I’m sick of waking up each morning to read yet another news story about a close-minded douchebag gamer being sexist. Yesterday it was some charmer claiming to have bedded women on Sonic bedsheets; today, the perpetuating and justification of sexism in the fighting games community. But you’ve heard these stories already, and that’s not what I’m going to talk about.
What I do want to bring to light is a common response to this: that women should totally be taken seriously in games, because “women can kick ass too”.
Stop saying that. Seriously.
Having a girl say “he was just sexist because I was more skilled than him at Starcraft 2″ creates the same kind of hierarchy amongst women that Cosmo does when it offers articles titled “100 Things His Ex Didn’t Do In Bed”. Such a hierarchy suggests that certain women are less deserving than others of misogynistic treatment. It perpetuates a culture where women are pitted against each other, competing to be the “best” female player, competing for the attention and validation of their male peers.
“But Katie, are you sure you’re not just saying this because you suck at games?” you might say.
Who fucking cares if I suck at a game? Who cares if I’m even good at a game? Why does a women need to be skilled to be respected as a person with a hobby? Why can’t she just be respected because she’s a human being?
Most people are not brilliant at games, whether they’re guys or girls. But the guys don’t have to worry about personal insults of their skill based around their gender. So why is it so common to hear things like “I am a skilled gamer, and this is why you should respect me as a woman”? This creates an expectation of women gamers that the guys simply don’t have to worry about, and it can be used to justify sexist behaviour towards the less skilled majority. How are women less acquainted with gaming going to feel if they want to give online gaming a go? How would a new player handle the inevitable abuse if there’s a clear distinction between her, the noob, and the women who make a point of being better than others?
If we placing ourselves above other women that way, they may feel they have even less of a right to speak up about their experiences. You’re not helping feminism by pointing out that you can “kick a guy’s ass”. You’re only degrading other women, and you’re really not even helping yourself.
Edit: This post is in no way about games journalism or criticism, and is no comment on or justification of my own contributions to it.