A survey conducted by Emily Matthew over on the Pricecharting blog, found that 80% of 874 respondents polled believe sexism is rampant in the gaming community, and 35% have been on the receiving end of sexual harassment while playing online.
Matthew’s study found that women were harassed four times more than men, and 63% of women reported being called a “c*nt, bitch, slut, and whore.” Others reported they were threatened with sexual assault, or asked for sexual favors, and stereotypical comments regarding female gender roles were prevalent as well. We’re assuming these comments include, but were not limited to: ‘go make me a sandwich’ or ‘get back in the kitchen and make me some pie.’
Many insults hurled at the women, according to the survey participants, also included derogatory comments regarding their weight or general physical appearance.
“Women were also much more likely to quit playing a game because of sex-based harassment than were men,” says the report. “35.8% of women reported having quit playing temporarily because of sexism, and 9.6% reported that they quit playing a certain game permanently because of harassment.
“The numbers for men in the same areas were 11.7% and 2.6% respectively – about a third of the percentage for women in each case.”
Sexual harassment of men might sound surprising, but look at these numbers: “15.7% of men also reported that they had experienced sex-based taunting, harassment, or threats while playing video games.”
Granted, this figure can be construed as a “minority” but it is still sexism.
“The comments directed at these gamers, however, are different from those directed at women in some very telling ways,” the report continues. “Most of the men who provided additional information on their “yes” response to this question experienced comments that revolved around them not fitting a masculine gender role. These men were often called “fags” and compared to or told that they were women and labeled with stereotypically feminine words.
“Those who identified as intersexed, identified with a sex that was not listed, or did not identify with any sex, the sexual harassment that was experienced largely related to not fitting into any norm. Those participants in these demographics had almost all experienced intentional misgendering from other players.”
The number of respondents who experienced harrassment outside of the game came in at 9.8% of respondents that continued outside the game, and 68% of women reportedly have kept their sexual identity secret on occasion in order to avoid sexual harassment. 13% of men said they have lied about their gender for the same reason.
Some women admitted to having used their gender as a way to acquire items, attention or favors. However, the number wasn’t that large, as only 10% of women admitted it.
“The comments and data from these two questions point to an interesting conclusion: some male gamers use the stereotype of a female “attention whore” to their benefit by pretending to be female in order to garner special benefits,” said the report. “Many of these men even kept images of women that they found on the internet in order to supply those gamers who helped them with nude photos and proof that they were female.
“In essence, an individual using femaleness to attain special favors and gifts from others while playing video games is more likely to be a self-identified male posing as a woman than to actually be female.”
Sounds like it’s time for everyone to grow up. If we are expecting the content of our games to show maturity, stop sexualizing/victimizing women, and stop adhering to outdated stereotypes and testosterone infused storylines, we need to start with ourselves first and with society in general. Otherwise, developers won’t take our foot stamping seriously.
Gamers scream, cry, and pull their hair like toddlers fitting over the need for mature, “grown up” themes in video games, yet they ignore online bullying. Gamer’s rejoiced when BioWare added sexual relationship options to Mass Effect, and stood up for it when Fox News distastefully, and purposely likened it to pornography. Gamers scream the loudest when atrocities committed by mass murderers are blamed on video games by politicians and the media. They wail and sign petitions when certain genres are being targeted for ban by government officials pandering to constituents with a “save the children” mentality.
Yet we don’t chastise or alienate those who bully other gamers online. Again, if we can’t act like adults instead of misogynistic, homophobic neanderthals, how can we expect the games industry to get with the times if we can’t?