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#1ReasonWhy We Need to Change the Way We Fight Against Sexism
by Janette Goering on 03/29/13 09:45:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

I've spent the last few days at GDC13, networking, making contacts, seeing cool things, attending sessions, and learning more about the industry I'm so very passionate about. I'm all set to graduate in May from college with two degrees, a Bachelor of Science focusing on game programming, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts dealing with game art and animation. Also, I'm a woman. Does that last bit of information change your perspective on me? And more importantly, should it? Should I be forever prefacing "game developer" with "female" when I talk about what I do as a career? Should that even matter?

A bit of background on me: I've wanted to make video games since I was about 12 years old. In high school I flew planes, but ultimately decided that I wouldn't give up the dream of being a game developer. I guess I was blessed with good vibes around me. My friends were encouraging, and my parents supportive with what I wanted to go to college for. I found a school that would let me dual major in game art and game programming, I worked hard in high school to get good grades and get college credit through AP classes, and off I went to chase my dreams. When most people met me at college and found out what I was going there for, there wasn't so much shock that I was female as there was for attempting both degrees. I've been shown off to prospective students, not because I was female, but because I was doing well in both degrees, and also was a student tutor and lab tech. Many of my friends are male, and we love to hang out, joke around and so on.

I have been lucky in that I've not experienced much sexism towards me from my classmates and colleagues for what I want to do. No one has told me I can or can't because I'm a girl. The few instances that comments were made towards me about my gender, mostly by hotheaded underclassmen, have been returned by me with quick and witty comments. To be completely honest, I've found that it's not males that find it odd, my love of video games, but other women. Granted, many of those women don't play many video games, so they don't quite understand the hype when most of what they know is Call of Duty and Angry Birds. But still, its members of my own gender that have given me flack for what I want to do. How bizarre, right? Apparently, not entirely wrong. Many of the women I've had the chance to talk to over the last few days have found that many of their male coworkers are supportive and friendly, and that they've been treated with respect and kindness.

I, by no means, am saying that sexism isn't a problem in the industry. What I am saying is that not all men are the enemy. Not everything that occurs is blatantly sexist. Some things totally are sexist and in poor taste; others only appear so in hindsight. Which should we be more upset over? Where do we start to fix things? How can we ensure equality in the workplace, and make the development community more inclusive?

I love the idea of #1ReasonWhy. I love the idea that we as an industry can get together, bring light to problems of sexism, and work together to eradicate these problems and bring equality to our industry.

I hate the turn it has taken over the last few weeks.

I was at the IGDA/YetiZen party at GDC. I saw the hired female entertainment, scantily clad and all. Now, I grew up in Las Vegas, and given that we were in a night club, I wasn't too fazed by the women. I figured they came with the club. You know, a package deal. I honestly was more upset that the party was too much like hanging out in a club, and that drinks were expensive. Feeling that the party was a bust in general, I left after maybe an hour, disappointed overall. Looking back on it, the hired girls were probably in poor taste. I'm not going to disagree with that. And especially given that this was an IGDA-sponsored event, it probably shouldn't have happened. But I can't help but wonder, had they also hired some scantily-clad males to dance around in speedos, would that have been more acceptable?

I heard Anna Anthropy's microtalk. And I have a lot of respect and admiration for her. But listening to her microtalk honestly annoyed me. Yes, we should have more women presenters. Yes, women need to be included more in press events. Yes, there are problems in our industry, and in the tech industries in general, about women participants. But to count out ENTIRE presentations and events because no women happen to be presenting? Sometimes, that's not a sexism thing. Sometimes it's literally a "there's 3 guys that make up this company and we want to talk to everyone" thing. We're going to punish the whole because of the poor actions of a few? She encouraged people to not present somewhere if there were no women presenters. And I found that offensive. What if there's not a woman experienced enough in a company to give a talk? What if she's nervous? What if she's not part of the department that's giving the presentation? Do we encourage her and her company to have her talk, even if she knows very little about the subject? Is that fair to her, to her company, to those attending the presentation? Do we let our want of inclusion to appear not sexist in presentations cause problems in the presentations themselves? Where do we draw the line at what is no longer sexist? Does saying of this somehow make me sexist against my own gender?

I would love to see equality in the games industry. To the point that we no longer have to talk about female developers and developers. Where our works and our actions can define us instead. Where no one has to justify their love of games as a particular gender, and instead can just talk about their love of games. But equality, much like respect, is a two way street. And we cannot let the #1ReasonWhy movement become tarnished by thinly veiled misandry. If we do, then we are no better than the sexist problems and people that drove the movement to happen in the first place. I am honestly sickened by seeing mass blaming of all males in the industry as being part of the problem, when many of them are not. I'm disturbed by the willingness of a few of my gendermates to throw their male colleagues under the bus to promote themselves instead. I'm not accusing all women of doing this. But just tweeting my opinions on sexism in the games industry has caused fellow women to tell me that I was more or less sexist against my own gender, that I didn't understand male privilege, that women couldn't be sexist, that men don't treat women with respect, that misandry didn't exist.

I was appalled. Is the #1ReasonWhy movement becoming a "if you don't agree with us 100%, then you're part of the problem" situation? Or is my generally pleasant experiences, and the generally pleasant experiences of the women I've talked to over the last few days the exception and not the rule? Why are other women accusing me of misogyny? For expressing a different opinion? As far as I'm concerned, men as a whole aren't the enemy of females in the game industry. Many of them aren't chauvinistic pigs, or at least the ones I've met. I honestly feel that general game culture is the real enemy. But hey, what do I know. Clearly these men are just being nice to me because I'm a female and not because I've worked really hard to achieve success. Obviously they're just waiting it out to use their male privilege to toss me aside and take credit for my work.

I believe in equality. I feel this means we need to work together, instead of placing blame. “Oh, but they're the ones with all the power.” But what is the abuse rate of that power? How many of these men are truly marginalizing their female counterparts? “Oh, but women can't be sexist.” Oh yeah they can. That's why Chippendales is a thing. That's why we find it odd and out of the social norm for men to do things like own a cupcakery. “Oh, but misandry isn't real.” No. It's very real. But for some reason, we look the other way when it comes to reverse sexism. That doesn't make it any more right. “But men are not of my concern until we're equal.” That doesn't sound like you want equality at all then. That sounds like you want the roles reversed, and for women to hold power and influence instead of men. For what? The ability to do the same things to them that they've done to us? Should we be stooping to the levels of the low as an act of revenge? Or should we be the bigger people, and lead by example?

#1ReasonWhy is either going to be the great uniter of our times, or the great divider. We claim we want unity and equality, but if my male peers were to express the views I just have, they would be flamed to hell and back. They would be called enemies of the cause, oppressors of women. Is that equality? Or do we want separate but equal treatment?

I want to be part of an industry where our bodies of work and our abilities define us, not our gender. I don't want to emphasize that I'm a woman in games. I want to emphasize that I'm in games. I want equality, but I also don't see why we need to blame and alienate a large group of people who honestly haven't done anything. Yes, some men are going to be jerks, but that has fueled me to prove them wrong. Not because I'm a woman, but because I'm passionate and energetic and hardworking. Most people admire and respect that out of me. For many of them, my gender is an afterthought. Not all men are perpetuating sexism. Not every woman is fighting for real equality. But what is and isn't acceptable in this war on sexism? When did it become less about equality and more about revenge for those who have hurt us?

I fight for equality. I don't fight for revenge. If #1ReasonWhy is going to become a war on men instead of stopping the war on women, then I want absolutely nothing to do with it.


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Comments


Raymond Ortgiesen
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Thank you for writing this!

Ardney Carter
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Nitpick incoming: "reverse sexism". Doesn't mean what you think it means. Just like there's no such thing as "reverse racism". Something is either sexist or it isn't; racist or it isn't. To imply the existence of "reverse sexism/racism" is to imply that only 1 group of people is encompassed by the root words. But that's not actually what the words mean.

Again, only a nitpick. I just happen to be bored enough atm to post about a pet peeve.

Brian Anderson
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Just like people always complaining about how cold it is! Cold doesn't exist, it is just the absence of heat!

:)

Michael Gribbin
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Man, did you feel how little heat there was this morning? It was at least 35 degrees short of optimal.

Ian Richard
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I always stay out of these arguments because they never end well. But I have to speak up and say that THIS is one the best sexism articles I've ever read.

I don't feel insulted because of my gender... nor do I feel that the problem is swept under a rug. It's amazing to see someone actually say that sometimes it's not sexism... but stupidity.

This culture is sometime that we need to deal with, but it's something we need to deal with it together through mutual learning... Not blaming the other side and walking away.

Thank you for this post. It's always nice to be reminded that we are in this together.

Kenneth Blaney
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I've observed a similar trend working in the science academia (specifically math). There are social pressures telling women not to enter the field which come from the more general societal roles for women, and only rarely from singular people. The question, "How can we attract women to math?" is all too often taken to mean, "How can we make math pink?" as opposed to actually making math more open.

This is one of those articles I'm so happy to read because it is what I've been thinking but otherwise am too inarticulate to say. I feel like it applies to large swaths of society, not just games specifically.

Josh Bycer
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Great post. It seems like things should be getting better with more cases of sexism being called out and reported. But at the same time there are fanatics on both sides unable to discuss these issues at anywhere but their complete polar opposite opinions.

The problem in my opinion is that for every incident that gets reported there are two elements: the incident itself and the vitriol thrown at both sides afterwards. This makes it very difficult to examine the issue without it being distorted by either side. As either you are being dismissed because you are "white knighting" for approval by women, or you are considered the same as the guys making death and rape threats all over the place.

I agree that one of the major steps is to stop treating either gender as the polar good or bad, but look at the individuals. I was raised to treat people based on their character and in the process I've met great men, and complete jerks. And I can say the same thing for the women I've met as well. Neither set of examples ruined the whole group for me.

Toby Grierson
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"the incident itself and the vitriol thrown at both sides afterwards"

This reminds me strongly of the reason PyCon incident. It's rather easy to make the case that Adria Richards was being ridiculous, but we also have the atrocious threats and harassment heaped upon her and others.

It's all very difficult to discuss.

Jed Hubic
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I want to say that the article you've wrote Janette is awesome, and at the risk of sounding weird, as a male, I thank you. In the development side of things I prefer to work with motivated and passionate people. Myself and many others I work with make no special notice of gender, race, etc, but rather get excited to talk about new technologies and different coding techniques amongst ourselves, and not frivolous things like what type chromosomes we have. I have female coworkers, as well as coworkers of multiple race, but what I see everyday when I go to work are the smart people I work with first and foremost. Thank you for an article that demands this be the objective of the industry. It will be nice one day when there are no longer GDC talks about gender or sexuality, and more talks about games and what goes into them.

Ian Schreiber
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As a token male in the discussion, I don't feel like #1ReasonWhy has ever been about a war on men, but rather a war on blatantly sexist practice. (Yes, there are lots of examples of more subtle, insidious sexism in the industry as well. Honestly, I'll count it as a partial victory if I can go to GDC with my daughter in 15 years and not worry about her being openly groped at some party. Fix the big stuff first.) If none of the egregious stuff on that thread has happened to you, then great, I'm super happy about that. It hasn't happened to me either, obviously, and I'm happy about that too.

As for your question of whether sexism is actually as rampant in the industry as #1ReasonWhy would indicate? I think there's a very easy barometer for this: look at numbers that can be easily measured. What's the male/female ratio in the industry overall? What about in industry conferences as attendees? As speakers? As keynotes? If the answer isn't close to 50/50, then we know there is a gender bias somewhere, and it's not a matter of "if" but "where" - very simple. Likewise, we can look at data from things like the annual salary survey to see if there's a pay gap, an experience gap, and so on that's gender-related - and if so, again, that tells us not only that there is a problem, but exactly how widespread it is. We can also, I suppose, look at the number of male vs. female lead characters in games (obviously gender-biased) and cross-reference with marketing spend, sales data, and metacritic ratings to see if gamers are as gender-biased as the industry gives them credit for (or if it's the marketers at video game publishers who are inventing or exaggerating biases that aren't really there in the general public).

As for your point that maybe at a conference, a gender gap in number of speakers could be for a number of totally legitimate reasons: yes, but in a true meritocracy, the odds are against it being heavily skewed in either direction. At the GDC Summit that I co-advise, we have never used a quota system ("need one more woman in this slot to balance things out") but we most certainly look at gender balance AFTER choosing our initial lineup as a barometer to tell if there's anything about our process that might be gender-biased, because if there is, that means we aren't choosing the best speakers, and we need to fix that. So far we've had about a 50/50 split every year without even trying. So if some other conference is 90/10, I would be heavily suspicious about that. If the pool of people applying to speak is 50/50, there's about a 1% chance that you'd get a 90/10 split or worse by random chance, i.e. a 99% chance that there is gender bias in the selection process. If the pool of people applying to speak is itself 90/10, there's a good chance that one group is not applying for some reason, suggesting a good chance that the call for proposals is itself sending a gender-biased message. Yes, it's possible that a conference with an all-male lineup got that way through a non-biased totally legit selection process, but such a thing should happen extremely rarely if ever; it is several orders of magnitude more likely that there is some kind of (unintentional) sexism in the selection process, so I think it is perfectly legit for an invited speaker to turn the invite down on those grounds.

Kyle Redd
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"look at numbers that can be easily measured. What's the male/female ratio in the industry overall? What about in industry conferences as attendees? As speakers? As keynotes? If the answer isn't close to 50/50, then we know there is a gender bias somewhere"

That is a misguided, ill-informed assessment of the gender disparity in the tech industry. It should be plainly obvious that a far fewer percentage of young girls want to work in the games or software industry when they grow up, compared to the percentage of boys that would like to do so, and that this would be a much more logical explanation for the gap between the numbers of men and women in the field.

If you want to say that this is indicative of pushing "traditional gender roles" on kids instead of a more gender-neutral upbringing, then fine. But don't automatically make the argument that: There are fewer women than men in the industry, therefore the industry is sexist. That is a very poor argument.

Ian Schreiber
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Kyle, you're right, if you're pulling conference speakers from a pool that is itself gender-biased, the end result may be as well. Two points on this, however.

First, if the conference speaker demographics are even MORE gender-biased than the industry it is serving (say, an all-male lineup in a 90/10 industry) then it still may be a statistically significant chance of a biased sample, which should give one pause.

Second, you pin the argument to me that "there are fewer women than men in the industry, therefore the industry is sexist." While I don't think I said anything of the sort in my original post, I would certainly say that in any highly skewed industry, sexism is involved (whether it be within the industry itself, in the products the industry produces, in the audience for those products, in society at large, or in the interaction between all of these things). Or would you have me say that more women don't go into the game industry solely because of genetics?

Kyle Redd
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Yes, biology is one very well-founded factor as to why girls do not want to be software engineers at the same rate as boys do. This is why there are far fewer girls than boys in the field no matter what country you are examining, including very socially-liberal countries like those in western Europe. Women are also not beating down the doors trying to become auto mechanics, professional football players, or mixed-martial artists either. There is not some massive conspiracy to keep women out of these jobs; they simply do not want to do them at anywhere near the rate that men do.

But your core argument here: "If the answer isn't close to 50/50, then we know there is a gender bias somewhere," that's a massive leap in logic. Do you also believe that there is rampant sexism among kindergarten teachers? Since there are so fewer men in the profession than women, that must mean we need to start asking why those teachers are so biased towards men?

I also think that Janette addressed your other point in her article already: Just because there are disproportionately fewer female speakers and presenters does not mean that men are conspiring to keep women from those positions. It could simply be that giving such presentations is more often not part of women's jobs (less so than the men), along with a number of other possible explanations.

Ian Schreiber
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Actually, my understanding is that the gender gap totally disappears once you control for societal factors (how liberal a country is doesn't matter, if young girls are still nudged towards some careers or away from others - liberalism is not a 100% shield against sexism). Show me a country where half the leadership in government is women, and I'll take the gender imbalances in that country as possibly due to statistical randomness or genetics. Otherwise, perceived or actual poor treatment for the guys in the field can very easily be part of what keeps women out of the field, and I would hardly call that genetic.

And yes, kindergarten teachers skewing female is most certainly a product of the patriarchy - it's a low-status, low-pay, thankless position (especially compared to other kinds of teachers) and historically women were shunted there because, well, SOMEONE needs to do it and the men were busy with other "better" jobs; I would assume that in countries where kindergarten teacher is a high-status position (e.g. Finland) have significantly more male teachers at all levels for this reason.

Kyle Redd
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Ian, I think you're really reaching here. A parking lot attendant is one of the lowest-paying, most thankless jobs in the entire U.S. I have never seen a single female parking lot attendant in my life. If the patriarchy is so determined to shutter women to all of the shit jobs on the planet, why isn't the field of parking lot attendants (or fast food cooks, or dishwashers, etc.) dominated by women?

The average kindergarten teacher makes $50,000 a year with full benefits and lots of vacation time. Maybe it's not glamorous compared to other teaching professions, but I would kill for that job right now.

Vin St John
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I agree with Ian's original points, but the criticisms are good. If you disagree on those grounds, I think the solution is very simple: account for your sample. If you are a conference organizer, the gender balance of your presenters should generally work itself out to match the gender balance of all POSSIBLE presenters. If your industry is split 90/10, that should come out to about 90/10. If it doesn't, it may be a result of gender bias in your recruitment process. The conference's process is not to blame for the 90/10 split in its recruitment pool.

If software engineers are 80/20 in college, but 90/10 in games, then maybe there is some problem in the games industry's image and recruiting process that causes female software engineers to seek jobs elsewhere (or not get hired when they apply, etc.).

Emppu Nurminen
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Unfortunately the fallacy here is the one person nagging about single subject is considered as hatred of opposite. In this case you are considering person nagging about diversifying the industry by hiring women as misandric by default, which is quite odd thing to say. Nagging is nasty way to communicate, I give you that, but the reason why people are eager to to nag for the "white, straight guys" is simply because minorities acknowledge their weaknesses being, well, minority. And this doesn't just apply for women in the industry, it also applies any minority that can be discriminated because of race, sexuality or whatever feature that has nothing to do with the suitability for the job and company. Every sane feminist, LBGT- and SJ-activist knows how important the support for majority of industry (in this case) is because they are the ones that help the causes more than any other could. Ignorant and idiots should be educated for the issues and if that is considered as war against sexes, I don't really want to see the day, when actual minorities start keeping noise about their existence.

Jed Hubic
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The problem is that ignorant and idiots aren't as commonplace as you'd think, and calling an industry backwards as a whole rather than calling out individuals makes many take a defensive stance. Like it or not, people like picking sides, I'm not sure everything in the world justifies a cause, especially when it's just people getting fired up for the sake of feeling important.

Emppu Nurminen
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Sure, ignorant and idiots are small fraction of the industry, but so are the troublemakers and school bullies - in other words people who have tendencies to call people out. And when that doesn't hit the bull's eye, it's pure VH1 realitytv-drama (see: Adria Richards' case). Is that what you want? If you consider calling out the responsible ones as the only acceptable form to reduce the sexism, I'm not really following you here; none one want to create drama if there is options, educating and advocating to act are those options for it. Considering people using those actions as some sort of status question, I can guarantee you are way off wrong trails here, my friend.

I find it funny why you didn't mention the other side of the defensive attitude; It's logical to have such attitude, but it's down right people's own problem to deal with it. Especially sad, because in principle, people for example advocating daily exercises and healthier eating habits are right, despite you might feel annoyed when doing exact that. In principle, it would be nardy to have equal amount of different genders from different cultures, backgrounds and identities, but to achieve more divers game industry, there have to be those people reminding us that we could do better. We can criticize what are the most valid means to achieve whatever is wanted to achieve, but also what people are trying to communicate to begin with. Yet granting people to act whatever they like because the defensive attitude nagged things create...don't condone it, man, that's not good.

Jed Hubic
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The nagging I'm addressing is people being annoyed about things that no longer pertain to them. It's like your analogy of exercise; it is annoying when someone is telling you to exercise when you already exercise. If I'm not sexist and everyone else I work with isn't sexist or standing in the way of successful females, what's the point of all these industry talks about how we're all so sexist? It's all just talking heads at that point, and I'm not totally following you here anymore, too much rhetoric. Good luck to you, I've said my piece and I doubt we'll all have the same opinion, so yah whatever, back to coding.

Emppu Nurminen
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So you are saying that there is no need for these discussions because in this short time these things have popped up, guys are actively standing against sexism among their peers, when they face such? Because the thing here is that I don't see a lot such news, where there have been reported a man stand against the sexism against women directly or indirectly. Especially the latter, which condones the sexism on and on.

Now I'm gonna sound shitty to say this, but it's easy to contribute about these things in the internet rather than be the change yourself. I'm not saying these passive people are bad, sexist or misogynist (more of yay, you have common sense, thumbs up!). Most likely, they don't care, but that's the problem here; the internal sexism can keep on, because people only recognize it if there is someone with pair of boobs around. That's similar to throwing the n-word around only if there's no black people around and you think it's just a custom rather than the actual reason, why the word has such bad ring and why people don't tend to say it.

Of course, there might be magical dudebros punching verbally ignorant idiots in the face, when they are telling sexist comments on private conversation, I'm sorry for missing those. But please, if anyone recognize themselves to be those guys, write something about it and be a freaking hero that makes this god damn discussion to go away. Because that is the easiest, fastest and unfortunately the only way to make this discussion to disappear; guys showing off that you do understand the whole concept of sexism by standing against it in such occasions you recognize that happening - with or without ladies around.

Dan Porter
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Just a nitpick here Emppu, but women aren't a minority. They are, however, historically marginalized.

They might be a minority in the game industry, but that once again is a result of marginalization (in one form or another -- including cultural nudging away from certain professions) not because there are less of them around.

Emppu Nurminen
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Sorry if you got such impression with my poorly worded comments, but I never said exactly that women are minority. However I did say that women as one segment of the society have shared similar characteristics what minorities face to get their voice heard and their issues acknowledge in society.

Kevin Weatherall
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Excellent article. I often feel pained whenever I hear men (in general) blamed for the problems in the industry, as though every man is doing his fair share of being sexist and oppressing women. I tend to treat women with the same respect and attitude as I so for the men, so every time I hear some opinion piece bashing men, it chips away at resolve to keep fighting for equality (as opposed to choosing apathy and removing myself from the discussions altogether.)

I would also like to thank you as I always like to see women standing up for men. As a man in the current environment, I always hate speaking up against anything I feel is wrong or unjust in the arguments made by feminists because I feel like I will be labelled anti-women, anti-feminist, oppressive or just plain sexist, or simply dismissed because, as a man, I "just don't understand women's issues." So to hear a woman give her point of view that doesn't just blame men for the problem is refreshing.

Julia Jazz
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Janette, you are my hero!

Amanda Fitch
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Nice.

Brandon S
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It is also not very effective discussion, I usually roll my eyes at these thing . Not that I am uncaring but they follow familiar cultural patterns that happen on about a monthly/weekly basis . All concerns of genders/discussion are overridden by mostly American obsessing about any kind of sexuality or the perception of perversion usually in search for a scapegoat for sexual evil . If your from a country where the idea sex isn’t that huge of a deal it can be tiresome and repetitive . Looks less like an intellectual discussion and more like a 19th century discussion about the nature of woman /Puritanism then followed by imagining of a gatekeeper an individual that is tormenting woman and that why the games are the way they are . (Sound familiar ? ) It deeply anglo-saxon american christian mythology on gender and ideas about sex . So it not surprising the most vocal radical forms of feminism that are politically popular in North America mirror it strongly . There a lot of way to explain why the gaming industry is more white male oriented without talking about how these dancers or even booth babes.

I can think off the top of my head without using explicitly states (This organization is keeping women down or pointing to anonymous-female hating trolls on the internet .Plenty of that in every other medium ,books TV etc yet people still red and watch . Ever read the comment section on Yahoo ? Awful )

Games historically have been a pastime done by yourself in your home and for nerds creating a kind of obsessive enthusiast atmosphere of who would want to make games and be a game designer . Your whole world is games , you get attached to it stronger . So you can lack of social-element in Early game design . Which can be alienating to a large population of people (Not Just women but anyone who not a nerd , since a nerd is associated with being anti-social recluse ) Over the Top Sexy design ? eh depends on who you talk to what you consider too “much” .Lady gaga pretty over the damn over-top and pretty damn sexy ,complete with gimps and "gaagaga "whips and thongs , and she sale pretty well to female audience.Let not even mention nikki manaj who alot of people are fans of her music and there woman . There woman who like Dolly parton and she got pretty big cans . I seriously doubt it had anything to do with lara-croft boobs or perception she is sexy . This is not the 1930s , I find it more nerdy males troll hanging out on forums(who exemplify the stereotype of what people hate about nerds) who tend to make these argument along with hardcore second wave academic white feminist blogger . Or a Religious Conservative American with very traditional ideas on woman . If that was the case "Her big guns " Tomb Raider movies would've sold terribly simply because Angelina Jolie had big boobs . There plenty of female fans of Angelina Jolie and Tomb Raider long before that reboot.Plenty of woman love cheesy b movie plots with silly stories like Charlie Angels even though critic hate them. .The majority of the middle class woman watching madman ,would refuse to watch it simply because Christian Hendrick had Pinup Figure.


The Ego of the Critic stating what movie/game element is superior get in the way of actually talking about these things . What critic say is radically different from what the public will consume , A pop-corn flick like transformer is hated by critic by the average person probably would enjoy it man and woman .A movie has to be really really bad for both critic and the audiences to turn on it , or really really niche for Critic to love it and audiences to hate it .



S..o The media birth roots of games are Anti-Social / nerd usually a pastime enjoyed alone that highly techno-centric and require a love of technology . Think people forget why TV and Film are everywhere when they start shouting about citizen kane advancing media to massage there ego (The Average consumer probably doesn't know what Citizen Kane is or birth of the nation , or care for that matter ) TV and Film are everywhere because there a Social Medium first .Books and Novels are everywhere because these thing "required " for modern education and basic survival in an industrial culture . Games are not required by education (There powerful learning tools and play is central to are role as human beings to our behavior, but electronic games are not required in modern form of education )


So .. we’ve got One reason so far (Antisocial origins , and Not required for Survival in an industrial society ) So most people would of not have developed a love for what we call “Hardcore Games ‘ It the same thing with comics . You know why Japanese Read comics books ? because it used in everything . You have comic book that teach math formula and programming in japan, simple drama , there structures of manga are also easy to pick up and read .

Also In games to make them, you are required to learn skills set that have been socially deeply enthralled in primarily Anglo-Male Middle Class culture . Science and IT /programming technology . I am African American and yeah.. don’t think there too many of people from my community are making games ,if we had someone who was African American and showing young folks that this is not only a white male thing to do , You have more experiences promoting people to get into games design. There still the huge barrier of trying to get into a very competitive industry with zero job security. Social gaming has help now local city colleges are offering game design

What I described here gives a bunch of reason why the industry would be white male dominated without having to specifically talk about an Individual male denying a woman entry or abusing her


Anti-Social Nerd Culture of enthusiast who love for game makes them become gamer design and put up with industry practices of labor and lack of job security /instable . Doesn’t care about the Cultural prejudices toward games. If where talking about woman also gotta take into account child care , so your gonna choose jobs that are more stable financially or at least desire it .

Required advance knowledge of Sciences and Technology that is mostly White Male oriented.
and a Job that is demonized by the respectful public for not being “serious enough”

The nerd roots of gaming and the fact culturally there is a prejudice against the idea of an adult “Gaming” Same way we have specific prejudices toward “animation for adults in states “ That Cultural prejudices , Got societies who past-time was to watch shadow puppets and people dance on stage , Watching movies is “Central to adulthood “ In American cultural concepts


So Yeah I agree whole-heartedly with the article . Actually look at one of the most popular games are social/cooperative ones (Sims ? Second Life ) And pretty sure there a lot of sexuality in there . So these controversy aren't helping the discussion.

Celia Pearce
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If objections to critiques of sexism make you uncomfortable, look in the mirror. As Ian eloquently put it, this is not about people it's about behavior. You're either part of the problem, or part of the solution. Ignoring the problem is being part of the problem.

Sharon Hoosein
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Name one woman in the games industry who does not have a ton of guy friends.

Nobody is blaming the guys. If someone was truly a FemiNazi they would get cut off pretty darn fast. Nobody is letting sexist women off the hook either. Saying that there should be more women in games is not a call for quotas, but an expected outcome should the underlying issues contributing to the gender bias be exposed and addressed.

Janette Goering
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Dear everyone:
First, I wanted to apologize about the length and the slight rambling in this blog post. I wrote it at 2 am after I felt that I was being attacked on twitter for expressing my views. (I welcome you all to check me out, @anarchymarie, and please, call me out here if I was missing the point entirely last night. I will not apologize for the posts though, but do welcome your opinions) I finished it after taking a 3 hour anger-filled nap, and asked a few people to look it over before I posted. Emotions were running high. I'm super glad that this has opened up a new avenue of dialog where more people who may have previously been afraid to express their views now feel that they can do so. I'm glad to see, at least here unlike on twitter, people constructively criticizing my opinions rather than implying I'm an internal sexist or telling me that women can't be sexist or so on.

Ian, I understand the roughly 90/10 men/women ratio in games. We're now reaching a point in gaming history where some 47% of gamers are indeed women, and more and more are taking an interest in making games. The gender bias I feel exists right now because the current generation of game makers were part of a world where maybe 30% of gamers were women, and so because many women didn't play games, many didn't want to make them either. I see this in my college courses: I'll be the second female from my college to graduate with the game programming degree, and the 10th or so to graduate with the game art degree. Granted, we are also a relatively new set of degrees, with maybe 5 graduating classes so far. But every new batch of freshmen has brought on more and more female students, which makes me happy. I feel it's going to take another 5, probably 10 years, before we see a drastic shift in numbers of the men/women in games ratio. It's a little sad, but I feel that as it becomes more acceptable for women to play games, we'll find that more women will want to make them. And the culture surrounding games will hopefully also change to reflect that. Which will in turn affect the speakers at future conferences as well. (Stoked to hear that it was 50/50 without trying!)

Emppu, if you feel that I'm saying that hiring women is misandric by default, I'd like to see how my words led you to come to the conclusion that I meant that. If there's any vague area I can try to clarify, please let me do so.

Brandon, I feel that English is not your first language, but I think I understand the gist of your post, and I hope that you can help encourage those around you to get involved with game making!

Celia, I agree that it is a problem with behavior. But I disagree that ignoring the problem is being part of the problem. I learned that a classmate of mine also attending GDC hadn't heard of #1ReasonWhy. After a short discussion on how it got started and what it was about, it turned out he's not on twitter, rarely online outside of doing homework, and so on. I did get him interested in the general movement, and he said he's going to now read up on it. But I don't feel he is part of the problem. He's nothing but kind and courteous. His ignorance was literally not knowing, not looking the other way.

Sharon, I've had several people on twitter actually not just blame the guys, but blanket blame ALL guys. The term "male privilege" was used as an argument. (I honestly don't understand the whole privilege thing. I'm quite confused as to what she meant by it. It appears to mean because of how you were born, you have certain privileges that others do not get to enjoy. And I'm not quite sure how exactly it fits into her argument. I pretty much don't get it, and would love for someone to explain it to me.)

I've had opinions expressed by friends and colleagues, both online through things like FaceBook and Google+, and in person just hanging around GDC today. I am excited to hear other women's take on my opinions, and to hear theirs. I'm happy to hear males tell me that they feel a bit better expressing their opinions rather than being fearful of being labeled as sexist. I'm hopeful to see where this takes us.

Jesus Alonso Abad
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This is the most reasonable opinion on this subject I've heard in a lot of time.

The idea of the "perfect" workplace being 50/50 men/women is unrealistic and populist. The perfect workplace is that of 100% proficient and talented people. Fairness is on not considering whether someone is a man or a woman when gender is unrelated, as happens in the gaming industry.

I've always been concerned with this subject, and the events that have happened this last year (#1ReasonWhy, Sarkeesian's Tropes vs Women, the IGDA/YetiZen party at the GDC...) are literally distracting me from doing other things, but I feel it's important to tackle this the right way. This post and its "addendum comment", although a bit long, is very important to me. I sincerely hope both extremist sides cool down a bit and start talking in a rational way to reach a consensus. These are changing days for the industry, and would love to see all the accusations sent from one side to the other gone for good.

Thank you very much for writing this post :)

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Tyler Buser
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Excellent post Janette, I think you're completely right about the gender percentages. The Coin-Op era had roughly equal proportions but the move to console found a much stronger male base and the market responded to that (and perpetuated it? and didn't help that a lot of those games were coming from Japan). My sister and I played games growing up but around NBA Jam and Minesweeper she lost complete interest. Lets not forget that for a long time gaming was a subculture that still is sometimes mocked today, that may have in the past deterred lots of people of both sexes from entering the industry. I do think you're right though, if you're a woman now you're hardly going to jump ship on an established career to enter gaming. It takes a younger generation to fulfill those ranks and I think we're beginning to see just that.

Yes Dan, lets play the 'who has it worst' game and see how that propels us further as an industry. Are you trying to suggest that her own experience is somehow meaningless?

Jason Clem
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"The term "male privilege" was used as an argument. (I honestly don't understand the whole privilege thing. I'm quite confused as to what she meant by it. It appears to mean because of how you were born, you have certain privileges that others do not get to enjoy. And I'm not quite sure how exactly it fits into her argument. I pretty much don't get it, and would love for someone to explain it to me.)"

You're pretty right on the money. The idea of "male privilege" is a feminist slogan that's typically tossed around in an attempt to claim that men have no right to complain, or can't possibly understand the viewpoint of a woman. It's also occasionally used as a shaming tactic to make men feel like they have something to atone for, so that women get leniency to do whatever they want (something akin to "white guilt" for black slavery).

It should also be noted that in feminist circles, women don't have "privilege," they are on the receiving end of, "benevolent sexism."

Any sane person who has two brain cells to rub together will admit that there are pros and cons to being either a man or a woman. Unfortunately, Gender Feminism (which is what is snaking its way into the gaming and tech industries) preaches a one-sided view of gender issues, wherein men are "privileged" and have power, and women are oppressed, and anything good that happens to them is due to "benevolent sexism."

Emppu Nurminen
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I don't get why you found it offensive, if encouraging others to let the presentation of the company be equal gender-wise. Of course there are reason why it might not be possible (especially if there is no woman in company), but it's same as the digital consumable talk. "Everyone should IAP, more moneyh!", yet every good designer knows it might not be the good option right now what they are working on. Food for thought, or how they say.

Janette Goering
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Emppu, I can see where'd you get that impression from the way I worded it. I guess I meant to say that I found it annoying the way she worded it, especially given the almost hostile tone she had in her talk. I'd like to see more female presenters. And having given several presentations at small tech conferences at my school, I'd love to have more diversity, given that I go to school in a small, primarily white, Southern Ohio town. But I feel that discounting an entire presentation because there's currently no women available to give the talk isn't the right route to go. Nor is putting the pressure of giving a presentation on a subject they aren't familiar with on a woman just for the sake of having a female presenter.

Michele Kribel
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Hey Janette, thank you for your post. I really enjoyed reading it. I also enjoyed reading your last comment. In particular the bit about the whole "ignoring the problem = being part of the problem", idea that I find myself in disagreement with.

On the contrary, in a way I think that "ignoring the problem" may in fact be part of the solution. I find that the debate regarding this "issue" is often employing generalisation and stats in order to fuel generalisation driven analyses. From my part, I am a member of a small group of indie devs and we never cared about our teammates' looks/weight/gender/you name it. All that matters to us as a team is our level of skill, our commitment, our reliability, ultimately our ability to deliver results. Our 2D artist, for instance, is very talented and skilled (incidentally she's also a girl) and working with her has been very satisfactory.

Chauvinism is a rotten ideology, just as much as feminism is. The solution lies in looking beyond all this and understanding that this is not a debate we should still be having in this century, at least not in this rivalry driven fashion, in my view. Just my two cents.

Again thanks for your post. :)

Judy Tyrer
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There is a fine line here and the issue is defining that line and then trying to get everyone to accept that is, in fact, the correct line. It is the line between freedom to be who you are and where who you are offends others and you need to curb that behavior for the greater good. Some people choose never to curb their behavior and do not think of the greater good. There isn't much we can do about them except stay as far away as possible. But for the rest, we can try to get them to understand.

There are fewer women interested in getting into technology because it is such a boys club. Those of us who have been the only woman in the room for decades understand it. We know that we're going to have to tell people that being being dickless is not a disadvantage (in this case the person I had to say this to was my boss - but since everyone in the room laughed it stopped him without insulting him and causing problems).

We've had the conversation with a different boss at 9 PM on a Friday night after too many late nights when heading home and asked why, did I love my husband more than him (my boss). Answer: yes. Second answer: I transferred the next day to a different team.

Not every woman is willing to put up with that all day every day. A lot of them don't think it is worth the hassle no matter how much they might want to make games or, more important, how good they might be at it. It's just not worth it.

SO the excuse that there aren't 50% women because 50% of the women aren't interested doesn't work when the reason more women aren't interested is that it's a hostile environment. Fix the environment so that more women want to work there and then if more women don't you can complain. But using that as an excuse to maintain the hostile environment won't work.

So if you want to know what it's like, imaging walking into a conference with 80% of them women and every woman there wanting nothing more than to grab you by the balls and squeeze hard. No imagine that 20% of those women aren't well enough socialized to know that doing so is inappropriate. You don't know which of these women are going to grab your balls, you just believe there is a high probability it will happen, it will be humiliating and it will hurt. Relax, have fun! It's a PARTY!!!!!

Tim P
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Having taught High School Computing for years, let me tell you that the fundamental concept of "fix the working environment and they will come" is totally misguided. The lack of females in game development is not due to them bailing from a toxic work environment, it's due to them never wanting a career in the industry in the first place. Tertiary graduation numbers clearly show that. Tertiary enrolment numbers clearly show that. Secondary subject selection numbers clearly show that. Curriculum changes make no statistically significant difference to outcomes (and haven't for over 40 years).

The decision to "not want to build computer games" is made in the primary years (ages 5-12) and is heavily influenced by exposure to the "prevalent games of the time". The sixth generation consoles (think PS2/Xbox, 2000 onwards) ushered in an era (which we are still in) where the majority of games are violent, high-fidelity, power-projection fantasies (think Grand Theft Auto, Halo, Metal Gear Solid, Splinter Cell, Call of Duty...). The result of this is that female representation is now falling. That's right, it's not getting better, it's getting worse. Pre-pubescent girls, on the whole, don't like those sorts of games, and don't see the point in pursuing a career in an industry which seems to revolve around making them. That's it, decision made – BY THE GIRLS THEMSELVES.

So, can we stop the man-hating? Can we stop manufacturing imaginary boys clubs? Can we stop making mountains out of mole-hills? Can we lose the chip on our shoulders? Can we stop acting like victims? Please?

If you want to FIX what you see as a 'problem':

1) quit your (AAA) job (reform is a lost cause),
2) start up an Indie game development company,
3) make awesome games that 5-12 year old girls will love playing,
4) focus distribution on the platforms 5-12 year old girls actually have access to,
5) feature user generated content to co-opt them into development, and
6) re-imagine modding and entry-level dev tools for the female mind (if data supports this).

It is as simple as that.

Please don't delude yourself that 18-35 year old male developers are even capable of 'fixing' this 'problem' – they aren't – because they can't even begin to imagine what 5-12 year old girls think due to a total lack of personal experience. Only existing female developers have that insight. It's up to them.

It's up to you.

Mike Jenkins
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I had no idea 1 in 5 men employed in the gaming industry were walking around grabbing female coworkers' vaginas. Thank you for shedding light on this very serious issue with absurd hyperbole, Judy.

Robert Tsao
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@ Tim P

Thank you for your comment. I think a lot of this conversation (not necessarily in this particular thread, but in multiple outlets) has been centered on "sexism is real/imagined" when in fact it's real and endemic of the output of this industry.

Diversity of any form is great for any industry, but the industry's output needs to reflect its willingness to embrace it. Likewise, clicktivism hurts, as Janette pointed out. Twitter is the worst place to conduct an actual conversation, where terse, short comments are often misinterpreted as aggression, causing tensions, hyperbole, and anecdote-as-evidence to emerge. Posting grandiose, sweeping comments on Twitter, and then patting each other on the back as a gesture towards finality instead of a flagpole on the path to equality helps no one.

Steven Christian
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I find it interesting that more men than women are commenting on this article.
Does this mean that we are sexist, or that there are simply more men in the industry/market?

People simply tend to cater for the majority, not the minority.
Political-correctness has gone a long way to support minorities in different areas, but all too often is taken too far.

Surely there is room for things that cater to minorities, to exist alongside things that cater to majorities, without one trying to influence the other to be king. I believe that there is space for both.

Can't we all just get along?

Erin MacGillegowie
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Except the problem isn't that people are trying to overthrow a king, it's the fact that there's a king in the first place where there should be none.

David Konkol
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Great article, but do I think it will happen? In the current world of "I am entitled to everything" ... not so sure.

Michal Butterweck
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A good article. I agree with most of the thesis but there is one thing in this problem,
which is not mentioned. Equality, really, is not an our nature. Mostly - but not all,
men want to treat women better than they treat men. This is very natural to humankind.
We, men and women have not the same nature. We work, feel differently.
This differences attract us to each other. So, ever on average, women would
not be treated equally. But, women, on average, will/shall be treated better
than men. Of course there always are exceptions to the rule on both sides.

Ironically, the existence of female hostesses, and almost no male hostesses
is the example of differences between our genders.

Joseph Legemah
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"almost no male hostesses" where do you live, where have you been in your life? perhaps they've eluded you so well because they're just called hosts.

Nicholas Heathfield
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The problem is that OneReasonWhy is a prime target for feminists, and with them come the FemiNazis. This wouldn't be a problem, but the left-wing revenge politics tend to put the most hostile and hatred-driven people at the top of the pile, controlling the message.

Equality for Women (which I believe in) becomes Destruction to Men (which is justified only as revenge).

I think, if you want to make this change happen, feminists, do it in a positive way; get some between-jobs female game dev friends together and do an indie game project together to see what happens.

Instead of holding a lefty "no platform" policy toward men.

Erin MacGillegowie
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Ah yes, women should totally cater to the tone you want them to even though you compare them to a group that literally massacred millions of people. Mhm. Great job. You've solved sexism.

Nicholas Heathfield
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I wonder if you would care to point out where I compare all women to a group that kills lots of people?

Is it because I compared the most vocal and hostile of feminists to Nazis? Why not? They don't even believe that women should have the right not to be masculine, and they would dance in the streets if every man in the world just dropped dead.

Erin MacGillegowie
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HAHAHA WOW way to totally diminish the actual things the Nazis actually did so you can push your ridiculous, unfounded beliefs on everyone. Here's a little tip, when some feminists say "kill all men" it's because they're completely out of patience when it comes to dealing with people like you who compare them to LITERAL. MASS. MURDERERS.

Russ Menapace
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You shouldn't say "FemiNazi".

You just... shouldn't.

Especially not in CamelCase.

anisotropic logic
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I know people don't like the term feminazis. Rush Limbaugh created it, and that's a strike against any word's etymology... Yet, where he would just describe anyone who is a feminist a feminazi, that's not how it's being used here, or how it's commonly used.

There are plenty of examples of self described 'feminists' that are pretty far from egalitarians. In fact many of them have rhetoric that I think would fit right in in a pre-WW2 Nuremberg rally. That's the problem with a self described group, anyone can call themselves a feminist. Thus people find it useful to differentiate between the feminists that are serious about gender equality, and the ones that act as if men are some horrible plague.

"Sheila Jeffreys labeled transgenderism "deeply problematic from a feminist perspective and [stated] that transsexualism should be seen as a violation of human rights."

"All transsexuals rape women's bodies by reducing the real female form to an artifact, appropriating this body for themselves .... Transsexuals merely cut off the most obvious means of invading women, so that they seem non-invasive." ~ Janice Raymond The Transsexual Empire

“The male is a biological accident: the Y (male) gene is an incomplete X (female) gene, that is, it has an incomplete set of chromosomes. In other words, the male is an incomplete female, a walking abortion, aborted at the gene stage. To be male is to be deficient, emotionally limited; maleness is a deficiency disease and males are emotional cripples.
The male is completely egocentric, trapped inside himself, incapable of empathizing or identifying with others, or love, friendship, affection of tenderness. He is a completely isolated unit, incapable of rapport with anyone. His responses are entirely visceral, not cerebral; his intelligence is a mere tool in the services of his drives and needs; he is incapable of mental passion, mental interaction; he can’t relate to anything other than his own physical sensations. He is a half-dead, unresponsive lump, incapable of giving or receiving pleasure or happiness; consequently, he is at best an utter bore, an inoffensive blob, since only those capable of absorption in others can be charming. He is trapped in a twilight zone halfway between humans and apes, and is far worse off than the apes because, unlike the apes, he is capable of a large array of negative feelings — hate, jealousy, contempt, disgust, guilt, shame, doubt — and moreover, he is aware of what he is and what he isn’t.” ~ Valarie Solanas' SCUM Manifesto

Also I see some people acting as if these 'feminists' are allowed to advocate genocide because they feel 'out of patience' with men. Lets remember the Nazis would say they where completely out of patience with the greedy Jewish bankers ruining their country.


So my point is this. I don't agree very much with this post, or it's tone... Yet I think there needs to be a way to differentiate between the type of egalitarian feminism you might find here... http://www.autostraddle.com/just-your-typical-urban-hipster-femme
-twentysomething-transgender-lesbian-84827/ and the Radical 'womyn born womyn' types you would find here... http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/who-are-the-males-w
ho-sneak-into-michigan-womens-music-festival/ (Watch out for that link, there's a lot of hate in there.)

Feminism is a large social movement. Often the good from feminism (egalitarian concepts, gender equality, honest reflection etc) is accompanied with the bad (transphobia, misandry, etc).

I firmly believe most Feminists are not these types of exclusionary hate mongers, but there are still exclusionary hate mongers that call themselves Feminists. I think it's useful to label them something different. Maybe 'FemiNazi' is too decisive and loaded of a word, but I think we should be able to label them as 'not the real feminists'.

In fact this is starting to happen in the Feminist community itself. I've seen the acronym "TURFs" (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) kicked around more and more among actual well meaning gender equality seeking Feminists.

Anyway I think the word FemiNazi, as abrasive as it is, is an interesting lexical convention. Rush Limbaugh used it to as a knock to all feminists, and many people will interpret it though that prism regardless of how it's used. Though, there is a particular lexical void it fills... 'People who describe themselves as feminists not because they are interested in gender equality, but to act as if the label means their hate rhetoric is above criticism.'

Maybe we should have better words for 'real feminists' and 'hateful people who's rhetoric most feminists, and decent people in general, disagree with strongly'....

Marc Schaerer
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I'm glad to see that there are members among the female members of our community that are as unpleased by OneReasonWhy actions as I am as a male.

Thats the nice sideeffect of remote working: I've never seen a case of 'sexism' working as a remote freelancer, the only thing of relevance in such setup is your talent, dedication, drive and your capability to work with a team and adopt to its 'way of working'

The rest becomes irrelevant, especially gender, race or your clothing style (which in non-remote work can lead to as ugly side effects if initiated through single individuals on teams already).

I hope that this approaches and views, 'professional, focused behavior' at some point becomes the common base independent of the way of working and team setup, because it helps the team to grow, innovate and progress rapidly and creatively, which it will not do if some feel offended or are harassed.


As for OneReasonWhy: I'm unsure what to think of them at the time.
I agreed to what they attempt to achieve and fail to understand comrades that missbehave in a way that requires such a movement to form.

But at the same time, they lost a lot of their credibility with their absolute ignorant and childish missbehavior in the recent months.
If they want to be treated like equal, professional members of the developer community then they should behave like professional members of a generally higher educated work field they claim to be part of.

Instead they choose to take the offensive stance, insult and damage others and do so without even trying to reolve the situation or comprehend it.
They behaved as if they never learnt how to approach and tackle problems and solve them, as if the gender situation was some kind of gang war where 'shooting the other and vanishing' is the solution to solve all problems.

If they continue their way of war waging they will sooner or later lose their support among those males who are working on resolving the issues step by step through becoming a major problem themself that needs to be solved.

Erin MacGillegowie
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Anyone looking at this complete mess of a post and nodding their heads approvingly should maybe look in to an actual article that bothers to articulate just about everything about feminism, why it exists, and why some women are pretty damned sick of the attitudes they encounter.

http://jezebel.com/5992479/if-i-admit-that-hating-men-is-a-thing-
will-you-stop-turning-it-into-a-self+fulfilling-prophecy

Benjamin Leggett
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Being right is never a reason to start pissing on specific people. It really hurts your case as a crusader when you say jerky things about people who don't crusade as hard or as loudly as you do.

Women get a lot of shit in this industry. And they shouldn't. And we need to be conscious of that so we can try to effect change there.

But here's the thing. The difference between a crusader and a rabblerouser is this: The crusader gets a lot of shit and doesn't turn around and give it back. The rabblerousers are no better than the thing or people they rail against because they give back all the shit they get.

Are you oppressed by someone or some system? You cannot ever resort to the same kind of poo-flinging your opponents do or you have lost already.

Genna Habibipour
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I really like the points you bring up. We really do a huge disservice to the games industry when we focus on the "us vs them" mentality, and blow things way out of proportion.

Most people know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior; occasionally making an innocent mistake within the gray areas. It is just incredibly unfortunate that the conversation goes in a completely inappropriate direction by the media and the community when those gray areas are brought up. It not only puts everyone on the defense, but it also trivializes REAL issues within the industry. We're already in a state where we've been desensitized to rape and death threats, which is probably why the community is so ready to resort to that behavior as a reaction to a publicly made opinion. The assumption is "but they didn't really mean it"- but how is the victim to know that? How is the rest of the public to know that?

The Go Go dancers were in poor taste. It offended some people, and others wouldn't have thought twice about it aside from all of the coverage and attention it's had. You should be allowed to say "That didn't offend me" without being labeled as a misogynist, and conversely, you should be able to say "That did offend me" without invoking death threats. But right now, all we can do is react in a black and white manner.

James Hofmann
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This article amounts to "I only want to see people use nice-nice tactics." That would be wonderful, but also profoundly ignorant of how political and social thought works.

"Can't we all get along" is a tactic of preference for incumbents who want to silence debate, because it lets the worst elements hide in the shadows while the silent majority stays ignorant of what the problem is, where it occurs, how bad it gets, and where they have the power to solve it.

Realizing the problematic nature of that tactic is essential to understanding why we have blocs that present themselves with more disruptive language and views. Their goal is bring more people outside of the comfort zone and feel challenged, and then to turn the resulting guilt, discomfort, and disillusionment into concrete action that creates real change. They prefer to be loud because in the average case, they just get buried with apathetic messaging such as this article. If you are a polite listener, you will have no problem with most feminists.

The biggest difficulty - and the only point on which I would agree with the author - is that one has to be careful to engineer guilt, rather than shame. Shame is too easy, and much more harmful to the innocent. It manufactures a dragon to slay, which doesn't present the same kind of challenges to ignorance.

John Trauger
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Quote: "#1ReasonWhy is either going to be the great uniter of our times, or the great divider. We claim we want unity and equality, but if my male peers were to express the views I just have, they would be flamed to hell and back. They would be called enemies of the cause, oppressors of women. Is that equality? Or do we want separate but equal treatment?"

This is an inherently political topic and current US politics is all about identity politics: Setting up a group of like-me's and both exploiting the system and being exploited in turn for votes by a political party.

Without careful management, this will be another "Great Divider"

Janette Goering
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For anyone wondering what I've meant by my use of the word misandry: as far as I'm concerned, misandry and misogyny are, at their core, what they are by definition. So when I use the word misandry in this article, I'm refering to just what its core definition is. Now, both of these words, especially misogyny, have huge societal implications, which I feel are just that: implications. Misogyny far more so than misandry does. And it's those societal implications where I feel people misunderstand me when I use the word misandry. I'm not saying that of course misogyny and its implications should be trivialized, that's the opposite of what I want.

Dan, perhaps you're right and I do. I've never taken a sociology course. And my experiences with the concepts of privilege have pretty much been people on tumblr using and abusing the word to encompass almost anything they disagree with. I must say, I'm not white, I'm not male, I wasn't born in America, nor am I a skinny lady. But I guess personally I've never felt that the concept of male privilege has prevented me from achieving goals or chasing dreams. I'll admit that as a concept it exists, but at the same time I see a lot of people throwing that word around in general (I've seen something about able-bodied privilege in reference to work-out exercises, and well, yeah), so it's hard for me to really grasp the concept. However, for throwing feminism under the bus? I don't feel the majority of feminists are the problem either. Many of them are good, upstanding, level-headed people. But like any group, such as religious folk, vegans, etc, I feel it's the hotheaded but very vocal fringes that are the problem. And seeing how they are indeed the most vocal, they tend to steer the direction of the discussion. And if it weren't for feminists, I wouldn't have the chance to speak my mind like this.

Judy, I agree we need to define the line and get everyone to agree. As far as the grabbing men by the balls, I've got a story about just that happening to a male friend of mine at an anime convention we were attending, but that's neither here nor there.

Nicholas, you, much like Sharon, should probably not have used the term FemiNazis. You and Erin are being excellent examples of Marc's comments about lacking professional behavior in this discussion, and it reflects poorly on you both.

Erin, I welcome you to post your own piece that you feel would be less of a mess than mine instead of linking to a Jezebel article. Mind you, I've read that article several times, and while I don't agree with everything in it, it raises good points. Unfortunately, Jezebel is also not the most respectable site, and just the name turns people off.

James, while I'd love nice-nice tactics to be used without silencing the debate, I'm aware it won't happen. But what if those we're trying to guilt about their don't feel said guilt? What then?

I'm glad for all the comments this is getting. The good, the bad, the ugly. Getting more people talking about their views I feel will allow us to find more common ground. Even if it encourages trolls to come out of hiding and those who disagree with me to bash me for my opinions.

Babak Kaveh
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Thanks Janette for expressing your point of view - and contrary to the Hofmanns amongst us, I don't see idealism as a weakness, but rather strength in character. I have worked with truly knowledgeable and nice women and men in the industry, and hold a lot of respect for them. At the same time I have worked with sleazy, power-hungry, demeaning and plain stupid women and men, who thought their goals, justified any means, and whose decisions and political games almost always end up being the real reason for the failure of projects and companies.

Despite the claims by some that female devs are degraded in the industry, I have never seen a case where a competent and nice female dev was degraded by a competent and nice male dev - rather, I have seen either the prideful stupid female/male dev being pushed away and excluded by smart and motivated female/male devs who knew what was good for their project, or it was a great female/male dev who being put under pressure by their useless peers or managers who had risen to position of power. Large companies are not meritocracies, and the larger the company, the more dirt will rise to the top.

Now, as for the excuse put forward by some that it is OK to use hyperbolic language and broad sweeping remarks to make a justified point (e.g. "Game companies are abusing women and that needs to be stopped NOW!), let me just say that engineering guilt or shame where there shouldn't be any is the tool of the morally corrupt who try to raise their esteem by degrading others.

If you want to solve a problem, you need to stay away from extremism and hyperbolae, and focus on the details of the situation. This will allow you to actually see IF there is a problem, and what mechanisms might drive a complex problem to a solution that is better for all parties engaged. If e.g. you truly want the industry to employ more women, how about making the working conditions better for everyone? How about pressuring your managers for paid overtime, and not succumbing to months of crunch forced on you? I know very few female devs who were stupid enough to put their work ahead of their children, health and family, and rightly so. Instead of attempting to pull or push women into working in game sweatshops, how about solving the underlying problems that cause women to quit in the first place?

Katie Chironis
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I would like to point out that I had almost no shitty clearly-sexist experiences while I was a game dev student making games in a student environment. It's a cool aspect of student development these days that things are mostly gender balanced, your professors protect you from a lot of things, and school is a very safe environment in general. I also used to think feminists in the games industry were really overstating things and that it wasn't quite as bad as everyone seemed to think it was.

Then I started work.

It was only when I started doing industry internships and actually working within the "big pond" that I realized sexism is real, it sucks, it happens every day, and I started to experience it myself. I'm interested to see how your opinion changes when you enter the work force -- maybe it won't. Mine certainly did.

Janette Goering
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That's incredibly unfortunate and awful. Perhaps it will change when I start doing work. However, over the summer I had an internship with a company working on military simulators. On a team of about 40, there was me, and one other woman. About half the team was made up of very conservative, very Christian males. And yet none of them treated me any different for being a woman. And I feel if anyone would have, it would have been them.

Kea Johnston
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I worked at a company that did military sims for a while too. Loved it. People were very professional and disciplined.

Kea Johnston
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Imagine:
A person who has never been to Africa but would really really like to go there
Claims that rhinoceroses do not exist.
Everyone who has been buying rhino ivory stuff pats themselves on the back because not only are they not encouraging the slaughter of rhinos by providing a market for the horns, there is no such thing as a rhino!

I don't necessarily agree with 1reasonwhy, but I'm a woman who used to be an engineer in the game industry. Sexism is never overt. It's hearing TA jokes all day, wondering if your coworkers see you as an object too, and wondering if that is why you get the tasks no one else wants.
Recruiting can't change it.
Educating more women in science can't change it.
It's a fundamental culture change.

Jonathan Lin
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We really need to step away from personal-anecdote-as-proof arguments. For those who haven't seen or experienced sexism in the workplace, that's a GOOD thing, and should be shared - but it shouldn't be used to say "well, clearly sexism isn't as bad as you think", or worse, "clearly, sexism doesn't exist at all!" simply because you haven't seen it yourself. It disrespects and demeans those who have experienced it. Everyone has a story - let's not cherry pick which get to count as "evidence".

And while it may not be fun dealing with emotional people spouting hyperbole, let's make one thing clear: discrimination is about having one's worth as a human being diminished usually based on traits that no one has control over - of COURSE people who are discriminated against are going to feel emotional. Now of course I agree that rational arguments are better, since emotional arguments just give rise to more emotions. However, sitting back and saying, "Oh, you think you're being discriminated against? Prove it.", is putting the burden solely on those already under emotional distress. Not everyone is eloquent enough, maybe not even stable enough, to provide said proof. If we're really serious about combating sexism, we need to show that we're willing to listen even when it makes us uncomfortable, not only when it's easy and convenient.

Johnathon Tieman
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While in general I agree with what you are saying, I would point out that the burden of proof does lie with SOMEONE. Except in legal situations, telling an individual to prove discrimination is tactless. However, that is why feminism as a group exists, and telling feminism to prove it is acceptable. Unfortunately, all I have ever seen from feminism in recent years is manipulated science and the personal-anecdote-as-proof arguments you mention. In fact, that is all #1ReasonWhy was, just more personal anecdotes. If #1ReasonWhy had promoted generating scientific data rather than personal anecdotes, it would have been a great thing, but instead it is a missed opportunity to move forward.

Jonathan Lin
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Sexism and discrimination is sometimes a cultural and atmospheric thing, making it difficult to prove.

As far as "manipulated" science goes, I've seen several papers done in social sciences relating to racism and sexism - there's often flaws due to the inexact nature of the science. Debates often rage around pointing out flaws in the papers to the point that nothing gets accomplished. If I had a million dollars for each mind changed in the debates, I'd be penniless. More importantly, it pretty much ensures the status quo remains.

The more fundamental issue is attitude. If we are all fighting discrimination, we should all be cooperating. Seems more like we're fighting each other. If someone claims they've been discriminated against, and our attitude is one of skepticism, derision and outright hostility, we're simply helping to ensure that discrimination can go unnoticed. Those who experience real discrimination are obviously going to be discouraged from voicing their experiences for fear of being shouted down, hated, or ignored. If we don't offer an atmosphere of inclusivity where people can safely voice their concerns, even if there is no rampant sexism in the industry, we're offering no room for improvement. If we're as mature an industry as we say we are, we have to show it and be it too - there's no need for hostility if we're all fighting discrimination together.

Johnathon Tieman
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The point of proving something is to separate it out from the culture/atmosphere, so I don't follow how that particular point makes it hard to prove. Even if it is hard to prove, that doesn't change the necessity of doing so.

In regards to flawed science, if the nature of the field is inexact, it isn't science. I think the biggest problems in regards to racism/sexism is the fact that no one does (or even seems to want to) agree on a definition for even the basic terms. Adria Richards claiming that black people can't be racist to the paper that claimed rape includes simply looking at a woman such that she feels uncomfortable are just a couple of examples of how people have wildly differing definitions from, say, the common usage described in dictionaries. I think those debates you point out are symptoms of this bigger problem.

This also goes into your comment about attitude. Sure, it sounds noble to ask everyone to cooperate ("can't we all just get along?"), but that isn't even possible until there is a set end goal. What does a world/field/conference/company without discrimination look like? For some people, it is everyone, at every place, always having an equal number of every single viewpoint/gender/race/etc. For others, it is having a number that represents the breakdown of the population. A third idea is simply everyone interested in the group. I know internally feminism can't agree on the right end goal is, so how can the gaming (or, really, any) industry know? I don't believe maturity has nothing to do with it.

Dan Porter
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Thank you so much for this article!

Particularly this quote: "I honestly feel that general game culture is the real enemy."

So few people address this very real concern!

Before going into the industry, I went to a game development school where the gender split in my graduating class was something like "less than 5" women to about sixty guys. The dean of our department is an active crusader for getting women involved in the industry (and in tech in general) and is a woman herself. She was actively involved in the application screening process for the school, so I can pretty confidently say that there wasn't discrimination against women who were applying. So why were there so few women in my class?

I would say it was a combination of factors, not the least of which is the hostility of many online gaming communities towards women. In addition, there is the cultural stigma against women as game developers along the same vein as the stigma against men in the nursing profession.

Yes, there is sexism, and we should address it, but there is also a greater cultural idea of what young boys and girls are "supposed to do" when they grow up. Fighting this battle is perhaps equally as important as fighting against discrimination.


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