Content warning: This post contains graphic language, slurs and triggering content
This article is heartbreaking. And true.
There is a reason I throttled back on doing a lot of creative gaming content a few years ago. And why I still avoid taking some jobs in the gaming world when they’re offered to me. And why, when we have a female host on any of our Geek and Sundry gaming shows, we have to monitor the comments on YouTube extra, to remove the many comments that are offensive and pollute our community’s spirit of equality. Because I hate that shit.
There is an endemic acceptance in the gamer world that “well, it comes with the territory” when a woman receives threats and harassment and the hateful anonymous internet dialogue is focused on her body and whether they would “do” her or not. I don’t know why this became okay. It’s a vocal minority that has been given way too much power over the industry dialogue, and I am so happy to see more and more articles like this shining the light on what reasonable gamer men and women have been conned into accepting as a given.
NOTHING is a given in this world. And frankly, it taints the art form we so love and keeps it back from becoming more respected and more diverse to not at least TRY to fight it. Gaming deserves more than complacency in this area.
Even posting this link will cause me to receive hateful Tumblr PMs. I can always tell when something I write gets linked on certain places on the internet (like 4 Chan or a few other forums of troll-hood), because I’ll immediately get dozens of hate mails along the veins of what is posted in this article.
Well, I’m a lucky one to be prominent enough to have 10 supporters for every hater. I mostly feel sorry for girls and women who aren’t in my position, who may just give up on gaming when they’re too beaten down to fight anymore.
We have to change that. For the good of what we love doing, gamers! Okay, back to work :)
We live in a society that’s sexist in ways it doesn’t understand. One of the consequences is that men are extremely sensitive to being criticized by women. I think it threatens them in a very primal way, and male privilege makes them feel free to lash out.
This is why women are socialized to carefully dance around these issues, disagreeing with men in an extremely gentle manner. Not because women are nicer creatures than men. But because our very survival can depend on it.
YouTube comments aren’t “just the Internet.” They’re not the product of a group of otherwise nice guys who suddenly become evil when they wear a veil of anonymity. YouTube comments are actually a nightmarish glimpse into the sexist attitudes that define the fabric of our own existence in the “real world,” a world that, like YouTube, is owned and dominated by men. The most terrifying gift that the Internet has given us is that it’s shown us how men honestly perceive the world: as a place where women exist exclusively for their sexual pleasure.
In the wake of VidCon, and as more and more women start speaking up about the harassment they face online, it’s time to start realizing that our narrative of progress is deeply flawed. Things aren’t getting better for women on the Internet; they’re deteriorating and ignoring the problem amounts to being complicit in it.
I wanted my first-year film students to understand what happens to a story when actual human beings inhabit your characters, and the way they can inspire storytelling. And I wanted to teach them how to look at headshots and what you might be able to tell from a headshot. So for the past few years I’ve done a small experiment with them.
Some troubling shit always occurs.
It works like this: I bring in my giant file of head shots, which include actors of all races, sizes, shapes, ages, and experience levels. Each student picks a head shot from the stack and gets a few minutes to sit with the person’s face and then make up a little story about them.
Namely, for white men, they have no trouble coming up with an entire history, job, role, genre, time, place, and costume. They will often identify him without prompting as “the main character.” The only exception? “He would play the gay guy.” For white women, they mostly do not come up with a job (even though it was specifically asked for), and they will identify her by her relationships. “She would play the mom/wife/love interest/best friend.” I’ve heard “She would play the slut” or “She would play the hot girl.” A lot more than once.
For nonwhite men, it can be equally depressing. “He’s in a buddy cop movie, but he’s not the main guy, he’s the partner.” “He’d play a terrorist.” “He’d play a drug dealer.” “A thug.” “A hustler.” “Homeless guy.” One Asian actor was promoted to “villain.”
For nonwhite women (grab onto something sturdy, like a big glass of strong liquor), sometimes they are “lucky” enough to be classified as the girlfriend/love interest/mom, but I have also heard things like “Well, she’d be in a romantic comedy, but as the friend, you know?” “Maid.” “Prostitute.” “Drug addict.”
I should point out that the responses are similar whether the group is all or mostly-white or extremely racially mixed, and all the groups I’ve tried this with have been about equally balanced between men and women, though individual responses vary. Women do a little better with women, and people of color do a little better with people of color, but female students sometimes forget to come up with a job for female actors and black male students sometimes tell the class that their black male actor wouldn’t be the main guy.
Once the students have made their pitches, we interrogate their opinions. “You seem really sure that he’s not the main character – why? What made you automatically say that?” “You said she was a mom. Was she born a mom, or did she maybe do something else with her life before her magic womb opened up and gave her an identity? Who is she as a person?” In the case of the “thug“, it turns out that the student was just reading off his film resume. This brilliant African American actor who regularly brings houses down doing Shakespeare on the stage and more than once made me weep at the beauty and subtlety of his performances, had a list of film credits that just said “Thug #4.” “Gang member.” “Muscle.” Because that’s the film work he can get. Because it puts food on his table.
So, the first time I did this exercise, I didn’t know that it would turn into a lesson on racism, sexism, and every other kind of -ism. I thought it was just about casting. But now I know that casting is never just about casting, and this day is a real teachable opportunity. Because if we do this right, we get to the really awkward silence, where the (now mortified) students try to sink into their chairs. Because, hey, most of them are proud Obama voters! They have been raised by feminist moms! They don’t want to be or see themselves as being racist or sexist. But their own racism and sexism is running amok in the room, and it’s awkward.
This for every time someone criticizes how characters of color and female characters of color especially are treated in text and by subsequent fandoms. It’s never “just a television/movie/book”. It’s never been ”just”.
“…and by subsequent fandoms." <— bless this addition.
This one is always worth reblogging. When I say, “Representation matters,” it’s not just the presence of PoC, women, PwD, LGBTQIA, in narrative, it’s the roles are those characters are occupying.
The hall of mirrors that is the interplay between fiction and real life becomes a negative feedback loop with real consequences, because we internalize things and then we act them out.
Storytelling is a powerful thing. What stories are we telling, and why?
tbh dress codes are fine as long as they are about looking professional and appropriate for a learning/working environment and not about ‘don’t distract the boys’ and slut-shaming, and as long as it’s enforced equally for all genders
it is the sexist attitude about it that needs to be changed, not the fact that there *is* such a thing as dress codes
i find it interesting that when it comes to liking girls I’m just like GIRLS ALL GIRLS YES PERFECT GIRLS but with boys i’m like you must fit criteria 1-9 but 9 is optional only if you completely fill criteria 10-13 with a non-optional essay on 21st century sexism due by 5am
Hi, Ang!!! :) I was wondering, do you have trouble with uploading the new vlogs? I hope you're alright! *warm hugs* !
I’m actually without the internet for a few days as I get set up in my new apartment.
but I’m still filming, so as soon as I have it I’ll be able to share lots 💞 I’ve been a busy bee painting and unpacking!
hello! are you going to be able to have a pet in your new place? if so, what kind of pet are you going to choose?
We can have pets in our new place, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be getting one. I’ve never had a pet before but I take it extremely seriously. Having another life as your responsibility is huge, and costly (what if there is an emergency vet bill? what if it gets hit by a car? what if it damages property?), and I would only consider doing that if I knew I would be able to provide for it for the next 10+ years.
Anyone who knows me knows it’s my dream to have a dog, but I’m not going to jump into that until I know I can be the best pet owner possible.