Sexism in gaming culture
My apologies if this is the wrong forum for this discussion, but I think that anyone who is a part of gaming culture needs to talk about this. To that end, let me start the discussion with a video essay:
In many ways, nerd culture is more.... sociopolitically advanced than the general culture. We embraced racial diversity in Star Trek and other science fiction franchises decades before the rest of the country. And yet, in one particular area, we tend to fall down: gender issues. I'm sorry to say, but the gaming subculture of nerd-dom is probably the worst among nerds.
I do not think it's OK. I do not think it's OK to accept games that treat women as sex objects first and people second, but I really think it's not OK when individuals mistreat women, whether it's on a forum somewhere or in an online game.
There was even a thread in the main STO discussion forum in which a female gamer complained about treatment she received in fleet chat, which is in part why I'm starting this thread. I think more of us need to speak out when we see things like this in a game or on the forums, and let's be honest: we've all seen it, haven't we?
Each MMORPG has its own player culture, and I'm thankful to say that the STO culture is a great deal less misogynist than WoW's player culture, but we still see it, and I think we need to speak out when we see it instead of leaving the target of the abuse to argue her own case against some troglodyte or group of troglodytes.
To the moderators: if this is the wrong forum, can you move this thread to the appropriate forum?
I think that both 'warring parties' need to understand each other (as hard as it may seem) or at least find common ground in discussion.
I started my gaming career rather naive and ended up learning the hard way in STO:
I brought a bunch of women I know to join a large fleet and that became a very sad story as none of the fleet's senior officers knew how to protect us from the many unwanted advances we got.
I also tried to assist with greviances voiced by others who posted on the forums (like in the example you quoted) despite my manner of posting and the subject matter being very controversial.
I have also, for a change of environment, joined an GLBT fleet just to see how they dealt with gender diversity and possible discrimination from others.
In conclusion I will say that the issue is all about Fleet management and not the individuals. Do the people in command know how to manage a balanced group of men and women and maintain fleet cohesion and maintain fairness for all?
As a fleet leader (actually, just a small RP guild leader now) it is my reponsibility to make sure everyone in my organization knows about the fleet's code of conduct and also let everyone know the challenges faced by female or even transgendered players, (the latter I have no objection to).
Only the person in command can really bridge the barrier between the genders and make possible true equality.
Because if left unregulated you have two very dangerous casus belli between the respective 'warring parties': -
1. Males lavishing attention on women (regardless of OOC identity) and causing disruption in Fleet activities due to unwanted advances on those women who have no desire or tolerance to such
2. Females who have made themselves too much of a target for attention or have raised family concerns with the married men in said Fleet (especially where voice chat is concerned)
It takes two hands to clap, and as harsh as it sounds I want to receive personal blame if there is a female/male argument or complaint. Individual members of the society should not have to deal with this because the person in the centre seat should be dictating group policy.
It sounds difficult because Fleets can be big, but let me assure you I don't see this type of conflict in my groups... partly because I have listened to both sides of the equation IRL and don't wish to see anyone get hurt if I can help it.
So I will always hide the ban-stick, sit both parties in my ready room, and interview them as canon characters like Picard and Janeway would do. Find out the root cause of the problem and advise the dissenting parties how to deal with the situation and how a fleet wide argument can impact our organizational performance.
As far as my group is concerned I will always respect the ladies in my group because by participating in paramilitary-styled in-game roleplay under strict Soviet era flight protocol, they are going the extra mile to fit into my organization and to learn a skillset that few other RP groups implement and enforce.
By addressing them at all times as ma'am or Ms. in chat, the male players of the organization also do not try and bring up personal matters because they regard the lady officers as persons with authority.
And for that matter, if the male players are in the minority for the day, I call them Sir.
They kind of like it, because it does enhance in-character communication in a strange way, as though people are encouraged to talk to one another or wait for command decisions : -
Please don't hate me for the kind of ideas I bring to this table. Just consider it a survival skill I've learned IRL, and which has kept my small crew together despite the troubles we faced.
In my experience there is a simple problem of communication, or lack there-of as well as quite ironically a intolerance with people who want equality. This also comes with a large helping of double-standards.
While I'm not going to defend people who are rascist, sexist, homophobic, blah, blah (there's a damn long list and i'm too tired to cover it all) because yes their behaviour is more than likely in poor taste ... the real problem tend to be with those who are willing to subject themselves to such situations.
.... theres a GLBT fleet?! :o
Some interesting comments have been made on this subject.
As a Senior Fleet Officer and Quartermaster for my fleet, some of the more mature players refer to me as "Ma'am" or "Admiral." TBH I've only ever been hit on twice playing the game and it was quite some time ago. The last time i can remember it happening my teammate pointed out that I had someone following me around ESD, I was wearing the VA outfit with the angled skirt, after he pointed it out to me i switched to my full pantsuit S31 uniform and the guy went away. I either don't stick around long enough for anyone to notice or it's just becoming more common to see female toons running around and it would embarass the heck out of some teen boy to hit on a character and have the reply come back "i'm a dude, dude".
This is not to make light of the situation our sisters face in a world where some think it's odd that females would play games, but it does happen. I can't tell you how many people i have on /ignore for CoH. Maybe I'm just lucky that the fleet i'm in is (mainly) made up of mature (wait what's that? :)) players. But I also don't advertise my gender. Those that do know are fine with it and the rest will find out if they ask.
Unfortunately this will never go away. The only advice I can give is to remove yourself from a fleet that is sexist or immature and find one that likes diversity in it's members.
This brings to mind a documentary i saw afew years ago about trekkies, they had this little village where they threw a trek parade each year and during an interview this guy said "you know last year we even had a GIRL here" said girl like it was a dirty word. For a bunch of people that are supposed (generalising here) to have atleast a good base of common sence, some members of the 'nerd' community seem awefully behind the times, rediculous but true.
Infact, when I posted my own problems with discrimination, there were a number of posters who commented they were surprised that such a thing even exists in STO (albeit off the forum).
My other word of caution here is there is a sort of consensus regarding those I've discussed gender-based harrassment about: -
Did you know if discriminating against women causes problems, it's an even bigger problem if there is an ultra-feminist opinion?
Meaning to say, if I'm defending someone on a miscommunication issue I'm not allowed to speak for -all- women in general. Guess who would be on the losing end if I used my (self given) authority to do that? Other women, of course, defeating the point of speaking up in the first place
So, for this topic, there is some sort of unwritten Prime Directive to adhere to today, as well. It's a sensitive subject and while it isn't to be taken lightly, the presence of this thread does not imply that we are all out to accuse one another of wrongdoing or assume that 'all girls/boys are bad and should avoid each other in Fleets'.
That's not the case. What we need is moderation, and mutual respect. Treating STO fleets as a casual organisation with a preference for military efficiency is from what I tried, the most effective solution.
I've just concluded a directors' meeting in RL and I proposed similar things to what I've written above. People liked that they had an option of communicating without infringing personal space for greater efficiency, where before I stepped in, it was apparently commonplace for people to get -too- close to one another and cause mutual discomfort.
Granted, my society and yours may be far different, but in Star Trek, there were many instances of using innovative solutions to overcome adversity as well.
I am really not convinced this is the right topic for this forums, but I find it an interesting one. I read some interesting articles about this:
Basically, sexism exist in the gaming culture, but a lot of us don't really notice it. Typically, the "male" lot of us.
A simple example listed in the first article already is how characters are depicted in comics, for example.
Males typically have powerful and strong builds. They look like someone the typical fatbeard like me (well, I don't have a beard, but you know what I mean) might aspire to.
Females are depicted with large breasts, small waists and overall look pretty much like dream women a typical fatbeard like me might fantasize about.
But - the males do not actually look like something most women would fantasize about.
And vice versa - the comic females do not look like someone most women would aspire to be. A woman may want to be attractive, but she doesn't want to be boiled down to just a sex object.
And that's the sexism right there.
An interesting example comes from Arkham City. You can also play Catwoman in some scenes, not just Batman. Gangsters talk about Batman all the time, implying how much they are frightened and hope to never encounter them. For Catwoman, they rather express **** fantasies.
Hardened criminals in prison use **** as a tool for domination. So why only express fear of Batman but **** fantasies for Catwoman. It's not as if Catwoman wouldn't cosntantly beat people up and destroy them. And even if we pretend that there is a story reason for it - fact is, that a male player would be bothered just as much by **** threats as a female player, but as a male player, you only get to hear how awesome your protagonist is and how much his enemies fear him.
If we go beyond comics (which isn't exactly my geekism of choice). Startrek was sexist, even when it also tried to portray a more egalitarim and advanced society and sometimes made it even a topic of a show.
In TOS, the women wore short skirts and generally revealing clothing (seriously, check out TOS, there are some really nice hotties in there). At the same time,of course it also had some elements against sexism (like the episode about the woman that couldn't become Starfleet Captain because she was a woman), but on some level, they either missed their own, inherent sexism, or they had to just accep that this was necessary to even be shown on the small screen.
Deanna Troi was the "fanservice" girl of TNG. She intentionally was wearing dresses instead of regular uniforms. Then we had Seven of Nine... And no, Riker certainly is not fanservice for women. He's a confident, strong man that can charm woman, that's something that a male has an easy time identifying.
Of course, there also always counter-examples. It's not like it's all bad. It's important to evalulate these counter-examples and make them more prevalent, and minimize or remove the others.
Maybe it's even actually okay if we keep those oversexualized females around. If we also ensure we have some oversexualized males that appeal to women. As long as we also have enough heroic males and females.
So, that's the side of - how sexism exists in the "geek" media.
On the other hand, we just have the regular geek culture. Where a geek woman is still often seen as a rarity that needs special treatment - and is, of course, every geek's secret dream girl. Now, maybe some women crave that type of attention, but it also tends to a lot of unwanted behavior and it would be probably more enjoyable for her if no one noticed her sex. And there are extremes like the 3rd article mentioned, where some geek subcultures basically start bullying women with sexual comments and think that's okay because taking that away would destroy that subculture. (To that, I can only say: If that destroys your subculture, good riddance. There wasn't apparantly anything worthy to it.)
I'm just a lowly secretary :p
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