If you haven’t read “8 Things Some A$$#ole Says in Every Debate About Sexism” article by Luke McKinney on Cracked–do it now. It’s directed at men, but it will resonate with women. It did with me.
#8 The Duh-Dos had me nodding along. I’ve experienced this, most recently in a discussion on a friend’s Facebook page when he asked for opinions on #Gamergate after posting an article about Anita Sarkeesian and the harassment she received. I made a comment about some of the harassment I’ve experienced playing Elder Scrolls online and immediately a troll popped up and went on a hate-filled rant about lying women and how they want to destroy video games. He had never experienced harassment like I described, so it didn’t exist. I had to prove that it did, which I couldn’t, because it didn’t exist.
The harassment? Early on, a month or so after the release of ESO, I was playing and actually enjoying it (I am not a fan of MMOs. I prefer single player, hands-down, so liking the experience was surprising) when some jackass decided that, after every comment a feminine-sounding moniker said in chat, he would reply with absolutely horrendous statements. He said things like, “How do you make a woman shut up? Punch her in the mouth. How do you silence a woman? Slit her throat.” Then he dared the women to complain to Bethesda about his behavior because it was an open platform, he had speech freedomz, and you don’t have to play the game if you don’t want to so that means you agreed to put up with this shit when you logged on.
That’s the reason I refused to play MMOs until now, why I refuse to play multi-player on-line with strangers. And the troll pretty much firmed my resolve in that regard (except for ESO. I love the Elder Scrolls, and I will play this game because of that).
Surprisingly enough, a woman agreed with the troll. She had never experienced such threats in a multi-player game, and had a hard time grasping that other women had. She told me I just need to get my girlfriends involved, get them playing with me, then I wouldn’t have to worry about strangers.
OK. Perhaps. Have a friends-only invite game. The problem? Women react with shock when I’ve mentioned the throat-slitting comment–and some wonder why I still play games. They see it as a failing on my part, that I would willingly put myself through that sort of thing just to play a game. They won’t. See? Problem solved.
I’m never going to stop playing games. I love them much. They’ve been a part of my existence since I played the Intellivision as a child, and I just can’t see myself giving them up. That’s not the solution to this problem. Men recognizing that women have vastly different experiences on-line, and those experiences can be very painful, will be a start. Absorbing articles like McKinney’s will help. People refusing to be assholes to other people will go a long, long way in solving some of the harassment issues women experience (yes, I know, men can be harassed too, but not to the extent that women are).
But for the most part, assholes will remain assholes. They hide behind their anonymity and make life hell for others because they see no direct impact on their own life. They can threaten murder, get off on it, and not have to deal with any repercussions that arise from the threat. My husband brought up a Simpson’s episode he thought relevant to this discussion. He talked about an episode where Bart stole a video game and Nelson told him that shoplifting was a victimless crime, like punching someone in the dark. That’s exactly it. Assholes, for the most part, are punching into the dark. They don’t care who they punch as long as they punch someone who’s female, and go on their way, satisfied they hurt someone they will never know or care about (while stories like the one Lindy West told about her cruelest troll reforming his opinions give me hope for humanity, that hope is still kinda small).
Frankly, I don’t understand this need. I don’t understand the need to hurt others to make yourself look big. That’s pathetic, but it seems to dominate the thinking of a group of men who really, really don’t see women as human (and no, having a daughter does not automatically make you a feminist. If you can’t see the woman you supposedly loved enough to marry as a human being, why would you suddenly see your daughter as one? Just think about the popular t-shirts fathers wear that are threats to their daughter’s future boyfriends. Do you think a man who wears a shirt like this sees his daughter as a person or a possession?).