Bullying the Gamer Girl
I posted this a couple years ago on my old (now defunct) blog.Still, another busy week means another flashback post, and this is one of my favorites.
In 2009 I attended the 1st Annual Discworld Convention. During the opening ceremony I found myself sitting next to a man who kept picking the skin off of his leg and eating it. (I wish that was a joke. I really, really wish that was a joke.)
Before the ceremony started, the skin eater asked me when I had started reading Pratchett and how many Discworld novels I’d read. I had to think for a moment, but finally I had an answer for him; I’d been reading Pratchett for 18 years and I had read them all. I don’t remember exactly what he said in reply–his personal habits were kind of distracting–but the essence of it was this: he hadn’t believed I read any Pratchett at all.
That was irritating, but I let it slide. You can’t take the opinion of someone who eats his own flesh too seriously; it’s likely he has some sort of freaky virus in his brain.
The next night I was in the hospitality suite when I was asked the same question by another man. I answered it, and I remember his reaction quite clearly. “You don’t look like the kind of girl who reads.”
He wasn’t intentionally being rude. He said like he was giving me a compliment, and I was too surprised to set him straight.
Both of these men had a checklist in their heads that said, “This is what smart women look like”, and I didn’t fulfill the requirements. Was I too young, too blonde, too well groomed? I honestly don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter. They made a snap judgement based on my appearance, and it hurt. It damaged the feeling I had of belonging there- and trust me, if there was ever a group of people I belong with, it’s Discworld fans. (We sang The Gold Song. It was GLORIOUS.)
Now let’s talk about Gamer Girls.
I’ve done my fair share of rants in the past (the distant past) about the Gamer Girl phenomenon. I’ve expressed disgust at those girls–you know, those girls–that only play one game and play it badly; the ones with gamertags like “xxXSexyKittenXxx” (“xxx” is the official designation of the unrepentant douche on XBox Live, if you were wondering). The girls that post pictures of themselves gaming naked or licking their controllers (ew). The ones that announce they’re girls as soon as the match begins and lap up the attention the entire time you play with them.
I’ve said they’re not real gamers. I’ve said that they only play games so that they can get attention. I’ve raged against the disservice they’re doing female gamers as a community and the idea that I have to work harder for respect because of their behavior.
I’m kind of an asshole sometimes. (Especially since I’ve never seen one of these “fake gamer girls” in the wild. Not once.)
I’ve never posted those opinions here because I know when I’m being an asshole and I’m smart enough to be ashamed of it, but I have said those things. So have a lot of other people. Kicking around the Gamer Girl almost seems to have become a sort of hobby.
Some quotes: (not mine)
“obviously you’re not a gamer if you’re taking pictures instead of playing. Now go give your brother back his controller.”
” we all know girls don’t get dressed and put on makeup to play video games”
“You lose all respect from me if you call yourself a gamer girl or a girl gamer “
This is not a good thing. Oh, it can feel like a good thing. Separate REAL female gamers from those posers, make sure guys know that not all female gamers are like that, right?
That’s not how it works.
This is the behavior that makes online gaming such a hostile environment for women. It isn’t just because some men are territorial jackasses that will exploit their anonymity; it’s because in real life scenarios and over the internet, both men and women are tearing women down for being too attractive or not playing the “right” games, or even for having hobbies that are not “geek approved”. For instance, “You can’t call yourself a gamer and then say you’re interested in fashion.” (Why the hell not?)
It’s gotten to the point where over and over I’m seeing, “Just don’t say you’re a girl. Just call yourself a gamer.”
I’ve said myself that I don’t want to be called a gamer girl; I am a gamer, and my gender doesn’t factor into it. I don’t hide my gender, however, and I don’t appreciate the implication that women should have to do so in order to be taken seriously as gamers.
Every time someone mocks a girl gamer, belittles her, calls her stupid or calls her a whore, those labels plaster themselves across every woman who games. It doesn’t just effect the girl who posted pictures of herself fellating her joystick, it also effects the 11 year old who is just beginning to explore the internet and innocently announces on Facebook that she’s a gamer girl.
A couple more quotes:
“I hate tumblr right now …just because a girl has to look a certain way to be classified as a “gamer.”
“I am a gamer.
I am a girl.
Don’t belittle me for being what I am. “
Image courtesy Włodi under CC-BY-SA 2.0