A common issue in games journalism that has been talked about over the past couple of years is sexism. The debate reached a boiling point with the launch of Anita Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter for Tropes vs Women in Videogames.
Since the launch of the series in March 2013, and episodes appearing once every few months, the interest on the topic has died down significantly. However, that hasn’t stopped gaming rags like Kotaku and Polygon from publishing the occasional clickbait piece on the subject.
The latter of which recently posted an op-ed piece entitled “Playing with privilege: the invisible benefits of gaming while male” by Jonathan McIntosh, producer of the aforementioned Tropes vs Women series.
Let me start off by saying that I want more women playing videogames. Videogames have reached a point where the medium is pushing out a wide variety of great titles, some even, such as The Last of Us can even go toe to toe with high budget major movies.
The days of the “games are for nerds” stereotype are long gone. Videogames should be a hobby and artform that’s accepted by everyone, regardless of gender, age or social status.
However, a small portion of the gaming community still latches onto the “games are for nerds” stereotype. They want the medium to remain exclusively enjoyed by them and others like them.
While these people are a very small minority of the community, they’re also a pretty loud voice.
McIntosh does make a good effort of bringing a very real issue to light, the article is ridiculously one sided, and quite frankly, promotes a dangerous and archaic “women are always the victims, men are always the aggressors” rhetoric.
The article reads, “This phenomenon is often referred to as Male Privilege. The term may sound a little bit like academic jargon, but it’s useful in helping describe the set of unearned advantages men automatically receive, and which women do not given the same social circumstances. As in the rest of society, male privilege can manifest in both overt and subtle ways inside gaming culture.”
McIntosh goes on to say, “With that in mind this checklist is my attempt to identify some of the concrete benefits and bonuses my fellow male gamers and I are afforded simply by virtue of being male. I say “some of the privileges” because I’m certain that I have missed a whole host of others that remain invisible to me.”
The included “checklist”, entitled “Daily Effects of Male Gamer Privilege” includes 25 examples of what is supposedly “unearned advantages man automatically receive”. Yet all twenty five examples boil down to the same argument, “Men Don’t Face Disrespect Based on Their Gender”.
Regardless of the fact that claiming that “not being disrespected” is some sort of “unearned advantage” being completely moronic, why would men dish out disrespect toward other men, entirely based on their gender? That would also be pretty fuckin’ idiotic.
The article also conveniently doesn’t address why (a small subset of) the gaming community do completely disrespect women for being women. Arguments like these are consistently based on the claim that “videogame culture is inherently toxic, and ‘supporting’ it means you are enabling misogyny!”
Videogame culture is not toxic. It’s not inherently misogynistic. It’s a male dominated space, but just because a community is largely composed of men, does not mean we want to actively exclude those who aren’t men. Nor that communities and spaces largely occupied by men are quote-unquote “problematic”.
Unless you demand special treatment for being different, you will find that the majority of people will treat you in the same way they treat everyone else.
That isn’t to say there are a few exceptions though. There are plenty of people with shitty attitudes in the gaming community, who will, for example, demand that women provide evidence that they’re knowledgeable enough on videogames to deserve to be able to enjoy them.
These people don’t hate women, though.
They’re the same type of person who will call you a casual if you state that you enjoy anime, but haven’t watched the latest flavour of the month moeshit loli show.
They’re the same person who gets angry that people will get interested in comic books after seeing The Avengers or The Dark Knight.
They’re the same stereotypical hipster who will trash a band they like the second they get any form of mainstream recognition.
These people will shit on anyone to inflate their ego. No matter who they are, what gender, race, sexuality or anything. They shit on others to make themselves think they’re “better” at enjoying content.
These people don’t hate women. They’re threatened by them.
An attractive woman, by default, has a much higher social standing than your average basement dweller who considers enjoying a medium some sort of personal achievement.
So, women are a particular target, because this minority subsection of the gaming community are threatened by people who will dare do anything to make their medium more socially accepted. Which is absolutely pathetic.
And honestly, I’m offended.
I’m offended that you choose to give power to these people and their opinions.
I’m offended that you have decided that a vocal minority of a community is the voice of me and everyone else in my community.
Most of all, I’m offended that after writing this piece, you then took to Twitter to exclaim that you were surprised that you “have yet to receive any death or rape threats”. As if you’re some sort of victim for “speaking out at the evil male gamers!!!11.”
This is my community. I grew up in this community. This community is part of my life.
You don’t have to be a part of this community. You’re free to enjoy videogames without interacting with others who enjoy it.
But I’ll defend my community from you, as much as I defend the people who want to be part of this community, but are told they aren’t allowed to because of their gender, sexuality, race or even social status.