The Gaming Community, Or The He-Man Woman-Haters Club

The Gaming Community, Or The He-Man Woman-Haters Club

Even in the virtual world, women aren't safe from everyday sexism.
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I love a good video game. Who doesn't? being able to immerse yourself in a highly detailed environment where anything is possible is highly entertaining and a great way to waste time. Whether it's battling dragons in Skyrim, mowing down pedestrians with your car in GTA, or scouring an irradiated wasteland in Fallout, video games give us an opportunity to be someone else for a while or even create our own stories. Video games can also be a powerful medium in which to make a political statement. It is a rapidly changing medium in which to display ideas in a way that is interactive and fun. However, because of video games demographics, it is often hard to get that message across.

Now, what do I mean by demographics? I'm talking about males ages 18-30 who spend their time cursing out 13-year-olds on Xbox Live and using racial slurs when a person of color enters the game while chugging a Big Gulp full of Mountain Dew. Perhaps one of the most disturbing elements of the gaming community is their attitude towards women, especially those who play video games. I have had many a friend tell me that they've gotten rape threats over Xbox Live as well as derogatory statements such as "make me a sammich!" and "go back to the kitchen where you belong!". Even in the virtual world, women aren't safe from violent sexism.

This translates over to the games themselves. It is difficult to find a video game where the main character is a woman; especially a non-sexualized/objectified woman. And when she's not sexualized and is a fully actualized character, the male gaming community begins complaining that she isn't "sexy enough" and this leads to fan art, usually drawn by men, where the female protagonist is depicted having bulging breasts and an 18-inch waist. Take, for example, the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Now, I will admit that I am a fan of GTA; I can't help but go sidewalk surfing and see how many pedestrians I can mow down before the police arrest me. However, the game is blatantly sexist since many of the women depicted in the game are airheads who only care about sex, money, and/or becoming famous. Now, I understand that GTA is a game who's humor comes from satire, but at what point do people begin to internalize this satire and accept it as a universal truth rather than thinking critically about it? When Carolyn Petit, a reviewer for Gamespot, gave GTAV a positive review but called out its problematic depiction of women, fans of the game took up arms and called her a "moron" amongst other things. One commenter even said that a woman's input was useless anyways. Is this really still going on in the 21st century?

The world of gaming is still very much a man's world. I like to think of it as the He-Man Woman-Haters club from "The Little Rascals": a place where boys (not men) can come together and feed off of each others toxic masculinity while calling each other pussies and faggots. I think it's time we begin putting more women into video game design studios where they can share their stories. We need more games where women take the spotlight not as sexual objects for the leering male gaze, but as fully fleshed-out characters who react to the story and push it along.

The future is female, y'all: pretty soon, they'll run even the virtual world.


Cover Image Credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters on unsplash

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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My Mom Is The First Feminist Role Model I Ever Had And I Love It

Thank you for being the first strong, female role model I had.

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Growing up, my mom was my feminist role model because she was one of the most educated women I knew. Despite being an immigrant and poor, she put herself through college, received her bachelor's degree followed by two masters. She was definitely an expert in her field. My mom's career was probably the second most important thing in her life besides me. She always encouraged me to read, and constantly advocated that getting an education was the most important thing I could do as a woman because it would open so many doors for me. Also, it meant that I wouldn't need to fall back on a man later in life. I was so proud of my mom because unlike most of the mothers of my school peers that either stayed at home or had part-time jobs, she had a career.

As the years went on, elementary school turned into middle school and middle school turned into high school, I remember learning about the oppression of women and the little rights they had. I would get upset that women two hundred years ago were not allowed to go to school or own anything because they themselves were the property of their husband. With total confidence I can say that I would have been crusading for women's suffrage and independence because I cannot fathom living in a world where I would spend my days wearing a corset making subpar meatloaf, waiting for some subpar husband who paid twenty chickens in dowry for me.

However, even though my mom was someone I looked up to, having a mom that was always working and prioritizing her career was difficult. This meant that she was not around to chaperone any school field trips or bring me lunch if I forgot it at home. Home cooked meals were another rarity. Do not get me wrong, every night we had dinner on the table, but it was usually something that was just bought. I think that's where I get my affinity for rotisserie chicken. Even though you weren't the kind of mom that I could learn to cook dinners with or pick me and my friends up from school to take us out to lunch, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thank you, mom, for showing me how important it is to pursue getting an education and even though I am a woman, I am so much more than that. I am happy to have had a role model that defied societal gender roles and pursued a meaningful career. Also a shout out to my dad for never feeling emasculated or threatened by my mom's success, but rather encouraged her to be the strongest and most accomplished person she could be.

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