One Female Gamer Records A Warfare In Words

The latest Call of Duty's out today and there's going to be lots of trash talk and cuss words among the many fans who'll be cutting class, calling in sick and otherwise shirking their duties to play the latest entry in Activision's best -selling FPS series. But, as Jenny Haniver can attest, there's a special kind of trash talk reserved for female players. It's filled with casual sexism, vulgar slurs and an angry dismissiveness of any skills a woman playing an online game might show.

As a longtime fan of first-person shooters and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in particular, Haniver -- which isn't, by the way, her real name -- has heard the vitriol of online competitive play for years now. But she's doing something a bit different than other female gamers: she's recording it. Haniver archives the saddest, most misanthropic chatter she's confronted with on Not in the Kitchen Anymore, a blog that grew out of an art project she did last year. That project plastered excerpts from the verbal harassment she'd run into onto the walls of an exhibition space and Jenny's continued that same work in digital form. Not in the Kitchen Anymore holds up a mirror to those who've supposedly got skills in the headshot, grenade toss and melee arenas and shows what it looks like when they lack simple human decency, the most basic skill of all.

So, on the day of release for the latest Modern Warfare, Kotaku asked Jenny to share the most angry recordings that she's made playing MW2 -- as well as other FPSes -- along with some of her own commentary.

Two Chicks That Play Xbox

If you are a female who plays online games, it's an almost automatic guarantee that some guys will assume that you are fat. Or that you have nothing better to do, because you're forever alone. But if you try and turn it around and suggest that, perhaps since they're on the same game, at the same time, maybe THEY'RE fat loners too… That's just madness!

Oh, so that's how it works.

Occasionally, guys will admit that you legitimately have some skills at whatever game you're playing. At first, this can seem promising, but hold on- don't get too excited! This sort of comment is almost invariably followed by an insult.

Wow, how did you know?

Another typical male comment is that girls online sound like 12 year old boys, or men. This is supposed to be degrading to the female gamer ("Oh no! Some guy on the internet thinks I sound like a boy?? Time to cry myself to sleep again."), but is mostly just humorous.

Non et non.

It seems outrageous that female gamers like to game just because it's fun! Surely it must be for an alternative reason? Perhaps you're secretly just hoping to meet the perfect man over Xbox live. If that's the case, lucky you! There are persistent fellows willing to pitch virtual woo at you, even from across the world.

Girl on girl Action

And, of course, guys are not the only perpetrators. From time to time, you will run into The Only Girl On The Internet. Since women are an acknowledged minority in the gaming community, a few girls can get territorial about their gamer status. This leads to a Highlander mentality (there can only be one!). It can be disastrous for all parties involved if another woman stumbles into the same lobby as one of these girls.

You can read and listen to more of Jenny's recordings at Not in the Kitchen Anymore.

Not in the Kitchen Anymore


    How can you both be an avid COD player and yet uncomfortable with the endless verbal abuse the community is infamous for?

    It's kind of like setting yourself on fire and then complaining about all the skin grafts.


      a) it's unacceptable.
      b) even intelligent people sometimes like COD, does idiocy always have to prevail?

      A more correct analogy would be someone setting a woman on fire just because she was a woman who just happened to be in the same room.

    I'm a guy, and the first thing I do is mute every single person in the lobby that I don't know already. I can't imagine trying to play a CoD or Halo as a female player and *not* doing that at the very least.

      I do this too, not because I'm a girl and I'm afraid of insults but because listening to pre-pubescent boys throwing around slurs and calling everyone who headhots them a hacker is f**king annoying. Not to mention the geniuses who just make weird noises in to the mic/have music playing.

        I agree, when ever I play reach or black ops, I always mute the microphone. I don't even play with a headset unless I'm playing with friends. it has nothing to do with being a girl, but it has everything to do with the fact that people, guys and girls, are incredibly annoying during online play.

      I never understood the need for a microphone. Call of Duty isn't really a co-operative game in the first place. The only reason you'd actually be using a microphone is to yell in into it when you're pissed off. The good thing about PC is that generally, someone who's abusive and rageful, can't type fast enough to keep up and vent the full way, and most people don't use their microphones.

    As anyone who's been in the comment trenches over the last few weeks would know, I'm totally for acknowledging that the representation of females in games is a little lacking in breadth and depth and that everyone would benefit from a wider range of better developed and more compelling female characters.

    Usually this is flagged under "Sexism" discussions (like this post is), although let's not argue that.

    However, I've got to say that you have to look at the real world in cases like this. You're engaging in a highly competitive game on the internet, where users are braver and more anonymous than real life.

    The smack talk that ensues will ALWAYS be an attempt to be the most offensive and insulting to whichever player the other one is trying to throw off their game, and will ALWAYS go for the cheap and easy spots because they're so gosh darn effective.

    My point is this: Ms Haniver is not being abused and targeted because she is female. She is being abused and targeted with equality, or with bias is she is particularly good at a game. The fact she cops gender-related insults is because it is low hanging fruit that will be extremely effective.

    As someone in a recent thread said, if they jump online and started talking about how they were a vegetarian after each kill, they'll get an earful of anti-vegetarian taunts going forward - whatever seems likely to throw them off their game the most.

    As for people using anti-female, anti-gay, anti-race, anti-meat taunts? It's only happening because it's effective, and is a general part of our human condition. It's not a gaming issue, you're just lucky enough to meet such a wide range and number of people through the portal of games.

      I think I agree with your point.

      Your point is that she is being sledged about being a woman, because she's a woman... where as if she was a kid she'd be taunted about that, or if she was of an ethnic stereotype she'd be insulted based on that. Correct?

        Fairly close, yeah.

        She's being sledged because she's a gamer, and probably doing pretty good. Everyone cops abuse.

        She's copping gendered insults because she's female, but that is simply because it is an obvious "feature" that would be seen as an easy target to sledge.

        Say you were a white male American with a stutter - you're going to cop the same level of abuse, just focused on your stutter.

        Defining characteristics are targets.

          Ostracizm of non conforming peoples... not new, not even surprising.

          Don't get me wrong, it's disapointing... but it's like those studies that show smoking and obesity are bad for you. It's not news...

        You should read the first post on her blog.

        She isn't trying to make out that she is hurt or surprised by what she hears, more she is documenting it. there seems to be no "I'mma victim, you should all play nice".

    I do think that she copped the abuse because the people online don't seriously know anything beyond what's in front of them. You're just playing guys in a team deathmatch and someone pips up he is a she. Now, normal people would just go "Okay" and keep going. But in this game, everyone is assumed to be guys so to have a girl play is something akin to a 'WTF?' moment.

    Secondly, smack talk is always there as it is one of the more effective ways to berate someone to your level. Especially you're a girl as I do think girls have more to lose in terms against guys. So the question then comes as 'Why didn't she just mute the twats in the first place?' Well, that's her decision really.

    Finally, girls rarely talk or tell they are girls online. I knew a couple of girls that didn't tell me until I got off and had an off-game chat with them. That's because they don't want to the torrent of comments, rarely good and majority of it bad, towards them. They just want to play, simple as that. But opening your mouth to tell you're a girl is definitely something you don't want to do in this game given how egotistic bastards play this.

      She didn't mute them because she was doing a sociology project... and then running a blog, and maybe, eventually, writing a thesis / book?

        It's a pretty interesting project too, especially if it looks into general discriminatory practices by default in society, and herd mentality.

    Omg girl on the internet accept my friend request pl0x pl0x pl0x

    I don't broadcast the fact that I'm a female when playing online games. Why would I?
    I'm not amazing, but I'm not shit either, usually ranking somewhere in the middle of the team (and occasionally in the top 3) in CoD multiplayer.
    In my opinion saying that I'm female would be like saying "Look! Look at me! I can play games too! Be impressed that I'm holding my own even though I'm a female!"

    Gender in games (gamers, that is) is a non-issue.

    As I mentioned in an above comment I mute most talkers that I don't know as their comments are almost never tactical.

      I agree with Parker; it's a non-issue. I don't hide my gender when I play, but I don't advertise it either. Frankly I don't think a random gamer's gender is important, even if that random gamer is myself.

      From my experience though, some female gamers who broadcast their gender seem to only do so because they want attention. I can't help but compare such gamers to people on Facebook who have to have as many "friends" as possible. It's all just to feed their ego and help their self-esteem. Kind of sad, really.

      As for the apparently sexist abuse when playing against people, as others have mentioned in other comments, it's just an easy target for sledging, which is just used to try to throw people of their game. If anything, one should feel sorry for such unimaginative people. On that note, I wouldn't mind if someone recorded and blogged the most imaginative trash talk. That would be interesting.

        Not ''advertising your gender" is all well and good right up until the point where you have to use voice comms. I can think of a number of occasions when everything's been fine and dandy in game right up until the point where I hit the transmit button to say something as incredibly controversial as 'watch out for that sniper'.

        And the sledging excuse starts to lose credence when it's coming from the people on your own team as well as the opposing one.

    Does she records when she is treated with dignity and respect?
    Might be on the wrong servers.

    Lol, sad, sad people... If anytthing the whole gamer/n3rd chick thing is actually pretty HOT... Its why I married one! Plus, shes always got my back on TF2! ¶:Þ

    I dunno, I see where she is coming from but.... nerdragers are nerdragers.

    They will throw out any insult they can to make themselves feel better/look better at the game... they don't care if the person is male or female but it will change their insults to what they think the person will find more offensive.

    I never reveal what gender I am. It's easier that way. I play killing floor instead of cod. The characters can insult people for you

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