Sexual harassment for female players in Starcraft2 thread

[ETA: follow-up here. Oh, those sillies.]

Reader The Other Patrick sent us this link: [Ed. Note: which they have since locked so you have to join the forum to read it – 11-3-10] in which a female video gamer asks on a Starcraft2 forum if there are other female gamers interest in starting a women-only clan. The very first response is a male gamer demanding she post a picture of herself, and it goes downhill from there. Seriously.

The next response is a second demand for pictures. Eventually she says she doesn’t want to share pictures of herself, but will post a picture of her cat (and does). The next comment: “She just posted pics of her pussy! you happy now?”

Pretty much every single post is sexual harassment, until about the third or fourth page. She’s assured her community will be very small if she keeps the “vast majority” of the players out by not including men. Someone even pulls out the “What about the gayz” argument on the basis that gays aren’t allowed into “man-clans” so if the women-only clan doesn’t allow them, the poor gays will have to make their own clan. Turns out there are already gay-only clans.

Finally, a moderator tells the guys to stop trolling or they’ll be banned, but no comments are edited or anything. Someone handwrings about how folks would feel if anybody made a male-only clan, or whites-only, but it turns out there are quite a few male-only clans already – oh, the irony. Someone else questions the original poster’s actual gender, suspecting “she” is actually male.

Perhaps the most ironic comment in the thread is: “Good luck with your female only team. I remember there being a handful on west back in the day, but I don’t think any of them ever stuck around too long. Probably being too catty with one another.” YEAH, THAT WAS THE REASON. The entire thread answers a whole lot of questions about “girl gamer” behavior.

Then an administrator comes in and says: “Most girls on this site that are interested in competitive SC play with guys. DrH nailed it and i really dont see this going any where.”

Then someone suggests there should be a battle of male and female clans, and the response is: “When the girls lose the guys should say “rape”.

Anybody getting any meta-messages here? The response, including that from the administrator, is basically, “Sure, bitch, do what you want, but show us your tits and comply with all future sexual demands from all of us, and once you’ve done those chores you can do your little female only thing to your heart’s content in whatever spare time you have left, only we’ll be cyber-harassing all the other bitches, too, so they’ll probably be too busy to join your little club of whores.”

Then a woman comes in on the misogynist’s team: “There are sexists and perverts online and offline. Girls who don’t understand that already have no business being on the internet… If you ask me, she’s totally asking for it. Why would you even put a pic up there if you weren’t asking for someone to comment on the way you look?” By the way, it’s not a pic of the gamer herself, it’s a pic of someone the poster should recognize if she works at eSports, as she claims.

It becomes apparent through the thread that there’s a bit of context us non-gamers may have missed: when a woman posts something about being a woman, the first thing other posters need to establish is whether she is genuine or “an attention whore.” Quite a bit of post dissection is devoted to this investigation, because no one ever admits they just hate women. Misogynists always provide a Real Good Reason why they hate women, and in the case of gamers, that “reason” is that, they claim, most women who game court the attention of boys and men who pursue them for cyber-sex. The Real Good Reason is then supported by evidence that is interpreted anyway it must be interpreted to support the Real Good Reason.

Over and over, women are advised not to tell anyone they are female if they want to avoid harassment. It’s their job to avoid harassment, you see, certainly not, say, that administrator’s job to shut down harassment. No, the only post that gets a warning is this one: “The question is why she is not in the kitchen making me a sandwich ?”

There are actually a number of comments pointing out the misogyny in this thread, and doing it well. It’s also interesting to note that the female eSports misogynist gets picked apart and trashed almost as badly as the original poster.

This thread also brings up something you should know about: Blizzard, a major gaming forum, had plans to introduce RealID to its forums. So that posters would be easily identified by, I dunno, long lost friends and people who want to teach that whore a lesson up close and personal. If they’re thinking RealID would out the stalkers before their potential victims, they really need to talk to some law enforcement personnel. ETA: Blizzard reluctantly pulled these plans in the face of major public opposition, but never expressed the slightest concern about cyber-stalking or privacy in general.



  1. The Other Patrick says

    Well, I of course was appalled by this thread. I went out searching for female gamers because I wanted to see a few games by them, or maybe even see whether there’s a female caster (commentator) of note – and I found this.

    The “attention whore” thing, as I understand it, comes from female gamers supposedly trying to appeal to male gamers based on their looks. In essence, if you’re a female gamer, you will be constantly reduced to your appearance, and if you try to look your best as a response, then you’re an attention whore. I mean, just the fact it’s supposed to be called StarGals is seen as attention whoring.

    What I found almost absurdly funny is how amongst all the harrassment and cajoling and belittling, other posters continually chime in to say that being in a male-dominated clan should be no problem, proving a complete lack of any awareness.

    I really don’t get why people are so hung up about it. I mean, if I start a clan, I can use whatever entry requirement I want. I could do a “German” clan, or a “bald guys” clan or whatever, what’s the point. Oh, but it’s the privileged masses suddenly, theoretically, for once not being able to join, right?

    And with Team Liquid being one of the largest communities of Starcraft players, you wonder where the women are?

    BTW, you didn’t include my favorite comment:

    Girls don’t like to hang out with other girls that much unless they are under 15

    • The Other Patrick says

      Oh, and there is at least a male/female caster duo with a forum thread here, and I got there by seeing someone linking to them saying, “they try to become famous solely on the fact they have a female caster”, i.e. attention whoring.

      And the thread at least takes 2 responses to mention cleavage.

      • says

        Sorry – there were so many disturbing comments, it was hard to choose which ones to feature! 😀

        This is a good example of a group being “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” That’s why I found it significant that the eSports female misogynist failed to curry any favor with the boys. Quite a few women think engaging in misogyny will get them an “in” with males, and sometimes it works temporarily, but long-term? Sexist men always see it as infiltration, and it ends up backfiring on the misogynistic woman.

        As to why people are hung up on it – it’s just privilege. They’re used to the feeling that being white and male means they belong anywhere, anytime they feel like being there. To have that privilege revoked even in a small space means the end of that perception, which is a worldview. It’s actually asking them to give up quite a lot. I don’t mean that as an excuse – it’s nothing they should’ve had to begin with, after all, and while none of us are responsible for inheriting privilege, we are totally responsible for at least trying to divest ourselves of it. I’m just saying, it is a pretty big shake-down if you sincerely believed until now that you would never be excluded from anything because the entire world is your oyster.

        • Ray says

          I think this also goes back to the idea that women are always marked as the other. Ie, don’t reveal that you’re a woman on a game forum, because if you don’t it will be assumed that you are male. — Which connects to what Lena said about giving more attention the male character, as well.

          • Ray says

            Speaking of male being the “default” gender, I am just now registering for an online community (of severe allergy sufferers, not gamers) and “male” is already checked for me; I have to choose to check “female” (and one of these must be checked)

  2. Lena says

    That is just sad. I know gaming communities aren’t always the best at gender issues and such, but this is ridiculous. The administrator’s behaviour is horrible as well. Aren’t they supposed to protect members from harassment? I wonder how many female gamers would have been interested in an all-female clan, but were scared away by the responses in that thread…

    If I had been a member of that forum and experienced something like that, and Blizzard then decided that I needed to display my real name to all thos people, I would delete my account and never come back. Seriously, RealID is a horrible idea for any forum, let alone a big one like that. And now I feel like I should up the security on my Facebook account.

    This also reminds me of a discussion that is ongoing over at Biowares Dragon Age 2 boards. In DA2 you will be able to choose the gender of your character, but the marketing team has chosen to focus their efforts on the default male Player Character (because he is more “iconic” or whatever). One member asked One member asked: There’s so much for people of bothe genders to enjoy in these games, why not market towards the ladies as well, and hook some new female fans in the process. I was suprised to see that several of the male members seemed genuinely upset that she even dared suggest such a thing, because “male gamers are the majority, damnit!” In hindsight, I guess I shouldn’t have been suprised. So yeah… I hope I didn’t veer to much off-topic here.

    (Oh hey, this is my first post here! Figures it would be gaming related.
    Don’t fail me now, html.)

    • Lena says

      Fantastic. You can see the text that’s supposed to come after “one member asked” by holding the cursor over it, because I put it in the title tag for some reason.

        • Lena says

          What I meant was that I put the text that was supposed to be the link in the “title=”-part of the link tag. It was supposed to say: One member asked: There’s so much for people of bothe genders to enjoy in these games, why not market towards the ladies as well, and hook some new female fans in the process.

          Haha, sorry. I think I’m a bit too tired to go around posting stuff that requires thinking XD

          • says

            I think I got it now. 😀 Yeah, it is appalling that people think in order for the majority to be served, the minority must be marginalized? Because it’s just not true. If it were, life would be so much shittier than it already is.

    • sbg says

      The administrator’s behaviour is horrible as well. Aren’t they supposed to protect members from harassment?

      The truly horrible bit, to me, is that I quite doubt many of them understood what they were doing was harassment. It seemed like their privilege gave them handy blinders to it.

      • Dom Camus says

        Not only their privilege, but also – one suspects – the fact that they’re mostly very young with little experience of women or the wider world.

        This is why having responsible moderators is so important for these message boards. As well as trying to make the place more hospitable for female gamers they’re also potentially the first education on social issues these kids will get. Indeed, it has the potential to have a lot more impact than schools or parents. Gamers care about their reputation in their communities.

        • Shaun says

          Are you a gamer? I admit, again, I don’t MMORPG, but most gamers are in their twenties or thirties. The idea a bunch of 14-year-olds are sitting around gaming is largely a myth. Yes, these really are adults acting like this.

          • Dom Camus says

            I’ve been a gamer since about 1980, since you ask. 😎

            And no, I’m not trying to claim none of them are adults, but the age range you’re looking at is probably 13-25ish for a thread like that. On other forums (mostly Magic-the-Gathering related) I’ve watched many regular posters slowly grow up. And yes, with the right moderating environment they really do slowly get a clue.

          • Shaun says

            Oh wow, I thought your kind had long ago died out.

            I’m not disagreeing with your other points, it’s just that my in-general experience of gamers is maybe 22-34 (I made those numbers up), though everyone seems to think it’s 11-17. Different games, systems, and media spawn different environments and different cultures, though, and I wasn’t really thinking about that when I responded.

          • says

            It’s important NOT to assume people are young and should be given a break. Two reasons:

            (1) In the USA, youth IS a form of privilege. You wanna play with the grownups, you need to learn to act like one. I’m not saying moderators or other posters should abuse you, but they should make it clear they expect better, and if you can’t deliver better, you can enjoy being banned. That’s how I try to run this site – I know there’s always a possibility a commenter is just young and stupid, but you know what? So was I once, and I got moderated, and I’m better for it.

            (2) My first major experience of trolls was on a Usenet board (big shock, I know). There were these posters claiming to be 14 year old boys, confused about their sexuality because suddenly they were experiencing huge crushes on Don Knotts. A lot of posters fell for it and tried to counsel them through email, only to find out it they’d just been laughing at them. Eventually they came clean. They were all mid-level managers in an accounting firm in Austin, TX, and you know what? They must’ve had massive time on their hands, because they were on those boards more than anybody.

            So, as an admin responsible for keeping comment threads as hospitable to *everyone* as I can manage without subjecting a single person to any form of mistreatment, I never consider age as a factor.

            And here’s another consideration: how come it’s wrong, yet understandable, when little boys are misogynistic? When I was 14, if I’d gone around hating on boys, I’d have been branded a misandrist “feminazi” lesbian man-hater, same as I would today. I mean, at no point in a girl’s/woman’s life has it ever been wrong, yet understandable, that she should hate men. Now, THAT is a massive and sick privilege to hand boys.

          • Dom Camus says

            Because of the way the boards work I can’t tell exactly who that analysis is directed at, but I’d just like to clarify that I wasn’t proposing giving anyone “a pass”.

            One of the things I love about Hathor Legacy is the way how you people highlight the way culture influences perceptions. In saying that the behaviour of boys/men is “understandable” there is absolutely no diminishing of responsibility involved. It’s a question of taking an analytical approach to understanding how something like this can happen.

    • Nentuaby says

      Oh, Dragon Age 2 *does* have a gender selector? I’d honestly got the impression from previews that it was just that guy. o.0

      It’s similar in the Mass Effect series… Which is doubly disappointing for that particular game, because the voice acting is noticeably better for the feminine Shepard.

    • M.C. says

      I wonder: if all the men, who behave sexist and might not even realilze what they’re doing because of their privilege, were harrassed like that for one day, would they stop doing it themselves?

      • The Other Patrick says

        No. They would just wonder what was going on, feel mistreated, and learn nothing.

        Even being on the other side of the fence for a long time doesn’t mean you’re more sensitive to such things: despite the urban legend of fat guys being so accommodating (because they’ve experienced this shit themselves, you know?), there are more than enough fat assholes around. And I recently talked to a m2f transgendered person where she came out as a total racist.

        • Casey says

          Ick. That reminds me of a (white) gay guy I used to know who didn’t want to “be with” black guys because (and I quote):”IT’D BE LIKE SUCKING ON A ROTTEN BANANA!”

          Seriously, WTF?

        • says

          Oh, totally. And this one time on a blog I saw someone call a trans woman an “m2f transgendered person” instead of a trans woman, while pointing out said woman’s racism.

          I get the totally correct point you’re making – that being oppressed doesn’t necessarily give insight into other oppression, but I always thought it was a bit dodgy to say oppressive things about people just because they say oppressive things, you know?

        • says

          The above comment looks way snarkier than I wanted it to.

          I just meant, mainly “trans woman” is often better than “m2f transgender person” and especially using “woman” because it’s such a pain to get a lot of people to accept trans women as women in the first place.

      • Jaynie says

        Judging by some of the comments on that youtube video…uh, no. :( I think it would probably just be interpreted as catty girls with hormones or something.

      • says

        Honestly? No.

        I do know individual men who have been stalked and harassed, much like women have to deal with on a regular basis, but the difference is that it was considered an individual problem — not a cultural problem that they should categorically need to concern themselves with. There were certain things I think they were more sensitive about afterward, but none of them ever understood why many women talk about being cautious about harassment from men.

      • says

        I was actually thinking earlier today: what if we got a big group together, went in there with male screen names, and started demanding pics from every guy.

        Just that – just pic demands. Stopping their conversations and getting in their business with pic demands.

        I think T.O.Patrick is probably right that they wouldn’t get it, would feel self-pity, and would probably even see it as one more reason to hate women.

        I do know of ways to get through to them. They’re just… not really legal.

  3. says

    Blizzard got the problems with real ID pointed out to them and backed off, AFAIK.

    Oh yeah, and you won the best feminist blog category in my awards. I’ll have a nice graphic for you when my brain isn’t all fugged up by flu.

    • I. Scott says

      Sort of – it’s not in the forum, but it exists inside Starcraft 2. If you want to keep contact (e.g. for team or custom-playing) with anyone you meet while playing, you can either fish out their names from your past game list every time you want to form a party, or you can add them to your friends list, which immediately reveals both your real names, which to me feels like an invitation to trouble if the other person starts harassing you. Worse, it’s not even obvious that you can contact other people without making them your ‘friend’.

      • jobias says

        Actually, that’s untrue. There are two levels of “friendship” in the Bnet interface; SC2 friends and RealID friends. For the scenario you described where you simply want to play SC2 regularly and conveniently with someone you meet in-game, you can add them as an SC2 friend and never have to exchange real names.

        Your concerns however, about being able to see the RealIDs of friends of friends, is valid. That just creeps me out.

        • says

          I believe the friends-of-friends is supposed to be removed in an upcoming patch for World of Warcraft, but I don’t know if that will extend to SC2 as well.

  4. I. Scott says

    I wish I was surprised by this. The public chats in the original Starcraft were full of that sort of crap pretty much constantly.

    I’ve only come across one belligerent during my (relatively casual, probably around 50 games total) online starcraft2-playing, but it took a while to figure out how to report their behaviour, (and you can’t do it in-game either) which likely encourages it in the long run.

  5. Shaun says

    You know, I don’t play MMORPGs (at all), so most of this stuff is pretty alien to me. I do MUSH though, and have since the 90s. Most of the games I played on slanted female–certain themes have higher percentages of male and female fans, I suspect in a lot of cases based on whether or not women do anything in the canon material–so this sort of thing would not have been common, especially since most of them were run by women.

    However. I do remember when I was a teenager going to a multi-themed and having my friends talk me into playing Buffy. So I’m on this game where almost no one knows me, my only alt is a female, and suddenly everyone assumes I’m female. AND THEN ACTED WEIRD. Then all of a sudden out of nowhere this guy starts going UNF UNF UNF every time I log on. In public rooms. And it only got cruder from there.

    I remember the (female) head admin suggesting I just tell him I’m male, which I didn’t want to do because 1) it was none of his business, 2) Even if I were female he shouldn’t be doing that. I don’t remember how it was resolved–I think I left the game after a few weeks–but it kind of put into perspective the handful of female gamers I knew who played only male characters or didn’t disclose their gender.

    • DragonLord says

      This is kinda my experience too, when I was playing EQ if you had a female avatar then you were going to get propositioned and chatted up. – At least until a few very prominent web comics did a some comics about what’s on your screen and what’s behind the keyboard (slim trim female avatar been chatted up by a male avatar/fat, greasy, balding, male who obviously doesn’t get up much behind the screen).

      Within a few months the harassment tailed off dramatically.

      • Shaun says

        It seemed really weird to me because at least in MUSHing you’re representing yourself with text only. Some people come across as more convincingly male or female but unless you or someone you know knows the person there’s no way to know for sure. That’s why the experience was just weird for me, initially, without really bothering me.

        My guess is he didn’t consider that a guy was playing a woman (the reverse does seem to be more common), or that if he was he would have announced this or made this clear out of character (I didn’t say anything any which way). Again, though, the fact I ran into several women over the years who kept either a masculine or gender-neutral persona even though that wasn’t happening on the game they were on currently says something to me.

      • says

        Oddly, my experience as a female playing female characters in World of Warcraft has been different. The driving assumption I have seen is that if you have a female avatar, that you are a man playing a female character, frequently for the “if I’m going to stare at something’s butt for hours, I want it to look cute” reason.

        I have always been open about being a female player, yet in my first guild, after I had been a member for six months and joined a raid, someone was shocked when I hopped on TeamSpeak and spoke for the first time. “You’re a girl!?”


        • says

          Hey now, I’m a female player and I play female characters partly because the “view” is better. Most games went out of their way to make the male posterior flat and uninteresting. Mind you, I’m also fond of races that have a tail or something back there to watch swish back and forth.

          I don’t go on audio chat in most games unless I’m armored up against the world. Being openly female in an FPS game is a nightmare most of the time. I noticed today that LOTRO supposedly supports voice chat while you’re in a “fellowship”, I’m not looking forward to finding out how immature the community has become since the game went free to play. Of course, this is the same community that refuses to believe that thirty something year old housewives game, so I can’t win for trying at any rate.

          • says

            Oh, so do I. I didn’t want to derail with the long comment about myself picking female characters both for my own identity and because, frankly, they’re much cuter to look at. >_>

            I don’t like FPS games because I suck so badly at them, but their audience is so notably hostile towards a female voice that I wouldn’t be comfortable voice chatting in that environment, either, unless I was playing directly with people I knew.

    • says

      I used to be big into MUDs, and the gender politics in some text-based games are amaaazing. Like, women’s studies dissertation-level weirdness. I pretty much always played female characters, and just creating a new (female) character and logging on could be enough to prompt an assortment of propositions ranging from “let me get you eq beautiful lady” to “I’m going to rape you to death” from complete strangers on public channels. What a way to greet a newb, huh?

      Confirming that I was in fact a girl generally resulted in, you guessed it, continued harassment, with a side-order of creepy real-life overtures. The grossest part is probably that I was open about both my gender and my age – which, at the time I started playing MUDs, was 12. Not too young for explicit come-ons and threats, as it turns out!

  6. Sypher says

    I was a World of Warcraft player for years, and I quit and blacklisted Blizzard over the ReadID thing. And it was because I was pretending to be a guy.

    I love their games, but I’m not dealing with any company that plays fast and loose with my identity. I’ve had bad experiences in WoW, and for a long time I played a male avatar, avoided using Teamspeak or Ventrilo, and generally faked being a guy. I lead end-game raids like that (if you know the game you know what I mean) and I noticed, very blatently, that I got a hell of a lot more respect for my tactical knowledge and skill, and the stuff I said was taken a lot more seriously. When I got angry, it wasn’t ‘pfft woman drama /ignore’, it was ‘oh shit the raid leader’s pissed off’.

    Point is, MMO games are escapism, and for a lot of women, that means escaping from the sexist bullshit of everyday life. Call it sad if you want, but we all do what we have to do to enjoy our hobbies in peace – and it’s not our fault that we have to lie to avoid a metric fuckton of abuse.

    The funny thing is… I had friends and guildmates who I was lying to on a daily basis, but it didn’t feel like that. It felt like I was finally allowed to just be myself, instead of being seen as OMGWTF FEMALE PIX PLZ. They were my friends because they liked me, not because I have a uterus.

    I’ve played it both ways and I’ve never come across a situation where being honest was better than guy-faking. It sucks, yeah, but if I get into a Gears of War match and I know for a fact that if I speak on the XBox headset other players will drop out, then I keep my mouth shut and get on with it.

    You do what you have to do.

    {disclaimer: opinions based on personal experience :( }

    • M.C. says

      You know, for the last few thousand years there’s been a long tradition of women passing as men in order to get a job, get a book published, join the military, become a jazz singer or marry the woman they love.
      Playing a male avatar to enjoy a game sounds like holding up that tradition until we finally live in a world that’s free of sexism and all that shit…

    • Lea says

      I have experienced this as well, and this is also one of the reasons why I actually don’t like to reveal my gender a lot in internet communities. Once I was in a community dedicated to metal music, and there was a thread about dicks! And I happily participated and no one suspected a thing.

      However, I have also received more appreciation for being a female and for being skilled of what I am doing, because well, it does take a lot more to do what you do as a female because of said inherent misogynism. Not that it’s fair towards the men, but it does mean a lot more socially if a woman can achieve something great not all men would do, either.

      I for example used to lead raids for some time, and I remember one guy who said “female leader <3" in the raid chat (we spoke on Vent). When I am leading, I am incredibly rigid and demanding. I am not leading like I think most would suspect a woman would lead, anyway. I'm more like a general of an army! "Don't you dare walk a centimeter without me telling you to!"-kind of deal.

      However, I do want to bring up that men are constantly misogynist towards each other as well. He's gay, a faggot, a pussy, a cunt etc, are all typical responses towards a man from another man. I've even written a thesis about that, and I just feel this is important to highlight so women don't just appear as martyrs, since this is clearly not the case. However, gaming men ARE the hegemonic group, and I don't think this is as infuriating to a man than a woman, because a man will still always have it easier to become accepted into another gaming community than a woman. While I am not saying that a man called faggot is not feeling hurt, I certainly believe they feel hurt (and unfortunately display it with even more unnecessary harrassment in turn, since men are usually taught to deal with their emotions with anger), it's always going to be easier for them to move on and become accepted elsewhere.

      I had this funny instance playing a custom map in SC2 once, which is created to be DoTA-like, at which point I failed to kill one of the enemy players who was low on health because I didn't notice and I was killing creep for minerals so I could buy that final upgrade. The response I got from one of the other plays was that I suck for not killing the enemy player, which ultimately ended up with him calling me gay (he even presumed that I was a man), despite that I use the name Lea, which is a female name in some countries. I didn't really feel like arguing more at that point because it had that point already been established how juvenile he was so I just responded with "you too" (I know, I shouldn't lower myself like that, but I sincerely believe that if someone fail to respect me, then I have no reason to respect them), at which point he actually felt he had to defend his heterosexuality by saying that he's girlfriend is watching him playing! And then added that gay doesn't mean "homo" and that I'm a girl, and then I pointed out that it actually means "funny" and some other person on my team said "happy" or similar.

      Unfortunately I didn't think of the smirky comment I came up with later, where I should just have pointed out that if gay doesn't mean homo, then why was he so quick to point out he had a girlfriend? Pretty sure that would've shut him up big time.

      I'm in a good guild in WoW now though, all of the players are pretty old and the atmosphere is mature even though some of us can be asshats from time to time (and who aren't?), and I'm certainly not feeling discriminated due to my sex. I do feel I gain some additional respect from the men, since I at least used to be one of the best performing players in the guild and when I came back from taking a break, some of them were happy I was back because they felt they lost a great assett when I was gone. So of course, it's also about finding the right people, but with a game like SC2 it can be very hard because it's much more hardcore than WoW. I also noticed a huge decline in harrassment after I switched from a PvP server to an RPPVP server.

      It doesn't make it go away, I notice a lot of sexual harassment towards women in particular in trade chat (not necessarily kitchen jokes, but you can probably all imagine what I am talking about where women are completely reduced to sex objects), but it's not directly directed at me, at least.

      The problem however, is that these kind of things reveal that patriarchy is very much alive and well even though we sometimes might not want to think so. I'd like to see comments like the ones said on the internet as true intentions. This is what people actually feel, and they can feel this way solely since they are anonymous. Even if a lot of these people would not be sexist in real life, it doesn't matter, because the way they behave on the internet shows how they truly think about these issues and feel they are free to express them. What I am trying to say is that there is certainly a correlation between how you behave in real life and how you behave on the internet, regardless if you are making up a persona or not. It still says something about you. If you feel you need to hide who you are on the internet, it says a lot. If you feel you need to hide who you are in real life it says a lot too.

      I would like to conduct an anthropological study about identity in the future about this particular issue, because I don't think that much has been done around the subject.

      Anyway, just some mindblurbs from me as a moderately hardcore female SC2 gamer who plays at platinum level and has done most of the end game content in WoW in this expansion.

  7. says

    Hey-o, all. Agree with the post; wow, that is disturbingly misogynistic… and such misogyny is sadly rampant among gaming communities.

    I wanted to share one link to a female-positive gaming community that I know: the PMS Clan. They’re a women-only gaming community and describe themselves thusly: “Our mission is to provide a fun, competitive, and positive environment to female gamers while promoting respect for women in matches and tournaments.” I’ve only read about them, but they seem pretty excellent.

    There are also plenty of “girl gamer” websites, but it’s hard to search for them ’cause I keep getting results for male-focused “hot girls playing games!!!1” type websites mixed in with the relevant stuff. Argh.

    Oh, there is Game Girl Advance. The woman who writes it is pretty cool.

    • Megan says

      Around the time Halo 2 was out, I signed up to join PMS clan after having a lot of bad experiences with random teammates. I figured that considering that creed, it might be a good place to play and not have to worry about any harassment. The first thing they did for all of the new recruits was to pit them against the veteran clan members and the male team. While no one was harassed, I heard the recruiter for the PMS clan say “She’s pretty good with a rocket launcher. For a girl.” I didn’t stick around after that.

  8. Lindsey says

    I played a lot of Battlefield 2142 online, which has a built-in voice chat feature of dubious quality. I avoided using it for the usual reasons of harassment, though sometimes I would explode with a “line of fire you moron!” or something similar to a squadmate who was acting stupidly. It often earned me a surprised reaction, and the sound quality was so low that some male players weren’t sure if I were a woman or a child.

    It should be noted that all avatars in that game are male (and indistinguishable from each other except by name) so being male by default was not just easy but required.

  9. says

    As a male gamer I am constantly astounded by the conduct of trolls like those in the thread under discussion. The bad rep they bring on the whole gaming community humiliates and angers me.

    There are few enough women in the hobby as it is without piling on harassment and abuse until they either leave entirely or learn to hide their identity. Women see the world in a different way than men do, and having those different voices in a community makes it a richer place for everyone.

    Frankly, I put a lot of the blame on the Blizzard mods. I understand that modding is a horrible, thankless job. I’ve put in my time in the trenches. But the reason the post of moderator exists is to do just that, moderate the discourse on a forum. If that means taking a firm hand with the warnings and the banhammer, then that’s what it means. People will bitch and moan for a while and call you a “Nazi.” but you’ll be helping to build a better community, and that’s the only proper reason to want the damn job in the first place.

  10. says

    This level of misogyny on a game board doesn’t surprise me a bit, which is sad. Regarding the RealID boondoggle from Activision/Blizzard, I recently wrote an article about the very real danger to women, and how the policy, for all intents and purposes, would silence female gamers, in order to avoid being stalked.

    Some important statistics to keep in mind, more than 1 in 12 women reporting that they’ve been stalked in real life, and more than 64% of women in a recent study reporting that they’ve been cyberstalked. And when Blizzard was approached about this new policy that would put their female base at risk, (because the only way to get tech support is to use the forum and thereby your “real name”), their response was telling:

    What I find tragic, in cases like Starcraft and Wow, is that male gamers KNOW this behavior is wrong, and would be furious if it was their mom or their wives or their daughters being treated like this; which just goes to prove that in many male minds, when we “belong to a man” we deserve protection, but as independent entities, we deserve to be abused.

    As feminists, we’ve come a long way, but the road ahead of us isn’t any easier than the road behind us.

    • Robin says

      @DeAnne — I was so curious about the Blizzard mod’s response that I went into the page source and dug it out.

      We have been planning this change for a very long time. During this time, we have thought ahead about the scope and impact of this change and predicted that many people would no longer wish to post in the forums after this change goes live. We are fine with that…”

      Holy cow, is that irresponsible. They’re completely ignoring a valid concern about the potential consequences of their actions. If they were a teenager rather than an international corporation, they’d be holding up their thumbs and forefingers in a W configuration.

      And that’s why I never ever go on (Yes, I’m still playing Diablo 2 and waiting not-at-all-patiently for 3. I want my female barbarian, dammit.)

      • says

        Yeah, sorry about messing up the blockquote there. I think I threw an extra tag in, but couldn’t see a way to edit it once it was submitted.

        But back to BlizzaVision; it’s astoundingly irresponsible. As well, I discovered back when the whole RealID was being initially pushed, that it had been enabled by default in-game, for anyone not on a parental control account…even for those users who had specifically NOT enabled it.

        I don’t know if it’s been fixed since I originally reported the API flaw, but at the time, in WoW, you could, at the command prompt enter:

        /run for i=1,100 do if BNIsSelf(i)then BNSendWhisper(i,”RealID whisper from yourself..”);break end end

        as a test case for how an API call could be used from an addon to grab RealID info for every account, whether they had realid enabled or not.

        And it would spit back your billing name and email address, which means every single addon for the game could grab your RealID if they wanted it. Hands up everyone who thinks botters and scammers were already figuring ways to inject that into popular addons?

        As well, someone on my linked blog post above reported that if you did a “friend invite”, that the game sent the person you invited your full billing name.

        In other words, Blizzard/Activision don’t care about privacy, they don’t care about their users, they certainly don’t care about women’s issues…what they do care about is rolling around in the buckets and buckets of cash they’re getting from Facebook to make everyone’s information public.

        Which brings us back to the issue with StarCraft and misogyny. There is no financial reason for them to care about their female gamers, so they don’t.

        • Robin says

          No worries. Debugging html (including a lot of my own mistakes) is a big part of my job, so I’m used to it. I just wanted to see if the mod you encountered was any more interested in actually, y’know, modding than the one cited in the main article. Turn out, not so much. :-\

      • The Other Patrick says

        FWIW, with Starcraft 2 I have heard differing accounts about having to be on even for the single player campaign: it might be possible just to login once with your account and then play offline, or perhaps you can play offline as a guest and not make an account in the game, and another site gave directions of how to change the hostname so the game wouldn’t require the net.

        What I want to say is that it’s possible that for Diablo 3, you might be required to have a account, after all.

        • Robin says

          Oh, I have a account. I just don’t use it for playing Diablo. I have a group of local friends (two of whom live upstairs) who get together for LAN parties every now and then, but mostly I just go it alone. (I’m not very good anyway, since it’s the only RPG I play, so it’s a way for me to be able to try out the different classes without being detrimental to the party.)

          Hearing tales of abuse and misogyny like the ones being discussed here has made campaigning with strangers decidedly unappealing. If they do decide to make logging in necessary for gameplay… well, I’ll decide whether it’s worth the loss of privacy when/if more details are available, I guess.

    • says

      I don’t mean this as a criticism at all, but it’s kind of heart-breaking to see the word “admit” there. We ARE made to feel like being female is something that requires an excuse, aren’t we?

    • Patrick McGraw says

      “Then why not stay in disguise all the time? You know, look like everyone else?”

      “Because we shouldn’t have to.”

  11. says

    And this, among the gaming crowd, is not unusual. It’s happening every minute of every day, either in the forums or in the game. I have heard everything stated there before, numerous times, many aimed at me, and is one of the CHIEF reasons I stopped playing World of Warcraft. I no longer had the energy to suffer through and “laugh it off” because it’s “all in good fun” and these guys don’t “REALLY hate women”. It is tiring and depressing and so many things.

    And yes, I believe RealID is complete bull. I signed up with my SC2 account, and connected to my facebook, because I actually have some decent human beings on my friend list that play. But I will not be touching the forums or venturing out into the wide world of gaming for a time.

  12. Rico Penguin says

    I had been discussing with my father that Antonin Scalia had said something to the effect of “Well if the girl didn’t want to get raped she shouldn’t have been dressed provocatively.” This was in response to some girl, who I admit I don’t recall the name of, freaking out over the fact that she was confronted sexually because of the way she dressed.

    He gave me the old 1930’s response of “Well if she didn’t want to get banged by 8 guys she shouldn’t have dressed like that.”

    I told him in response “A rich man should not need to dress like a pauper just to not get robbed.” and he said “Well yeah that’s true.”

    I love my dad, but as old people tend to he is stuck in his ways.

    But that still brings me to your point. Make sure to note that while they are MALE gamers it is not the fact that they are male that makes them assholes. It is the fact that they are assholes that make them assholes. Editor’s note: At no point did anyone suggest such thing. We don’t appreciate strawman arguments here.

    The internet removes a very large layer of accountability for people. That’s why I was excited for RealID, since the few times wow trolls have given out there real life information they’ve gotten a severe ass beating (and it ends up in the news everytime).

    The major problem with it is that I do feel, as was noted here, that women would get the raw end of the deal. There are, or so statistics have said, nearly as many women playing games these days as men. Some argue this is because of farmville et. all, but I have noticed through vent and teamspeak that a good half of the people in guilds I’m a part of are women.

    At any rate. I’m gonna digress a million times so I’ll keep it short.

    There are far fewer assholes in the world than kind people. But assholes have tons of free time because their profession requires little money to keep going. So please don’t assume that the majority of gamers are like this Editor’s note: here we go again. Duh! It’s merely the lowest common denominator having the largest common coverage. Which coincides nicely with politics and news (the most ignorant being the most widely broadcast).

    I’m not sure why, I figure there is some novelty in listening to idiots. :/

    • says

      I’ve edited your comments because you obviously didn’t bother to read the rules. We don’t do strawman arguments here. Save your concern trolling for someplace where anyone has ever actually suggested such a ludicrous thing as that being male makes one an asshole, or that the majority of gamers are assholes.

  13. SarahSyna says

    I find this especially unbearable because I’ve recently joined a gaming society in my uni and it’s full of people (boys and girls)that have all been really nice. Only one person (a newbie like myself) brought up my being a girl as any kind of detriment, after about twenty minutes of chatting, and was actually kind of ashamed when I called him on it. Not all ‘nerds’ are like this, promise.

    • says

      That’s totally awesome that you found a group like that, SarahSyna! I think one of the best (and funnest, frankly) ways to make gaming culture less sexist overall is to encourage new gamers with societies like the one you joined.

  14. mOnion says

    I have an incriminating recording of one of the mods from the site saying to a young lady “bitch make me a sandwiche, I’m busy playing starcraft”

    if you’d like a copy of the .mp3 just followup this comment

  15. says

    This post is getting circulated widely, so now I’m having to mod comments from gamers who aren’t listening because they can’t wait to have their say. The gem of the bunch so far presents the “alternate viewpoint” on “how annoying it is to have a girl come along and spend the entire time I’m trying to game, flirting with anyone who will answer her?”

    Gee, I imagine it’s almost as obnoxious as starting a forum thread and having boymen DEMAND PICTURES OF YOU BECAUSE YOU’RE FEMALE and sexually harass you for page after page while THE ADMINS ARE PRETTY MUCH USELESS.

    How can anyone miss the point that thoroughly? He thinks one person flirting at lots of people is comparable to lots of people sexually harassing one lone person, who’s getting no real support from any corner. It’s like if he told me he had prostate cancer, and because I can’t relate to worries about prostate cancer at all, I replied, “Yeah, but I’ve got a cold! What about meeeeee?” Jesus.

    • Robin says

      As always, we appreciate your mighty mod-hand of troll smiting. It can’t be easy putting yourself between those kinds of comments and actual reasoned discussion, but we’re very glad that you do.

      It seems that female gamers speaking up for ourselves hits a bit of a nerve among a certain, vocal group. Perhaps if they could step back and ask themselves why they’re getting so angry…

  16. says

    To people coming from links via Reddit Gamers or the Team Liquid forum:

    This is a website for discussion of gender inequality in the media. While TL obviously moderates comments with the goal of keeping the target audience of boyz happy and fuck everyone else, my target audience is people (of any description, and this site’s readership is 52% male) who think gender inequality sucks. That’s whose happiness I have in mind when I mod. You aren’t used to this. You are used to spaces where being a boyz means you are important and valued. That is not the case here. We have lots of male authors and visitors who are valued, but just being male isn’t good enough to get them a voice on this site. Nor is being female, for that matter.

    If you want to speak on this site, you have to give a rat’s ass about gender inequality. If it’s obvious you’re not here either to discuss that or to learn more about it, why would I post your comments?

    And btw, the sad old argument that I’m just deleting comments that don’t agree with me: silly assumption. If you read this site, you’d see tons of disagreement because we have sharp-minded, opinionated people here. The one thing I expect us all to have in common is an interest in improving gender inequality. If you don’t share that, then chances are your comments won’t get posted because they just won’t be of interest to my readership.

    Welcome to your first experience of NOT being the all-hallowed target audience.

  17. says

    I don’t play games, but my kids do (my son more than my daughter, but she goes online on the Xbox sometimes, too). I’ve listened in on conversations where one teenager threatens to rape the other players as they kill him, or track each other down. I’ve told my son to kick players like that out-and everytime when I hear a player in the games he’s in charge of use sexually threatening language.

    My point is not that the boys are using this langauge against each other-it’s that they’re using it all. It doesn’t surprise me if kids who use threats like that against each other online on the Xbox [don’t] grow up and play online computer games and keep doing it-only with convenient female targets after they’re more sexually aware and realize the full import of what they’re saying.

  18. Rutee says

    Blizzard got the problems with real ID pointed out to them and backed off, AFAIK.

    No. They didn’t. Well, that’s not totally inaccurate.

    Blizzard had the problem explained to them, sure. But their response was more along the lines of “You gay/female bitches got uppity, so whatever, but we still think it’s a great idea.” They backed off, but it felt more like they backed off because it was unprofitable, not because they genuinely understood the problems they’d enable.

    I’m a woman gamer, and this shit makes me angry nearly all the time. I’ve played MMOs for almost 13 years now. In EQ, I had to pretend to be male to get anywhere. I had some of my most formative years getting only exposed to women b’ bitchez in my largest outlet of spare time, and I was stupid for a long time because of it. In those 13 years, I’ve had 3 guilds where I felt being female was neither a detriment, nor an attention getter. It was just a fact. I had to more or less run 2 of them to get that, I think.

    And, Rico?

    This may merely be the lowest common denominator, but you’ve got to understand; Women tend to get no fucking support, at all. I don’t have one tiny iota of caring that ‘most guys’ don’t do this. This sort of shit gets repeated on general channels in games more or less every time women are mentioned (When there’s not cyber involved), and it’s extremely unlikely anyone starts pointing out where ANY of that is wrong. Now, in fairness, it can be difficult to oppose the tide of dumb, and some days, I am weary and do not want to explain to a bunch of overprivileged men and what I can only call the token misogynist woman (The ‘one of the guys’, not that it protects her at all from their misogyny, who reaffirms that all other women be bitchez, even if she’s not) everything wrong with everything they just said, but it still more or less never happens. In the last 5 years, which is when I started becoming aware of this (AS opposed to /being/ the token misogynist female) I’ve seen precisely one stranger comment on any sort of privilege, and it was white and middle class privileges (To which I proddingly added male for him).

    There is an extremely good reason why women tend to avoid games. Some of it is not directly the responsibility of gamers, such as the male-centric plots, the male-centric female character designs, etc. But frankly, a lot of it is on gamers. Games and nerd hobbies are, as far as my personal experience goes, one of the biggest refuges of male privilege that still exists. It may be all pervasive, but it’s absolutely stifling when you try to play an mmo or pick up a DnD sourcebook.

  19. says

    So this post is why I don’t get involved in most online game forums. I used to, frequently, because I loved the games. But doing so meant I had to choose between leaving a large part of myself outside of the game or dealing with the death of a thousand cuts from the casual, reflexive misogyny. I mean, what happened in that thread? I’ve dealt with dozens of times. This is so normal and accepted and it’s difficult to get anyone to accept it, and instead get loads of gaslighting and abuse just for daring to argue with it.

    And I hate, absolutely hate the guys who go off about how women who say they’re women are seeking attention. And I hate being told over and over again that I shouldn’t say I’m a woman because doing so makes me a bad person. And I hate so much how misogyny is just about as omnipresent and invisible to the perpetrators as oxygen.

    I still love games, and I love the communities I’ve found that decenter the cis het white temporarily able-bodied male perspective, because I don’t have to wear a psychological flak jacket just to participate.

    And I know that makes me sound thin-skinned, but I’m not. It’s not how thick my skin is, it’s pure attrition. I spent enough time just reading this toxicity about women (as well as the homophobia, transphobia, ableism, etc) it got to me. I had to respond or I’d hate myself for not saying anything. But of course it’s draining to engage, and draining to not engage, and finally I had to admit it was time to disengage.

    I am glad that just in the past year I have seen a lot of talk about this. I don’t know if there’s more than before, but it seems like it.

    • inakha says

      “And I know that makes me sound thin-skinned, but I’m not. It’s not how thick my skin is, it’s pure attrition. I spent enough time just reading this toxicity about women (as well as the homophobia, transphobia, ableism, etc) it got to me. I had to respond or I’d hate myself for not saying anything. But of course it’s draining to engage, and draining to not engage, and finally I had to admit it was time to disengage.”

      This. So This! I finally had to admit to myself it was no use being even the lazy feminist that I was when I play WoW. I simply isn’t worth the blood pressure, rage and screaming headaches. I just have to accept that I need to turn that part of my brain off when I’m online.

      • says

        Huh, how do you turn that part of the brain off? I don’t seem to be able to do this.

        See, I used to be able to but the constant endless cuts actually made it a lot harder to not think about it.

        • inakha says

          Ugh, here’s where I bare my shame. Because I used to be one of those feckless, thoughtless tomboys who didn’t know any better and thought all the PC talk was getting damn feminism in my damn game. 😛
          That being said it was the constant misogyny of gamer males which has set my latent lazy feminist sensibilities into overdrive.
          Simply put tho I just try not to think about it. If I do respond to something, its in that “If you wanna talk about hot girls, then I’m gonna talk about hot guys.””She’s got great tits? But have you seen the Arse on that boy?” ect ect blah blah.
          Essentially I will play by their rules until they choke.
          That and I’ve gotten alot faster at hitting the ignore button.

          • says

            Yes, the ignore button is so valuable. I can’t believe how many times I’ve used it on some forums before I gave up on them entirely.

            I do try not to think about it, and in general it kinda works. I deal with it in WoW by being in a guild which has a lot of women (friends, not LGBT or specifically for women) as members. And with friends I take advantage of that ‘benefit of the doubt’ tendency.

            But a lot of crap just like drives me up the wall no matter what.

            And, oh, don’t feel ashamed. I mean, it’s not like men are raised hearing sexist ideas and women are not, everyone gets them. :( So many people participate in misogyny that it’s like, this doesn’t really make you a worse person for it, you know?

        • says

          There ARE guilds in WoW that are safe spaces. And turning off Trade and General Chat also helps a lot. That’s how I’ve managed to get by, at least.

          • Patrick McGraw says

            I haven’t seen much of anything come up in trade or general chat, but that may just be the server I play on, which is a “Roleplay PvE” server – the direct opposite of the servers where you are most likely to find arrogant gasbags. Most of my characters are female.

            But again, this is a single person’s experience on a single server. I also mostly solo, so I haven’t seen much in terms of group dynamics, which seems to be where a lot of the sexist assholes spew their crap.

          • says

            I was in a pug the other week (through the random dungeon finder thing) and 2 of the people in it called one of the other group members on their homophobic language. Made me pretty happy :-)

        • DragonLady says

          “Huh, how do you turn that part of the brain off?”


          followed by solo questing and professions/Auction House gold farming.

          I don’t know if it’s just my servers happen to have a stricter GM-team than most or what, but I’ve never run into anything harsher than the occasional “girls don’t play WOW” troll who bores everyone before the trade chat moves back to weed jokes. :/ (The GMs even rename characters with explicitly sexual, racist, or sexist names, like “bigtitsrock” or what have you.)

          Gearscore drama and petty wank is actually the biggest blood-boilers for me, so I avoid raids and most guilds like the plague because, seriously, if the healer didn’t die the tank did his/her job, so just shut up, there is more than one way to play a class, k?

  20. Sophia says

    Wow. Well, that put an angry end to my search for fellow female players of Starcraft 2.

    PMS Clan doesn’t have SC2 . . . does anyone know of any place to find fellow female-ish (girl, woman, trans, etc.) players of SC2 without sexual harassment being par for the course? I think it would be really fun to make a team or something.

  21. Pedro Turnezez says

    Hey guys, I want to start a clan for people who like the colour red more than the colour blue. Oh, and here’s a picture of me. You silly blues ~~

    • Casey says

      You know what? I redact my earlier optimistic comment; this shit is just as stupid as the ol’ strawperson attention-whore who goes, “Oh, I’m a girl who does [insert nerdy hobby usually coded as male here]. Don’t hit on me, silly boys~<3"

  22. Rutee says

    Well gosh, Pedro’s comment sure made me see the error of my ways. Why, people who like the color red face real discrimination every day. They face cyberstalking if they reveal their identities in online games. They are /constantly/ belittled by society at large. Every person who wears red has to work twice as hard just to prove they’re not a waste. They are constantly reminded of their social inferiority through the media. Their pictures are used as proof of how they’re either attention whores, or ugly and not worth talking to. I sure feel dumb now.

    • Casey says

      On the flip side (‘cuz I’m trying to be an optimist here), this also serves as a good analogy of how inherently ridiculous sexism/misogyny/etc is. Why would anyone want to marginalize over half the human population over something so trivial?

  23. BriseBonBons says

    And to think, before Starcraft 2 came out Team Liquid used to be such a nice place…

    More seriously, it is a real shame how female gamers get treated (speaking broadly). I’ve had the good fortune of playing with many female gamers over the years, from a middle-aged chicken farming teacher who wanted to learn Starcraft (she was a hoot, let me tell you ^^), to your more usual slightly-nerdy 18-to-24s who just wanted to play and be left alone. Anyone who “sounded” typically attractive (whatever that means) inevitably had to deal with everything from awkward flirtation, to accusations of being bad players (obviously due to their inherent gender handicap…) who traded virtual sex acts for access to “real [clans/guilds/friends]” – that is, of course, groups of males who are “actually good” at the game (due to being males, of course).

    Anyway, nice writeup, and I’ll be making sure to check back and visit the site in the future. Seems like a nice place!

  24. Eivind says

    I’ve pretty much totally given up on online gaming, in large part, due to bullshit like this. And I’m a -guy-.

    I want to be part of a community where everyone is equally welcome, if anything, members of under-represented parts of the demographic are MORE than welcome, because more diversity tends to make the social part of any game more fun. (If I don’t want social, I’ll play single-player, thankyouverymuch)

    There’s decent exceptions, but they’re hidden gems. My guild on the one mud I still bother playing, is around 40/60 female-male, and is lead by a grandmother. It’s hell of a lot of fun. But you’de be run out of town in tar and feathers inside of the first hour, if you posted bullshit like 75% of the posts in the thread this article discusses.

    Allowing idiot behaviour like this, doesn’t just scare away half the market. It pushes away that part of the male population which finds it distasteful too.

  25. says

    Being female, and having been interested in computer games since about age 16 or so, I’ve found the strategy which works for online gaming is to pretend I’m an NPC. I don’t interact with other players, I don’t get into the big raids, or join guilds, and I don’t get involved with chat or forums. I just do my thing and stay clear of everyone else. Effectively, I play a social game as a single-player game.

    Yes, I know I’m missing out on a lot of the fun. But I also know I’m missing out on most of the crap, too. But then, I’ve always been more interested in the story than the socialisation anyway. I like finding all the different plot threads in a story, seeing what makes it real. This is a big part of why I’m a preferential RPGer – I like the whole “storytelling” side of things. But I’ll also admit I prefer playing the single-person console RPGs over playing any of the MMOs I’ve tried, because at least with those I know I don’t have to effectively cut my gaming experience in half (by avoiding all the multi-person content) in order to just get through things.

  26. inakha says

    Ooooh dont get me started.
    I started a thread up on the WoW Forums on an alt, after my, normally fine guild just pissed me off a bit. I asked if there where any LGBT and female friendly guilds on the server since I generally equate these to being more tolerant and less fucking mindlessly misogynistic than what guild chat can sometimes devolve into.
    You should have seen the shit fest that brought down.
    Patronised, ridiculed, told no girls play wow ect… Then I got into a long argument about how there is no sexism on WoW, how asking for a LGBT or female friendly guild was not “integrating” these people and would leave them open to harrassment. the subtext being that if they had their own guild they deserved harrassment.
    I think the primary fuckwit was American since he had a rock solid belief that “Integration” not “Segregation” was the thing to do. That “segregating” ourselves would be bad and lead to all kinds of “justly deserved” badness.
    Also the argument that since WoW had players of all races, genders and religions it couldn’t be sexist, racist ect…
    A definition which as far as I’m concerned simply can be applied to say that pre Apartheid South Africa was a tolerant society since all genders and races were represented.
    And to top it all off, since no one actually could get me banned since I wasn’t trolling, they reported it for offensive comments until the entire thread was simply Vanished.
    I now have a special place in my heart for the kind of gutless, cowardly festering parasites which infest so much of my favourite game.
    I sent off a email querying this to blizzard and still haven’t heard from them. Racism they can sidestep by saying there is “no issue” in a fantasy world. But sexism, they wish it away any harder and someone’s going to pop a aneurysm.

  27. says

    I guess I am lucky, as a female gamer I have only experienced sexist crap on a personal level very rarely. But reading that SC2 thread made my blood boil. What does what set of genitals you have have to do with your gaming ability? I have met plenty of female gamers who were great, and on the other side of things, plenty of male gamers who suck.

    On my WoW server I get to see “Get back in the kitchen” trolling in trade chat most days. And whilst I tell myself it’s mostly just idiots trying to get a rise out of people and they might not really mean it, it’s still annoying. Yet there is nothing can be done about it. If they suggested “Black people should go back to the plantation” they would be punished, but suggest a women go back to the kitchen? Nah, that’s fine…

    A few years back I was Horde raiding guild, and had no problem using vent and talking. Til one of the officers decided female member = someone to talk dirty to them on vent. I couldn’t believe it. He acted like it was a normal thing for girls playing games. I left pretty damn quickly. I stop talking on vent after that, until I join my current guild which has a healthy number of female members and very nice men who accept anyone can play the game.

    But one thing that does make my blood boil are those few girls that DO use their gender to get things in game. I had one in a guild once (and her character name WAS Princess, how about that), and she drove the other female members nuts with her “I’m just a silly girl, pwease come help me you big hunky man” crap she used to pull. We all cheered when she was finally kicked after causing such drama involving at least 3 male guildies, leading to one to quit the game completely. Not only is it selfish acting that way, but it does NOTHING to help female gamers gain acceptance. After all, people don’t seem to remember girls who just get on with the game and play well, but girls like Princess seem to stick in their minds. *sigh*

    • says

      You know… given how many male gamers seem to think “girls” have it so easy, and how many women let people think they’re men to avoid the crap, I’ve started wondering how often the “attention whore” female gamers are actually men pretending to be women and girls. What do you think of that possibility? I’m not a gamer so I wouldn’t know – it just struck me as an obvious possibility.

      • The Other Patrick says

        From comic book stores and game stores I have seen two basic reactions to women showing up: condescension and fawning attention. I find it hard to criticize women for going the fawning attention path.

    • says

      I don’t really care about women who “use their gender to get things in game.” I mean, that wouldn’t even work if guys weren’t being sexist in the first place, right? And I know men who have gamed this attitude, who pretend to be women in-game to get this attention and free stuff, exploiting a sexist attitude about women that men hold that says “if I’m nice enough to a woman, I might be able to get some sex.” So, they don’t make my blood boil at all.

  28. says

    Yea, I encountered the exact same thing on Blizzard’s official Starcraft 2 forum; I was posting on behalf of an ex-girlfriend, trying to find her female practice partners, and the story reads exactly like yours.

    And yes, the official Blizzard moderators are just as bad.

  29. Hmmm says

    I have a few questions.

    1) Gender exclusive clans. Aren’t feminists the ones complaining about this the most? I.e. women not being welcome. Seems to me to be somewhat of a double standard to first complain about women not being included, and then advocating the founding of female only clans.

    2) Gaming is a hobby. Hobbies are subject to a lot less rules about equal access than the public enviroment. It is every person’s right to decide what people that person wants to spend time with. There are no anti-disciminiation law regulation equal access to other people’s hobbies. So what is really the problem? If you don’t like the jargon, don’t play there.

    • says

      Aren’t feminists the ones complaining about this the most?

      Nope. You obviously know nothing about feminists, but keep right on showing your ignorance. It’s good for a laugh.

      Hobbies are subject to a lot less rules about equal access than the public enviroment.

      Hobbies are also subject to what the audience wants from them. Quite a few members of that audience are speaking up for what they want.

      Dude, do you not see the irony? You’re here complaining about what you don’t like on this site. They’re over there complaining about what they don’t like on that site. No difference, except you think you’re an exception to the rules.

      There are no anti-disciminiation law regulation equal access to other people’s hobbies. So what is really the problem? If you don’t like the jargon, don’t play there.

      Where else are women supposed to play? Sure, you’d love it if they went off to some tiny little women-only site. That’s what you want. But it’s not what they want. They want to play at that site; they have every right to play at that site; and you’re coming off as a pitiful throw-back to the 1950s. How afraid of women are you?

  30. Hmmm says

    “Nope. You obviously know nothing about feminists, but keep right on showing your ignorance. It’s good for a laugh.”

    I could show you a lot of feminist gamers complaining about ‘othering’ and ‘exclusion’ and ‘homosociality’.

    ‘Hobbies are also subject to what the audience wants from them. Quite a few members of that audience are speaking up for what they want.’

    Yes, and if they are in the majority they will drive away the people that don’t want to play that way.

    ‘Dude, do you not see the irony? You’re here complaining about what you don’t like on this site.’
    I am venting my opinion, they are venting theirs.

    ‘Where else are women supposed to play? Sure, you’d love it if they went off to some tiny little women-only site. ‘
    That’s what you want. But it’s not what they want.’

    When it comes to feminists, I would prefer if they stopped throwing accusations of entitlement at men, while they themselves are never entitled and only claim their human rights.

    ‘They want to play at that site; they have every right to play at that site;’

    Can you show me any kind of reference to this in writing? Preferably something with any kind of juridical buoyancy. The word ‘entitlement’ springs to mind quite easily.

    ‘and you’re coming off as a pitiful throw-back to the 1950s. How afraid of women are you?’
    Afraid? Not really. Tired of hearing about ‘entitlement’ and ‘privileged’ all the time, Yes.

    • says

      I could show you a lot of feminist gamers complaining about ‘othering’ and ‘exclusion’ and ‘homosociality’.

      No, you’d just show me people you ASSUME to be feminist because they have vaginas and aren’t thrilled with the status quo. People like you fail to make that distinction quite frequently.

      I am venting my opinion, they are venting theirs.

      Mmm, but your opinion is that they haven’t the right to one. Again, your failure to see the irony is pretty funny. Also, entitled and privileged!

      When it comes to feminists, I would prefer if they stopped throwing accusations of entitlement at men, while they themselves are never entitled and only claim their human rights.

      I’m assuming you left out some words but meant that feminists are entitled but claiming they only want basic rights (why, yes, I have heard it all before)? That’s what privileged, entitled, pampered people usually think when the oppressed classes get “uppity” and ask for equal rights. You… lack intellectual rigor, to say the least.

      Can you show me any kind of reference to this in writing? Preferably something with any kind of juridical buoyancy.

      Oh, I see – you’re not using your brain for this discussion at all. Okay, I’ll type slowly. It is a site which allows women to sign up, therefore they have the right to be there. I hope this is clear enough for you. “Right” is not a concept exclusive to the legal domain.

      Tired of hearing about ‘entitlement’ and ‘privileged’ all the time, Yes.

      But you are entitled and privileged. It drips out of nearly every sentence you say, but you don’t see it. So it’s like this: if you have a tiny little dick, and you’re all the time exposing it to people who don’t want to see it, they’re probably going to comment on what a tiny little dick you have. If you’re sick of hearing about it, stop exposing it.

      Well, this was almost amusing, but I’m bored now.

      • says

        Ooooooh, BURN.

        It’s cute when the privileged and entitled get worried that they may lose their privilege and entitlement. When they do, it’s like they become little octopi or squid, squirting out ink in the form of poorly written, heavily cliche and (unsurprisingly) unoriginal “arguments” against whoever is trying to gain equality.

        Oh wait, cute is the wrong word.

    • says

      It’s okay to have a male only group. Really, it’s fine. My husband has a ‘boy’s night’ where he and his male friends play poker, drink beer, and give each other hell.

      The difference between those mature, adult men and you is:

      They are okay if we girls get together and have a female group that does the same thing. The fact that females can actually figure out the rules of Texas Hold’em and play just as well, and in a few cases better, doesn’t give our husbands self-esteem issues. We’ll even all get together for tournament style games and all manage to have fun together.

      • Hmmmm says

        Ok, I wish you all the best.
        I have no problem with women grouping together and doing things they enjoy together. What I have a problem with is first hearing how it is a right for women to exclude men arbitrarily, while at the same time hearing that it is wrong for men to group together and exclude women arbitrarily, and if a man complains over the first occurrence, then he is entitled. If a woman complains over the second, she is only claiming her right. And this seems to apply equally to hobby and work.

        • says

          This is a strawman argument. No one here said that. You know who said that? TEAM LIQUID FORUM MEMBERS. They had a problem with a woman only clan. And here’s the irony: online gaming in general has created an atmosphere hostile to women, in which anyone claiming to be female is subjected to a campaign of sexual harassment. THE ENTIRE CULTURE OF GAMING IS DE FACTO “MALES ONLY” but they flip out when a woman wants to start a small female-only clan just for fun.

          And you still don’t get it.

        • The Other Patrick says

          You know why TL is a male-only (almost) atmosphere? Because if you link to an interview where for one second, a woman passes by in the background, one of the first posters will say, “attractive woman at 1:19”. Because if there’s a woman trying to compete in the league, she will be followed by camera with comments like, “OMG filming the girl felt totally stalkerish. I watched the while thing” or “OMG there’s a girl there!”

          And so on…

        • says

          The difference is, idiot, that we are all still allowed to play poker. You and your kind are actively trying to prevent women from playing at all.

          Having a male only and a female only table or two at a large poker tournament is fine. Actively harassing or barring women at the entire tournament is not.

          What next, are you going to be complaining about gender segregated bathrooms when someone points out how hard it is for a woman to become president? FFS.

          • says

            Yes, thank you! There is a difference between creating a limited or exclusive group within a hobby and excluding a demographic group from an entire hobby. It’s hard to credit that anyone would seriously have trouble understanding this concept.

            Which, Hmmmm, is why people doubt your sincerity and figure you’re just desperate to rationalize your desire for people to stop pointing out reality.

  31. Hmmmm says

    Maybe you should listen to what Lisa Harney says as well. Why do women keep associating with men that behave in this way, and then complain. Instead of just leaving?

    • says

      See, this is why so many comments from you people got deleted originally, and the only reason I’m letting yours through is for demonstration purposes.

      When most men in a certain setting act like assholes, your logic says women must never participate in that setting, or else we are “asking for it”. Similar arguments were made (and continue to be made) about women in the workplace (if they don’t like being sexually harassed/looking at male co-worker’s Playboy pinups on the wall, they shouldn’t have careers) twenty years ago. Similar arguments exist about rape – we shouldn’t go to bars unless we “want” to be raped, since everyone knows bars are places where rapists go looking for victims.

      This is such a privileged asshole position – can you not see that? What if women were dominant in gaming, and you wanted to game, but every time you did, the women made you feel the way bullies do, assuming you’ve ever been bullied? Frightened, angry, uncertain you can stand up for yourself without making it worse, etc. Would you say, “Ah, well, it’s my own damn fault for gaming. I should fuck off and go learn to love fanfiction.”

      I didn’t think so. No, the world is yours for the enjoying because You Are A Man. You think it’s a natural state that women should be punished for joining any part of the gaming community, but you’re flipping out about women wanting to do their own thing in a small niche of a small part of the overall gaming community.

  32. says

    Hello there! I’m a guy. 😛

    Now that that’s out of the way, I agree wholeheartedly with your post. I’ve seen it in other online games and settings all the time. I think most people are missing the fact that female gamers that log in to play a game might just want to do that.

    (If they craved attention of THAT kind, they’d probably solicit it formally; yes I’ve seen THAT too. :P)

    To be honest, I do flirt with female gamers at times, but if I’m ever told to stop, I do. Harmless flirting is fun. Sexual harassment, on the other hand, is not.

    I don’t really have much more to add, but I liked the article. Kudos! :)

  33. Casey says

    Ugh, the hateful stupidity just keeps coming in all directions. There was a discussion on /wooo/ as to whether or not AJ Lee is really a nerd/girl gamer of if that’s just her wrestling gimmick and I found this atrocious post:

    “Here is how it works, been gaming for 20+ years and before the whole “omg gamez are coolz” craze that came with xbox trash no girl gamers.
    Games were bad, considered hated and for the lazy retards.
    no, no girl is a gamer, that is why even in competition gaming the women can not compete for shit.
    I remember the PMS clan, ran into a few of their better players in cal, aced them so much they bitched to the admin who promptly laughed and told them to deal with equal rights in gaming.
    long story short the bitches were banned for bitching and moaning that even cal o league newbies were stomping them in droves.
    bitches cant game”

    IT BURNS!!!

  34. denelian says

    How have i managed to NOT find this website? i should be here ALL THE TIME.

    i cannot currently play WoW – meds that mess with depth perception and etc. so playing WoW is impossible – but i love WoW. i hate a good third of the PLAYERS…

    i don’t *hide* that i’m female, i just don’t *advertize* –

    but i have been *gaming* [as in Dungeons and Dragons type tabletop] since i was 6 years old. in 1983. i’ve played D&D most of my life, i still play –
    and i keep running into idiots like the one quoted above, that women aren’t “real” gamers, because there weren’t female gamers before X time –
    except there WERE! i was taught to game by my Aunt, who had been gaming since the first RPGs came out. i’ve ALWAYS known female gamers.
    [and… i still sometimes get the whole “you must be here searching for a Man” BS. STILL. it’s beyond annoying :( ]

    now, i’m getting “you’re in a wheelchair, we don’t have the money to accomodate you, go away” BS. and i’m the BAD GUY, because i can’t access the store i want to go to, because they refuse to follow the law and be accessable. *I* am the Bad Guy – i might cause them to go out of business! [i used to work at this store. when MEN in wheelchairs wanted to shop, they found ways to accomodate THEM, generally by having other guys in the shop pick up customer, wheelchair and all, and carry him in. that’s what i expected. instead, i was told to go away. when i pointed out past accomodation, i was told “you’re female, we can’t do that” for… some reason]


    • Casey says

      That sounds…ARGH and just plain weird. “We can’t carry you into the store, wheelchair and all ‘cuz you’re female”? HOW DOES THAT EVEN WORK? Are they afraid they’ll suffer from some sexual harassment suit or some shit? If you can, you should definitely sue them for blatant ableism mixed with misogyny.

      • SunlessNick says

        Are they afraid they’ll suffer from some sexual harassment suit or some shit?

        I’d not be surprised if that’s what they claim.

        women aren’t “real” gamers, because there weren’t female gamers before X time –

        And obviously roleplaying isn’t a real hobby because it didn’t exist before Y time… bwugh ludicrous illogic.

        • says

          Well, if we’re talking about the US, carrying people into your building doesn’t qualify as “accessible”, so if they are required to make their building accessible, then the excuse “we might get sued for touching a woman” is useless. They’re just violating the law, and acting with complete disregard for certain customers.

          • Maria says

            @Jenn — it’s against the law but not untypical, at all, to have schools or businesses claiming that they’re accessible when they’re not really so. Or that accessibility means something different depending on how visible the disability is.

            Random anecdata: Even my HS, which was a fairly new building, was not REALLY accessible for teachers with disabilities — the handicap entrance wasn’t accessible from the teachers’ parking lot… where teachers were required to park. For a while they “allowed” him to park in the visitors’ parking lot, where the ramp was, but he and my mom (who also taught there and was also disabled) stood up to the crazy principal one too many times and they revoked that “privilege.” IDK what it was like for students with disabilities, but know that the elevators regularly didn’t work and that the cameras meant to monitor student safety in those elevators were never replaced even tho obviously broken.

            • Attackfish says

              I ended up dropping out of HS because of accessibility issues. All’s well that ends well, I went off to college early, but I was lucky that I was in a position to.

              Also, small businesses, especially ones that pay rent are rarely forced to follow laws concerning disability, and in the US, the only way to attempt to force the issue is a law suit. So yeah, carrying worked for them because their disabled costumers agreed with it, and they know that the only thing you can do about them being assholes is sue them, which is a pain.

    • Korva says

      What the …

      There are really no words. I’m sorry you have to deal with such utter BS. Their hate and contempt for women must really run deep if they’d rather lose a paying customer or even risk a law suit than treat you with basic human decency. But hey … I guess women aren’t human, are we? Especially if we’re not “perfect” like the “booth babes” or the wankaids on the gaming mag covers (and don’t get me started on either of THOSE).

  35. tpallagi says

    Hope I’m not totally necroing this..

    This reminds me of an all-female clan I used to be in when I used to play socom II online. We received harassment from guys, but they had a hard time getting to any of us (hard for 4 or 5 guys to talk down 10+ women lol). We got along great with each other, which seemed to blow some of their minds (I am so damn tired of this stereotype, girls and women start to believe it too!).

    I really wish this behaviour was surprising, but it isn’t, it’s everywhere. Whenever these guys start wondering why women don’t want to play with them, I just have to shake my head at the sheer cluelessness. When all your dudebro friends default to “tits or gtfo”, do you REALLY need to question why we don’t want to talk to you?

    I’m really glad to see that at least a FEW people got it. I’ve had really good experiences playing online, like one time I played a great game of TF2. The other players knew I was a woman because we were talking on voicecom, but they didn’t say shit about it. One of the players on my team even told me that I was the best medic he ever played with and hoped I would play again soon.

    If more of these guys would catch a clue (and stop being misogynist assholes) and start acting like the guy I just mentioned, then women might actually want to play games with them, what a concept! Oh and making more games that have awesome female characters and less T&A and macho fantasies would help too (Blizzard is pretty fail at that in general, actually.)

  36. Emily says

    I really appreciate this post in general (plus all the great comments, despite not being a gamer myself…) and I see this kind of behavior all the time with my little brother. He’s in middle school, I’m in high school. I love him to death, but I sometimes see he and his friends engaging in a milder form of this kind of language whenever one of his girl friends goes on line to play a game. I try to call him out on it whenever possible, but I can’t be there all the time. What I wonder is this: what can I possibly do to stop this kind of action? Our house, I tend to think, is fairly feminist-positive, but the media culture and his friends aren’t really doing anything but hurting this situation.

    My point is not that the boys are using this langauge against each other-it’s that they’re using it all.

    *And yes, I am THAT kind of overly-concerned older sister. XD

  37. says

    Okay, I’m not a gamer, and I don’t know how things work. (And, excuse me if someone has already thought of this or whatever.) But, after reading through all the comments, I had a thought: Why don’t female gamers organize? All get together – and flood the games – these places which are so unfriendly to women – en masse – in one spot or another – sort of like an ambush at differently points. Strength in numbers. After reading that some women pretend to be male (which is so sad, but I do understand, after reading the pathetic things that men *say* on the boards or whatever), I think perhaps with a horde of sisters behind one, you could prevail – slowly and bit by bit. But I do think it has to be done – all at once, all in one spot – by many, many women gamers – and then repeated on different boards? Like a protest but basically asserting our rights for women to play unharrassed on these games. Maybe you could even pick a day or something. To start it? I don’t know. But there has to be a better solution than just leaving the games or self-segregation. Or the men who *say* such things will never learn that they can’t just *push* women around. Online. Jeez. What utter cowards. How many of them would say these things to our faces?

  38. says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    ah. that would be what “battle of male and female clans” mean.
    guess i’ll stay out of this one then. not having any clue as to what i’m talking about.

    just sort of reminds me of the trains in india (and japan). women getting felt up on the co-ed trains and the “solution” was make some women-only cars. NOT educate the men on how they should treat the women with respect. just segregate, segregate, segregate. you know, that way the “problem” is out of sight. all’s well that ends well.

    and so it goes.

  39. says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    p.s. the only game i’ve ever played multi-player online was back when you could first do that with Jeopardy – must have been around 1995-1997. i don’t think that counts. (no harassment there.) i’ve only really ever played Doom/Doom II. by myself. before even those years. i’m not much of a gamer. probably a good thing. i don’t need any more procrastination.

  40. Kilotov the dwarf says

    i am genuinely surprised that people can still be so primitive.
    it kinda pains me to see such underdeveloped male gamebase.

    the problem is probably the sheer amount of stupidity that has taken over against common sense in the relations.
    Male that sexually harass girls 90% of times have poor to none sexual experience in Rl, thus a screwed up and mislead perception of the women in general.
    an other issue is the leaking respect for the female and points of view that fit better in the 19th century ( mixed whit a macho culture that is obsolete in the 21th century )

    now speaking out of my teeth, i happen to have really short temper vs people that offend/disrespect females. in online games as in RL i tend to annihilate ( in game) hit till he apologizes ( in RL).
    the disrespectful ones just need to be given a taste of their own medicine.

  41. Casey says

    Kilotov the dwarf: Male that sexually harass girls 90% of times have poor to none sexual experience in Rl, thus a screwed up and mislead perception of the women in general.

    Not for nothing Kilotov, but I have ZERO sexual experience IRL and that doesn’t mean I act like an asshole to the opposite sex.

    Then again I’m a woman so I guess that doesn’t count/doesn’t matter….

  42. says

    Well, that’s the thing. Everybody’s socialized to know how NOT to offend or piss off men, because men’s feelings are so important. Many people are not socialized to know how not to offend or piss off women, because women’s feelings are not important. So boys are left on their own to figure out what now seems to be “the mystery” that is Woman.

    It’s all bullshit, and it creates lots of problems for everyone (though, I strongly believe, a truly “nice guy” will be awkward and confused but not mean or creepy as he struggles to figure this stuff out).

    Kilotov is not far off, but the real problem is that these guys are approaching women’s feelings and sensibilities like a game: shoot down her first objection to whatever you want from her, go to Level 2! Now she raises a new objection, and you must find the Key To Her Heart and blow that objection away to go to Level 3! When this brilliant (rapey) strategy doesn’t work, they get angry and blame all women in general, thinking we’ve failed to play by the rules.

    They don’t get that we’re human, like them, not prizes to be won through skill and cleverness.

  43. says

    Don’t any of these men we’re talking about have mothers or sisters that they treat with respect? I mean, come ON. It seems to me that many of these men are just plain idiots and are treating women thusly simply because they feel they’re entitled to it – not because they have no idea how to treat women with respect – but because they don’t think they have to.

  44. Casey says

    eviltwit: Don’t any of these men we’re talking about have mothers or sisters that they treat with respect?

    I think Jennifer’s said it before, but most misogynists love their mothers/sisters/grandmas/insert female relative here/etc. as “exceptional women” but treat every other women like shit ‘cuz that’s just how they operate.

  45. Casey says


    At the same time it’s kinda scary (and annoying as fuck) because that vidya gaem mentality is espoused all the time in pick-up artisty like with the concept of “negging” and shit…

  46. Casey says


    I also can’t help but feel embarrassed by that mentality ‘cuz sometimes when I play things like Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing I lament “WHY CAN’T IRL RELATIONSHIPS BE SO EASY TO MAINTAIN? I just give people a gift every day and they like me and their friendship and/or love doesn’t wane!” Oh to be a lazy, socially-awkward basement-dweller…

  47. Cinnabar says


    XD And Bioware game-relationships take that to a whole other level. Give gifts, sweet talk your companions, agree with them on everything they say (even if you believe otherwise), find out their personality quirks and act in ways you know they’ll approve of when they’re around, if you have to do something disagreeable then take along someone else who’ll like that. It works in real life too!

    I keep thinking of writing an article called, “Everything I learned about social interaction, I learned from Bioware”.

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