Positive Cynicism – A letter to my fellow men

Aaron Davis

Aaron R. Davis

Guys, I don’t know how many more times I’m going to have to bring this up in my life, but seriously … you’re making me ashamed of my gender.

There is something absolutely, unquestioningly and terrifyingly wrong with the way we as men relate to women online.

I’ve talked about this before. At length. And I’m getting tired of having to address it, but if it’s not going to stop then I see no reason why I should have to.

This seems like the most obvious thing in the world, but once again, for the record: stop being assholes. Stop treating women like they’re only sex objects and threatening them with sexual assault because you disagree with something they say. Stop making that goddamn idiotic joke about making you a sandwich. Stop acting like goddamn children, think about what you say and stop bullying women just because you can get away with it and you’re too fucking stupid to curb your impulses.

Stop it.

Stop it.

Just fucking stop it.

I’m so sick of reading stories about online gender-based bullying. I’m tired of seeing those comments out there. I don’t want to see a woman told she’s “too ugly to rape” just because she made negative comments about the Republican Party (as though rape were some kind of a reward, a chilling implication revealed in language use). I’m cringing to see women banned indefinitely from the Michigan House of Representatives because they used the word “vagina” when making kind of an important point about abortion. I’m tired of seeing some loser asshole tell a girl playing at the Cross Assault tournament that he wants to sniff her chair with a chortle, and then later defend it as a compliment and laud his disgusting sexism as part of “tradition of gaming.”

The Hitman: Absolution game trailer shows sexualized, fetishized violence … then someone points it out, and that person is vilified for saying that sexualized, fetishized violence is sort of off-putting in a video game. The backlash against the feminist backlash tells me that there are a disturbing number of gamers out there who feel bizarrely insulted at having such a thing questioned. Are there seriously men who are threatened by a woman not finding their immature BDSM nun porn appealing?

A BioWare writer who dared to want to expand games beyond the hardcore gamer contingent was the target of bullies who called her at home and demanded that she kill herself. What is even the threat there? That she wanted to sell some games? What is the male thinking on this?

This week, Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency started a Kickstarter campaign to launch a new video series called Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, and was promptly harassed, denigrated, threatened with rape and violence, told to kill herself and/or die of cancer and called a lot of racist and gender-based slurs in a spectacle which has depressingly become the norm on the Internet. But the important point here is that people were attacking Anita Sarkeesian for what she said, and she hadn’t even said anything yet. We’ve reached the point where people will turn on a woman simply because she announces her intention to have opinions about video games. Apparently it doesn’t matter to assholes and scared little boys what her opinions actually are; just the mere fact that a woman and a feminist was going to talk about video games terrified and angered them so much that they kept trying to have her video flagged as terrorism so it would be banned from YouTube. Her Wikipedia page was even defaced with porn. Dear god, are you proud of this behavior?

It’s interesting how much of this is coming from gamers. I play video games, and I know a lot of people who do, so I know that the stereotype of the white, entitled, woman-fearing, misogynist gamer is only a stereotype … but goddamn it there are a lot of assholes out there who are hell bent on living up to it. And there are a lot of idiots who are making money catering to these assholes.

For example …

This week has seen the announcement of a new Tomb Raider prequel game, which features an origin of Lara Croft that involves rape, making this the first mass-marketed video game series to feature a scene where the female protagonist gets sexually assaulted. For character development. The game’s executive director, Ron Rosenberg, has made a number of amazingly sensitive comments about this development and about how turning the formerly badass Lara Croft into a “cornered animal” and breaking her down “just when she gets confident” is an amazing plot development. He says that players don’t project themselves onto Lara Croft, but “want to protect her,” something I’ve never once known to be true of a single player. This is a steaming pile of horseshit, obviously. Because no male character would ever be subject to rape as a plot element or a gameplay element. It would never happen.

This choice has been defended by total idiots across the Internet who agree that watching a woman get sexually assaulted is, as Rosenberg says, “a huge step in her evolution” and a great plot device for an origin story. You know, if it’s such a great and totally non-exploitative plot device, how come no one has altered Batman’s origin story so that Bruce Wayne gets raped? I mean, if it’s such a “fucking awesome plot device,” as one idiot wondered aloud, why don’t we see that more often in our superhero movies?

Because it’s insulting and lazy, that’s why. Just like your shitty comments about how women need to get raped/die/make you a sandwich because they don’t think your institutionalized sexism is awesome are insulting and lazy.

Fellas, come on. We’re better than this. We were raised better than this. This past weekend was Father’s Day, and I don’t think we’re honoring our fathers by treating women like they’re our inferiors – or worse, barely even human – when they say something we disagree with. Ask yourselves: would your dad be pleased if he saw you sexually bully a girl for talking about video games? I hope the answer is no. If it’s yes, you have a shit father and you need to shake off his shit influence.

Seriously, guys: grow up. Just grow the fuck up and stop it. And if you’re not making these kinds of comments, first of all: thank you. Now don’t be afraid to say something to our misogynistic brothers when they’re being all kinds of inappropriate. Remember, there are some things in life that happen only because no one stands up and says “stop.” If you’re on Xbox Live and you hear people making slurs and telling women to show their tits, tell them to knock it off. Report them for harassment. Do something about it.

Make this a world safe for your daughters to live in and stop putting up with it.

Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at samuraifrog@yahoo.com

  1. Sandy June 19, 2012
  2. Kristin June 21, 2012

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