Dangerous Hatred: Men who foment misogyny in geekdom [TW][LONG]

[Ground rules: As with the previous post, anything resembling “not all men” is going to get deleted. If this seems unfair, try reading #YesAllWomen or #YesAllWhiteWomen on twitter for a few minutes. People who troll after having their comment deleted will have subsequent troll comments replaced with links to my favorite “male tears” and “misandry” GIFs from Tumblr. (If you play nice after having a comment deleted, your comment can stay.) I am not feeling charitable about this.

Also, I normally don’t do trigger warnings, but TW for misogynist language (not mine).]


 

The internet has been a pretty fraught place for me the last week. In the wake of the Isla Vista shootings, first there was the predictable backlash of “not all men”, not to mention the reports insisting that the attacks were caused by mental illness, not misogyny. (Never mind the fact that people with mental illness are disproportionately the victims of violence, not the perpetrators.) Then there was the amazing, necessary, but absolutely hard-to-read #YesAllWomen and #YesAllWhiteWomen responses on twitter.

Suddenly women that I look up to and admire were sharing their experiences of harassment and sexual violence. It was a powerful and disturbing indictment of the pervasiveness of our rape culture, but it proved a bit too much for me to deal with. As such, I’ve been avoiding twitter the last few days.

Aside from one comment on facebook, my reflection until now has been mostly private. I have been devouring pieces about Elliot Rodger and his ties to PUAhate and the MRA movement from those media outlets and bloggers willing to actually call a spade a spade and the thing that disturbs me the most about Elliot Rodger isn’t how alien his rhetoric justifying the attack was. On the contrary – it’s familiar. Too familiar. I hear echoes of it all the time.

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CLICK FOR LARGER MORE READABLE VIEW

And these are just examples that I’ve gotten in the last few months – before the long hiatus, I never used to save comments that I deleted from my blog. And none of this includes the awful things that people have said about me on various fora in the past. Nor does it include comments made about me on Reddit that have long since vanished into the moderation ether, but which I still read when they were first posted.

I’ve been called an “irritating dumbass bitch” and a “ignorant judgemental cunt”. I’ve been told I just need to get laid and that no one would ever want to fuck me. I’ve had half an hour of a gaming podcast devoted to me, in which four men talked about my “radical agenda” and why I was arrogant, crazy, ugly, and not worth listening to. And even with all of that, I’ve been grateful that the trolling I get isn’t worse. Because as bad as it is to be called a fat ugly dyke, at least no one has ever threatened to rape me. (Yet.)

But the purpose of this post isn’t to highlight the garden-variety misogyny that gets leveled at me for writing this blog. A lot of people have written a lot of really smart things about the problem of deeply embedded misogyny in geekdom.

Instead, I’d like to focus on something more specific: nerd famous men (yes, men) who use their nerd fame to incite their audience to harass people (usually women) they don’t like.

Using their platform as a weapon

There are men in the gaming community who you don’t criticize publicly; you do that very privately with people you trust, because they are known for riling up their followers and pointing them at people they don’t like (usually women). That way they silence people who would speak out against them because they’re afraid of getting harassed and they get to claim total innocence (well I didn’t harass anyone).

There are some major problems with this:

Problem the first: Harassment is srs bsns

The internet is rife with stories about online harassment against women. Anita Sarkeesian, Adria Richards, Jennifer Hepler, Rebecca Watson, Sady Doyle, Zerlina Maxwell – those are just the first six names off the top of my head of women who are notable for having been the target of harassment campaigns. But there are darker examples too. Amanda Todd. Reteah Parsons. Both of whom were young women that committed suicide after sustained and dedicated online harassment campaigns.

How women respond to harassment varies widely – some grow more outspoken, some go silent, and some retreat from online life altogether. (None of these responses is “correct” – every victim of harassment has to deal with it in their own way.) But women who are harassed, especially young women, face lasting emotional and psychological harm up to and including suicide.

HARASSMENT CAN KILL. It isn’t a weapon that should be used against anyone, and it certainly shouldn’t be used casually.

Problem the second: Incredibly fragile egos

The reasons that nerd famous men incite harassment against people can often be quite trivial. Like you once criticized an artist that they like. Or you did a re-draw of a piece of art by an artist that’s not them. You don’t even have to criticize them directly to earn their ire. You just have to criticize a thing that they like.

Problem the third: They do nothing to curb misogyny in their followers

At no point during this process of inciting harassment do these nerd famous men ever do or say anything to curb the tide of misogynist sentiment in their followers. So when their followers go forth and bile-vomit, they call people things like feminist dyke cunt. Or feminazi. Or they tell someone they should probably kill themselves.

Having created an echo chamber to insulate themselves from whatever stimulus offended them, they do nothing to prevent misogynists from taking over that echo chamber. And as recent events demonstrate, Elliot Rodger is proof of the danger of misogynist echo chambers.

How It Works

Step 1: Hark! A woman has said something I don’t like! Quickly! To the interbutts!

Step 2: Link to the thing you don’t like. Be sure that you mention how you think the person who did the thing you don’t like is worthy of disdain. Are they stupid? Shrill? Embarassing? Smug? Arrogant? Ignorant? Ugly? Crazy? Choose a few adjectives that appeal to you in the moment and post without too much thought.

Step 3: Your followers all agree with you that the person is a terrible human being. Of course they do. You’re always right. Make sure to make additional assertions of the person’s disdain-worthy qualities. You know, to help build up a head of steam.

Step 4: Extreme voices inevitably chip in. Do nothing to dissuade them. “That person should suck my dick”? Fine. “We should go beat up that person”? Yup. “Bitches be crazy”? A-OK. Make sure to agree with a few of the more extreme comments not advocating actual violence. (Remember, the goal is to appear not culpable.)

Step 5: Your followers have now gone forth to flood the persons personal internets via whatever channels they were doing the thing you didn’t like in the first place. Make sure to never acknowledge this. Especially don’t acknowledge that a good portion of them are doing so using misogynist slurs.

Step 5a (optional): Has the person you don’t like had the nerve to actually continue doing that thing you don’t like? Even after you told your followers how much you didn’t like them and how awful they were? Time to up the ante. Resort to hyperbole or outright lies about the person you don’t like. They said something critical about sexual objectification in game art? They are now a sex-negative feminazi who wants to censor all sex in everything ever! Or maybe they posted an analysis of the objectification of women in another artist’s work? Lie and say that that person insulted your work. Congratulations! You are so in the right on this one.

Step 6: Use the controversy-generated pageviews to promote your projects to your followers and increase your audience. This is good because you are famous and talented. Unlike that woman who did that thing you don’t like who is just looking for attention. What a fucking bitch.

I wish the above was comic hyperbole. It’s not.

It happened to me

Presented here are three stories in which this has happened to me. In two I will not name names; one person actively generates publicity by doing this sort of thing and I don’t want to gratify his behavior, and one person says that he is experiencing mental distress because of the backlash against MRAs in the wake of Elliot Rodger’s killing spree. As much as it is hard for me to have much sympathy for someone who prioritizes their personal feelings about being judged over the lives of the women who died as a result of MRA ideology, I’m not willing to make light of mental health problems.

Some people may know the people to whom I will refer in these stories. I request that you not name names.

The Rebellious Artist

The Rebellious Artist (TRA) is an artist that is well known for his game art, game design, and game-culture-related projects. He is also convinced that I am a terrible blight upon the game community and periodically makes public attacks on me to that effect, all because I happened to blog critically about an artist that he and his girlfriend happened to like. (I was critical of the artist’s extreme anatomy distortions, and in the comments I said that there were trends in the artist’s work that implied problematic attitudes toward consent.)

Somehow he decided that my saying “this artist you like’s work displays problematic attitudes toward women” was the same as “I hate sex and sexy things and sex in any media ever the end”. Once he even described me as a fascist uber-conservative akin to Phyllis Schafly.

…yeah okay.

His general mode of attack, when he remembers that he doesn’t like me, is to make publicly visible attacks against me attached to my real name, in an attempt to convince people that I’m a shrill feminazi that shouldn’t ever be listened to. Once it happened on a forum that I used to post on but quit three or four years ago – he was banned for that one, but the attack was sufficiently personal that it left me very rattled.

More recently, he attempted to torpedo my reputation in the game design community just as I was getting into doing freelance for some more mainstream projects with Onyx Path:

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This is an excerpt of a post that he made in response to a manufactured controversy (that he helped to manufacture) that I commented on. His response was to make this post with many real names besides mine arguing that TRPG industry companies shouldn’t be hiring us to do freelance work for them. It’s worth noting I wasn’t the only one targeted by that one, although I was the only one singled out with a dismissive aside. (Go Make Me a Sandwich girl? Really? That’s super mature.)

And yet despite his bad behavior, and that he is known within the community for his bad behavior (it’s really kind of his trademark), he is still highly regarded by many as a top-level artist, game designer, and gaming personality, which is frankly depressing. Lots of people know about his bullshit and just don’t care.

The Edgy Game Designer

Last week I posted a link to this satirical Dungeon World playbook for the Edgy Game Designer. This playbook isn’t 100% based on the person I’m talking about here, but it’s close enough that that’s what I’ll call him.

TEGD has never (to my knowledge) declared being aligned with the Mens Rights movement, but his public social media posts adhere very closely to that ideology:

(For reference, Caroline Criado-Perez is a British MP who had a harassment campaign launched against her for the radical notion of wanting women to appear on at least some of Britain’s currency. (Not including the Queen.))

Hatred of social justice activists, decrying feminism, denial of rape culture. Check, check, and check. TEGD is also notable for his vocal defense of rape as a device in games and for his advocacy against convention harassment policies. Which. You know. Yay.

And yet despite all that, TEGD has a pretty large and devoted following:

So when a gaming organization with a reasonably large following (not huge, but certainly not small) announced that they were going effectively lend him their platform to talk about his offensive views, I was pretty upset.

So I spoke out. I was careful to keep my posts mostly about my feelings and personal experience and how TEGD’s stances were hurtful to me as someone who has been sexually victimized at a gaming convention. I wasn’t the only woman who spoke out either.

But rather than respond to the substance of the concerns that we were raising, TEGD started making public posts about how TERRIBLE we were and we were calling him a ravening rape monster and didn’t we know he is CALM and NICE DAMMIT.

And then men went nuts in the comments about what awful bitches we were, to which TEGD would respond by saying that he just couldn’t understand how people couldn’t see what a GOOD PERSON HE WAS and HIS WIFE SAID HE’S NOT A MISOGYNIST, etc etc etc. Which only got them more riled up, to the point that I got a few private messages from people who were concerned for me about the level of ire happening on his page.

There were other women who spoke out, as well as one man who was as vocal as we were. Yet despite the fact that the one man made harsher, more personal attack statements while the women focused mainly on our feelings and personal experiences, TEDG’s followers mainly got angry about us “dumbass irritating bitches”. Funny that.

J. Scott Campbell and Mark Brooks

There’s not much I’ll say other than to summarize briefly, since this was extensively documented in this post here, and in the followup post here.

But the nuts and bolts of the situation are this. I wrote a post in which I did a re-draw of the official GenCon art from 2013 by Jonboy Meyers. Whereupon J. Scott Campbell and Mark Brooks, popular artists in the mainstream comics industry, linked their followers to the post and told them what a terrible person I was.

The thing about comics is that it’s not like roleplaying. TRPG game designers can only hope to achieve a moderate level of nerd fame, unless you happen to be Monte Cook or Ken Hite. Comics artists? Their audience is larger. A LOT larger. So literally overnight, my traffic went THROUGH THE ROOF:

You might think that as a blogger that writes a Patreon-supported blog, that kind of traffic spike would be something I’d like to see. WELL IT’S NOT. I found myself obsessively refreshing my site stats, growing more and more worried as the views kept going up by the thousands. That level of attention from hostile, angry sources is just frightening. For the first 24 hours, I couldn’t help but worry that this was going to go viral and I was going to wind up as another Anita Sarkeesian.

Of course, it didn’t help that when I blogged about the negative attention that Campbell and Brooks had directed my way, J. Scott Campbell then lied about my response to his followers:

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Which, yeah. That’s not even close to what happened:

Okay, so let’s review. Did I say that they were knowingly using their audience to harass me? Yup! I sure did. Did I say that their behavior is unprofessional and imply strongly that it was also irresponsible? You betcha! Did I say ANYTHING ANYWHERE about artwork created by J Scott or Mark Brooks? NOPE.

Thankfully, the shitstorm died down and things went back to normal. But not before 48 extremely anxiety-inducing hours, during which managing comment threads was occupying a huge portion of my attention.

So what’s the point? Why speak out? Or do I just have an axe to grind?

The reason I’m writing this is because misogyny like that expressed by Elliot Rodger doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Echo chambers like PUAhate reinforce and normalize that misogyny. What also normalizes misogyny is when men in positions of respect and authority engage in the practice of encouraging misogyny and creating misogynist echo chambers so that they can protect their self-image.

The problem is that misogynist echo chambers are dangerous. Never forget that misogyny kills. Sometimes directly, as in the case of Elliot Rodger. Sometimes indirectly as in the cases of Amanda Todd and Reteah Parsons.

Am I saying that people like J. Scott Campbell, Mark Brooks, TRA, and TEGD are responsible for mass-murderers like Elliot Rodger? NO.

What I am saying is that inciting harassment of people they don’t like is dangerous, and turning a blind eye to the misogynist echo chambers that happen in their comment sections (if not actively encouraging said misogyny) is even more so.

We need to stop taking misogyny in the geek community for granted and start holding misogynists accountable for their actions, especially when they are creators who have a large audience that they are willing to weaponize. We need to STOP writing these guys blank checks just because they’re nerd famous. And we need to start calling out misogyny when we see it.

We have to. We must. The stakes are just too high.

 

29 thoughts on “Dangerous Hatred: Men who foment misogyny in geekdom [TW][LONG]

  1. I’m lucky. I know I’m lucky. I manage my life in such a way as to make that luck as possible as it can be. I curate my social bubbles mercilessly. I have a husband who is willing and able to help me with protecting myself from emotional harm.

    Having this as an adult, it’s made me think about something.

    What we call “bullying” and “harassment” when done by agents of the government is considered “appropriate interrogation tactics for terrorists” or even “torture.” I don’t say this to hyperbolize. Extended campaigns of mental stress designed to break a subject down, demoralize them, and lead to their capitulation.

    In the same way that anti-choice terrorism is never called that, I find it interesting that we never call this what it is either…and that the victims of both are predominantly women.

  2. As a victim of bullying, I can tell you from personal experience that cruelty of any kind, emotional, physical, or verbal, is uncalled for…especially if the reasons for it are selfish.
    The reasons behind their cruelty towards you were selfish, and what they did was WRONG.
    Both you and ourselves have EVERY right to call them out for it.

    As a victim of sexual assault, I can tell you all what you already know:
    It is very, very, WRONG.
    And people should NEVER be threatened with it, no matter the supposed “crime” that has been committed.
    I am very glad that you have yet to be threatened by such things.

    While I know it isn’t much…you are in my prayers.

  3. The Rebellious Artist wanted to create a blacklist based on people who +1’d a post? The House Unamerican Activities Committee was not an example of healthy behavior. No matter how much I lower my expectations, someone manages to be worse.

    Your post got me thinking about the relationship between mental illness and culture. Some mental illness is caused by the environment one is in. Perhaps genetics influences the risk factors, but life experiences can certainly cause mental illness. PTSD is an obvious one. I believe that Elliot Rodger was mentally ill. I believe our screwed up culture, fanned by “support” networks like PUAhate, aggravated his illness and perhaps created it. I believe this in part because I understand where Rodger was coming from. I know what that anger, frustration, and feeling of impotence is like. In my case it lead to long term depression. I count myself lucky to have not fallen into the MRA movement during the worst of it.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience. The traditional model of masculinity as constructed by patriarchy and is absolutely toxic. As awful as Isla Vista was, I hope that we can move forward as a culture in our understanding of toxic masculinity and misogyny.

  4. I’m new to this conversation in grekdom or on the internet. I am a male and while I like to think I treat men and women equally, I have caught myself making assumptions and acting on biases that I’m not happy having. Usually I catch myself and have better ideas. My point is that even the best intentioned in us are prone to misogyny ( I say that shamefully ) because there are social norms we need to conquer so our children can break out of them. How do we do that?

    One part of the solution should be focused on influential men in our communities. I can’t say that being outspoken against those men’s actions is wrong. But is it effective? can it work or in the internet age is any negative comment considered trolling? Are these men key to the change as much as they may be part of the problem? What else can someone in Anna’s position do?

    When issues like this are hard enough to break through when face to face, can we be effective on the internet, in forums, or comments?

    • I think it depends on the level of maturity of the people involved. Unfortunately there is no correlation between “influential” and “mature.” Sometimes they line up, sometimes they don’t. Personally, I’ve been given the “but I’m the victim here” line by too many fellow men too many times for even suggesting that they made misogynist remarks. I’m not willing to waste more time on such people.

      What I’m doing right now is looking for thoughtful and well-written essays like this one and doing my best to spread them. My strategy is to bring awareness to those in the middle who currently don’t have a strong opinion one way or another, until the kinds of behaviors described in this post become socially unacceptable.

      I expect progress on this to be “gradually, then suddenly,” and we’ll only get there if we relentlessly spread the word that harassment must stop now.

    • I don’t know if speaking out will change anything. But I can hope it will. And at the very least I can try to get some people to hold influential people in their community accountable for harassing behavior.

  5. Please, please, please name these individuals. I do not want to spend one cent of my gaming dollars on their work.

  6. I like that you said, “HARASSMENT CAN KILL. It isn’t a weapon that should be used against anyone, and it certainly shouldn’t be used casually.” (emphasis mine)

    I see a lot of otherwise decent people trying to adopt the tactics of their opposition, and trying to harass them back. This belittles us all, and usually doesn’t end well.

  7. [Hi folks. This is mod-voice wundergeek here. I just want to address a common theme that people want me to name TRA and TEGD.]

    [I totally respect your desire to not support these people with your money. However, I’m going to remain firm and not name those people here. Both because of the original reasons stated in the post, but more importantly because I’m balancing my desire to speak out with concern for my personal safety. I thought very long and very hard about how much to reveal in this post, and was quite scared to publish this publicly, as indicated by the fact that I published this as password only and then sat on it for several more days while I continued to make revisions and get second opinions.

    [In some ways, it’s easier to name and shame people who aren’t part of your community. I’m not part of the mainstream comics community, and I doubt I ever will be given the continuing contempt for women that comes out of mainstream comics. It’s much harder to name and shame game designers with established reputations when that is what I am currently trying to do for myself.

    [As for my original reasons, I stand by them. TRA uses harassment like this to get controversy-generated pageviews. It’s part of his self-marketing strategy, and unfortunately it works for him. So fuck that guy. I’m NOT going to play into that by giving him what he wants. As for TEGD, while I think his reasons for feeling suicidal are shit and reveal what a shit person he is, I have struggled with depression and have had suicidal feelings in the past. I can’t respect the person, but I can respect the struggle. And I’ll be damned if I’ll stoop to his level.

    [Thank you for your support. It is welcomed and appreciated. But please don’t pressure me to change my mind on this. It’s something I have already given A LOT of thought to.]

  8. If that big ‘ol list of names is what I think it is, I am proudly one of the names on it.
    Again, if you’re talking about what I think you are, the whole thing came about because of an ‘edgy game designer’ who wrote a blog post about how rape is totally cool as a story element.

    He got lots of (deserved) flak for it, with one person making a big post about the issue and a lot of us +1’d the post, then enter a TEGD making McCarthyesque lists of names.

    To be honest, I think we should take the list, and add more good folks’ names to it, and call it the ‘List of good and ethical people with whom game companies should work.’ but, maybe I’m biased.

    • It probably is what you think it is, although to be fair the list o’ names was posted by TRA in support of TEGD.

      And while the idea of such a list of folks is nice, the practical realities get a little problematic. In truth, I know SO VERY MANY wonderful human beings that are part of the game design community that I would be hard pressed to list them all. I know I’d wind up leaving people out by accident.

  9. My first experience with seeing the “follower attack summons” game was Racefail 2009 on Livejournal – several SF/F writers and editors all played this game when they got called on problematic stuff:

    1. Link/name person to be attacked (never addressing points, just calling out how scary and mean they were)
    2. Allow the worst of the worst to say the most terrible shit
    3. Only moderate people attempting to push back against the worst of the worst
    4. Falsely claim that any further criticism was:
    – A literal, physical threat being made against them (typically leveled at POC)
    – An attempt to destroy their career and force them into starvation (…)
    – Continuing harassment, even if the criticism was only leveled at public work/words they’ve put out, without any personal attacks, or even interaction in any personal space…

    I’d see this behavior play out again and again, and I see it most often these days on Twitter where geek celebrities find some random person and link their followers onto them, usually claiming that someone with 200 followers is totally destroying their life when they send their 20,000 followers after them…

    To no one’s surprise, the harassment always falls into gender, race, etc. patterns of violence flowing from higher to lower on the privilege scale.

    • All very well, if your contention had any basis in reality. Allegations of misogyny and rape culture… of which absolutely none appear in, for example, the “Anatomy: You’re Doing It Wrong” post that spawned the hate-fest on this very blog. Wundergeek wrote a critique of an art piece–with almost no comments on the artist himself, and certainly nothing about misogyny or rape culture–and that lead to vitriolic, misogynist bile of titanic proportions. So your contention that these are ordinary folks just going on the ‘defensive’ is off-base, to say the least, and uncritical apologist drivel to say something more.

  10. What do you advice to all your readers that respectfully disagree with you to avoid being part of the problem?

    • Honestly? Just be a decent human being and remember that people on the internet are people.

      If a woman says something online you don’t agree with, don’t immediately send her messages that are personal attacks (“you’re a bitch”, “you need to get laid”, “you’re just jealous”, “you’re a fat lesbian”, etcetcetc). Don’t link your friends to the thing you don’t agree with with personal attacks. If you see friends and associates linking to something they don’t agree with with personal attacks (ie “Jesus this bitch is so crazy”), say something. (ie “Not cool, man” or “I don’t agree with her, but I’m pretty sure she’s not a nazi”)

      You don’t have to be on board with 100% of what I’m saying to advocate for basic human decency.

  11. Anna, I’m not sure where to begin here, so let me just say THANK YOU for having the courage and determination to continue to write about women in gaming/comics/etc in the face of this disgusting display of ugliness. I know how riled up I get when someone says something vicious to me on reddit, so to multiply that time 10000000 billion any time you have the audacity to have an opinion while being feeeeeemale; I just don’t know where you get that kind of courage. I really admire you and your work. I have to agree with the others who are calling for the identities of these cowards to be revealed. I want to make sure that I never inadvertently support their work again until they learn to behave responsibility. That list of folks that TRA released….who the hell does he think he is? I mean really….McCarthyism in gaming? Are you #(@$ing kidding me? I keep vacillating between disbelief and extreme anger. These people need to be held into account for their actions.

  12. As a male geek, it’s really chilling (and disappointing) to learn that professionals (not just the typical internet trolls or “big name” fans, but people who actually work in the industry) would resort to such low actions. But then I remembered how awfully some comic book creators and editors at Marvel and DC responded when male fans criticized their work or the editorial line. You multiply that kind of… let’s be polite and call it “unprofessional behavior”, by the standard misogyny that runs rampant on the internet, and yeah, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

    It’s shameful to see how so many of us, part of the geek community, are just unable to take criticism on the media that we consume, even if the criticism might actually have a very valid point. I understand that this kind of hobbies have been (sometimes unfairly) attacked or ridiculed multiple times in the past, but that is still not excuse to dismiss all criticism that comes in our direction, neither to behave in such a disgusting manner.

    I have to admit I’m not exactly innocent here, as in the past I have responded strongly when someone criticized something that I like, but I’m not really proud of those instances even if (thankfully) I never got to the extremes that other people have.

    On a different tangent (and forgive me if this comes as derailing, you are free to cut the comment as you see fit), I just recently came to this blog because I found a link to your recent posts on world building and avoiding offensive stereotypes. I have had some (admittedly frustrated) writing aspirations in the past, so reading those posts was very insightful (especially the post about Asians). Made me realize how problematic some of my old works were. From then I decided to read more of the content from the blog.

    I don’t agree with some of the points and opinions you express in some posts (and sometimes I think you get a bit overboard), but regardless, I see a lot of valuable content here. There has been a lot of talk recently in the gaming community about these issues, and some of your work here has contributed to making me reflect on many of the problematic issues related to the lack of inclusivity in gaming and many other forms of geek entertainment. From a heterosexual cis male perspective, it’s troubling to be confronted with many of these things, especially because a lot of prejudice and intolerant behaviors tend to be subconscious or systemic in nature, thus “invisible” until someone actually points them out to you. In that sense, I think it’s really valuable what you are doing here, and I hope you continue to do so regardless of what people like those you call out in this post might say or do.

    Yeah, I suppose these two paragraphs can be summarized as: Good work, keep going and don’t get discouraged.

    • It’s easy to get caught up in nerd-rage when people criticize a thing you like. I find what helps is knowing that it’s okay to like things that are problematic, so long as you understand that the problematic aspects are barriers to other people and that’s okay. For instance, I *love* Dr. Who, but there are some huuuuugely problematic and sexist things in the series, especially since Stephen Moffat took over with #11. I have some friends who can’t watch past #10 because of those awful things, and that’s okay. I might have things that are deal-breakers that other people don’t. (Frex, I will never ever watch Game of Thrones, and I say that as someone who read the first five books.)

      As for feeling ashamed, owning the fact that you’ve screwed up is valuable, but not to the point where you get frozen into inaction. Social justice is a process, not a destination. Like, I don’t ever get to say GUYS. I’VE DONE IT. I’VE ARRIVED. I DON’T NEED TO TRY ANYMORE. We’ve all been raised with the same toxic assumptions and it takes time, effort, and self-awareness to unlearn that stuff, and even then you always have to be aware that you’ll screw up sometimes. I’ve done and said wrong-headed things that I’m ashamed of in the past – sometimes on this very blog.

      • Yep, that part, understanding that it’s ok to like things with problematic or offensive content, provided that you understand why they are problematic and how they affect other people (and that people criticizing said content is not a personal attack on you), it’s something that I have been coming to terms in the past few years. Empathy and understanding is something that we really need to cultivate more in geek culture.

        What has helped me with these issues is that my parents raised me with a very critical eye towards the media I consume since I was very little, and that I started to moderate my temper when it comes to the whole nerdrage thing since my early twenties (too many pointless flamewars in my teenage years just burned me). And well, I understand what you mean when you say that this is a continuous process.

        My writing aspirations have been frustrated mostly due to lack of time (work, real life responsibilities and other shenanigans) and inspiration, but once I get the chance to write again I’ll definitely take into account the things I have learned here and in other places.

  13. Thank you for hitting post. As the proud father of a daughter, I actually want her to game, because it is such a large part of who I am and what I enjoy and respect. I want the gaming world to be a respectful and inclusive place, especially because I came to the gaming world in part as an escape from a “real” world (high school) that was not respectful or inclusive).

  14. I am having a seriously hard time commenting on this topic because I have a lot I want to say but can’t find the words right now. Well here I go.

    Its ridiculous that this men did these things but then I reacted similarly to your various works on your site minus the part where I directed my (non-existent) rabid followers after you. What made me change?

    Well first I actually stopped raging and really read your work to understand what you are trying to do and where you are coming from. I still don’t agree with everything you say but I think the best way to say it is I respect what you say. Your absolutely right there is a massive problem in our culture that needs to change.

    The second thing that got me to change was for awhile when I played League of Legends, before their massive campaign to curb the misogyny and hate that plagues MOBAs, my favorite character (still is) Miss Fortune I would actually get harassed. The comments never had anything to do with how well I played. It wasn’t once or twice, it was nearly every time I played that character. At first I would laugh it off or explain to them I was guy since I had an obvious male summoner name but it didn’t work. It kept happening until the changes, even now when I think if it leaves a bad taste in mouth and twists my stomach.

    Thank you for continuing to do this.

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