Male games for male gamers: A case study

By | July 23, 2011

Duke Nukem's jeans-clad crotch in closeup

It's dick-tacular!

Several of you have emailed me about this today, so here you go.

Some dudes are planning a LAN party in Austin, TX to coincide with the release of Battlefield 3. Pretty much every FPS gamer I know is super-psyched for this title, and honestly, the LAN party in question sounds pretty boss. Until you get to the section that originally said:

Are there other restrictions? Yes. Nothing ruins a good LAN party like uncomfortable guests or lots of tension, both of which can result from mixing immature, misogynistic male-gamers with female counterparts. Though we’ve done our best to avoid these situations in years past, we’ve certainly had our share of problems. As a result, we no longer allow women to attend this event.

Since it’s been picked up by some blogs, the text has been changed to describe the event simply as a “gentleman’s retreat”, with a link to this site, in an effort to either elicit hilarity (that said men are trying to be better people by playing Battlefield 3 together) or to earnestly reframe the male-exclusive space as a positive thing. There is also some weird drama in which possibly-imaginary female attendees describe harassment at prior LAN parties put on by this group that may have never happened.

Ultimately, the question of whether women have been egregiously harassed at past events — although it would seem to be implied by the original wording — is irrelevant to this post. All I want to unpack here is the original language in the original pre-drama announcement quoted above, because I think it demonstrates a lot of what is wrong with games culture in an especially clear way.

The encoded, indirect message behind that text is this:

We don’t want this to be difficult. We just want to play our games and not have to worry about forcing people to behave. We don’t want to think critically about what kind of ground rules would need to be laid down, how we would make them clear, and how we would enforce them, because that seems like a lot of work without any worthwhile payoff. We don’t want to be distracted by having to police our participants. We just want to play some motherfucking Battlefield 3, and have fun doing it. Because dealing with misogyny, racism, homophobia, or any kind of hate speech? It’s just not fun. So in the interest of making this event fun for the men and safe for the women, we’re just going to require that the women stay home.

The idea that it is somehow “safer” to make the event male-only is problematic in that it reinforces the assumption that men are feral fucking animals who are incapable of controlling their allegedly natural chromosomal need to be assholes. It presupposes that getting dudes to treat women and other non-dudebro people like human beings is, at best, a huge imposition, or at worst, an impossibility.

But even the most rancid douchebag takes his actions by choice — men can choose to be assholes, but being an asshole is not an inherent and unavoidable aspect of being male. Said men can also choose not to be assholes, and can choose to think about their shit-talking before they do it, and can choose to recognize that their words and actions contribute to a toxic game culture that explicitly excludes anyone unwilling to ally hirself with a particular white hetero male perspective.

When men choose NOT to behave like reasonable and thoughtful adults, it’s because they just don’t feel like it. And they can get away with that because men have the option (dare I say the privilege?) to refuse. Because they hold a disproportionate amount of cultural and social clout, especially in games culture.

A woman who engages in misogynist harassment while gaming is also being an asshole, though her assholery is not necessarily a function of privilege, but is rather a matter of internalized misogyny. In so doing, she is allying herself with those who assert that this is just how you talk when you play these games, and the fact that it comes from a woman does not make it any less misogynist. Men don’t own misogyny, and misogyny is not the exclusive domain of men. Misogyny is everywhere. It is culturally ubiquitous, and we are all part and parcel of its poisonous ideology.

As a result, we must all take responsibility for combating it.

I can actually sympathize with the event organizers. I don’t want to spend time and energy nearly every day being confronted with this shit, and I’m pretty bummed when I’m having a good time — playing a video game or doing anything else — and some shitstain comes along and feels entitled to wreck my fun with a specifically sexist or racist or homophobic comment. The difference is, I don’t have a choice. There are no safe spaces for me. I am frequently dismissed for failing to be the mythological dick-worshipping brainless tart some men desire. I am attacked for refusing to see any value in the ability to say “FAGGOT” every thirty seconds without anybody harshing on your savage wit. I am harassed for daring to commit the crime of being a politcally outspoken nerd-lady fatass. And what can I do about that? I can stand up for myself when it happens and I can write on a damn blog about it, but I am ultimately a pebble trying to resist the rockslide.

So while I can sympathize, I can also say fuck you. Fuck you for being part of the problem.

These poor sad boys will still have their LAN party and do their dick-checks at the door, and many of them will be righteously angry that stupid thinky people with their stupid thinky thoughts had to make this into a complicated thing that takes the gloss off their excitement. But that anger will be misguided: the anger should be directed at the minority of men who choose to be unrepentant assholes and therefore make such policies sound like a good idea in the first place.

Why are you protecting the assholes among you, gentlemen? Why do you value their participation so much that it’s worth creating a space so “dangerous” for women that they must be banned from the premises? What do the assholes bring to your experience that is so irreplaceable? Is the game better when you can throw around vicious descriptions of rape and sexual assault? Does winning feel more awesome when you can hammer your opponent with anti-gay slurs? Is your good time dependent on being able to use the word “nigger” without getting your face bashed in?

I’m not the target audience for this LAN party, nor would I be inclined to attend a similar event in my own city, even if it were a multiply-gendered space. That’s just not my scene. But this isn’t about women wanting to attend; it’s about the fact that games culture is an environment in which building explicitly anti-female spaces is considered acceptable and even “safe” for women. Encouraging men to believe that they cannot control their every impulse — indeed, that they are SO dangerous that they need to be isolated from women lest they lose their composure and go on a mad raping spree — is about the least safe idea I can think of.

So way to go, Austin LAN boys: you’ve further contributed to the stereotype of men in general and male gamers in particular as hairy-palmed knuckle-dragging barbarians, all in the name of your good time. I hope you get exactly the kind of monsters attending that you imagine yourselves to be. Maybe then you’ll realize that you don’t create safety by dragging everyone down to their basest urges, but rather by raising the quality of your own behavior, and requiring the same level of decency from those with whom you associate.


57 Comments

kbryna on July 23, 2011 at 9:08 pm.

well, all this gamer/gaming talk goes right over my non-gaming head, but dumbassery and antifeminism never passes me by unnoticed. “uncomfortable guests or lots of tension, both of which can result from mixing immature, misogynistic male-gamers with female counterparts. … As a result, we no longer allow women to attend this event.”

Wouldn’t it just be easier to remove “immature, misogynistic male-gamers” than to ban all women? This is a little like locking up all the non-criminals to protect them from the murderers and robbers out there. Or to keep our misogyny together, locking up all the women to make sure none of the rapists get them.

What eejits. Honestly. I’m a friend of nerds & gamer-types, really I am (not in actual fact, due to shortage of friends generally, but theoretically, some of my wholly-imaginary best friends are gamers*), but it’s hard for me to defend them against accusations of immaturity and adolescent-boy attitudes toward life when shit like this comes down the line.

* used to denote Irony in using “some of my best friends are…”

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Nadia on January 4, 2012 at 7:17 am.

I think that banning misogynic men is a lot harder than banning women. I mean, in order to filter out the trouble makers among the men, you would need to make complex decisions about their character and behavioural patterns, most of which would have to be based on past behaviour reconrd. There would be a much greater outcry among the gamers, because they would take this as a personal attack, an insult and claim your decision is subjective and unfair. How much easier is it to base the selection on the basis of sex? Especially if such enterprises are mainly male dominant events in the first place.

Also ladies, let us not forget the most important ISSUE here. Guys have a far greater feeling of togetherness and supporting members of their own sex. They will always protect each other when confronted with the opposite sex.

I have once read an article about it. Females dont ally themselves as strongly with other females, or are lenient towardsinappropriate behaviour, just because it comes from a member of the same sex. But men do!! I dont recall anymore the expanation behind this phenomena unfortunately….. but the basic idea was, that guys hold together, protect their interests as a group and even tolerate and excuse inaproppriate behaviour of their group members = males, when confronted with critisism. In other words, you may crisitise their behaviour all you want, it will only make them stick together more.

What would then be the right response to this ladies? It is simple, let us protect our rights and interests. Lets counteract inappropriate behaviour of males by sanctioning their behaviour in a civilised manner. Let us not get into idiotic arguments with them we cant win, let us keep our dignity and not sink to their level.

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JonelB on July 23, 2011 at 9:55 pm.

I’ve had people(guys) ask me why I don’t do random matchups on L4D2 or various other games.

This is why.

I enjoy playing L4D2, I don’t like the bots, but I don’t like having to deal with constant misogyny more. Nothing ruins the game faster than constant cursing and namecalling when I’m trying to put down a horde of zombies. I’ve had some people suggest I play without a mic at all–honestly, when I play with friends, we communicate at ton–we plan out our strategies, and help one another whenever it’s required–L4D2 is best when you play it as a team game, and are able to plan out stategies ahead of time.

I’ll deal with the substandard bots before I put up with substandard people.

That said, if any one knows of any fat friendly or feminism friendly Steam groups for when I do play L4D2 and TF2, you would do me an immense favor by letting me know the name. I’m also on Minecraft(creative mostly, but I do enjoy spelunking).

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Samantha Nicola on July 24, 2011 at 5:37 am.

TF2 player here! And minecrafter too! If you find this group, PLEASE let me know too. I’m Cy-V/Cy_V on steam.

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Berta on July 25, 2011 at 10:57 am.

Hey! I’m kritick on Steam and although I don’t have a ton of time to play I would love to have an option of some cool fat and feminism friendly people to play with. I mostly play L4D2 and yes I’m still working my way through Borderlands. See above re:not much time.

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Dingo on July 25, 2011 at 11:46 pm.

TF2 players here, hoppin’ on this here bandwagon if you all don’t mind. I’m Dingo! on steam.

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Kracken on July 29, 2011 at 11:20 am.

TF2 player and Minecrafter as well! Been kind of afraid to play against anything but bots in TF2 for pretty much the reasons everyone’s mentioned. I’m Suckoofiss on Steam.

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Kita on July 23, 2011 at 10:11 pm.

Thanks Lesley for the awesome post. I’ve posted it on reddit. I also want to point out that the original person that spurred on this controversy has apparently APOLOGIZED. That’s right, apologized to the assholes in question. http://i.imgur.com/iUNEE.gif

@JonelB – if you’re looking for a potentially pro-feminist group to play with, you might want to check out girlgamers.reddit.com

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Lesley on July 23, 2011 at 11:52 pm.

I saw. I have no idea what that is about, but it’s super weird.

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JonelB on July 24, 2011 at 9:43 pm.

I have pm’ed the mods to join the girlgamers reddit group.

And this was on one of the posts:

http://www.reddit.com/r/GirlGamers/comments/ixi1o/denied_access_to_a_lan_we_no_longer_allow_women/c27gevc

Don’t know if it is true or not, but it sounds plausible. Really obsessive gamer guys don’t like it when people beat them fair and square, no matter the gender.

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Screaming Fat Girl on July 23, 2011 at 11:37 pm.

“But even the most rancid douchebag takes his actions by choice — men can choose to be assholes, but being an asshole is not an inherent and unavoidable aspect of being male. Said men can also choose not to be assholes, and can choose to think about their shit-talking before they do it”

Sub in “fat people” for “men” and various pejorative words and “eat” and you’re dangerously close to the mentality which says that fat people can choose to lose weight if they try hard enough.

I think that people have far less control over their behavior than those who are offended or angry about it (for whatever reason) believe. In principle, I agree with you, but, in practice, I think that men who are jerks aren’t making a choice to do so. They simply do not have the mental toolkit in place to exercise control or even lack awareness of the fact that they should think/behave differently.

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Lesley on July 23, 2011 at 11:49 pm.

Um, we’re gonna have to agree to disagree on this. I don’t believe there is any biological imperative that makes men natural assholes.

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Joan on July 24, 2011 at 7:23 pm.

She actually is against that stereotype. She uses it to show how people attempt to rationalize destructive male behavior by ARGUING there is something in male biology that makes men act that way-a notion she clearly does not support.

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SunflowerP on July 24, 2011 at 1:42 pm.

Your analogy would work better if fat people were, in fact, engaging in uncontrolled behaviors.

The problem with the “you could lose weight if you wanted” mentality isn’t that we (fat people in general) have less control over our behavior than those with the mentality believe, it’s that it misrepresents what the behavior is.

People with BED (who should not be conflated with fat people; most fat folks don’t have BED, and not all those who have BED are fat) are a different case, but eating disorders are generally considered to be mental illnesses. While it’s possible for assholishness to result from (poorly-managed) mental illness, mental illness doesn’t excuse people from the consequences of their illness-driven behavior.

Sunflower

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Ohmisssally on July 24, 2011 at 12:05 am.

Well said, you. And thanks-I’ve been reaching my boiling point over this-and similar issues-recently, and I appreciate you articulating and posting this. It’s about time someone called for a little personal responsibility, it’s becoming harder and harder to enjoy gaming with all this hostile, juvenile, ignorant crap going on. And it’s everywhere. Grow up, sons. You really are giving men a bad name.

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Amy on July 24, 2011 at 3:57 am.

The whole male-centered culture around gaming is one of the main reasons why I’m not more into games. I’ve tended to stay away from most of the popular games as they are relentlessly male focused and male dominated.

I’ve just finished Mass Effect (I know, a bit late to the party), waiting impatiently to get my hands on Mass Effect 2. When my boyfriend gave it to me, I wasn’t sure I would like it, but tried it anyway. It impressed me so much how the female protagonist and other female party members are handled, they are not overly sexualised, they look like the could actually run and shoot alien robot things in what they’re wearing, I can’t remember any sexist dialogue, the female characters are equally powerful etc.

Something that surprised me was how many men dismiss the Sims (2,3) as being a “girl’s game”, and yet in the Sims custom content and modding community there are a huge number of men who are extremely active and even run some of the sites. That is one place where it is extremely unlikely that you will see a gender based insult in the forums.

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burnsbabe on July 24, 2011 at 5:11 am.

I think there are two different elements in play here. Before I separate them out though, I want to say I agree with you 100%.

I support women-only spaces. And so, I feel like I have to support the idea of men-only spaces as well. Sometimes these sorts of setups are good. So as a men-only space, I have no problem here. The issue is that this particular men-only space is being created for all the wrong reasons. You hit the nail on the head.

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Lesley on July 24, 2011 at 9:06 am.

Yeah, I am by no means saying that men-only spaces are intrinsically bad — they’re not — just that this particular example is.

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K.A. on July 26, 2011 at 11:39 am.

I support women-only spaces. And so, I feel like I have to support the idea of men-only spaces as well.

Whoops! Looks like you mixed up feelings with logic and got results to match!

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chavvah on July 24, 2011 at 11:28 am.

Your line about dick-checks makes me curious as to how they are going to enforce their men-only policy.

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Pixie on July 24, 2011 at 12:06 pm.

My husband and I actually got into a disagreement about this. He doesn’t agree with the LAN Party in question banning girls, but we disagree with each other on how it should be handled.

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MBD on July 24, 2011 at 3:39 pm.

…If this LAN party was “No boys allowed” would anyone even think twice about it?

Wouldn’t it just be better if men were able to have men’s events without having to look for some flimsy justification beyond that?

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Lesley on July 24, 2011 at 3:55 pm.

Maybe you didn’t notice, but I just wrote THE WHOLE ABOVE POST about why this example is troubling.

If they’d simply said, “DUDES ONLY” with no further explanation, this probably wouldn’t have been a thing. Some of us would just go, “okay, dicks” and leave it alone.

It is because they felt like it was totally acceptable to state that the space would be “tense” or uncomfortable or, by implication, UNSAFE for women — and that they have decided to side with the men who perpetrate that shit instead of with basic human decency — that it turned into something worth talking about.

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Twistie on July 24, 2011 at 3:49 pm.

This, this, this, this, THISFUCKINGTHIS!

Well said, Lesley.

@Kbryna: Having grown up right on the cusp of Take Back the Night, etc., I have actually – and with appalling frequency – heard versions of locking up women (at least behind their own doors) at night to ‘protect’ them from rape and other sexual assaults. Because rapists are never people you know and they never get into your house or apartment.

Oh, sorry. There I was dripping sarcasm all over the carpet again. I’ll clean that right up.

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Jane on January 5, 2012 at 3:30 pm.

twistie, you slay me: “Oh, sorry. There I was dripping sarcasm all over the carpet again. I’ll clean that right up.” haha!

great point, by the way, about rapists and the “protection” of women.

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Living400lbs on July 24, 2011 at 3:50 pm.

The reaction of “well, we just won’t have women here” means there’s assumption that ALL men are happy to hang out with misogynist assholes.

Meanwhile, I know men who have quit their jobs because they don’t want to continue working with certain misogynist asshole coworkers.

Methinks these folks in Austin are limiting their market in more ways than they think.

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JessDR on July 31, 2011 at 4:51 pm.

Thank you.

An event like this is unsafe for white/straigh/cisgendered guys who want to be more than dudebros.

My husband is a wonderful human being. He is aware of and is investigating his privilege, and is genuinely interested in learning from his mistakes and being good to other people. He has his own issues, and he screws up sometimes, but he’s trying.

But when he’s in a group of a bunch of other guys, he feels tremendous pressure to conform. He fights that pressure when he can, but sometimes stays silent when he could speak out. And he hates himself when that happens.

He would feel *more* safe being himself in an environment where women were welcome, and misogyinist behavior was not.

I agree 100% with Lesley’s take-down, but even if you imagine for a sec that the ladies don’t matter, this kind of event isn’t unproblematic for the dudes either.

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Michael on July 24, 2011 at 4:11 pm.

Pixie’s husband here, and if I could take a moment to relay my thoughts on this. It truly does disturb me that their solution to this is to simply ban women from an event. I don’t see how gaming is any different than any other day to day activity that should require respect be given to the other party. Yelling at a female coworker for being female is not acceptable and I don’t see how getting fragged by a lady is much different. That being said, allow me to play some devil’s advocate (although I am in fact siding with the girls here.)

I’d be curious to know if the LAN providers in question are simply a group of guys getting together or a business throwing a party. I couldn’t really find any information on this but the answer doesn’t really change the argument that much. It seems from what I read, they have in the past tried to include women but because of guys running their mouths it became uncomfortable for all parties or possibly an altercation took place. Now as people go, they’ll initially take the path of least resistance whether it’s the moral choice or not. It looks like they had two options.

Police an entire room of about 100 guys or ban the girls that were interested in showing up.

They’ve obviously chosen the second option and while I don’t agree with it, it is to them I imagine, the path of least resistance. Even if they ejected someone for being an ass, they have already done the damage by saying something that is hurtful. I imagine it is something difficult to just shake off and continue playing. Much less, what if that person refuses to leave. Now the police must be called to forcefully (sp?) eject that person.

When something is the size of, let’s say “PAX” (Penny Arcade Expo) and throws a LAN, they have volunteer enforcers, previously laid down rules, and police backing to help everything run smoothly and everyone remain civil and comfortable. I see this as 100 guys out on the weekend. They simply don’t have the resources to police this if they wanted to. It does not however, excuse the behavior of some attendees who have ruined it for the female gamers.

Past that and finally, I imagine that off handed comments are not the only thing that may have happened in the past. Some younger (and regretfully older) games simply don’t have the social skills to be around woman and mind their manners. This could be anything from misogynistic comments, to inappropriate touching, to even stalking. While it’s hard for me to play devil’s advocate on something that I do disagree with, the choices for the promoters are probably “No girls” or “No LAN.” While it is crap that they have made these rules and seem to be rewarding poor behavior, I have to ask, “Would you really want to go to an event that caters to this type of crowd?”

I am sorry if any of this may offend you as it was not my intent but to simply show that running the event may be more difficult than imagined. I’ve always tried to be respectful to girl gamers and in the end, married one who can regularly kick my ass at a number of games. It’s never bothered me, but unfortunately some guys can’t let go of their e-peen and just have some fun.

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firefey on July 29, 2011 at 5:57 pm.

all of which are valid (douchie but valid) reasons to have a men only event. none of which are reasons to ban women from attending.

also, having been involved in a verbal altercation where someone said something really shitty… having the staff back me up, and tell the other person to leave actually did fix the issue for me. by the staff saying that a) i did not deserve to be called names and threatened with violence and b) that kind of shit did not fly here and c) that they believed me and that the person who said that was no longer welcome they enabled me to go one and have an amazing night of fun.

what hurts, what fails to help, what MAKES this kind of space unsafe is when the staff refuses to get involved unless theirs fire, flood or blood. would i go into a LAN party expecting everyone to sing songs, hold hands and hug it out? no. i like a little trash talk. “hey fat bitch i’m gonna rape you so hard your eyes bleed*” is not trash talk.

*not what was actually said to me, but close enough for illustrative purposes

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Ruth on July 24, 2011 at 5:54 pm.

Thing is a lot of the stuff that goes wrong when girls are involved in gaming isnt really regulatable. Thing is.. im tired of being treated like something that has to be pushed out of gaming all the time. I like gaming and I do tend to date guys who like the same things as me. But Im never part of the conversation about games. Yeah having girlz around does have the unfortunate guys who cant handle the female of the species problem. And the guys who have to keep showing off in front of girls. But.. why is that my fault? Yeah I can understand no slave leia costumes but..

Its just the feeling that other peoples problem is made into my problem because I dont have the purchasing or outrage opwer to make the difference.

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Michelle on July 24, 2011 at 8:26 pm.

I am such a sad former FPS fan. Basically, as soon as xbox Live came along, I stopped playing, after a glorious previous ten years of shooting anything and everything.

I think you can probably guess why.

I now also use the term dudebro so much that my husband can sense it coming and roll his eyes in advance.

Why are you protecting the assholes among you, gentlemen?

Indeed. Why not make a policy of unilaterally kicking out misogynists rather than barring women? Again…I think you can probably guess why.

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Michelle on July 24, 2011 at 8:27 pm.

(er, that tag was supposed to close after “gentlemen.”)

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someoneinatree on July 24, 2011 at 10:45 pm.

First time reader of your blog… this article is perfectly timed for me. Having just started to speak up against homophobic and misogynistic language in the IRC chatroom for a game I play regularly, I find the general antagonistic response to my polite reminders not to be an asshole frustrating in the extreme!

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jessica on July 25, 2011 at 6:15 am.

I don’t normally comment on blogs just to say things like “That was awesome,” something that I tell you now so that you know how strongly I need to feel about a post before telling you: That was awesome. Right On. x1000. This post needs to be read far and wide…

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sarahsan on July 25, 2011 at 3:20 pm.

I’m very much a lurker on this blog, normally, although I absolutely love the content. But I just had to pop out of the woodwork to <3 this post so damn hard. Preach it.

Keep on having an amazing blog here! :D *ninjas back into the woodwork*

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RachelB on July 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm.

When my dad was in college, his small midwestern liberal arts school had a curfew for women. (Something like 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends. Yeah.) There was no curfew whatsoever for men. When I heard about this, years later, I told him that’s not fair– there should be a curfew for everyone, or for no one. And he said, “The administration decided that if the girls [sic] had a curfew, nobody had to worry about where the male students were.”

That’s what I think of every time someone tries to “solve” misogyny and sexual violence by constraining women’s movements, rather than by expecting greater decency from men. It was shitty logic in the 1960s, and it’s no less shitty now. (Also, though I would have opted for no curfew rather than the same curfew for everyone, assuming that all the trouble the male students could get up to involved “girls”? Was dangerously unimaginative on the part of the administration, IMO.)

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Plop on July 25, 2011 at 5:05 pm.

I was on my ass when i discovered that guys i knew found it normal to reply to women “Tits or get the fuck off” on forums ! O_o

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Pamcakes on July 25, 2011 at 8:02 pm.

The guys have a right to set whatever limits on attendance they like; that’s the prerogative of organising a private function. But it’s the reasoning that beggars belief. This strikes me as similar non-logic to a conservative political party advertising a planned meeting with, “Some of our members can tend to have racist attitudes, which can be upsetting for black party members. Therefore, we are making this a whites-only event.”
Like….wat.
“Let’s fight what we acknowledge is ignorant and offensive behaviour with…condonation(condonement?)! Enshrinement, even! And segregation from all those awkward, party-pooping people who would challenge it.”
I mean, they actually use the word ‘misogynistic’, for crying out loud, so it’s not like they don’t clearly understand where the fault lies.
Apologism at its most blatant.
Wow.

P.

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forestperson on July 26, 2011 at 3:15 am.

This post is excellent, thank you for writing it.

What I heard when I first read their excuses is: ‘I think it’s fun to play games with men who make misogynistic comments, and I want to participate in that with them. I do not want women around to spoil the fun by showing they are uncomfortable’.

I truly believe that if the organisers disliked misogyny, they would not consider it fun at all to host an event specifically for ‘immature, misogynistic male-gamers’. I don’t believe they excluded women because they felt it would be too difficult to enforce a no-misogyny rule; I think that’s a disingenuous excuse on their behalf. I honestly believe that the reason the organisers have excluded women is because they, the organisers, feel comfortable in these misogynistic, all male environments, and want to preserve that environment.

Misogyny doesn’t ruin the fun any less when women are not there; my male friends who hate misogyny feel just as uncomfortable in all male misogynistic environments as they do in mixed-sex ones, and it ruins their fun just the same. I cannot under any circumstances imagine a man thinking ‘I hate misogyny and think it’s really immature; therefore I will host an event that caters specifically for immature, misogynistic males.’ No. Does not happen.

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Harry Pool on July 26, 2011 at 11:37 am.

I went to Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh from Sep 1962 to Apr 1966. I’m including the dates to give readers the time period; colleges may be different now. I recall single women attending the school had a curfew, and men didn’t. I expect this curfew was established to reassure parents, the people paying the bills, that their daughters wouldn’t be staying out all night. As sexual activity would be the primary reason for being out of the female dorm past curfew, the curfew would prevent it. I’ve no idea what the penalties for breaking curfew were, and I don’t recall ever hearing of a female student breaking curfew.

It never occurred to me the curfew was unfair, and, other than explaining what the curfew hours were, I don’t recall the curfew ever discussed. I only had a few dates with girls living in their dorm, and getting back before curfew was never a problem.

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K.A. on July 26, 2011 at 11:44 am.

If men are creating the problem, they should be the ones who are banned. Women-only spaces should be the only gender separatist events allowed.

It’s just like when people blame women for going outside, living life, etc., prescribing that they lock themselves in or else they are at fault for men raping them. The onus is on the gender doing the raping, not the people being targeted. If we are going to restrict anyone, it has to be the men.

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Harry Pool on July 27, 2011 at 12:02 am.

Why should “Women-only spaces be the only gender separatist events allowed”? If it’s OK for women to have women-only events, why should men be unable to have men-only events?

My wife and I share a lot of interests, but I have little interest in my wife’s sports car activities and she has no interest in mathematics (although many women do) or war gaming (I’ve heard of women with that interest, but I’ve never met one). I’ve been to a few national war game conventions. I never thought female attendance was prohibited, but I never saw a woman at one.

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firefey on July 29, 2011 at 6:01 pm.

you are missing the point here

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forestperson on July 31, 2011 at 12:03 am.

Harry, I hope this post has given you some insight as to why women might avoid these kind of events. There are numerous posts around the blogsphere by women who have been harassed or made to feel unwelcome by misogynistic game players, in situations where women aren’t outright banned.

I’m curious to know why you haven’t met any female war gamers. It could be because the games you play aren’t set up for interacting with strangers; or it could be that the women who are playing are not ‘out’ as women on your server. Personally, I know around a dozen people who play wargames, and eight of them are women. Out of those eight, several use male avatars and do not disclose their true gender in the game because they do not like the gender-based harassment which occurs when they do. it’s quite possible that you are in fact playing with women, but aren’t aware of this because for some reason they have not disclosed their gender to you.

As for single-gender events, the reason for the gender segregation is significant. There is a big difference between one group excluding another so that they can denigrate that other group without consequence, and one group excluding another so that they do not have to experience being denigrated by the other group.

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JessDR on July 31, 2011 at 4:55 pm.

“There is a big difference between one group excluding another so that they can denigrate that other group without consequence, and one group excluding another so that they do not have to experience being denigrated by the other group.”

THIS

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McBain on July 28, 2011 at 2:08 pm.

They could have set the rules to be inclusive. For example “No Prudes! Complaints of foul language, boorish behavior, sexism, ableism, racism, or any ism is a bannable offence”.

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Neves on July 29, 2011 at 5:10 am.

As a male gamer, I couldn’t disagree more with this article… It’s the guys who behave disappropriate that should be banned from the event. I’ve played counterstrike lan’s with girls and they do just as good as everyone. I can understand that they (the organisation) find shooters ‘non-fitting’ for girls or whatever, but I have just as much male friends who don’t like the straightforward shooter games. This is really a sad restriction and does not help gender emancipation in gaming whatsoever. Simply remove the ennoying persons (not the reason why they are being annoying).

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Neves on July 29, 2011 at 5:12 am.

Edit: I’m not disagreeing with the article ofcourse, but with those guys who are setting those dumb rules.

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Amber on July 31, 2011 at 12:21 pm.

I’ve been involved in organizing a long-running game convention (mostly RPGs, CCGs, Miniatures and LARPS, though video games have started to creep in the last few years) for the last 8 years. As a female gamer, I’ve had to deal with a variety of attitudes from the guys I met/played with/directed. Most have been reasonable people, with one or two glaring exceptions.

This may be an effect of playing games face to face rather than anonymously over the internet. I’m primarily a Minis war gamer myself (*waves at Harry*) and while I’ve had some guys act uncomfortable with having me there, it was mostly in an adorable gawky way. Having to look people in the eye may be part of why this group’s mixed event LANs have been “uncomfortable” in the past. How often would any of these guys insult a female in public? Generally, it’s rarer than not, so having to “mind their manners” makes the day at the club house not so fun. Women haven’t been involved in gaming much for so long, it seems most guys feel like a gaming event is a meeting of the He-man Woman Haters Club.

“Why aren’t there more girls [sic] in gaming?” is a question I have debated so many times. Usually, the guys (it’s invariably guys asking this) who take the time to respond are impossible to convince that it’s largely a result of some of their peers’ behavior. Who wants to hang out with people who’re going to curse at you and threaten you with gross physical harm simply for being yourself?

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Alyssa on August 1, 2011 at 7:36 pm.

I love video games alot. Im a casual gamer but I do activily play. I started only a few years ago and have seen some improvements in the game industry. Not necessarily from the players themselves, but the developers.

I only play games that aren’t gender locked and stats aren’t determined by the gender, like Fable or Runes of Magic. For me, when I play a roleplaying game, I want an avatar that i can relate to or can represent me. It helps me get drawn in to the story. The fact that I have a nice pool of quality game titles to choose from that allows that option I think is a major step up. Also that many major video game developers seem to produce mainly these type of games (like Bioware and Bethesda) also makes me think its headed in the right direction.

I hate seeing things like this though, not the male only thing, but the reason behind it. Truely it feels like a step back from the improvements some of the developers are trying to make.

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AniaGosia on August 4, 2011 at 9:53 pm.

Hi Lesley – I just started reading your blog after reading your articles on xoJane, which totally rock, btw.
The worst thing is that this is just a case study – its one case among so many. If it were just a few men who wanted to do something “boys only”, then whatever. It annoys me to have my husband sitting in on my girly stuff and making snarky comments too. The problem is that it seems to always be the women who have to be restricted in their behavior/rights in order to protect them from men who supposedly can’t control themselves. It’s the justification behind chastity belts and curfews and burqas. Of course men could control themselves if society required them to. Men aren’t required to control themselves because men are the ones with the power and they don’t want to have to control themselves. It’s much easier (and more fun for the men) to make the women control themselves – either with actual laws or with shame. This puts me in mind of the “How to Prevent Rape” list that begins, “If a woman is drunk, don’t rape her”. If you don’t want women to be endangered, don’t endanger them. That’s all there is to it.

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Azuris on August 7, 2011 at 2:59 am.

Is it completely odd that I think a mass of woman gamers should ‘suddenly identify as male’ for that convention?

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Living400lbs on August 23, 2011 at 2:16 pm.

You may also enjoy this comic on playing online games as an adult:

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/online_gaming

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Maggie on November 20, 2011 at 12:58 am.

Just a general comment that I thought some readers might find useful: I find that when I play free or pay-to-play MMOs there are a much wider range of guilds to sign up with and play with (and leave and find another if you don’t like them) than these XBOX live random matches with almost always include one or more assholes. I am talking WoW, Guild Wars and Final Fantasy XI Online (and totally free ones like Spiral Knights on Steam). These guilds I have joined have a general “Be Nice” policy where there are often children members as well to think of, and even my own use of general swear words had to be toned down. But there were still common areas around merchants in towns where you heard assholes and had to ban them to stop the flow of stupid. XBOX live is harder to manage since most of the online play is through generally anonymous randomized match-ups, rather than a group of like minded individuals. Whaddya think about this?

And specifically related to the post at hand, the wording of the original announcement was the killer–it could have easily been like “Only Bros Allowed” or something. Rather than the whole “Come, play with us and enjoy whatever offensive humor and slurs you like without fear of reproach.”

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