Before you read any further
So the funny thing about people is that they change. Imagine that! At the time of writing these posts, I never could have imagined that Jim Sterling would have a change of heart, but he did indeed. He was actually gracious enough to let me interview him about how he’s reversed his stance and how that happened; you can read the interview here on Gaming as Women.
The internet being the internet – there’s no real point in taking this down. It’s out there forever. But I can at least put it in context.
>DM’s Roundtable follow-up interview
Hey, folks. Before I get to the meat of my post, I just wanted to update you all that last night was the followup interview done with the folks on the DM’s Roundtable podcast. After hearing the podcast that originally went up in which I got fairly lambasted, I was pretty wary of going on. But, happily, things went really well and we had a really positive conversation. Those of you who want to give it a listen can find it here. Fair warning, though, it’s long. (A little over an hour, iirc)
Reddit response to yesterday’s post (trigger warning! rape jokes…)
Why do I read the comments on reddit? Whhhhyyyy? After the backlash I got from reddit over my post about gaming not being sexist against men, you’d think that I’d have learned my lesson? But no, I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment.
So, some dude over on reddit called me an “ignorant judgemental cunt”. The fact that all the horrible shit Jim Sterling has said was meant as humor apparently puts me COMPLETELY in the wrong. Of course, given that in THE SAME COMMENT this dude joked that the difference between football and rape is that women don’t like football.
…so, yeah. I guess I should feel vindicated rather than annoyed. But. Wow. Yuck, dude.
Jim Sterling. Sorry? Well….
Okay, so here’s the thing that prompted me to write a followup post, rather than tackling one of the many other things that I’ve been working on entries about. Kaonashi forwarded me the email from Niero that was mentioned yesterday, and the summary was pretty accurate. “Sure Jim crossed a line and he knows it but he’s a nice guy”.
Which, you know, fine. As an apology it kind of sucks. I have yet to see anything resembling an apology that isn’t full of defensive bullshit from either Destructoid or Sterling, but I’m not about to hold my breath since I honestly don’t expect it to get better than that. An acknowledgment that a line was crossed and that it’s not okay to call people feminazi cunts is about as much as I can reasonably expect since Jim Sterling has proved his worth to Destructoid by being able to get pageviews to Destructoid by saying inflammatory things. Is that out of the ordinary in the gaming world? No. Is Kotaku worse? Oh fuck yes.
I was skulking the Destructoid site yesterday looking to see if there were any editorials offering a more official apology for Jim’s conduct (there weren’t) when I spotted this post by Jim Sterling about a recent “news” segment on FOX in which the recent rise in reported rapes is blamed on sexy scenes in video games. As is to be expected from FOX, the segment offered no supporting evidence or really any reasoning beyond “be afraaaaaaaiiiiiiid! only FOX can saaaave yooooouuuuuu!”.
Now, is this worthy of ridicule? Absolutely. Does this sort of thing deserve coverage on a major gaming site? Sure. Do the people at FOX deserve to be lambasted for making the same groundless accusations that no one has been able to prove for the last thirty years? Right on. As someone who had to promise her mother not to become a serial killer in order to be allowed to buy Mortal Kombat as a child, I get just as tired of the blame that video games get for just about every social ill that exists. So for once I was cheering Jim on, until I got to the last sentence:
Now if you’ll excuse me, there are some vaginas that have not been raped yet, and Kirby told me I need to “get on dat sh*t!”
…really? Really, Jim? Wow. This doesn’t make me all that confident that Jim has, in fact, grasped the nature of the line that was crossed. Calling people feminazi sluts? Not okay. But you know what else isn’t okay? JOKINGLY SAYING THAT YOU’RE GOING TO GO RAPE A BUNCH OF WOMEN.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that hottest chick lists aren’t going away any time soon. Will I mock them? Sure. Are they a staple of “game journalism”? Unfortunately, yes. Ditto with all of the stuff masquerading as “news” that boils down to “hey look! Boobies! We all like boobies, amirite?”. It’s crass, it’s tasteless, and it carries with it an undertone of “tits or gtfo”. But that is still something I can roll my eyes at and walk away from. Jokes about going out and raping a bunch of women? Not so much.
So I’ve just sent the following email to Niero, the editor-in-chief of Destructoid:
A commenter on my blog was kind enough to forward the email that you sent him in response to his complaints about Jim Sterling’s comments in the twitter dust-up that occurred last week and I was very happy to see that in that email there was a clear acknowledgment that Jim’s comments were entirely out of line. I want to make it clear that in no way do I support Daphny’s actions – her comments were entirely disgusting and tasteless and I do agree with Jim that no one gets a free pass on discriminatory language just because they happen to be a member of said group.
That being said, I have grave concerns about the larger context of this twitter dust-up when viewed in light of a larger history of things that Jim has said as an official writer on your site. When the flare-up originally occurred, I refrained from taking sides on my blog, but I did put together a chronology of offensive comments that display a consistent trend of denigrating feminists, feminism, women, domestic abuse, and rape. So when I saw your email to Kaonashi, I was very pleased and had every hope that perhaps Jim would be a bit more thoughtful in his official commentary in the future.
Imagine, then, my dismay, when yesterday morning I saw a post by Jim about FOX news blaming Bullet Storm for the increase in reported rapes. Did FOX deserve to be thoroughly lampooned? Absolutely! But Jim ended by saying: Now if you’ll excuse me, there are some vaginas that have not been raped yet, and Kirby told me I need to “get on dat sh*t!”
This makes me very concerned that perhaps there wasn’t any sort of real lesson learned at all and that the apologies were just lip service to win back those publishers that Jim managed to offend with his comments.
Look. I don’t like the boob-centric nature of your website, but I’m not about to start a crusade to take down Destructoid because you folks like boobs. Whatever. I just really hope that you can understand the difference between jokes about liking boobs and jokes about going out and RAPING A BUNCH OF WOMEN. I really do. I’m not trying to be a “humorless feminist here”. I just really hope that you can make it clear to Jim that just as it is never okay to call a woman a feminazi cunt, it’s also never okay to joke about engaging in rape. The fact that it’s a joke does not obviate the fact that Jim is an influential guy within the gaming community who gets a lot of respect for the consistency of his gaming scores and, like it or not, there are people who look up to him.
I do hope that you will relay this message to Jim. And I do very much hope to see Destructoid clean up its act.
Thank you for your time and attention.
I’m not sure if I’ll get a response, or if anything positive will come of it. I mean, I’m not a user on their site and I’m a woman, which already puts me at a disadvantage. But it’s worth a shot, and I hope that those of you that agree with me that rape jokes ARE NOT OKAY in game journalism (or, you know, anywhere) will also send Niero an email and let him know where you stand on this.
That’s all for now
33 thoughts on “>Some followup: Jim Sterling, Reddit, and DM’s Roundtable”
>Posted this today, Anna. I think you might find it interested.http://errantgame.blogspot.com/2011/02/into-fray.html
>I visit Reddit pretty much every day, but there are parts of it that just suck beyond belief. The tabletop RPG subreddit isn't great (but more for a lack of posters than anything), but anything to do with video games there is going to be just awful, even just for people who like the "wrong" kinds of games, much less pointing out problems with gamer culture.
>OK. I feel a bit naive now. I didn't expect him to change overnight, but still.
>You know, I read about that Fox News article not long after reading the deconstruction of Jim Sterling you did, and somehow, I just knew he was going to say something like that. I winced, I really did, especially since I read a far more in-depth and interesting article taking Fox News and their experts to task over on Rock, Paper, Shotgun before cringing at Destructoid's coverage. Heck, RPS even has a follow-up showing that one of the experts was selectively quoted to give a better sound bite that went counter to their statement.I was tuned into Kotaku and Destructoid a few months back by a friend, and while their total bulk of information gives up some real gems if you sift through it, the signal to noise ratio just isn't favorable, and it's very just, well, fragmented. Amusingly, Kotaku did actually cue me into the website "Fat, Ugly, or Slutty", in which the ravings of misogynists around the world are posted for public mockery.
>Yaru: Word. Still, this was on the GirlGamers subreddit, which was more than a little disappointing that even a space labeled explicitly as being for women still can't be safe.
>Kaonashi: Dude, I don't think that it's naive to expect the best from people. Don't beat yourself up too much. I was surprised too.
>Yeah, that one comment in reddit was vile, but otoh the post was upvoted to a decent amount. Unfotunately one can't avoid the sexist pricks from spewing their bile all over the place but I hoped that a place like /r/GirlGamers would have more people putting that idiot in his place.
>Not to be mean or anything, but at his weight I don't think we need to worry much about him penetrating anyone or anything.I don't know much about this guy, but it is definitely clear that he is sexist and misogynist (maybe because of resentment towards women due to his weight? I had an acquaintaince like this once). For me it isn't so much the fact that he has these opinions, but that Destructoid promotes them and refuses to do anything about it. He reminds me of Rush Limbaugh, in terms of his appearance, opinions, and even language (feminazi was popularized by Limbaugh), and definitely in terms of repugnance. I don't know what that makes Destructoid for supporting his views. Probably the saddest thing is that Sterling is the rule rather than the exception for gaming subculture, which is characterized by sexism/misogyny, mindless glorification of violence, strong overtones of sexual domination/subjugation in language and behavior, and an aversion to contemplating the implications of any of these issues. It makes me ashamed to think I once called myself a gamer. Alas
>*Shakes head* If someone needs the assurance of another person that they are "a decent/good person" I get those feelings that said person is NOT a good person if they need someone to vouch for them. Almost like bad food in the fridge and someone is trying to convince you it's still good despite it not smelling quite right.
>Moses: I'm not going to speculate about the root causes of Jim's sexist language. I will say that I know plenty of tubby gamer men who manage not to be raging misogynists, though.Maverynthia: Yeah. Pretty much my feelings too.
>I am not surprised. There was no apology in his apology. You don't make an apology by defending yourself. Apologies involve things like admission of guilt and recognition what you did was wrong. Not just saying both those things, but actually having them be true internally. Jim's apology didn't even say the right things and even a fanatical adherence to the maxim of charitable interpretation could not get you anywhere close to reading that in his words.I know we live in a culture where not accepting an apology is socially unacceptable (probably because it would mean people can't get away with their bullshit), but what you get out of that is an automatic expectation of absolution for making any apology no matter how much of an apology it isn't.
>Are fat jokes really appropriate? It seems a bit like stooping to his level to me. If you want to talk about something bloated about Jim Sterling, may I suggest his ego instead?
>"in order to be allowed to buy Mortal Kombat as a child"I hope you don't play pro-murder games any more.
>Not exactly relevant to this post but I think you'll find this interesting.http://kirbybits.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/here-is-a-project-troll-data-analysis/
>I want to write 3 things concerning Sterling.1. Your last blog entry was an eye-opener (actually my eyes were bulging) as to how incredible offensive, sexist and misogynistic is so called Sterling’s journalism. I wasn’t familiar with it till this recent tweeter case. In my opinion cited fragments were ten times more shocking then this personal attack on tweeter, which was imo provoked to a large degree, which is something different then free opinions from articles published on big gaming site. Now I think that are things that Sterling should apologize for as something like that shouldn’t be tolerated.2. I don’t think you should give any credit for Sterling’s reviews either, I was wondering if someone who writes so offensive and sexist articles can write a good game review, as it seemed highly doubtful. I wasn’t familiar with them either so I checked them out, in short I was right, they are utterly unreliable rubbish. 3. Now about this last “joke” form article about Fox’s material. Well I find this joke tasteless, offensive, and ultimately stupid but most of all incredibly played out. It’s the same joke that’s flooding all gaming sites whenever general media connects games with something evil”. It comes in different shapes and sizes but basically it goes down to: “how ridiculous is the idea that games would make someone : criminal, thief, rapist, gangster, mass murder, dictator etc. What’s more surprising you used that joke yourself just above. Of course: “I had to promise my mother that I won’t become a serial killer form playing Mortal Kombat, isn’t it ridicules? ha ha“ is not the same with “now I become a rapist because Kirby tells me so, ha ha“ expressed in typical to Sterling most offensive and vulgar form, but they fall into the same category. Somehow I feel that if Fox’s material would have been typically connecting games with murders and Sterling had finished his article with: “now I gonna shot people on the street because Kirby tells me to do it” you wouldn’t have been doing much fuzz about it. It seems weird to me that punchline about rape is considered condemnable while about serial-killing is passable.
>@ LawrenceThe difference is that her comment was a response to ACTUAL claims that video games cause people to go out and do bizarre things while the same claims about rape jokes are STRAW MEN that do not represent the nature of the actual objection.
>Anon: Um. Let's look at the games I've played in the last little while: Mass Effect, Final Fantasy XIII, Dragon Age, and Soul Calibur II. All of them involve putting swords/bullets into the chest cavities of various people/aliens/creatures. So. Yeah, looks like I'm still playing "pro-murder games". And yet, still have managed not to ever kill or violently attack anyone.
>Lawrence: I honestly wasn't trying to joke about murder, so I'm sorry if it came off that way. I was trying to use an incident from my own life to express my irritation with the demonization that new forms of media inevitably face in our culture. Television was once blamed for everything wrong with our society. Then comic books. Now unfortunately it's gaming – mostly roleplaying and video games. My parents are pretty cool, super-intelligent people who taught me how to think independently. So I think the fact that I had to make a LITERAL PROMISE not to go out and kill people because of playing Mortal Kombat says a lot about the stigma gamers face. I really wasn't trying to say "herp derp parents are stupid", and I'm sorry if it came across that way.
>Reddit is pretty much a sexist cesspool, even moreso since Digg committed suicide and everyone left Digg for Reddit.
>I definitely enjoyed that podcast, I hope other guys who like the things you criticize litsten to it and realize that you're not out to take anything away from them and are instead trying to "expand the pie" as was said in the podcast.
>@ wundergeekThat’s exactly what I was trying to point out. Actually I DID assume that you weren’t joking about murder but here is my doubt about how you presented Sterling’s joke punchline. (Which I’m not defending per se, as I have said I consider it tasteless, stupid, offensive and played out). I think it really is mocking joke directed at Fox’s material. So here’s the problematic situation:1. It’s ok to make mocking jokes directed at media when they unfairly link playing video games with murders.2. It’s not ok to make mocking jokes directed at media when they unfairly link playing video games with rapes as these jokes automatically fall into “rape jokes” category.3. It’s actually form of these jokes that determines if they are passable or not, i.e. (I will use your example but I really don’t have a go at you but it’s just easier to use it then to make up my own). So if Sterling would end his article with something like: “ Now I have to call my mother and promise her that I won’t become a rapist before buying Bulletstorm” would it make it ok?
>Can we stop trying to make murder and rape equivalent things? As if they're treated the exact same way in our society, in the exact same context as each other? Because they aren't. So, actually, no, making any kind of rape joke isn't okay. Alright? Cool.
>I was mostly replying to Lawrence by the way. It would take a lot of space to go into the whole Rape Culture thing but in short, you really shouldn't be comparing the two. They just aren't treated the same.
>Lawrence: You know what? FOX deserves to be mocked for saying that video games cause rapes, sure. Video games absolutely do not cause rape. What I take issue with is the fact that he refuted that assertion by joking that he was going to GO OUT AND RAPE SOME WOMEN. So, okay, fine. Make fun of the assholes at FOX for being completely braindead, I don't give a shit. But don't make things worse by saying HERP DERP YEP IMMA GO DO SOME RAPIN'.
>I think rape jokes are different because the threat of rape is still often used to coerce and intimidate women. Even if it is not intended, a joke about rape will always invoke that threat.
>Murder is not a sexist crime. Rape, statistically is.Im not sure murder jokes are always the best way to make the point but they don't come with the layer of skeeviness.
>@ wundergeekSomehow it turned out that I am just doing some derailment (so this is my last comment) and actively defend rape jokes. Now that’s pretty horrid. In fact I do agree with almost everything you have written (maybe except that cheering for Sterling getting on Fox, as I had forced myself to read this article and I’ve found it plain stupid ). I do agree that Sterling’s joke is repulsive, offensive and disgusting ( I know that I’ve written tasteless but “disgusting” is actually the right word I should have used in the first place) not only to women but every decent human being and it should be removed, best with some apology both from Sterling and Destructoid. I do think that your letter to Destructoid is spot on and I could easily co-sign it. And definitely I wasn’t equalizing murder with rape or vice-versa but only found similarity in which gaming communities are flooding with jokes mocking media for their groundless accusations for whatever social evil is connected with video games right now. But you know what, I think that jokes like: A: I hope you don't play pro-murder games any more. HA HA HAB: Yeah, looks like I'm still playing "pro-murder games". And yet, still have managed not to ever kill or violently attack anyone. HA HA HAAre NOT okay. I’m sick of these jokes even if their intention is to mock braindead FOX. They aren’t funny*, they are tasteless, stupid, tired and offensive. Fact that they appear literally in thousands, every time something like this Fox’s material happen, on all gaming sites and blogs (even on those that are boldly trying to point out what’s wrong with gaming culture) makes me wonder if the gamers aren’t actually a group of weirdoes that should lay off games for some time and start taking lesson on basic sensitivity and empathy. * Yes I am pretty much humorless and that’s the fact
>Why are rape jokes so awful? Because we live in a rape culture, where one in four women are sexually assaulted (and if you do the math, that means that one in four men is doing the sexual assaulting — serial rapists are incredibly rare, and women are more likely to be assaulted and raped by someone they know than a stranger). One in four people are not murdered. Violence is a terrible thing, but we live in a society that at the same time both condemns violence yet condones it as long as it's perpetuated against women ("And at least if you're raped, it's not as bad as being dead, right?" is the general consensus, nevermind the incredibly high suicide rates of rape victims, because hey that's not violence now is it?).Arguing that jokes about violence are on the same level as jokes about rape is a naive and privilege-showing argument, as if women don't experience every day how little the world values them and their opinions and the autonomy of their bodies.Video game violence being correlated to real-world violence is incredibly rare, which is why despite all the studies done about it have not been able to back anyone who gets loud about it in the media. HOWEVER, sexual assault and rape in video games IS correlated with sexual assault and rape towards women (which is what that book is all about, with the studies to prove it).You have every right to be upset about jokes about violence and hurt by them, but equating them to being the same as rape jokes is completely missing the point of the scale of what is being dealt with here.
>http://i1218.photobucket.com/albums/dd408/gynotheory/1970s.jpgtaken from here:http://gynotheory.blogspot.com/2011/01/anatomy-of-victim-ideology.html"Because we live in a rape culture, where one in four women are sexually assaulted (and if you do the math, that means that one in four men is doing the sexual assaulting"no.
>namae nanka: Thank you for posting that link. I was remiss in not responding sooner. Sunny, you are correct that women are the predominant victims of rape. However, that doesn't mean a quarter of the men in our society are rapists!!!
>I really hope that was sarcasm, WG. .. I don't think I'll be thanking namae nanka, him or his MRA buddies who are twisting feminism into the 'enemy of men', which is mostly just 'feminazi' level smearing all over again.
Oh, Christ. Trigger Warning? I was having a grand ole time laughing at how annoying game designers are, and then I saw that. Way to alienate l and limit your audience.
Not a lot of people like Feminism, you know? I mean, why does everything that talks about the hypocrisy of video games have something to do with that irrelevant conservatism? Damn good article, though. Jim Sterling is a dumbass.
The most bizarre thing about that quote is he made a joke about going out and committing rape yet chose to censor the word ‘shit’.
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