A manifesto for female identifying gamers (or more simply “gamer girls”)

A couple weeks ago I posted a video that I had been working on for a LONG time. About nine months actually. I had the idea for it when a friend of mine posted this article on my Facebook wall. Basically it’s about the experience that many women have when playing video games online…they are sexually harassed simply for being female.

This is an experience I myself have had, and why I tend to shy away from MMOs. I’d rather have fun, without being asked what I’m wearing thank you very much. And for me, simply muting my headset and not listening to that garbage isn’t a solution. But stopping this behaviour all together…now that would be something.

SO, I wrote a script that addresses this issue and I sent bits of it to women of all ages around the world who I met through YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. And they sent their videos back. It was a slow process, but eventually I was able to gather all the pieces and edit them into this:

I am incredibly proud of my work, and I fully stand behind the message presented in this video. There is no excuse for the kind of sexist, racist and homophobic behaviour that goes on in the world of online gaming. It is unwarranted, uncalled for, and unnecessary.

I understand “trash talking” when you’re in competitive mode…but let’s not get personal. No one benefits when other people feel excluded, especially when gaming. After all, you need TEAM PLAYERS in order to game.

I understand that not everyone agrees with me, my message, or my means of expressing it in a video. Some people have commented on the “irony” of this message coming from an account called “SexyNerdGirlPresents”. Some people think that I am just sexualizing female gamers myself, and perpetuating the stereotype that all girls who game are conventionally attractive objects of male fantasy. To this I say  I chose the monicker ‘Sexy Nerd Girl’ for myself a little over a year ago. I wanted something direct, no bullshit, and that expressed how I feel about myself.  Not how I want other people to feel about me. People can think what they want… but I feel sexy, and happy, and confident. So yay.

Other people think that by making a video about this that I am being “an attention whore“. (this I find HILARIOUS btw) I suppose people who spoke up for civil rights were also attention whores? And people who make PSAs about the dangers of smoking? To be honest I never thought I’d have to fight people to get a POSITIVE MESSAGE into the universe. I was very surprised to see what a backlash there was to this video, and I ask myself why would anyone have a problem with people who have been abused standing up for themselves?

It disturbs me that so many people have the opinion that it would be better to be silent and accept the status quo, then to campaign for positive change. Women especially were angry about this message. There were a lot of people who said: “just deal with the abusive comments, and stop drawing attention to female gamers.” I’m happy for some people who don’t have a problem with being harassed, but not everyone is like that. Some people would rather that negative attitudes changed, and that women could play and be themselves without having to worry about having their XBL inboxes bombarded with sexist remarks and come-ons.

Also, to the people who think this video was about simply “drawing  attention to women who game”, maybe you missed the point and you don’t know what abuse I’m referring to? If that’s the case, please check out the articles/websites I’ve linked to above as well as a few others. There are a LOT of examples out there of the kind of hate speech that I’m hoping will come to an end.

Some viewers have suggested that I’ve “made a video to hide behind”. This just baffles me. Hide behind? My face, my name, and all my social media platforms are connected to this video. People have the freedom of dissent… directly to my inbox. And the women who graciously donated their time to make this video – they also bared their identities for the public. I only hope that they aren’t attacked by trolls. I think the video made it pretty clear that they had had enough of being under attack.

Another popular opinion amongst comments is that “iphone games” are not in fact games. No? I would argue that iPhone is simply a new platform in the gaming market. You can already group-play on several iPhones with a Wifi network and in a few years, you’ll be able to play MMOs on your iPhone as well. I included iPhone in the list of “consoles” because I was incorporating the present gaming climate and looking towards the future…and it IS the future. That’s a Val guarantee.

And along the same lines as the previous comment, people have suggested that Atari should not have been included in the list. I’m assuming that people who suggested this are under the age of 30, or even 20. Gaming pioneers are not gamers? These trolls need to check their facts. Furthermore, I think this in-fighting amongst gamers is part of the same problem. Not everyone feels like they’re on the same team. There is the male vs. female argument (we’ve established), but there are console wars going on as well. Who cares if you play on PS3 or Xbox? This is just fighting for fighting’s sake. And what should be an inclusive community of nerds becomes exclusive and aggressive. Nerd on nerd violence. Gross.

But, as a positive response to my manifesto, this video by NewChallenger was posted. I’m really excited by the spirit of this video, although ideally women won’t simply have to “mute the dickwads”…hopefully the dickwads won’t be dickwads anymore, and they’ll mute this behaviour themselves with a little encouragement.

People have suggested in comments that if you don’t want to get picked on as a gamer girl or girl gamer, that you should simply hide your identity as a female, and don’t use a “sexy” picture or a “sexy” username. But the message in my video was meant to challenge people to ask for a world where it won’t matter what picture or name you want to represent yourself – people will treat you with respect…and not be dickwads about it.

It has become clear to me now that campaigning for change will result in backlash. Change is scary. Especially for the “privileged people” who will have to give up some of their privileges in order to accommodate the change. But just because something is hard, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth fighting for. And the change is happening already. The number of women gamers is growing rapidly, but of course not everyone has accepted this reality, or embraced it. This will take some time, but I’m confident that the future’s lookin’ pretty nifty.

Anyways, thank you to everyone who supports the pursuit of equality. :)

Rant over. End of line.

**And also, please feel free to leave a comment if you like!


3 thoughts on “A manifesto for female identifying gamers (or more simply “gamer girls”)

  1. I agree that gamers shouldn’t be sexist. Too bad the video is. Many of those lines could have been spoken by male actors. Did that even cross your mind?

    • It did cross my mind, but I decided that this was a video that gives a voice to women. So it would have been unfair to women if I let men do the talking for them when it comes to this particular message. But I appreciate the support from men who sympathize with this message. The video doesn’t imply that every man is behaving in this way – it’s speaking to those that are. But for the many men who don’t behave this way – thanks for being awesome. :)

  2. Hi Valerie,

    I loved your manifesto and video. I think it makes a very sound contribution to this very important debate, which has fortunately gotten more attention lately. I also applaud you for mentioning racism and homophobia as well as sexism, which are really just three sides of the same coin (don’t ask me what a three-sided coin would look like!).

    I was a bit surprised to see you endorsing “thrash talking”, however. First off, thrash talking never brings anything valuable to a game, only helping in building a more hostile than friendly environment. Secondly, thrash talking, more often than not, ends up just being racial, gender-related and LGTB-related slurs throw about.
    The only reason for you to endorse trash talking, that I can possibly see, is that you want to offend the current gamer culture the least possible, in order to gain support for your (noble) cause. That strikes me as odd, especially seeing how the two (thrash talking and racist/sexist/homophobic sluts) are usually interlinked.

    Otherwise, great manifesto and video. I support this movement for equality and inclusion regardless of ones gender, sexual orientation and/or ethnic background.

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