30 Days Of Sexism

My name is Alanah Pearce and I’m a videogame journalist. I write for various websites, and make regular videos for four separate YouTube channels. I present on one TV show and for Xbox Australia on the Xbox Dashboard. I make news videos, review videos, I host events, I interview developers and I really, really love what I do.

I also happen to be female.

Sexism picture from Shutterstock

From March 7 – April 7, I documented everything blatantly sexist anyone has said to me. None of these comments were provoked, none of them were replies to something I said, none of them were at all out of the ordinary and the vast majority of them (an original count of 77 images) have been taken out so that this post isn’t as long as it probably should be. This is a 10-picture indication of what it’s like to be a woman who endorses game culture, every single month.

Before I record the videos I create for various different companies I change my shirt from the loosely fitting singlet I usually wear during the day, to a high-collared t-shirt that will minimise my chances of being objectified. It’s less comfortable, it’s not what I would generally choose to wear, but I do it in attempt to avoid comments about my breasts, my chest, and my physique in general – I try to negate any harassment I possibly can.

I realise this attitude I’ve forced on myself is backward. Instead of presenting as I'd like to I cover up in defence. My presentation suffers for it. I fidget with the collars, I play with the sleeves, I adjust the generally over-sized t-shirts and they often make me uncomfortably sweaty. Alas, I’m willing to let my career suffer in that aspect – however small – in attempt to minimise objectification.

Obviously, it doesn’t work. Instead of having people disregard gender entirely as it really shouldn’t be relevant to a video about game news, there are streams of responses from men complaining that a woman hasn’t revealed herself to them, as though it’s expected or it’s their right to ask for that. Not only is this incredibly discouraging – these videos take hours and hours of effort to create – it’s easy to feel like you simply can’t win. You can only ignore the comments, but that would make responding to the pleasant viewers or the ones who ask genuine questions impossible.

When I first made videos, however, I didn’t change out of the singlets I’d wear every day. People would comment disrespectfully about my choice of clothing, but if I complained, they’d call me a bitch or ask if I was “on my period”. Women are told they deserve to have men make derogatory statements about their chest if it is at all visible, as though that’s an invitation or a fault. That’s downright wrong – no human being should ever have to cater the way they look, what they’re comfortable wearing or their presentation in any way to avoid being sexually harassed. Instead, people should stop sexually harassing.

Even if it isn’t a direct comment on the way a woman looks or a complaint that her breasts aren’t on display, it’s a comment that is disgusting or enough to make a reasonable person uncomfortable. I don’t want to know that ‘sephiroth4465’ is watching my videos and objectifying me in this way.

I’ve seriously reconsidered my career choices over comments like these because, honestly, if I was getting comments like this in any other workplace, I’d leave. It’s demoralising, it’s discouraging, it takes the work you’re proud of and tells you it’s worth absolutely nothing more than the sexual value that is tied to your gender.

And honestly, “it’s the internet” is not an excuse for someone to sexually harass someone by any means, let alone someone in a professional setting. These kind of extremely invasive and excessively vulgar comments are physically sickening.

Then, of course, there are comments that seem nice but are equally inherently sexist. In the picture above, ‘JackArtStudios’ has thanked me for wearing uncomfortable t-shirts and used some hugely negative stereotypes. Some women may exploit their sexuality for views but others do it for comfort, or because they didn’t want to change their clothing. Or because they didn’t consider anyone would be indecent enough to harass them because they’re physically female. There is no logical reason to assume that any woman has changed her apparel to appeal to you.

By 'thanking' a woman for catering her clothing to your ideals, you are telling her you’d respect her much less if she hadn’t worn what you consider to be decent. While I always, always appreciate positivity (and the comment on the content, hooray!) this just further reinforces the idea that women can’t wear whatever they like without compromising perceptions of their professionalism. There is no choice here, and the same kind of comments regularly apply to make-up. If you’re wearing obvious amounts of make-up or wearing a certain kind of clothing, it’ll likely be assumed you want attention and your content or integrity will be disregarded, even though you probably aren’t wearing either of those things to appeal to anyone but yourself.

The first line of this message suggests, once again, that I must be catering the way I look to appeal to male audiences when I actually just like the colour purple. What’s far more offensive than being told you can’t look a certain way is the inexplicable amount of people telling women they only got their job because they’re a female.

Saying something like this is almost as offensive as having yourself belittled to nothing more than a pair of boobs in a video – it discredits all of my work, which he likely knows nothing about (and hasn’t bothered to check) simply because of my gender. I could go on an rant about the hard work I’ve put into making myself a part of the games industry, yet I would still regularly have people tell me that the only way I’ve gotten anywhere is because my sexual organs are different to theirs.

It’s this kind of attitude that forces women to work unreasonably hard before they’re taken seriously or able to establish themselves professionally. The fact is, no woman is less deserving of any position than a man is. It’s also unreasonable and unrealistic to assume you know the motives of any producer or editor or their hiring processes. Presenting is, in some (definitely not all) cases, undoubtedly easier for women to get into, but this should never mean they be stripped of all credit. Work ethic should be judged equally upon both genders, instead of women naturally being assumed to lack skill or use their gender to cheat their way into success.

‘coywhitehartbboy’ left this comment on a photo I took of a statue of Connor Kenway, where I jokingly called him my fiancé. I’m fairly sure he took that literally, but either way this post is insinuating I avidly promote gamer or geek culture in attempt to appeal to men or “#Market” myself. Instead of simply accepting that hundreds of thousands of women very openly have genuine passion for these things, this man and many others like him try to suggest that women are falsely trying to lure them in.

Not only is this attitude hugely egocentric, it also promotes huge amounts of negativity and encourages the ‘testing’ of women who like these things. It creates an obscene and close-minded standard where, unless a woman proves she likes something, people will assume she’s doing it in attempt to market herself.

Women are laughably regularly proposed to for endorsing game culture, but that entire idea is horribly shallow and these comments are sexist in themselves. I would never want to establish a relationship with a man who “wants to make babies” with me solely because I’ve posted a picture my gaming merchandise, and all that’s really doing is completely disregarding my personality or my integrity. It’s an insult to be told you’re ‘perfect’ or ‘attractive’ for something as daft as a hobby, particularly if you take pride in the content you produce, or (god forbid) your actual personality. There is nothing desirable about that kind of attention whatsoever, it’s little more than an insult, and it’d be far preferable if there was absolutely no reaction to a woman openly endorsing games at all. That overreaction and uncomfortable, unfounded affection is sexism. It should be treated like any other hobby – how would you react if a woman said she liked shoes? You wouldn’t, and you shouldn’t.

If jerks on the internet are given a free-pass and allowed to hide behind anonymity when they’re being sexist to someone, then there’s absolutely no reason you can’t use that same anonymity to criticise or educate them. Honestly, just seeing one down-vote or having one person stick up for me is a part of the reason I’m still here and I’m not going to stop fighting. Every single person has the power to fight sexism.

You can follow Alanah Pearce on Twitter and on Facebook.

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Comments

    Great article - although for full disclosure I did skim read the second half.

    Yes I think the sexual objectification that you, and seemingly other female journalists / media representatives face is utterly inappropriate and hugely hurtful.

    I would say that the vast majority of the comments are made by immature males, and maybe a proportion are from males not meaning harm, maybe they're being playful, but they're being misguided in any case - and that's not to excuse them of causing harm.

    My first thought is that shouldn't you be protected by those media outlets that publish your work? Shouldn't they be banning and deleting the comments? Really, isn't that the only, or one of the most effective and significant ways to communicate to the audience that such comments are not to be tolerated. I personally feel that you deserve better support from whichever forum your presenting your articles and that given that it's seemingly impossible to single out 1,000s upon 1,000s of infringers, that the media outlets in question really are the only ones that can and really ought to make a difference.

    Another point that i'd like to make, and I really don't wish this to be offensive and understand that it might be, but I feel that it's best to be honest in discussions such as these, is that there are female journalists / media representatives that are in such (well paid and respected) positions due to their appearance. I'm talking about the dolly bird types that present themselves as such. I think i'm being realistic, and not sexist, when I say that there are some female journalists that appear to have nothing of value over other journalists other than well above average levels of attractiveness, and a willingness to rely on their beauty,

    If we accept what I mention above is true, that certainly doesn't mean that all women journalists are hired for this reason, nor does it mean that men aren't also hired for their attractiveness, but despite that I do think that a fair proportion of women do get opportunities based in part on their sexiness and the audience is smart enough to realise it. I think that, again, the media outlets concerned ought to do their upmost to ensure that they don't take advantage of women's attractiveness because by doing so they're really muddying the waters for everyone.

    John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19

    Internet trolls are not a new phenomenon - that Penny Arcade comic was posted in 2004. It's obviously abhorrent behaviour, but is it newsworthy now because it happened to a woman?

    I went onto YouTube to watch a few of Alanah's videos, and to be honest, she's not a great presenter / interviewer / game reviewer in my opinion, which is reflected in the low amount of subscribers she has.

    Maybe I'm just too cynical, but this article has the feeling of a manufactured controversy with the ultimate aim of getting more views / subscribers to her channel.

      Cynical, irrelevant and unfair.

      Even if she is a really bad presenter, does that justify being bombarded with sexist insults?

      Simple answer, no.

      Even if she does have an agenda to increase her number of subscriptions does that mean that the article is uninteresting and invalid?

      Simple answer, no.

    While it's true one bad egg ruins an omelette, it would be interesting to get some perspective on how pervasive these comments are. If it's only 1% of the comments made, we're making progress in fighting sexism, while if this is 90% of the comments, there's still a long way to go. That's not to say those people who do make comments like that shouldn't learn a little respect, it's just hard to gauge progress in the fight against sexism when all we ever see are the cherry picked negative comments.

    I don't quite agree with the reaction to JackArtStudios' comment. There are a lot of females out there that do nothing to help the problems of sexism in gaming culture by flaunting the fact that they are female because they know it gets hits and reactions. You don't have to dress conservatively, just don't intentionally dress provocatively purely to get hits because it does nothing to help change perspectives. Sexism in gaming culture isn't just a thing that males need to work on, females also need to make sure that they aren't undermining their argument by perpetuating the stereotypes.

    First, purple is an awesome color and I wholly support your decision to dye your hair that color. If I were in an employment position that allowed for the dying of my hair I would definitely be wanting purple, highlights at the least.

    Second, I've been disgusted by the internet for years now and make efforts whenever possible to raise the bar. I think it should be something that we all do. Reading these comments, so many of them boil down to tl;dr and it drives me nuts. I'm not in the games industry, but I am a gamer, and my being part of that "culture" comes with stigmas that, frankly, I am not. I am the anti-thesis to many of those stereotypes and hearing people spewing their vile, childish bullshit gives me hives.

    Third, it's pathetic reading some of the other responses. If someone --regardless of whether the commenter is male or female-- defends you, or agrees with your article and the views you express we are branded a "White Knight" and then derided for being either a feminist pussy, or just being nice to try and get laid. This is the same absurd bullshit that I heard (and caused me to drop out of) in High School. Just because I happen to agree with a woman, and more importantly I agree with her stance on equality in the Internet --which also happens to be her workplace-- does not me I'm trying to get something from her. I enjoy INTELLIGENT discussion of many topics. I don't care who through discourse, it's fun, and it helps exercise the mind.

    Fourth, to clothing. I am, admittedly, a bit of a pig. I understand that what I will say now pretty much reduces my previous three articles to nil; but I do enjoy women. I find them beautiful, and if they are speaking about a subject I'm interested in then all the better. But I also feel that no woman (or even no man for that matter) should be harassed for what they wear, or do not wear. For women it's much more difficult to cover up their... appeal... than men. For some women it's more difficult than others. For men, and to be stereotypical here; for men in the gaming community specifically, an oversized sweatshirt and a pair of shorts can hide almost all of our appeal. I could even go so far as to say that by covering up a guy can INCREASE his attractiveness rather than diminish. But let's say that a guy, in the games world is ripped (HAH!) and is doing a VLOG about games. The likelihood of seeing commentary about how people were pissed that they couldn't see his six-pack is minute at best.

    TL;Dr
    You should have read the article, and my commentary you lazy fuck. Seriously. It's good for you.

    Perhaps its time for women to take charge instead of blog about sexism. Flip it on them? Oh wait, telling a guy you want to do somthing akin to the screen shots above on their face wouldn't exactly have the same result.

    Men are extremely sexual beings both caused by our biology and by our upbringing. We are also violent, we are animalistic and combine this all together with our inability to control some emotions and you get the raging being that is man. I'm sure you've seen some evidence of what we used to be like in years gone past - see

    That is the main issue for sexism. Men and women are completely different to one another in every way. Not just because of biological reasons but also the way we're brought up, marketing thats targeted towards each of us and the expectations put on us by friends, family, peers..

    As soon as everyone stops thinking we are all equal we can get on with life.

    Alanah, I hope you get to read this comment, there's already a lot of feedback here. Much of it positive, some of it not so.

    The sad reality is that the solution to this problem will not be achieved in our lifetimes. Many adolescent boys and their older, yet similarly mentally underdeveloped counterparts, find the temptation of venting some of their repressed and overcharged sexist attitudes into the anonymity of the internet too great to resist. Some of them are no doubt jealous of your success, others are perhaps intimidated. Others still will hold fanciful ideas of befriending the gamer-girl, but have no clue that their comments are in fact sexist and completely out of line.

    This does not mean you are not appreciated for your professional work. This does not mean that the vast majority of your audience won't respect your opinion just as much as the next journalist. I sincerely hope you're not discouraged in any way from your chosen career by a vocal minority. Education will be the only successful agent to change those people's attitudes, but it's going to be a marathon, not a sprint.

    To stop those monsters 1-2-3,
    Here's a fresh new way that's trouble-free,
    It's got Paul Anka's guarantee...

    Guarantee void in Tennessee.

    Just don't look! Just don't look!
    Just don't look! Just don't look!
    Just don't look! Just don't look!

    I wonder how one might feel if someone were to comment about the video and on a side note mentioned they thought you were attractive? I read the article and although I will admit it must be quite demoralizing having "Can I nut on your forehead" popping up every 10 minutes but surely there are a decent amount of people interested in the video and not your tits. People appreciate your work, you enjoy doing what you do, so what else is there to it?

    Another good read regarding sexism in the gaming community (Looking at things as a whole - ie gamers, gaming articles, game development, etc) that I've seen in the last few months. It would seem that woman in the community are starting to feel a bit more empowered to speak out on the topic recently which I'm glad to see.

    My one comment, more of a suggestion really, would be to forget the shirt you find irritating, and dress in what makes you comfortable. I understand that you do it to minimise the objectification, but realistically the idiots who makes said comments are just going to find some other comment to make, and as you've stated, your quality of presentation will suffer as a result of you feeling less comfortable.

    The viewers that are there because they enjoy the content you produce will appreciate the increase in the quality of presentation (Even if it's purely the fact that you seem more relaxed and more like you're enjoying what you do), and as a side effect will perhaps be more inclined to pass along your channel to other like-minded individuals to view.

    tbh, I've never watched a video you've done - as a general rule I steer clear of a lot of the youtube content purely because I find a lot of it to be quite opinionated rubbish - but I'm curious now to try and watch one of your older videos (pre-shirt) and one of your newer ones, even if just to see if I can pick up on a difference in the style of presentation. At work atm so will have to remember to do this later =).

    tldr version: Good article. However suggest focusing on the viewers who are there for the content, and dress however you feel comfortable - the shirt is unlikely to deter any crass/stupid sexism, but as you've stated will likely detract from the style of presentation (less relaxed / distracted).

    Idiots will always be idiots - all we can do is try to gradually change the way the community perceives them - and in so doing, discourage said behaviour.

    Alanah, great article to read. It is interesting and as well quite confronting in some cases, especially on some facets of the internet. The internet is quite powerful in which it came promote the best in humanity such as the show of support in gun control in the US and as well the actions taken by those in the Boston Bombings. However, it's constantly taken out of context but the blatant sexism and racism in some cases. It is even worse when the person taken offense posts something like this as a response to it.

    Here, the anonymity of the internet gives credence that you can get away with anything. However, you'd be surprised how many of the people that are commented are probably no different than you or me. They could be proper citizens living out normal lives that take a dark turn when they go online. In a sense, the internet is like the open pasture where anyone can do anything they want, even indulge in their dark nature of their persona. It is something we can't do. Heck, I could be a saint in real life and yet indulge in telling people I'll rip out their heads because they're not me. That's a fact of life and something we can advise but not change.

    For me, taking a stand against sexism online by posting an article like this isn't the best way. All it does is just make it worse with criticism from many sides. Here, I was torn in thinking 'are you serious' in your actions about some comments. Especially, the comments were you thought you were targeted is because of your outfits. In this case, I'm asking myself, why are you so concerned about something so small like the outfits? Isn't the main point more about your content? Do you enjoy doing the podcasts that you do? If not, what should you do about it? But you're letting yourself into a hole when you do post something like this.

    Being serious about one thing is good if taken in the right point of view, rather than mashing your opinion as the truth.

    This is going to be an awesome and necessary series. Thanks. Looking forward to it.

    Nice article, super glad all this is coming to light and more and more industrywomen are standing up for themselves and saying they've had enough!

    Let's see.

    1. Google "youtube gaming reviews"
    2. Pick a result at random
    3. Look at comments section
    4. Find comments like: "Have you play any of these games? No? So you suck it!", "what a fa$$ot", "you are stupid ? ... fucking haters"

    Conclusion: Youtube = abuse. Sexism is incidental, fitting in with the larger frame of abusive culture and behaviour.

    You're confusing a particular manifestation of misanthropy with a form of discrimination. The abuse itself is based on the easiest identifiable point of attack. Run the steps above, specifying in step 3 that the selection has to be male, and analyse. You'll see that if you'd been male, the first point of attack would have been your sexuality, rather than your sex.

    Not arguing that sexism doesn't exist (it does), and that the abuse you received isn't disgusting (it is), but other than demonstrating that Internet commentators aren't very nice, there's no other valid conclusion.

      Couldn't have said it better myself!

      Youtube comments section is a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

      As a male who uploads YouTube videos and gets a considerable amount of views (and trolls) on a daily basis, I couldn't agree more with this. If you are a guy, it is 'what a f@g', if you are a woman, it is 'tits or gtfo'. That is just YouTube, men cop just as much abuse as women on YouTube.

    I feel sorry for the guy in the shutterstock pic. He's even resorted to using a megaphone to try and communicate, but the woman has closed her eyes and blocked her ears so she can pretend he's not even there :(

    Her calling that comment by JackArtStudios sexists was... sad. It bothers me how ladies keep trying to find a way to see how a guy's comment can be sexist. While there are many sexist guys out there it's just disgusting how some ladies fall into the trap of "a guy did anything, therefore sexist!"

      It was sexist because he was implying any woman who wears a low-cut top (like the author feels comfortable wearing) must be a dirty whore fishing for views.

        Most women on on YouTube that have their boobs hanging out in their videos ARE trying to get more views for that reason. Just like a guy with a good body doing a vid with his shirt off would be doing the same. Lets pretend things aren't true so we don't get labelled as sexist - there's an idea.

    Change will come from wife/sister/mother pressure, not soap box articles stating the obvious. Want to make the problem worse? Write an article about it.....Seriously. Also, for fucks sake stop removing legitimate comments Kotaku. It really does seem like youre only allowing views which conform to your own.

    It doesn't matter what you want to coin it -- insensitive words, sexism, or misogyny. None of those are crimes, they are just words. You seek entitlement that's all. You think you're attractive, smart, witty, the package. Then some guy reminds you that they don't really care by telling jokes, that makes you mad. Mad enough to write articles like this.

    Tell me this, you've never seen a bunch of girls get together in a room, ogling over some magazine of males with amazing bodies. They go on and on about which guy looks the best and get descriptive about the features they find unattractive. The internet is this flipped around, the guys are the ones with the magazines and you're the person in it. Get used to it, stop complaining about human nature.

      1D fans on instagram anyone? Actually many male selfies on instagram?

    I, respectfully, disagree with the last bit about being "proposed to" over something "as daft" as a "hobby". Looks fade, and what IS personality if not your life experience, world view and those things you love? If a straight guy who never found a girl who shares his passion for video games stumbled upon your work, I could totally see him having a "where have you been all my life!?" type reaction. Now, how does that make you feel to be told this? Well, that's up to you to say, not me. But I think finding someone with whom you can share your hobbies, career and passions, that should probably be at the top of your list when looking for a partner... maybe somewhere after "doesn't love beating me up".. ya.. that's probably a good thing too...

    Of everything in the article, the only part I can criticise is the response to 'MARRY ME' and 'I WANT YOUR BABIES'. But only that.

    Reason being it's the only heckle that's not specific to a gender. I watch males and females in a variety of media, and most, if not all, the males I see have also had this heckle, more than once, from girls who frankly can get just as creepy as the boys at times. Just, not so rampant with it, nor as quick to shout 'get raped' as certain males.

    This doesn't discount the gender disparity however, nor the unhealthy obsession with boobs and a female's attire. Women should not be heckled for what they wear, accused of being, or not being, a slut for the audience, any more than a man should.

    The audience for gaming is 90% filled with virgin teenager males who are horny as hell, to be honest i'm surprised the comments aren't worse.

    Oh, and keep up the good work. Step one to dealing with a problem is admitting there is one. I don't see the fight for equality being won any time soon (is ever?) but it certainly won't be won by ignoring the problem altogether.

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