Category Archives: sexism

#endGamerGate2014 Linkspam

I’ve been paying attention to Gamer Gate, because as a woman who plays games and who likes to see diverse representation of characters and stories, they’re a group that does not have my interest at heart, and are likely to actively target me.  Fortunately I’m not famous, and in Australia, which means I have several degrees of protection, not afforded to other prominent women in the gaming industry.

So instead of putting this in my general linkspam, I’ll put it all here so that those of you who aren’t interested can skip it.

You know you’ve made it big when the main stream media picks up on what you’ve been doing – but making it big isn’t always a positive thing.  When the mainstream media are looking at you like something they wished they hadn’t stepped in, perhaps continuing the bad fight is not optimal for your movement.

Anyway, onto the posts!

Jay Hathaway writes at Gawker, “What Is Gamergate, and Why? An Explainer for Non-Geeks“:

What is #Gamergate?

“#GamerGate” is an online movement ostensibly concerned with ethics in game journalism and with protecting the “gamer” identity.


Even regarded generously, Gamergate isn’t much more than a tone-deaf rabble of angry obsessives with a misguided understanding of journalistic ethics. But there are a lot of reasons not to regard the movement generously.

Jessica Valenti at The Guardian writes, “Gamergate is loud, dangerous and a last grasp at cultural dominance by angry white men“:

The recent uproar – said to be over ethics in journalism but focused mostly on targeting outspoken women who aren’t journalists at all – is just the last, desperate gasp of misogynists facing an unwelcoming future. But this particular bitter end, while long overdue, is loud, angry and extremely dangerous.

Female game developers Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn have fled their homes in fear after a terrifying barrage of rape and death threats. Feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian was forced to cancel a talk last week at Utah State University after the school received an email promising a “Montreal Massacre-style” mass shooting if the “craven little whore” was allowed to speak. And despite assurances from Gamergate supporters that they have no problem with women, their de facto leaders are being outed as violent misogynists.

Charlie Brooker at The Guardian writes, “Gamergate: the internet is the toughest game in town – if you’re playing as a woman“:

I haven’t always been the kind of man who plays videogames. I used to be the kind of boy who played videogames. We’re inseparable, games and I. If you cut me, I’d bleed pixels. Or blood. Probably blood, come to think of it.

Games get a bad press compared with, say, opera – even though they’re obviously better, because no opera has ever compelled an audience member to collect a giant mushroom and jump across some clouds. Nobody writes articles in which opera-lovers are mocked as adult babies who never grew out of make-believe and sing-song; obsessive misfits who flock to weird “opening nights” wearing elaborate “tuxedo” cosplay outfits.

On no account go to the opera yourself: you’ll probably run into a mafia boss. According to at least one film I think I saw once, mafia bosses love opera, because there’s loads of death and killing in it. Yet politicians don’t table motions solemnly condemning opera’s dangerous level of violence.

There seems to be a small yet vocal core of maniacs bafflingly resistant to the notion that women should have any say in the games industry at all. Even recent statistics indicating that female players now outnumber men can’t sway them, thanks to a lazy assumption that most of those women are playing Candy Crush or other, equally non-taxing “casual games” apparently un worthy of being called “games” at all. I don’t think that’s true, and even if it were, I wouldn’t blame women for voluntarily choosing to play something soothing and non-threatening in their free time, since they spend so much of the rest of their time being forced to play a terrifying survival horror MMORPG colloquially known as “The Internet”. Women are the hardest hardcore gamers there are, by miles.

Jon Stone at The Guardian writes, “Gamergate’s vicious right-wing swell means there can be no neutral stance“:

One thing they really do have in common is a desire for positive press coverage. When I wrote a blog post last week examining the permutations of zealotry within Gamergate and the way the movement misunderstands and perverts the language of reason, it was dismissed as one of a number of “biased” articles that only told one side of the story.

But even leaving aside the fact that Gamergate’s “argument” is an irreconcilable mess of trembly fingered accusations, vendettas and uncertain nods to complex problems, the fact remains that there is only one “side” to be discussed, and that is Gamergate itself. As much as it would like to nominate as its opponent a power-axis of leftist games critics, mainstream journalists, developers, activists and academics, this axis doesn’t exist.

Nor do Gamergate’s critics mass beneath any banner, or rally together to punish individual targets the way Gamergate does. The misdemeanours alluded to are many and various because this “other side” is simply people from all walks of life, gamers and non-gamers alike, reacting (or not reacting, as the case may be) to Gamergate.

Chris Kluwe writes at Medium, “Why #Gamergaters Piss Me The F*** Off“:

There’s this herd of people, mainly angsty teenage caucasian men (based on an informal survey of 99 percent of the people who feel the need to defend this nonsense to me on Twitter), who feel that somehow, their identity as “gamers” is being taken away. Like they’re all little Anne Franks, hiding in their basements from the PC Nazis and Social Justice Warrior brigades, desperately protecting the last shreds of “core gaming” in their unironically horrible Liveblog journals filled with patently obvious white privilege and poorly disguised misogyny. “First they came for our Halo 2’s, and I said nothing.”

Gaming is part of who I am, I can promise you that.

Thus, when I see an article titled “Gamers are dead,” referring to the death of the popular trope of a pasty young man in a dimly lit room, it fills me with joy, because it means WE FUCKING WON. So many people are playing games now that they are popular culture. They are not going away. All sorts of cool things, that I like, are now things that a whole bunch of other people like! There’s enough space now for people to make games that are strange and disturbing and maybe highlight a different perspective of the world, because gaming is no longer a niche activity, it’s something that everybody does. There is room for art in video games. That’s awesome!

Brendan Keogh, an Australian game critic wrote at Ungaming:

I was having a conversation with a fairly polite gamergater. They asked me a bunch of questions and I asked if I could reply with a tumblr post instead of a hundred tweets, so this is that post. There was an ongoing conversation before this point, which you should be able to find via the links easily enough.

I find this idea that journos don’t respect the gaming audience or their readership really interesting, and it comes up again and again. But, really, what I see haters saying as ‘not respecting’ their readership is, to me, just journos not pandering to their readership. You don’t have to look far to see sporting outlets condemning abusive fans at sporting events or film outlets condemning the spreading of nude pics by fans of celebrity actors. These writes, along with the games journos who condemn the more toxic elements of gaming’s culture, don’t do this because they don’t respect videogame players. They do it because they do respect them enough not to pander to them. Go back just a decade or so, and all games journalism is nothing but a celebration of how great videogames are. This weird insider “we’re one of you” kind of tone permeates old issues of gaming mags where those non-gamers just don’t you, but we get you, we are you. We’ll tell you what you want to hear about how great and politically incorrect this or that game is.

A storify of tweets about the Escapists coverage of Gamer Gate, “Game Devs on Gamergate“.

Hayley Tsukayama at The Washington Post wrote, “The game industry’s top trade group just spoke out against Gamergate“:

That prompted the the nation’s top trade group for video game companies to speak out Wednesday. “Threats of violence and harassment are wrong,” said a spokesman for the Entertainment Software Association in a statement. “They have to stop. There is no place in the video game community—or our society—for personal attacks and threats.”

It’s a simple statement. But it indicates just how seriously the gaming industry is working to break free of the worst stereotypes of its community. Game culture is, no doubt, changing. The ESA now boasts that women comprise nearly 50 percent of its audience. The push toward mobile gaming, in particular, has expanded the industry’s audience at a faster rate than ever before. The Gamergate controversy has drawn attention to the worst kind of video game player — misogynistic, violent and reactionary.

In other words, exactly the kind of player that the industry no longer wishes to be the face of the industry.

Arthur Chu at The Daily Beast writes, “Of Gamers, Gates, and Disco Demolition: The Roots of Reactionary Rage“:

The biggest 1970s music bonfire was not done by a church, and the records they destroyed weren’t metal records. And they didn’t use kerosene and a match, they used explosives. And rather than singing hymns and being quietly self-righteous, the event erupted into an orgy of violent rage.

I’m talking, of course, about the ill-fated promotion the Chicago White Sox ran on July 12, 1979, known as “Disco Demolition Night.” (Most notably written about by Dr. Gillian Frank in this scholarly retrospective.)

What exactly made so many people—let’s not be coy here, so many young white men—hate disco so much? An aversion to a steady dance backbeat? A dislike of orchestral instrumentation? What?

Did it have nothing to do with the fact that disco icons were frequently black women like Gloria Gaynor and Diana Ross, who sang anthems of empowerment like “I Will Survive” and “I’m Coming Out” and seemed like the polar opposite of the aggressively macho white frontmen rock fans idolized?

Just look at the rhetoric used by angry 1970s rock fans to bash disco. It goes beyond just finding the music unpleasant, it invokes the rhetoric of legitimacy. Disco artists aren’t “real” musicians. They don’t play their instruments live, like rock guitar gods; it’s too “produced,” it’s too “studio,” it’s fake.

Moreover, guys who listen to disco are fake. They dress in expensive leisure suits and hang out at fancy clubs. They don’t get down in the dirt and tear it up like us hard-core, genuine, masculine fans. They’re not real men, and women like them for not being real men, which is unacceptable. The face of the New American Man under the disco reign of terror is John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever. You don’t want your sons growing up like that, do you?

I’m afraid of masculinity, and privilege, of the male sense of “honor” they combine to create, and the incredible reservoir of madness that “honor” can unleash when it’s threatened. Of how incredibly petty the offense can be and how insanely disproportionate the retaliation can be.

Brianna Wu writes at XO Jane, “It Happened To Me”:

They threatened the wrong woman this time. I am the Godzilla of bitches. I have a backbone of pure adamantium, and I’m sick of seeing them abuse my friends.

The misogynists and the bullies and the sadist trolls of patriarchal gaming culture threatened to murder me and rape my corpse, and I did not back down. They tried to target my company’s financial assets and I did not back down. They tried to impersonate me on Twitter in an attempt to professionally discredit me and I did not back down.

The BBC called me “Defiant,” in a caption. I plan to frame and put it on my wall.

My name is Brianna Wu. Ordinarily, I develop videogames with female characters that aren’t girlfriends, bimbos and sidekicks. I am a software engineer, a popular public speaker and an expert in the Unreal engine.

Today, I’m being targeted by a delusional mob called “Gamergate.”

Devin Faraci at Badass Digest writes, “Why GamerGate Already Lost“:

When this news broke something happened: everyone on Twitter blamed GamerGate, the harassment campaign organized under a hashtag and run off the kiddie-porn disseminating website 4chan for being too extreme. While the threatening letter never mentioned GamerGate it was pretty clear that this lunatic was on their wavelength. Despite protestations that GamerGate is about ethics in journalism (we’ll get to why that’s hardcore bullshit), it’s been mostly a force for hounding women, especially Sarkeesian and indie developer Zoe Quinn, with developer Brianna Wu becoming the latest women run out of her home by specific violent threats from GamerGaters.

The Sarkeesian threat name-dropped Marc Lépine, who was the Elliott Rodger of Montreal, murdering 14 women in a self-described battle against feminism – the same enemy that GamerGate says it fights. This is the world of GamerGate, sick, pathetic men who are so threatened by women that they must either murder them or terrorize them into silence.

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My new pledge – no more games with only male characters

I was at work, doing worky things and my ex-intern, but still my minion, shares with me a link for the Kickstarter of Kingdom Come: Deliverance.   He knows I am a gamer, as is he.

I scroll through to see if it is something that I’d enjoy playing or not, and find one of the stretch goals – at raising $600K, the developers will add a “Playable female character”.  This, I should add, is the fourth stretch goal, and the character developed is not the main character, but is a character you can play as part of a memory, or prequel who helps the actual main character, a bloke, end up where he is when the story of the game begins.

Wow, I thought to myself, me and people like me are optional extras for game developers, and that’s when I decided – I will no longer play games where there are only dudes present as options, or where the developers think that playable female characters are only worthy of a stretch goal.

The developers of Kingdom Come: Deliverance were criticised by players and others for their lack of playable female characters, and they fell back on “this is a period game set in Europe in the 15th century, women weren’t heroes” (not an exact quote).

Anyone who knows anything about history knows that women foughtJoan d’Arc was alive and well in the 15th century, and she fought.  Saint Geneveive didn’t fight, but she certainly was active in the fields of war, negotiation, and keeping shit real in Paris in the 5th century.  Then you know there is a proud history of women pirates.

There was nothing stopping the developers saying, “right, the main character is either man or a woman (your choice), but the female character will have to disguise herself as a boy/man because of the environment/culture/time period that this game is set, and may have extra levels of difficulty because of that”, because I’m certain that women often did that, as they do today in places where appearing as a girl or woman can be risky.

But back to my pledge.  I will no longer play a game if the only character options are men, or male anthropomorphised creatures.  From now on, I will only play games that allow the selection of men/women/neuter characters, where the main character is a women, or where the player is effectively an ungendered god (ie myself).  This means that there are plenty of new games that will come highly rated and recommended that I will not play.  I was looking forward to Watch Dogs, but as the only protag in the game is yet another dude, I’m not going to play it.

As it turns out, looking at all the games in my play list, and on the shelf, the ones I’m most likely to play are those with options for different gendered characters, so it’s not like my pledge is going to be hard personally – but imagine if lots of people made this pledge.  Imagine if we as consumers forced gaming companies to actually portray women and girls as active story-tellers in their own lives?  Imagine if women and girls were not sexualised objects, or Ms Men, or motivations for male characters to do other things – how much richer stories would be told then?

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The messages we get


Be quiet.  If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.  Silence is a virtue.  Don’t talk back.  Don’t make a scene.  Good things come to those who wait.  Be patient.


Don’t do that, do this.  Don’t do that, do this.  Don’t drink.  Don’t drive.  Don’t go to that neighbourhood.  Don’t go out at night.  Don’t be alone.  Don’t be alone with them.  Learn a martial art.  Be loud, shout.  Fight.  Don’t leave your drink unattended.  Don’t get drunk.  Don’t take any risks.  Plan everything.


Be nice to men.  Don’t be nice to women.  It’s a competition.  Dress like this, no like this, no like this.  Show more/less skin.  Don’t dress like that.  Don’t earn more than your boyfriend/husband.  Don’t be more educated than your boyfriend/husband.  Don’t be queer.  Be sexually available.  Don’t have sex on the first date.  Play hard to get.  Tease.  Flirt.  He didn’t mean it.  Why didn’t you leave?


It doesn’t matter that you earn less than men.  This is not a career path for women.  Don’t negotiate for a payrise, you’ll be seen as a bitch.  You’ll have a husband to support you in your retirement, so why care about super?  You don’t need to worry your pretty head about money and budgeting.


Your voice isn’t important.  Your opinions don’t matter.  This issue that affects you is better discussed by a man.  Men write better than you.  Men know more than you.  Your issue isn’t important.  You can only write/publish in the “women’s interest” areas.  No one would take you seriously if you wrote about politics/the economy/sport/violence.


As a man, I can speak personally about abortion.  You have no merit.  Institutional sexism is perfectly fine and we’re doing nothing to change it.  Your sex appeal is more important than your policies and ability to do your job.  Having children shows you’re a real woman.  Having children shows you cannot dedicate your full attention to politics.


You’re too skinny.  You’re too fat.  Exercise more.  Use this cream/lotion.  Don’t use that cream/lotion.  Eat this type of food.  Don’t eat that type of food.  Avoid carbs/protein/fat/everything.  Starve yourself thin.  Your body isn’t yours, it belongs to everyone else.  Do you feel ashamed to have your body yet?  You are beautiful.  You’re an ugly slut.


Be nice.  Don’t have self esteem.  Be confident.  Fake it until you make it.  Feel ashamed.  Be empowered.  Be patient.  Be kind.  Don’t be rude.  Don’t stand up for yourself.  Be cautious.


Women have more emotions than men.  Smile.  Don’t be angry.  Be calm.  Don’t cry.  Don’t scream.  Don’t be afraid.  Be afraid.  Women make no sense.  Women cannot be trusted to know their own feelings.


You belong at home.  You belong in the kitchen.  You belong with me.  You are mine.  You belong with the children.


Sound familiar?

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A random and unidentified visit

I had a random (and anonymous) comment left on my blog quite recently, and thought I’d share it all with you.  It’s on my “Roses only… more like sexist only” blog post.

The commenter said:

Bec, it’s just an ad… get over it.
They’re not playing into anything, they’re doing a good job at selling their product.
I’m sure if you were trying to sell lots of your over-priced flowers you’d be trying to do whatever it takes to get people to buy them too.

Continue reading A random and unidentified visit

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