I've changed my mind, the internet sucks

Sunday, 5 October 2014

I'm not really joking either.

I mentioned on Friday's 7 Quick Takes that I had a post about feminism and videogames lined up. Because I did; it was written, I just needed to put in a few links and pictures. It was a time-sucker of a post. A couple of evenings literally melted away while I wrote, deleted, rewrote.

I kept putting off posting it.

I did a bit more research.

And now I have deleted it.

For two reasons:

A) I don't know enough about it. All I know about the portrayal of women in videogames is from playing them myself, so I wrote from that perspective. When I started to research this, I realised that it is a hugely emotive issue, extensively researched and written about, and suddenly all I had to say was kind of pointless.

B) The amount of hassle that women get from daring to comment on the gaming industry makes my blogging about it not worth it.

Although thinking about it, I'm kind of blogging about it right now. The crux of the post was: I enjoy videogames. I do not enjoy the way women are sometimes portrayed in said games. I do NOT enjoy the way female gamers are treated by some male gamers.

And I feel like saying that alone, if I was at all popular on the internet, would be enough to get me into trouble.

During my research, I got sucked into a baffling world of darkness and hatred. That sounds like a blurb for a terrible horror novel or something, but it's true. I read about women in gaming, and women speaking out about gaming, and I read about what happened to them, the hatred that spewed forth from what seems like a literal army of trolls, and I literally felt myself recoil in disgust, physically leaning away from the computer.

Because it's awful. The way that people treat each other is disgusting. Somehow, with real life removed and replaced with a screen, people seemingly turn into monsters. Their humanity gets taken away. And words scream out like they mean nothing. To call someone a bitch, or a whore, or a slut, or much worse, is normal. To threaten someone with publishing nude photos, with stalking, with violence, with rape, even with death, is, to a small but very vocal part of the internet, acceptable.

Listen: I like videogames. But my life doesn't revolve around them. In fact, the last game I played all the way through was Bioshock Infinite, and that was quite a while ago. I just don't have time any more. But even I am dismayed by how women are portrayed in some games. To the point where I would turn to my blog, and write about it. To the point where I would happily support gamers who are calling for equality in the games industry. What would it be like if videogames were more of a hobby for me? Or even a career? How would I feel working in an industry that has so many issues still to resolve?

I hope I'd feel determined to make a change. To make it easier. To make young women feel welcomed into an industry that is flourishing hugely.

But would I?

Or would I be bombarded with death threats, like Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn? Would I be harassed if I wrote about problems in the games industry, like Leigh Alexander? 

And would it make me back down?

I don't know. This past week or so, I have been pondering the issue of feminism a lot. I am a feminist, in its purest sense of the word. I believe in equality for both genders. I don't believe that all women and all men fit into rigid personalities or roles; I say that as a stay at home mother relying entirely on her husband's income, I know, but it was my choice to do that. There is a massive, massive problem facing women around the world: we are marginalised, threatened, belittled, mutilated, silenced. Daily. All over the world, young women are being treated as objects, as commodities to be passed around, to be sold and bought.

Talking about something as trivial as videogames, then, seems almost pointless.

But do you know what? It isn't. And I back these women, that are calling on the games industry to make changes. I might not agree with everything they say or do, but I applaud what they stand for. No, I don't think all gamers are hateful nerds, sitting in their parent's basement with nothing better to do than harass girls online; I know that most gamers aren't like that. Partly because I am friends with some of them, partly because I married one of them, and partly because if I had more time, I'd consider myself to be one. 

Gaming has gotten a pretty bad press recently, I know. I'm probably not making it look any better. But the industry has serious, serious issues. Women should be able to talk about videogames without being threatened with rape. Girls should be allowed to play games online without being sexually harassed.

These things are important. Because they reflect an underlying view of women as lesser, weaker, smaller, dumber. Things to look at, to use, and to be put neatly back in their box, quietly putting up with blatant misogyny, or else.

Or else we'll send you threatening messages.

Or else we'll stalk you.

Or else we'll threaten to rape you.

Or else we'll threaten to kill you.

For those that are calling on huge changes in gaming culture: I applaud you. I stand with you. To the women that call out sexism in the industry in which they work, the women that continue to do so even though it would be totally understandable if you quit: I'm with you.

Hey, it looks like I've written a post about feminism and videogames after all!


  1. YES!!! Love this. I literally wanted to applaud at your penultimate paragraph. Thanks for writing this xx

    1. Hehe, thank you. I went off on a bit of a rant! xx


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