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Women, Sexism and Equality… in the Gaming Industry

I want to say that I’m shocked. I want to say that I’m stunned…. but I just can’t.  Instead I’m saddened and angry (again)….  Whilst today I’m sharing my thoughts on the gaming world, I know that much of what I’m about to share occurs in other industries as well.

[[Trigger Warning]]

One of my friends shared Video Games, Misogyny, And Terrorism: A Guide To Assholes with me and I then saw Wil Wheaton reblog a discussion that started “the situation is just intolerable” which linked to the same article as well (among others).

After reading the Bad Ass Digest article, it took me a while to work out what the furore was about – I don’t follow the Video Game industry.  What I read was astounding and confronting.  The crux of the article, as I see it was:

And… whilst I might be writing this from a female perspective it’s not just the women that are targeted.  The men who publicly support women, call bull s&*^ on the behaviour or even ask for moderation in peoples approaches are attacked as well.

It seems to me that in the gaming world, women seem to be targeted a lot…  they receive abuse and threats and it might even be escalating.  Now before anyone starts with the “so do men…” – I know they do and that isn’t right however, as Brianna Wu points out in her article on Polygon: No skin thick enough: The daily harassment of women in the game industry, there are several “myths” that apply – two of which I’ll share here.  (These are excerpts of the linked article and I encourage you to read the whole thing)

Myth 1: Everyone in the games industry experiences harassment. Women are just too sensitive about it. 

If you are a woman in the industry with a critical opinion, you will get a disproportional amount of criticism, hostility, and scrutiny compared to men.

Myth 3: Women should just laugh off online harassment and not take it personally. 

This kind of harassment leaves long-lasting damage. It affects our friendships, and can cause us to be distant from others.

Why these two?  Because I’ve experienced both… I worked in a male dominated field from the age of 16 and I was told that as women “to be considered half as good [as my male counterparts], you need to be three times better”.  I expected criticism, hostility and sexualised behaviour.  I still remember how much I hated walking into the cafeteria where I studied – I was often the only female in the room with a bunch of apprentices who didn’t have an issue with making comments …

I’ve experienced harassment online and offline – one lot was from a business partner.  To this day, there are times that I dread reading my email, or opening Facebook or Twitter.  It’s taken forever to change my outlook on certain situations so that I can respond more positively. There are still days that I want to run screaming and crying back to bed and remain there.  But I know that facing the situation with the right support is the only way I’m going to get over it.

I acknowledge that my experience wasn’t as a developer in the gaming industry and I can’t really know what it is like to be stalked and harrased as these women are – but I can start to imagine it.  And I don’t like what I’m feeling.

In Brianna’s article she makes the following statement:

If you are a woman working in the games industry, especially in a public way, you’re going to experience harassment. I imagine telling my 12-year-old self that fulfilling my dream of making games would lead to constant threats. Would she still do it? Would any woman?

Would you?  If you knew that you would receive constant threats and abuse, would you go down that path or would you choose something safer and more comfortable?

Would I still tell my 12 year old self to make the same career decisions or would I encourage her to choose something else.

Threats and Harrasment

The threats and harrasment that come along include:

  • Denial of Service attacks – where your website is flooded with traffic so it crashes and no one can access it
  • Doxing – distributing personal information online
  • Abuse sent via Tweets, Emails, Texts and Facebook messages (or other medium)
  • Account hacking

The abusing messages aren’t just abusing though – they contain threats… and some pretty serious ones at that.  Rape and acts of violence seem to be common but it also appears to be common that family members and supporters are targeted as well.

Look at the most recent cases – these are happening today… they aren’t historical….

A threat to “see me when you least expect it” from No skin thick enough: The daily harassment of women in the game industry which was posted on July 22nd.

From a tweet by Zoe Quinn posting a review of her game Depression Quest because women don’t have the right to be depressed…

From Anita Sarkeesian sharing just how bad the threats against her (MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING) for her Tropes vs Womens Video Series

These are just a couple of examples… in 2013 Business Insider shared other women’s stories of harrasment in the gaming industry.  But how many women actually receive threats and simply give up or go away?  I reckon there’s a number.

Now I’m sure some of the abuse that is received comes from other women… it’s not just guys / men / males (choose the right descriptor for yourself) that perpetrates this vile behaviour and further, I know lots and lots of decent people of both sexes who cringe at such revolting behaviour and will do what needs to be done to counter act it…

However, is it any wonder that many women decide not to enter into industries that have a high male contingent?

I despair when I hear my young female friends, who could blitz the tech stuff, say they aren’t going into a tech based field because “they aren’t smart enough” or “they don’t want to deal with the guys…”.  It’s heart breaking.

So What Can Be Done?

Addressing equality and sexism starts with us.  We need to be mindful of what we say and do when supporting others and addressing the trolls.  Take a look at the Do’s and Don’ts provided by Leigh Alexander for addressing sexism online – they’ve got a lot covered: But WHAT CAN BE DONE: Dos and Don’ts To Combat Online Sexism.

Remember, it starts with us….

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Like A Girl” What Really Causes It?

Like A GirlBack in August last year, I wrote about the Words We Use and Sexism … and how we use terms like “don’t be such a girl” in a derogatory manner.   It’s something that seems to have “always been done” and it’s simply not acceptable any longer (I’m not sure it was ever acceptable really).  Telling someone to “don’t be a girl” is a form of sexism that damages both Males and Females.

Why have I bought this up again you ask?  Because of this awesome video produced by Always

The team over at Always has started the #LikeAGirl movement and say the following about it:

Using #LikeAGirl as an insult is a hard knock against any adolescent girl. And since the rest of puberty’s really no picnic either, it’s easy to see what a huge impact it can have on a girl’s self-confidence.

We’re kicking off an epic battle to make sure that girls everywhere keep their confidence throughout puberty and beyond, and making a start by showing them that doing it #LikeAGirl is an awesome thing.

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to discuss – I think the video is AWESOME and raises the awareness that doing things or acting “like a girl” is not a bad thing but it really doesn’t address how it happens.

This video demonstrates how “older” girls and a couple of guys view activities based on the term “Like A Girl” – kick like a girl; run like a girl; fight like a girl.  It then does the same thing with younger girls (10 and less, I guess) and the results are remarkably different.  The video would indicate that the term “like a girl” becomes negative when a girl enters puberty.  Maybe that’s right… but it doesn’t explain WHY it becomes an issue then.

Why, when a young man or woman enters puberty does “being like a girl” become a negative thing.

Why, when a young woman enters puberty does she stop “just being herself” and think that she has run, kick, speak, dress and generally do stuff differently?

Why is it such a thing?  Where do these messages come from?

I think it’s pervasive in our culture and it’s subtle things that add up over time.  Sure, young women loose their self confidence in puberty but who on earth said that it’s bad to “throw like a girl”.  Where do boys and men pick up that it’s ok to abuse each other like this?

So whilst we’re busy empowering our women – let’s also address the fact that the term “like a girl” is held out as a negative in our society and start addressing the behaviour(s) that causes it in the first place.  Girls and Boys aren’t born thinking that being ‘like a girl’ is bad, they learn it.

In closing, I’m a bit bemused that it’s a commercial company that has taken this on to raise their brand profile to sell more stuff to Women… but maybe that’s what it will take…

What are your thoughts?

 

 

Wage Equality

What are we teaching our young women about equality and wage equality?  This is the question I’m left asking after hearing about the “Should I Stay or Should I Go” segment on Kyle and Jackie O on September 24th.

I don’t listen to the radio much, so I’m grateful to my hubbie for sharing the segment with me this morning.

Here’s the upshot of the segment (copied for Kyle & Jackie O’s facebook page)

Sienna is 31 years old and has been dating Lee for 4 years. He’s also 31 years old.

They live together (rent) and are committed to each other. They often talk about marriage, kids and are starting to save to buy a place together.

Lee has his own landscape gardening business which brings him in a ‘normal’ income of around $80,000. He’s been doing it since Sienna met him and he loves what he does… although she has some concerns about the amount he is earning. Sienna works in graphic design and has continued to climb up the career ladder – now earning a high income of ‘let’s just say over $150,000’.

The problem she is finding is that she is now finding her attraction to Lee dwindling. She says that she hates having the feeling like she has to pay for everything, she also wants to go on holidays to places that Lee can’t afford and says are too expensive. She also says she is putting more in towards buying a place and can’t help but feel that is unfair.

Sienna says she’s not a snob but more likes the tradition of a man taking care of a woman. She would like Lee to be more ambitious and earn more than her so she feels like he’s in charge and providing for the family.

Should she stay or should she go?

woman-carrying-manOMG! This is such a step backwards in the Equality movement.  Right about now I would be swearing but in the interest of my readers I won’t.  I’m finding it hard NOT to judge this situation…. let me see:

  • I want “the Man to take charge” in the relationship
    So LET him.  What does what you earn have to do with who takes the leadership role?  Oh hang on – even better SHARE the leadership roles.
  • I don’t like “the feeling that I have to pay for everything”
    Surely that’s a decision she makes?  There is a point at which everyone has to decide whether they want to accept certain expenses or not.  If she feels like she’s paying for everything and her partner ‘goes along with it’, then a frank discussion between both partners has to be had.  If there is such a disconnect in both partners values, then you have a basis to make an informed decision on.
  • She has concerns about the amount her partner is earning – $80,000 for doing something he loves
    Huh? $80K is nothing to be sniffed at, and if your man is happy doing what he does and gets paid that much – why would you complain?  Trust me, my hubbie was stuck doing a job (where he earned a good income) and he was miserable – which meant he was dreadful to live with.

If you’re looking for an excuse not to be with your partner, using the disparity in income is pretty weak.

If you want your Man to be the ‘leader’ and ‘main bread winner’, then you’re just going have to accept what he can earn and be done with it.

Nearly from the outset, I earned considerably more than my hubbie.  This was due to my drive and the fact that I made some pretty key decisions with career at the right time.  This was over 20 years ago and at no point did we ever have the concerns that Sienna has raised.  It’s (generally) always been an equal partnership – there are things that I do better than my hubbie and things that he does better than me, we just play to our strengths.

Certainly, the decision to have children impacted on our partnership. We had to renegotiate a few things, but as with all partnership decisions it required discussion and compromise from both of us.

I listened to the podcast of the show from the 24th (Kyle and Jackie-O podcasts) and I’m pretty stunned by the comment “none of my friends would date a man that earned less than them”.  Seriously! I feel blessed to have a man who is comfortable (and proud) that his partner can and does earn more… I feel blessed to be able to say “do what fills your cup” and support him in doing that….

No, it hasn’t always been easy, yes we’ve had to make some compromises in lifestyle and holiday choices – but we’re together, we’re happy and we’re passing that legacy onto our children.

As my hubbie said, after all these years what does the money really mean?  It just isn’t important given all our other blessings.

Not withstanding all the other things, the principle and the precedent with comments like:

likes the tradition of a man taking care of a woman

and

would like Lee to be more ambitious and earn more than her

are incredibly dangerous and undermine everything that equality is about….

It’s time to stop thinking in terms of protector and protectee – and start thinking in terms of partnerships.

What do you reckon?

 

Lack of Women in Tony Abbotts Cabinet sends a dangerous message…

For heavens sake!  I’ve worked many long and hard years to be considered an equal amongst my male counterparts and for equal representation of women in our world – business and otherwise…. and now I find out that some 50 something year old bloke has decided to upturn all that we’ve worked bloody hard for.

I’ve held my opinion until now – I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a knee jerk reaction, but the more I think on the actions taken by Tony Abbott in the Federal Government arena, the angrier and more disillusioned I get.

Let me see if I have this straight:

  • We are SUPPOSED to have Gender equity in our workplaces
  • Much work has been done to improve the representation of Women in Corporate and Senior Management roles
  • Boards have defined targets for women’s participation

and yet, Tony Abbott seems to think it is appropriate that 1 in 19 Cabinet positions has been allocated to women (5%), the Office for the Status of Women be abolished (I read that somewhere but can’t find that reference) and that he take the position of the “Minister for Women”.  Is he kidding?

Were there just not enough women to appoint to the Cabinet?  Oh yes, Mr Abbott “says” the appointments were based on merit – but I think not.  Apparently Abbott admits he is disappointed to have only one woman in his cabinet

According to The Australian on September 16th, Abbott states:

Nevertheless there are some very good and talented women knocking on the door of the cabinet and there are lots of good and talented women knocking on the door of the ministry.

and

You can expect to see as time goes by more women in both the cabinet and the ministry.

as some wit quipped on my facebook feed – it’s a good thing they turned the Glass Ceiling 90 degrees (sorry, I couldn’t find the actual reference).

And why take the role of “Minister for Women”?  Oh yes, “This will ensure that these key whole-of-government priorities are at the centre of government.” as well as Indigenous affairs, deregulation, national security and relations with state governments … the other roles that Tony Abbott has taken responsibility for.  Of course Tony Abbott will be able to give all these topics the attention they deserve…

I enjoyed Crikey’s piece this week titled “Crikeys Fantasy Cabinet, with Four Times The Number of Women” – it pointed to some highly qualified women within the Liberal party and highlighted why Abbott could just be wrong in only appointing 1 woman to his cabinet.  Let’s take a look at some of the women that Abbott decided were not satisfactory to provide stability or showed sufficient merit and experience.

Julie Bishop remains as Foreign Minister – and is nominated for speaker.  Yep, Julie got the gurnsey – well done Julie, well deserved I’m sure.

Dr Sharman Stone –  has a PhD in business and economics, and has worked professionally for a university. Stone was first elected in 1996 and was minister for workforce participation (and a parliamentary secretary on finance and the environment) in the Howard government.

Sussan Ley not only flies a plane around her regional electorate, she is trained in tax law and accounting, and co-ran a farm for many years.  Ley has held a front bench position since 1994

How about Marise Payne, who was in the ministry before the election?  Payne, formerly a public affairs adviser in the finance industry, has been in the Senate since 1997 and has held various posts.

Lack of experience Mr Abbott?  Let’s see, each of these Women have between 15 and 18 experience and have been representing their constituents in all that time.  Each one is imminently qualified as well.

Of course, failing to meet even the meanest of gender equity targets is nothing compared to taking the role of “Minister For Women” and not appointing a Woman to the role.  What COULD a woman bring to this position and ensure that the issues are at the “centre of government”?  Oh yes, that would mean you would have to respect that woman and listen to her opinions …. Yeah, I’ve made a leap of logic here and my cynicism is showing but I just don’t get it.

Let’s look at some stats (yet again):

  • In Australia, Women make up approximately 50% of the population
  • According to the Workplace Gender Equality agency, February 2013 Gender Workplace Statistics At a Glance:
    • Women make up 45.7% of the working population
    • On average, Women earn 17.6% less than their male counterparts (and this is an increase in disparity from 17.4% in February 2012 and 17.2% in February 1996 – we’re going backwards! ref: The Conversation)
    • 87.8% of women aged 20-24 have attained year 12 qualifications or above, compared to 84.1% of men in the same age bracket
    • 15.4% of directors in the ASX 200 are women
    • 52 ASX 200 companies do not have women on their boards (26%)
  • In politics, women comprise only 30.3% of all Australia’s parliaments

Well, that last point was true until Abbotts little gem this week.

Oh yeah, let’s not forget that countries like Afghanistan and Iran have been female representation in the cabinet – how embarrassing for us?

Equal representation means we have to work at it – we have to be prepared to shelve our pre-conceptions and make some tough decisions to ensure that we reach gender equality in our Government and Businesses.   Excuses like “appointments were based on merit” can not be accepted… we need to question and object to these decisions when the gender equity balance is so unbalanced.

I’m pretty disappointed by this weeks actions, as I know many other women and men are.  How sad to think we live in 2013 and have 5% female representation in our parliamentary cabinet… What’s next?

 

 

Words and Actions Have Power

How much thought do you give to the words you use, your own actions and even the images or statuses you share on your social networks?

For a long time, I’ve been saying to myself and my family “Words have power” – meaning that the words we use when speaking to each other and our own self talk have the power to shape how we perceive ourselves and others.

However I hadn’t, until recently, thought about how these words and actions can support and reinforce sexism and inadvertently support bullying and other undesirable behaviours.

The Words We Use and Sexism

In a facebook discussion recently, it was pointed out that the much of our language subconsciously supports sexism. Let me explain:

There are times that I find myself saying “oh, don’t be such a girl” when someone complains about pain… which is just madness!

There are times, I hear boys (and men) told to ‘harden up’ because admitting you need help is something only a woman would do – and it’s unacceptable for a male to ask for help…

Let’s not forget the references to the female menstrual cycle – when a male complains or has an “off day” sometimes a derogatory comment about it “being that time of the month” is made…

Or how about the saying “Don’t be a big girl blouse…”?

Each of  these statements imply that the female sex is inherently weaker or lesser; or that displaying feminine traits is unwanted because it means that you are displaying weakness.

Words Have PowerIs it appropriate to taint our young men and women (boys and girls) with the feeling that this behaviour is somehow undesirable?  I really don’t think it is – and it’s something we have to be really conscious of when speaking to our children (and others).

I can’t explain how stunned I was when I realised just how damaging some of our statements can be – and how I have, unwittingly, supported this with my own language over the years.

Yes, I’m aware of it now and I am changing it.  I’m also making sure that I “call the behaviour” when I see my hubbie, young ones and their friends exhibiting the behaviour.  Of course – they are encouraged to call my behaviour and they do!

Our Actions Have Power

Whilst you might think that this section has something to do with our actions in the real world, I’m actually going to discuss our actions on Social Media networks and how these actions can unconsciously support bullying and other inappropriate behaviours.

Let me explain.  On the Destroy The Joint facebook page, they shared the following on Friday:

Kelly Martin Broderick, a student in Maryland, US, took part in a campaign by her university’s feminist group to post a picture online with a sign saying “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like.”

Unfortunately, somebody stole the pic and turned it into a meme on a pretty hateful Facebook page (that we have decided not to link to, because why give them any more traffic?), along with the words “That’s pretty much what I expected.”

To respond, Kelly has taken matters into her own hands. She’s written a great article for xoJane: http://www.xojane.com/issues/my-picture-was-stolen-and-turned-into-a-fat-shaming-anti-feminist-meme

And she’s started a Tumblr to which you can submit a picture showing the world the diversity of what a feminist can look like. You can see the Tumblr athttp://wearewhatfeministslooklike.tumblr.com/

Kelly says: “There is not one type of feminist. Feminists are not a monolith. We are diverse and unique. We don’t fit into every stereotype. We are all different. “

How despicable – stealing someone elses image to make fun of them.  Classic bullying behaviour and it most certainly should not be tolerated.  Every like that image (or post) got from that page was essentially a vote for this hateful behaviour and opinion.

However, how many of us see something that we think is funny and ‘share it’ without thought to whether or not we’re unconsciously supporting similar behaviour?  I saw someone share something that made me cringe – I don’t think they thought about what they were sharing in terms of the wider consequences of the statement they were making – I believe it was done thinking that ‘generically’ it was funny.

Let me explain what I mean… There are a heap of images shared that disparage or make fun of weight, height, shape or dress style.  Often these images are shared in the shape of Memes or simply have text overlaid in an attempt to use humour.  This humour is often a personal attack against the subject of the photo themselves.  If this was of your friends – would you share it with the comment LOL, ROFL or even simply LIKE the post?  Any one of these actions put the post into your feed and by implication can be seen as support.  Is this what you want? Or would you be up in arms about it?

Be Mindful

be-mindfulBefore speaking or saying something; before sharing something – be mindful of the potential statement you are making.

It’s time to think about how our words and actions have the power to perpetuate stereotypes, sexism, hate speech, bigotry, misogyny or similar?  If so, how can you reframe your statement to be more positive or more supportive?

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t share something for fear of how it will be received by others – I’m saying you should be mindful of how your actions and words can unwittingly provide support for something you find distasteful.

You can become part of the solution….

 

 

I’m a Feminist and Damn Proud Of It

I am so sick of hearing the term “feminist” being used in a derogatory fashion… It seems to me, and this is from my own perspective so others may have a different experience of this, that a woman who steps up to speak for herself, pays for a lunch herself, expects to be treated equally in her community and receive the same rate of pay as her male counterparts is ‘vilified’ as being a ‘feminist’.  The term feminist is often used as an insult and a put down… a way to make a woman feel bad for speaking up for herself and being independent.

Strong words?  Yeah, they are. Are they ‘universally’ true, no – but I believe that the word “feminism” has been subverted to a rather distasteful term.  So much so that, until recently, I shied away from applying the term to myself – now, I just simply don’t care.

I believe in equal rights for everyone.  I believe people should be treated the same regardless of their gender.  Therefore, I AM a feminist

I was stunned how our country responded to having a female PM.  Whether or not you like her politics, what has her gender; marital status; whether she has children; or her weight / shape ever have to do with her policies and ability to actually govern or lead our country?  Rather than debating policies, we were distracted by the never ending crap that was dished out about her personally.  We’ve never asked our male leaders if their partners were lesbian or deigned to delve into such a personal issue; we have most certainly had (extremely) overweight male politicians – but did we hear any debate on whether they were fit to lead us or participate in the leadership of the country – NO!  So why is it different because our PM is a female?  The real answer is it shouldn’t be and that fact that it was, is disgraceful.

I recently entered a discussion on the following statement:

Boy Scouts is a sexist organisation. Girls Scouts is a “valuable protected space” for girls.
I feel that this issue pretty much exemplifies my feelings on feminism.

The ensuing discussion highlighted to me, how much the role of “feminism” in our society is misunderstood – what gender equity really means and why there is still the need for “positive discrimination” and “affirmative action”. Continue Reading →