Geek Break: Why female gamers are brave to speak out on the internet

I’m taking a break from writing about travel to address something that’s really bothering me. I’m going to be up front and say something that can prove to be extremely controversial on the internet. I’m kind of a feminist. I believe that people should be treated equally, that women shouldn’t be treated badly because they’re women and that men shouldn’t fell less like men because they have feelings. I believe that the idea of fake gamer girls is a virus to the geek community and that geek men are wrongly portrayed in the media as fat, ugly, antisocial monsters.

Most importantly to today’s topic is that I believe that harassing anyone for any reason is wrong. My boyfriend brought this article to my attention today, knowing that I would have interest in it. Long story short, this article talks about the ongoing harassment towards Gamespot editor Carolyn Petit over her review of Grand Theft Auto Five. She released her review about the game stating that she LOVED IT. She also spent 30 seconds of the video saying that she found the game profoundly misogynistic and scored the game at a 9.0 out of 10.0. At last look there are over 21,000 comments on the page, many of them filled with the most intense bile I have ever read on the internet. This is profoundly not okay.

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There was no way I could read through all of these comments, but what I found was disgusting.

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GTA V is a game about stealing cars, robbing banks and shooting people. Combine this with fucking hookers in a backseat and a boatload of other extras and you’ve got all of humanity’s worst qualities wrapped into one game. I’m not saying the game isn’t fun, but there’s certainly no arguing that the game isn’t going to be a shining example of high morals. GTA has always been known for it’s hookers and scantily clad women, so I don’t think it surprises anyone that it continues to be that way, however it doesn’t mean it’s the right way to make a game. Many would argue that the style of the game is fine because it’s just for fun. What about my fun? Where are my female playable characters who can pick up male hookers? Nowhere to be found, because apparently women still don’t play video games.

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Me, old schooling it with a PS2 after the big screen blew a gasket. No, this isn’t my boyfriend’s room.

But my opinions of the game are not the point here. The point is that literally thousands of people are harassing a single person because her opinion didn’t match theirs. She gave the game a 9.0 out of 10.0, which is an impressive score. While watching the review you can tell she clearly loves the game and it’s mechanics. The hatred stems simply from the fact that she found that the female characters were terrible while the male characters were not.

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There are also a huge number of comments that call out the reviewer on the fact that she happens to be transgender, as if to say that changing her sex also involved removing her brain. Isn’t calling out someone who has chosen to be a woman the same as being sexist? If your argument is that her feminist opinions don’t belong in the review, than how can you justify being sexist in your comments? Here are some of those comments.

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I don’t understand how we can still think that these kinds of words are okay to say to anyone. As human beings we bring each other down like this every day. The internet is littered with this garbage. Instead of having powerful, meaningful conversations about sexist themes, we’re creating a whirlpool of self hate for others to bathe in. I don’t care if you disagree with their work or their life choices, it is not okay to use that as ammo against them. Holding a person’s gender against them is discrimination. Discriminating against someone while defending an inherently sexist game only confirms the reviewer’s opinion.

This is not only sexist, but it’s bad for our image. Gamers are already viewed as antisocial, ugly, pimpled weirdos. Why would we want to be viewed as discriminatory and ostracizing culture? It’s already full of snotty elitists who won’t let you in the club unless you know the full script of every episode of the original Star Trek. It’s impossible to fathom why we have these internal negative forces in geek culture. The geek community doesn’t need more people to hate on them.

The comments weren’t only negative and I’m thankful for that. Many people agreed with the reviewer and more importantly many who disagreed spoke to her kindly.

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It’s sad that I have to say this, but women are BRAVE when they speak out against sexism on the internet. The backlash is incredible and there is always backlash. When Anita Sarkeesian, writer of Feminist Frequency, released the videos Tropes in Video Games: Damsels in Distress she suffered intense backlash of the same variety. Here she delivers a TEDtalk about cyber bullying and  the importance of moderators. This is based on her experience with the internet and it is sad that anyone has to deal with this kind of treatment. At no point should anyone be receiving hate mail at all, let alone at this level. It’s unreal.

To all of the brave men and women out there who are speaking out about the huge sexist issues involved in geek and pop culture, thank you. You are extremely brave people who put up with some of the worst verbal hate I’ve ever seen. Thank you for standing up where many of us can’t.

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Categories: Gaming, Geek Break, Geeky | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Geek Break: Why female gamers are brave to speak out on the internet

  1. /slow clap, woman

    Excellent writing, I don’t know why some people are so eager to draw gender lines. The ‘us vs them’ mentality (whether it’s men vs women, gay vs straight, blondes vs brunettes, etc) should really be grown out of and left in the schoolyard. Any time someone has to bypass the actual issue in order to take pot shots at the person saying it because said person happens to be different from them—-well, that’s a time when they know their augument doesn’t actually have a basis in reality.

    Plus I’m not sure why those dudes are jumping to alienate women. Assuming a serious percentage of them are straight, that strategy doesn’t seem particularly wise.

    • catrector

      All very true. It’s really disappointing to see this kind of thing going on in 2013. Human beings have come so far in the last hundred years, but it’s sad to think we probably have another hundred to go. I’m always curious to wonder what kind of person is on the other side of vicious comments like these.

      • Probably folks who wouldn’t actually say any of it in real life. It’s amazing how many people just let their inner jerks out to play on the internet. In a rough sampling of youtube comments, you’d assume the population was 30% neo-nazis.

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