Nerds And Male Privilege Part 2: The Arguments

A few months ago, I wrote an article on nerds and male privilege. Maybe you read it.

Believe me, nobody was more surprised than me when it proceeded to go viral and start rocketing around the internet. It garnered a lot of attention and a load of mixed reactions, some good, some bad, some downright puzzling. It made for a great lead-in as to just how some male behaviours can work against us when it comes to dating and I got to enjoy my five minutes of internet fame. I sort of figured that this was the end of it and was ready to move on to the next series of articles. I mean, after all, I didn't start my blog to be about gender relations; I'm just a guy trying to help geeks improve their love-lives and get better at dating.

Well, man plans and the gods laugh and all that. It seems as though I'm not quite done with the subject yet.

Y'see, there were certain recurring themes and arguments in the comments, both here, on Reddit and Kotaku, especially regarding my immediate dismissal of entire classes of arguments about whether male privilege — especially as it pertains to geek and gaming culture — exists. And since I'm the sort of person who can't seem to leave it well enough alone...

Let's take another whack at the ol' hornet's nest again, shall we?

The Three Ds of Arguing

Back when I wrote "Nerds and Male Privilege", I included a link to the "Sexism In Games" bingo card as an example of the most common arguments and ones that, ultimately, make my point for me. A number of people felt that this was my attempting some sort of rhetorical end-run around actually having a discussion about how male privilege affects women or even whether or not male privilege exists and thus cheapening or even disproving my argument. Amusingly, they then promptly proceeded to make just about every argument on there. So many, in fact, that one Redditor decided to play "/r/Gaming" sexism bingo with the comments in just one of the threads about the article.

Not even the one in the sub-forum for Men's Rights.

I dismissed these arguments in part because that's not what the article was about; it was about making people aware about how male privilege manifests itself in geek culture and that the attitudes that male privilege engenders directly affect women's involvement and inclusion in geek culture. After all, there's nothing quite like being told by a community that you want to be a part of that you're only valued as a commodity or reward, is there?

But, more importantly, these arguments pull the attention away from the subject at hand and lead the conversation down roads that it was never intended to go. As a result, the main thrust of the article — guys, you have advantages that lead you to act a certain way that is off-putting to women — gets lost while everybody is sucked into a never-ending morass of goalpost moving and verbal gerrymandering.

These arguments tend to fall into what I call the "Three Ds of Internet Arguing": Dismiss, Deflect and Derail.

Dismissal entails denying that the issue exists at all in the first place, evidence be damned. This often involves long and tortured explanations about how something really isn't sexist at all and is perfectly rational and egalitarian. Occasionally it involves explaining to someone how they're completely misinterpreting things, they're oversensitive or overemotional.

No, you're sexist! You're trying to oppress men!

Deflection is all about verbal judo and flipping the accusations around on the accuser. In terms of arguing male privilege this usually appears as variations of "No, women have all the power, they're more manipulative than men" or "You're discriminating against us!".

Derailing is the most common version of these arguments and serves to change the subject of the conversation, usually by the people in question. Suddenly, instead of discussing geek culture's implied accepted roles for women, we're discussing the hierarchy of oppression or why we're talking about this instead of, say, female circumcision (which is, like, way worse). Or dealing with assertions that, by extension, anyone who agreed with the article wants to ban all "sexy" characters from video games forever.

Now don't get me wrong here: I'm not saying that there can be no disagreement on the subject or that by arguing with me at all you're conceding the fight or automatically making my point for me. I am, however, saying that the arguments — as represented on the bingo card — fall in line with these types and ultimately do refer back to the point I was making.

But hey, let's actually go through a few of these, shall we?

"You're Only Saying This Because You're A White Knight/Trying to Get Laid/Trying to Appease Your Girlfriend."

This one showed up a number of times, and it's the one that amuses me the most. I mean, honestly, if writing a post on a semi-obscure blog was all it took to get a guy laid... well, shit, I probably would never have actually started Paging Dr NerdLove because there would be no need for it.

For that matter, why exactly would writing an article make my girlfriend happier than, say, cleaning the litterbox more often? It's a mystery.

Ultimately, this is a case of dismissal. This argument implies that the only reason why I would even pretend this exists is because I have ulterior motives. Otherwise, I would never bring it up/betray my gender.

Amusingly, I received a few variations of this from some feminist blogs as well; I paraphrase (because I can't find the link and Google is failing me) but evidently my whole point of bringing this up was "just so that guys could pretend to have a whiff of a clue and trick women into fucking them."

"Comics/Gaming/RPGs/Etc. Are A Subculture That Appeals To Men! You Trying To Take That Away!/But It's Not FOR Women! If They Can't Deal With It, They Shouldn't Be Here!"

These deflections tend to be variations on the same argument; that privilege is inherently a zero-sum game and by making concessions to women regarding the levels of sexism in geek culture requires taking something away from men.

Which is, to be perfectly honest, kinda nuts. But it does imply one thing: that at a certain level the one making the argument realises that they are the de-facto privileged and they worry about not having that privilege.

Now to be fair: some elements of geek culture are male-dominated; comics and gaming are perfect examples of this. This does not, however mean that they're inherently intended for guys exclusively, nor does it mean that they also have to be as exclusionary to women as they tend to be.

Realizing that drawing all of your female characters with 36DDD tits and posing them in physically impossible ways in order to show off their boobs and arse at the same time while wearing dental floss costumes might be a little offensive to women is hardly the same as saying that you're not allowed to enjoy sexy art or that sexy art shouldn't be allowed. Similarly, campaigning for female characters who are more than "Hero's Girlfriend" or "Fan-Service Station Attendant" doesn't mean that there can't be femme fatales or even characters who are there for titillation.

The problem isn't that these characters or drawings exist. The problem is that these are the vast majority. When 99 per cent of the female characters, whether it be comics, movies, or video games are designed to look like porn stars and the ones that aren't can be counted on the fingers of one hand, it's not terribly surprising that women might be oooged out by it... and the implied attitudes that come with it. When your only choice for a gaming avatar are "Bustier and Thong" and "Battle Bikini", it sends the message that "You are only welcome here as a sexual object. If you do not meet these criteria, we have no use for you."

Nobody's saying that there can't be sex-kittens, voluptuous pin-ups or fetishised characters. But leavening them out with realistically-proportioned females in practical costumes who aren't there to be rescued, raped, murdered, tied to the train tracks or the prize for beating the main boss isn't taking away your rights or preventing you from enjoying the games.

"But They Call Her A 'Bitch' Because They're The Bad Guys."

This qualifies as a derailment.

This one came up repeatedly in the context of criticism of Arkham City, a game that I (and other bloggers and journalists) dinged for being an excellent game with some troubling aspects. In this case, the various henchmen running around Arkham City constantly refer to Catwoman as "bitch" and make repeated comments about beating and/or raping her and Harley Quinn.

Now I will give you this much: yes, the characters saying this are criminals locked up in a city-sized jail, presumably with very few female inmates.

However, let's keep in mind that these are not real people. All of these characters are constructs without free will or animus. They aren't making jokes about "Riding the Harley" because that's just how they roll; someone had to decide that this is what they were going to say. Someone had to record those specific lines. This wasn't a case of emergent gameplay that took the creators by surprise — it was decided that whenever the player controlled Catwoman, the henchmen would call her bitch and threaten her with sexual violence.

Worth noting: these characters are violent offenders in a prison and male-on-male rape is rampant in the prison system. Yet nobody is telling Batman that they're going to make him their bitch or that they're going to bust out his teeth so that it feels better when they force Bats to blow them. Nobody's calling Batman a faggot or threatening to run a train on him after they beat him unconscious. Rape, after all, is a statement of power, domination and degradation... and who represents everything the criminals hate or resent more than Batman?

But they don't. Because they weren't designed to.

The writers and designers didn't include these behaviours or lines for when the player controls Batman. They did for Catwoman. This makes all of the difference.

"You're The One Who Hates Women — You're Saying They Can't Be Both Sexy And Tough."

Another deflection, implying that by criticising the portrayal of these characters the critic is, in fact, the sexist.

Of course, this requires that the definition of "sexy" mean "wears extremely revealing clothes" and "has massive breasts", which is patently untrue. Sexiness doesn't derive solely from the level of fan-service the character provides, and it's absurd to try to limit to just how much skin we can or can't see.

There are a number of female characters — sadly, a relatively small number — who manage to be strong, fully realised and sexy characters without wearing stripper-tastic costumes.

Just off the top of my head I could name:

  • Ashley Williams: Mass Effect
  • Elena Fisher and Chloe Frazer: Uncharted 1, 2 and 3
  • Kate Kane: Batwoman
  • Matoko Kusanagi: Ghost In The Shell
  • Jade: Beyond Good and Evil
  • Agatha Heterodyne: Girl Genius
  • Nausicaa: Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind

Interestingly enough, Lara Croft — once the poster child for absurd outfits and gag boobs — has undergone a redesign making her far more realistically proportioned and sensibly dressed. And speaking as someone who has gone climbing over and in ruined temples in the jungle... yeah, you're not gonna wear shorts.

"But Trash Talk is Normal on Xbox Live. Women Are Just Too Sensitive to Rape Threats and Feigned Masturbation."

Another deflection, and one that relies rather specifically on XBL or Playstation Network multiplayer games, because it falls apart fairly quickly if you look at it with respect to, say, voice chat in World of Warcraft.

So again, I will give you this much: Yes, there's a lot of shit-talking in online games. But ask any woman who plays a first-person shooter and you'll quickly hear about the difference when guys realise there's a woman in their midst. Suddenly it's all about the rape or the fapping sounds. Guys may threaten to make other male player their bitches, but they're not going to be asking those other guys how big their cocks are, if they're cut or uncut and whether they're a top or bottom. Women on the other hand will be told to show their tits and inundated with demands for cyber sex. They'll be called "cunt" and "whore", but if they complain they'll be told that they're too "sensitive" or "emotional" to play.

And hey, if they're especially lucky, the harassment doesn't end just because you quit out of the game!

Xbox Live Douchebags: Puttin' the "ass" in "Classy". Screenshot: fatuglyorslutty.com.

But as I said, as soon as you step out of the world of first-person shooters and into MMOs, the argument that trash-talking is a normal part of online gaming starts to look thin. Many women will use male avatars, gender-neutral sounding names and refuse to use voice-chat systems such as Ventrilo. As soon as other players — guild members, pick-up groups or even PVP opponents realise that there's a woman in their midst, the conversation now becomes about her gender... and more importantly, whether she has a boyfriend or will show her tits.

"Everyone Knows 'Sex Sells', And The Developers Are Just Making Things They Think Will Sell."

Another deflection. And one that might be news to EA; The Sims sold over 16 million copies. Activision might be astonished too: World of Warcraft has sold over 12 million copies.

But hey, what about console games? Well, the top-selling game on the Playstation 3 was Gran Turismo 5, followed by Modern Warfare 2 and Uncharted 3 (there it is again!). On the Xbox 360, the top three sellers are Call of Duty: Black Ops, Kinect Adventures and Halo 3.

And let's face it, every developer would give their left testicles to reach the level of sales of Super Mario Bros. with 40 million units sold.

Tits may get attention, but they're hardly the dividing line between success and failure.

"But Men Are All Super-Buff, They're Sexually Objectified Too! / Men Want To Watch Desirable Women, Women Want To Be Desirable Women."

This is one of the most common deflections when the issue of how women are portrayed comes up. It's known as a false equivalence — the idea that two things presented together as equal when in fact they aren't. In this case, the idea that just because women have exaggerated physiques doesn't mean they're sexist because the men are just as exaggerated too. Of course, this doesn't work for many reasons. To start with, it assumes — falsely — that the things that women find sexy are the same things that guys find sexy; that is, the exaggerated secondary sex characteristics. But we'll get to that in a second.

The other issue is the reason for the exaggeration. Comics and games are fantasy, true, but the fantasy aspect differs when it comes to male and female characters. Male characters are a power fantasy; the large muscles and massive torsos are visual signs that this character is an unstoppable powerhouse. Kratos doesn't look the way he does because Sony Computer Entertainment did focus-market studies and found that women reacted best to that design; he looks the way he does because he represents the powerful alpha-male that gamers want to be.

The women, on the other hand, are sexual fantasies. These are the rewards for the player — the character's love-interest, the motivation to complete the game. They're designed as eye-candy; they're intended as something to be consumed, not something to escape into. Women like to fantasise about being desirable yes, but they also like to be powerful, and their definition of what they would consider to be sexy and powerful doesn't mean battle-bikinis and thongs of power.

But hey, I'm a guy. It's easy for me to sit here and proclaim what women find sexy, but I could be talking out of my arse. So why not take it to the source? I put out a completely unscientific poll on Facebook and Twitter about characters that women find sexy — video games, comics, anime, whatever. And the results? Well, let's compare.

Here we have the exaggerated figures that are supposedly sexy too:

And here are the characters my female readers find sexy:

Notice a trend here? These are not the massive beefcakes alpha-males that are supposedly as equally objectified as Kasumi, Ayane or Ivy. These men have longer torsos with much leaner builds; they're built like swimmers rather than weight-lifters. They're not men who scream "unstoppable physical power". They're lithe and dextrous, not barrel-chested juggernauts with tree stumps for limbs.

And the other critical factor: it's not just their builds that make them sexy. Gambit, for example is attractive because of his personality and his situation; he's tortured because he can't physically touch the woman he loves. Nightcrawler is the laughing swashbuckler, full of wit and flirty charm. Jareth is dark and mysterious and just a little dangerous and oozes sexuality.

Yes, the men are exaggerated as much as the women. But it's the intent and the message that make all of the difference.

"It's Just A Comic/Game/Movie. No-One Cares."

A dismissal that's patently untrue.

The fact of the matter is, people do care. Women feel excluded from participating in the fandoms they enjoy because of these attitudes. They feel as though they can't take part because of the way they're treated just by virtue of being female. They're told they have nothing to contribute because of their gender and that their value consists of their availability as a sex object.

And geek guys wonder why geeky girls are so thin on the ground.

I'll have more to say soon specifically about how male privilege in geek culture directly affects women, why guys should care and what we — men and women — can do about it.

Until then, back to the dating advice.

Harris O'Malley provides geek dating advice at his blog Paging Dr NerdLove, as well as writing the occasional guest review for Spill.com and appearing on the podcast The League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen. Republished with permission.


Comments

    Successful Nerdbait is Successful.

    The OP was entirely correct in the first instance. I fail to see the need for another article on the same subject.

    But hey... it gets the nerds to click and argue. I see this constantly on Kotaku. Inflammatory journalism for the sake of clicks.

    and we just keep falling for it

    Cheers

      Maybe you didn't actually read it but the article was a response to the arguements against the topic of the last article. It's not the same topic. It's a deconstruction of the response to the last topic.

    (I don't know why my post is waiting moderation even though there's nothing offensive in it, but let me post it again.)

    Boys have their fun and girls have their games.

    Look at gems like harukanaru, tokimeki memorial girl's side & try to say with a straight face that women don’t also depic the opposite gender to suit their fetishes.

    The point is, women also enjoy games in their own way. They don’t need YOU (the author) to defend or fight for their rights. They can do it themselves pretty well, thank you, and not by complaining about how sexists men are but by actually making games they’d want to play themselves.

    If you want to stop discrimination, then you can start by not being a hypocrite. Stop masquarading as the internet "big strong man" protecting girls from the unsavory elements of the video game culture. Because no.1, you're not one for your flimsy argument and no.2, they can handle this sort of stuff themselves.

      Because when girls think of geek culture or gaming they think "tokimeki memorial girl’s side".
      The lists posted upthread are evidence that the times they are a-changing, but the impression is obviously still there that girls are sexualised and objectified by geek culture. When some of gaming's biggest icons are characters like Lara Croft and Ivy from Soul Calibur there's always going to be a credibility gap for women, and that's the whole point of the OP - girls aren't going to be attracted to gaming or geek culture in any large numbers when it's seen as so misogynistic. Regardless of the reality of the situation, if it seems to women that that's all the culture has to offer, it doesn't matter that a secondary character in some survival horror game is empowered, they'll still be turned off the culture as a whole.

        Yea, argument for the ignorant is such a noble cause. So we should cater to people who don't do enough research, or in this case, women who haven't looked up everything gaming has to offer?

        Gaming is just another medium for content, if they don't like what they see, then just have them make their own games & make their votes count by backing it with their money.

        These big games companies are not a secret cabal bent on asserting sexualised male world view on women, they're just money spinning machines. If female gamers were to grow their own genres, like what's happening to many social games out there, then they'll surely get their day when investors start pouring in their money because they see potential.

        Actually, I'd really love to see that. Girls defining the industry for themselves instead of having fake male feminists (author) blowing their horns thinking that they're doing all the chicks a favor when women already have the resources they need to make the changes they want.

          I didn't mean that women (or anyone) should be given a free pass to have uninformed opinions. What I meant was that the perception exists, because of the prominence of women who aren't wearing much, that geek culture isn't women-friendly. The author's initial point was that that perception is a barrier for women who might otherwise embrace the culture, which is a bad thing in the long run, because the more female gamers, the better.

      Just so you know for next time, any comment with multiple links goes into automatic moderation. If you post one link in your first comment, then put the others as individual replies, they should go through fine.

      Obviously, I like how all your choices on what women 'like' only come from Japanese sources. Where are the Anglo Saxon made games which cater for what women would like to see in a man? I could name a few off the top of my head, but they are exceptionally few in number compared to what male gamers have going on for them, and most importantly, those 'few' games are extremely recent compared to what male gamers have gotten since the advent of gaming, whether it be tabletop such as DnD, ADnD etc. (Majority of female depictions are in impossible armour, and races featuring females are grossly sexualized) or PC games such as Leisure Suit Larry and so many others, including thousands of Japanese made hentai games for men (but hardly any for women).

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_erotic_video_games

      Obviously, it was made in response to the extremely skewed gender demographic in the realm of gaming, and it definitely excluded females due to their XXX content targeted towards males. In many ways, I believe it has shaped gamer men's expectations and attitude towards women - in many ways alienating us.

      Harukanaru Toki no Naka, a game for girls featuring *actually* *sexy* men, who treats women well? Now where can I get there in Australia?.... Nowhere? Damn. Its also an older game (PS2), now why haven't I heard of this game when it was actually available? Is it even in english? Damn. Looks like I've missed out on something that actually provides some manner of eye candy for me.

      Also what are guys complaining about when they speak of the male characters of Harukanaru Toki no Naka? Based on this picture...http://gallery.minitokyo.net/download/263460

      They mostly have long hair which is an allusion to the olden days where men did wear their hair long, and they wear somewhat historically accurate clothes - which cover everything except their face/neck and hands. The body under those clothes is left to the imagination - perhaps they each have a bit of a tummy or are as thin as a stick.

      So how exactly are they sexualized in a traditional male sense? This is especially when men in that culture (and mine) used to dress like that. You have no idea how big their junk is, or whether they have a six pack, or how much muscle they've got unlike the obvious the traditional game male characters.

      Unless what is threatening about these guys is that they actually treat a girl *well* and have feelings and all the other sensitivities that a human actually has, and are not afraid to hide them unlike the drivel which society tries to drill into males about expressing emotion and sensitivity. Not to mention they are mostly simultaneously absolutely gorgeous and 100% masculine even dressed in those flowing robes. Yes, its the asian girls dream come true!

      And its not impossible for guys to achieve that (Asian ones at least), after all, that is how they used to dress back then. Just tweak the attitude and the hair and they could easily recreate these dream men.

    I know you're probably not going to read this, Harris. Or any of these comments.
    Firstly,
    HAHAHAHAHA! YOU THINK KUSANAGI WASN'T SEXUALLY OBECTIFIED?
    Secondly,
    Claiming that the bodytypes of kratos, batman and jin kazuma aren't attractive to the fairer sex? What the christ is wrong with you? Could it possibly be that your female readers (at least those who post) are only a biased sub-set of female gamers ?

    You want to complain about bad role-models for girls/women in popular media? Start writing about the portrayal of bella in twilight.

    Better yet, you want to complain? Do better. Go make your own games about empowered women.

      You hit all three D's in one reply! Way to go guy!

      /golfclap

    I think you just nail/ head right there...
    I'd guage almost everyone posting in here is annoyed/ distraught and so on because we DON'T partake in what the article is accusing us of. Most of us don't buy a game because of the hot chick, don't blink an eyelid at the scantily clad character and don't abuse women online.

    This is the wrong demographic to complain to because you're essentially trying to convince us to stop a stigma that we aren't likely a part of perpetuating.

    I for one haven't read a single post in here that started with, 'Maybe I should stop.... (fill in the 'wrong thing' here)...' or 'Yeah so what if I objectify/ abuse women?'

    The sad thing is, that the aim of the article has been lost due to the nature in which it was written. As someone who feels they don't belong in this pigeonhole category he's created, I think the article is pretty offensive and generalizing way too much...

    How about a female's opinion? Yes I've read the arguments and counter-arguments, but what about a very real female gamer's experience in the real gaming world?

    Personally, I *Despise and Thoroughly Hate* the rampant sexualized images of women in gaming. It is disgusting to me and I get the feeling that it sets the standards that guys want in a real life girlfriend, which I, though slim, in no way resemble.

    I have had traumatic experiences at the hands of an ex-boyfriend who devoured such material and forced me to conform to his fantasies on what 'women' *should* wear, and it was for his benefit, not mine. I am lucky that I managed to get out of that relationship. It was having a detrimental effect on my confidence and exposed me to even more cat-calls and sexual propositioning by strangers than I was already getting.

    Background info.
    As a female *asian* gamer living in Australia, here is my two cents on how the gaming world treats women. I fully understand that I represent a tiny minority. Here is my experience so far.

    1. The *relatively* nicer gamer dudes treat us nicer than they do the average white male gamer. They are few in number.

    2. Some other guys just stop and stare at me as I am a minority, especially in a gaming hobby shop. Some will stop to talk to me, but the manner in which they do so to me scare me away. A fair few will ignore me altogether, and that is the best outcome with me.

    3. There were 3 guys out of a gaming group (DnD) of 6 (five guys and a girl* who openly displayed their choice of female sexual imagery or regularly make suggestions of raping female PC characters (played by me and another guy) or lewd suggestions about the female PC (played by the guy) clothing, which was deliberately chosen by him to be wearing practically nothing. I tried to tolerate the comments the best as I could, but I lost it when one of the guys openly suggested throwing the female PCs in to be 'raped' by tentacle monsters during an encounter. He never attended another session again.

    4. In other DnD sessions however, I played with people I knew, rather than answering an advert for more players by a random DM. We had so much fun that the male players were begging the DM for another session after every one. - and every session didn't go further than PG despite all of us being adults.

    5. In WoW on vent during raids, males often comment on my accent and how 'sexy' it is. To which I mention that I have a boyfriend. They *usually* stop bothering me at this point. The few who do not tend to go into the *ignore* list, which grows every other day.

    6. In WoW on vent at other times, with a select group of people whose leader I know, they treat me like they treat the others there, with respect. Again, that is a select group of people. These are men who would rather discuss transmogrification choices and reminisce about vanilla WoW than comment on girls and sex.

    7. I have spoken out (and identified) as a female on general chat in SWTOR against something someone said about violence towards girls, and I had four presumably male people attacking me telling me to suck it up as it was the internet. I was defended by another player (male, as I messaged him privately), and he got pretty attacked as well. In one of his messages, he said that he was *not* bothered by sexual and violent comments against girls but he was jarred to action when the other guys ganged up on me. He got called a fag and several other derogatory terms questioning his manhood for defending me. Make of that what you will.

    8. I have also spoken out and identified as a female in WoW on guild chat against making casual use of the word 'rape' The guys in my guild apologized and promised to make an effort to not use the word when I was around.

    In short, in my experience, I have encountered various gamers, some, who are respectful in spite of the sexual imagery of females in games, and too many who are disrespectful, and obviously influenced by the sexualization of females and very few who couldn't care about what the girls look like - as long as they get to play the game uninterrupted.

    As for which males i find sexy...

    1. Martin Septim (TES IV, Oblivion) - looks + personality
    2. Lucien Lachance (of the above) - personality
    3. Umino Iruka (Naruto) - personality
    4. Marron Glace (Bakeretsu Hunters) - looks + personality
    5. Otacon (Metal Gear) looks + personality
    6. My first and only custom Male character in any MMO that I've ever made, (SWTOR). I designed him to be aesthetically hideous, but his personality (yes, made by me) won me over. - personality
    7. Calintz (MagnaCarta: Crimson Stigmata) - looks.
    8. Reeve Tuesti (FFVII) - original fan since the game came out in 1997!

    I could name a few more, and they are males that the average guy gamer would overlook when thinking of what a female finds sexy.

    Here are a few of the men my female friends find sexy:
    Reno (FFVII)
    Kuja (FFIX)
    Alucard (Hellsing)
    Charon (Fallout 3)
    Oliver Wood (we were all fawning over him when Harry Potter 1 came out. Presumably because he was the oldest student there who was closest to our age)

    Totally unsexy males: Batman,Spiderman, Superman, Kratos, Taylor and whatshisname the vampire etc.

    Thats it. A rather long post, but honestly, I believe we need more female gamers talking about their experiences, despite the backlash we get from the male gaming community.

      See, this is what we need more of instead of some self-rghteous feMANist trying to defend "chicks" & their rights.

      BTW, a reply to your comment:

      "Personally, I *Despise and Thoroughly Hate* the rampant sexualized images of women in gaming. It is disgusting to me and I get the feeling that it sets the standards that guys want in a real life girlfriend, which I, though slim, in no way resemble. "

      No, that's not how it works. Both MALES & FEMALES have their own sexualised depiction of the opposite sex and it suggests to them what possible "desirable" form the opposite sex might assume. Some people may use a certain depiction as a measure for their lovers, but that's not very common, or we'll be seeing more single people in this world due to the rampant amount of unattainable sexualised imagery. It is not a phenomenon exclusive to a particular sex either if you'd look at those Twilight or boyband fans who'd commits suicide when they realised that they'll never be together with their one true love.
      I may bash Twilight, the Harukanaru & Tokimeki Girl's Side series, but deep down, I know that females deserve to have their fun too. It's just fun to rage at something trivial sometimes.

      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Characters/TokimekiMemorialGirlsSide3

      3P mode? PvP mode? Now we know for sure that girls don't poop flowers. heh.

        As a person who has been featured on several gaming websites talking about this exact thing, I can tell you WHY women are so afraid to speak up:

        I have had everything from death to rape threats. Critique does not focus on my argument but my appearance and personal life. I am not told my arguments are flawed but I'm rather called 'fat ugly lesbian bitch' or 'stupid feminazi whore.'

        I fought very hard and tried to not let the 'names' hurt me or get to me (much like how you're all letting an apparent implication that you're assholes get to you) but the final straw was when threats were made to my family and friends by their names. I do not write about this stuff anymore.

        Just perspective.

          Fark this. I'ma say it. WELCOME TO THE INTERNET. Just for saying certain things online in chatrooms and so on I've had death threats as well. Things like "candyass nigger faggot" and "I'm going to rape you" or "(insert crude remark about family members)" and so on. ANYONE who uses logic or has a moral compass and makes that well known when they speak out on the Internet gets treated the same way regardless of gender so stop trying to pretend that women are a particular target on the internet.

          I'ma put it in caps just in case;
          IN MOST, IF NOT ALL, CASES OF USING LOGIC AND BEING A RATIONAL PERSON ON THE INTERNET YOU WILL HEAR DEATH THREATS THROWN AT YOU AND ALL MANNER OF OFFENSIVE TERMS SLUNG YOUR WAY. THIS IS HOW THE INTERNET WORKS. I ADVISE YOU MAKE YOURSELF FAMILIAR WITH GABE'S INTERNET DICKWAD THEORY. NO ONE IS SPECIAL AND MALE OR FEMALE, YOU ARE FAIR GAME TO THE INTERNET.

            For those who need the refresher on Gabe's lesson

            http://art.penny-arcade.com/photos/215499488_8pSZr-L-2.jpg

              The problem is that people ARE treated differently on the internet depending on their gender or race. Case in point: if this article was written by a woman half the comments here would include some variation of 'Feminazi' or comments about her appearance.

              Because some people act like dicks on the internet, does that mean we should all?

                And finally I find it's pretty hilarious that when it's other people receiving death threats Gabe is all "Welcome to the internet", but when he and his family start receiving them, suddenly: http://penny-arcade.com/2011/02/02/okay-thats-enough

                  he said you can expect people to be douchebags on the internet. he never said that's the best possible scenario or "I condone death threats". Also his lesson came from his humorous web-comic, I think whatever it declared should be taken with a pinch of salt

              Spoken like a guy who's never had someone threaten to rape them and then list their family member's names, huh?

              If I'd been a man, no one would have said ANYTHING about raping me. Stop pretending it doesn't happen. THAT is how the internet works and I provided perspective as to why people don't speak up and you JUST PROVED MY POINT.

              The difference is, if I wrote something identifying as male (which I am) I'm unlikely to get a stream of comments relating to my sexuality (or in fact anything sex related). I do write, and have received hate mail (for music), but none of it to the levels I've seen directed and female writers.

                unrelated question.
                why would you ever make it possible/easy for people to uncover you personal details on the net? everyone knows that shits a pretty stupid thing to do

      Sorry to hear about your horrible experiences with your ex-boyfriend, but I don't think men expect women to be exactly like the women in video games. Many men are able to tell the difference between real life and fiction. Sure, they look at the sexualised women and have happy thoughts, but it's just fantasy and nothing more.

        'Fantasies and nothing more'

        Its when it spills over into conversation with normal women where the rape comments and sexual violence and perverted lewd suggestions to women is where it really becomes a fucking problem. If you read my post, I blew up at the PC in my DnD game. Here's what he said 'oh there's a tentacle monster in there? We should throw in the girls first (meaning *my* character and another female character played by a guy)' and the other guys reacted *positively* to his comments - and I blew up in his face. Fantasy aside, was it really an appropriate thing to say worse of all, is it something that women should be used to hearing and suck it up??

          Kie, you should make a proper disticntion here. is it the sexualised depiction of women that made him act like that or it's just the fact that he's a natural born ass?

          I'm sure that the 3 other guys have their equal share of sexualised female depiction with all those bikini armors in fantasies & all, but why don't they turn out to be misogynistic turds?

            yeah, that guy did bad. But here's some perspective. He said it bout your character.
            >Said it about your character
            >about your character
            >your character
            >character
            not a person.

            I wasn't talking about the DnD creep. I was referring to your comment where you said "Personally, I *Despise and Thoroughly Hate* the rampant sexualized images of women in gaming. It is disgusting to me and I get the feeling that it sets the standards that guys want in a real life girlfriend, which I, though slim, in no way resemble." To be more specific, the last part of that quote. Men ogling video game hotties is just fantasy, and nothing more. They know that real women don't all look like video game characters, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with someone fantasising about Lara Croft or whoever floats their boat. And that is completely different to some creep making lewd/rape comments to a fellow gamer. There is no excuse for that.

              Oops. Looks like I replied to the wrong person. That was supposed to be to KieZan, not Obviously.

            They may not all turn out to be misogynistic turds, but neither do I hear them speak out against how misogynistic turds treat women. As I said, his comments in my game were met with positive approval from the other guys. And only *I* spoke out against what he said while the others did *nothing*. They may not have been outwardly misogynistic turds, but their non-action and silence speaks louder than words, and in my opinion, it reflects what they may privately believe.

            Just like how in SWTOR, of the 30 something or so people online during that time, only *one* person defended me from the four who were attacking me. The rest were happy not to involve themselves. Once again, attackers often take silence as 'well, the rest of the people are okay with such talk, why aren't you?'

            Most men may not be fucking misogynistic turds, but at least *SPEAK OUT* against misogynistic behaviour when you see it! Silence helps us none! I so often find myself alone when I try to tell someone that a certain kind of talk is offensive, that I almost believe that most men are okay with such thrash talk towards women, and that we should 'man up' and 'put up with it'. Well. Its *not* okay, and we shouldn't have to find ourselves alone when we try to say 'please don't speak like that, its offensive'.

              why should we speak out against it. allot of feminist have attacked men for having the mindset that they should defend women, so in this case the cause has shot itself in the foot by vilifying men who seek to defend women as acting and preaching the stereotype of women being weak and needing men to defend them. As a cause you can do that. but you can't then attack men who don't jump to defend you and attack what you see as wrong. That would be having it both ways, and that stuff aint on round these here parts.

              I agree the guy spoke like a tool, from your account, but i have to dispute your point of calling guys to call that behavior out.

              It's like this: sure women can have their own basketball team, I'm cool with that, but they can also open their own goddamn doors, they aint heavy.

              Sure women can be independent from men and have equal rights, I'm cool with that, but they can also fight their own fights, they aint my problem.

              So your best example of men not speaking out involves a scenario where there was no guarantee they even saw the text exchange?

                Chazz, if you read my post correctly, it was a DnD game which I first gave the example - where a guys comments about throwing the female PCs to the the monster was met with approval. That is my best example. If you know how DnD works, we were all sitting in person around a table when he made that comment. The issue about whether its threatening rape to a real person or not is moot. Its because nothing similar was said about male characters that I felt that it was aimed specifically at females. This is a clear sign of sexism. I never threatened any other character with violence or rape because its not in my nature, but the mere fact he was so enthusiastic about it, and so were the others made me very very fucking uncomfortable. Rape comments makes me feel uncomfortable because ultimately, if *any* man tried to take advantage of me, chances are, I cannot win through sheer strength alone.

                Also *SomeDude* - based on your comments

                "why should we speak out against it. allot of feminist have attacked men for having the mindset that they should defend women, so in this case the cause has shot itself in the foot by vilifying men who seek to defend women as acting and preaching the stereotype of women being weak and needing men to defend them. As a cause you can do that. but you can’t then attack men who don’t jump to defend you and attack what you see as wrong"

                So what you're strongly implying here is 'anything goes'. Equality means that men and women don't need each other to defend each other when something goes wrong, whether its attitudes or whats actually going on. What feminist have you spoken to or experienced to actually say that sort of thing?

                Is it not funny that while you've claimed to experienced some of the more extreme facets of feminism, I in turn claim to experience that my safety is threatened every time I walk out of that door? With the number of men leering at me or calling me a slut or bitch just because I am a woman, or an asian one at that, when all around them are girls dressed more skimpily than I?

                Or might you say that men are treating women as such because 'they feel oppressed by feminism that has seeped into every corner of society, and this is the way they are fighting back'.

                Yes, I said it. Now you have to think to yourself and be truthful and say 'YES. THIS IS IT'. or 'No, not quite that way'. I have no doubt you might say 'YES THIS IS IT. as that has been the sense I got from the whole 'feminism doesn't allow men to protect women because it means women are weak'.

                Now that I think about it, maybe feminism does have something to do with the objectifying and sexualizatino of women in todays society.

                I believe that because historically in Western society (I'm assuming you fit the idea of a White Anglo Saxon Person) men were granted power over their wives (as per the bible), and now that women are fighting for the right to step out of the home, be their own person and do whatever the hell they want, that the traditional role of a man is threatened, while at a similar time, pornography and other instances of sexualizing and objectifying women sky-rocketed, as men reacted to female independence in sex and life, by making female characters in games and comics as something to be consumed and enjoyed purely for the size of her assets and breastets.

                Unfortunately in my opinion, the whole idea that a female is only good for sex and looking at, has since pervaded society, especially a lot of the younger ones (20 below), where men enjoy looking and women respond to their looking by wearing skimpier clothes where the world can see half their butt cheeks and a good portion of their exposed waist. Some interviews with such young women have revealed that a good number of them would rather be called a slut than a bitch (giving in to sex, rather than refusing sex to a man/guy). And hell, they won't tell anyone about it, other than on condition of anonymity. They don't seem to have any sense of self esteem either, and would be considered 'easy' by most men.

                Apparently in pubs here, men often demand girl on girl kisses, and girls often oblige them as well. I don't go to pubs so I don't know, but I read, and oh dear, those girls experiences will never make the Bureau of statistics report.

                Note that I am telling the situation as I see it. While men claim that feminism has in metaphorically emasculated them, what I see is quite the opposite story. I don't see girls crying out rape en masse, I see young girls dressing and behaving to a point where I don't think they respect themselves any more, and rely on the approval on others, while the young white men (because Asian guys tend to ignore me) constantly harass someone like me by asking me for blowjobs and calling me a bitch and slut as I try to scuttle away because this tends to happen when they are in a group and I a lone female.

                With men yelling out

                  okay, you're tl:dr didn't seem to address my points, that feminism had called for independence. I'm just going to accept most of what you've said.

                  But here's what i want to raise, those men who call you what they call you, is being male the only common factor between them? or is it something else, i.e the specific culture they subscribe to, they're age etc...
                  If so is it really wise to go around accusing all men, or using men as your blanket generalization for these people rather than a word that describes them.

                  Maybe it is all men, but knowing myself and my friends, the only chicks i act hostile to are those that initiate the hostilities, i heavily doubt that.

                  Feminism and sexism have nothing to do with men sexualising women. It's simply human nature to sexualise those one finds attractive. That's not objectifying anyone, it's just making something that someone will find alluring and titillating that also plays into their fantasies (and no, this doesn't have anything to do with rape or that DnD guy's comment about throwing the female characters to the monster). I don't see what's wrong with men looking at women. It's natural for people to look at those they find attractive. That doesn't mean that the women who dress provocatively are doing so because all they're good for is sex. There are different reasons women dress provocatively; some have low self-esteem, some have been bombarded with images that tell them that is how they should look, or some just like dressing like that because it makes them feel attractive (or any number of other reasons) For example, I wear make-up not for other people, but for myself (ie I like the way lipstick defines my lips, or the way mascara brings out my eyes). Not everything is about sexism. Sometimes a book is a book, and porn is porn.

                  Kie, calm down. You're so desperate for acknowledgment, you're starting to twist your own words. It's getting ugly. I suggest you take a deep breath, calm down & try to actually think while you type.

                  Here's some proof of your slip ups:

                  1. Originally, by your own account, you said that it's only 3 guys our of 5 who often made remarks on raping player characters, but by the way you're structuring your first paragraph, you made it sound as if they're all part of it.

                  2. You said that men & women should defend each other, yes I totally agree with that, & from your own account, the guy who made the rape jokes was kicked out. So obviously your DnD playmates defended you by banning him from future games. So why didn't you mention how the rational minded men helped you out and how there should be more people like them instead of droning on how victimised you are?

                  3. Your claim that your safety is threatened every time you walk out is just ridiculous. That's just your own crazy paranoia. Statistically, you're more likely do die in a traffic accident, get assaulted or get robbed than getting sexually assaulted. Your irrational fear of sexual assault reflects more on your preoccupation than your unfortunate predicament.

                  4. Assertion that men were granted more power over their wives in western society is wrong. This is a common phenomenon in any patriarchal society. It has no bearing on this whole discussion.

                  5. Please don't say what men do in pubs when you don't go to pubs… please? This is just too easy.

                  All of the above shows that you're a manipulative person who's only out to garner sympathy rather than delivering your ideas rationally. Also, your race should factor into this, you're only mentioning it repeatedly to make yourself sound more vulnerable. You're a failure to your cause, that is, if your cause is to defend women's right rather than garnering internet sympathies.

                  Also, one more thing. It sounds like your problem is that you've been hanging with the wrong crowd. Do yourself a favour, go meet people at a park or some volunteer association.

        As a man I can only say this - any guy in here who is trying to assert that they deal with sexism and discrimination as a result of their gender on a daily basis or that they have to deal with unwanted sexual attention and threats of sexualised violence is convincing no one.

        The guys know you are talking rubbish (as they too have not had these experiences) and the women are too busy trying to get their heads around the fact that you honestly expect them to believe the words coming out your mouth.

        What so many of the negative comments in this article ultimately turn out to be are expressions of a defence mechanism in the face of recognising they may just be a part of the machine. Guys often feel like they are being blamed for the status quo by those arguing for progressive understanding of gender in society – but that is not what articles such as this and others are doing. No, you didn't create the patriarchy fellas and you are not being attacked for your penis. But by just accepting things as they are, you allow the ongoing existence of this patriarchal hegemony. These comments are not an assault on you as a person, they are an attempt to educate and the learning process can be painful.

        You don't have to feel things are your fault but you can do things to change the way things are. Now, if you don't want a world where women can feel that any aspect of their being (not just their sexual attractiveness) can be valued by the society in which they find themselves then yeah, you are being attacked by this article. For everyone else just start with the little things like noticing the language you use, the way you react around women… think about the subtext of what you say and do. Mentally walk in women’s shoes, you’ll be amazed at how it changes your perception of the world around you.

        Regardless, the current situation needs changing. I’ve been professionally writing about games for some 7 years now and in this time I’ve seen many amazing female writers (such as Kotaku’s own Tracey Lien), hell, I’ve seen amazing transgendered writers. But I am also aware how so much of what they say is dismissed as a result of gender – I’ve seen articles which make no references to gender politics misread as pushing a feminist agenda simply because a woman was behind the words. This is not right, nor fair. To quote Joss Whedon – “It is life out of balance”.

        If you don’t think women have a harder time than men in the culture that has grown up around our hobby, then you’ve simply not taken the time to empathise with situations vastly different to your own. No one will blame you for that, attempting to see things through other people’s eyes is not something that often comes naturally. However when a hot subject like this comes up, repeatedly, and you don’t attempt to properly see what women are seeing (as opposed to simply saying ‘well, as a bloke this is how I see things) then that is wilful ignorance and yes… you deserve to be blamed for that.

          Stands up

          CLAPCLAPCLAPCLAPCLAPCLAPCLAP

          Well said.

          Yep this is a good one. I approve. (you may need to explain Hegemony and shit but whatev. I only vaguely remember what it is about because of some uni course)

          There are not enough + signs in the world. Well said.

          Hey Nathan, I agree with some of your points, a guy can't convincingly say that he completely understand how a woman feels & I think women should be evaluated by traits other than their sexual assets.

          Now here comes the "but".

          First of all, making more women like video games just for the sake of it is just artificial and forced. If female gamers want to define the culture of the industry they'll have to stake their money where it counts rather than just talking the talk. Support & reward the studios that will make games women enjoy. If there are not enough of those studios, then some of them can form a company themselves and fill the market gap. The resources are all there, banking, know how & infrastructure. I think it's equally discriminatory to think that women won't be able to complete this task once they've set their minds on it.

          Also, I have doubts on the sincerity of this whole "let's make women feel welcomed in the gaming community" thing. Is it the women themselves who wants to feel included in a certain shady part of the community or is it just the wishful thinking of a section of the male gamer community?

          Women who are passionate enough about games wouldn't need to completely piggy back on popular established series that depicts sexualised women. They can make their own or at least create proper spin-offs, like The Sims, the Harukanaru series or the Harvest moon series and Tokimeki Girl's side series.

          Even when sexualised depiction of women are eradicated, nothing significant will be achieved because it's not the lack of sexual depiction that drives interest in games, but good games themselves. If we want to have more women gamer, then we should encourage more women to develop games, not amputate one side of the industry for no reason.

            The purpose of arguing for better treatment of women in gaming isn't some form of ploy to have more women gamers. The reason people are making this call is because women do play games and the current culture built up around games is, unwittingly in many cases, creating a very exclusionist environment.

            Why should we not argue against greater variation in the portrayal of women in games? Why shouldn't we speak out about online communities that are specifically hostile to women? I'm a 34 year old male, I don't experience hostility in games. Yes, I get trashed talked online but I'm spared the come-ons, the overtly predatory sexual comments because I fit the norm for this environment. But what if I didn’t? I daresay no one would stand up and tell me that I should have an easier time of it just because I’m a man.

            Every game I play is told, broadly, from my perspective. I'm not constantly having a perception of me as being little more than candy for the adoring eyes of young adult boys, reinforced by marketing and character design.

            I'm not suggesting games need to prude-up. (though I am suggesting the community should be a hell of a lot more respectful - these are people you are talking to). I'm not suggesting we 'eradicate' sexualised characterisations. There is nothing wrong with a sexualised character of any gender - it is that when it comes to female characters, this portrayal exists almost exclusively. This is not fair, nor is it an accurate portrayal of the world around us. You know it and I know it. I don’t care how many women play games, surely games can be more than TnA.

            On the whole notion that women who are passionate about games being able to look to series like The Sims is problematic. I know many female gamers who love first person shooters, one on one fighters and other genres that are popularly considered the realm of men. There is very little choice in this arena for women that doesn't present them as little more than jiggle physics tech demos.

            Ultimately, why should we fight for a more inclusive culture around gaming? Because I don’t believe this is how gamers, as a whole, identify themselves. I refuse to accept that we really believe that, the majority of the time, the only worthwhile portrayal of women is when we can see their cleavage. If that, is in fact, how we do identify ourselves then that highlights a significantly larger problem

            Consider me an eternal optimist but I do honestly believe we don’t want to be seen like we are currently portraying ourselves and in most cases I believe we aren’t like that in the first place. This is not a deliberate message the industry or the gaming audience is sending out. However, regardless of intent, the end result aint pretty.

            Finally I do want to reiterate one thing - this is not a call to bring women into gaming. They are already here.

            Oh, and thanks for the considered response. I hope the above didn't sound too aggressive. I'm tres tired. :)

              Thanks for the consideration Nate, but it'll take an armour piercing shell to even scratch my thick skin.

              It seems that we agree on 2 things here. The community should be more respectable & eradicating the sexualised characters is not the answer. Making the community more respectable is insanely hard, so let me address the 2nd point first.

              Eradicating the sexualised character by itself is not going to do anything. Guys are not going to suddenly start respecting women just because they don't see mega voluptuous vixens in their games anymore. Banning them is worse because it will only create resentment. It's not sustainable for the industry either because it's an act of weeding instead of nurturing. What will work better is the positive portrayal of women, and it doesn't matter whether the female characters are sexualised or not. Though admittedly, it's easier to focus on their other traits when the players aren't distracted by anything else.

              More than anything, this is an issue of lazy writing. Writing personalities getting too difficult? Cool, just pile more pounds on her chest & problem solved. T&A is just the easy way out for companies who wants to guarantee instant rapport between their male audience & game characters. Obviously game companies does this because of the perceived demand. So, the best remedy for this is to fight fire with fire & create real demand for better written female characters.

              In turn, by having better written female characters, male players can start to empathise with them and women have characters they are more comfortable identifying with.

              This however, will not completely solve the community dickery, because video games is not the only source of narratives & content for the 99.99% of the masses. If you want to change the attitudes of of a group of people, you have to influence all the media they consume, because things they pick up from TV, rap music, books, internet, etc. all influence their behaviours. This is more of a problem of social engineering, it's not an issue that can be tackled singlehandedly by video games. I don't believe that those fps misogynists act this way only in games either. Given the anonymity granted by the internet, I'm sure that they would've maintained their unsavoury habits elsewhere.

              I'm not saying that we should ignore the problems just because it's bigger than we perceive it to be, instead we should move onto a larger playing field & start driving into the core subject from various fields. This way, there would be less resistance from any specific industry too because there won't be double standard.

              Regarding the Sims , it's just an example of what women could achieve and how they can define their own gaming experience. Instead of complaining about how a women are over sexualised all the time, why don't they show us how they would like to be depicted instead? Some input instead of sneer would go a long way.

    I love these articles, because A) they point out reality, as much as a lot of people would wish to deny it/are unaware of it, and B) the comments invariably demonstrate exactly the issue in question.

      I'm sorry but that's bullshit. Basically what you're saying is you can create a piece of public writing specifically designed to piss off its audience and when they get pissed off and defend themselves it proves the writer correct? No that's not how the world works.

        Well it sure seems to be how it's working here.

          you're an idiot, just because he is reacting in angry fashion doesn't mean that the article is the font of all truths.

    George R. R Martin frequently had people talk about raping women in his books. Does that make him a misogynist? No

    You know why? Because he and everyone else, understand that when you write despicable characters in, they aren't there to shower everyone with tea and flowers. They are there to be bad people, who do bad things like rape , murder etc.

    I don't want to even go into the whole argument you presented here, its just so stupid. Its a waste of time and the way you dismiss other peoples arguments already show you have no intention of actually responding to the many good comments given last time. Instead you built up strawman arguments so you could knock them down as if that was the rebuttal given.

    Well done

      Actually, GRRM is pretty alarming when it comes to his female characters - I think if there's one more child-bride or a woman who initially has agency and then has it stripped away from her in some weird punishment for being strong then I'll... oh, wait - I already did stop reading the creepy boring bastard.

    You know I have witnessed the behaviour you spoke of in this article. I have been a guild leader in a number of games for years. My Guild in Guild wars attracted a couple of female players in the early days who ended up being harrassed by a couple of members to the extent that not only did one of the women leave, she filed an abuse report with ArenaNet.

    I contacted the female players on my forum and asked them how they were being treated by the rest of the guild, and generally they were being treated well and were being helped. But 4 of my members were making sexual proposals, posting private porn messages to them on the forum, be-littling their contributions and efforts in the game world.

    I logged on to Guild Wars one night and signed out of the chat system to make it appear that I was offline. I caught the guys redhanded and logged the chat exchange in open guild chat so that I could forward it to ArenaNet.

    I absolutely supported her decision, the players involved were ejected from the guild and banned from my guild forums. I am disgusted by the behaviour of some guys towards female players ingame. Yeah sure there is Role Play, there are jibes, but it stops at threatening the personal safety of the players. Your right to say whatever you want ends at other individuals right to not feel threatened.

    These are games, and no one deserves to be put through the crap I've seen some women go through in game. As far as my other female guild members are concerned, they were made officers, and only a couple of guys who have the maturity to treat the female gamers as human beings are officers too.

    Needless to say those guys are very few.

    I really don't understand why everyone likes to argue against this article.

    Women don't find sexually stimulating images through their eyes like men do. They are more prone to emotional stimulation rather than visual stimulation. In my opinion, the whole hyper masculine hero was created in a masculine enviroment as a result of what we want, and what we think women want. However in saying this I'm not implying that God Of War is marketed towards women through the hulking bodies, I'm saying that Kratos is delivered as the "package."

    I do think that most of the arguments posted in the OP are just defelections, derailments and dismissals. It doesn't prove against the fact that boys and men within online communities still have a bias against women in the online community, whether it mean that they're a misogynist in real life or not.

      You're right about how women choose emotional stimulation over visual stimulation. I can't speak for all female gamers, but I find personality more attractive than physique, although that's not to say that appearances count for nothing, just that I don't find overly muscular men attractive. As for Kratos being "the package", I think I'll pass. I much prefer Leon from RE4 over Kratos. Sure, Leon is a lot more muscular in RE4 than he was in RE2 (he was still pretty cute in RE2), but he's not too muscular, and he has an alright personality. *drool* (and yes, just like everyone else, I'm guilty of objectifying the gender I'm attracted to. ;) It's a part of human nature)

      I think the reason many males online specifically choose to use things like "bitch" and rape as insults and trash talk towards women is a combination of things; the first and foremost being lack of imagination (I don't mind trash talk as long as it's imaginative). I think the second is because the thought of a woman beating them at a game they're good at is a threat to their masculinity. That's not to say all men are like that, just that some guys can be immature and a little insecure with their manhood, and need something to "prove" how manly they are. Or so my experiences would suggest. ;)

      As for this article, I might have missed the point, but I believe he's not telling people "I'm right and you're wrong, so don't argue", but more along the lines of "come up with better and more imaginative counters-arguments to support your opinion". There's nothing wrong with arguing, but when people use the same kind of rebuttals over and over again it gets boring. Personally, while I agree that (from my experience) a small portion of male gamers do come across as sexist, etc, I have found that the vast majority are really good. As for how women are portrayed in geek culture, I'm not offended by it. As long as there's some character development and personality in such characters so they aren't just a walking pair of boobs and arse, I'm not bothered at all.

        My issue with the "men insult women thing" is that most people who raise it act like men are in secret brotherhood that solely consists of bro-fists and pats on the back. Dudes give dues as much trash-talk as we give to women. I'm fairly sure that the only unique insult to women is the whole sandwich thing. If I'm wrong, tell me

          Ok; you're wrong. :P The sandwich thing is overused and unimaginative, as trash talk and as a meme. Any trash talk that is based on a woman's gender is generally unimaginative as any female gamer has heard it all before. Kitchens, sandwiches/pizza/beer, sexual favours, looks, menstruation, rape...any female gamer has heard variations of it. Of course, those are just female specific ones. Sexual orientation, death threats, threats against one's family, and what other people claim to have done with one's mother are also unimaginative.

            I'm gonna have to debunk a myth here. The female specific insults that you listed are not exactly directed solely at women. Many guys, me and my friends included, will react to a shitty attitude or any reaction to an insult by saying that the person is on their period. like this, men often threaten rape to each other when playing games or simply talking, as an insult/joke. to me differentiating between pizza/beer/sandwich/kitchen is pointless as they all come under the umbrella of "get back in your place woman hurr durr" and not separate insults. Complaining that the insults between men and men are different to those between men and women, to me, seems like a pointless exercise as the men are just as likely to rape each other as they are to rape some chick over xbox live i.e. it's not going to happen.

            So now you're complaining that the insults are unimaginative? really?
            that is incredible petty. yes, they're unimaginative. so what? how is that relevant to the issue of sexism.

            And, no, I'm not saying men are equally victimized, I'm saying women blow this out of proportion.

              You don't see a problem with using a female body function as an insult? The reason 'You're on your period' is insulting amongst guys isn't because it says you are being irrational, it says you are being irrational like a woman.

                No, obviously, I don't or I wouldn't have listed it. It's not the actual act of being on period that is used as the insult but the associated behavior, weather(is this the right one?) factual or not, that is being used as the insult. It's like saying "you are acting in a manner where different levels of hormones are acting on your mind and body causing you to act in a different manner which i find negative" it is not saying that all women are a 100% irrational 100% of the time, to be saying that the insult would be "your irrational behavior leads me to suspect that you are, in fact, a woman"

                is it fair that that the word "dick" is used heavily as an insult? I don't really care, because that's how our culture uses the word. Men are more likely to be called an asshole than women, my experience I'll admit not scientific.

                Does it all matter, to me- I guess here male privilege could be argued to be relevant- it doesn't. Mainly because I've grown up in a world where in my age group I haven't seen rampant inequality.

              I think you've missed my point completely. I'm not complaining about the threats and crap women get from other players, just that I, personally, don't mind trash talk as long as it is imaginative (as I find some of it amusing) as opposed to a mouth breather suffering from verbal diarrhoea. I trash talk my opponents all the time. It's a part of gaming, and it's fun. However, I always try to make it more imaginative than the examples I listed. Making it imaginative, and keeping it in good humour, adds another level of enjoyment, imo. So, how is all that petty? Last I checked, I wasn't complaining about it. Personally I think a lot of women need to get over some of the trash talk. It's only when some creeps take things too far (ie private messages etc), that it becomes a problem.

              Also, I wasn't complaining that men and women get different insults. I was merely stating that women are more likely to get insults that are based purely on her gender than any other kind of insults, hence what I meant by "female specific". For example, I've mostly received "female (ie gender) specific" insults more than I have heard someone claiming to have had sex with my mother. That one seems to be, in my experience, more used against male gamers than female.

              As for some women blowing this sort of thing out of proportion, I agree that some do, while at the same time some guys take things too far. There is good and bad on both "sides". I, personally, am not offended by trash talk, nor am I offended by the overly sexualised female characters. Hell, I'm straight, but I also find curvaceous women aesthetically pleasing. Personally, I think both "sides" of the argument need to get over themselves and let go. I don't think the objectification of women is as bad as some people are claiming. There will always be some level of fan-service, but it's up to the individual if they want to indulge, complain, or pass. Personally, I prefer to let go and enjoy things, regardless if there's a pair of boobs ore moobs.

                coolios, simple mis-understanding on my part then. sorry 'bout that.
                you sound like a pretty cool gal, who doesn't afraid of anything.

                  Thanks. ^_^ And don't worry about it. It's hard to convey things correctly through text, what with the lack of verbal cues and body language.

    I don't know how many variations on this I've read over the years, along with the straw man refutations. Sociologists call these phenomena moral panics, the role of the author being a moral crusader.

    Should videogame makers, in an effort to attain greater respectable, self-censor their work to conform to the demands of bourgeois morality? I would suggest that there are many more terrible things than being offended, that sometimes the role of art is to freely explore sexual roles, and that those who try to impose ideological restrictions on free expression should be resisted on principle, always.

    There are many things I personally find offensive (authoritarian moralising being one of those things), but I also understand that it is a much greater wrong to try and enforce my personal taste on others by claiming some inarguable moral imperative.

    "Yes, the men are exaggerated as much as the women. But it’s the intent and the message that make all of the difference."

    Exact same problem as the last article, this guy loves to point at disagreements instead of actually discussing them. So I'm going to save myself the anger and do the same.

    Some people might argue that gamer culture is full of male priviledge, and they are wrong! Tune in never to hear me tell you why. Now you can't use that argument anymore. Yay!

    My primary criticism of the original article, that the "privilege" argument is mostly used as a rhetorical device to inflict collective guilt and a priori reject every single counterargument that could be made (i.e. 'you just think that because you're a horrible evil male'), absolutely applies to this as well.

    Now, every possible counter-argument can be responded to with one of three thought-terminating cliches beginning with D.

    This article is unbearably presumptuous and smug. Simple fact: you do NOT CONVINCE PEOPLE if you say "any response other than complete agreement is symptomatic of hating all women as a class and is merely derailing/dismissal/deflection."

    What is extremely unfortunate is that this article DOES make some points I agree with. The point about wanting some more realistic female characters is one I agree with. And I'm also relieved that the article accepts the solution is NOT to eliminate femme fatales or fanservicey hot amazons, but rather to simply have a few more normal women in the cast. On that issue, I absolutely agree.

    I also agree that it would be good to have more fanservice intended for women. All fans deserve fanservice.

    But the attempt to cry "false equivalence" is a pretty weak argument. For one, the argument basically says "men like escapist characters with big buff manry bodies, women like sex objects with lithe and agile bodies." This is true for many women, possibly most. HOWEVER...

    You think "women" don't sexualize Batman or other big buff dudes like Superman? Spend some time looking at DC Comics slash fanfiction; most of it is written by women for a female audience.

    Whilst it is true that Batman and Superman weren't created for the purposes of giving fanservice to female readers, it is clear that many women find both of them hot. Big buff dudes may not be universally loved by women but they aren't a universal turnoff to women. Not all women have identical tastes in men (surprise!).

    You note Gambit from Marvel as an example of a character that many women are hot for. That's very true. But, and here's an important point, out of all characters in the Marvel universe, who is the most fetishized overall? Take a look at all that porn produced by 16-year-old-girls and tally things up. It isn't Gambit or Nightcrawler (although both have very devoted female fanbases). It's Wolverine. Who is short (not tall), stocky (not agile), rugged (not classically handsome), and pretty much the antithesis of all the things "women" are "supposed" to find hot.

    Whilst a general preference for the more agile builds is probably true of the majority of women, it is scarcely the only kind of build women find hot. In short, don't stereotype about women's tastes. Not all women like the same things!

    Second, the equivalence being pointed out is that both men and women are being portrayed unrealistically. Its true, the women are portrayed unrealistically for a different reason than men are portrayed unrealistically, absolutely. But the portrayal is STILL unrealistic and STILL creates a situation where actual men are unfavorably compared to an ideal they can scarcely hope to reach.

    This is not false equivalence. It is identifying an actual equivalence between two slightly different situations.

    If one actually swallows the Foucauldian Kool-Aid that "how a certain group is represented in the texts of society will 'socially construct' how people perceive that group in real life," then one CANNOT deny that the unrealistic portrayal of men, even IF it is done for a different reason than the unrealistic portrayal of women, is potentially just as harmful.

    This article is ruthlessly methodologically collectivist. There are no individual men that may have (surprise!) DIFFERENT feelings about how they relate to certain fictional characters, or possibly even find different kinds of things sexy (oh, I don't know, maybe not all men are fixated on bust size... who knows, maybe somewhere out there there are some men that aren't into women at all! Men, like women, don't all find the same things attractive). There are no individual women that might, say, want to sleep with Dr. Hank McCoy instead of Dr. Hal Emmerich (who knows, some might want both and some might want neither). There are only two monolithic classes of identical "men" and "women," and only one class (men) has any power at all and they always use that power to single-mindedly keep women in the kitchen. What? NOT all men are rapists/sexists/misogynists/oppressors? HERESY!!

    This article assumes one-way monolithic class oppression and then decides to play the Oppression Olympics and scream "PRIVILEGE! DEFLECTION! DERAILMENT! DISMISSAL!" in order to, ironically enough DISMISS any argument that can possibly made against the article.

    The first article in this series began with a logical heads-I-win-tails-you-lose scenario where if you disagreed, that only proved your status as an Evil Oppressive Privileged Male That Hates Women. This second article continues that tradition; claiming that any disagreement merely proves the original article is right and that raising a VALID disagreement is impossible (all disagreement is D1, D2 or D3).

    This kind of argument is, frankly, intellectually dishonest. It is identical to a Freudian saying "if you agree with me, I'm right, and if you disagree with me you're just repressing/in denial." It is identical to a Marxist saying "if you agree with me, I'm right, and if you disagree with me, you've been brainwashed by the Capitalist superstructure." It is identical to a Calvinist Christian saying "if you agree with me, I'm right, and if you disagree with me, God just hasn't given you sufficient Grace to see the truth of what I say."

    Combine this logical contortion with a rhetorical style that inflicts collective blame on all men and collective victimhood on all women, dismisses the concerns of any man automatically, and is written in such an unbearably patronizing tone (which, combined with the attitude that 'any counterargument you make is worthless' basically amounts to treating the readers like idiots), then even the reasonable points this article makes (and yes, this article DOES make some reasonable points) will be ignored.

      If you're ever in Adelaide, let me know because you really deserve a beer for being THE voice of reason and probably a few more if you jag it on a pay week for me :P

        /slow clap

        I appreciate the offer. Thanks for the support :)

        I can't believe you wrote "swallows the Foucauldian Kool-Aid ". Groan.

          Well, given Foucault's methodology for the study of power relations, I'm sure there are lots of ways to extract un-PC puns from "swallowed the Foucauldian kool-aid."

          That said, I happen to disagree with the hard form of Foucauldianism (i.e. textual determinism, social constructivism with no free will or empirical experience being permitted, 'you're just a product of the texts of society'), because it denies free will and reason and also justifies censorship.

    I'm only going to refer to the “But Men Are All Super-Buff, They’re Sexually Objectified Too! / Men Want To Watch Desirable Women, Women Want To Be Desirable Women.” section of his argument, because that's basically the side I stick to.

    1. He says that that there is a distance between what women actually find sexy, and what is portrayed in video-games. He's therefore making an assumption that all guys find the current portrayals of women in video-games sexy, which is just a one-sided load of garbage.

    2. If we are talking about the portrayal of women in video-games and I'm saying that the exact same occurs to men, why are the examples of men women actually find sexy outside of video-games. We aren't talking about sexism in film, music or ads, just video-games.

    Conclusion: Why is it that Kotaku and every other media site keeps talking about misogyny in video-games and never discusses misandry? I thought all this discussion was for gender equality, that means there is two sides....

      KotakuAU despite being the LAST decent games news website on the net still falls prey to their parent company's need for profit wherein they are forced to repost this shite.

      Well at least that's how it seems since none of the editors or anyone at KotakuAU have ever responded to questions regarding this kind of content being resposted.

        We weren't forced to publish this. We chose to.

          I have been rather outspoken regarding the amateur nature of KotakuUS and how I find KotakuAU to be a great example of what a gaming news site should be like. But the fact you guys chose to repost an "article" that is not only heavily flawed and extremely amateur but childish and inflammatory says to me it was done for the page hits. Is that what KotakuAU is becoming? Another Gawker site dedicated to page views rather than being a source for real news?

          This "article" is nothing BUT page hit bait. The very fact that the author acknowledged that he was surprised as to how his last "article" on the matter became "viral" shows that he made this follow-up to do the exact same. This article added nothing to the argument. It was merely designed to incite a response regardless of outcome.

          Don't get me wrong, thought-provoking issues in gaming are something that should be posted but it should be of a higher standard than this. You're not a tabloid but continuing to post content like this is certainly taking you in that direction.

          What's it gonna be, Tracey? Page hits and money or journalistic integrity? Not all of us choose careers that give the "integrity" option. You did.

    I like this article, but find it a bit weird that people seem to think women aren't already HEAVILY involved in geek culture/fandom. They are, hugely, they just don't hang out at the same cons/stores--what's livejournal and such if not an intensely female dominated fandom space? It's actually a bit marginalizing how otherwise interesting articles about sexism in geek culture sometimes, in the service of defining the scale of the problem, speak as though these communities don't exist, when they're MASSIVE. Other than less sexism in the source canons and in places of buying geeky items (though I think Geek Ladiez mostly get that shit done online), which we can all get behind because it'll just produce better and more nuanced texts, is the end goal greater integration with geek male circles? Judging from a LOT of these commenters... why would we want that? :/

    I'd like to add Alex from the Half-Life series to that list of women that are actually dressed and sexy.

    While I don't actually know anything about Arkham City's development, I will say that game dialogue in general tends to feel very different when you're writing it then it does when it's all composited in-game.

    You can write a bunch of different lines and responses and not realise the frequency of the certain concepts until everything's up and running. Once the game is randomly playing your audio cues you can get a very different feel than you expected.

    Say they wrote 5 random pieces of dialogue. 1 line calls Catwoman a "bitch". 1 line contains a rape threat. 3 others are just variations on the theme of "We're going to mess you up". Overall, the majority of lines are actually pretty innocuous, with a couple of "spice" lines for a little shock value.

    You then record it all with, say, 4 different voice actors.

    Once a whole crowd of characters start randomly picking lines from a limited pool you notice just how frequently a single sentiment pops up, but it's far too late to change anything.

    I can't say for sure that this is what happened, but it seems unlikely that the writers of Arkham City (or Skyrim, for that matter) would have deliberately inserted such repetitive lines.

    A small point, not to Derail your arguments (that I don't agree with anyhow.. but that's a different matter).

    ■Matoko Kusanagi: Ghost In The Shell
    this is in the list of strong female characters the DON'T dress like strippers... I think you might want to try that again, read the comics, watch the movies or the series, she dresses like a prostitute.
    That said I like her as a character as she dresses that way as she doesn't care how she appears, and most of the time is trying to decide if she is even a human anyhow.

    I agree with this article. I am a female that used to play lots of video games online and I gave it up due to the reactions from other gamers. I don't think it is the games so much, sure I think the female characters in the majority of games are ridiculous but you get that. What I don't like is being taunted for being a girl online... once I was booed out of a LAN gaming centre for being a girl (playing Battlefield 3), I never went back. I also played alot of WoW but, like the article states, would not use ventrilo, as it would distract from the raid and I was after good loot (they would ask personal questions, ie "what size are you" etc).

    It is more about the behaviour of people, than the actual game or comic book itself that has deterred me from staying a Geek girl.

      I must say I'm utterly shocked that you were booed out of a LAN gaming center just for being a girl.

      I often think that sometimes, people see misogyny where there is none. But your example is such a perfect example of complete and utter misogyny that I am completely horrified.

      Anyone that would boo you out of a LAN gaming center because of your gender is a filthy, stupid, snivelling and hateful neanderthal.

    Overall I just don't get the sudden interest of folks posting about "male privilege" on the net lately.
    Argueing it about comics, anime, and games seems like the worst argument of all. Looking at some-one elses creation (or art if you prefer) and claiming that it's wrong as it may offend some-one. People can be offended, and should be at-times, we are all big kids and can decide for ourselves what we like / don't like.
    You talk about not treating women women any different, yet this strikes me as wrong... maybe it was the way I was bought up, but I will be more polite around women, you know, opening doors giving up a seat to them ect, I'd argue it is just being more respectfull. the simple fact is Men and Women ARE different.
    If you personally dislike the way women are portrayed in some peice of media, don't buy it. Don't participate.
    I don't play online games, because I can't be bothered playing some game that would barely interest me with a bunch of anoying pukes that either are still in highscool or never grew out of their highschool sensibilities.

    I know a fair number of women, but very few nerdy women, and most of them realy aren't that delicate (though only one has head-butted me...), if they don't like something they are grown up enough to ignore it and find something else. Though I do tend to like strong women, so maybe my friend reflect this, as I may just ignore / forget the shrinking violets. I think the women I know would actually be offended if I started battles about things that may offend them, they are quite able (and usually all too willing) to fight their own fights.

    The biggest issue here isn't that people are so resistant to even admitting there is an issue (see most comments above this one), it's that there are few clear solutions to these problems and quick fixs so often result in the kind of bland neutering of entertainment that leads to 90% of western produced television being such insipid shit.

    The comics industry has been grappling with the issue for almost fifty years now and it's likely the industry will die at a professional level without ever dealing with the problem.

    Games get a fair bit of flack because it's still a new and emergent form of entertainment that has a chance to avoid the same mistakes of previous mediums, and doesn't seem to be.

    Could anyone say, name a game that passes the Bechdel test?

      Actually I can think of two all ready Bayonetta, which is a bit ironic, and Portal if you count GLaDos as a female character.

        The Bechdel Test (2 female characters that have a conversation with each other about something other than "men" or any specific man) may not be the fairest way to deal with a video game. In a video game we tend to see the action from a specific and thus limited POV, thus making conversations between various characters much harder to observe or fit into the game.

        RPGs and games with highly cinematic styles of storytelling may be able to avoid this problem though. But still, the Bechdel Test seems more suited to the context of ensemble-cast non-interactive fictions.

        Also, some games may only pass the Bechdel Test if the player character is female.

        That said, quite a few games do at least implicitly pass the test.

        System Shock 2: Polito and Delacroix correspond about something that isn't "a man" or "men."

        BioShock 2 may pass as well, although the interaction you see between Sofia Lamb and Eleanor Lamb is heavily dependent on your (male) character.

        The X-Men Legends games, although again it depends on who you have on your squad.

        Project Zero/Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly.

        American McGee's Alice/Alice: Madness Returns (between Alice and Queen of Hearts).

        Half-Life 2: Alyx Vance and Dr. Mossman talk a bit about something other than a man

        Also, I don't think people are hesitant to admit there's an issue. It's pretty obvious that most "geek oriented" media is built around the assumption that the audience is primarily composed of opposite-sex-attracted men, and thus the media tends to ignore demographics outside that group. Rather, the resistance comes from the fact that the articles are using "privilege" rhetoric which, in spite of the technical definitions of the term used in academic circles, essentially functions as a means to hold all men collectively responsible and inflict collective guilt. Even according to academic "privilege" theory this is wrong because you can't hold individuals responsible for things that aren't their fault.

        Basically, men don't like having their GENDER treated as if it were Original Sin.

        There's another reason too; just because a text is created with the assumption that the audience is male DOES NOT MEAN that all men will relate to and identify with the text. I've seen plenty of books, movies, TV shows and video games with which I cannot identify and I'm a man. Do you think Gears Of War is something that every single man in the world relates to?

        Men and Women aren't monolithic classes. We're diverse collections of individuals with very different tastes and preferences and ideals and beliefs and personalities. As such, just because a work of fiction is INTENDED to be "for men" or "for women" does not mean every single man or woman will relate to the work (it also doesn't stop people from the other gender identifying with the work... after all, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic does have a significant male fanbase, and both Marvel and DC Comics have significant female fanbases).

        This is why "THIS TEXT EXCLUDES WOMEN!!!" arguments trigger the kind of counter-arguments that certain feminists describe as "What About Teh Menz?!?" Because I think it is fair to say ALL men, especially geekier ones, have encountered several texts that were obstensibly targeted towards men, that have "excluded" their own experiences (i.e. they could not relate to the text].

        In short, most men aren't particularly sympathetic to "but this text doesn't reflect my experiences or beliefs!!!" complaints because most men have felt THE SAME WAY about many texts.

        I do accept, however, men on average are more likely (on average, ceteris paribus), to find more texts they can relate to, than women (on average) are. But that is a difference of degree rather than principle, and having pissing contests about who has it worse is just Oppression Olympics (additionally, the impact of any specific oppression varies depending on the individual, so trying to quantify 'class' oppression is basically impossible.. classes are just human abstractions, only individuals are concretely real).

    Didn't Commissioner Gordon call Harley Quinn a bitch in Arkham Asylum?

    I like hotties and smut as much as anyone, but I am a little tired of seeing just top-heavy Penthouse pet stereotypes in games. It makes even the most mature and sophisticated game look like something aimed at horny teenagers. There's nothing wrong with having the odd minger in there for believe-ability sake.

    The Metal Gear Series would go up in my opinion if they knocked off the schoolboy crap like photographing cleavage (but only marginally cause the stories are convoluted adolescent garbage anyway). I'm a huge gamer, but games like that are embarrassing to play in front of others.

    I'd love to conduct an experiment. I'll play halo for an entire week on my own with my mic plugged in amd I'll count the amount of abusive messages I receive.

    Then I'll play Halo with my wife for a week and tally up the amount of abusive messages she gets.

    Then we can put to rest all the arguments that "guys get treated just as bad on the Internet" once and for all.

      define "messages"; is it private chat messages? or voice to voice insults?

    Female gamer here. Lots of mixed feelings on this article and the comments. I will try and avoid an absurdly long comment as best I can.

    Are female games treated differently than males games? Yes. Do female games experience an inordinate amount of attention (both negative & positive) simply for their sex? Absolutely. But I don't think anyone is really arguing that point. I don't think anyone is blaming the average male gamer for this, its very much a general cultural thing. Huge boobs and skimpy clothing are definitely NOT exclusive to the gaming community. Unfortunately, gaming community issues with this are unlikely to change until overall culture issues change (which is unlikely).

    I will say, women do themselves a GREAT disservice by attending events dressed in barely there "costumes." It does nothing to support or help improve the gaming atmosphere for women. All it does is play into the objectification. You can't scream, respect me and treat me equally, but then flaunt and use your sexuality for attention.

    I generally keep to myself in games and rarely let anyone become aware of my gender. I have most an overwhelmingly positive response from the males who DO know I game, however. Most actually wish more women WOULD play and have interest in gaming.

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