Ok, sure, so this is supposed to be a gaming blog, but that doesn’t mean this article isn’t going to be worth your time. In fact, if you think that, then you’re exactly the kind of person that needs to read it. Put it this way – if you don’t at least skim read this, you’re literally making the problem worse.
There is a gaming link, of course, but we’ll get to that later.
In a way, it’s quite sad that I even have to write this article. But the very fact that I’m a known male, with male genitals, means that more people are likely to read this. Knowing what I know, it would actually be irresponsible of me not to use that power, even if it is a power I never should’ve had.
Thing is, it’s a serious issue, and it’s one that men genuinely don’t understand. I didn’t understand. I’m not the kind of man who will whistle at a woman, or bark at them like a dog, or ask “How much?” or any of the other countless things that women deal with on a day-to-day basis, so I thought it basically never happened. Maybe once or twice, a couple of blokes who were a bit too crazy or a bit too drunk getting stupid and joking about. Easily laughed off, I thought. Nothing to worry about.
But, from another perspective, it is a serious issue. Videos like the one above show exactly what it’s really like. The truth is, almost all women are objectified like this at least once every single time they leave the house. Yes, even your mum. You might think it doesn’t look that bad. It’s just people talking at you. But that’s not the point. It’s intimidating. It’s terrifying. And if you don’t think so, imagine that being your existence. Imagine being constantly scared that each stranger you meet might attack you, because you’ve been taught that they will. Apparently, girls are taught how to walk with their keys between their fingers, in case they get attacked. Boys are not taught how not to rape other people. Girls are taught to always keep an eye on their drinks, or keep them covered. Boys are not taught not to drug other people’s drinks.
Most of us seem to think that feminism ended when women were allowed to vote. In my misguided youth, that’s basically the joke I used to make, except I wasn’t really sure whether or not I was joking. And I’m willing to bet that if I asked anybody I know if they believed in equality, they’d say yes without hesitation. But if I asked if they believe in feminism? A few yesses, I’d hope, but I’d also expect a lot of “hmm,” a lot of “maybe” and a lot of “well, sort of, but…” But nothing. The two are one and the same. The only reason we use the word ‘feminism’ is that, right now, it’s women who need the boost. Call it ‘equality’ if you really want to, but that’s kind of missing the point.
Of course, as I said, there is a rather sad link to the gaming world here. Personally, I’d love to have more girls get more involved with gaming. I’ve managed to get my girlfriend to play through a few, and she definitely enjoys it. But as soon as a woman starts to admit that she plays games, she better be damn sure she’s prepared to defend herself from the hordes of men who, for some reason, refuse to believe her. That’s even if she can get past how horribly her gender is portrayed in most* popular games. And if she tries to change the medium for the better, tackling industry norms and challenging player preconceptions? Down comes a torrent of shit like you wouldn’t believe – hashtag fucking GamerGate.
But that’s a topic for another time.
When I told my girlfriend I was writing this piece, she was sceptical of my abilities. “What angle are you going to take?” she would ask; “you can’t cover absolutely everything.” She’s right, of course. I can’t. That would be impossible, or at least take the work of far more eloquent and passionate keyboards than my own. There are a lot of things I don’t have the knowledge – or even the right – to talk about like this. But if anything I’ve said has impacted on you, even slightly, please don’t let that go. Do some reading, watch some videos. Talk to women about it, because they’ll tell you exactly what it’s like. Notice when those around you treat women like shit. Do something about it, if you can, but at least notice. That’s got to be the first step. And if you do notice someone you like saying or doing something a bit suspect, why not let them know?
*There are a few notable exceptions to this, particularly in the indie scene, but this still holds true for the vast majority of the mainstream.