The Girl Gamer Controversy – #Mysogyny

So I’m starting to dip my toe into Twitch and the world of streaming. However with that comes a LOT of scrutiny. One of my well-meaning friends warned me about this abuse and in particular the abuse if you are female. This gave me a thought… Why is it so institutionalised within the online community? Is sexism in gaming just part in parcel of the community? What is it like to be a girl in this business? I went to find out. The Girl Gamer Controversy – #Mysogyny

Girl Gamer?

The concept of a ‘girl gamer’ is one that has been debated (sometimes viciously) for a long time. A lot of female gamers tag themselves as girl gamer and are proud of being a girl gamer. However I feel it’s important to understand and unpack the terminology and the meaning behind it. What is the difference between a gamer and a girl gamer? Why has the distinction been made? I am personally not a fan of the ‘Girl Gamer’ movement. After all, we are all just gamers? The distinction in gender is not just seen in gaming.

At university I studied Law. Frequently the textbooks would have a chapter adapted for “Gender”. “Tort Law in Gender”. So were these chapters a discussion of gender in relation to the particular law topic? No… They were chapters about women in Tort Law. This makes me wonder do the writers of these textbooks consider the female gender to be different? And by extension, does the term Girl Gamer already define male gamers as the norm and Girl Gamers as the side act? I don’t think that’s a question I could answer in one short article!

#MySogynyProject

Misogyny is defined by the dictionary as “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women”. I had seen a lot on my social media feed of women suffering different treatment in the gaming world because of their gender. Some of this was positive, but a lot of it was negative. So the hash tag #MySogynyProject was born. I wanted women to use this to build each other up and fight against it.

The idea: to write an insult on a piece of paper that someone has thrown at you because of your gender. As a gamer (who happens to be female) I have been accused of gaming for “male attention” and being a “fake gamer”. I have been quizzed on obscure gaming knowledge for the ‘question master’ to decide whether or not he called me as a ‘true’ gamer or not. After the first hour, the DMs, hash tags and comments came flooding in. Some negative, some positive and most supportive.

A lot of male gamers were entirely supportive of the #MySogynyProject. I want to take this opportunity to say that around 80% of gamers that I have enjoyed time around have been amazing. The negative experiences I have are mostly from gamers that I do not know, through online gaming or social media. Gaming can be a great hobby and we can meet a lot of good friends along the way.

 

Negative Feedback

However, the overwhelming position is that as a woman who games, it’s an upward struggle. We are held at higher standards in order to be considered ‘good’. We constantly have to prove ourselves in order to be considered as true fans.

 

In order to fully understand the issue, it’s important to look at the negative feedback I received too:

 

It’s an interesting thought. Does placing so much emphasis on insults to women make us look like ‘victims’ rather than the powerful warriors that I wanted to promote? Could another opportunity be explored? It’s important to realise that I don’t think women are victims. I don’t think acknowledging widespread harassment means that we are weak. However can hash tags and projects like this make us SEEM weak? I certainly hope not, I wanted this to be a fight. But I am glad it’s caused a stir. So far, no one has denied the fact that women are harassed as gamers. But what can we do as a community to change this?!

Final thoughts…

After several conversations with a hundreds of gamers, I feel like to celebrate femininity within gaming we have to truly focus on women. The insults themselves aren’t important, nor are the people that gave them. The women behind the games are important. People should become inspirations, and not a product of their insults.

People like Jennifer Hale, Julia Robson and Jane Jensen. These are all people who are not defined by their gender. They’re inspirations in the industry who just so happen to be female. So for the rest of the project, I want to celebrate gaming wins, not gaming insults. We are Wonder Women. We can’t get away from the fact that sexist comments and insults ARE part of gaming culture. But that doesn’t mean we should wear them as a badge.

Gaming is for gamers, period.

By Stephanie