Saturday, 8 September 2012

On Sexism in Gaming

I game.  Mainly RPG and RTS, the odd driver, the odd shooter.  Sexism and rape culture don't bother creeping through Gamer Space, they stomp about in hobnailed boots.  Any argument with a woman can be resolved with a threat of rape.  A lad's bruised pride at being fragged by a woman can be readily bandaged with a threat of rape.  That isn't to say that all guys in Gamer Space are like this - they aren't - but a significant number of dickheads are ruining the culture.  It's fubar.

So I encountered this article today.

He's blunt about privilege in saying that society sets men above women. It does. Denying this serves nothing. The article is aimed in large part at forum mods, game mods, sysops and the like. Thus, a little paternalism is not incongruous with the audience, as it would be their job to tell others what to do anyway.

Meanwhile, the language (though well-intentioned) is clunky and occasionally problematic because he's not a hardcore feminist theorist. Most guys aren't. The thing is, in order for men everywhere to experience a paradigm shift in their intergender relations, the few guys who get things like privilege, rape culture and the like are the ones who'll have to explain it to their fellows. This is a given, as the eejits who've got their heads stuck firmly up their privilege just won't hear it from a woman. Some men will only be reached by other men, and so the responsibility to educate these individuals must rest with those who are able to do so.

During the course of this translation of feminism into the language of egotesticle, some language may go slightly awry, some words might be misplaced, some things may become simplified, or may not be explained to the standard of someone with an MA in Women's Studies. If however, the overall effect is to raise the consciousness of others, even slightly, then such hiccups are best excused rather than jumped upon.

I've encountered guys like this in Gamer Space, guys taking this sort of stand. I won't mention gamertags, but a few of those I've gotten to know are guys who know someone who has been raped, have seen the mess left behind, and don't like people making light of it. They don't have the grounding in activism or any sort of training in challenging this shit, they just do it cos it seems like the right thing to do.

Empowering women is half the battle. Don't get me wrong, it's crucial. Women need to be empowered to challenge this shit on their own turf and on their own terms, no argument from me. Just as true is that those men who recognise rape culture for what it is and see it as problematic need to be empowered to challenge it, to take aside another guy and say "this is no way to treat a human being". Men can often be raised in environments where taking a woman's side on matters of sexism is seen as compromising his own masculinity, or causing unnecessary divisions within a group, and these notions must be challenged before an ally can feel empowered to challenge the sexist behaviour of others. This is especially true in Gamer Space. When a guy tells another guy that he doesn't compromise his own masculinity in challenging sexism, this is a validating and empowering thing, and increases the likelihood that future behaviours will not go unchallenged.

I'll be moderating comments on this post.  Reasonable debate is fine but I shan't be hosting a flame war.


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