Occasionally, it feels like the comics and video game industries have a competition to demonstrate which group can be more hostile and unfriendly towards the women who want to participate in them. It’s like a particularly fucked up game of Texas Grope ‘Em; comics has the little blind with Joe Peacock’s comments about fake geek girls, video games make the big blind with Aris Bakhtanians1 and then comics raises the stakes by turning Starfire from a strong character with nuanced views on open relationships and body modesty (or a 12 year old girl who drinks mustard and believes in the power of friendship) into a hyper-violent sex beast with the memory of a goldfish. Next, games tries to buy the pot with Penny Arcade’s dickwolves AND the backlash against Anita Sarkeesian and then comics feels like it’s going to get lucky on the river and ups the ante with the story of Tess Fowler’s harassment by a prominent comic book author.
So of course, the games industry goes all in with the story of a female game developer who ends up being sexually harassed by a journalist. Naturally, people recognized this as being unacceptable behavior and were quietly supportive of the game dev and looked at how to break down the toxic culture that makes sexual harassment and mistreatment of women so disturbingly common in male-dominated industries.
No, I’m totally fucking with you. The comments sections turned into the customary shit show, with guys flinging their poop around like bored chimpanzees after a long night of Taco Bell and Sriracha, with the usual rounds of victim blaming, concern-trolling and the traditional cry of “get over it”.
Now, the story in and of itself is over; the harasser in question, Josh Mattingly, has delivered a long and very public apology on his blog and acknowledges that what he did was reprehensible. So I don’t want to beat on him. What I do want to talk about are the people who continue to not get what the big fucking deal was. Because, just like with the Tess Fowler story, this isn’t terribly unusual; as with the comics industry, every friend I have who works in games has a similar story, not just about harassment, but about the shitstorm that inevitably follows whenever they mention it.
- AKA Dirtbag Hagrid [↩]