No Shame in Your Game

Sexism in gaming culture: a rant.

Illustration by Beth

I’m a female with a podcast about video games, so I am frequently asked tough questions: “How do I get my girlfriend to like video games?” “Are you a ‘real’ nerd?” “How do we fix sexism in the gaming world?”

My answers to those questions are, in order: “Start with two-player platformers,” “What?” and “I wish I knew.”

Gaming culture has traditionally been a male-dominated arena, and as women have entered and taken up space in this arena more and more, there have been several ugly instances of sexual harassment. In February, at a live-streamed Capcom fighting-game reality show called Cross Assault, a female player named Miranda’s own coach made so many disgusting comments to her and about her that people calling in to the show started questioning his behavior. The coach, Aris, didn’t back down—instead he insisted that sexism was just part of the fighting-game community, and that it was “ethically unjust” for people to tell him to stop. Miranda ended up forfeiting every match in protest, but luckily, she hasn’t given up on the fighting community.

In June, when Anita Sarkeesian of the blog Feminist Frequency announced a Kickstarter for a video series she wanted to make exploring tropes of women in video games, the tirade of hatred released on her was staggering. People left threatening comments on the YouTube video for the project and altered her Wikipedia so that it was continually filled with insults and pornographic images. Gamer trolls were furious with her. The good news: Even more people were furious with those trolls. Anita was looking for $6000 for her project; she ended up with $158,922.

Anita started out just wanting to look at sexism within games themselves, but clearly the issue goes beyond female characters in fighting games being dressed inappropriately for the match. It’s a big problematic cocktail of young men who haven’t yet learned how to interact with (and compete against) females, sexist portrayals of women in games, and the anonymity of the online community. I don’t tend to play a lot of video games against strangers online, partially because the people who do tend to spray hatred like champagne on New Year’s, but I do often appear in YouTube videos that are video game–related. Some comments under those videos say I’m funny, but most of them refer to my appearance, something my male co-host does not experience. On my podcast, there are occasional calls for me to be replaced by someone “who knows what he’s talking about,” and here’s another curious thing we’ve noticed: Whenever anyone says anything emotional on the show, it is almost always attributed to me instead of the dude who said it. Other than that, I mainly encounter surprise—surprise that I’m buying games for myself at the store; surprise that I, and not the dude I’m with, want to play the demo games at PAX.

I don’t know how to fix sexism in gaming, but I have a few thoughts on how I personally handle sexism, as I’ve been a girl my whole life, and a gamer for most of it. In no way do I speak for “all women” here—just myself—and in no way am I implying that the way I handle things should be the way that other girls or women handle themselves. Judging women for the way we deal with being harassed or assaulted heaps another layer of “your fault” on us.

I think about power a lot, and the way power shifts among people. I am acquaintances with mostly men—more specifically male comedians—and the signal that they accepted me was when they finally started making fun of me (constantly). My huge, weird laugh, my bad jokes, the runs in my tights—nothing is off limits to these guys. But as harsh as their jokes can get, never once have I felt threatened. The power differential between me and my friends is that I am a woman and they are men, and the golden rule of giving people shit is that the person with more power does not exploit what gives them that power when joking with a person with less power. (Not very catchy, I know.) If you are about to say, “But me and my closest friends make fun of each others’ genders, ethnicities, or weird deformities!”—let me stop you there. I do that too, and it’s awesome, but that’s something you save for people you’re very comfortable with—not acquaintances, and certainly not strangers.

In the gaming world, I see sexual harassment as both a power issue and a product of pure laziness. Some dudes are threatened by girls who play video games, and are too lazy to come up with actual insults based on how you’re playing, so they say disgusting things based on your gender instead. These guys may protest that they’re just trash-talking, and to them I say that if you need to try to intimidate a girl to beat her at a game, you should get better at video games (and at trash talk). Side note: if you find yourself fighting for the right to sexually harass another human being, take a step back and really look at yourself. You’ve missed a step along the way.

But I digress. What concerns me, besides these guys’ behavior, is when their harassment works. I’m not saying that gross, callous, sexist remarks shouldn’t hurt, but it’d be a good idea for us to recognize that a sexist remark is, at its core, an attempt to shift the power differential. And we cannot let it stop us.

Ladygamers, we cannot stop gaming because of these dudes. Yes, the gaming culture should change, but it cannot change without our involvement. We have to be there, front and center, letting morons know that their behavior is not OK, but also that it’s not going to stop us. Not letting a sexual harasser’s words affect you doesn’t mean that you condone their behavior, it just means that you refuse to let some d-bag have the authority to stop you from doing what you want. Acknowledge harassment as an attempt to take some of your power away from you, and then tell it “no thank you” or “FUCK OFF,” depending on how you’re feeling. Never stay in a situation where you feel physically unsafe or miserable, obviously, but online, we need to get in there, stretch out, take up some space, and let everyone know we’re not going anywhere. If we treat sexual harassment like a big deal, it grows in potency and takes up more room in our minds and our fears—more room than it deserves.

Now, sexual harassment is, of course, a really big deal. So how do you shrink down its influence on you? This is a double-edged sword. When we’re sexually harassed and we try to laugh it off or ignore it, that’s used as evidence that we like it or at least that we know it’s all just fun and games; and when we are bothered and speak up about it, that’s used as evidence that women are too sensitive. Both accounts are wrong: we are laughing because we’re uncomfortable but still trying not to embarrass your dumb, unfunny ass; and we’re not too sensitive, you’re just too dense to realize how threatened you are by us. You’re also not realizing what it feels like to be a female, to have to consistently monitor your own safety, to have to be judged based on your appearance every day, and now, to have to put up with your “hilarious” comments.

When I am confronted with sexual harassment while gaming, I tend to go with a few sarcastic lines that I hope let the person know that they’re being stupid and that I’m not affected by stupidity. I usually start with: “Nice one, real original,” then proceed to “Shut up and focus,” and finally, if they won’t shut up, I put these words in their mouths: “Ooooh, you’re different from me and I don’t know how to express myself.” (Bonus points if you’re kicking ass in Halo Firefight at the time.)
These tend to work for me. The last line often results in a dude’s calling me an asshole, which I see as a victory, because “asshole” is a pretty ungendered insult!

I said I wouldn’t speak for all ladies, but I may try to here: it’s not that we want to be treated like porcelain creatures, fragile and easily upset. We certainly don’t. We also don’t want to be sexually threatened just for existing. There must be some middle ground here: How about treating us as equals?

Giving up something you enjoy because of someone else’s attempt to make you feel small is giving that person some of your power. If you experience sexism while gaming, you don’t have a responsibility to stay and take the abuse. You have a right to advocate for yourself, and you have a right to game however you want. Let’s keep our power and our controllers. ♦


  • ravenflamingo September 13th, 2012 7:05 PM

    Video games can be so fun when they aren’t completely degrading and disrespectful to women. It really bothers me that so many people, including my little brother, are exposed to that kind of stuff.

  • MissKnowItAll September 13th, 2012 7:52 PM

    it makes me mad how my brothers are being exposed to this stuff and they think it’s alright.
    I have a completly unrelated question, but is it normal to be paranoid about dreams? I had a dream where my friend and I were in her attic and she gave me acid and shrooms and everything around us started melting.
    I don’t know why but it’s just been bothering me a lot.
    I don’t smoke weed but she does. I’m alright with it but this dream made me want to try it. Any help?

    • Anaheed September 13th, 2012 8:34 PM

      Seems like you’re just thinking about drug use, the pros and cons, which seems normal and healthy to me.

      • MissKnowItAll September 13th, 2012 9:11 PM

        I suppose so, but it just came at a really wierd time for me.
        I’ve had a crush on her for a really long time and it just makes me feel more attracted to her. Is that wrong?

        • Anaheed September 13th, 2012 9:34 PM

          Nah, girl, that’s just life. When someone seems a little dangerous or mysterious, that can be attractive, especially when you’re a teenager and EVERYTHING seems a little dangerous and mysterious!

  • bhaus September 13th, 2012 7:52 PM

    This is a good article on this issue from a male perspective who actually wants to do something about it.

  • MichelleCarneece September 13th, 2012 8:07 PM

    Anita Sarkeesian is my hero. I’m eagerly looking forward to that project!

    • whyamidreamingwhenimstillawake June 5th, 2013 10:28 PM

      Me too.

  • marineo September 13th, 2012 8:40 PM

    I experience this all the time in the science/tech world.
    Also, many guys don’t seem to understand that I can be multi-faceted. I can like sewing and other traditionally “feminine” things, but still build my own guitar amp and theremin and like soldering.


    • Maddy September 15th, 2012 7:12 PM

      SCIENCE! Hello :)
      First: you built your own theremin?! So cool. Do you play? And I wish I could solder. I’m terrible at it, but like circuits.

      Yeah, I was “watching” Say Yes to the Dress yesterday, and they had a woman who was a research scientist and all her female friends were too and they would NOT stop making dumb references to how she was being all science-y like they felt threatened that she was in Girl Land. In fairness, she kept referencing the fact that she was analytical because of her profession and had tried on many dresses to find the right one, but it was probably especially edited that way. TLC’s synopsis of the episode: “Bride Shaina’s stuck in the middle of a family feud as her conservative mom and fashionista brother brawl on the bridal floor. Scientist bride Kimberly thinks finding the perfect dress is a grand experiment.

      Scientist bride??? Lol TLC.

  • Abby September 13th, 2012 9:19 PM

    Okay, so I really liked this article, even though I’ve never been into gaming. I think that the thing I most identified with was this:

    “When we’re sexually harassed and we try and laugh it off or ignore it, that’s used as evidence that we like it or at least that we know it’s all just fun and games; and when we are bothered and speak up about it, that’s used as evidence that women are too sensitive.”

    This is seriously what I to tell people ALL THE TIME, but no one seems to get it at all. Maybe I should be eloquent like you ha. But I agree SO MUCH. There’s no good way to react… We can’t not say anything because then they think it’s okay, but we can’t say something because they think we’re overreacting. It makes me absolutely nuts. I just wish there was a way to say it that was somewhere in between and would make people understand… I hate sexual harassment and sexism in any form, and I wish that I knew how to make people understand that it isn’t okay.

    • Abby September 13th, 2012 9:24 PM

      And ALSO, I hate the catch-22 of liking things. For instance, if I like “girly” things, I’m too much of a girl, but I can’t like “guy” things, because I’m a girl and that would make me butch. I like to cook and I’m very motherly and caring, and I like things that are considered “girly,” and people judge me for that. I hate that I’m considered weak because I like to feel protected… a big strong man looking out for me is something I want, and that makes me a “weak woman.” But on the other hand, I also have been called butch because I carry a pocket knife. Um… they’re useful!! It’s just so hard sometimes. People are so judgmental.

      • smilingrottenflesh September 15th, 2012 2:51 PM

        This whole comment made me want to give you a hug, but the “Um… they’re useful!!” slayed me. <3 Soul crushing hug!

        Wait, "soul crushing" could be a good thing right? Wait.

        • Abby September 17th, 2012 10:46 PM


    • starpower September 14th, 2012 7:00 AM

      Feels like a no win situation sometimes

  • greensheep September 13th, 2012 9:27 PM

    OK, this is my first ever comment, so first of all can I please say how much I love Rookie. Once I am grown up and hopefully earning some money, I would love to donate to you guys and you should totally incorporate a donate function.

    I read the article and had a look at Anita’s video and the comments. I just want to make a few points:

    #1: I was really shocked by 95% of the comments. That kind of hatred, sexism and antisemitism is disgusting and completely unjustifiable. I read the comments first and, watching the video afterwards, I was even more shocked as it is so benign and really does not warrant an angry response of any kind.

    #2: Sadly, I probably would have been less shocked if I bothered to look at more controversial YouTube videos and their comments than I do (controversial = anything that is edgier than a hamster playing the piano). While I think those comments are unjustifiable, I think they just as much reveal the dark side of the Internet as they do misogynist tendencies in the gaming world. Comments of similar harshness can be found attacking Asians/Europeans/Americans/blacks/whites/atheists/Christians/muslims/younameit. (Granted, certain groups attract more hatred than others, but still).

    #3: I think a few of the commentators actually had a fair point: Men in video games are stereotyped just as much as women, and this is just as damaging to perception of men in society/pop culture – particularly for those who do not conform with the stereotypes.

    With those points in mind, I would have liked a slightly more balanced assessment. Still, good point/article.

    • ShockHorror September 14th, 2012 11:19 AM

      I just ermembered this quote:

      “Gamers get hella uncomfortable over male sexuality too. Can you imagine a “good male character who just happens to be wearing sexually exploitative outfits because he’s ok with his masculinity?” Constantly has the camera pan lovingly over his asscrack and firm glutes….”

      whole thing here:

      • whyamidreamingwhenimstillawake June 5th, 2013 10:26 PM

        Damn straight.

    • smilingrottenflesh September 15th, 2012 3:07 PM

      This is possibly really nitpicky, but I got stuck on your wording of the “certain groups attract more hatred than others” sentence.

      I think what you mean is that people deal with attacks of varying intensity, but that word “attract” makes it sound like the person being attacked is somehow culpable for *attracting* negative attention to themselves.

      From the rest of your sentence I don’t think this is the implication that you intended, but I wanted to bring it up because language is powerful and it is important that diction championing victim blaming is put to rest forever and ever.

      • girlhero September 21st, 2012 5:00 PM

        yeah, I’d say that’s heavily nitpicky on the likes of website’s comment section.

  • Johann7 September 13th, 2012 9:43 PM

    The Ill Doctrine response to the Tropes vs. Women internet explosion was great:

    I signed on to back the Kickstarter project immediately and was blown away by the backlash, even with all of the sexism and homophobia I see in online gaming spaces (and which I try to interrogate or mock, depending on my mood). One good thing I see coming out of all of this is a call to arms for anti-sexist/feminist women and men and girls and boys in gaming to start calling this out more and make it clear that we’re NOT going to tolerate it. Game on, Emily (and everyone else)!

    • Johann7 September 13th, 2012 9:45 PM

      Hmm, my bad with the gender-conformity privilege; that bit with “women and men…” should have included gender-non-conforming persons as well.

    • Steve September 13th, 2012 10:03 PM

      I love pretty much everything Jay Smooth does (including his awesome hip hop show), that’s how I found out about the project to begin with! The comments he received in response were so gross and hateful; they really show just how dumb these trolls are.

  • Miarele September 13th, 2012 9:54 PM

    The sad thing is that sexism towards women in the video games itself is as bad as towards women playing video games. Don’t even get me started on the abundance of lists such as “Hottest Women in Video Games” to “Most Useless Women in Video Games” filled with outrageously sexist remarks.

    And I agree, Anita Sarkeesian is totally my hero too! I ADORED her Women vs Tropes and I’ve been practically waiting for the video games series since it was announced. I’ve got only respect for her in dealing with those close-minded people

  • Lascelles September 13th, 2012 9:59 PM

    I think it’s fixed with more female game programmers. I am not sure more females playing games is really a solution. Why would you want to play something that is sexist anyway? Honestly, I don’t think of gamers as really that sexist or racist or violent or all the other stuff people put on them. Yes, they say sexist things but most of the times I doubt they think it’s a girl/woman playing the game. I am not defending it, just feels like that culture, the picked on nerd, programmer, geek understands what is means to be marginalized more than anyone. That does not mean geeks can’t be sexist but… it’s like Eminem in that 60 Minutes interview. Maybe it’s just a word to him and the way to begin a conversation is not to say something where the other person feels attacked?

  • Steve September 13th, 2012 10:01 PM

    Yeah, I was bothered by the comments as well, mostly because I’m ultra-sensitive to hateful remarks made out of fear. You see them made on any video that threatens the status-quo.

    I don’t agree with the idea that men are as unfairly stereotyped as women in games. True, in line with Sarkeesian’s project, there are a number of tropes that are repeated again and again to define male characters (the ‘space marine’, the Indiana Jones/Han Solo rogue, etc.), but how many of these are actually a structural problem that harms males?

    Like, I’ve never heard of the epidemic of skinny gamer dudes all getting roided up because they think they should be like space marines, or deliberately being stand-offish in an attempt to mimic dark brooding RPG heroes. You will almost never see an actual ‘harmful’ stereotype of men in these games, because that would be alienating the (perceived) all-male fanbase.

    But in any case, this article doesn’t have anything to do with Sarkeesian (other than the nasty comments she received). It’s about how women are treated when they cross over into the male-dominated space, and why you shouldn’t back down when nobody makes you feel welcome. I don’t know how it could have been more balanced – Emily was really careful not to generalize all guys as acting this way, and I appreciate that.

    • greensheep September 13th, 2012 10:36 PM

      In all video games I’ve seen (which, to be fair, is not tons, but I’ve had a bit of exposure to the more popular ones like Halo, World of Warcraft, Doom etc.), males (human or otherwise) are generally portrayed as tall, attractive, rugged and unrealistically muscular in terms of appearance. In terms of character, they are strong, self-reliant, tough, rough, and often aggressive/violent. How often do you see male protagonists in the types of games I mentioned express their emotions? Cry? Do anything other than shoot things while being tough, tall, dark and handsome and sometimes troubled?

      I think that this is very harmful. Not only does it make (teenage) males who are different from this image feel inadequate or try to adapt to it, it also reinforces underlying societal beliefs that men should be tough, aggressive, self-sufficient types who do not need help and do not express their feelings.

      There are two sides to the feminism coin. The stereotype of women as weaker, dumber or in any other way inferior to men could not be perpetrated if there was not another sex that is portrayed as strong, smart and superior in comparison. This stereotyping harms women and men in equal measure by restricting their range of expression. Only by overcoming both sides of the coin can we achieve true equality.

      • Steve September 14th, 2012 12:09 AM

        I suggest trying out some more Japanese titles, like the Persona series, or the Final Fantasy series. You’ll see plenty of emotions, male characters that need support, having breakdowns, etc. These games are very popular, and are often marketed toward teens, while the games you mentioned are almost all rated ‘Mature’, and weren’t meant for impressionable teenage boys to begin with.

        And yes, I live in reality where I know that teen boys are going to get their hands on ‘mature’ rated games, but are you really going to argue that a sensitive teenage boy who is going to be harmed by aggro-male representations is hunting down games that he very well knows are all about callously shooting people?

        As for the point about reinforcing societal norms – I think we need to take on Hollywood before we go after the video game industry. Largely because a lot of the popular titles you mentioned are derivative of blockbuster films (following the same space-marine, Indiana Jones-scoundrel stereotypes).

  • glalalamour September 13th, 2012 11:01 PM

    I love video games. Too much. I don’t have many friends who play the games I do so I actually hang around tumblr a lot talking discussing video games. And yes, many women who game are aware of the sexism in video games. Most male video game characters empower men, focusing more on what they can do rather than how they look like. The focus of female characters tends to be about their looks first and abilities second.

    So I only play RPGs where you can have the option to play as a male or female character. (Mostly BioWare games.) You don’t have to be a heterosexual white Caucasian male. You can be a woman and/ or a person of colour, woohoo. If I a game might have elements I can’t stand (e.g. The Witcher), I won’t play it. I have limited time to game as it is.

    I think the most notable example would be Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect series – he/ she was written to be unisex so whichever gender you play with, you kick equal amounts of ass and save the galaxy at the end of the day. On three occasions.

  • Adrienne September 13th, 2012 11:07 PM

    When I saw the title and the subhead, I actually immediately thought of Feminist Frequency!! I love watching her videos on Youtube, especially the Trove vs Women series.

    Anyways, although I’m not as much as a gamer as I used to be, I could totally relate to this. :\

  • ali September 14th, 2012 6:41 AM

    there’s a gaming show in tv in australia called good game, which has always had one male and one female host. i’ve never really heard of bad back talk or whatever due to hex. she just seems wicked! and makes me want to be a gamer.

  • carogenous September 14th, 2012 11:45 AM

    Not really a massive fan of Feminist Frequency, but I see where this article is coming from and don’t think she deserved harassment. Anons will be anons, and hiding behind that makes insulting others easy for anyone no matter their gender or race or interests.
    I’m not the articulate type and I’ll probably come across as not very grrl power of me but I try not to let my gender define how I game or my gaming be defined by my gender. Being a girl is a non-factor for me.

  • Miss Erin September 14th, 2012 12:15 PM

    I’m reminded of this website, by a female gamer, who records the misogynist shit dudes say to her while gaming:

  • Mags September 14th, 2012 4:30 PM

    I’m not a part of the gaming world so I may be wrong but I think sexism in gaming is just a microcosm of the sexism in the world at large. I’m really fascinated by the whole thing from an anthropological perspective, because sexism has always been around. If it really is an issue of men feeling threatened by women, then I wonder what exactly makes them feel so threatened if they think that we are physically weaker (which we usually are) and mentally weaker? It baffles me. Maybe it’s just a matter of wanting to feel superior and since it’s easy to feel superior to someone physically weaker, then they automatically respond aggressively every time women assert themselves. But I don’t know; I’m just trying to understand the whole thing.

    Humans are gross.

  • cancercowboy September 15th, 2012 12:06 PM

    i could make myself somewhat unpopular by telling all the ladies to just deal with it ^___^
    but thats how its done: through extremely tedious, annoying, energy-sapping day-to-day work. african americans weren’t suddenly treated as equal in every respect the day the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. change doesn’t happen over night or with the stroke of a pen. real change demands struggle, commitment and sacrifices.
    plus, i think this is just a slice of a larger complex of societal problems. within that spectrum even feminism can be looked at as, beg pardon, just a piece, with and within a context.

    • Anaheed September 15th, 2012 1:35 PM

      Do you think that women haven’t been struggling, making commitments and sacrifices, to be treated equally for many decades now?

      And do you think that African Americans actually are treated equally?

      Because if so you are wrong.

      • cancercowboy September 15th, 2012 2:03 PM

        >And do you think that African Americans actually are treated equally?

        no. that was kind of my point.

        >Do you think that women haven’t been struggling, making commitments and sacrifices, to be treated equally for many decades now?

        no. and i know this can be disheartening (as many african americans can tell you, i’m sure) but to have a history of struggle doesn’t mean that the struggle is done, let alone won (which is a somewhat inept term in this context).

        • Anaheed September 15th, 2012 8:03 PM

          Ah, OK, sorry for misunderstanding you!

  • dare3000 September 16th, 2012 2:58 AM

    I think it’s much ado about nothing. Real sexual harassment and real threats of rape seem to be something completely different from anonymous random rude comments online. Just like me, I’m black, and I experience the occasional n-word being thrown at me online (ironically, that’s whether I reveal I am black or not), but to me that doesn’t even come close to someone calling me that to my face, or denying me a job because I’m black, or actually threatening to hurt or kill me. When that happens in reality, I get scared. When some random person makes a threat over Halo, knowing they can’t possibly get to me, the whole thing (including my “rage” over it) seems asinine.

    Question: what about the option to mute? In most games I play, you can MUTE a person and NOT HEAR THEM EVER. In this regard the power is in your hands, you don’t have to hear it if you don’t want to.

    Complaining about the problem only gets you so far. Eventually public opinion sways and you no longer look like a stalwart defender of civilized society but more like a reactionary sensitive crybaby who thinks a person saying “suck my d*&^” online is the equivalent of someone saying it in person with a knife against your throat.

    Keep playing. Keep owning! Respect comes from skills not tears. And if a d-bag is annoying you, MUTE THEM!

  • eliza dolittle September 16th, 2012 4:07 PM

    hold up. emily. you mean to say you’ve been emily v. gordon form the indoor kids all this time and i was too stupid to notice that that it said that at the top of your author bio??

    • eliza dolittle September 16th, 2012 4:07 PM


      • Emily September 20th, 2012 9:51 PM

        Hi! Yes, it’s me, and I will hug the shit out of Matt for you!

  • littlepyrogirl September 16th, 2012 8:43 PM

    THANK YOU! As a rather proud girl gamer, I can tell you it’s an absolute pain having to deal with sexism. Even IRL, chances are high that if a guy finds out I’m a gamer, they either assume: A. I’m Weak and need to be coddled while playing or B. Only play for attention (see “Gamer Grrl” stereotype) . Not only does this article kick ass, but it really sums up most female gamer’s experiences!

  • Cassy1982 September 17th, 2012 12:36 AM

    Thanks for this article! I’m not a gamer, but I was still able to relate a lot of the issues to other areas of my life, most notably my job. My job requires a lot of continuous, heavy lifting, and is a position that has traditionally been held by men. Unfortunately, some of the men I work with feel it’s necessary to force me to “prove” my worth by purposely doing LESS that what is required, which forces me to pick up their slack. It is definitely very frustrating to have to work twice as hard and twice as fast, only to be considered HALF as valuable as the men who do the same job. I know that most people wouldn’t consider sexist comments made during gaming to be very damaging, but there are a lot of younger boys who also play those games, and a lot of them aren’t yet familiar with the opposite sex. Although adults know the difference between what is and isn’t appropriate in social settings, the younger boys don’t, and they take their cues from us. What we say can shape them into the adults they will become, and they might translate the comments they hear during a game to other areas of their lives (school, dating, work ethic, etc..). Larger problems can always be avoided when they are addressed in the beginning stages. Gaming for most boys is a beginning stage, so if we stop sexual harassement early on, then hopefully it won’t snowball into a more serious issue. It’s probably too late for the guys I work with, but if we teach boys to treat women equally when they’re young, then the girls they work with in the future won’t have to dread going into their job every day.

  • Rurouni1029 September 21st, 2012 1:03 AM

    It’s all about marketing, sex sells and as long as the majority is young men, women will be strong but they’ll be physically importunate to real life. What’s funny is that with male protagonists they don’t care if the character’s muscles would crush their own body, it’s that distance from personal perspective. Because of catering to a young male market, games will rarely cater to realistic female characters, which would stop a woman from buying a game system to play a game that might truly get them involved. The only way to really entice them is to start small, downloadable PC, iPad/touch, etc to spread the word about games.

  • ToshiroNoRonin September 21st, 2012 3:31 PM

    Great article! I’m always interested to hear about a female’s perspective on the misogyny and sexual harassment that occurs in the video game community (and others). It’s appalling that this sort of thing happens. Unfortunately, you’re right, it’s a fine line for women to walk since fighting back gets them labeled a feminist or bitch, while ignoring it only empowers the haters or does nothing to address the issue.

    This is a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately. It seems I can’t get by without seeing some case of sexual harassment online every day, and that’s just sad. I actually just wrote a blog about it last week, if you’re interested:

  • warriorprincess September 23rd, 2012 8:04 AM

    I totally agree with this!, i am a gamer girl and ive been playing for a while, i usually play male dominated online games like COD and i can never join a lobby and talk without being overcome by guys asking me if im a girl and then making some degrading remarks about being one!!
    Lucky for me i usually beat them and they shut up :D

  • Cutesycreator aka Monica September 23rd, 2012 10:05 AM

    Thank you for this article.

  • Bonellafun October 20th, 2012 10:20 AM

    funny story actually, I really like Mass Effect 3′s multiplayer, and I’m actually quite decent at it (I usually get first or second place). Recently I got a headset, and now every time someone hears I’m a lady, they try to boot me. One time this guy was saying a bunch of really sexist and awful remarks to me (mainly because I had ranked first place and he had ranked second)
    , and oddly all of the other guys in the game got angry at him, sassed him back with me, and kicked him out. It was really very nice, but unfortunately it doesn’t happen enough, and i’ve met more men while playing online who say the sort of degrading and sexist comments like in Anita’s video than the two men who kicked the sexist player out. This article honest to god sums up all my feels about video games recently. Thank you for the wonderful article~

    • jenntendo64 November 2nd, 2012 7:02 AM

      I don’t play with a headset, and I’m afraid that if it I do, it might be worse for me because I’m not that good at ME3 multiplayer. I usually rank last, or if I’m having a good game and someone else is worse than me, I’ll rank third.

      I wish that I was better at MP games, but honestly, I shouldn’t have to be just to prove that I’m “as good as they are”, or whatever. For me, there’s the double stigma of being a bad (MP) gamer and of being a female gamer.

  • jenntendo64 November 2nd, 2012 7:00 AM

    This is a hopeful turn of events:

    Zero Tolerance Policy for Sexism on Xbox Live:

  • NickyNicht November 2nd, 2012 1:38 PM

    I registered here just to thank you for writing this.

  • KatGirl May 2nd, 2013 6:43 PM

    I know this is an old article, but I read the post on Feminist Frequency and those comments made me want to go punch a hole in the wall. Some people are just f ing horrible.

  • whyamidreamingwhenimstillawake June 5th, 2013 10:22 PM

    The thing that pisses me off the most is when girls just accept the sexist culture we’re living in, or don’t even recognise it as sexist. I think most girls at some stage might have made some sexist comment and not even realised it. And I hate it when someone says ‘oh, you scream like a girl.’ It’s like calling something gay in a derogatory way: it’s totally dissing an entire group of people in a really casual, offhand way. I hate it.
    Sorry for the rant. ^_^