So, I was browsing through my dashboard on Tumblr when I came across a certain comic. It was written by a man called Matthew at the Oatmeal (a comic site). It was about the phenomenon surrounding female gamers.
Matthew seemed to be under the impression that people were nicer to female gamers. If they messed up or shot their teammates or cast a wrong spell, the male gamers would fall over themselves to make them feel better.
That isn’t really how it goes. At least not in my experience.
I have been harassed while playing video games. I have had death threats levelled against me. I have had rape threats levelled against me. I’ve been threatened with all sorts of scary violence. The list goes on and on. When I dared to speak up, I was told that I should get over it. It is a part of gaming. Don’t be oversensitive. Just deal with it.
I hate to have my real fears dismissed. It makes me feel like crap for daring to have an opinion that goes against the grain, as it were. It feels like I am nothing but a child having her head patted in the most condescending way. I don’t appreciate being laughed at. This may be part of the gaming experience, but that doesn’t make it right. And when I don’t give up, I am accused of being an attention whore.
So now, I no longer play with friends or strangers. Gaming has become a solely solitary experience for me because I don’t want to deal with this bullshit. I keep being told that what I deal with isn’t as bad as what my male counterparts face, who often have to deal with the same bullshit, but from a different animal. You get called homophobic slurs such as f*ggot? Well, I get threatened to have my tits cut off and to be raped with a chainsaw.
Newsflash. Men are not nicer to women in the gaming world. These men aren’t socially-awkward nerds who get all shy around a woman. They are using the anonymity of the internet and video games to air their misogyny. I’m not saying that all men who like video games are assholes. But there is a good amount of them out there. Yes, they are jerks to everyone (often using not only sexist slurs, but racist and homophobic ones as well). But they save their grossest insults for women. So, don’t just assume it is easier for women who play games.
Note: Because I fully believe giving credit where credit is due: Matthew did apologize for putting out the comic. He was not aware how awful it was out there for women in the gaming world, but he recognized his perspective might have been skewed and he apologized. So thank you Matthew.