Sexism is good in the gaming community

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Upon having secured the modern woman equality in most legislation, this medusa now turns her many heads to the more subtle forms of sexism within society. But as the extreme feminist speaks out against covert sexism, it seems that she has forgotten the meaning of the “equality” that lies at the heart of the movement.

Many feminists today reject the obligation to look pretty in uncomfortable stilettos and curl their painted lips at being jokingly asked to “make a sandwich” because they are signs of sexism. So far so good – until we realise that our armies aren’t half female, and that we still expect men to hold doors open for women.

In one of the most male-dominated communities of today, the gaming community, sexism might seem to threaten its female minority. As a medic in the competitive Team Fortress 2 scene however, I must say that I am rather glad for the lack of “equality”.

While they no longer hunt for food with spears, males in the gaming community have incredible reflexes and aim which do not come as intrinsically to women. Some might say that given enough time, a good female gamer can beat the average male hands down. True, perhaps, but only with a lot more time, effort and a brain configuration that doesn’t represent the typical female’s.

This skill set, one that doesn’t seem intrinsic to women, isn’t the only thing keeping us out. In a competitive online environment where the civility of human face-to-face interaction is stripped away, the sharp bones of criticism and boiling blood are exposed. Men rage, criticise and judge each other in a gaming scene which reeks of testosterone. Female gamers on the other hand, are treated with more restraint and patience, because women cry.

And indeed, despite a watered down version of the competitive community’s lingua franca, vulgarities, we still do. The co-founder of the Asian competitive Team Fortress 2 gaming servers admitted, “I’m pretty sure all the girls have cried at least once before”.

I can just picture the extreme feminist raving: Double-standards! Injustice! Sexism! Women aren’t weak! – Albeit with a little less conviction than normal. Of course, few would admit that sexism can ever be good.

But for the protection that such male restraint and consideration offers female gamers, harmless jokes that instruct us to make sandwiches surely aren’t too big a price to pay.

Sexism in its modern form is more covert, and feminists can march to eliminate it with the same suspicion and paranoia that the Red Scare took towards communism. The extreme feminist can demonise it and demand its utter elimination. The question is, can you survive without it?

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2 thoughts on “Sexism is good in the gaming community

  1. This is flawed. And dangerous.

    You assume that women are weak, and then ask if given this we are able to survive without sexism.

    But women are not ‘weak’.

    1. We should question what we all tend to consider ‘intrinsically’ female. If you believe in evolution, is it not likely that even biological traits have been developed based on social roles as enforced by power relations over the centuries? For example, men ‘have incredible reflexes and aim which do not come as intrinsically to women’. Why might this be the case? Could it just have been their roles as hunter-gatherers? Of course, we won’t know.

    2. But even if you want to insist on pointing out ‘intrinsic’ female traits – why does what you seem to suggest here make us ‘weak’? The ‘fact’ that we cry at bloodshed and violence is not necessarily weak. And the ‘fact’ that men have incredible reflexes DOES NOT MAKE THEM STRONG. At most, you can say it had fulfilled the hunter-gatherer social role. We ought to question that concept, especially since our society is moving away from such narrow ideas of strength. What about strength of heart and of mind? Endurance, tolerance, sensitivity.

    What does having good reflexes show about a person? That he/she has good reflexes is all. A reflex is ‘an action that is performed as a response to a stimulus and without conscious thought’.Good reflexes are good if you want to do well on a video game. And if you don’t have good reflexes for video games, it is not necessarily because you are a woman, and it is most certainly not because you are weak.

    a. There are plenty of males that are not good at video games.
    b. There are plenty of females that are good at video games.
    c. And why might they be so? We can attribute it to a lack of interest in such forms of stimulation, regardless of gender.
    d. Lack of interest -> lack of practice -> less attuned reflexes -> less good at video games

    The concept of ‘weak’ or ‘woman’ does not need to come in here. (And the lack of interest is not the only reason for a person to be less awesome at video games. I am just using it as an example to show that there are less gender-biased reasons.)

    The point I’m making here is: the premises of your argument – that women are weak and that women are what you consider ‘womanly’ – is flawed.

    But your argument does not stop here (although it very much should). Your conclusion is that ‘sexism is good in the gaming community’. Because men are strong, the ‘protection that such male restraint and consideration’ offers is a good and kind thing.

    But it is not.

    ‘Double-standards! Injustice! Sexism! Women aren’t weak!’ – how very cavalier, sarcastic… and trite. Let us marginalise feminist arguments, make them seem a little unnecessary by enclosing them in exclamation marks (alternatively: double-standards, injustice, sexism, women-aren’t-weak – see how much less arrogant this is). Perhaps you think adopting such a style will salvage the lack of persuasiveness in your argument? But why I want to bring attention to this – is because of the reality of females shunning feminism because it is perceived as extreme and unnecessary, especially when couched in language like that. This video summarises it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnJxqRLg9x0

    I said on top that there are many reasons why some men and women do not excel at video games. Apart from a lack of interest, there are compelling arguments that suggest that ‘females’ may be ‘lousier’ at video games because the whole industry caters to what people would consider intrinsically ‘male’ interests (which many males would probably not entirely agree with, either). It is precisely because video games are assumed to cater to males that all these problems are created – companies continue creating games for who they think are males, society accepts that video games are for males, and invisibly and gradually, video games become a ‘male’ thing, and these gender relations are reinforced. And why is this a bad thing?

    You see, why do males think that the right thing to do is to practice restraint and consideration (in the way that you conceive restraint and consideration, which I disagree with)? Because of their assumptions about females, and their assumptions about weaknesses. It is really hardly noble, and outright disturbing, when males get all ‘considerate’ and ‘gentlemanly’ and you can just see the assumptions trickling out of their arses. I think many girls would feel quite uncomfortable at displays of ‘chivalry’ and ‘manly graciousness’ nowadays. Err… thanks but I would really rather you not do that.

    Since video games are such a far-reaching source of stimulation, such narrow gender biases would have painful effects on women. People would start creating blogs saying that women should be grateful to sexism for being so beneficial to us when it comes to video games. (And look, I didn’t have to put that into exclamation marks to make it sound ridiculous…) But no. Here’s the ugly side about believing that women are what we think women are and that women are weak: assumptions about our abilities and talents in relation to men’s. Inequality. Oppression. Abuse. And do not say that this side does not rear its head in civilised society often – it does – in sandwich jokes, emphasising female dressing instead of male inappropriateness when it comes to cat-calling, non-consensual sex, a disadvantage in the workplace and society. And if you think we have already surmounted such problems, you have to be completely ignorant about what is going on in the world nowadays… Just take a look at uselesschatter.tumblr.com to get a sense of the oppression that women face. A lot of this oppression stems from basic beliefs that women are what we think women are and that women are weak.

    So yes, we can survive very much without sexism, including in the gaming world, thank you.

    Do not think you are above feminist arguments and principles. Because what you have said here… really proves otherwise. Reading your post has not caused me to believe with less conviction anything I have believed in. Quite the opposite, really

    If you want this blog to make any sense, I would suggest you fill it up with studies that show that there are ‘typical’ female brains and qualities that have stayed with us (and even so, how can we ever stop questioning their credibility?), followed by evidence that oppression has not been detrimental to females, followed by evidence that oppression does not exist anymore, instead of… largely fallacious arguments.

    • I never mentioned the word “weak” in the article in reference to women, except when putting forward the typical feminist argument and only said that females are inferior in terms of the characteristics required to game: aim and reflexes.

      I take an empirical approach to this, to avoid delving too much into scientific controversy as neurology is a removed cousin of the social sciences; when I say that “men have incredible reflexes and aim which do not come as intrinsically to women”, it’s from what I have observed myself, whether or not it is backed up by scientific research that is more often than not convoluted and yields contradictions. IF you don’t have good reflexes for video games, it certainly isn’t necessarily because you’re a woman, but the generalisation I am making here is: men in general have better reflexes and aim than women. I’m not saying that this makes women weak, I’m saying that it limits their ability to survival in the gaming scene. Of course there are plenty of males that are not good at video games (although most are able to do passably) and there are plenty of females that are good at video games – although, as I mentioned earlier, they are a minority, and females CAN get good (with interest and forms of stimulation), but if you compare a female and a male that have, for example, the same number of hours on a game, the male clearly excels.

      If we were to define weak here, it would mean any characteristics that limit your chance of survival in the gaming scene, and female traits DO reduce survivability; it’s not bloodshed that we cry at, but the drive and ability to be insensitive to harsh judgments that limit us, as well as the inability to, for whatever reason, have “good aim and reflexes”. In an industry that caters to what people would consider intrinsically male interests (which, by admitting, you’re saying that males are more suited to blood-shed and violence than females are), of course women are seen as having inferior skills; but there’s nothing wrong with this. In female-inclined activities like, for example, sewing, women with biologically slimmer, more nimble fingers obviously win out, and males have ‘weaker’ skills in this respect – and there’s nothing wrong with that. As a woman who tries to claim grounds in the gaming scene, the sexism and patience they show in this respect (despite the condescension and the imposed glass-ceiling) is something that I personally am grateful for because it is, after all, a male territory and male-catered industry.

      And you might be able to reject male “chivalry” in normal society, but in a male-dominated one you can’t say the same, because it’s a choice we make in entering it. Your extrapolation that such narrow gender biases will lead to things like non-consensual sex and a disadvantage in workplace and society, is hardly fair to males because many males who would make such sexist jokes (albeit harmlessly) are often not the ones perpetuating the same values of actual and tangible oppression. While you extend your claim to normal society, you fail to remember this: that what I’m talking about is the gender dynamics within the gaming society, which is an example of something that an extreme anti-feminist might take issue with precisely because of the sexism that exists, we’re talking about sexism against a woman’s abilities in an online, intangible thing that will NOT lead to rape or non-consensual sex. And it is a community that painful diverges from real life because of its gender taint.

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