Thursday, April 4, 2013

Harassment: Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: Discussion of sexual harassment/threats of sexual assault, links contain potentially triggering material.

When I play World of Warcraft, I always play female toons because honestly, I relate to them. WoW does a pretty decent job of providing clothing that doesn’t drastically change between the genders. I’m not going to stop playing female-bodied toons because men in game feel that they have the right to harass me.

I’m sick of walking into dungeons, being asked my real-life gender over and over again and when I finally concede? I get asked to do sexual favors, to makes sandwiches, “can I feel your boobs? lololol”, “where do you live real life— you’re probably fat”. I’m sick of walking into PvP and being inundated with angry players threatening rape on each other’s mothers and daughters and girlfriends. I’m sick of men loudly proclaiming their relationship status in game as if women are some kind of commodity that allow you to be accepted into gaming communities.

The infamous trolling excuse.
I’m sick of, when I call out these misogynists, being called a "bitch" and told that I should just “laugh it out, they’re just trolling”.

“Trolling” is a universal excuse that basically amounts to “they’re just joking” or “they’re just trying to get you angry”. This excuse is problematic because trolling almost always targets marginalized groups. In gaming, much of the “trolling” I have seen has been targeted towards women, gender and sexual minorities and people of color.

Additionally, a lot of insults used, no matter the victim, are usually gendered or based off of racist/heterosexist ideas. Often times “trollers” will insult people by mis-gendering them or calling them gay.

Essentially “trollers” often get away with making horrible remarks by saying that they’re just kidding. Many people also claim that trollers are only like that in-game, that truthfully they are not racist or sexist.
There are many problematic aspects of these arguments  and unless we deconstruct these excuses, we cannot move past the rampant harassment in the gaming world. If you are truly against racism, sexism and the like, trolling is unacceptable.

Another popular excuse is that people shouldn't be offended by harassment because "it's just the internet". In no other form of communication do we dismiss the words and actions of others based on the form of communication itself. We don't yell at folks over the phone, "Don't get upset, we're on the telephone!". As gaming and online communities become more and more common, we must recognize that the internet is a valid space for communication and that words and actions matter.

(TW for link: Sexual harassment, threats) At Fat, Ugly or Slutty, moderators compile screenshots of thousands of cases of harassment. This website serves as evidence for how rampant harassment in video games really is, and how there are very little repercussions for bullying online. The content of the website is sad, angering and potentially triggering. In reality, though, these screenshots represent the everyday gaming life of many women.
Fat, Ugly or Slutty compiles online gaming harassment directed at women.
Extra Credits, in their video on Harassment, note that harassment online is just a vocal minority of players, the worst part of the gaming community. Whether this is true or not, there is a large part of the gaming community that is complicit in harassment. In the Cross Assault debacle, no one in the room stood up against the sexist harassment. When I've experienced harassment in game, no one has stood with me to stop it. This has to change. We cannot just stand idly by while folks are harassed. Not only must developers do something to police the community, but we as a community must work to police ourselves.


No comments:

Post a Comment