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.
Even after being introduced to gamergate with a slap in the face, I remained neutral for weeks. I didn’t appreciate the tone of the articles and felt targeted no matter the intent, but I certainly don’t condone harassment of anybody. But then I started reading into it, and the more I did the more I saw that Gamergaters have legitimate concerns that are just being censored and met with a wall of silence from the media. The more I saw that the movement was being unfairly characterised with no attempt to deliver any kind of balance.
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?
(And what, as an aside, is an example that would satisfy you people? If female characters show any kind of vulnerability they are damsels in distress, if they are tough and gruff they’re men with boobs. If they show any skin they’re being objectified, if they’re clad in a sack from head to toe their femininity is being downplayed. If there are female peds in games and you can kill them, that’s somehow an example of misogyny in games even though you can kill male characters as well? What’s the alternative, having no female characters at all?)
As I started reading more, I found out that the critical tone and hypocrisy is par for the course for some people. This whole controversy has exposed me to a toxic brand of so-called feminism, seeping out of the cesspool that is Tumblr and into the real world. In this version of feminism, all women everywhere are powerless victims, crushed under the heel of their male oppressors. In this version of feminism, all men are sex-mad savages who have to actively be told NOT TO RAPE WOMEN. In this version of feminism, it is literally impossible for a woman to be sexist, for a non-white person to be racist, or for a straight white man to be discriminated against in any way.
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.’
This brand of feminism casually tosses off extremely loaded terms like ‘rape culture’, ‘misogyny’ and ‘oppression’, and starts Twitter hashtags like #killallmen, and then acts all affronted whenever anybody takes exception. It’s what I believe Emma Thompson may have meant when she said feminism has too often been associated with man-hating. And worst of all, this brand of feminism wants to do nothing but shame, berate and yell, rather than lifting a finger to actually change things in any positive way.
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.
Now I’m not saying you journos ascribe entirely to this toxic brand of hatred masquerading as feminism – or at least I hope not. But these are the people who have been fighting under your banner in this ongoing flame war, and these are the views of the people you have been parroting in your coverage.
One more thing – considering how thoroughly you have smeared Gamergate as an anti-equality campaign, don’t you realise how anti-equality you yourselves are being? As I mentioned before, I abhor harassment of any kind, and it’s absolutely ridiculous that Anita Sarkeesian gets death-threats for her videos, for example. But what’s the difference when she gets them and when, say, Jack Thompson did? You positively gloated over his mistreatment by gamers. By making a big deal out of her harassment you are reinforcing the perception that women are weaker than men, which is the definition of sexism (not misogyny!) And why is it so verboeten to report on a sex scandal involving Zoe Quinn (not that I disagree with that decision, but it’s fine to label Max Temkin as a rapist based on a Facebook post, or report on “damning evidence” about a sexual harassment lawsuit against Brad Wardell that was later thrown out?