The Frisky Fairy Rants: So You’re A Woman Online, Part 1: The Geekdom


I will not tolerate abusive or harassing behavior on my site. My site, my rules. Don’t like it? GTFO.

This is to serve as both a trigger warning and a warning about NSFW language.

Before I get started, I want to handle my review for the week. Check out Donotlink. It’s a sweet website that allows you to link to websites that are offensive or problematic without improving their search engine position! I’m a huge fan.

There has been a lot of shit happening lately. Gamergate, the Snappening, the Fappening, and all sorts of violence against women, both in person and online. In fact, there is so much bullshit that I have to break this into three posts.

The more I read about #gamergate, the less I wanted to write this post. The less I wanted to talk about the bullshit that women get exposed to regularly. The less I wanted to even remotely bring up the possibility of sexism within the geek community, because the idea of getting Doxxed and threatened by people who disagree with me makes me uncomfortable. The less I wanted to deal with this bullshit.

But here I am.

So let me go and state a few things for the record:

  • I acknowledge that there is a problem with corruption in media reporting- regardless of industry.
  • I acknowledge that there is a lot of information and misinformation regarding a lot of #gamergate.
  • I acknowledge that this is a very intense and personal issue, and there are a lot of very complex and passionate feelings on the topic.

That being said, the bullshit comments have got to stop. Let’s talk for a second about Nathan Grayson, who apparently offered positive media coverage in exchange for sex. Except he didn’t, and even if he did, WHY IS THE OUTRAGE ON HIS FEMALE COUNTERPART!? Calling her a slut, or a whore for having sex with a person. Frankly, if the conversation on Gamergate is on the vast corruption in gaming media, I should expect to be hearing more about how Nathan Grayson was so awful that he bartered positive reviews for sex. In fact, hearing Zoe’s name at all shouldn’t even be happening, and certainly not hearing about her relationship problems in a conversation about ethics in gaming journalism.

The conversation isn’t about ethics in journalism, it’s about the ethics of allowing sexism in gaming. It is, quite frankly, another scenario in which it’s boys vs. girls, and the girls aren’t allowed in the clubhouse because they have cooties.

See the thing is that there is so much ingrained inequality geared against women in gaming. However, anytime anyone tries to call it out, they’re silenced. Because heaven forbid that someone asks for some fucking equality in gaming (despite the fact that women as a demographic is getting larger very quicklyand exceeds male gamers if we include mobile gaming), we’re “affecting artistic freedom“. Before someone goes off on me on how “it’s not realistic” to have a female knight, or it is realistic to depict rape in videogames… YOU’RE PLAYING A FUCKING VIDEO GAME. You’re completely okay with disregarding physics, ignoring the fact that technology that you’re using doesn’t/couldn’t exist, but the idea of having a female/lgbt/poc character in your magical kingdom isn’t realistic? Despite the fact that all of those groups that aren’t realistic in your wonderful utopia of privilege have existed for a very, very long time.

You want realistic? Let’s look at the realistic abuse levied against women in gaming.

Anita Sarkeesian has consistently been a target of harassment online. From being driven from her home, to having bomb threats at an awards show, and finally cancelling an appearance due to lax security after a threat of a massacre against her and other feminists at Utah State University.

Brianna Wu has received a number of targeted death threats because she just happens to exist on the internet as a feminist and a prominent person in gaming.

I spoke with Caitlin Oliver (Splatterhouse world record holder, and all around badass) about whether or not the gaming community has created an inhospitable environment for women. Here’s some of what she had to say:

I’ve gotten people dedicated to bashing me and several threats since I got the record, I’m friends with more than a few male world record holders who have never been threatened in this manner… Some have decided that ever speaking about holding a record is too self-aggrandizing – or are upset that I’ve gotten attention for getting one world record when they feel that they should have. Some label me a fraud for only having a record in one game. Others eschew me as a radical feminist and call me a man-hating pig. I’m involved with a documentary on women in gaming and that’s gotten a lot of fire too, but mostly from the same people…They are their own echo chamber for tearing women down.

Women on the internet are no strangers to personal threats and harassment. It sucks though. If they speak up, they’re often told to grow a backbone, or it’s insinuated that they are making it up.

backbonemore sexism

Yeah, shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down. Threats that release your private, personal information to the public are not okay. Using someone’s private, personal information to negatively affect their life, livelihood, or family simply because they said something you don’t agree with is not okay. Considering the fact that many women already worry that a they could be killed for rejecting someone, it gets a little fucking scarier when those random strangers now know your address. So telling someone to grow a backbone when they’re receiving all manner of awful threats, threats from people who know their address, under the guise of “well, you’re on the internet, you know the risks” is akin to “well, you wore a short skirt, and were drinking, you should know better”.

There is hope though! Many people are speaking out loudly about the sort of problematic sexism that leads to threats of violence towards women in gaming. In fact, many of the people attacking with the sexist, violent language are simply very loud, and not indicative of the actual reaction of the gaming and geek communities. As Caitlin explains:

…there have also been a great deal of people who have been completely fantastic about it as well – welcoming, supportive and also ready to call out people like that. It’s what’s made it all easier to deal with…The hate is not necessarily the most prevalent reaction. However, it is an incredibly vocal faction that has no qualms attempting to harass and bully me into silence…I’m just really lucky there’s a lot of amazing people to support me that are willing to call those people out. I can only hope more people are willing to call out this problematic behavior directly, and when it happens.

If you want to have the world take gaming seriously as a medium,  let’s #stopgamergate and start acting like grown-ups. Treat women in gaming with respect, after all some of the first people in technology were women like Radia Perlman, Grace Hopper, and Ada Lovelace. Call out people for being sexist assholes, speak up against violence and threats. For fucks sake, stop with the releasing of personal information.

Otherwise you just all look like a bunch of whiny brats who are angry that a girl is getting cooties all up on your toy.

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Check out the full comic: https://medium.com/the-nib/red-robots-tips-for-dealing-with-internet-harassment-c91193a3d838

For the second part of this three part series, click here.
For the third part of this three part series, click here.

Until Next Time.

-The Frisky Fairy