Dear agenda-pushing game journalists and your anti-gamergater allies,
I want to give you an example of what your ‘crusade’ has achieved. I’ve always considered myself a staunch feminist – why wouldn’t I want my mother, my female friends, or any other woman to have equality? It just made perfect sense. I’ve also been a gamer since I can remember, and that means something to me.
When the first articles started trickling in criticising games for being sexist for things like female characters wearing skimpy outfits, they were targeting low-hanging fruits like Dead or Alive. Something about them rubbed me the wrong way. I chalked it up to the fact that I’m a man, I like looking at women in skimpy outfits, realised that that wasn’t a very enlightened attitude and moved on.
But then the articles kept coming, more less overtly sexualised characters/games started getting targeted, and most disturbingly the tone changed. Suddenly games weren’t sexist, they were misogynist. Misogyny means a hatred of women, in my mind that is a very different thing to sexism. But more on that later.
When this whole disaster blew up, I’d never heard of Zoe Quinn or the zoepost and I was only vaguely aware of Anita Sarkeesian. No, my first introduction to Gamergate was 12 different articles calling gamers ‘dead’, ‘over’, not to mention neckbearded virgins and a lot of far nastier words that would get you bleeped out on television.
Now, I’ve read the justifications that ‘oh, we weren’t talking about gamers, just those who harass’, or ‘we were just calling for the end of marketing to the stereotypical gamer demographic’. Well first of all, if that was your intent, you could have said ‘harassers are over’ or ‘stop marketing to gamers’ in your click-bait headlines. Second, no matter the intent, the actions of the rabid anti-GG brigade and the hashtag #describeagamerin4words shows that the articles kicked off a – fortunately short-lived and hilariously unsuccessful – attempt to turn the label ‘gamer’ into a derogatory word.
And then I started witnessing examples of anti-gamergaters abusing, harassing, doxxing and threatening gamergaters, and it hit me how staggeringly hypocritical it is to be conducting these actions in the name of ‘stopping harassment of women.’ Especially when many of the people being targeted are women themselves! I witnessed supposed ‘professional’ game journalists slinging nasty personal attacks on Twitter and generally acting like children.
The more I saw this behaviour, the more I started questioning things. Somewhere along the way, I was able to put a finger on what bothered me about the articles decrying sexism, and now misogyny, in games. Its that the tone is so critical, so negative. If these characters (or the developers that design them) are hateful of women, why do so many girls enjoy dressing as them at E3 and ComicCon? If these critics want more positive portrayals of women in games, why aren’t they spending more time praising the representations they see as positive rather than slamming the ones they see as negative? Why aren’t they actually doing anything to tackle the problem at its source and get more female developers into gaming? In fact, how many less women are going to want to enter the industry now that they’ve used a co-ordinated media assault to paint a significant proportion of the game-buying audience as woman-hating sociopaths?
These views are anathema to my vision of what feminism should be. In my view, these views are harmful to both men – who get shouted down, shamed and marginalised, and to women – because it infantalises them, robs them of all agency and paints them all as nothing but delicate victims. Seriously, what kind of message does this send to young girls? ‘You’re never going to be as successful as your brother, because half the population literally hates you and wants to keep you down.’
THAT is what we’re referring to when we say we don’t want the SJW agenda poisoning video games. Gamergate is full of people who are feminists by my definition. Sure there are some anti-feminists and even some genuine misogynists. That’s because it’s a diverse movement full of people of all stripes. We don’t even all agree on what we’re fighting for, so it’s disingenuous if not outright malicious to paint us all as raving misogynists.