From the message that Xbox Live user ralphy305 sent a female gamer, it’s clear the time he should have spent on his spelling and grammar was instead put to keying in a text representation of an ejaculating penis.
Give the devil his due, though, ralphy305’s invective was also a hat trick hitting the titular themes of “Fat, Ugly or Slutty,” a repository of hate speech directed at female gamers, which launched last month. “u should hopp off cod & go to the kitchen where u belong & cook ur redneck lesbian gf a cock meat sandwitch fuck u dirty slut no life fat bitch.”
The casual racism, snarling sexism and random belligerence one encounters in online play, particularly in a first-person shooter over Xbox Live, is not at all a new phenomenon. It’s sadly accepted as par for the course, in fact. But the three curators of “Fat, Ugly or Slutty,” have chosen to archive it, not so much for a high-minded ideal, but to hold a mirror up to idiots worthy of ridicule.
“We started the site because we think these messages are ridiculous, horrifying, but above all, funny,” wrote the editor known as gtz, answering questions emailed to her by Kotaku.
“The vast majority of responses have been from people remembering the exact same type of messages they have received and laughing with us,” gtz elaborated.
That said, she and the other two editors, Jaspir and likeOMGitsFEDAY, see a potential contribution to the discussion of online behaviour, even if they aren’t so idealistic as to say that Fat, Ugly or Slutty will end up being the agent of change.
“Some other reactions we’ve seen are A) ‘This is part of gaming, deal with it,’ and B) ‘I am incredibly horrified, I had no idea it was this bad. Some A people are very publicly turning into B people from seeing the site. There’s obviously an unexplored conversation to be had there,” gtz said.
Public shaming is a worthy goal more easily met, too. “We think people should be held more accountable for their actions,” writes the editor known as likeOMGitsFEDAY, a veteran gamer who has been in the PMS gaming clan for the past six years. “We’re just helping it along by feeding their handles to Google.”
Fat, Ugly or Slutty’s shaming campaign stops there, though. The trio doesn’t report obnoxious gamertags to Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network, recognising the due diligence required of an online service provider makes it prohibitive to ferret out every submission they get where someone’s been called a bitch, or worse.
However, “Microsoft is aware of the site and did contact us before the rest of the Internet found the site,” said the editor known as gtz. “Most of our submissions are from Xbox Live, but we have made it clear that we’ll take submissions from elsewhere.”
The site has a little more than 30 submissions, some of them audio, after coming into existence mid-January. Contributions are tagged “Sandwich Making 101,” “Pen15 club,” and “Death Threats,” in addition to “fat,” “ugly,” or “slutty,” indicating there’s very little on the blog that hasn’t been written, read or heard before. The difference now is it’s not a private message.
The three editors have varying levels of exposure to and tolerance for this sort of thing. gtz says she games “in a friend-only bubble” and purposefully conceals her gender in many online situations “until I get a feel for the community.” FEDAY and Jaspir roam among the masses. FEDAY, a member of the PMS clan since 2005, seems to relish dishing out the kind of asskicking that invites such clichéd misogynistic abuse. Jaspir simply loves online gaming too much to let trolls destroy it.
All three repeat what everyone has heard since grade school, but is admittedly difficult to internalize, that words only hurt if you give someone else that power. “It’s hard to not have the initial reaction,” says gtz. “It takes effort for me to just sit quietly and hope that the match starts soon – also hoping I don’t automatically get moved to the team that isn’t my friends.”
They do see a purpose to Fat, Ugly or Slutty, but are under no illusions that they’ll stamp out internet idiocy; they’ll more likely chronicle it. “The site has a huge shock factor,” says FEDAY, “Mostly from male gamers who wouldn’t imagine sending the sort of messages that we post and who are shocked that people do. It may change a few perspectives, but I think trash talking will always be a part of gaming.
Jaspir is a little more jaded. “I don’t think much will change,” she wrote. “I think in the future, our site will be in the back of the minds of whoever is just about to hit send on a distasteful message, but they’ll do it anyway.”