Monday, March 18, 2013

What Feminist Frequency and Fat, Ugly, or Slutty Have Taught Me

I ignore the trolls.

It’s something I have taught myself to do over the years because it is the one tactic that works. When you stop responding and prompting the trolls to participate, they tend to dissipate and find another target to pick on. I have done the same thing with online gaming for years, and why I typically remove myself from it. It’s much easier to walk away, not engage, and do something else then it is to try and sit and muddle through the insults and various forms of verbal abuse. No headsets. No female avatar. And honestly I can’t remember the last time I logged into my Xbox Live or PSN account without needing to do a system update, and immediately unplug.

The internet is a cruel place for non-white, male, straight men. So, basically everyone that isn’t the former. That is a ridiculous number of people. And the sad thing is that it’s still going on. The nerd culture for so long was an inclusive community. If you didn’t fit in anywhere else in the world, nerds would still accept you. But since it’s become a fad, it’s now s club where only the elite are accepted. Because so many people are trying to be nerds and geeks, a number have taken it upon themselves to claim that being a nerd means you have to know your stuff. No one can be a nerd without having knowledge in this and that. Gaming and comics are probably the most heavy-handed with this exclusivity. If you don’t fit the mold and pass the test, you can’t come in. Which is ironic considering nerds banded together to do the exact opposite of what they are doing now.

Woman have always been on the bottom of the totem pole, but over the past year as we’ve seen more stand up against the harassment, I’m finding myself coming out of my preverbal “shell.” For so long the answer has been “just ignore them, they’ll go away.” But they haven’t. They are still around and they’re not harassing us, it’s someone else. Maybe it’s another man or a different race, or sexual preference. Maybe a different religion, but he’s still white, male, and straight. There can be any number of reasons why verbal assault happens in gaming. The problem is that it’s still happening. Ignoring it didn’t correct the problem. It just shoved it onto someone else.

My experiences in the past may not have been as intense as what Anita experiences daily, or what the women at Fat, Ugly, or Slutty see constantly, but they are moments that shouldn’t be allowed. It’s not “boys will be boys” or “its’ just a game.” It’s never a game when you threaten someone. And since when was it ok for a boy or a male adult to threaten to hurt another human being?

So I’m making a resolution to myself. I will not sit and idle as I ignore the comments of trolls. I will no longer allow them to make me afraid of going online to play a game and using a headset. I will not allow them to control my with verbal assaults and photos of their male parts. You want to troll me and start something because I’m a woman? Fine. Reported. Blocked. Banned. You’re done and I’m going to continue gaming. I won’t ignore you anymore. The wonderful people at Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo will be happy to ban you for your behavior.

No one should have to hide who they are just to play a video game online. It sounds ludicrous, but millions of women, gay men, non-Christians and non-Atheists (just to name a few) do this every day. To play a game! If that isn’t silly, I don’t know what is. But together we can stop this injustice. These boys and male adults (men would not be an appropriate term here, because what man would ever allow for another human being to be humiliated and ostracized in such a fashion? None) need to be aware of their actions and that they do have consequences. The anonymity of the internet is no more. Stand up for what’s right, victim or not, and let’s put an end to the abuse

No longer should we tolerate and accept the actions of those who’s intent is to harm, harass, and assault those for gaming. If you have never been a victim, stand up for them. Tell the trolls that their actions will not be tolerated. Everyone plays a part in this and if we all work together to say no, we can bring the community back to what it once was: a safe haven for everyone who felt like an outcast. No exclusivity. Inclusive for all.

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