of it by pointing out that it exists so that people can patronize the responsible stuff.

            Also, I loved The Path (well, not the controls). I have gotten all of Tale of Tales games that are available.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            Must resist urge to rave about Tale of Tales for three paragraphs…

            Okay, done.

            The Lara Croft thing recently became relevant again, I've been informed. I've never been much of a Tomb Raider fan, but I did play some of the early games. It's an in-game vs. out-game thing, I think. I her own universe, from what I've seen, Lara is pretty cool. No complaints. But out of universe, things get problematic. The way she came by her iconic… shape, the way people (including creators) talk about the character and how she's portrayed in fan art… Long story short, I think the character Lara is fine lady in-universe, but has some problems when you take thing outside her fictional world.

            I think it's important to look at the larger context in which games are played. I had this discussion a while back about Skyrim. My position was (and is, to some extent) that it's one of the most gender-neutral big games of the last years. You can be a female orc barbarian or a wispy little elf archer, doesn't matter, you get the same treatment, same story, the NPCs are balanced and well presented, I just like that aspect of it a whole lot.

            But then you look at the social aspect of it. Me, I'm a huge ES modder. I made a few mods and I can't play a Bethesda game without a mod folder bigger than the actual game. Now do me a favor and go to the Skyrim Nexus, the biggest modding site there is for the game, and look at some of the top mods. Chainmail bikinis and "makeovers" of the female NPCs as far as the eye can see, all titled things like "better Aela" (translation: less clothes) or "better females" (translation: less clothes) and " Better Lydia" (translation: less clothes plus having her goddamn voice files removed). I personally have to brace myself to go trolling for Skyrim mods these days, because I'm just so sick of the "better" mods. I hate that word now. Better. Ugh.

            You can read a lot of things into that, but what it tells me, among other things, is that we can't point the finger at the industry and just demand they fix things. The community is to blame as well. And the old "if you don't like it, don't download" is just a paper-thin excuse to not address this issue.

            It's not just Skyrim. Look at the fanart and mods of any game that has an iconic female protagonist or character and let me know what you find. The industry has a problem (FemShep in a cocktail dress? Really?) , although I find it's much worse for movies than it is for games, but the community will top it every single time.

          • Clementine will you marry me? Well, not marry…because I won't get married until every one can…and even then I'm not certain I'm sold on the concept of marriage…but now I'm getting off topic.

            Topic 1) in game vs. out game. I agree 100%. A lot of the really problematic things about Lara were meta problems. Which doesn't make it less of a problem. In some ways, it makes it more of a problem. If the problem in the games industry were simply that there are some sexist jerk game designers, well, we can get rid of them and replace them with awesome game designers. But the problem is also about the fans. And that is a bigger problem. That takes all of us to change and seems much more daunting.

            So, I know that many people didn't like Dragon Age 2 (I loved it), but one of the things I really noted was that many people didn't like DA2 because characters would hit on you. Including same sex characters. They never complained when it was Isabella hitting on a female Hawke, but the moment a male Anders hits on a male Hawke they loose their…shiitake mushrooms. And then all the homophobia comes out. I had much respect for David Gaider saying that he supported gay fans and wasn't taking out the content. So here is a guy trying to do a good thing and the fans are still a problem. Just keep on fighting the good fight to change the culture, I suppose. From below and from above.

            Topic 2) "The industry has a problem, although I find it's much worse for movies than it is for games, but the community will top it every single time."

            I just want to point out one thing. Scandal is the first time since the 1970s that there as been a television show with a black female lead. There was a black female lead in my Mass Effect for all three games! Those RPGs by Bethesda, Obsidian, Bioware…they gave me a space to have female, queer, POC leads in a way that just doesn't happen in TV and film in general. And I appreciate that very much. Games have problems, but they are also doing some really cool things in front of TV/film.

            Lastly, (connected), I was so overjoyed when I played Dreamfall, to play a game that was set in Africa and whose main character was a) a woman, and b) from Africa. How cool was that?!

          • Clementine Danger says:

            I bought a wedding dress yesterday. Because where I live, we fought that good fight and won. Now I'm moving to the US, and we're going to win the good fight over there too. It's been a long time coming.

            Also we should have a beer sometime, but that's neither here nor there.

            I personally really like games where the protagonist can be any gender and allow for maximum roleplay, but then you get problems with the promotional material. Actually, I did a comparison between my game characters and the box art for a lot of games…

            I hate repeating myself. Blame me for shameless plugging all you want, but I kind of wrote a lot of it down here: http://pisquirrel.blogspot.be/2012/12/top-10-grea

            Heh. This reminds me. A couple of days ago I bought Settlers 7, and the campaign involves the princess of the realm heading out to save the kingdom like it ain't even a thing, nobody even mentions it, and that was just so cool to me. Then I went online to find a walkthrough and one of the first things I saw was some guy complaining about being called "princess" for the entire campaign and demanding the option of having a male character. I just couldn't help but laugh.

            I think he'll survive. I've been playing dudes for years for lack of choice, and I can pretty much promise him that it's survivable.

          • Oooh! Thanks for the plug, I've just subscribed to your RSS feed. That was a great post. And I agree with your entries. I have to say…I had a very complicated relationship with Kreia. I wanted her to like me sooooooo badly! Oh that game!!!

            If you are ever in Boston, I'd love to have a beverage with you and your soon-to-be-married partner! I'm looking forward to when marriage equality will make it to the States.

            About the box art for the games you showed in your post…you know what is weird? It never occured to me even once that the person on the cover of Oblivion was supposed to be the main character. I just figured it was a random guard…but had nothing to do with the protagonist male or female. I think because…the protagonist of Oblivion and Morrowind are such…ciphers. On the other hand, the cover of Skyrim does seem to be of a "protagonist"–problem.

            Okay, I need to ask you a question–DA1…your protagonist was a Dwarf: Commoner or Noble? I was a noble and I never got over the betrayal and banishment I had. I ended up being bitter for the whole game about it all. I kept thinking, yeah, all you people who live on the surface complain about the blight now…but we life with it 24/7! I wanted to run my homeland and make it a better case. I saw being a Grey Warden as a step down. Going back to Orsimar…that was very emotional. Plus, some creepy stuff when down! And you know what I mean! In the end when they said I could come back now that I was famous…yeah, that didn't make me happy.

            Um…I was really personally invested in that particular origin story. I wonder if the other origins were that effective?

          • Clementine Danger says:

            Oh my god, seriously? I'm actually moving to the Boston area. Yeah, I might take you up on that offer. There will be much drunken analysis of GLaDOS and drunker bitching about Kreia. You've been warned.

            Yeah, the Oblivion one is the weak link. My box just has the logo. I interpreted the man on the cover as the main character because of the pattern I saw, but it might not be part of it. But you get the larger point. (Oh, also, if you're going to read the blog, there's some very, very dumb stuff in there from before I wised up to the whole feminism thing. I've left it up as a shrine to my past idiocy, so I will never forget. Just thought you should know.)

            Anyway, yes, Dwarf Noble! If anyone here hasn't played a Dwarf woman in that game, I recommend it purely for the scene where she kisses Alistair and has a magical growth spurt. I don't even care if Alistair plus dwarf lady is my One True Ship, I laughed and laughed and laughed…

            And yes, I had the exact same thing going on! Man, I need to play that game again. I always over-roleplay these games. Like in Oblivion (***spoilers!***) I wanted to do all the storylines and quests with one character, but in my head I couldn't justify how my righteous white knight hero lady would ever work for the Dark Brotherhood, so I made up this story about how she'd had a crush on Martin and after the events of the mains story when he kinda sorta died she became bitter about it and fell in with the bad crowd…

            Okay, so I'm a major dork. Sue me. What were we talking about? Shoes?

          • *bounce bounce bounce*

            This is going to be awesome! I am definitely looking forward to it! We will definitely have to meet up at a place with alcohol and talk about everything–I recommend this one TexMex place in Somerville that has frozen margaritas! Go over to the DNL Forums and PM me!

            Onto details! I totally see your box art point and I agree with it. I think it is a bit sad we went from Morrowind and Oblivion that didn't have a shown protagonist on that front cover to Skyrim which…really did in an agressive way I think. Although, my Skyrim cover doesn't have any figure on the cover. I haven't played Skyrim yet, I'm in the process of finishing up the last few missions I want to complete in Oblivion. I justified my Dark Brotherhoodness by playing a Khajit who grew up enslaved and therefore was just not a particularly well adjusted person. My Khajit ended up fixating on the brotherhood as the only family he'd known. So killing everyone was really hard.

            Yeah, I always over-roleplay too! If the game will let me, at least!

            As for DA1, I just can't imagine the other origins are nearly as good as Dwarf Noble. How could they be?! Can I say, I loved that the game made me make a lot of really poor choices. I mean, I was a male Dwarf, and I did a bunch of things I new were probably really bad ideas, but I did them anyway, because they felt in character. I mean, I romanced Morrigan…and I *knew* that was a bad idea. I mean, I felt like a person in a noir film where you see that this person is a pair of Bad Idea Jeans, but you go there anyway. And I did! And it was a Bad Idea! And then…I didn't kill Flemeth…but didn't exactly tell Morrigan that I didn't…Oh…the drama!

            I loved that game!

            Also, there were some moments in DA2 that broke my heart! Oh!

            Yeah, I'm a major dork too! Solidarity!
            Shoes…right shoes. I need to buy a pair of black and white spectator wingtips.
            Also, I think I want a pair of white suede shoes like they use to wear in the 1940s.

            And spats.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            You know, the harassment and sexism situation in the geek community is really bad, no doubt about it, and I've been on the shit end of the deal more times than I can count, but geeking out like this reminds me why I love the scene in the first place.

            Thanks so much. I really needed this.

          • Ok, I'm totally jealous now…

          • Where you live is not that far away! If you ever come up this way, TexMex!

          • It's so sad, all these people losing their…shiitake mushrooms. Because now they have no mushrooms AND can't enjoy Anders hitting on male Hawke. :(

          • I love this comment.

            That is all.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Funny thing about DA2 (that's the one with the redhead bard and the efl assassin, right?). I'm about as straight and cisgendered as they come. I think I spent about a day gushing to my roomates about how they had potential love interest characters for everyone. If anything I was slightly disappointed that straight characters had two options each and gay characters only had one each (because two of the four options were bisexual). I liked it because it indicated to me that the design team was trying to draw outside the lines of the stereotypical gamer. So it at least implied more depth and thought would go into the rest of the game.

          • That's Dragon Age: Origins! In DA2, four out of five characters who were available for a romantic arc were open to characters of either gender, with a fifth that was open to a rather odd romance with only a female character.

            I like the idea of straight and gay characters having the same number of love interests, though I'm not completely sold on the "everyone is bisexual" design of DA2. Ideally, I'd like to see an equal number of characters who are interested, but not always the same characters. But that's hard as well, since in an RPG, that means that quite a few characters would have to be human(ish), reasonably attractive, and available.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            "since in an RPG, that means that quite a few characters would have to be human(ish), reasonably attractive, and available."

            So a slight majority of the characters in Mass Effect. Speaking of which, one of these days I need to hit the cons with a Quorrian science team.

          • Oh, the Mass Effect cast… I love those games, but there was a point where I started to roll my eyes at all the people who wanted to sleep with Shepard. It makes sense if you look at it as a video game version of an action movie, but I'd ideally like to see something where there were people who were interested in a guy character, and people who were interested in a girl character, and people who were taken, or only into night elves, or just not into world-saving heroes (DA2 actually did this quite well, and included an attractive, likable female character who just wasn't feeling it regardless of what gender you played or what choices you made). So, I guess I'm in favor of giant parties.

            I guess the solution is bigger parties? I love dialogue scenes, so I'm all for that.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Mass Effect 1 did it well, too. My delight in ME2 was that Tali was available, most likely because she was the one NOT available in the first game. Haven't played 3 yet.

          • Loxosceles says:

            I was fourteen years old when I played Tomb Raider. Laura wasn't on the cover of the box, it was just a sort of stylized stone wall with the logo across it in gold lettering and my computer didn't… the game had two graphics settings and I played through the game on the other one.

            I just thought it was an Indiana Jones knock-off. I certainly wasn't looking to video games for vicarious sexual gratification. It was just pushing giant stone cubes around and shooting mummies.

            Tomb Raider 2 was something of an uncomfortable surprise. Walk into Babbage's (that was a thing, then) and meet the… other… fans.

            Ever find yourself ashamed to like the thing that someone else likes, because they're just such a ridiculously bad representation of a human being that the idea of sharing traits with them is anathema? That happened.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            I had a similar thing happen. The first real game I played that didn't involve running to the right and shooting things, that had actual characters and a storyline was Final Fantasy VIII. And I thought Quistis was so cool. It's different from what you're describing, because I identified with her as a girl, but it's similar, I think. Honestly I don't see it now, but I do remember thinking she was so awesome and I want to be just like that. It's not like she was a shining inspiration to girls everywhere, and she wasn't intended to be, but I just liked her a lot.

            And then I remember going online to see what other people were saying, and seeing some pictures people made of her and the other girls in the game. Suffice to say they liked Quistis too, but not even a little bit in the same way I did, and it confused me very, very much.

            I can imagine a similar thing happening with other little girls who really like Lara Croft or Aela the Huntress or FemShep or any woman in a game. Having them in our games is great. Seeing them stripped naked and dehumanized by the people who claim to like them too can really mess a girl up.

          • In your experience, what kind of… weight or importance… would you ascribe to individual occurrences of that nature? Does a single instance suffice to demean half the world's population and instill these negative concepts in the heads of everyone who is exposed to them, or is it only a problem because of the aggregate whole?

            Inevitably if one goes far enough down through this topic the subject of artistic interpretation arises. Comic books get there faster than video games, but it happens with both. Some people claim to appreciate it as it is and as art, raising the question of censorship. Should they or should they not be allowed to produce or consume these things that they feel have artistic merit on the grounds that someone else finds them offensive and harmful? Yes or no, where is the line drawn with that? If it is not reasonable to censor then why can't they have their FFVIII amputation necrophile sex collages on deviantart? If it is reasonable to censor, what about whatever ends up next on the list?

            One of the trickiest parts of the issue of media presentations (and their social effects) is that it's very difficult to measure the impact of any given exposure. Further, it's difficult to weigh the negative reaction of one person against the positive reaction of another as a question of value or evidence for either position.

            Consequentially I am interested in what anyone has to say on the subject. Especially those people who have been personally impacted; pushed out of a fan community (video games, comics, sci-fi and fantasy media, gaming) not just by the people, but by the product itself (which may encourage "those people" as a pandering sales technique).

            I've got some thoughts on the subject, of course, but I'd really like to know what others think.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            "In your experience, what kind of… weight or importance… would you ascribe to individual occurrences of that nature? Does a single instance suffice to demean half the world's population and instill these negative concepts in the heads of everyone who is exposed to them, or is it only a problem because of the aggregate whole? "

            For me? Definitely the second. I mentioned Elder Scrolls modding before. I've been using the Nexus site for years, and one or two skimpy armor and nudity mods never bothered me. Different strokes and such. I never really cared what people put in their single player games anyway. It's only recently that I've noticed that those make up a huge percentage of the mods there. Whatever I search for on that site, whatever search words I type, whatever filters I use, I will always and up with something that either sexualizes the female NPCs or claims to make the female PCs "better" by making them hypersexual. Again, one or two of those never bothered me before. The overwhelming volume of them, plus the fear that comes with the idea of saying something about it and being shouted down, tells me there is a problem. It creates a hostile environment, one that tells me, personally, that my value as a woman is interchangeable with how naked I'm willing to get. I wasn't kidding when I said I hate the word "better" on that site. The truckloads of mods claiming that female NPCs are "better" with less clothes and bigger boobs and pornstar makeovers is disturbing to me. Especially since that is not the game Bethesda made, but it's apparently the game a lot of people want.

            In my example of Quistis, there's the sexualization of female characters who aren't sexual at all. The most sexy thing Quistis ever did in the game was have a crush on a boy. Going online and seeing page after page of "sexy" drawings is extremely jarring to child. We make fun of Rule 34, because we're adults and we can handle it, but you can't underestimate the impact that sort of thing has on a young child who just wanted to see some pictures of their favorite heroine. It sends a message, and it's not a good one. Children and teenagers look to their surroundings to see what "normal" is, how to be a proper man or woman, and what they're seeing isn't what I want them to see.

            That's just an example. There's a very fine line between a couple of assholes being assholes and a proper societal problem, between the bad apples occasionally getting away with stuff and cultural indoctrination. You have to draw the line somewhere. Personally, I have a certain threshold for this stuff, and it has a lot to do with quantity. Not exclusively, but it's definitely a factor.

            Again, I don't want to point the finger squarely at the industry and make this whole thing their problem. I don't want censorship. That doesn't help. I want a cultural change, a grassroots movement to slowly change the culture so that in time people, both male and female, who have been raised in a more gender-neutral culture grow up to be game developers and movie executives and fashion designers and authors and comic book artists. You don't need censorship when people don't have the internal motivation to make these things, or include it in otherwise brilliant and inspiring art.

            In short, I'm pleading for evolution, not revolution.

            That being said, it's a tricky subject. I'm not going to claim I'm 100% decided on anything here, but this is kind of where I am right now.

          • I agree w you that's it's the aggregate too. When 99% of female characters are sexualized, regardless of whether their character is a sexual one, it's a problem. When characters like Chell and Ripley are remarkable because they are not sexualized and just happen to be female without attention getting called to it, that's a problem.

          • I think one of the problems in discussing this issue is that a person can look at any particular isolated incident and think, "that's not so bad, I don't know what all the fuss is about." And it's true, taken in isolation, many of these incidents can seem fairly minor. The problem is that they do not occur in isolation. LIke all analogies, it's imperfect, but I'd put it this way: I can deal with a couple of insect bites. It's a lot harder to deal with a couple dozen…or even, sometimes, a couple hundred.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "Okay, continuing on. I get frustrated when I read columns on Sexism in video games written by people who characterize the video game industry as if it were completely made up of first person shooters, Action-Adventure games, and beat-em-ups. In these columns, they completely ignore the Adventure genre, which has sad some triple A, high selling games in it like Heavy Rain and well as downplaying RPGs…another big genre."

            Yeah – that annoys me to know end to. The premise always seems to be "Video games are sexist – because I only looked at the most sexist video games and pretended the other didn't exist!".

            It wouldn't be nearly so annoying if they said "this video game and this video game are sexist, and it's a bunch of crap!". That I might agree with. But instead they're always like "here's a couple – and that 'proves' that video games – and those creeper sexist loser who play them are all sexist!".

            I don't like Anita Sarkeesian because she just continues this trend. She didn't deserve death threats and threats to her physical safety, but there was absolutely no doubt that not having quite gotten enough pull from calling mainstream culture's movie and tv shows sexist, that she was (is) going to produce something that says "video games are sexist and bad and so are the people who play them!". She make a tiny sidenote of claiming that it doesn't apply to everything, but it will like watching Rush Limbaugh review feminism – you know he's only really going to talk about the most crazy examples he can find, ignoring any more reasonable examples.

          • My one hesitation about making my post is that someone would "agree with me" by making a post like yours.

            Anita Sarkeesian doesn't say that "video games are sexist and bad and so are the people who play them!" She has never said, "here's a couple – and that 'proves' that video games – and those creeper sexist loser who play them are all sexist!" You are misreading her and projecting. You are creating the straw man here. She is in no way like Rush Limbaugh, who called Sandra Fluch a prostitute and a whore because she thinks that birth control pills should be covered under health insurance.

            Anita Sarkeesian is pointing to the fact that there is lots of sexism in the video game industry, and there is. She is right, and she is also a video gamer–she's not just doing this because she ran out of things to say about film and TV. My comment comes not from a desire to delegitimize her project as you are doing, but because as a Professor who does cultural criticism as my job, I'd like her to do her analysis better. Not because her conclusions are wrong or straw men, but because her very valid overall critique is a bit too easy to dismiss unfairly because her readings are not nuanced enough.

            To put it in my language, she is doing very good undergraduate work, but I want her to do very good graduate work. I want her to go further and deeper because it will only strengthen her arguments and nuance them against people who want to dismiss her out of hand like you are doing. Plus there are even more interesting things to say when you go deeper into the argument.

            You and I are not on the same team here. I am on Anita Sarkeesian's team, I just want her to be better.

          • Meyer N Gaines says:

            I agree that there is some sexism in video games. In other news, bears poop in the woods. But I also had a lot of disagreement with Sarkeesian's points.

            Nevertheless, I still respected her and thought she had some germane criticisms to make. Then I saw her episode on the Glee/GQ controversy. I have never seen a more ignorant, poorly thought out piece of commentary than that. She actually spent part of the episode shaming men who bought the GQ episode and implicitly compared them to pedophiles. Seriously?

            I was disappointed. This was a woman who had a chance to be a leader in feminist cultural criticism, but in my eyes at least, she threw it all away with that episode.

          • Meyer N Gaines says:

            If Sarkeesian were to become "better" and give more nuanced readings, she would have far fewer arguments to make.

            For example,when she writes about the the "Sexy Dead Woman" trope in the Kanye West album, she misses the mark entirely. Is there anyone who watched the scene with Kayne and the sex dolls and thought that could REMOTELY be construed as sexual/attractive? It's supposed to be gruesome and macabre, and it is. But Sarkeesian doesn't care about that, she just needs an excuse to rant about misogyny.

            Sarkeesian is going after video games because they're a good punching bag. I'm hoping against hope that she might try to look beyond the obvious. For example, if you want to criticize DotA for Queen of Pain or LoL for Battle Bunny Riven, go ahead. But honestly, know that you're ignoring the WEALTH of characters that don't exactly fit your need for feminist ramblings.

          • >>>the author said that they were excluding characters where the protagonist could be either male or female like FemShep…because somehow those characters don't count as women.

            Da fuck?! Hell yes, FemShep counts! I wouldn't have devoted two podcasts to the whole Commander Shepard in Mass Effect 3 issue if she didn't.
            http://www.geekingoutabout.com/2011/10/21/geekly-
            http://www.geekingoutabout.com/2012/08/13/geekly-

          • Clementine Danger says:

            I may be misinterpreting things, it really depends on the context in which it was said, but I agree on some level. I think it has to do with the level of commitment developers are willing to display when it comes to female protagonists. Mass Effect is a good example. Yes, FemShep is awesome, but the box art and posters and promotional material for the game make it pretty clear that they think of Shepard as a man. You and me and lots of people think of Shepard as a woman, but nobody ever committed to supporting that idea. Hell, it took a whole lot of FemShep fandom for her to even get a nod on the cover art of Mass Effect 3. And only on the reverse cover. I can't know exactly what the creators were thinking and doing, but I get the strong feeling that FemShep doesn't exist because they wanted a female protagonist, she exists because games with customizable main characters sell. At the end of the day, male is default, female is deviation from the default.

            So if it was meant in that sense, yeah, I actually agree. Many games have customizable protagonists, but what I'm personally looking for is more commitment from the industry to female protagonists who are just that, characters like Chell. Because when you filter out the games where the protagonist could be anyone and start looking for games that made that commitment, the pool of data turns into a very small puddle indeed.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            If memory serves, a FemShep and crew won last ComicCon (or the one before's) costume contest and she's now a consultant on the Mass Effect movie. So yeah, talk about video game character producing real life positive role model. . .

    • White Wolf alternated pronouns. On a few very rare occasions they are switched in the same scenario, just to mess with people (or possibly due to WW's notorius editing issues). They started off with several very influential ladies in their early development, which helped.

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        And in my experience, their LARPS are more female friendly (although single guys do tend to flock around the new girl). I'd say of the WW LARP staff I've known, its been about a 50/50 split.

        • Well, yes. The core books being female friendly means more females in the player base, which in turn leads to more females on staff. Which does not, sadly, preclude the general sort of broad sexism that occurs in any social environment. It just means that if someone says "She only got there because she slept with/is sleeping with/did sexual favors for X," it is more likely that they're talking about someone in a higher position of responsibility. And more likely that someone will respond with "You need to shut your mouth with that sort of bullshit right the hell now." It's still stupidly rare, but it does happen.

    • craniest says:

      I'm sorry this is totally late and off topic but every time someone holds up Elfquest as a paragon of safeness for women I cringe, because clearly that person has never ever ever been cornered by the male half of the creator team at a convention, just sayin. Otherwise known as the worst kept secret in comic fandom.

  17. Loxosceles says:

    I'm going to start, right off the bat here, with a disclaimer.

    I am going to write a comment talking about my perspective. In it, I am going to suggest a sort of reason for the kneejerk rejection of the perspective of other people. I want to make it clear, right here at the start, that I am not offering it as an excuse or a defense. Simply a possible explanation.

    I'm thirty years old and I have been into some geeky stuff for my entire life. It is something that was always available to me, because my parents have (had) some geeky interests. Scientific pursuits were something that was encouraged. Reading; absolutely anything, but there was a library of science fiction and fantasy in my home as a child. Comic books were readily available. Tabletop RPGs were something I got into because it was something my father had stories about (and the FLGS got me onto CCG/TCGs and miniature games). Board and strategy games filled what was supposed to be a linen closet. Movies and television shows about heroes and mysteries and weird powers and exploring the universe were things I watched with my parents some evenings. About the only thing I didn't get into until I was about twelve-thirteen were video games and computers (because of an unfortunate series of incidents involving Kirby's Adventures in Dreamland on the NES that provoked the removal of consoles from the house for a few years when I was younger).

    I was exposed to a great many things and I was allowed to indulge in them when they caught my interest. Geek interests are ingrained and intuitive for me. They make up, to varying degrees, a portion of my self-identity. They have been catalysts that shaped the person I am and they are important to me.

    This is why, as a young adult, I initially had a tough time wrapping my head around, for example, sexism in comic books. It was a form of privilege; I genuinely did not think it was a problem because it was not a problem that I had ever been affected by and I was largely oblivious to it because the problematic stuff simply never registered. *I* wasn't reading comic books for the spine-breaking anatomical impossibilities, I was reading them for the adventure stories and the larger than life heroes and villains (and later, the more subtle and nuanced stuff that has, sometimes, been produced) and for the escapism and for the insertion fantasy of having super-powers. I didn't notice, because it wasn't why I was reading them. If you asked me to describe female characters, I'd start with secret identities, powers and personalities, team affiliations, battles fought and stories that I liked… and then I'd stop.

    So it was a situation where my self-identity was caught up in my appreciation for something. I only saw the good because, for me, that's all there was. It didn't hurt me or marginalize me; it uplifted me and inspired me. So I rejected the idea of it being sexist when I was first exposed to it. The idea that there were negatives on the scale of the sexism that is present, that the thing I liked so much was hurting people, that it was actively harmful was alien. It felt a little bit like an attack, because I had internalized my fandom.

    It took me awhile to get my head around it. I made time and gave it the kind of consideration it warrants, because I'm the kind of person who *wants to be the kind of person* that thinks these things through (which isn't quite as good as genuine empathy but I usually get to the same place in the end). It is easy for me to see and understand, without agreeing with, the reasons that some people get so aggressive about the suggestion that the thing they like or the community that they are a part of has problems. Nobody enjoys being told that they're wrong and some people do not respond to criticism or change in a mature or level headed fashion.

    Now, in some circles, that rejection of external criticism has become so ingrained in the culture that it has supplanted existing attitudes. FPS voice chat attitudes aren't a result of people confused by criticism of FPS games. They're a result of that belligerence being tolerated until it, by its very nature, excluded any other attitude. The only people who can stand that kind of environment are the rare few with extraordinarily thick skinned pragmatism and, far more often, the people who indulge in and enjoy the opportunity to abuse others in an environment where there are no repercussions.

    None of the above represents anything remotely resembling a solution. I'm just suggesting that sometimes the person reading the novel with a dragon and a woman in a chain-mail-bikini on the cover may be innocently oblivious to the way it affects other people. Personal perspectives usually require some external prompting before they are examined.

  18. I'm glad this article acknowledges that it's okay to talk about a problem even though you don't necessarily have all the steps to solve it ready to go in a neat little list. That being said, I think there are some things people can do to try to make things at least a little better.

    - Speak up when you hear something like this going on. The geek community has a really odd attitude toward aggression – lots of geeks can be hyper-aggressive within structured settings like games or internet forums, but tend to get very passive when dealing with interpersonal conflict. It's okay to disagree with people and not let things slide.

    - Consider the way that you speak in these settings. I like to think that the guys described in this article are a small, nasty segment of gamers. However, sometimes otherwise good people can contribute to the problem just by being a little thoughtless. "Fag" isn't a synonym for "opponent" and "raped" isn't shorthand for "lost a match." I'm not saying that these are the worst things in the world, but, well, you know more words than that. Why not use some of the other ones?

    - Listen to women. Abuse doesn't always come in these easy to identify forms. It often starts out with incidents like the ones Clementine described above, which get brushed off by guilds or gaming clans or RPG groups. If a woman is complaining about someone in your group, you don't have to assume she's automatically right, but at least listen to what she has to say and take it seriously. Listen to women in the broader community as well. It shouldn't have to take male writers discussing these problems for gamers to take them seriously. If a woman is pointing out negative aspects of the gaming community, or portrayals of women in games, stop and think about what she has to say and the possibility that some of these things may really be happening, even if you haven't directly experienced them.

  19. Well, I can "understand" the impotent range of the nerd supremacists – they are fighting a battle they are bound to loose. Women, gays, people of colour, decent white guys, they have always been part of the geek community. It's just that back then it wasn't refereed to as the "geek community" – we were just a bunch of people who had somewhat obscure interests. But then came the new millennium, and all of a sudden it's hip to be geek. So all the bottom delvers crawled out from under their rocks, happy that they finally have THE POWER and get to decide who can join their treehouse club. They protect all that is pure and superior at any cost, much like the only ideology nobody with half a brain ever defends. After all, why do you think the Nazis are everybody's favourite villains?

    But, you see, geekdom never belonged only to the nerd supremacists. It may have been AIMED at them, but they weren't the only one with exclusive access to it. And now even more people of all profiles are joining in. That's why it's so important to stand up, discuss and call out such behaviour. We are not the minority. We're a silent majority getting bullied by a vocal minority.

    Racism, sexism, homophobia, extremist religious beliefs – they're all going the way of the dodo. Yes, they will not go quickly or silently, but there is a museum shelf firmly waiting for them down the line. This process is happening in almost all forms of entertainment and art, and geekdom is no exception. This little geek apartheid is an act of desperation, not of supremacy (as was the real apartheid).

    People, please speak up. Say what bothers you. And even if you don't, at least support those who do.

  20. Ok I'm under moderation or somesuch. On the subject of women calling other women out, I just have this to say:

    I'm always on the lookout for internalized misogyny. I had it REALLY bad in my youth, so when I hear women talking about calling out other women for "gaming" some kind of "system", I see a lot of my old bad habits rising to the surface. It's the age-old battle between the tomboys and girly girls. Snowflakes like me vs all those other, probably slutty, women. That ambivalence I felt at being overtly feminine because I was told that it sucked, or was weak, or was manipulative by its very nature. I merely ask my fellow female geeks to examine WHY they want to call out these women. If you must, come at it from a place of understanding and inclusion. When women are raised to believe that their looks are the only thing of real value to them, can we blame them for putting them front and center? When geek culture is so focused on sci-fi/fantasy women as sexual objects, can we really fault female geeks for emulating what they see? I know before I really started examining this stuff, women + sexy just went together, despite my ambivalent feelings about femininity.

    As for everyone else, I really question the centering of guys who are victims of these supposed geek girls who swindle men out of rent money rather than keeping the focus on the treatment of women in gaming. It just hits so uncomfortably close to the Fake Geek Girl Trope and women-as-hypergamous-bitches that we've seen here. And, while I'm willing to give you that a woman like this exists somewhere (because the Earth is big and sociopaths exist), I've yet to see some endemic of manipulative geek girls thrusting out their boobs and taking poor saps for all their worth. I *HAVE* seen an endemic of the type of misogynistic behavior DNL has described here, as well as Fat Ugly or Slutty and countless other sites.

    It's like those guys who come on here and say that because a few women are stuck-up or hypergamous, they are justified in their cutthroat, dehumanizing PUA tactics. To me, nothing a couple women out there might do justifies this sort of treatment at the hands of the geek community. NOTHING.

    • +100000

    • At the risk of getting a little personal (apologies), I think you are projecting just a little here. Yes, slut-shaming is a thing. Yes, women can be catty about their judgements towards other women. But calling out women's behavior is not *always* misogynistic. And, honestly? Yes, I can kind of "blame" (repeating your term here, I wouldn't call it blame per say) women who put their looks/sexuality front and center. Why? Because honey, I've been through it too. I inverted and twisted it, feeling as if my looks, which I would so dearly love to take backstage, are always front-and-center, but I lived through it *too.* And I've had to go soul-searching and re-examine every inch of my behavior to counter this. If I should be forced to do it, why not other women?

      I also think nobody is labeling guys as victims who are swindled out of money by the Big Evil Boob-Havers. I think the issue is much more nuanced and complicated. I also have never met fake geek girls. Heck, I wouldn't even say I've met out-and-out manipulative geek girls, like they are sitting there cackling over a big iron pot of Love Potion No.9.

      What I *have* seen are girls who are genuinely geeks, but feel insecure in expressing this to an adequate fashion, and so hide behind their looks. I have seen geek girls who throw up a lot of mixed signals ("I am going to flirt with you, but oh no I don't want to date you") not out of some swindling desire, but because they wanted the guy's respect and his fellow-nerd attention and had no other way of getting it.

      I don't blame those girls, exactly. It's a complicated and messy maze to get out of. And yes, guys hold some responsibility for it. But I don't want to turn girls into Victims, fragile little flowers who can never be told they should do something different because then somehow I am calling them a slut. I think we *all* own some shares of responsibility for the current confused state of geek relations.

      What I wish above all is that we had a language and an easier way to critique this kind of behavior that got across the point that it's not cool, but that it's understandable. Sending mixed signals to a guy? Not cool. BUT understandable, given that the culture teaches women can only get ahead through their looks and their sexuality. But as long as we insist guys change, while saying women can continue acting exactly the way they are, we're acting rather hypocritical.

      • One is passive, one is active.

        A woman getting attention, being pretty, etc is acting in a passive, receptive role. No matter how aggressively she puts the "goods" out there, she still depends on people's favorable reactions to get what she wants.

        A man calling someone names, threatening, harassing, stalking, is in an active role. His victims don't and can't DO anything but take it or get out. Getting out reinforces misogynistic spaces where such behavior is silently (or overtly) condoned.

        Yes, I do hold someone *actively abusing and hurting others* more "responsible" than I hold someone passively being sexy or displaying charm. It's the freakin rape/abuse argument! No matter what they were wearing, how they were behaving, whatever their passive states of existing were, nothing justifies outright abuse.

        And gender doesn't even matter. Tea_Fish's above example of a handsome, charming man joining a group and getting "favors" is the same. He wouldn't deserve abuse either. He is not "responsible" for favors others CHOOSE to do for him, and neither is a woman in that position.

        • Like I said up-thread, I think you are arguing against something no one is saying. No one, including myself, is claiming that a woman getting attention/manipulating (passively, actively) is anywhere near on the level of a guy abusing/harassing others. Both things are wrong, but one is wrong in a much greater quantity than the other. But we can still discuss both wrong things as wrong.

          And I also don't think a woman DESERVES abuse, even if she is "seeking attention." When I and other posters say "calling out" a woman, I'm pretty darn sure we mean not yelling at her and labeling her a slut/attention whore.

          But I DO think we should be able to tackle the thorny issue of "attention-seeking" in a dialogue-opening way. You claim the woman shouldn't be blamed or held responsible for receiving favors. I say it depends on the situation, that I think there ARE situations where geek women could potentially be sending mixed signals or encountering a destructive mindset, and we should be able to address that in a way that helps everyone.

          No, nothing justifies outright abuse, and I don't see where any of us are advocating that. But there are behaviors that I think we should be able to talk to people about as problematic and damaging.

          • And like I said upthread, it's not that I don't think there's a productive discussion to be had on the topic of attention-seeking behaviors*. It's that we shouldn't be derailed from the topic at hand, which is misogyny, largely by men toward women, in the gaming community. To talk of how attention-seeking women are bringing it upon themselves, and pointing out the few who are assholes, is doing a massive disservice to the treatment of this pressing problem.

            *I happen to think the answer to that is feminism and women helping other women. But I'm an idealist like that.

          • But I don't think anyone IS saying women bring it on themselves. I think the example given was just someone wondering out loud about this situation and what it means. Yes, the harassment being addressed in this article is a pressing issue that deserves to be addressed, but this is also a comment thread where people go off on tangents. We are all mostly in agreement that there is harassment in the gaming community, harassment is bad, women don't deserve it. Attention-seeking as geek women is just a jumping off point, and I think is correctly viewed as a different kettle of fish.

  21. I know this is something being discussed in several ongoing threads right now, but I think I'd like to single it out as a topic of its own:

    What is wrong with women using their looks or charm (sexual or otherwise) for positive gain? We can also upgrade this question to: Is there something wrong with PEOPLE using looks or charm for positive gain?

    This isn't a rhetorical question, and it's definitely one tied up into a lot of different threads of sexism, expectation, and perceived equality or inequality.

    • Well, if nothing else, it creates divisions and jealousies among girls who don't have that option. If a woman is using her looks/charm to get the thing she wants, then I will be jealous/insecure because I am not able to compete with her on that level. it's kind of like…. if you're playing a game with someone, you enjoy it most when the game places you both on equal levels, and the superior talent wins (if you're mature.) Women using looks/charm is like a player coming into a game with cheat codes. It's not as if you started on equal footing, and they beat you by merit/talent/hard work, but because the game was made easier for them. That is a tough thing to swallow.

      It also perpetuates the idea that looks are what matters in women. Hopefully, the world is trying to change so that more tangible things are what decides a person's value (personality, intelligent, good deeds.) If the genetic lottery is what rewards a person, why should anyone try to improve those other areas? If being beautiful gets you what you want, why should you struggle to change the meaning of what is valued? Us ugly people certainly aren't going to exact change…. no body listens to us! They call us jealous and insecure and "petty." Beautiful people ARE the ones who will need to take the lead on changing what characteristics gets rewards.

      Lastly, I just don't think that the ends should justify the means. Just because you have the power, doesn't mean you should or can ethically use it. Sirens had unnaturally beautiful voices that everyone was drawn to… doesn't mean they weren't portrayed negatively when sailors drowned because they couldn't stop singing while a boat sailed by.

      • I had a quick laugh at myself going, "But what about the meeeeenz?" but it is actually a question I had. Do you think good looking or charming men divisions or jealousies among other men, or that they're cheating by looking good or implying that looks are all that are important in a man?

        How would you suggest that a woman "stop" using the power of beauty? Obviously, a lot of women go out of their way to present themselves a beautiful, be it by dressing well or putting on makeup or conditioning their hair or even plastic surgery. Some women are just naturally beautiful and attractive, even.

        I think it's interesting, because the power of looking good is in many ways dependent on other people's responses. An employer chooses to hire a tall and handsome man over a short and average one with more experience. Do we look to the tall and handsome man to change this inequality, or the employer? A guy chooses to lavish attention on the woman with long lovely legs and airbrushed makeup. Is he somehow being unfair to other women for doing so? Is his preference the woman's fault for showing off her legs and putting on makeup?

        • Yes, I do think good looking and charming men create divisions and jealousies among other men. I mean, come on, have you READ a PUA thread? If I hear one more complaint about tall men getting all the girls, my head will explode. I think the distinction is just that men are taught they can get attention/sex by being other things beside charming/good-looking, whereas with women the value is wrapped up entirely in their looks. Men can hang their value on something else; women lack that option.

          Your question about who inspires change is similar to how we stop harassment…. we ask the people whom the harassers listen to to speak of. When feminism was first getting going, they recognized they had to bring male allies on board as well. You need at least some of the majority to be on your side to get traction. These sorts of articles are reaching out to men… maybe not the harassers themselves, but the men who exist and might even benefit in an environment that encourages harassment. We women are asking them to speak out as well, but they don't have to stop being men or stop enjoying video games.

          Likewise, a beautiful person doesn't have to stop being who they are, but they can speak out and advocate for other things to have equal value to looks. A beautiful woman saying "Hey that girl over there is more than just her short, non-lovely legs" will get a lot more traction than if short-legged girl herself spoke up. Beautiful people making themselves allies and standing on the side of valuing more than their physical appearance will go a long way towards changing the attitude that looks are all that matter, or sexuality is the primary way to get what you want.

      • Some people are born tall. Some are born wealthy. Some are born smart. Some are born attractive. People are born with different advantages and disadvantages. I don't think there's an issue with using the advantages we are born with. It's only an issue when you use your powers for evil instead of good.

        Give thanks to who or whatever is appropriate for your good fortune, come to terms with your bad fortune, and move on. Life is hard for everybody.

      • You aren't ugly, or at least not by any rational measure.

        The genetic lottery always rewards the winners. This applies to brains as well as bodies.

        Or did you think your intelligence was entirely divorced from your genes? Because it really isn't.

    • I'm of the opinion that if you got it, you flaunt it however you like and whenever you want, short of actual coercion or lying. And I think it's also interesting, that when a man uses charm or smolder in social interactions, no one calls that "playing the man card." It really highlights acting female ("playing the woman card") as something considered abnormal, where a woman is considered representative of all her gender in a way that men are not.

      On the other hand, I think most if not all of us are geeks here, and that by default puts us in a category commonly regarded as “Other". As "Other", there can be a lot of pressure to speak or behave as a representative for your "group". I'm also part of the cosplay community, and that's something I see quite often. Don't act silly in cosplay, otherwise everyone will think cosplayers are sugar-high Naruto freaks. Don't act draw attention to being a woman in the game store, otherwise people will think that you want special treatment for having breasts. Who's fault is it, the person looking and judging a group, or the person deviating from "normal" standards?

      Do people even really judge, or is this a matter of the community self-policing?

      • I don't agree with your assertion that men aren't also called out for manipulative behavior. Don't guys get slammed (in mature circles) for being players for just this reason? Using their charm and looks to get a woman into bed under false pretenses and then dropping her like a hot rock? Yes, there is still the unpleasant double-standard of some players being worshiped, but I think a sizable amount of people see such behavior as manipulative and unkind. Sure, the girl *did* sleep with him freely, but it still feels scummy.

        I think people do judge. I am also a cosplayer, but there are times (in crowded restaurants during cons) that I want to stand up and go shake a finger at other cosplayers for acting, as you described, as "sugar-high Naruto freaks." Being in a costume is already getting you attention, and now you're screaming and bouncing all over the place with your high-pitched EEEeeeeeEEEs?

        I think some of the self-policing behavior you mention is just trying to have geeks act normal in situations where they are highlighted. I mean, is there ever any reason TO draw attention to yourself in a comic book store?

        And yeah, you can flaunt it. But like they say about free speech, having the right does not free you from the judgement consequences*. If you want to flaunt it however and whenever you want, then don't be surprised at the sometimes-justifiable, sometimes-not, responses. (Like other geek women not being too fond of you, like being accused of seeking attention, etc.)

        *Note: this is ONLY about consequences that fall within acceptable social boundaries. Verbal or physical abuse is NEVER warranted as a consequence. To continue the free speech parallel, someone saying horrible racist things does not mean we can incite a crowd to beat the heck out of him. We can judge and criticize him, but it is not cool to verbally or physically harass him.

        • I don’t feel like calling a man a “player” can really be equated to “playing the woman card”. For starters, whatever you say about mature circles, there are plenty of places where being a player is considered a good thing. Secondly, a man who has lied to a woman to sleep with her isn’t really at all comparable to a woman who has drawn attention to her looks or charm (unless she too, is lying to people to get things). People won’t look to him and say, “He’s using being a man to take advantage of [someone].”

          If we go with the cosplay analogy– oh yeah, I’ve definitely seen both extremes– obnoxiously annoying cosplayers who’ve forgotten any sense of social decorum. And I’ve also seen people spit on cosplayers, curse at cosplayers, smash props, there’s even a local church that likes to boycott my favorite con with signs like “Burn in Hell” while yelling into megaphones about fornification and the exposure of skin (I am not even kidding you, this is actually what they do every year).

          I’m sure we’re agreed– none of the that is acceptable behavior. But as a cosplayer I’ve definitely had plenty of “socially acceptable” consequences– scornful laughter, people asking if we were just starved for attention, the judgey-eye, etc. And even if it’s expected, and the end result of deviating from the norm, it’s also rude and unwarranted and none of their business. I get the same sense from the “judgement consequences” that you mentioned above– that they’re unneeded, unnecessary, and the problem of the person doing the judging, not the person getting judged.

          There will always be egregious cases (cosplayers being blatantly disrespectful, men and women oozing all over someone to try and get something out of them), but more often than not, it seems to me it’s people being happy to throw judgment around and THAT’S what we should be trying to change.

    • I'll start by saying that I know sociopaths and con-artists exist, and that I think they are wrong. But they are a minority population, and to me I'm going to exclude them from this conversation. It's not really useful to equate these malignant outliers with the general population in matters of dating or geek community discussions, unless you think that these communities have a higher-than-average amount of sociopaths and con-artists.

      For the average charismatic layperson, no, I don't think there is anything wrong with using looks and charm for positive gain. No matter how good a charmer you are, you are never going to charm 100% of the people all the time. The power is an illusion. It depends on other people's reactions to you and willingness to give you what you want. They can decide at any time to stop playing your game and cut you right off. Your persuasions can only go so far.

      One of the anti-suffrage arguments back in the day was that women didn't NEED the vote; they could simply charm or persuade their husbands to vote as they wished him to! Why, with their feminine wiles, they could turn him into putty in their hands!

      I hope I don't have to explain how this isn't REAL power at all, and is dependent entirely on the tenuous goodwill of the people WITH the power.

      • I don't think you can compare the two (suffrage to personal manipulation.) The problem with using charms/looks to get your reward is that the person rarely knows they are BEING manipulated or charmed. How can they possibly stop the thing they don't know is occurring?

        And it's still placing less advantaged people in the clench. Women getting the vote didn't take the vote away from anyone else. People using charm/looks DOES take things away from people who don't have that option, which leads to jealousies and inequality.

        I find it ironic that people seem to talk out of both sides of their mouth about beauty; they say it doesn't matter, it's no big deal if you're ugly, and then on the other hand hold up a system that encourages linking beauty with value, and looks with rewards.

        • "People using charm/looks DOES take things away from people who don't have that option, which leads to jealousies and inequality. "

          That, I can't say I understand at all. People who are lookers and people who are charming (not necessary the same thing, one of my most charming friends is a tall pudgy dude with a beard like Bin Laden) have an advantage…. in looks and charm. Which can both be learned, and changed, if you want it bad enough. If you don't, that's always a viable choice, but I personally can't see anything inherently unfair in say, a charming person scoring a job in an interview over someone who doesn't have the same great social skills.

        • I didn't ask for my genetics. And yes, I do try to dress well and exercise and eat well. What would you have me do? Not do those things?

          Of course looks matter. I'm just as susceptible to good-looking people. But I'm not going to assume that every good-looking person is doing it deliberately or blame them for my reaction. Even if they *are* doing it deliberately – well, there are degrees to that, and good looks are by far not the only way to manipulate someone. I've seen plenty of average-looking people cultivate great charisma and charm and get their way doing that – are they also wrong to take simple advantage of their personalities? I don't think attempting to reduce all of us to some meritocratic lowest common denominator is useful or fair.

    • PS: This thread is also the reason why, when in the past people tell me looks don't matter and I should stop focusing on being ugly, I just laugh and laugh.

      • Charm isn't only dependent on your boob size or looks. Even I've charmed people before. It's a social skill, and can be learned to a degree. It's about making people feel good and special.

        • I learned how to play the piano in high school. However, I have very small hands-I will never be able to stretch a full octave, no matter how hard I work or how diligently I learn my pieces. Yes, charm can be learned, but ONLY to a degree, and ONLY if you have a good foundation to build it on.

          Claiming it can be taught still obscures the fact that it is a *difficult* skill to learn for a lot of geeky people, and the rewards given for charm far out-weight its actual value for people who have it naturally.

          • Some people come by music talent fairly naturally, and can get better at piano with an hour of practice a day than most people can with ten. Do you also resent them for being rewarded with lucrative musical careers?

          • Kind of, yes! It's one of the greatest things I struggle with; that people are rewarded in our society based not on hard work necessarily, but talent (and then maybe hard work.) So for those of us who didn't happen to be born with talented, we're just screwed out of ever having something lucrative or inspiring or rewarding.

            That we are controlled so entirely by our genetics (intelligence, looks, even personality according to some studies.) It makes me feel very trapped and resentful.

            And again, people don't HAVE to stop having their lucrative careers based on innate natural talent, but then don't be surprised if I kinda resent and dislike ya a little.

          • I'm confused then. Do you really think that we should give people jobs based on how hard they've tried rather than how skilled they are? How would it make sense to put someone in an orchestra based on how many hours they've practiced rather than on how well they can play the music?

            Like I said below, I understand being envious, and even resenting one's lot in life. But I don't understand resenting someone for making use of what they have, if they're doing so in an honest and constructive way. That's on par with a person who's born blind feeling resentful that everyone else doesn't go around with their eyes closed, to make things equal for them.

            I think there are very few people who are successful without putting in some hard work. Talent rarely gets you very far on its own–it's something that has to be cultivated. (Even beauty is only sustained if you take steps to watch your diet, work out, practice make-up and styling techniques, etc.) It sucks that sometimes we want to be able to achieve something that we can't. But I'm not sure how you envision this problem being solved? How could society become more "fair", other than by genetically engineering everyone to have exactly the same capabilities (which is impossible anyway)?

          • I don't envision the problem being solved. I have no answers for it; I just know it sucks.

            I think I can begrudingly understand talent leading to lucrativeness, but I have a damn hard time with beauty, because beauty actually doesn't DO anything except be beautiful. Beautiful people get treated better, get higher salaries, better job offers, are seen as kinder and more intelligent… just for being pretty. At least being smart or musical or athletic can be applied to something; how does being beautiful make you better at entering data into spreadsheets? Unless it's a pretty-person job, beauty doesn't really add any value, and yet in all areas people treat it as very valuable.

            And beauty isn't always that hard to maintain; at least, MOST of us are doing that kind of work (wearing make-up, watching our diets, working out) without maintaining or even coming close to a beauty level. A lot of it is genetic and just God-given. (Make up isn't going to change the shape of your nose, exercise and diet isn't going to change your apple body into an hourglass.)

            So you have the double-whammy of placing extreme importance on something you really can't control all that much. To then use that to get ahead of me, when I have no way to catch up, just really grates.

          • Beauty is nice to look at. I know it doesn't seem like much, but humans are visual creatures and we like looking at nice things. It makes us feel good. So beauty does do something. (also I believe it is a signifier of health, which is useful).

          • Depending on the standard of beauty, I'm not sure it would be wise to call it a signifier of health.

          • So feeling animosity towards someone because they were born a certain way through no fault/merit of their own? How can that EVER lead to anything good?

            And how do we fix it? We let people who are not particularly good at something do it because they've invested more time than somebody who is skilled?

            I think this mindset is very harmful and, ultimately, unnecessary. There is ALWAYS someone better than you. At anything. Our goals should revolve around challenging ourselves, not trying to outdo others.

            This guy already tackled this issue much better then I can: http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-harsh-truths-that-w

          • And this is exactly why I called on fellow female geeks to pause and ask WHY it's so important to call out other women. If, underneath all that "concern", you are merely jealous, resentful, and begrudging them things they can't help, then, you are NOT HELPING.

            I'd rather stand WITH other women than against them. Yes, even women prettier/more charming/smarter than me! Jeez Louise.

          • Maybe it's important to call out other women because *using something to manipulate and gain advantage over other people in a social setting still freaking sucks.*

            You're sitting here complaining how you want geek women to stand together, and yet advocating that it's perfectly okay for women to use their looks to gain favors and attention over other women. How the hell is that supposed to encourage cohesion, if I'm constantly being undermined by the hot girl next to me?

            Maybe I'M just freaking sick of putting hours and hours and hours into sewing a costume, and then seeing all of the attention go to the chick with the big boobs who threw her costume together last minute, but won the contest because she's gorgeous. And when I express my negative feelings about how her work was not equal to mine, she claims I'm just jealous because she just using what God gave her.

            And you're DEFENDING that?

          • Nope. Not doing it. You're taking my words and twisting them around to fit your own insecurities. It'll just be a merry-go-round of hell and I'm not doing it. I'll simply state what I stated above:

            I never said that isn't shitty behavior. It just isn't AS BAD AS misogyny directed at women in gaming communities.

          • AND WE ALL FREAKING AGREED WITH YOU.

          • And how many gorgeous big-boobed chicks also put hours and hours and hours into sewing a costume? Plenty.

            I'm not happy with costume contests (or general geek competitions) that are won for incredibly shallow reasons – yes, I've also seen the contests won because of sex appeal, and that's not right. (I've also seen contests won because the winner was the only female (and all the judges were female) and I've seen contests won because the winner was friends with the judge, and so on.)

            And I do hate it when I see male geeks think with their dicks. But you know what? I focus my anger on the people who are doing the rewarding, not on the beautiful person who is just existing in the paradigm. And as a good-looking person who DOES put plenty of effort into my cosplaying and geeking, I resent that jealous folks minimize my efforts because of their insecurities.

          • " I focus my anger on the people who are doing the rewarding, not on the beautiful person who is just existing in the paradigm."

            Hence why I keep trying to redirect everyone to the article's original point. The misogyny. The horrible…abuse. And such. Yeah.

            Ah, fuck it. It's more fun to slag off on mean, hot chicks, amirite? -_-

          • Except in my example, I am not minimizing the work put in. If a good-looking person put a lot of work into their costume, then they AREN'T using their looks to get ahead. That's the entire point of the thread; why it's bad to use your looks to get ahead.

            If you are putting in work and effort, then you are not depending on your looks, thus you are not who I am referring to. If you win just because the judges think you're hot, well, that still sucks, but that WOULD be on them, not you.

            I am speaking exclusively on people who use looks to get ahead. Since we place SO much value on looks in this society, it is an inherently difficult thing to overcome even when the person is just passive. But when the person is actively using that huge advantage, the rest of us can't keep up…. thus the resentment.

          • Exactly! Just because a girl is pretty, does not mean she didn't work just as hard on that costume. You don't know her, you didn't see her working on her costume or doing research to make it accurate.

          • Except the example you keep using is not illustrative of the point. If a girl worked on the costume and researched it, *she is not using her looks to get ahead.* The question was why it's wrong FOR people to use their looks to get ahead.

            My example was illustrated a girl who is CLEARLY using her looks to get ahead, and why that strikes me as a bad thing. And just like we make all sorts of judgments about people's behavior on a case-by-case basis ("This is obnoxious" "This is annoying"), we can make a judgment about whether a girl just got passively rewarded (other people's behavior) or used it to her advantage (her behavior.)

          • And instead of criticizing the girl, how about you use that effort to criticize the judges. She is just a cog in the system, whereas they are the ones who made that decision

          • Because in my example, she isn't just a cog. She is an active participant.

            I think it sets a VERY bad precedent to turn women into objects, to take away agency and free will. If she is actively using her looks to get ahead, then she is active member of the system, not some victimized cog. Yes, we should criticize the culture…. but we should also feel free to criticize those who encourage and support the culture, and that occasionally includes women.

            Should she really be excused of her behavior just because she's a woman?

          • Ok. So what are her crimes? Entering a costume contest with a shitty costume while also being hot? If she was not hot and had a shitty costume, would it be a crime? She won, because she is hot, but is she the one who decided the winner?

          • Using her looks to get ahead. Doing little to no work, but accepting/expecting a reward. That's it. And I don't think "crime" is an appropriate word.

          • So, she's not allowed to enter the contest with a shitty costume, because she is hot? Is she supposed to get up there and say: "I put minimal work into this, so I think this prestigious cosplay reward should go to someone else" ?

            Because that's kinda crap.

          • Fine, whatever. You people win; I'm an awful monster who hates all beautiful people, and they deserve all the prizes ever.

          • No one is saying she deserved this prize. I am just trying to challenge your logic here, because it seems faulty to me.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Welcome to the reality of the situation.

            Removing the ability of anyone to criticize what a woman is wearing under theory of stopping slut shaming does not benefit "women" as a group – it mostly benefits the **most attractive** women in the group who can now leverage their looks/youth even more, at the expense of the less attractive / older women.

            The more that it's fine to show skin, the more your attractiveness is based on good/lucky genetics and maybe how much you exercise. Since even women judge other women based on how sexy they look – it just becomes more and more about youth and genetics, and far less about developed traits like personality.

            Most amusingly – if you take this to the very extreme where no one can say anything negative at all about women's sexual choices, we end up back in the situation feminists so deeply hated originally. There will be a certain number of women who have no problem having sex with a man in order to get a job. There will be female bosses for whom the same is true with their male employees. You can choose not to have sex with someone – but since you'll find it difficult to get a job without it, it's not much of a choice really.

            Clearly, that's the extreme example – but it is the only realistic conclusion to the idea that no one can *ever* criticize anyone else's choice of clothing or sexual choices at all.

          • And no mention of men allowing this kind of behaviour to flourish? Or men who use their charms to get things as well? Ooooooh, I think we have prejudice over here!

            "The more that it's fine to show skin…" Yup, because forcing women to be covered head to toe has really made them Taliban respect women for their personalities. No kind of restriction is going to make people become decent beings until they decide to become that themselves.

            You're mixing up cause and consequence. If nobody was asking, nobody would be answering. If people truly judged others by merits required for a certain task (and that could also be looks, if you're e.g. a model), there'd be nobody (successfully) promoting their looks when a different skillset is required. But then people couldn't remain perpetually frustrated by blindly barking up the wrong tree and refusing to change.

          • Ok, I'm going to give the horrible honest answer and hate myself later.

            Cosplay contest? You mean nerd beauty pageant? A contest in visual presentation judged by people notorious for being unable to wrap their heads around the existence girl geeks? I hate to break it to you, but you're really setting yourself up for disappointment here. These people came to pick pretties, not to marvel at craftsmanship (as coy as they might be about it), and boob girl just has what they were looking for. Con goers are not designers or tailors to even have a grasp on what is needed to craft a good costume. Is it unfair that a cosplay contest is more about modeling than sewing? Probably. Is it it going to change overnight? Probably not. Is clinging to this like mad going to make you a bitter person who people will eventually start to shun? Probably yes.

            So first of all, cosplay because YOU like it. Not because you're trying to impress others. Need approval from others? Show your work to other costume makers. To clothes designers. Hell, sell them! Desperate to impress others? Then surround yourself with people who A) know how hard it is to make a costume, or B) people who can't make one on their own and are willing to pay for it. You think Vivian Weestwood would have won "next top model" if she paraded in one of here outfits in front of Tyra Banks? Viv might be a brilliant designer, but Tyra's looking for a model. That's also why Tyra is out there parading all day while Viv stays at home and takes money baths with her boytoy.

            Seriously love, you're barking up the wrong tree here. People are throwing a nailing party and you brought a wrench instead of a hammer. Besides, is it really important what some hormonal teenagers think about good costume design? Most of them don't think about anything much anyway. Well, maybe boobs.

            Unless you're trying to convince every living person how amazing you are. And you have what they want, even if you don't since 5 people have 6 different opinions. Then good luck. Also, if you figure out how to do this, please share.

          • "Viv might be a brilliant designer, but Tyra's looking for a model. That's also why Tyra is out there parading all day while Viv stays at home and takes money baths with her boytoy."
            :D :D :D

            I think I love you!

          • But only as a friend? D:
            ;)

          • But of course, dahling.

          • It sounds like you're doing it for the wrong reasons. Don't judge the success of your costume based on how much attention it gets.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            Hi Marty. I am a good-looking woman. I was a model for a couple of years, so, you know, don't just take my word for it. I'm pretty nice, once you get to know me. It takes a while, because I'm really nervous and shy, although I hide that most of the time. I like reading and writing, and RPGs, and my dog is the most important person in the world to me. I don't work out or eat healthy, not really, but I do my best most of the time. Sometimes people who have never really talked to me treat me badly because they assume I am vapid and stuck up. I sometimes cry when that happens.

            I'm sorry for undermining you by existing. Please tell me what I can do to fix this for you.

          • Except you're NOT undermining me for existing. Apparently I am awful at communication, but I've been trying to state that beautiful people who are just who they are may cause jealousy internally, but I try to keep a tight leash on how I treat them. I mentioned there's that hot girl sexually harassing my coworkers? Yeah, I helped *hire* her despite a bad interview because I was so worried I was judging her unfairly because of her looks.

            What DOES bother me is a beautiful person who uses their beauty to get ahead…. just like I'd be bothered if someone used nepotism to get a job. If that girl had walked into the interview and done badly, but still acted like we should give it to her because she's hot, *that's* what gets under my skin.

            Correct me if I'm wrong, but you don't walk around all day expecting better treatment because of your looks, right? Yes, you might still get it, but you aren't purposefully seeking it or expecting it. If that is so, then I will try very hard (may not succeed, I am still human and flawed) to judge you on your deeds, words, and personality traits.

            I wish I could make this clearer, since either people aren't getting what I'm saying, or are unfairly twisting my words.

          • Clementine Danger says:

            That's fair enough. It's just when you said in the context of that piano thing, yeah, I resent them a little bit, that really hurt. I mean, I meet people who have things I want for myself all the time, but I don't feel any hostility towards them. More of a "oh, hey, good for you, keep on being awesome" kind of thing. Not resentment. Just a kind of sadness about my own bad life decisions. It's different.

          • I'm not saying it's awesome I feel resentment or hostility. I'm also not trying to say I somehow have a right to act out any kind of resentment or anger. Feelings are feelings, but I do have control over my behavior. Like I said, I will feel these negative emotions, but I try very hard not to let them color my perspective of a person.

            If you don't have those sorts of negative feelings, that's great, but I am just flawed in that way. I don't think we should shame people for their feelings… feelings are natural and irrational. I think it is appropriate to ask people recognize their feelings might not be correct and treat people outwardly with respect and kindness, but to ask someone to not have those feelings in the first place is setting someone up for failure.

            The *only* time I think some amount of vexation/frustration/snark/what have you is warranted is when someone is actively using their privilege to get ahead of someone else (thus, the question of the thread asking why it's a bad thing.) Just like I think we should speak out against all forms of entitlement (getting a job just because you're male, getting a job just because your uncle is the boss, getting the job just because you're white), I think using beauty to get ahead is an entitlement.

            I'm sorry it hurt you that I have these negative associative emotions. The good news is, unless you're a mind reader, you will hopefully never know I *have* those feelings, because we will treat each other as equals deserving of consideration.

          • Since I'm the one who posted the original question which NOMMED the comments (I'm so sorry, Doc!) I'll let you know why I responded the way I did.

            I think that as a member of the female geek community who's in her mid-thirties, there are many things that girls who are growing into young women can learn from their elders. You pass your knowledge and your experiences on, so that the terrible things that happened to you or friends of yours don't happen to them, or they can recognize them when it happens and can know how to stop or prevent it from happening again.

            As someone who used to be "pretty," knew it, and sometimes used it in the same way the woman I met at the gaming store did (see other comments from me for elaboration on the conversation in question), I know I don't want to see someone making the same mistakes I did. If I can prevent it, I will. If I can make it easier for everyone in our community—and yes, this includes the guys as well; why else do you think I did the DNL podcast about convention hookups?—I will.

            So that's my response and why I said or didn't say the things I said or didn't say.

          • I'm just curious, but what do you mean by "mistakes"? What kind of mistakes do you feel like you made and what do you want to prevent people from repeating in the future?

          • I think this is a great thing you want to do. This is my motivation as well. I strive to learn from my days of self-hatred and the mistakes of Snowflake Syndrome. I try to (gently) counter these attitudes when I run up against them.

            I'd love to hear more of your thoughts about being a former "pretty" nerd girl and what you've learned.

    • I suspect there are two different definitions of "using their looks or charm" being used in this discussion, and that the people who appear to disagree don't actually disagree that much.

      Going out looking your best, being friendly or generally flirty with people, accepting them being friendly in return = totally okay.

      Going out and *lying* to people about your intentions (e.g., saying you want to hang out with them again later when you know you have no intention of it, giving your phone number and asking people to call when you know for sure you don't want to continue a conversation, etc.) in order to get them to offer more to you in return = not okay. Flirting so aggressively it's making people uncomfortable (which is clear from them saying so or other signs like them moving away from you) = not okay. Making fun of or criticizing the people who were friendly or generous with you because of your looks/charm after you accepted their generosity = also not okay.

      As to using one's looks perpetuating the idea that looks are what matters in women, I don't think that's a really fair accusation to make. It's like saying that women shouldn't be enthusiastic about having children because that perpetuates the idea that women's main role is to be mothers. Part of the point of feminism is *choice*–to give women the options to make their way in the world in many different ways. Choosing to live one's life in a more traditional way has to be seen as *just* as valid as living in a less traditional way (as long as that more traditional way doesn't include putting down or fighting against less traditional people), or we've just reversed the standards instead of actually making progress.

      As long as a woman isn't hurting or deceiving anyone, I don't think there's anything wrong with her accepting something that's offered to her because someone appreciates the way she looks. It happens to guys who are good-looking too. And I don't see how it's any different than someone being born with natural athletic talent, or artistic talent, or whathaveyou. Usually people who look very attractive are putting some work into it. No, not everyone can achieve that, but not everyone can become a great athlete/artist/whatever either, no matter how hard they try. Such is life. I suck at most video games because I was born with crappy fine motor control, but I don't resent people who don't have that disadvantage.

      • I'd agree with your synopsis of what is okay and what is not okay for the most part.

        And if people want to use their looks to their advantage, well, fine, okay, but then they can't turn around and get angry at people who criticism them. If we're accepting the premise that it is a-okay to get stuff and climb the ladder of Geek by just being gorgeous, then we should also accept that other people can be upset and envious about it without labeling them as pathetic/petty/insecure/jealous. If it's natural to have a leg up in life, then it is also natural to be sad that you don't have that leg up. It isn't fair to accept one but criticize the other.

        Again, that doesn't mean women deserve abuse or harassment for it. But having other girls look at her side-eyed and be a little pouty when she receives that fifth free deck of Magic might just be the price of having naturally gorgeous shiny hair. Each action has a reaction. I just feel very bothered by the idea that in order to be feminism, we the Jealous Ugly girls have to just sit back and never BE a little envious/point out the double standard, but pretty girls can continue enjoying the attention and free stuff.

        Yes, such is life, life is unfair, etc. But it stills sucks to be on the short end of the genetic lottery, and then not even get to TALK about it. If I'm destroying feminism for being jealous of the hot girls, then how are the hot girls also not destroying feminism by never giving a thought about how their privilege?

        Ugh, I dunno, now I'm just starting to get really bitter and angry about this topic, because it's reminding me very much of sitting at lunch every day listening to the girls around me go on and ON about how all these guys want them, and how it's SOOOO annoying.

        Fine. Use your looks to get ahead. Just don't be surprised if I'm ten feet behind you making a rude gesture in response.

        • See, I don't think there's anything wrong with feeling jealous, or talking about feeling jealous. I do think there's something wrong with acting out that jealousy by making rude gestures or snarky remarks at or about people. I wouldn't think it was okay for someone who could get by with their looks to make snarky remarks about people who were less attractive, so why would I think the reverse is okay either?

          Someone who happens to get something because of their looks isn't using their looks *at* you. If they're talking about it to you and it bothers you, you can totally tell them the subject bothers you, or point out their privilege (in a respectful way) or whatever. And you can totally vent about how it bothers you to see people getting something you can't to others. The point where it becomes problematic for me is when you say or imply the person is wrong or bad to do it.

          Another example: I know writers who seem to naturally be able to come up with really commercial ideas and write in really commercial ways, so they sell books easily and make lots of money doing it, while I struggle because my writing tends to be a lot less commercial, no matter how I try. Do I feel envious of people who seem to have it easy? Sure! Do I talk about that with other writers sometimes? Yep! Do I sometimes even criticize the way our culture puts more value on certain styles of stories? Indeed I do. But I don't bash those authors behind their backs, I don't call them hacks, I don't imply that they didn't earn what they got just because they happen to have something more widely appealing to offer than I do, or claim that they should be forced to write less commercial stuff because I personally feel what they're writing is too superficial. You can express your feelings and talk about the dynamics at work without being, well, mean about it or trying to tell other people how they should live their own lives.

          • Fine, but then let's stop the whole "Looks aren't important" "Women don't use their looks to get ahead" "Looks don't equal value" lies.

            If we're sitting here claiming that it's a-okay for people to use their looks to get ahead, then we are hypocrites for saying guys are wrong when they claim women are using their looks to get attention. ("Oh, she's just wearing that really revealing cosplay outfit because she loves the character!" Possibly true. ALSO possible she's using it for attention. We need to then give equal credence to both.)

            If we're going to say that it's okay to reward people who just happened to throw a good roll on genetics, then we need to acknowledge that looks do indeed matter. If we agree that people can use their looks to get ahead/get rewarded, then we need to also accept that looks have substantial value.

            And if we accept all that, then we need to stop telling ugly people that this world isn't incredibly difficult and unfair for them.

            I am just sick of the talking-out-both-sides lies. If we're going to reward people for their looks, and accept people using those tools to get ahead, then we also have to accept criticism and negative feelings associated with them.

            A person using their looks may not be doing it *at* you, but they are using a social environment that places them above you. If I'm going up against a pretty person with equal qualifications, you can bet I am going to lose that job, and THAT is a tough thing to accept while hearing a pretty person say it's all right for them to use their looks to get ahead. That IS using their looks *at* me.

            As far as being rude or making snarky remarks, I have always wondered…. a pretty person gets all of these attentions and advantages I don't. So what if I'm snarky or rude? Does a homeless person being snarky or rude at a billionaire really effect the rich guy? If we're going to say it's all right for a beautiful person to use their looks to get ahead, which WILL occasionally railroad run-over someone else, why are we also demanding the lesser-privledged person be the exemplar of behavior? If beautiful people can use their looks to get ahead, why can't I use my snarkiness to try to close the gap?

          • I was going to reply to this, but honestly, I don't know where to start. You can't pick a person up if they're holding onto the ground like their life depends upon it. So I'm just going to leave you there and sincerely wish you good luck.

            But! Here is a photo of Nick Vujcic and his baby boy. It cheered me up today. http://www.jutarnji.hr/multimedia/archive/00555/v

          • I will clarify this, because I didn't explain it well.

            I see it as a difference between active and passive beauty. Passive beauty… just existing, doing your every day thing… will make me privately jealous, but I will treat that person as just another human being who has something I am envious of. (In this case, they aren't being beautiful *at* me.) Thus, no snarkiness or rudeness.

            But the phrase "using beauty to get ahead" is active. It IS doing something *at* me. It is directly placing me in competition; thus the "ahead" part. It is now seeking to take from me. The example of the job going to the pretty person is a good example of this.

            In the case of competition, I see it as all is fair. If someone is actively seeking to get ahead of me, or is behaving in a way that would put me as a disadvantage, then I fail to see how I also shouldn't use the tools in my arsenal to get ahead. If they can use beauty, why can't I use snarkiness?

            I just do not see how you can argue that people should be allowed to use this thing to their advantage, but then suffer no consequences or repercussions from it. If someone is seeking to get "ahead," why is it shocking people from "behind" won't also act in a way that may not be fair?

          • So you want people to "suffer consequences" for being good-looking and charming. You say they are indeed being that way AT you.

            …Okay.

            Yes. yes, you make some kind of distinction between passive and active. But how do you decide *what that even is*? Like, do you look at someone and think "He's a little TOO glib! He must be *actively USING his charm*!" or "Gasp! She giggled a bit too loudly and is definitely shoving her chest out ON PURPOSE! I HATE HER."

            I just don't understand how this is anything except your own insecurities and making other people suffer for them.

          • Except how the hell are they suffering for them?? "Oh no, an ugly person is thinking mean thoughts about me! The horror!"

            You make that distinction on a case by case basis and by your gut and by your boundaries. It's really not all that different than when people are doing any other thing you see as bad; being rude, being annoying, being obnoxious. There's a line where such behavior isn't harming anyone but does get under your skin, and then past that line is where it is harming or painful for people. We draw these lines in the sand all the darn time; why do women and certain behaviors deserve to be excused?

            I do NOT see it as suffering consequences; I have said over and over and over that I don't think women, even ones I am jealous of and WOULD label as deliberately manipulative or attention-seeking, deserve abuse or verbal harassment.

            I do think, though, we should be able to TALK to them and express our feelings, just like we would if someone was being too loud or overly obnoxious or *any other trait.* We talk to them in a respectful and communicative way. If you see that as somehow "suffering consequences," then we're going to debate this forever.

            I do not see why it is so awful that if a person is USING something to gain advantage, then why I don't get to USE something back. If they are actively setting themselves in competition with me, why do they get to do so without consequence or retaliation?

          • If someone is being obnoxious or lying or harassing someone, they should be called out for it. This goes regardless of whether the person is attractive or not or using their looks or not. But being attractive or flaunting your good looks is not being obnoxious or harassing someone.

            The way you, Marty, seem to have beauty tied up into sentiments of jealousy and resentment, talking about judgment or consequences for beauty, makes it sound infinitely more personal, like someone else being beautiful is an AFFRONT upon you, personally impacting your life. Your own feelings of jealousy or resentment or wanting to retaliate are your own, and not the responsibility of anyone else. The way you tie them to people facing social consequences and retaliation, I think, is very uncomfortable, like you're acting out a personal vendetta instead of actually calling people out for unacceptable behavior. Even if you say you are not (and I believe you), it's not a comfortable feeling.

            "Who cares?" you said. Words have meaning. Sentiments spur actions. Some random passerby jeered at me in cosplay, and I don't remember his face, but I remember his laughter and his derision, and that everyone looked away because haha, we're just freaks in costume. Someone makes an offhand comment, half jealous and half joking, about how Asians naturally ace tests without even trying. I wonder if that's why people laugh like I'm joking when I tell them I'm exhausted from a five day stretch of studying. People think things, and then they do things. That's how it works.

          • I know it's not comfortable. It's not comfortable in my head. It's difficult to untangle the whole mess of it. There is a personal vendetta, but there's also a sense of not allowing unacceptable behavior. It's a big jumbled mess, and it's hard to communicate. I'm doing the best I can, but it's hard to explain. It's also why we WISH we had more open dialogue about it, to untangle these sorts of thorny issues amongst ourselves.

            It's like…. geek guys excuse their behavior towards geek women by saying women are manipulative, and fake. I KNOW that's wrong, but I also know there is a seed of truth to the accusations because there are women who DO use their sexuality and looks to manipulate. So standing up to the guys who say these sorts of things makes me uncomfortable, because they do kind of, sort of have a point…. So maybe if we women policied ourselves more strongly, we could make a stronger case against the men who make these sorts of claims.

            And then I resent the idea that I'm trying to argue against what these guys are saying, while women are actually fighting FOR the right to be manipulative and use their looks to their advantage. It makes me feel like I'm an enabler of the exact behavior that guys use to excuse THEIR bad behavior.

            That overlays my own complicated relationship with beauty in this society, and it gets really messy, really fast.

          • I think that there is a bit of a twofold problem here. First! Generalization and stereotypes are nobody's friend. It doesn't make any more sense to say that women are all manipulative and fake than it is to say that all Asians are good at math or that all Latinos are gangbangers or that people with red hair at all super angry. I know for a fact that there are mathy Asians and angry gingers out there (lots, even), but it does not change the fact that the basic claim is Wrong– no, not everyone in [GROUP] is like [STEREOTYPE]

            Second! You (general you) aren't responsible for disproving the stereotype. Nobody is. You aren't responsible for policing anyone unless that person is behaving shittily and hurting others (emotionally, psychologically, physically, what have you). And that's because they're hurting people, not because they fall into whatever stereotype that follows.

            There is every single kind of person in the world. If you say that all women are fake and manipulative, you can find fake and manipulative women. If you say that all men secretly want to be buffed up luchadores, you can find a man who really wants to be a luchadore. If you say that people are secretly waffle irons, I'm sure you'll be able to find someone who, in their heart of hearts, believes they are a waffle iron. But that doesn't make it true, and neither does that mean you are responsible for them or that they are representative of you.

          • Well, what if she's pretty AND snarky? What if she outsnarks you!? Will you then accept her as someone truly deserving of all the good things life has to offer?

            When I was younger I would get people be mean to me just because I looked nice (Which, in their opinion, meant I was using looks to get ahead in life. Truth is, I was also waaay smarter then them.) And when they got a snarky comeback from me, they started wailing about how life is unfair. You don't say. You want life to be more fair, try treating others fairly then.

          • I don't know what you people want from me, except to curl up in my corner and let everyone treat me however the heck they want. The discussion started because the question was "They are using their looks TO GET AHEAD."

            If someone is purposefully using their looks to get ahead, and it IS their looks, apparently us uggos are just supposed to throw up our hands and say "Oh well, there goes the job promotion."

            Why exactly should I have sympathy for pretty people who have all of these advantages I will never have just handed to them, and NOW are actively using to get ahead of me? Why should I be happy or complacent that life isn't fair? How do you just lay down and die, accepting that the hand dealt to you by genetic chance is something you'll never be able to overcome?

            I'll have sympathy for people with privilege and advantages when they show even the *slightest* inclination towards caring about the people below them.

          • How about accepting that not everything is about looks? Or that sometimes it's not your looks, it's just that you're not talented/smart/experienced enough? And that somebody running a software company isn't looking for a model, but somebody who fucking knows how to code, because that generates profit. Not everybody is Tyra Banks.

            Why show sympathy to people who have advantages and use them? Well, why show sympathy to a bunch of white people discussing how life is unfair from their sofas while some black child in Africa is rummaging through our old laptops in order to find copper?

            Look, you can't please everybody. You want to be accepted, find people who want what you have to give. You want to be happy, let go of shallow and unfair people and find somebody worth your time. And for god sakes, cheer up. You wanna know why House is a doctor? Because a matter of life or death is the only time we're ready to put up with snarky bitter crusaders.

            And "How do you just lay down and die, accepting that the hand dealt to you by genetic chance is something you'll never be able to overcome? ". Oh come on, people get dealt Crone disease by genetics and consider themselves more fortunate than you. Also, if you're stuck with a chronic case of the uglies, it's not showing up on your FB picture.

            Look, I wish you happiness because I think you are capable of having it. If you're actually going to pursue it, well, that's up to you.

          • The question was asked "What's wrong with using your looks to get ahead," and I attempted to answer it. Sorry you all hated my opinion, and if I somehow inadvertently made your lives awful and insulted you all.

          • Well that's the thing: you didn't make our lives awful, you made yours.

            I'm arguing with you because I really want you to put this kind of thinking behind you. It's not easy, but your only alternative is perpetual misery.

            And I don't know how old you are, but most of us have been there. Thinking everybody is a sexist, or a racist, or a homophobe, or whatnot. Being judged unfairly is so overwhelming we tend to go forget a lot of people are not like that. And you can't change the world believing people are inherently prejudiced and unable to change. If you believe that, there really is nothing else to do but "lie down and die". Or, as we also like to call it, "give up".

            70% of the men I've meet would rather have their teeth pulled out than give up on their romanticized fantasy version of patriarchy. But then I think of the other 30% of men who think for themselves and are not afraid to face reality, and I feel obliged to shoot down anybody crying that all men are pigs. People will fight tooth and nail to be miserable, because it's easier then to admit they might be wrong.

            And you got Paul Rivers to agree with you. If that doesn't set off any alarms, nothing will. Frustration only attracts the frustrated.

            I'm sorry we probably ruined your day, that wasn't my intention at all, but that's still nothing compared to what life will put you through you if you give up.

          • "And you got Paul Rivers to agree with you. If that doesn't set off any alarms, nothing will."

            Because…. he could never have a valid opinion on any subject? Is that really a useful mindset?

          • Yeah guys, Marty does have a point here. It doesn't necessarily mean she's right about anything else she might have said (and with how hard it has been to follow these threads even after multiple readings, I'm not gonna claim anything regarding that), but even the greatest idiot can sometimes have moments of genius (and even the greatest genius can sometimes have moments of idiot).

          • Agreed. I think it was just an article or two ago that he and I agreed on something, though we disagree far, far more often than not.

          • *Chron's disease
            damn you, auto-correct, I am no match for your talents!

          • I feel like you're overestimating the power of looks. It's true that they can be an advantage in terms of attention-getting, a bonus in job-hunting and so forth, and I hear you that it can be super-frustrating to see that. But it's not like it's the only bonus a person can have; it doesn't cancel out other things.

            I've been hired/chosen for stuff/won peoples' opinions over women prettier than me, I've been hired etc over women prettier and taller than me (studies generally show that height is an advantage in job-hunting and generally being taken seriously). They bring good looks to the table, and people unconsciously judge them better than me because of it, okay; maybe I bring a sense of humour that hits them the right way, or an interesting accent that makes me seem more cultured, or who knows what else. My not-that-impressive appearance is not the only thing about me, and most people are capable of recognizing that.

            Beauty is something, and I sympathize with your frustration and jealousy, but it isn't everything.

          • How is snarkiness a way to get ahead? How exactly do you get ahead, in a practical sense, by being snarky? I don't see a manager going "Well, we have candidate A and B, but A was really snarky and rude so let's pick that one!"

          • Actually, there are fields where women actually are at a disadvantage for being good looking (such as engineering, programming, tech fields), because it is assumed they are less smart.

          • Less smart, but still promoted.

            Okay, the original question was "Should people use their good looks to get ahead?" I think doing so is destructive and awful, but apparently I am the only one. Everybody else thinks it's a-okay, and how dare I ever have any negative feelings. There, everybody happy?

          • Actually, less promoted.

            When I worked at one firm, I had to tone down my usual style to get ahead, as in wear less makeup, less skirts, less girly clothes

          • I've heard stories form women with large boobs that simply the act of *possessing said boobs* meant people thought they were slutty, or stupid, or incompetent.

            I have A cups, so I can't relate, but man. :(

            When I was 15, I had an interview for McD's, my first job. My father berated me for half and hour (no joke!) because I put makeup on and wore little earrings and they're "going to think you're some prissy bimbo who can't work"!

            I got the job.

            It sucks. You're constantly having to dance that fine line between appropriately feminine vs "slutty" vs. competent or too butch and bitchy. Your body, things you were born with that you can't even help (boobs, booty) can work against you. And then having to deal with not only shit from men and/or management, but from other woman peers as well!

          • Oh boy, you said it sister! I don't get that much of this now, but when I was at engineering university, people could really be assholes. So instead of changing my looks, I became mean. Insult me and you'd be picking up pieces of your dignity while sobbing. Ultimately I realised that fighting assholes by being one is hurting me more then them. They have chosen to be unhappy, pathetic and bitter, but I don't have to. So I surrounded myself with people I valued, and tried to avoid assholes as much as possible.

            Starting work was such a revelation for me. Bosses care about results/profit, and value those who generate it. And coworkers value people who can help them do their job, not generate extra workload by being useless. Most people have really been great to me, and when one guy jokingly implied I might play favourites, he got shot down by the boss who assured him he's at the bottom because he's below average in every aspect x)

        • Jealousy eats you alive and doesn't do you personally any good. It's like festering hate and anger in your spirit. It only brings you down. At some point, you have to be okay with you, all of you. You have to accept that you have done the best with what you've got and you're the one living your own life, not someone else's.

          • Yeah, God forbid we try to discuss it or change it. it would be just *unthinkable* to ever say a woman is being manipulative…. even if she's being manipulative. Or to hope for a world that is even just a little fair. Better to just give up and accept one's sh*tty role in life, as being behind and below the Beautiful People who just can't help themselves. Ugh.

          • Screw that. I'm not behind or below the Beautiful People, beautiful person though I ain't. I steer clear of those few manipulative people I meet, and the people who respond to manipulative people, and the people who expect me to stay meekly behind and below others, and I do just fine.

          • I'd hate to blow your mind, but sitting down and screaming "That's not fair!" never won a kickball game in second grade. It's just about as effective now. A ton of things aren't fair. I'm sure if you ask the so-called hot chicks about fairness, they could probably give you an earful about the things in the world that they don't feel are fair.

            All I am saying is, there comes a point in life where you realize that we are here in life for the struggle and what it can teach us. I have plenty of not fair in my life. I also have plenty of blessings. I don't have the time or the energy to spin myself up about things that aren't fair. I don't have the energy to drag my own butt down in negativity. I keep my head high, and I keep moving forward.

            Physically, you are perfectly reasonably attractive according to your pictures on your facebook. You are a hell of a lot more photogenic than I am.

            Please stop poisoning yourself. Do what it takes to live a glorious life. You can live a glorious life whether or not hot people exist and completely independent of whatever it is that hot people do.

            Let go of all this. In the end, what is it giving you? Nothing but bitterness, and that is not attractive.

          • Look, I already conceded you all win, and I'm just gonna go sit in my corner and not have opinions. Not sure what else you guys want.

          • welp, that's constructive.

          • Look, I come here to discuss topics that are interesting to me and sort out complicated and thorny thoughts. But all that's happening is that I'm getting shouted down, and apparently I'm deeply insulting to people without anybody actually telling me why or how. So I don't know what you all want. You win, I give up. Not sure what you were expecting.

          • No one is shouting you down. We are trying to discuss these topics with you, and trying to explain to you that maybe some of your resentment is misplaced, but instead of actually listening to us and taking your own thought patterns apart, you just stubbornly rationalize your own opinions.

          • Doesn't everybody rational their own opinions? I could claim the same things about you guys. Only Enail has said anything close to understanding where I'm coming from, even though the entire point of this particular thread was about beautiful women using their looks to get ahead. Gee, I wonder why people would be resentful of that. And telling me I'm insulting everyone DOES tend to kind of put my hackles up.

          • Well you tend to see things as black and white. Women using their looks to gain advantage = bad. Pure meritocracy = good. However, you miss the bigger picture. You miss the system that creates those dynamics. You miss the forest for the trees.

          • Yes, yes, pile on. Me saying I give up, you win obviously signals that you should continue telling me all the ways I am wrong and should not have opinions.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            Ok, I think we've come to the end of this conversational thread. Lets drop it and move on, shall we?

          • Oh come on doc, I'm snowed in! ;)

          • But ok, I promise no more *goes off to be constructive*

          • I have no beef with your opinions Marty. To be honest I haven't read this whole thread thing. I lost interest. I've just seen bits here and from another post entirely that you are still struggling with some stuff.

            I'm not playing a game. There is no "win". I want you to win. I'm just trying to say maybe it is time to take a deep breath and a long look at things, and let go of some of the negative energy that might be pooling in certain places in your life.

            That may be totally strung out new-age hippie freak of me. I don't even like hippies. I hate seeing people get so worked up over something that in the end, shouldn't have that sort of weight in the grand scheme of things.

            Jealousy and railing against the unfairness of the universe are about as productive as bashing one's head against the proverbial brick wall.

          • If railing against the unfairness of the universe and trying to change the unfairness is not productive, then what are any of us doing here? Why are we discussing and sharing opinions, why are we putting time and energy into trying?

            And letting go of some of the negative energy would be a lot easier if I felt anyone, at all, cared and was listening. I thought that is part of the point…. to learn and listen. Guess not.

    • Like Caitlin Moran discussed in her book "How to be a Woman":

      When you see something happening and you ask yourself, "Are the guys doing it too?" If not, then there is some sexism happening.

      So, in essence I agree with Tea_Fish. I have never seen a dude say "Man, Eric totally got that promotion/raid invite/DM because he's handsome." Men don't knock down other men because they are better looking. So, why are women doing it?

      • Because men have other things to give them value, and women do not in this society. Women knock other women down because that is the primary (and at some points in history, only) way to get power….. by being seen as more attractive.

        • And that's how oppression happens, when the oppressed group turns on itself.

          • Suuuure, but laying down such a concrete line of "Women's behavior should never be criticized ever, and we should absolutely never say anything negative about another woman!" doesn't help. I think shutting down dialogue is rarely a good thing.

          • No, we can criticize women. I can criticize you for criticizing other women who benefit from an unfair system instead of criticizing the system. We can criticize women who get to the top and then destroy the ladder so other women can't follow them. We can criticize women who participate in misogyny, but we shouldn't criticize women who benefit from a system and don't really understand that it's a broken system.

          • I completely agree it's a broken system. And we should certainly criticize the system. But I think we also need to criticize those who help support and benefit from the system, because we are all agents who should be held responsible for our participation and behavior. How do you see identifying women who benefit from this system but don't understand it's broken?

          • As Tosca said below:

            "For a lot of these girls, it's a coping mechanism they adopt. And lots of times, going with the flow of patriarchal expectations gets them less grief and more "rewards" (however fleeting) than bucking the system. "

  22. I used to play a homebrew D&D campaign in high school. It was always run by the same guy (a classmate a year older than myself) with a fairly equal measure of women to me in the group; it was always pretty balanced. There was never a problem, until one day when my girlfriends couldn't make it. They told me not to go either that day to play, but I thought they were silly for saying that. We were wrapping up a large campaign arc! And these were my classmates and friends I'd been playing with for two and a half years.

    Somehow my (female) character got entirely separated from our group and was kidnapped by a roving caravan. She was then married to and added to the concubine harem of the leader of the caravan and taken to his tent to 'consummate' their marriage. All of my male cogamers quietly looked at their character sheets. I could only sit in growing horror and disbelief as I walked through the scenario with the GM. Finally my character used a wish spell to get herself out and away from the caravan.

    The DM dropped a meteor on the entire caravan, which completely decimated it and the surrounding ten miles. Including my fellow adventurers.

    The fact that nobody was mad at me for 'killing their characters' is proof that they all knew what the DM was doing was shitty and disgusting, but not a single one spoke up to defend me. I only went to one more gaming session before dropping and finding a new group to play with.

  23. Paul Rivers says:

    P.S. Meant it's a something "people" do, definitely women do, didn't mean guys don't do it.

  24. The question for me though is, how do you speak up without being all white-knighty? There must be some clear distinction between supporting female gamers and "Don't worry, little lady, I got this", but I'll be damned if I can find it.

    • I think the way to do it is casually. Like, if you're in Trade Chat on WoW and see people being abusive in text or whatnot, a quick, "Hey, I don't think that's cool" can go a long way. Same with if you're in voice chat and someone on your team starts humping a player and making gendered insults. "Dude, not cool" can go a very long way.

    • "Dude, that's not cool", "Knock it off," usually suffice. The thing about not going all white-knighty is to not make it about the women who may or may not be present. It's about being a decent human being who incidentally isn't hurling around racial invective and graphic death threats. For example, you're not speaking up because rape jokes make woman uncomfortable, you're speaking up because they make YOU uncomfortable (I hope.)

    • It all comes down to motivation. Are you sticking up for her because you think she's a lady who needs to be sheltered, or are you sticking up for her because some dude is being an asshat?

      Don't be her White Knight. Be her Wingman.

      A White Knight sees a lady insulted and rushes in to TAKE OVER the fight on her behalf, regardless of what's actually going down.

      A Wingman sticks up for his friends and has their backs, not because he wants to impress them or score with them but because they're his buddies and it's the right thing to do. He observes how his friend is playing it – getting confrontational back, playing it cool – and he judges how best to back that play. Sometimes this means joining in with supporting words ("Dude, she's playing fine, shut up,") a well timed insult ("Dude, you're being an ass"), sometimes it just means giving the offender a stare of utter disbelief (for those IRL events).

    • I have noticed an increasing pattern of some guy saying, "Hey, sexist comments are not cool!" and then that guy getting attacked for White Knighting.

      But…who is attacking the guy? Women? Nope. The sexist jerks saying sexist things.
      What I mostly see is sexist jerks and PUA guys who've learned the term "white knighting" and use it as a weapon to discourage men for being allies with women. I think we have to not let that happen and just completely ignore sexist dudes trying to avoid being called on their behavior or trying to make sure they can continue harassing someone.

      Actual white knighting is about putting women down. Making them seem powerless and weak in order to heap power, praise, and aggrandizement on yourself. Often white knights don't realize they are doing it…but that is what they are doing. If you are stepping on a woman so you can pick her up and be a hero…then you are doing it wrong.

      If on the other hand, you are standing beside a woman as an equal. If you are an Ally not a Savior, you should be fine. If you are speaking up because you are offended, you should be fine.

      Now if the comment comes from a woman who says, "Stop white knighting me."–then you might be giving off a vibe. Apologize, stop what you are doing, and then analyze.

      Analyze if you perhaps you might have some stuff going on underneath your actions. If so, do some work to improve yourself on that front. If you have done the self-analysis and can honestly say that you didn't have anything sketchy going on, then ask yourself, "Okay, what did I do wrong so that I came off that way regardless of my intentions?" Then fix that communication problem. If you have done the analysis and asked a number of female friends for input, and everyone agrees that both your intentions and behavior was beyond reproach, you just move forward. You don't attack that woman who called you a white knight. You have already apologized to her back when the incident happened and backed off. Practice some empathy, imagining she probably had some stuff going on/triggers that you don't know about, and you continue to move forward.

      Think about it this way. What dynamic to you want to have with the woman (or whatever gendered person) in question?
      If you want to swoop in and save that person (and this applies also to rich white college students going to "save" poor people of color in name whatever country, and to any other number of instances of people with privilege interacting with people of less privilege)–but you don't expect them to do anything, you don't want them to do anything, and you don't listen? No good.

      If you imagine you and that woman being like Mr. Steed and Mrs Peel where you are both fighting bad guys together. Then you should be good if you have that sort of relationship.

      What also works? If the women (or whomever) remains in the ring, you are just in her corner and you be her tag team partner it she tags you, and if any random people jump into the ring to blindside her, you will jump in too.

    • Clementine Danger says:

      It's just an example of something I noticed, not an all-encompassing solution to huge issues, but here's something. I've been in situations where someone says something offensive (sexist, but also racist or just plain insensitive to a person in the group, but let's take guys speaking up against sexism as the obvious example here), and I've seen two types of "speaking up":

      "Hey, dude, don't do that. You're making Clementine really uncomfortable."
      vs.
      "Hey, dude, don't do that. You're making me really uncomfortable."

      I'm not sure if the first one would qualify as white-knighting, but I do know for sure that it doesn't help, and it's going to make me even more uncomfortable. It implies that I can't or shouldn't pick my own battles, and that as a woman, naturally I am the only one there who could possibly have a problem with sexist remarks, because apparently I'm the only person it affects. It's this person choosing which battles I'm supposed to fight, and that's just not helping. Good for speaking up, bad for directing the fallout at me.

      The second one does none of that, and the person who says it makes it clear that they're speaking for themselves. I can join in or not, but that's my choice, and if I don't feel like pushing the boulder up the hill that day, I don't have to. I can just leave and not be a part of it, or pick up the ball and run with it. It also carries the implication that you don't have to be a woman to find sexist remarks offensive. That's better, I think, and a good way to avoid white-knighting and be an ally instead.

      So I'd say, in the most innocent way I can, sounds bad but isn't meant that way, just speak for yourself.

      • thesurfmonkey says:

        Yes, this is an important point. There's a lot of pressure when gaming while female not to be "oversensitive" or "spoil everyone's fun". So if I'm gaming and someone starts saying gross sexist stuff, I might be feeling uncomfortable and doing my best to hide it because that's what "cool" "non-dramatic" girls do. If you then jump in and single me out, that makes me feel uncomfortable too. So much better if you're just coming from a point of view that saying that stuff or acting that way isn't cool with you, even if there weren't a woman there at all.

    • If something is universally offensive, I agree with the others that a simple, "Hey, that's not cool," or "Cut that out. It's not okay to talk to people like that here," or "Dude, that's gross. Shut up," works. Express your own discomfort with what's happening rather than assuming someone else's.

      If we're not talking about something overt, but you still have a feeling that someone is making a woman you game with uncomfortable, the best way of handling that is to go to her and ask her if she's okay. Maybe she is, maybe she isn't but would prefer to handle things herself, and maybe she'd appreciate it if someone else stepped in (this last one is most likely to be the case if you're a group organizer or a guild leader).

    • 1)Start hitting on the person who does the harassing. Chauvinists can never handle a role reversal.
      2)If you get called a whiteknight, switch to a faux Shakespearian accent. "I shall defend milady's honour, thou vile miscreant!" The best way to handle such accusations is to not take them seriously.

  25. This article is about the horrific treatment women receive at the hands of the gaming community, and the majority of the virtual ink here has been spilled fussing over whether pretty and charming women have a right to "use" their charm to get things and are they also horrible people who manipulate everyone?

    Discuss!

    Oy, my head.

    • And you are, of course, helping by continuing focusing back on that subject instead of going back to discussing the article. If you don't like the topic of some of the threads, why are you participating?

      • Yup. *I'M* the one that keeps gnashing my teeth about that subject. Okay. Sure.

        • I didn't claim I wasn't gnashing my teeth. But I don't mind discussing it. You have created a whole new thread JUST to complain that people keep talking about this other thing, instead of just…. talking about the thing you think everyone should be talking about. What sense does that make?

          • I created a thread because I was getting buried. Any in case anyone actually wants to talk with me about the misogyny. You didn't have to respond to my lonely little thread, you know. But you're so vain, I bet you thought this thread was about you*.

            Oh. and for the attention! I love using my charm and beauty to make the puppets dance. Dance my pretties!!

            *you weren't only one doing the gnashing. Only the most prolific.

          • Wow. Insulting and unnecessary. Way to represent that whole "I don't think we should tear down other women." But apparently, calling me vain is acceptable because…. I disagreed with you. Okay then.

          • It's a song reference, chief. Perhaps I'm just showing my age here.

            Just because I stand with women doesn't mean I have to like you. You insult people in roundabout ways here all the time. At least when I do it, I come out and freaking DO it.

          • How the hell do I insult people?? Has it ever occurred to you I'm not insulting people, but just sharing a different perspective? That is an incredibly awful thing to say about a person without information to back it up.

            No, you don't have to like me, but if you're going to accuse me of something, then please provide examples, or don't accuse me in the first place. And whether you think I insult people, I *never* do it intentionally, and I try very, very hard to not make things personal. Unlike what you have done.

            You have really hurt me. I have never tried to hurt people's feelings intentionally, nor has anyone actually pointed out if I'm doing it. If they had in the moment, I'd like to think I'd change it. I have always just tried to be open and honest about my feelings, even if they are negative or uncomfortable, but NEVER tried to direct it at any single individual.

            Why did you do this? Why did you make it personal? Was that really necessary, to just flat out tell me you don't like me and to accuse me of something I'm not even aware I'm doing?

          • You have a very short, selective memory then.

          • No, I just have a very different brain and perspective than you do. I have literally no idea what you are referring to. If you're referring to something, then SAY IT, instead of throwing out insults and barbs.

            Or better yet, stop making it personal. Why is that so hard?

    • I agree with you. We need to focus on the system that rewards unrelated-to-job/game beauty (it's ok for a model to get ahead for being pretty because that is her job), instead of on the women benefiting from the system. They are also oppressed in their own way. They are oppressed because they are forced to identify with only their looks instead of any qualities that they might have cultivated in themselves otherwise. E.g. the "I'm too pretty for math" shirts.

      • Exactly. For a lot of these girls, it's a coping mechanism they adopt. And lots of times, going with the flow of patriarchal expectations gets them less grief and more "rewards" (however fleeting) than bucking the system.

        Not everyone can be a revolutionary.

        It took me a long-ass time to not see hot chicks as my enemy.

        EDIT: Notice how this has conveniently drawn much of the attention away from geek mens' behavior here? This is no accident.

        • Well, I don't think anyone had anything else to say about geek men's behavior other than "yes, agreed, it's bad".

          • It's not that they AREN'T saying it's bad, it's the disproportionate amount of energy expended. Everybody loves to hate on stuck-up mean hot chicks who MANIPULATE people. It's easy. It's harder to keep the focus where it belongs, as you say, on the system. It's all just pitting us against each other.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "Well, I don't think anyone had anything else to say about geek men's behavior other than "yes, agreed, it's bad"."

            Yeah, seriously, what is the conversation going to be about? Who here is going to say "You know what? I think that attacking people with slurs, racial, homophobic, and sexually derogatory comments is entirely awesome and positive and it's a great part of online gaming!".

            At least this tangent has something of a discussion over a real world topic. So many of them are just an endless series of "misinterpret then take offense" it's not even funny.

            I think everyone agrees – the current state of horrible language in online fps games is bull!@#@!.

    • Again, for the record, I AM SO SORRY, DOC. I didn't really mean to derail the topic. I'm usually better at this sort of thing.

      I just wanted to know how the women reading this felt about the idea of helping to ensure that this kind of sexist behavior doesn't continue by removing the "causes" of so many of the mansplaining excuses for it continuing.

      Again, I'm sorry, Doc.

      • Clementine Danger says:

        I think it's a VERY interesting topic, and there's a lot of useful things being said. Sisterhood is a big deal, it's part of the gaming culture and should be examined. It's good stuff. So don't apologize. It's probably more on topic than some of the latest tangents I've participated in.

    • Congrats Tosca, you totally called this conversation direction from the first comment! Wonder why that was so easy to predict?

    • The second thing is more fun to discuss? The first thing is pretty obviously wrong, so there's not much to discuss.

      • But why is it “more fun”? And I disagree that the first thing is so obviously wrong when we keep harping on the second thing. What’s the purpose of discussing the second thing if not to deflect and minimize the impact of the first?

        In our fine Judeo-Christian culture, we’ve been trained to look for the evils of women first and foremost. It manifests in other discussions, like the ethics of PUA, and also in much more serious topics like rape and DV.

        • People keep discussing the second thing because there is some degree of nuanced interpretation involved. There is some variety in the thoughts that the second subject generates, even if there's a majority consensus about the larger topic.

          They don't discuss the first because there's not much *discussion* to be had on the subject. I'm relatively new to the site, but the overwhelming majority of people who are inclined to be here and inclined to comment are going to be in full agreement with the position that misogyny is bad. They don't like it. They want it to stop. They think women are people and people should be treated well.

          If people restricted their comments purely to the first thing, it would simply be a string of briefly worded agreement, "Yep" "Yes" "+1" "I agree" "Ditto" "Ditto ditto" "This" and that is not a discussion.

        • Although I'm not entirely convinced about it being "more fun" (or at least by much of a margin), I would like to suggest one explanation that people might be using.

          The topic of the article (and what should be the topic of discussion) is "horrific treatment women receive at the hands of the gaming community". The thing is, if all that happens is we all agree with the sentiments expressed in the article, then where's the discussion? Nobody's bringing any new ideas to the table, nobody's presenting an opposing point of view, and yes, some people are sharing their experience to support what the article is saying (and this experience can sometimes be interesting depending on the content of the story), but overall it's just everyone saying "Yes" over and over. Firstly, the lack of disagreement by itself should indicate that, at least amongst DNL commenters, it is so obviously wrong. Secondly, I'm fairly certain there is a video on Youtube called "Captain Falcon says yes for 10 hours" or something like that. People who want to hear "Yes" over and over will probably opt to watch that rather than read it in a comments section.

          But then someone brought up the question of "whether pretty and charming women have a right to "use" their charm to get things and are they also horrible people who manipulate everyone" and suddenly, we've got people making arguments for one side and we've got people making arguments for the other side. And just like that, a wild discussion appeared. And sure, it is sometimes hard to follow the discussion and I imagine participants can get frustrated when their attempts to convince the other side don't work, but the result of different ideas being brought up means it's at least more interesting than a rousing chorus of "Yes".

          That is what I think people (consciously or otherwise) use to explain why they find the tangential discussions in this comments section more fun than the on-topic comments.

          The thing is, in the comment threads started by EmrldDrgn and onlyyevster, people are proposing ways for people to combat the issues the article is about, even if only on a small scale. While the article did suggest the general method of speaking up, it is the people in those comment threads who brought up the examples. In other words, while they are still on-topic, they are bringing new ideas to the table. Which makes those discussions interesting. Which makes them fun. Which means there is fun to be had in staying on-topic. Did I mention that I don't necessarily agree that the tangential discussions are more fun?

          • You gents are kind of missing the point. I *know* why it's more "fun", and I know why people do it. It's just want people to think next time if they feel that tug inside* to be all "Well have you considered that horrible women who manipulate people exist?" Because, so what? Does that make what Doc is describing in this article okay?

            I see this sort of thing all the time, not necessarily here at DNL, but in the world at large.

            *article against sleazy, dehumanizing PUA tactics*
            "But have you considered that there are women who lie in bars to get drinks/manipulate poor men??"
            So what? That makes dehumanizing, misogynistic tactics okay?

            *article against DV*
            "Well have you considered that there are women who LIE about abuse/manipulate the system?"
            So what? Does that make DV ever okay?

            *article against rape*
            "Well sometimes women LIE about rape!"
            So what?! Does that make rape ever okay? There are people that lie about robberies and insurance money, too, but we're not about to excuse these things.

            *That tug inside is something I'm not immune to, either. I really, truly believe it is our culture. Every time something bad is happening to a large percentage of women somewhere, there's this rush to explain about maybe that they're bringing it on themselves or that a few bad apples justify the behavior. It's an ancient song: women are liars, women can't be trusted.

            And with Geek Girls, along with all this insidious anti-woman cultural gunk, a sizeable chunk of them grew up pitted against other women. Not all, of course, but a lot. Who were friends with only men, who were Special Snowflakes. The Mean Hot Popular Girl was the nemesis for a lot of us, like the Nerd Boy has his quintessential Jock (even if it was just in our own minds).

            So, I get it. I really do.

          • Loxosceles says:

            "You gents are kind of missing the point. I *know* why it's more "fun", and I know why people do it. It's just want people to think next time if they feel that tug inside* to be all "Well have you considered that horrible women who manipulate people exist?" Because, so what? Does that make what Doc is describing in this article okay?"

            You're kind of missing the point, yourself.

            Nobody, at any point, has suggested that abuse, ostracism or the dehumanization of women is okay.

            It never happened. Please stop arguing against people as if they suggested it, nobody did and it's frankly insulting for you to continually attribute this position to people that never expressed anything remotely like it. It is a position that people find abhorrent, because it is so very clearly wrong, and you are being downright offensive.

            What people have said is that there are many repercussions associated with the geek community's current attitudes towards women and many reasons why it has gotten to this point. They have discussed the damage it does to women and men; because they care about *people* and not just one gender or the other, and because the problems won't go away if only one side is addressed.

            Again, nobody said that the negative treatment of women was justified. They just said that in the perpetuation of gender based negative behaviors, sometimes men also get hurt. In fact, the only thing I did see regarding gendered justification was the argument from YOU that those rare bad apples were justified in hurting men, because patriarchy.

            I do not think that this hypocrisy on your part is something that you are consciously aware of- but I would urge you, because you're clearly an intelligent person and it is so very easy for intelligent people to rationalize absolutely anything- to read your own posts in these comments and take a look at some of the things you said. Notice the times you mentioned gender and consider the fact that women and men (and anything else anyone might be or want to be) are all people. People with identical capacities for emotional pain.

            You made a comment, to start one of your earlier posts, "I'm always on the lookout for internalized misogyny." Well… Maslow's Hammer. If you look hard enough for something, the human brain will find evidence of it, even if it is not objectively there. Internalized misogyny in the Dr Nerdlove comment section? There isn't much to begin with, and the few people who might be expressing some are both easily identified and didn't display it to the degree of severity that you have suggested.

            So, no. You don't get it. You really don't.

          • You're being deliberately obtuse. I never said conversations weren't happening. Apparently, subtleties in thought aren't your strong-suit.

          • Loxosceles says:

            Right back at you, although I am kind enough to think that being obtuse is something you are doing without being consciously aware of it. You don't seem to read what others have written. You have continuously and egregiously misrepresented things other people have said and have then condemned them for holding positions that they never espoused. Apparently subtleties in communication aren't your strong suit.

            It is unfortunate, but as I have tried a couple times here to engage you in an exchange of ideas only to have you respond as you have, I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that you are simply close minded. It is a shame that you have arrived at a place where you're not open to polite discussion or rational discourse with other people. People who don't even disagree with you in substance, but simply wanted to add an addendum to some points you made with which they largely agreed.

          • Think whatever you want. But might I refresh those reading this that you took this story from Trish:

            "She responds that it's very welcoming, adding that it's awesome if you're a woman who plays Magic because when she first moved in, all the guys were sweet to her (and falling over themselves to be the first person to be nice to her) and gave her free cards, etc., because of "this."

            And by "this," she gestured to her cleavage,"

            Pretty mild, IMO. And paraphrased it thusly:

            "But when someone actually flat out says, states directly with no ambiguity, that they're encouraging the people around them to do them favors and give them gifts, using disingenuous sexual advances as a weapon to control the behavior of others… nobody is getting hurt?

            How about the poor dope who thought she really liked him? Or do his feelings not count?"

            So from that, you extrapolated that she wasn't only displaying her cleavage, but *actively being disingenuous* toward him, using it "as a weapon", promising him affection and stringing him along. You accused the woman of "encouraging" gifts, when for all WE know, the gift could have just been given, unprovoked.

            All from the simple fact that 1) she wore a shirt with boobs and 2) she got Magic cards.

            Way to read into it and project your insecurities onto the situation.

            So, you'll EXCUSE me if I don't take your august opinion of my "close-minded" views into consideration.

          • I'm not particularly good at them either. Which is probably why I answered the question "But why is it "more fun"?". So … what about your other question of "What's the purpose of discussing the second thing if not to deflect and minimize the impact of the first?" Is that one you would like a suggested answer for, or is that one where you know the answer already, or is it just a rhetorical question? If it's the first one, I will try to tackle it. Otherwise, Robert out.

          • It's half rhetorical question, half thought exercise. I just want people to think, possibly examine, certain knee-jerk reactions. That's all.

          • You know, part of the frustration IS that the "yes but there are some women who…. X or Y" is quite happily dismissed with no explanation. Why is it okay in general to discuss one thing and not another?

            The 'coping mechanism' topic I've seen come up in this thread is the closest thing I've seen that directly addresses this and I'd love to see another article about that. It's something I haven't thought about alot and it's something I want to understand more.

            I think a lot of guys feel bitter and they use those 'counter-examples' to keep their misogynistic views alive. So part of an effective approach at getting to these guys should involve deconstructing those counter-examples they use directly. I'd much rather see women say "Yes, there are women that do that and here's why" rather than "Yeah, some women might do that but so what, they're the exception". That just makes me feel like you want guys to be introspective about their failings while it's perfectly OK for women not to be. It doesn't advance anybody's understanding and feels very adversarial.

          • Btw, not saying that you Tosca or 'all women' think like this. It's a general vibe I've been getting from this particular site for awhile and I think it's missing an important opportunity to help pèople understand.

          • I don't think anyone's dismissing that there are women who behave in problematic ways. The thing is, it's brought up even when it's *not relevant* to the topic. How is some women flirting with guys to get a better response related to the fact that many guys create a hostile environment for all women in online gaming?

            Is women using their looks and sexual appeal for their gain an interesting topic, and are the reasons for it worthy of discussion? Sure. But why are we discussing that here? Why does every post DNL make about a problem in nerd culture that guys can try to address by speaking up to their peers or examining their own behavior quickly veer off into a discussion of totally unrelated things women do that guys don't like? If it is to "keep mysogynistic views alive", well, I think it's fair to point out that doing it is problematic in itself. (And you'll notice that people didn't *just* mention that it bothered them to have it brought up; they did also addressed the issue itself. In rather a long thread. But we often don't have the energy to keep explaining this stuff in great detail over and over again when it keeps coming up despite our past explanations.)

            There are all sorts of interesting issues out there in the world, that no one is bringing up in the comments… because they're not relevant to the topic. Something being an interesting issue doesn't make it automatically a good idea to bring it up in any given post. Especially when the act of bringing it up may very well be perpetuating a negative dynamic between the genders.

            And… you do realize that you're blaming *women* for creating an adversarial feeling in the discussion, even after you admitted that when these things are brought up, it's often out of bitterness on the part of the other party. Why is it okay for guys to feel bitter and bring up things in an adversarial way, but women are wrong if they're not always totally patient and understanding?

            Of course, in this particular case the whole point you're making is kind of silly, because the main people bringing up criticism against women were also women. So the women were trying to encourage *other women* to be introspective about their views, right here… which should pretty clearly show that we don't think it's okay for women not to question themselves.

          • Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I guess I started down the "women using looks to gain sexual appeal" thread not because I wanted to minimize harassment and the big load of issues women have to struggle through in online gaming, but because:

            1) we go off-topic in the comments all the time, so it didn't strike me as the problematic departure it later was seen as
            2) this is one of the rare blogs where female geeks talk to each other in a "safe" environment. I was excited to talk to other geek women about something I've seen and experienced that is a albeit a minor issue, but one I still think is worth discussing. Women in the geek community are only lately starting to come out and *talk* about this gender/feminist stuff. The topic of "manipulative" geek women is a very minor thing, but it is still kind of an off-branch of the main topic.

            Honestly, I was surprised myself it became such a point of contention among geek women ourselves. Maybe it's just too much jumping the gun to discuss this minor issue, if there are "major" issues out there…. maybe it's seen as dividing women, when the real enemy is harassing men (though either us vs them association makes me uncomfortable.) Maybe it really *is* that a lot of people just found the topic more intellectually stimulating, but that doesn't make it more important than the original issue being addressed.

            I dunno, I guess I was looking at it as an opportunity to discuss an inter-geek-girl dilemma in a safe environment.

          • See, I don't feel this is a "safe" environment for discussions between women. There are constantly guys commenting here (not all guys, and generally not the regulars, but still quite a few) saying hostile things about women and feminism and putting us in a position where we have to defend our right to even choose how we decline a date or whathaveyou. So it's hard to feel like we can have an open and honest discussion without risking some guy seeing the discussion and pointing to it as "proof" that women really are evil manipulative fake geeks or some such. That's the context of any discussion here; that's the atmosphere it's steeped in.

            I don't have any problem with the discussion in and of itself. But I see Tosca's point that this particular sort of topic (women behaving badly) comes up basically every time anything critical of men is said (and sometimes even when it's not), and it's seeing it in that overall pattern that's frustrating and tiring.

            I think we did engage you on the topic, though–and I know I agreed with at least one of your points and said so–but it seems most of the women here not so much don't want to talk about it but don't share your views, so you got a lot of disagreement. That's different from people refusing to even talk.

            Edit: It just occurred to me that a perfect example of how this is not a safe space for open discussion by women, in the way "safe space" is generally meant, is the fact that I stopped in the middle of writing and decided to put the word "safe" in quotation marks above, and also felt the need to clarify the context of "safe" right here, because two people in these comments have already made accusations about the use of the word "safe" in the post being part of feminist manipulation. (I do still think it's a *useful* place to have discussions.)

          • Eh, I guess it's a matter of perspective, since I honestly don't recount seeing a lot of trolls lately, but lots of regulars. When the comments started to get going, it was mostly regulars throwing stuff out there. I see what you mean about guys seeing the discussion and pointing to it as proof of evil manipulative women….. then again, the argument could be made that guys coming here could see that women ARE willing to discuss potentially controversial points. It seems you and I have different experiences even here within the comments, so knowing that is your perspective I can see why it's frustrating.

            You did engage me very fairly on the topic. Even though you disagreed, I think you and a few others did try to listen, which I really appreciate. I got the "how dare you talk about it, you're stupid for thinking this" vibe off of other posters, so I apologize if you felt lumped in with that.

          • I mostly agree with you and some of the things I was responding to were more concerns stirred up in general by the territory this discussion got into. Especially the part about introspection, you're absolutely right on that.

            I want that discussion, but this site has never addressed it directly. I want that discussion not because I want people to think "yeah dem girlllz have wronged us!!" but because I want people to think "yeah there are women who do X or Y but I have empathy for them because it's part of the shitty system we're in that I might be contributing to, so how can I help?". So my complaint is really with this site in general.

            Let's have that damn article. Then at least if anyone wants to debate that topic, they'll have a place to go.

            With the bitterness thing – I wasn't really intending to 'blame' women. Just trying to suggest a pragmatic approach that might get through to the guys who have that in their mental model, when telling them that their reasons are just wrong isn't working. You're absolutely right though, this is a totally different discussion to what this article is about. Which again, this keeps happening so there's this unaddressed issue that people REALLY want directly addressed here, it would seem.

          • One more thing – I want that discussion on THIS SITE because of the high quality of the conversation here. It's a place where I, as a guy, feel safe in asking women the questions I want to ask them on these topics and it's a place where I'm confident that the answers given are honest and not sugar-coated. That's what I find awesome about this place.

          • I agree with Mel, I don't think having an article that focuses on what women are doing "wrong" would be very beneficial, if written to somehow help guys. I really wanted to discuss this topic as a woman-on-woman thing; how to develop language and communication channels to speak to other geeky women about problematic behaviors and help channel understanding.

            That is probably never going to happen on a site that IS geared towards problematic men; maybe we might never be able to have an article that is critical of men's behavior, or an article that discusses problem areas in geeky female circles as seen by other female geeks, because of the kind of crowd that this site IS trying to help. Which is a damn shame.

          • I agree that it might be useful for DNL to address the idea of women "using" their sexuality for their benefit, and give guys an understanding of why that happens, but I can understand that he might not feel he's equipped to tackle that subject, since that's getting pretty deeply into women's perspectives.

            I'll point out, though, that it's not that people are constantly bringing up this specific issue with women. It's that when there's a critical article about men (and even in many neutral ones), there will always be someone saying, "But what about women doing X!?" Where X could be using their looks to get attention, "creep-shaming" guys, pursuing only alpha men, shunning virginal guys, being overly demanding of their boyfriends, etc. etc. So it doesn't feel so much like there's be specific issue that guys are concerned about and want to understand, so much as that this is a way some guys (and even women, sometimes–we internalize these messages too) deflect attention away from important topics about guys' problematic behavior. And I think calling out that deflecting is just as important a topic as anything else, because it's all part of the same system.

            That said, I think most of the women who regularly comment here have shown an *incredible* amount of patience in trying to explain to guys why they think certain ideas are wrong, rather than just dismissing them out of hand. So it bothers me to see it suggested that we're not patient enough, not trying hard enough to meet guys halfway. Yes, sometimes we get frustrated and snappy. Guys here do that all the time too. We are all human. Please have patience with us too.

          • Hmm, sounds like an idea for a post on my blog!

            EDIT: Since I am equipped to talk about why women use their sexuality to their advantage.

          • Beautifully stated! This is why you are the pro-writer, while I furiously mash my keyboard like some kind of angry, feminist chihuahua. ;)

        • Yeah, I don't think any commenters here are actively trying to stifle discussion of the stuff guys do for the glory of the Patriarchy. It's just that, for the issue of whether or not you should do something when a women uses her looks/boobs to manipulate people, everyone seems to have fairly different opinions, so a lively disscussion occurs. The Doc covered the issue of guys being awful to women in gaming pretty thoroughly, so there's not much discussion to be had.

          And, to be fair, that first discussion was itself derailed into a discussion of "whether or not Marty has unhealthy issues with hot women and her own looks that she needs to deal with."

          • Yeah, and God knows I just *love* discussing that. (Sarcasm.) I actually kind of hate those discussions… but it also seems that I can't discuss any topic that even skirts attraction without having to explain the deep mental depths those opinions come from, which then becomes an exhaustive antagonistic shaming session. The pitfalls of being overly honest and sharing in a comment thread, I guess.

    • Clementine Danger says:

      Maybe it's because it's very important, difficult and relevant?

      Personally, I think sisterhood is an extremely complicated subject and very relevant to this discussion. I think a lot of girls and women who are just wising up to the whole feminism thing (like me) find it very hard to draw the line between sisterhood and this idea that all women are virtuous angels and if they do something wrong, they're just victims of circumstance.

      You know what? So is everyone. I know a lot of guys who just cope and adapt to this sucky, shitty situation by going along with it, who cope with their very real and legit hurt in ways that aren't altogether healthy for themselves and their surroundings. We ask those guys to change and be brave and adapt all the time, every time, in every comment section and every post in every feminist blog.

      And I would like to learn what sisterhood is. Because it can't be "support other women because they are women, no matter what they do." That's not sisterhood, that's dogma.

      And when I see a woman doing harm, I don't want to be faced with the choice of sitting there quietly with my conscience screaming at me or speaking up and being accused of betraying the sisterhood. Because you know what? When we ask guys to speak up, we're asking them to betray their brotherhood too, and I get the feeling we're doing it without even a thought, and without being willing to reciprocate.

      The fact that there are guys out there who believe ALL women string guys along for fun does absolutely nothing to change the fact that there are SOME women who string guys along for fun. If you tell me you've never met a woman who was just objectively toying with a guy's heart and harming him, I'm not going to believe you. I don't even care if she's a victim of circumstance, she's wrong to do that.

      And yeah, I'm terrified that the local misogyny brigade is going to stop by this comment here and go "Right on! Women be sluts! Upvote!" But you know what? I'll tell them off when they do. I'm not going to sit here and pretend a woman can do no wrong. Because that's fucking stupid.

      And to clarify, this isn't about Trisha's story anymore. I'm speaking in general. And in general, I don't want to become entrenched, I don't want to be afraid that anything I say might sound similar to something a misogynist said, and I don't want this to become a black and white discussion. You know what? A lot of this does sound like that "fake geek girl" letter. It sounds close. But "close" and "similar" isn't the same fucking thing as "identical". I'm not going to jump away from the subject like I touched a hot plate just because I'm afraid that I might sound similar to some sexist asshole. Because the only thing I'm even more afraid of than being lumped in with those assholes is that I'm going to buy into the whole "men bad, women good" thing.

      I knew a girl who came to our FLGS after a breakup specifically to make herself feel better with all the attention, not looking for a relationship or even a fling, just strutting her stuff and basking in geek adoration. I know this because she told me this in almost exactly those words. She didn't care of guys got a crush on her, she didn't mind pretending to have a crush on one of them and telling them so, even if it wasn't true. As the person who had to watch her friend cry because this girl broke his heart, I am not sympathetic to her situation. So I told her. And she didn't care. Said it was his own fault for thinking with his dick.

      So, you guys tell me, did I betray the sisterhood? Was I wrong to tell the girl she was out of line?

      How about this woman I know who pretty much despises her boyfriend, who loves her so very much, but stays with him because she doesn't want to get a job? He would gladly throw himself off a cliff for her, but she can't even be bothered to talk about him like he's a human being. She's so damaged, she says, and if he wants to stay with her, that's his problem.

      So, what now? Am I betraying the sisterhood by thinking she's a fucking user?

      You're all specialists here and I'm just the newbie, so tell me. Where's the line? At what point does "standing up for my male friends" turn into "betraying the sisterhood?" When does "admitting that women can be fucking assholes" turn into "agreeing with misogynists on everything they say". Because I'm getting the impression that around these parts, they're synonymous.

      I'm asking. Explain to me what sisterhood is.

    • I'd just like to point out to the various people claiming that these discussions always end up with a critique of women's behavior because there's nothing else to talk about, that there are several threads here that have to do with the actual content of the article, that created discussion, that didn't involve critiquing women!

      There are men and women sharing their stories of the stores of bad behavior they've experienced when it comes to gaming, and looking for common patterns about where and when it happens (e.g., arcades/old school games vs. the newer generation, in person RPGs vs online).

      There are people asking about and offering suggestions on how one might most effectively speak up when this bad behavior happens, as a target or witnessing someone else targeted.

      There are people noting the data about how women players also receive more friend requests, and discussing the apparent contradiction between that and the level of harassment they receive.

      So clearly, there were plenty of things we could talk about.

      I'm not saying that there's no room for discussion about women's behavior. But I agree with Tosca that it is frustrating to see it brought up repeatedly every single time DNL makes a post that's critical of men's behavior. (Kind of like the thing with hyper-sexualized female game or comic characters. It's not that there's a problem with them existing; the problem is that there are so few games/comics without them.) It's not as if people have an inherent interest in jumping to the other side of the argument on every topic. No one felt the need to jump into the post on getting catfished, for example, to argue that some guys who were deceived must have being doing something to encourage themselves to be targeted.

      I think society teaches us to have a kneejerk reaction whenever we see guys being criticized for their behavior toward women, to ask whether she might have done something to deserve it, and it's important to be aware of that. And, if you want to bring it up, to first consider whether you're doing so because you really do think it relates to the topic directly and will be useful to other commenters, or whether there's a possibly more productive way you could contribute to that particular conversation. Just like I'd ask someone sitting down to create a new game/comic character to stop and think about whether it's really important for this particular character to have big boobs and tight clothes before automatically going to that default.

      • "No one felt the need to jump into the post on getting catfished, for example, to argue that some guys who were deceived must have being doing something to encourage themselves to be targeted. "

        Awesome point. No one was like, "Well, some men really are assholes who use women and steal their money."

        So? SO??? Does it feel wrong to bring that up when the topic is catfishing? Well, it feels just as wrong to bring up the sins of vindictive, manipulative women when we are talking about pretty serious misogyny/abuse in the geek community.

        • Bring it up, then. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

          I feel like I should point out that like half of the comments in Trisha's thread are yours.

          • Ok? Lots of people commented on that thread.

            I have brought it up. In fact, that's what seems to get under everyone's skin.

          • Wait, do you mean "bring it up", like bring up the fact that evil using men exist therefore didn't some guys bring catfishing upon themselves?

            *bangs head on desk*

            Have you people read NOTHING of what I have written?! I don't know if there's much hope for basic reading comprehension here when you think I actually *endorse* the above mindset.

          • You really aren't being very clear. It sounds like, to me, you aren't happy with the topics being discussed, so I suggested you bring up topics you do want to discuss (instead of contributing to topic threads that bother you).

            Also you can bring up an issue for discussion without actively agreeing with it.

          • "It sounds like, to me, you aren't happy with the topics being discussed"

            No, that is not my point at all. Mel and onlyyevster plenty of others got it.

            Ah well, at this point I've said all I can and I don't want to further beat a dead horse. I'll just let my words stand.

  26. You can stop apologizing. He doesn't mind if we get derailed. Comments here never stick to the topic.

    • Yes. And Trisha, if you were talking about my objections to the derail, it's not that I OBJECT to the derail. I'm just trying to point out how quick we all were to talk about the various faults of women. I even predicted it in my very first comment.

      It's like how discussions of rape can turn into endless debates on womens' dress and behavior and alcohol consumption and ANYTHING EXCEPT actual rapists and how they need to stop raping people.

  27. Can we discuss some scripts that women or other geeky men can use to nip harassment in the bud? I know I'm awesome at comebacks when someone other than me is being harassed, but I suck at sticking up for myself.

    • I second this request. I've had some luck with curbing thoughtless but gross language by being very literal about it ("You were sexually assaulted in your last PvP match? I'm so sorry to hear that. Do you need to go to the hospital?" "The revamped version of Ilum is sexually attracted to other MMO zones of the same gender? That's kind of hot."), but that's kind of useless against someone who's trying to hurt people's feelings.

    • Depending on the person and the general tone of the community, sometimes a flat "Wow. That's rude," or a double-take followed by "wait, do you REALLY think that's an acceptable way to talk?" can work. These work better IRL when you can get a withering tone of voice and stone-cold glare in, though.

    • Clementine Danger says:

      Personally I'm a big fan of the short, curt repetition. Don't give them anything to argue about or latch onto. You don't want to spend the rest of the night arguing about various cans of worms any more than the others do. Captain Awkward has a very good script:

      "Wow."

      Just that. I know from experience that it works. Just that "wow" with an uncomfortable pause. Let it linger. That takes real dedication, but it absolutely works. Just "wow", shaking your head or just looking baffled, letting the silence linger, then going back to whatever you were doing.

      It's really important not to give anyone ammunition, or something they can latch onto to start changing your mind. Giving detailed explanations to people is usually seen as an invitation to start refuting your points. Keep it short. "Wow" or "that's really offensive" or anything short and sweet like that, then change the topic. If they persist, repeat. "No. That's offensive." "I told you that is offensive." Resist the urge to debate about it or explain in detail why it's offensive, because there goes your entire night. I've had a lot of success with that.

      "Wow. [pause] So, other person, how did that thing with your sister turn out?"

      I'd also recommend avoiding sarcasm. It just makes people defensive and angry and more likely to want to spend the rest of the conversation listing all the reasons why you are wrong about everything.

  28. Bob Arthur says:

    I wholeheartedly agree that "speaking up" against women being abused in online gaming is something that people should be doing, and I absolutely recognise that the research described here demonstrates conclusively that gender is very much a factor in the amount and nature of such abuse. But may I please suggest that such a "zero tolerance" policy can and should be applied beyond the gender issues? I cannot stomach any form of open-access online gaming these days, because I'm just not prepared to spend time with people who think it's acceptable to refer to complete strangers as "fags", "bitches", "retards", or the rest of it.

    I realise that I probably come across as priggish and/or prudish, but I promise you that is far from the truth—I will quite happily swear
    like a trooper without thinking twice; no-one ever died from being told to fuck off. But when the line between hyperbolic and literal interpretations becomes blurred, as with far too much gaming trash-talk, it becomes far darker and much more dangerous.

    There is also the argument that, by extending the "jurasdiction" of what is deemed unacceptable beyond the gender issue, it would actually help that specific cause. While the study described here shows without a doubt that the argument that guys get it as bad as the girls is utter bollocks, it's quite likely that many of those responsible genuinely believe it to be the case, and aren't even aware of their own prejudice. Rather than (or better still, as well as) showing them that they are wrong about that, if we can snow them that it's no less unacceptable against men as it is women, it might break the cycle.

    • I totally agree that it shouldn't be acceptable from one guy to another either. I mean, it's one thing if you and your friends do that with each other with the understanding you don't really mean it, but quite different when you're hurling abuse at a total stranger. I'm sure there are lots of men who don't like that atmosphere, but are uncomfortable about possibly inviting more abuse if they speak up. Because for some reason it's seen as more manly to ignore crap people are doing that to speak your opinions. :(

    • Agreed! A lot of the abuse I've encountered online comes before anyone even knows my gender. You make a mistake during a raid or you don't have the most legendary gear and you're getting ripped to shreds. The whole culture sucks. I've had WoW and Borderlands ruined by this attitude, when I didn't have people to play with and was trying to earn the legendary stuff. In all instances, I just stopped playing because the games weren't fun anymore, having to feel like a loser.

  29. BritterSweet says:

    *reads the article* Yes! This is something everyone must participate in. Especially other men since, you gotta admit, women have been standing up against it for a long time already but are generally not being listened to.

    *reads some of the comments* What the hell? How can you miss the point so blatantly?!

  30. Why is it not possible to moderate chat? I don't play CoD or LoL or anything but I do play quite a bit of online poker and if you abuse people in chat someone can call a moderator and depending on severity you'll either get warned, silenced, booted, or some combination of the three. Probably a dumb noob question.

    Anyway, geek culture does definitely have a woman problem. Most big Magic the Gathering tournaments (Grand Prix etc) are streamed live on twitch.tv and any time a feature match features a woman the chat feature just turns into a cesspool of filth. Sad and depressing stuff.

    I can only imagine the usual nerd insecurity is the root cause.

  31. I used to be a serious gamer, but MMO gaming was never my strong suit–I preferred the more intimate experience of traditional RPGs. Even when I have played online games, I've never once engaged in any of this kind of nonsense; against neither men nor women. But I have to wonder–how much of this horrid misogyny and verbal assault is coming from teenaged boys? I've noticed that when I've played online shooters like Call of Duty, most of those who actually use their mics have squeaky, cracking voices. You get the occasional deep voiced, aggressive A-hole, but mostly it seems to be teenage boys playing the more competitive, violent online games like Counter Strike (that, and all of South Korea, of course). This is just a theory, of course, and either way, such treatment of other human beings is utterly abysmal.

    • I can't speak to FPS games, since I seldom play them. Accounts I've read have indicated that very young-sounding men are the worst culprits. The MMO audience is a little older. I've run into a couple of crude teenage boys, but the most poisonous, sexist guys I've encountered there have been around the average age for an MMO player – later 20s to middle 30s.

  32. Imagine you are trying to enter the boys club doing so because you want to claim your equality. Boys play rough with each other and rip each other to death. You discover that you are getting ripped. Pick one of these two choices: 1) I want to step up and play equally with the boys. 2) They boys need to stop that BS because now I am around.
    Those are the only two choices and no other side point can be made. Choose.

    • Unfortunately, those aren't actually my choices. I'd be fine with the first one. My actual choices are 1) I'm willing deal with the fact that a number of male players will harass me, condescend to me, or proposition me in ways they wouldn't if I were a male player, 2) I'm willing to spend a good portion of my gaming time calling out men who harass me, condescend to me, or proposition me in ways they wouldn't if I were a male player, or 3) I"m willing to radically alter the ways I play games, which I wouldn't have to do if I were a male player.

      If you actually read the article (or the accounts of women being harassed by members of their gaming groups), this isn't a case where women don't like being treated like the boys are, and want to come in and tell them to play nicely. We're dealing with treatment that's far worse than a random male player would receive. It's not at all unreasonable to expect that people treat me as well as (and no better than) they'd treat someone who was of a different gender.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      Now imagine you (male you) want to join the boys' club. After one particular party you wake up to find someone's dick up your ass. When confronted, all your boys club friends say "no, he would never do something like that" and otherwise refuse to treat it seriously. Do you 1)Accept that these guys don't think anal rape is a big deal and go along to get along or 2) Insist that boys stop the BS because you're around?

      Edit: It appears that the author has failed to live up to his title of Gentleman. In the previous post, please mentally replace the potentially offensive words "anal rape" with the more acceptable "buggery". Also please correct the spelling of "ass" to "arse". That is all.

    • If men were playing equally and trash-talking to women in the same way they trash-talk each other, there wouldn't be a problem. The problem is "I'm gonna <expletive> pwn you so hard!" (men trash-talking other men) vs. "I'm gonna <expletive> pwn you so hard, then rape your corpse, you stupid fat whore, also can we have sex, or at least show me your bewbs" (men trash-talking women)

      See the difference?

    • Clementine Danger says:

      There is so much wrong here I don't even.

      You're assuming it's a boys club. Why is that? Did I miss the memo? I never heard about any court ruling that said games are for boys and girls should adapt or shove off. But then again I don't watch the news all that often.

      Also, nice job on implying all "boys" are sexist jerks like you. I promise you, the overwhelming majority of them hates you for this. Really, it's only you and your little boys club of holdouts who still believe you're cool dudes for being such edgy suburban rebels.

      Maybe I couldn't give one single solitary fuck about equality. Maybe I just want to play games because I like playing games. But you're the kind of dude who thinks women enjoying things other than shopping and brunches that don't pass the Bechdel test is all part of the grand conspiracy of the vag to take all your toys away, aren't you? Don't worry. There's a nice spot reserved for you on a museum shelf with the other relics, like whites only drinking fountains and a "no Irish need apply" sign. You're going the way of the dodo buddy, and you'll be surprised by just how very little you will be missed.

      Really, it's you who has a choice here. Have a good time playing online games with all kinds of people, or keep right on being the dude I tell my grandkids about when I talk about the Bad Old Days. Either way I'm not losing any sleep over it.

  33. Does anyone else notice that, without fail, EACH AND EVERYTIME a "OMG this isn't even a big deal why are we talking about this" topic comes up, it tends to have far and away the largest amount of comments?

    It can't be just me…..but I'm SURE it's just a coincidence ;)

  34. Solution- force everyone to stop being anonymous- then shit they say can be attributed to them directly and have real legal consequences. Are you going to threaten to rape and kill people online (doesn't matter if these people are female or not), then guess what? You've earned yourself a harassment charge and might serve jail time. Won't look too good for your record, now will it?

    I don't particularly like online social gaming because let's face it, this is basically what our actual social groups would act like if they though they could get away with it without actual direct retaliation. The majority of rapists and physical batterers aren't monsters that hide in bushes, they're "friends," neighbors, classmates and family members. That's why they get away with their predatory behavior- because no one can believe that a person who has the ability to act decently and normally can also do or say things like that screenshot in the article above. This really just tells us that we have a long way to go before people are totally changed to treat others with respect and not just act like a bunch of jackasses. The change we need isn't just surface change- it is full change in and out. And I'm still not quite sure what will get us to that point. Perhaps the only way the human race can settle its differences and fight on a united front is if we can find another species to rally against (aliens? robots? sentient creatures evolved in an isolated place of the world?) because hatred seems built into our DNA.

    • I think that would curb the rape and murder threats and would persuade some gainfully-employed adults to behave more maturely. But there are all kinds of terrible ways of behaving that aren't illegal, and there will always be a group of players who aren't in a position to face other consequences (because they're too young, or unemployed, or the people around them don't object to that kind of behavior) or who just don't have the impulse control to be deterred by that kind of thing.

      So if everyone's name was publicly available, there would still be some horrible people playing games…except now, everyone would know for certain I was a woman and I wouldn't have the option of hiding behind a male avatar or a neutral account name. I think that would increase harassment, especially of the sexual sort, rather than decrease it. There would also be substantially more risk of anonymous offline harassment, since people could use my real life identity to look up my contact information, but I wouldn't necessarily know which of the thousands of avatars I'd seen in the game had chosen to send me that unsigned letter.

    • Dr_NerdLove says:

      The problem isn't anonymity so much as it is a lack of consequences for that action. There're plenty of people who act just like this on Facebook, with their names and faces in their profiles.Just check any of the slut-shaming groups.

      • Most of the people who do these things have no social power either. Many of them are very young, and do not yet differentiate between their private and public actions. Just ask anyone who took naked pictures of themselves as a 18 year old and put them up on the net later on when they've gotten into their late 20's or 30's.

        I've noticed that the worst trolls are people who are working shitty jobs (low level tech support, telemarketer, retail, etc) and don't see much room for growth or promotion. It's especially bad in our shitty economy where the majority of us will never get jobs that even hit the cost of living. So when you add that disenfranchisement to a massive (white male) entitlement complex, you get a bunch of asshats who basically go "everything is fucking me, so I'm going to fuck up other people with less power than me." I mean, they don't consciously think that, perhaps, but it's basically the same logic as the man who comes home from his shitty job at the coal mine after getting shouted at by his boss and beats up his wife and kids. These trolls are shitty. But they are also pathetic. So every time I get flack from some dumbass guy, I just think about him sitting alone in his room with his shitty Windows 98 computer wanking off to h-manga and crying because no one will touch his wiener. It also helps that I have training in using various types of weapons. So if a troll decides to come after me, he probably will get more than he bargained for. Most women, to some extent, are taught how to use weapons to defend themselves, because EVERYONE is always telling you how YOU WILL GET RAPED IF YOU EVER GO ANYWHERE as a woman. Just a head's up to the trolls who don't know any better. You try and rape and murder a woman, you might find yourself with two slugs in the chest. Because I might hit like a girl, but I can shoot like a soldier.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      I think the issue isn't lack of legal consequences but of social consequences. People don't act like this in person, or in games where you occasionally meet in person, because they don't want to be removed from the group. In Halo or COD, though, no matter how vile you are, you'll always be allowed to compete against the best players in the world online. On the other hand, the network operators do know their real names and can ban them if its documented and reported.

  35. I personally haven't come across much sexism in the gaming community, but that might be because of the games I play and the online communities I hang out in. Playing a game with voice chat probably wouldn't be too much of an issue with me, since my voice is somewhat, uh, gender neutral, especially through an electronic device, though if I was constantly getting harassed I'd probably turn it off too.

  36. I would also submit that this issue needs to be addressed urgently because it seems that almost all new games are online or multiplayer nowadays. I used to avoid this stuff by simply doing campaign/story mode in everything and was perfectly happy with it, but now with games like Borderlands encouraging or even requiring at least some group play, staying offline is nearly impossible.

    I tried using the QuickMatch system in BL2 to find some people to run end game content with and it was a nightmare. I have to wait to play with my sister & company, whose on a totally different schedule than me, to be able play with people who aren't just awful and rude before I've even said anything.

  37. It amazes me that in a culture(s) like our own we hear about those countries where women are still blamed and punished when bad things happen to them. The places where they exist hidden from the world covered in fabric, taught that that life is somehow noble of them, and guarded over by male relatives because other men might see her, might do something, and if it happens…she provoked it somehow, it’s never his fault, he doesn’t have to take responsibility for his actions. We hear about these things and are appalled. We look at ourselves and “know” that we are far ahead of them, more civilized, rational, and respectful; we have come farther than they have.

    And yet… certain communities within our own culture(s), as well at certain percents of the population, make it blatantly clear that that exact SAME pattern still exists right here under the surface. As free countries who see ourselves as having reached well farther than those certain other places this is incredibly disappointing, and those who are trying to continue to steer us in the same direction as those “lesser” cultures should be ashamed. Clearly the game communities, etc., that treat women badly for lack of knowing how to be around and respect us have much in common with countries who have the same problem. I will never understand their need to offend and abuse…one would think by nature they would *want* women to like them…not force us to hate them. (Is there a biological drive to weed themselves out of the gene pool?)

    More directly on the specific topic of gaming… I am a player and staff member of a small gaming community (mmorpg) that recently faced it’s own such upset among the staff. Unfortunately a few male staff members, adults, found it reasonable to sexually harass an underage female member. The older woman who called them on it was of course initially accused of being jealous among other things. One of the men saw his error in getting swept up into it and made his apologies. Two others are no longer staff. One played victim on his way out, the whistle blower having caused him an undue level of stress the poor dear.

    I am proud and grateful to be part of a community of men and women who DID to the right thing when a few went wrong and does not stand for disregarding the respect, opinions, and validity of the women within this group.

  38. Alexander Case says:

    I've actually been giving this topic a lot of thought recently – even before I read this article, and I had a bit of a thought. Those of us (us being gamers in general) – particularly those who use services like Xbox Live where you have to pay to use it, and where you can be kicked off the service for violating the terms of service – need to report people who spout this misogynist crap, and we need to do it every time. If we can take the time to mute someone, we can take the time to report someone. No excuses, no exceptions. The only way to make the service better is to say that we've had enough and act on it – particularly since unlike PCs we can't start up our own dedicated server that's misogyny free.

    Not sure how you'd do this on PS3/4 though.

  39. I guess I'm the female gamer that says: Bring it…I have been called many names by faceless men but I give as good as I get. These guys are going to run their mouths because they can hide behind that television screen. Holding the accountable…please ! This isn't going to do anything. I've been told to get back into the kitchen more times than I can count. Is this going to bother me? Hell no..All I'm going to do is play better than them and make sure they know I played better than them. These petty little boys are just that petty little boys. It doesn't matter the age its all the same, we females threaten their sense of masculinity and the only way they can retaliate is by trying to hurt us with words. I guess myself and the other women I play with have thicker skins because there is no way these "men" are going to make me feel any less or quit playing. Ill make them quit before I give up playing the games I'm better at than them.

    • Yeah, but just because you're willing to put up with it doesn't mean we don't need to change the culture (the Doc's main suggestion). The gaming community shouldn't just be for men and women who are willing to prove they have value a thousand times over and are okay with receiving rape threats. The gaming community should be a place where survivors have a place. The gaming community should be a place where rape threats aren't a commonplace occurrence. You may be tough as nails and ready to slog it out, but the culture still needs to change because right now it is a mess.

  40. See, this is why I love a lot of bioware games, especially DA2 at the moment, because the women (apart from Isabella who's job description requires low standards) are well clothed and Aveline is the freaking Guard Captain. I love how a lot of games are now marketing for both audiences like Halo: Reach. Why do men/boys/ sexist shit stains feel the need to out us down for our love of the game simply because we are female? I'm not lying to get attention, I'm playing for the same reason as them, but why are we treated differently? If four out of ten gamers is female, if game designers lose these people, a lot of money is lost.

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  43. NotAnExpert says:

    I'm a tad late to this female power party, but I will post a comment anyway.

    It is a truly sexist world in the gaming community, with people as young a 9, Yes 9, telling a girl that she is a 'Whore' and that he'll go and 'Find her and rape the slut' just because she won a Tekken Battle. I'm not saying that girls are perfect though, there are the ones who deliberately provoke the attention just to start a war for their own satisfaction. But this doesn't condone the fact that male gamers are all too happy to make a female gamer feel unwelcome whether they have done anything wrong or not.

    Fortunately there are a few who stand up for us girls, shutting down the sexist big talkers and ultimately kicking them from the game if things go too far, but this has only really happened a few times throughout my online gaming life, most other male gamers just go with the flow and either ignore the insults and let them have their way with talking shit about that female voice who just logged on or they end up just joining in so not to seem like a 'pussy' to all the guys.

    Not that I am expecting every guy to come to my rescue the moment someone starts hating on me for being me, I can indeed take care of myself, but if things become out of hand and the insults become personal and the girl seems to be taking offense then someone should step in and help handle the situation (Without being patronising though, girls don't appreciate that)
    You may seem like a pussy to that one guy who goes through life putting down girls but to everyone else you are the guy with the balls to tell him where to go and that is what will eventually end this feud between sexes and it will earn you respect, I'm sure if guys help us out then us girls will help them out if a girl decides to try and shut him down for no reason during online play.

    Admittedly, I have considered hanging up my headset on more than one occasion after a few too many unprovoked insults went too far, and if other girls out there feel the same then they have my pity, just because people can hide behind a screen and never have to deal with this type of confrontation in person, it makes them believe they can talk how they want. If a girl walked into an arcade, you don't see guys tellng her to 'Get the fuck out' or calling her a slut even before she has a chance to walk a few centremeters through the door, so why should it be okay to do so over the internet?

    Something has to be done, if anyone insults a girl or just ANYONE for that matter, then it should be stopped before it gets out of hand, sure, gaming is competitive but when things become personal then it's not funny anymore and people need to realise that.

    Sorry, this became more of a rant than a comment, I just feel strongly about this having experienced it first hand many times.

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