The -isms are never easy to talk about. They can be hurtful and embody so much history. Recently with the Ferguson event exposing continued racism in the region, St. Louis County issuing marriage licenses to all individuals, and attacks on women and feminism in various forms, Chris and I wanted to be sure to provide Kari with as much information as possible – and on an 8 year-old appropriate scale regarding feminism, heterosexism, and racism.
Over the past few months, feminism has been firmly on my mind with Senator McCaskill’s investigation into campus sexual assault (and frankly, every one could guess campuses were not honestly reporting incidents) and Gamergate.
More applicable to Kari right now is the topic of Gamergate. She loves video games, and has since a young age. She is certainly not going to ever give up games. She also loved going to PAX in 2013.
Will this change to more inclusive gaming continue, or will there be a divide? Is there a place for women in tech that will not have to be hard fought and never truly won?
Let’s start with a quote from Anita Sarkeesian:
One of the most radical things you can do is to actually believe women when they talk about their experiences.
Why is it when women report assault or harassment the first thought is skepticism?
Threats to women in tech are not new. Take the 2007 discussion prompted by the threats to Kathy Sierra. She is not the first and will not be the last woman to take a hiatus from the Internet and popular culture due to harassment and death threats. Why is this behavior ok? It’s not, but it is accepted. Why?
Going back to Gamergate, this disagreement about what gamers should be erupted into a division between those for women’s rights and those against. After nearly a month of heated debate, right after Kori was born in September, Chris stopped talking to his good friend of 15 years. This hurt him terribly. No, not because of the loss so much, but because something so integral to him was ignored. Feminism is such an important part of who my husband is to disavow that part of him is to overlook so much of what makes him amazing. It’s part of his identity. Being married to such a strong, smart woman (uh-hum) and raising 2 daughters, women’s rights are very important to him. However, women’s rights would be equally as important to him if he were raising 2 sons as he would want to make sure they were just in the world.
On a sidenote: I am so proud he was on the list of users Gamergaters Twitter blacklisted. He’s just too equality and social justice for them. I think he’s rather proud of that too.
So many people in the industry are just like Chris. They are standing up for equal rights and uniting against the harassment of women. But there are the others too. There is no reason why anyone should be permitted to threaten another person or diminish their person.
This morning I made the comment that I am glad we are not going to PAX in the next couple years. Chris said he would love to go and challenge the issues. I guess I just think that part of my world is sacred. Video games are my immersive experience and I don’t want the neckbeards to pervade that too.
Interestingly enough, still many people do not think the issues of feminism are valid. Some comment that feminism was created by ugly, angry women and that women should enjoy sexually-charged attention. That particular individual was commenting on the video below.
Unfortunately, the “hello” in this video was not simply a chipper greeting. This is a challenge many women face on the daily: unsolicited sexual advances. Respond, you’re into them. Don’t respond, and you’re a bitch.
My favorite encounter to date (2003):
Guy: Girl, you got kids?
Guy: You want some?
J: Not with you.
Guy: Damn, girl. Ain’t nobody gonna marry your bitch ass.
Where was this conversation? Frankly, it doesn’t matter. Another argument many have tried is that women are inviting these advances because of where they go, what they wear, or by not doing more to stop the advances – see comments here (I know, don’t ever read the comments, but what do I do? I read the comments.)
Women should not have to be mindful of their attire, career choice, opinions, etc. to avoid sexual harassment, death threats or other exploitation. Women should receive support and action when situations like these are reported.
I want my girls to feel more like a Samus than a Peach and be embraced by the world for being so.
I’ll leave you with Computer Engineer Barbie, which still has Kari laughing.
K: Hey mom, I still remember that story about that Barbie who needed help doing tech things.
K: It was pretty dumb. The guys needing to help her. (she laughs)
J: Yeah, you don’t need anyone to write your code for you, do you?