Sexism In Gaming: A Starter Guide For Nervous Men

This week, a hashtag by the name of #1reasonwhy appeared on twitter and exposed some of the more horrific corners of the video game industry. Leading figures in game design, publishing, writing shared regrettable stories about the times they had been treated differently simply because they were female. Go check it out.

As a result, a lot of men in the video game industry who agree that this sexism shouldn’t exist in this day and age might be on the fence on how to approach this sensitive issue. Your heart is in the right place but you don’t want to appear as a dumb, lumbering meathead coming to the rescue of helpless women. I’m one of those lumbering meatheads and I’d thought I’d put together a comprehensive list so we can work together not being scumbag sexists.

1. If you see someone treating women differently at game events simply because they’re not a dude, say “The hell? What are you doing? Don’t do that.”

2. Don’t get your picture taken with booth babes. But don’t regard them as filthy non-entities either.

3. Don’t assume a woman knows less about games than you. Assume they know more. There’s more women out there who have forgotten more about games design, programming and Dragon Age than I’ll ever learn.

4. Give your opinion about sexism in gaming whenever possible. Except if you’re a sexist. In which case, start back at number 1.

5. Avoid comments sections on gaming sites. There’s better discussion elsewhere.

6. If you’re giving your sexist opinion to women as some sort of defense and are baffled as to why it’s a problem, IT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE PISSING PEOPLE OFF THAT’S WHY. WHAT ARE YOU, TWELVE?

7. Sexism isn’t a ‘side of the argument’. It’s being sexist.

8. Constantly question whether upcoming female video game characters are too sexually perverted. There’s approximately 12, 422, 980, 155, 657, 285 other boobs on the internet if you need to look at some.

9. If a ‘boy’s club’ is engaging in sexist behaviour and encourage you to do the same, reply “Hahaha you’re joking aren’t you? Who do you think I am, Pepe Le Pew? Hahahaha you stupid bastards.” And then leave.

10. Stop using or being okay with the term ‘girl-gamer’. Are there girl-movie watchers? No.

11. There’s no such thing as sexism against men. Because come on son.

12. If you’re excited about an upcoming game or trailer, don’t describe your excitement in relation to erections, ejaculations or sexual penetration like you’re going to actually insert your penis into the game or something. All that just leads to trouble.

13. Stop buying Dead Or Alive games.

The only thing more staggeringly unbelievable than sexism in gaming still being a problem in 2012 is people who like KFC potato & gravy and the fact that According To Jim was on television for eight years. Seeing countless deranged pieces of excrement on the internet making sexist comments towards women in gaming makes me want to grab them by the ear, shove them towards their mother’s vagina and scream “Get the fuck back in there, you’re not ready yet!”. I don’t care how you were raised. When I was young, you could smoke cigarettes in hospital waiting rooms, rotary phones were the only communication tool and video game advertisements looked like this:

“That’s probably fine.” – Barbarian marketing team

If your dad brought you up to believe that a woman’s place was in the home, not only has that time passed but your dad was wrong to begin with. It makes me sick to my stomach that some men have no idea what a suffragette is and still think there’s no problem with women being treated differently in the video game industry.

Pull your head out of your asses and let’s work towards ending this. Because we’d all be rather playing video games.

70 responses

  1. Not explicitly related, but, since everyone’s here & discussing…

    Guy was awkwardly hitting on a woman on the subway today though she clearly wanted none of it (awkward smiles, pithy response, strained civility and constantly looking back to her phone for long stretches to get out of the conversation while he kept talking about her clothes and such). He kept talking to her for an excruciatingly uncomfortable period until she straight got up and sat next to someone else. Is there something one can do in this situation?

    Had that same problem of not wanting to feel like a lumbering meathead ):

    • Yes, there is the most efficient solution of all : a plain and simple no. A rejection. Everyone experience them, the girl should have done it this way. after all this is what will end the awkwardness from bith sides. Some people are bad at picking those clues, especially if they are in a strong state of mind (Highly motivated on this discussion among other things)

      • Yeah, a flat out rejection is great. It works when the person you’re being talked at by is rational, genuinely friendly and polite.
        But there have been more times where the guy has just kept going, trying to wear me down. Or started abusing me, calling me all the blue bloody words you’re not meant to use in public.

        So while yes, some people just can’t read vague or subtle clues and a polite ‘I’m not interested’ works, 90% of the time it doesn’t work. At all.

      • The problem with plain, flat out ‘no’ – is that it can backfire. I’ve had a guy get really weird and angry at me for saying no (politely).

        So please, no ‘she should have done this’. You don’t know what the situation was exactly.

        Guys if you encounter an awkward situation like this, please keep an eye out. Just in case it gets scary. Not just for ladies either, for guys, kids, everyone.

    • That’s kind of erasing queer women that catch both at once. A lot of homophobia stems from misogyny.

      I don’t see a reason why we can’t fight both.

  2. Number 3 is sexist. You should assume that a woman knows as much as anyone else does. To assume that they know more is to make assumptions based on their gender which is sexist.

    • I think the point was to try and counteract the kneejerk reaction a lot of people have. If thinking that way seems unnatural or forced to someone trying it, which would happen even to a lot of good men, it can be really eye-opening and humbling.

      Strictly by definition, though, it is definitely sexist, haha :)

    • And the best (safest) quantification of “knows as much as anyone else does” is “knows more than me (you)”. It’s general advice applied specifically to men’s attitudes towards women, as that is the context of the article. It’s not sexist.

    • And the best quantification of “knows as much as anyone else” is “knows more than me (you)”. It’s general advice applied specifically to men’s attitudes to women as that’s the context of the article. It’s not sexist.

  3. Thanks for your post. I just want to point out the hash tag #1reasonwhy isn’t just about women in video game industry, but about what sexism women experience in RPG and table top gaming, too.

  4. I take deep umbrage with #11.

    Do you really think all men want to be brawny stubble-ridden brooding dudes with no roots? Do you really think no men want to nurture, or experience emotion without shame, or use reason and compassion instead of violence to solve a problem?

    Every time someone insists that men are one thing and women are another, they aren’t just stereotyping women, they are stereotyping men. This is harmful to ALL people, not just women. This is not a men against women thing, and the problem isn’t so much sexism as ritualized gender role enforcement. Please stop alienating other males by telling them the issues they face don’t matter. Because they do. We can’t resolve the problems women face without also addressing how gender role enforcement effects us all.

    I appreciate what you are trying to express. I hope you can consider what I’ve said.

    • Bonjour! I believe what our writer was trying to express is that men don’t experience institutionalized sexism. In feminist theory terms, sexism is not synonymous with sexual prejudice. Men absolutely face sexual prejudice, and are often berated (by men and women!) for embracing anything “feminine,” but this comes back to the institutionalized sexism against women, against anything “feminine,” and why the hell would any MAN want to do anything lady-like? Because society largely views women and femininity as weak, and men are often not able to be anything other than MANLY. But not because of sexism against men. It’s because of *institutionalized* sexism against women that reinforces rigid gender roles and ends up hurting everyone. Hope that helps!

      • There is however the disbelief in a lot of people that men cannot be sexually or physically abused by female partners, which of course they can, and does happen. You could argue that this is down to the aforementioned institutionalized idea that women are weaker but that won’t help the guy trying to tell the police he’s been raped and beaten by a woman.

      • So wait… Feminist Theory has taken a gender nonspecific term, sexism, and defined it as only referring to one sex? That’s not how language works. You’re arguing semantics to avoid addressing the other person’s point. FemaleOnTheInternet made a great point and you totally side stepped it.

      • @Anon: Words have different meanings in different contexts. Otherwise, evolution is only a theory and legal briefs are underpants. And I’m pretty sure I was agreeing with the point Female was making, that men face prejudice based on their sex all the time.

        @Bob: Spot on! If a man is a victim of sexual abuse, he’s viewed as not being “manly,” because men are always ready for sex! Wrong, outdated, and sexist. Only women don’t like sex, after all! Ugh. If we get rid of the deeply ingrained sexist belief that men are strong and women are weak, soooo many other problems will start to disappear.

  5. If you’re giving your sexist opinion to men as some sort of defense and are baffled as to why it’s a problem, IT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE PISSING PEOPLE OFF THAT’S WHY. WHAT ARE YOU, TWELVE?

  6. Hmmm, I see the turn happening and I can’t quite fathom it. What then, dark hearts of men, can you scarcely dream to grasp when you are put in such terrifying sex categories more than the female of the species? Do you shake your fists to the gods, knowing only in your hearts that you are right and certainly not mistaken, MAKER! YOU DARE INFLICT NUMBER 11 ON OUR MORTAL SOULS? FOR BARELY AN HOUR OF SAND PASSES WHEN I AM NOT TREATED LESS SIMPLY BECAUSE I AM A MAN? DO YOU SEE?

    I stand by number 11.

    • I find this response very strange…

      I saw some of the tweets being posted and it was no doubt a depressing moment thing to read, especially when it’s centered around an industry I love and make a living in.

      Obviously 3 is a direct contradiction to 1. Not in context, it’s a bit bizarre. If I meet someone who’s been in the industry much longer than I have, then I’ll guess they know more than me about it. Similarly, if I meet someone (yes, even a woman) who’s been around for only a year or two, then no, I’ll guess they know less than me. Naturally, I may be proved wrong in either case. This is how most interactions with others work. :)

      It almost sounds like writing for the sake of feeling proud/happy about oneself about what you’ll do in some obscure setting that isn’t actually the real world? :)

      Number 11 is wrong. It just is. I wouldn’t really have so much of a problem against it if it was prefixed with a “in this industry” disclaimer, as I accept this industry is unfortunately overwhelmingly male dominated. That said, even then it exists at a small level at generalisations as to what type of games we do or do not play (we won’t be playing Wii Fit when we can practice headshots in COD), or that we require all female characters to be partly dressed with large breasts. I won’t suggest it’s anything but a comparatively minor issue to the issues women face in the industry. But – it’s still sexism.

      Unfortunately the phrase “there’s no such thing as sexism against men” is one I hear too much nowadays, not in our industry but in the wider world, from people who are utterly off their rocker. It’s quite hard to not find it offensive. Whether or not you consider sexism against men as big an issue as sexism against women (and indeed, considering this industry specifically, I certainly do not), it’s downright outrageous to suggest it doesn’t exist at all.

      Indeed, I’m also in a position of wanting to put my heart in the right place at tackling the issue this hashtag raised, but unsure what to do. To be honest, I reckon “just carry on not being sexist” is a good start, and continue to shoot down sexist banter, etc when it crops up. I would love to design a game that pokes fun at sexism in various industries in a rather sarcastic but make-it-real tone, but I fear it’d lack fun. :)

    • If you’re giving your sexist opinion to men and are baffled as to why it’s a problem, IT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE PISSING PEOPLE OFF THAT’S WHY. WHAT ARE YOU, TWELVE?

  7. I like this post much. I always struggle like a dead dog with Number 3. Whenever I do a podcast with the PixelHunt dudes, I always have 70 billion tabs open to research the topic we talk about, or to read about the games everyone else playing. Why? Because the first podcast I did, I got 16 emails pointing out I’d fucked up royally with a tiny detail about KOTOR. Something about a game dynamic. 8 of those emails were very kindly mansplaining how to play it on PC and get a ‘better’ idea of the game. 6 were asking if I’d even PLAYED the GAME. 1 asked if I was going to be on any other podcasts because I have a nice voice that was ‘soothing’ and ‘sexy’. The last hoped my tits were bigger than my brain because EVERYONE knows I was only brought on because I’m a girl. I hesitate EVERY TIME before saying I’ll podcast because of all the damn reading I put myself through beforehand so I’ll sound ‘just as good’ as you dudes. Yeah, I’ve put that on myself but I’d rather have not have any more weirdo fucking emails for tiny bloody mistakes because tits

    Can I swear in your comments? Can I David? CAN I?

    I’m going to anyway.

    As to people speaking out about Number 11? Calm yo tits. Calm them. No one is gonna call you a slut for stuttering over the clips off code for Doom.

  8. “Come on son.” – what an insightful argument. It even manages to condescending and insulting.

    Should we stop buying games with exaggerated ideal male bodies? If not why? Maybe its because its not sexist to depict sexy people.

    • I agree, that comment pissed me off immensely.

      Male characters are depicted as tall and rippling with muscles, female characters are depicted as skinny with large breasts. It’s not sexist, it’s what people want to see. I can flat guarantee you that a male player would not want to play an unattractive male character just as much as they wouldn’t want to play an unattractive female character. Why? Because it’s supposed to be a different reality where they can be whatever they want, and generally, they want to be attractive! If I wanted to play a fatshit, I wouldn’t need a video game.

      Feminazi’s need to stay the hell away from the gaming industry. Or better yet, get off their asses and start developing more games aimed at females. Most games are targeted at young, horny males. Why? Because we are the ones who buy the games!

  9. ——-> THIS “11. There’s no such thing as sexism against men. Because come on son.”
    is a prime example of sexism against men. Your argument is defeting itself bigtime.


  10. Love how so many people are taking issue with number 11 & totally ingoring the rest. Because apparently the rest, regarding pervasive sexism against women, isn’t inmportant or concerning enough for discussion?

    • *important, *ignoring
      Before some moron point out my typos for me like that proves a point.

      When will I learn not to try & type blog comments on my phone’s annoyingly little keyboard?

    • Your logic is baffling. The reason so many people are taking issue with number 11 is because it’s stupid. At no point does that suggest the others are not important, nor worthy of discussion. I put it to you that it may show quiet agreement. How about: let’s not put words into people’s mouths.

      • Then why aren’t any of them discussing it? You know what’s also “stupid” – sexism. Yes, even the sort against *women*. There’s plenty to snark and criticise about misogynistic mindsets, so why not? Instead, all I’m seeing is people posting “but I want to flirt with booth babes, waah”.

        Regardless whether or not you think sexism towards men exists (and I certainly think males can suffer due to sexual discrimination & expectations regarding gender roles), it’s not a competition. You can fight both types at once. One day, I’d like to see something discussing the culture of anti-female sexism and/or misogyny actually stay on topic, instead of guys rushing to claim they’ve got it worse.

        If the dudes here complaining about anti-male sexism really give a fuck, they should want ALL sexism destroyed, full stop, & actually have something to say about the rest of this blog post.

      • The impression I have is: because people are queuing up to say “there’s no such thing as sexism against men” is stupid, you’re concluding that these same people are either are dismissing sexism against women, find it acceptable, or similar.

        That’s quite a leap in logic.

        People may not be discussing the other items for various reasons. Maybe people just don’t feel strongly about them? Maybe they agree, maybe not. Maybe they won’t take the given advice on board themselves, but feel it’s reasonable advice for others to decide whether they take it on board themselves. Who knows?

        Perhaps these people can’t justify investing that much time forming and expressing an opinion on each point in an overall mediocre article?

        The reason why people are picking up on 11 is because, unlike many of the others, it is unquestionably stupid. As you say, yes, sexism is stupid. And yes, sexism against women is stupid. People aren’t doubting that, as your reaction appears to suggest. And yes, we can go and joke and laugh about misogynistic mindsets from those in the industry. Seems reasonable!

        But we’re in a comments section to a specific article – an article with at least some level of stupidity in it that people are rightly calling out. These comments are staying entirely on topic.

        It’s unfortunate. If number 11 hadn’t of made its way in to the original article, perhaps we COULD be here right now discussing more useful things, and the merit of the other points.

        Paraphrasing you, if the author here complaining about anti-female sexism really gives a fuck, he should want ALL sexism destroyed, full stop, & actually have something to say about the rest of this industry / sexism-against-men.

        He didn’t, but no-one cares, because the important topic raised by the hashtag is sexism against women. Unfortunately, the article includes number 11, which – for its stupidity – HAS become the important topic in these comments. Garbage in, garbage out.

        Hopefully other articles, and therefore their comments, are / will be more productive than here.

      • May I ask why? Look at what that one silly point has done to pretty much the entirety of your comments.

        Repost your original article, without number 11, and watch how this pile of crap comments doesn’t appear. Watch how people may even take your article seriously.

        Is that not what you want?

        (That said, I don’t think there’s much point. You clearly have no interest in discussing the most ridiculous point of them all, so I can’t imagine you have any interest in discussing the merits of the others.)

      • Marky, it would be easier to believe people weren’t talking about the rest of the post because of “silent agreement” if this comment thread weren’t so full of rants about “feminazis”, whinges about how they should be allowed to perv on chicks whenever they want and other self- absorbed gripes. That’s why I’m getting the sense they don’t care/don’t think it’s important/are in denial, not from mere silence alone. It’s not a leap of logic – it’s putting 2 and 2 together.

      • David, you’re not discussing them. You stated them in the article. The discussion is where people critique them in the comments – and this is exactly what you got. Yes, it’s a shame they’re all focused on number 11, but it’s also not a surprise – number 11 is absurd.

        That you’re completely unwilling to budge on the most stupid one, it – to me – suggests you’d be completely unwilling to budge on any of the other points either. So why try discussing them? I don’t believe you’re interested in discussion at all.

        Kat, I can’t condone comments mentioning “feminazis,” “white knights” and the like. Those throwing insults hardly come across any better than David himself. And indeed, with some of the newer posts below, it appears like some people sarcastically take issue with every point in the list. Urgh.

        I can understand your frustration at how the overall topic of sexism-against-women has been utterly derailed. Certainly on this article, it feels like a good opportunity wasted.

        For what it’s worth Kat, I agree with pretty much all else you’ve said in these comments, and am impressed you’ve had the patience to persevere as you have done. To be honest, I think I’m done here. I’m doubtful meaningful discussion can be had as I fear it’d be smothered by posts from people for as long as number 11 remains in place, and posts from David, who has no interest in changing his opinion at all.

        Sincerely, good luck to you.

      • You’re right Marky. I have no interest in changing my opinion simply because some men rage at me about one line in this article and nothing else. If anything, it convinces me I was right to make that point.

        Good luck to you too.

  11. 1. If you see someone treating women differently at game events simply because they’re not a dude, say “The hell? What are you doing? Don’t do that.”


    3. Don’t assume a woman knows less about games than you. Assume they know more.

    So we should not treat woman differently by treating them differently?

  12. What’s wrong with you people? Is this some kind of a joke?
    “Don’t get your picture taken with booth babes.”
    Oh sure, male interest in women is sooooooooooooo baaaaaaaad, it’s untolerable. Beauty, flirting, sex, and everything related should be banned from everywhere, forever. Being a male is sexist, ya’ know.
    Efff you, seriously. This is pure insanity.

      • There is such an absurd level of White Knighting going on here the mind positively boggles to comprehend!

        From reddit. (Yes reddit, den of misogyny and filth, home of Zack Braff.) Someone FTFY David Rayfield:

        “~Revised list~
        1) If you see anyone treating someone like garbage, say “I’m going to report your ass to security if you don’t knock it off”.
        2) Get your picture taken with the booth babes if that’s your kind of thing. Thank them afterwards for +5 human respect points.
        3) It’s silly to assume no one knows as much about games as you do, male or female. Stereotypes about women not being into gaming are long past their prime and they even program games now, true story!
        4) Games are always going to have controversial content, because they’re forms of entertainment. Get the hell over it, simply don’t play a game if it offends you. Bonus points for either making your own game or funding an Indie Game on Kickstarter, with content that you approve of.
        5) Avoid making contact with trolls and 12 year olds on gaming sites. You already put up with Reddit enough, why add to your stress levels?
        6) Obviously there are people who are sexist and they are a detriment to both genders in society. Call them out on their shit if you’d like.
        7) Radical Masculist and Radical Feminist viewpoints often plague many ‘arguments’. Be smart, be Egalitarian!
        8) Appreciate the female form in videogames if that’s your thing. Otherwise, vote with your wallet, don’t buy the game if it offends you.
        9) Avoid clubs that discriminate against anyone, if you want to be a good Egalitarian.
        10) Labels often help identify the type of person you’re dealing with, though don’t allow the label to dictate how you treat that person.
        11) As it turns out, David Rayfield is ironically unaware of exactly how sexist he’s being against men.
        12) Saying “I just came!” or “that made me hard” after seeing a fantastic trailer for an upcoming game is to be expected, though expect some backlash from Radical Feminists who may patrol the comments section.
        13) Like Twihards, Beliebers, Bronies, Furries, Otaku, Trekkies, Dubsteppers and groups of other things you probably hate, there are people who enjoy things like the ‘Dead or Alive’ games. Get used to it, no one’s forcing you to partake of it and the only people being ‘exploited’ are imaginary characters.
        The only thing more staggeringly unbelievable than sexism in gaming still being a problem in 2012 is people who think that only men can be sexist, and people who think that banning entertainment will magically improve society’s morals and behavior. Blah blah blah, sexism exists on both sides, let’s try and tackle these problems together as male and female Egalitarians rather than Radical Feminists and White Knights.”

      • Man, I wish I had a dollar for every time being male has held me back in life. I’d be a whole lot… no… wait… actually I’d be no better off.You know, because… it has never happened.

      • Mr Equality, it goes deeper than mere “offence”. It’s not often that a game’s depiction of women offends me – more, makes me feel embarrassed, uncomfortable & demeaned. Until you’ve had the experience in real life of people treating you to your face like you’re meant for nothing but f**king & breeding, you just can’t know how soul-crushing it is to see depictions in media that echo that kind of mindset. Basically, it’s a sense of being a lesser human.

        And believe me, it has to be quite outrageous for me to feel that way. I’m not one of those ’70s era feminists who thinks sexual repression is the way towards equality – I enjoy sex, I have no moral objection to porn or strippers or healthy, sexualised things so long as it’s done or conducted respectfully. The problem is the inherent and pervasive sense of disrespect for women in a lot of games, and amongst many in the gamer subculture.

        There’ve been countless times even my boyfriend – a hetero gamer dude – has found video game depictions of women extremely uncomfortable. And the after effects are too concerning to just say “don’t buy the game” – it’s perpetuating an idea in society that women are nothing but dumb vaginas on legs with no purpose but to do what men want.

        I don’t think anyone wants anything banned. Just write as many interesting female characters into games as they do men, & put some damn clothes on them. It’s not much to ask.

  13. Well good for you Nathan Cocks! Some men have definitely been hindered by men’s issues ranging from false claims of paternity, to incarceration, to custody discrimination to the entire history of warfare. Im glad you have avoided these unpleasantries thus far in your life.

  14. Did my statement even once mention anything about men VS women. Did I do anything other than take exception to the minimizing of male problems and post an equality-oriented xpost from reddit? No?


    • You know those “male problems” you’ve heard about, or maybe experienced once or twice? Imagine that, every single day, & that’s what being a woman is like. FFS, I do think discrimination against men exists, but not nearly to the extent you seem to wish. I’m white, & while I’m sure it happens, I’ve never personally experience racism against white people – so I’m not going to hype it up to levels that are out of proportion. I am quite happy directly confronting racism against other ethnic groups without feeling threatened, so why do some men act so defensive when anti-female sexism is brought up?

      When the discussion is directly relevant to discrimination against men, we’ll discuss that. In the meantime, don’t give me any BS about whose problems are being minimised when you’ve gone to a post about misogyny & made it all about men. Would you want women doing that to a blog post about male depression, for example? I doubt it.

      • And yes, Mr Equality, you said plenty about males vs women and provided plenty of patronising advice about what we women “should” do. I see you didn’t or couldn’t respond to my other post in reply to that, though.

  15. Hey, folks? Those of you complaining about number 11? David’s not a “white knight”. He’s just not an asshole.

    Keep in mind that that women tend to prefer men who see them as equals and possess the capacity to rationally think “Hey, that’s not how I would want to be treated in their shoes”. You know – should you ever want to actually see real naked women and not just naked women on screen.

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