A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

Why #1ReasonWhy?

feministplotDear Rosie,

WTF is this whole #1ReasonWhy thing? Why are a bunch of angry women tweeting that ALL MEN ARE PIGS AND SHOULD BE GATHERED UP AND SHOT?? Is this whole thing a RADICAL FEMINIST PLOT? And why should game companies care what girls think anyway? Everyone knows that the target demographic for games is males aged 18-25! All the tweeting in the world won’t change the fact that sex sells. Girls don’t even play REAL games except to get guys to like them. And if all these lady game industry types were any good at their jobs, their gender wouldn’t matter, would it? Why are they whining about sexism on Twitter instead of DOING something about it? Why don’t they all just go find an island somewhere and make girly games in a girl-friendly environment? Plus, men have to put up with name-calling in the workplace, so why shouldn’t women? And my ex-girlfriend treated me like shit, and the women I’m attracted to aren’t attracted to me, so they’re all cold-hearted bitches–why shouldn’t I treat them like shit? All I’m saying is that women should STFU and learn to deal with the fact that games are made for and by boys and men and if they can’t stand the heat, get back in the kitchen! HAR! HAR!

Signed,

I Don’t Get It


Dear IDGI,

You really, really don’t. #1ReasonWhy isn’t about you. It’s not an accusation–but if it sounds like one to you, you might want to take a look at how you treat women in games or in your workplace. It came about in response to a question. If only a few dozen people had taken up the cry, you could write it off as a small problem. But thousands did, and they’re still showing up a week later. This is an epidemic that a) has gotten worse, not better, in the 25 years I’ve been in the industry, and b) until now, we have quietly accepted as being just the way things are.

fngAs for your misapprehensions re: gamer girls and demographics, I cheerfully direct you to this article, which debunks them (with sources!) quite handily. You’re welcome.

On to the rest.

Yes, sex sells. You will sell more copies of your game if you feature a giant pair of tits on the cover than if you feature, say, a race car or an army man. But we make choices, don’t we? We decide, when we go into business, whether we are going to make products that contribute to societal disease or ones that do not. There was a time very recently when it was hard to find a triple-A MMO featuring female armor likely to protect the character in battle. Today I’m playing Guild Wars 2, and not only is my character fully armored, but her breasts don’t animate when she’s standing still. Way to go, ArenaNet!

Most game developers have, since I started working in the industry back in the late 80’s, stopped sprinkling “humorous” racial slurs into their games like the ones I lobbied (unsuccessfully) to get removed from the games I worked on way back then. As a society–and as an industry–we decided that we were above that. And once, I thought we were above sexism, too. But as I said, it seems only to have become more prevalent. I think that’s why #1ReasonWhy hurts so much–it’s a confirmation of something many of us have known for a long time but have been unwilling or unable to talk about in mixed company because it just wasn’t safe socially, professionally, psychologically. And not saying it out loud meant leaving it unconfirmed much of the time. It meant accepting the status-quo.

This week, all that changed. Women and men came together to talk about the issue–even as people like you, dear IDGI, peppered us with your troll wisdom and lulz–and some of us were comforted while others had their eyes opened and pledged to make things better. The national press covered the discussion–even as you berated us relentlessly for wasting our time (though you didn’t seem to have anything better to do with yours)–and helped to shine an even brighter light on the issue, bringing more supporters in from all over the world to speak on #1ReasonToBe and #1ReasonMentors about next steps.

This is why, IDGI. And though you don’t get it, so many more do today than did six days ago. While #1ReasonWhy is difficult (and even infuriating, at times) to read, to me it is a symbol of hope and a sign of progress. This is how we do it. A spark becomes a flame, and a flame catches the world on fire.

Burn, baby, burn.

8 responses

  1. Evisceratus

    I feel a company has the right to do what is in it’s best interest as long as it doesn’t break the law.

    The videogame industry is currently in serious decline. Nintendo, Atari, EA, Bioware, Square Enix, Capcom, Ubisoft, THQ, NCSoft(the owner of arena net), Blizzard and Activision, etc. may go bankrupt in the next five to ten years. I highly doubt that all of them are going to go bankrupt and the more likely scenario is the stronger companies will merge or stay afloat while the struggling companies will declare bankruptcy.

    Companies that are doing ok are Valve, Microsoft(due to other portions of the company), and Sony(again other portions of the company).

    If a company therefore wants to bet it’s fate on their sexy character models or advanced jiggle physics to get that guaranteed 17-25 year old male market they have that right. If a company thinks they can go after the either untapped or nonexistent(opinions on this differ) 17-25 female gamer market they have that right. The only people the company is answerable to is it’s stockholders.

    I am gonna buy games I like whoever goes out of business goes out of business.

    March 27, 2013 at 7:22 pm

  2. Margaret Durocher

    WOW is on the least hostile end of things? I have friends who used to play and all I can say is that I would not stay in such an environment.

    December 2, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    • Well, I haven’t played any online shooters, but my impression is that they’re way worse. I play MMOs, but I tend to play with friends or alone because I don’t like to deal with other players’ personalities–not just with regards to how they treat women, but the asshole factor in general.

      December 2, 2012 at 11:39 pm

  3. My sister plays a lot of WOW, and I can attest to the fact that she is frequently asked to go on webcam and show her boobs in order to “prove” that she’s a girl :/

    December 2, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    • And in my experience, WOW is one of the *less* hostile online environments for women in games. Makes you wonder how people continue to deny this is a problem.

      December 2, 2012 at 9:07 pm

  4. Reblogged this on Note To Self and commented:
    Watching the #1ReasonWhy hashtag on Twitter recently was one of the most amazing, scary, and powerful things I’ve seen on the Internet lately. Video games are something I am deeply passionate about. They have changed my life, and I know they do the same for others. I want gamers and game devs to stop making excuses for poor behavior. I want us all to evolve and move forward in the way that I know we can. This post as well as the hashtag itself explores that idea.

    December 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm

  5. DISCO INFERNOOOO

    December 2, 2012 at 4:17 pm

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