I shouldn’t get embroiled in this, especially right now, but this has been turning up everywhere and passed around by people who should know better. So here we are.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to take a look at this: “Tabletop Gaming has a White, Male Terrorism Problem”. Then take a look at the gallery below. Then reflect on why ‘listen and believe’ is such a terrible idea, what has happened to the atheist/skeptic community and pause to recall the depredations of Wertham, Pulling, Thompson and Sarkeesian.
That’s as much time as I’m going to spend directly on that post, and I’m not even going to make the usual set of debunkings and rationalist arguments. I’m not going to point out, at length, the inherent racism and sexism of the article or that its accusations are just that – accusations.
I am, however, disappointed that so many people unquestioningly and uncritically regurgitated that post everywhere, and that the slightest bit of misapprehension or skepticism has been – as usual – characterised as misogyny.
Instead, let’s talk about something positive.
I’ve been gaming for some 30 years. In all that time I’ve found gaming to be a very inclusive, very liberal, very accepting, very caring place. All my best friends are gamers, indeed I think all the best people are gamers. I’ve never, in any other area of life, met such an accepting, open, warm hearted bunch.
Gamers are awesome.
Sure there are creeps and very rare nasty incidents, but by and large we take care of our own and we don’t need to stoop to bullshit to do it.
I’m at a LARP which is winding down. We’re chatting and waiting to leave, one of the girls is just quickly pulling on some jeans for the walk home when a guy oversteps the mark and tries to wedgie her.
He’s lucky to still have his teeth.
We’re in a big, packed hall when a woman suffer a wardrobe malfunction. Without a word being said a group of burly chaps form a human changing screen so she can change into her spare clothes without being seen.
A couple break up minutes before a game session. We cancel, we commiserate, we make sure they’re both OK and can both get home safe.
“That guy’s creeping on me.”
We haven’t seen it, we’re not about to just throw him out, but we take it in turns to keep an eye on him. Turns out he is a creep and a few quiet words later the problem is solved.
The non-gaming girlfriend of someone at the event turns up, drunk, sits down at a table and – unbelievably – gets a vibrator out of her handbag and sits it on the table. Switching it on. Without prompting someone sits with her to talk to her, distract her and to ‘disarm the device’ so everyone else can carry on unmolested.
The guy causing problems is obviously and pitiably, quite mentally ill. He’s taken aside and gently – and with compassion – calmed down and banned from attending, with the minimum of fuss and drama.
This is the gaming community I know. The one I’ve encountered year in, year out. In America, in the UK, at LARP events and conventions, at tabletop games big and small, at stores and model shops and trade fairs. Its a community where people look after each other and when there’s a problem they come together and they deal with it, as a group. As friends and colleagues and people with a common cause.
Gamers want more people to be gamers and it doesn’t take pointless policies, spurious accusations or abject virtue signalling to make it so. Indeed that tends to create the opposite. If you pretend there’s a problem when there isn’t, or you make it seem bigger than it actually is, you create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Imagine, if you will, a restaurant that made a big song and dance over how they took steps at every stage to ensure nobody was poisoned. Nobody expects to be poisoned when they eat out and most places don’t act like this is a big threat. So what’s going on at this place that they have to make such a big fuss about it?
Gaming is great. Gamers are great. Encourage and spread the good and there’ll be more of it. If you’re going to spread the bad, be sure of what you’re talking about and be sure you’re advocating things that will make people safer, rather than merely making them feel safer – at the expense of the things that make gaming great.
“In all that time I’ve found gaming to be a very inclusive, very liberal, very accepting, very caring place.”
Yes. And that is exactly why this happens to communities like gaming. The atheism and skepticism movements are also generally very liberal and inclusive. That’s how the divisive nutballs are able to get a foothold in the first place. They’re taking advantage of decent liberals’ good intentions.
It’s why you won’t see this happening in any genuinely sexist group or environment. Real sexists wouldn’t give it the time of day. They don’t care or worry about being called a “misogynist” by BuzzFeed. It’s precisely because gamers are so great that they’ve been swindled by sociopaths working the pity play on them.
My experiences with gaming have mostly been similar to yours. But I have also seen some pretty bad behavior by some gamers, and gamer groups. I don’t doubt that most gamers are very decent people, just like most people in the general community are very decent people. That doesn’t make the anecdotes or the charges in the article, “Tabletop Gaming has a White, Male Terrorism Problem”, untrue or inaccurate. The fact is that both realities co-exist in the same community. And we need to be able to acknowledge the problems that occur in order to better address them. If I live in a decent community and game with decent gamers, it becomes easy for me to ignore the incredibly high frequency of misogyny, abuse, racism, etc that occurs in other groups and locations. Roughly 1 in 4 women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime. Gamers are not excluded from that statistic. It changes your perspective if you think that you have a 1 in 4 chance of being assaulted. It changes it even more when you are that 1 in 4. And then have your experiences ignored and dismissed. Whether you realize it or not, your comments just helped demonstrate the very dynamic that she was writing about.
The lack of evidence in the original article and the atmosphere of spurious accusations – not to mention the other actions of the poster – are what renders it suspicious. Worse, those actions are going to make it harder for people with genuine issues to come forward and be believed.
1/4 has been roundly debunked and is another example of this issue. Bad statistics from activists, bad arguments, bad accusations, these help nobody.
“Worse, those actions are going to make it harder for people with genuine issues to come forward and be believed.”
Oh, give me a break. It doesn’t matter who says it or how much evidence there is, there will always not be enough evidence for women “to be believed” by some.
Well, I have seen it and experienced it and I know it happens so it was quite enough for me to believe, thanks.
True, but some evidence would be nice. There’s logical and legal requirements here. The burden of proof and innocent until proven guilty (beyond a reasonable doubt). Listen and believe doesn’t work, you might as well say ‘have faith’.
What are you referring to when you mention other actions of the poster, and where are the debunkings you spoke of here?
I say I’m not going to bother with doing that, but if you look at the gallery of images and follow up on what’s in there you’ll find the answers to both your questions.
Are you serious, though? The author’s stories aren’t just of bad behavior, they’re like comic book squared bad behavior. Worse. If you saw that stuff in a comic, you’d probably huff that it was overdone and unrealistic. And then they just keep going. No actor in any of those stories, especially the shop owners and the cops, behaves like real people. They’re just fluffy-eyebrowed villains.
It’s not a case of “women don’t get believed” so much as it is “this series of anecdotes is unbelievable.”
The examples you give, from your own experience, are brilliant and are just as they should be, business as normal. However, they either are as unhelpful as the OP’s examples of abuse because they are uncorroborated or (and this is where I stand) are exactly *as* helpful and should be taken at face value.
The direct accusations against the staff of a particular company are different, of course, because they reflect upon that company and it’s products as well as the staff who work there as a whole. They *need* to be addressed officially because they are in the public domain and to ignore them could be to ignore a potential crime (slander at the very least!).
I see no evidence of misogyny in your article but then I find no evidence of misandry in the OP. The “white male terrorism” label *may* be a little strong, but how long will it be before some over privileged idiot with a gun makes it real if this issue isn’t addressed and put to bed? And it clearly *is* an issue because it keeps coming back again and again across the world and it keeps provoking the same response in gamers who *don’t* abuse their peers.
Like you I have been gaming for decades, I have grown from a geeky teen who didnt know how to behave around wimen and girls to, I hope, an adult. I want to do whatever I can to help my peers of all ages and genders which is, I feel, the least I can do.
Imagine a title accusing any other group in those terms and you’ll see the bigotry. There’s no ideology driving shootings etc, no political end.
Problem is they have been addressed publicly. The message was that Wyrd wouldn’t tolerate employees who do that, and that Garland hasn’t shown any evidence they have.
And screenshots of random replies on Tumblr with an unverified name? That’s not evidence.
Here is my issue with these accusations and those like them. I’m quick to investigate; I think most are. This is the ‘listen and believe’ portion. I listen to the accusation and take my time, which is precious to me and others, to investigate. By bothering to investigate, I’m giving the person my belief that they are honest.
That doesn’t mean I accept that what they’re saying is the truth; it means I accept they believe it to be until shown otherwise.
But every time I check, the accusations are false. Not most of the time, not many times, EVERY TIME. I’m not discounting the possibility of some being true; it does happen I’m sure. What I’m saying is that when it’s presented to me, it’s always been false, without exception. The closest it’s ever come to being true is that one says it happened and the other didn’t and there’s no way to show it either way.
People rub each other the wrong way; it happens. Sometimes, you have to separate them for everyone’s good, and it’s not fair to one of them or the other. In those cases we’d ask whoever lost the least and who made the group as a whole the most uncomfortable not to come back. It wasn’t pleasant but we did it because it became necessary.
For too many, ‘listen and believe’ is automatically accept accusations as fact. That’s simply not a workable situation.
For the people in our gaming groups who came around to that attitude, we had to ask them not to return. They were nothing but disruptive, and they weren’t actually interested in gaming so much as giving other people grief. And most of those people? White guys who were trying to show how ‘progressive’ they were. My gaming groups are small, less than 20 people usually. Everyone would be aware of the events because they were present at the time. I shudder to think what happens at bigger events when the majority can’t be aware of anything and don’t want to seem like bad people or get called bigots.
And no, I don’t believe Garland’s accounts, but I’ve got no information to judge, one way or the other, except what’s been available in the press. So far, that’s very little, and that’s mostly the fault of the press and Garland.
You write “And no, I don’t believe Garland’s accounts, but I’ve got no information to judge, one way or the other.”
Actually, you do. There was a Canadian human rights court that awarded her a lawsuit based upon the actions of the game store that fired her because she was harassed (I would say assaulted, based on the description). It is in the public record.
Out of court settlement as I understand it, punishing a store for a supposed customer’s actions.
I know personally on the otherside of the fence where I have had to step in about abuse at gaming conventions. The first article was all too familiar for me and I have had to apologize to my female friends for the behavior that have experienced. I know some of my friends that will not game ever again because of the behavior the y had personally experienced.
At one game, a gentleman assaulted one of my friends. He decked her after she turned him down.
Another time, another cornered a female until security walked by and she attached herself to them to remove themselves from the situation.
Another time, a person hacked into an account of another person to spy on them.
I have myself been personally threatened, and in that same email he went on a tirade.
So yes James, it does and can happen. Just like the above says
How many incidents over how many years. Also, it’s starting to look like you have a VERRRRRY different gaming culture (or something else is going on).
I’ve got to ask… does it matter how many? Is one not too many?
Reducing all instances of assholedom to zero is an unrealistic and impractical goal. It also tells us nothing about a culture or community if we tread tens or thousands of incidents the same way.
So, yes. It matters.
I think no one is questioning that these events are possible. I think the objection is the fact an entire hobby is slandered based on zero evidence, bizarre demands are made that would not solve the problem, bizarre statements are made about tangental issues, even more entire groups are slandered based on no evidence, even more bizarre demands are issued to slander anyone who does anything but uncritically accept the proferred narrative, and yes, the sickening racism.
It is sad, but you cannot take these things at face value anymore. Too many SJWs are willing to lie about them.
Thank you so much for posting this. I was a member of a Shadowrun group on FaceBook that posted the original article no less than three times, each time with a more self-righteous write-up, and increasing amounts of back-slapping for the discussion being ‘positive’ as more people who were critical or sceptical of the post were banned. I was sickened and left.
“Imagine, if you will, a restaurant that made a big song and dance over how they took steps at every stage to ensure nobody was poisoned. Nobody expects to be poisoned when they eat out and most places don’t act like this is a big threat. So what’s going on at this place that they have to make such a big fuss about it?”
Exactly my point of view. I don’t see how this is distinct from the ‘Nice Guy syndrome’ that these same geeky SJWs cry out against – comment sections over this article turn into bigger and bigger circlejerk echo chambers over how you “don’t support harassment”. Really? Who DOES support harassment? Who ARE these enablers? How are the people putting so much effort in virtue signalling distinct from the “Nice Guys” who “want a prize for not being an asshole”?
As you said in the comments, nobody would apply anecdotal stories about black people at large to individual black people. Many people have been shot down, rightfully so, for slamming Muslims at large for supposedly not decrying terrorist attacks vocally or often enough (by some unknown metric). And yet it is becoming acceptable to judge all white people by the (alleged) actions of a few, and ostracise white people who are not vocal enough in denouncing their own culture.
This is why people object to ‘SJW’ culture. It is not guided by universal principles or rights the way previous ‘enlightened’ movements have been. Rights are secondary to an ideology that is heavily flawed and very un-scientific, and this attitude is prevalent in those that support it. The people who supported the ‘white terrorism’ argument point out that the troublemakers certainly tend to be white males, while ignoring the fact that this is a disproportionately predominate demographic in the culture, so that is basically an inevitable conclusion.
Likewise, another supporter of the article cited the fact that of his female friends ‘8 had been sexually assaulted’. Now, obviously that is awful to hear but… I don’t know how many female friends he has. I don’t know the context of any of the assaults (that is, were they in any events/circumstances connected with gaming?) I also don’t know how many of his male friends were sexually assaulted, presumably because he didn’t ask them. (This isn’t just being facetious. One of my male highschool friends was narrowly saved from an abduction/possible rape at a nightclub after his drink was spiked and I have been groped by customers at my work)
The most stunning part for me may be the amount of people who say “So what if the article isn’t true?” Because apparently it was already obvious there was a problem.
All I can say is the FaceBook group I was in never had a problem with harassment until somebody decided to link that article.
…So, you realize that you just said “This article doesn’t contain any factual evidence, just anecdotes!” and then wrote an article that doesn’t contain any factual evidence, just anecdotes, right? I (a man) have also had a very positive experience with gaming communities, without even the types of bad things you talk about here, but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen in the community at large.
Speaking of evidence, I would really like to know exactly what exactly women are supposed to be providing in these situations.
For example, in one of the anecdotes she was groped by someone and when she turned around, it wasn’t clear who had done it. Assuming this happened–because it is a thing that does happen–how would she possibly “prove” it? Should she be constantly videotaping her own body in case someone assaults her? I’m genuinely interested in what sort of proof you think is going to be available, given that these predators are able to attack women in ways that don’t leave marks and in places and ways where they won’t be witnessed.
Yes. That was kind of the point. That would be why I said I wasn’t going to bother with that. I think it was Hitch who said: “That which is asserted without evidence, may be dismissed without evidence.” I could go into long statistical debunkings, but what is the point? They haven’t been effective before. Instead, sad as it is, countering negative anecdote and accusation with positive anecdote and subjective experience seems to have had a grip.
Video recording is ubiquitous now, since you mention it. In one anecdote at least there should have been physical evidence, CCTV, direct witnesses etc.
Thought this might shed some light on the reliability of the claims that were put forth:
I’m wondering where on earth she’s living. I’ve been part of the Australian RPG community for more than thirty years. I’ve organized, played in, written for and devised new forms of play for more conventions than I can remember off the top of my head. At some point or other I’ve been to most Australian conventions and I know who organizes them. I’m the proverbial dinosaur. If this has happened at any of the conventions I was involved in then my friends and I have failed miserably to protect at least one of our players. I’ve never seen this kind o behaviour but that doesn’t mean that her account isn’t true, just that I’ve not witnessed it. We try very hard to ensure the safety and comfort of all our players and I’m horrified that this is even a possibility.
I can speak for Sydney, Australia, where this kind of thing definitely happens at conventions and expos. One of my (white male) friends spent an entire day at the Sydney Convention Centre chaperoning two young women who were in costume, after seeing two guys in the space of 10 minutes grab their bodies without permission. The young women managed a lot of the unwanted attention themselves, of course. He only had to step in maybe a dozen times in eight hours, because various guys weren’t able to understand that the young women were there to look at games, not to hook up with guys.
Thanks, Jenny, for letting me know. It looks like there’s work to be done, both about the harassment and the assumption that because they’re women that they aren’t “real players” and are just there for the guys. Putting on a costume isn’t an invitation to that kind of appalling behaviour. I’m really glad that your friend was able to help but he shouldn’t have had to.
We must have a different culture in the East Coast as far as the numerous cons I have attended. I hosted a full con party several times with 50-60 people and lots of drinking.. I have never witnessed or been made aware of any of these types of situations (I did have one fellow that was sitting too close for the comfort of one guest, but a 1 minute private talk took care of that) Again, we look after females and who might present even the slightest issue.. My guess is it would be different depending on the size of the convention, I have never attended a large (1000+) con because frankly, I never want to have to fight for space or to move in a hallway
As a vendor at nothing but east coast cons…
After your had five sobbing people in security because they were assaulted, 3 drugged drinks, and well over 20 assaults of various levels
On Friday night alone…
You stop thinking maybe its just me.
What con was that? I’m sure you’d want to warn women (and, heck, everyone) away from such a place.
It’s relatively easy to keep track of a party with 50-60 people, many of whom you may know well. I can assure you that when running a convention of 1000+ people the issues are different. Many of these people you may not know personally, although someone in your team probably does. You may well have a huge venue (an entire college, for example), games running from 9am until midnight or later over a four day convention. You cannot be everywhere at once and you can’t always assume that if something unpleasant, at best, criminal, at worst, will be reported to you or another member of your team. That takes a level of trust between the player and the team that can be difficult to build at a very large con. Players have a right to feel safe, relax and enjoy themselves at conventions and hopefully if anyone turns their fun weekend into a nightmare they’ll tell someone or a member of the team will see or hear something, allowing them to investigate but I’m quite sure these things do happen and organisers and designers need to be alert, aware and approachable so comparative strangers feel confident enoughto come forward and let us know.
And at the same time vigilant, fair and demanding of evidence.
If you want to take the matter further (such as placing charges) then clearly you need the kind of evidence that will allow that, but there are other measures that can be put in place to discourage this sort of behaviour but won’t restrict normal social interaction. Sometimes it’s enough to make it clear that it’s not acceptable and anyone caught doing it will be ejected from the con. It’s also a lot more difficult to get away with it when it’s 1. Crowded, 2. People are watchfulof one another and 3. People play in teams and will stay with their team the whole con. It still happens but it can be minimised.
Bad behavior isn’t a “white male problem” anymore than terrorism is a “brown person” problem. The fact that she thinks someones skin color, or their maleness is the problem, means that there is something wrong with her. Mentally. Which puts her whole article in the do not believe category for me. If I don’t believe the crap Trump says about other races, why would I listen to somebody talking about white males, who isn’t one? And if I see a guy acting the fool with a female friend or acquaintance of mine. I stamp that crap out quick. Benefits of being a 200+ pound Native male.
It may or may not be a “white male problem” but that doesn’t mean she’s lying about having been sexually assaulted.
But is it our fault yet for being males and gamers? I don’t condone that behavior and don’t need her guilting me for something that had nothing to do with me and behavior I certainly take no part in.
And “may or may not be a white male male problem” is wrong,period. If you disagree, replace white male with Black male, Latino male, Asian male. And see if it makes you sound racist.
That’s not what I was talking about. You said that you thought that there was some kind of “mental” problem with her and that that put her article in the “do not believe category” for you. In effect what you were saying was that you thought she was mentally ill and that meant she wasn’t to be believed. That was my problem. There are plenty of people out there with a variety of “mental” issues, does that mean you wouldn’t believe any of them if they described a similar situation?
Obviously, if you don’t behave like this and you don’t condone it, speak out against it and intervene when you see it you aren’t the problem and nobody’s holding you responsible for the actions of men who do this. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Men are no more monolithic that women are.
Her article is what we would call a “clickbait”. It was purposely chosen to ellicit views. Whether or not her experiences are true have nothing to do with gamers or gamer culture. I am objecting to being painted with the same color as rapists because I am male, that is it period. Saying something just to get noticed is the mark of a borderline personality. The misandry and racism inherent in her narrative is signs of other issues with her. Take stories with a grain of salt. Don’t believe everything, and deal with sexual assault by all means necessary, just don’t pretend that Rpg culture has anything to do with sociopaths doing what they choose.
The RPG community has as many predators in it as any other community, the vast majority of predators are men. That’s not to say that all men are predators, clearly they aren’t. A small proportion are. If you aren’t, and you do what you can to make sure they don’t get the chance, or get away with it if they do then you are obviously not part of that category of men. I know it’s annoying when women are mistrustful and you have to work to gain their trust but they have a lot to lose here and a little understanding goes a long way.
Thing is that if an accusation is made do you simply dismiss it as the victim being “borderline” or do you take the accusation seriously and investigate? If you have reason to believe the incident happened do you boot the perpetrator out of your con or do you tell the victim and ever other woman at the con that their safety and comfort isn’t important and give him another chance? What if he did it, you let him stay and he does it again? What kind of evidence would convince you?
You can’t believe everything a “borderline says, and the problem there is serious issues with her credibility. Take the case with WYrd games. She made some serious accusations and when pressed couldn’t provide any evidence, instead she called upon others to spam Wyrd’s phone lines. And the issue with her previous employer. It was a he said she said deal. And in addition her employer directly said that she makes things up just to get attention. The judge believed that a customer harassed her, not her employer. Yet the employer had to pay. There was such a low burden of proof involved that it was laughable. This is not the case to bring sexual assault into public view, and makes gamers look bad for no reason. If you want to campaign against sexual violence and rally, I’m there. I just don’t believe her, as an individual.
How nice that your anecdotal evidence is more pleasant than hers.
My own runs a heck of a lot closer to hers.
So does most of my friends.
As a VENDOR at conventions i see a lot of it, and its why i dont vend at gamer cons unless i know the organizers now.
And how nice that yours is others, but the point is that’s no good for anything. Mine or yours.
Vendors certainly see a great deal, so do the folk at the front desk (with the conventions I’ve been involved with they’re usually in the same room) and in my experience they can be very protective of anyone who goes through the hall.
Since this is a contest of stories then, I’ll add mine. I had a young lady start whipping dice at my head, because I had the temerity to attack her first in a game of Lunch Money. Then she stood up and briefly tried to build a case for assault (on my part!) which was quickly shut down, and when she saw she couldn’t build a mob out of the material at hand, tucked her poor subjugated boyfriend under her wing and huffed out. I’ve encountered a couple other of her clones. They’re dangerous. You’re right–there is danger, but we disagree as to the kind of person it tends to come from.
For every creepy dude, there’s a histrionic Borderline personality. Thankfully they’re both rare, and embarrassing to everyone who just wants to have a good time.
Did anyone look at the actual court filing? Here it is and a vox article linking the blog post, with the blogger and the court filing.
Click to access garland.pdf
notice the respondant,
What are we supposed to be noticing exactly?
Was it a Court or a Commission board finding? Is there a difference? Can any Canadians speak to this?
Is the a Court finding or a Commission board.? Is there a difference? Can any Canadians speak to this?
Is this a court or a commission board finding? Is there a difference? Any Canadians care to speak to this?
BEHEAD THOSE WHO INSULT VIDYA
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It seems to me that we need a lot more formal evidence about this problem. So far we have a lot of anecdotal evidence which people are unwilling to accept. The only way to figure out how widespread this is and if any patterns emerge is to start collecting data.
We should, perhaps, start sending out “in confidence” questionnaires via email after cons. We need to encourage people to report whenever they see or experience this kind of behaviour. We could also be encouraging women to be more visible in leadership roles and raise this on a more open level so that it’s easier to talk about if it happens. I don’t know what the gender mix is at other cons but having women very visible as organizers and designers sends a strong message.
The anecdotal evidence suggests that there’s a lot going on, so let’s get some hard data.
I’ve never been an in-person, active member of the gaming community. I grew up in a small town and there was just nothing there.
But I grew up in Canada, too, and no police officer would ever call a victim a “slut” and retain their position undisciplined if she were to contact their CO. Social etiquette and interacting with people is part of their training. And the RCMP officer supposedly telling her to “change hobbies or she’ll die” is a ludicrous notion.
To me it sounds like she met a few bad eggs. There are creeps in the world but to sanctimoniously try to pin it on the gaming community is silly. If she had been at a concert, ComicCon, or any other large gathering not specifically for gamers she would in all likelihood have encountered the same sort of incidents, just from different people. Would she then have written the article about how “comic book collectors are white terrorists” instead? Who knows.
I don’t question that she has been victimised and she does deserve sympathy for that. Many women out in the world encounter this kind of harassment and are expected to keep quiet and not make a fuss. My boyfriend is a gamer – we play Magic, D&D, and computer games together – and if he or his friends witnessed a woman being treated like this they wouldn’t stand for it. No man should.
First of all, grimachu, thank you for your thoughts on this issue and post.
Because no matter how I or any other person might feel personally you’re doing precisely what a lot of us (female gamers who have met harassment) want:
You started a debate about the issue.
I realise that you didn’t technically discuss the issue itself but still … 🙂
Now, I have seen both sides portrayed. The original post’s community as well as the one you’re describing. All in all I’d say I have met way more supportive gamers than assholes who sexually harass girls and women.
For me it was always like … gamers are people. There’ll always be assholes among people so it stands to reason that any group of gamers wouldn’t include a few assholes as well.
So to me the question was never IF sexual harassment occurs among gamer communities – because in my intellectual understanding it’s simply unavoidable that it does. The question to me was more why so many gamers, especially male gamers SEEM to reject the debate about it. Why they reject even the notion that it does happen?
I can imagine that being one of the main points people, male and female, try to bring across. Not as an accusation to all gamers but a frustration about many male gamers’ (at least perceived) unwillingness to even accept the existence of – sometimes vicious – sexual harassment among gamers, communities and events.
Like I said, I’ve experienced my own share of harassment (not always sexual), be it in pen&paper RPGs, be it in video games, be it in LARPs or cosplay events.
I won’t post any anecdotes since we all know they could have been made up. Of course there are police records, hospital records, letters and e-mails that have been written, etc. but what’s the point? The entire debate isn’t about me.
It’s about several women in those communities simply asking – demanding – that their troubles and issues are being noted, being accepted. That not as many members of said communities remain silent and tolerate any such behaviour.
I think I already mentioned that I overall met more supportive men in the community, each and every one of them, than dismissive ones but that doesn’t mean I’ve never met the ones the author of the post in question mentioned.
A lot of it is also a question of perception. Like, a simple example, a male LARP gamer might ask a female attendant (me, in this case) if he can touch her boobs. Another one ask if the elven ranger (again, me) might want to share the tent of an orc …
Now, I’m saying these men might have been asking in jest, no harassment intended.
But what they may have forgotten is that, while they didn’t mean any harassment but simply and truly a joke, the woman might not feel the same way. And that’s not a question of being “overly sensitive” (as some people may claim). It’s simply a question of us women perceiving and experiencing the world very differently so things have a different meaning and a different seriousness for us.
A man I once knew, who also was an advocate of the “women are just too sensitive”-theory I told to just enjoy an entire night at a men’s gay bar. Now, these men there simply had their fun and their jokes with the straight guy but he didn’t think their constant harassment, unwanted attention and unwanted physical contact was all that funny. Especially when he encountered the few ones who were drunk and wouldn’t take no for an answer.
And now imagine being a woman living in a world where these things do happen and people dismiss even the notion entirely. It’s not fun and it’s not being overly sensitive to demand just being respected as a person.
What I do not support however is accusing an entire race and/or gender when it comes to … well, anything. I’d say it’s probably statistically a white, male “problem” simply because in most places we Westerners refer to white and male might still be simple the group that’s greatest in numbers. So by default it’d be white, male …
If you look at the crime statistics of Johannesburg for example you’ll find that statistically black males commit most of the crimes. Now, Johannesburg being in South Africa with a black population of about 75% that’s perfectly normal and not a problem stemming from black males being more criminal by nature.
I can imagine a number of reason why white males may constitute for the majority of sexual harassment among the various gamer communities as well but I suppose those would go to far here.
Point is, I can understand male gamers who are sick of being accused all the time. Can’t you understand female gamers who are sick of being harassed and even belittled afterwards?
Anger and pointless accusations lead nowhere. We are a community and as such it is our responsibility to come together and work together, not allow agitators (on both sides) to drive a chasm between us.
I think you put your finger on a big part of the problem. This community is probably, statistically, better than many other communities for this sort of thing. However when it gets broadbrushed like this people understandably feel attacked. You also have to look at the history of gamers, how they’ve been made scapegoats and villains for decades. In that context the defensiveness is even more justified.
We actually don’t know if the gaming community is better than other parts of the community because there has been no formal work done on the issue.
For women, the problem is that we can’t talk easily about this because the moment we raise it men get defensive and feel that they’re being attacked and accused. You aren’t. We know that the vast, vast majority or men would never do this but there is no reason to believe that the incidence of this behaviour is any different than the rest of the community and that out of 1000 players at a con there are going to be an arsehole or two. We need to know how prevalent it is and each con needs a policy around it, or at least a public attitude. The vast majority of women (and men, for that matter) who report are not just wanting attention, have “mental problems” ( most folks with mental illnesses are still good and decent people) or are just being vindictive.
Both men and women have a problem here and we need to work together to deal with it.
They are under attack, and the hobby is under attack – again. This is a reflection of the hostile environment years of witch-hunts and the current Social Justice Warrior issues and their nonsensical accusations have created. Just like many of us warned, it’s made communities deeply suspicious of any claims and – rightly – defensive. ‘White male terrorism problem’ is accusatory and Tumblrist hyperbole. As to policies, such harassment is already against the law and against common decency. Unfortunately policies (such as anti-harassment policies) have been used to smuggle in censorship and other issues to conventions. I don’t know how we proceed if reasoned argument, demands for evidence and skepticism are met as though they were hostility.
Hyperbole never helps. Nor does making broad generalisations. All they do is cloud the issue and…make people defensive. I’m not at all sure what you mean by “social justice warrior”, though. I really don’t see what’s wrong with trying to make society more egalitarian and inclusive. Yes, harassment is against the law and against common decency but it still happens and when it happens on your patch, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to have some kind of united administrative response to it? Or are you going to bring in the police?
I’m all for evidence, reasoned argument and scepticism, but in order to do that you need to be prepared to listen when people tell you something, even if you don’t like or believe it and be prepared to investigate and decide how to deal with the results.
You make it sound like women are invading your space. Like you own the games, the conventions, the structure that we’ve all built over the last thirty+ years and that women are here on male sufferance and should just be grateful at being “permitted” to join in and not rock the boat. But we aren’t newcomers, we helped build this too. I’ve been playing since 1982. I won my first national award in 1984. I’ve written or co-written fifty modules for convention play and my friends, my husband and I have been in the forefront of experimenting with different forms of play. I’m not some kind of interloper who needs male permission to be here and do my thing. Yes, I’m feeling angry because I’ve put many years of my life into this hobby and I have as much right to it as my husband does.
At the last convention I ran at we had a gender breakdown of 52% female to 48% male. This was true of players, designers and organizers. Without women our particular form of play would collapse. We value what we’ve built and if providing a safe environment is all it takes to keep women coming back, then that’s what we’ll do.
I have never encountered the kind of abuse that other women and men have talked about here but it happens in the wider community so it probably happens in the RPG community, too, and if we want to keep our female players we have to do our best to keep them safe.
You concentrated on the ‘social justice’ part and not the ‘warrior’ part. The difference between social justice and a social justice warrior is the difference between a Muslim and an Islamist. SJWs are extremist, authoritarian, censorious and often embody the very things they claim to be against.
When it happens on your patch yes, you should call the police. It’s a criminal matter, not a matter for convention staff, shop staff or private citizens.
Its not women that are invading, it’s this ‘SJW’ politics, its moral panic – just like the Satanic Panic before, the ‘Seduction of the Innocent’ before that and Jack Thompson in video games after.
If you want that ratio of attendees to continue you should be worried about these panics and misrepresentations as much as other people have. If you want a good example of the damage it can do, consider what happened to The Amazing Meeting.
I don’t think women are victims, I don’t think they’re weak, I don’t think they should be infantilised.
Looking again at some of the things you’ve said you seem pretty authoritarian and censorious yourself in some of these posts. You have a number of people, both men and women who have told you that this kind of problem exists, quite independent of the account being discussed. You maintain that such evidence is anecdotal and means nothing. Sure it’s anecdotal but that could be because there’s been no formal work done on the subject but if we wanted to follow this up and maybe do some serious investigation, then you see that as an accusation. If there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence being tossed around it’s usually worth looking into the situation in a structured way.
Ummm… If you want to call in the police then you need 1. A person on the receiving end who’s prepared to do that 2. Witnesses 3. Possible other instances by this same perpetrator 4. Physical evidence.
Many people who’ve been harassed or sexually assaulted with varying degrees of severity may not want to do this for a whole bunch of good reasons such as 1. Not being believed 2. Having no witnesses. If there are no witnesses and there’s no physical injuries it’s his or his/her word against that of the perpetrator. At a convention there are likely to be witnesses and they’re likely to come forward if asked but it’s not impossible to corner someone and sexually abuse them without witnesses. 3. If the perpetrator makes a habit of this and other people come forward you might have a case or it might look like they’re “just out to get him/her”. 4. In more severe cases you may have physical evidence and provided it can’t be interpreted any other way, you might have a case if the victim is prepared to face a court and go over the experience again in detail. S/he may not be prepared to do that.
It’s not as simple as just calling the police and that being an end of it. Calling in the police is just the beginning and the behaviour of your convention organizsers and yourself will come under scrutiny as well. That might not be good for your chances of attracting players, organizers and designers next year.
I remember fairly recently a major spat within the video game communities online about social justice warriors trying to “ruin the hobby”, “take away our games” and “steal men’s industry jobs”. Try as I might I couldn’t see any evidence of any of this from the things the “SJWs” were saying. It all looked a bit weird to me. Like both sides were misunderstanding and talking past each other. It seems a strange co-incidence that many, many of those SJWs were women.
Its not a coincidence, a lot of the people causing issues were feminist activists but it was their ideology not their gender that was the problem. It was simply reinterpreted as sexism.
Sorry, but anecdotes are simply no use for figuring out what’s really going on. An insistence on skepticism and evidence is neither censorious not authoritarian, it’s a basic demand to believe… anything.
The spat in video games was not as you describe. It was a problem with nepotism, corruption, politicisation and censorship – and it still is.
A lot of anecdotal evidence suggests that there’s a problem that needs investigation. That’s how social research is done, you get a buch of anecdotal evidence and you get yourself some data and decide if the problem is widespread. If it’s not you move on, if it is you can then go on and do something about it.
The problem started long before the “ethics in game journalism” rationalisation was dreamed up. It had been going on since Sarkesian started her Tropes vs Women videos.
And yes, a lot of the women involved were feminists. So what? Why are their views less important than yours? If they wanted to draw attention to sexism in games why shouldn’t they? If they aren’t interested in games other than violent sexist ones, why is that a problem? They weren’t trying to stop you playing them if that was what you wanted to do, they wanted more choices available to them.
Ethics wasn’t a rationalisation. That – and censorship – were true concerns. Sarkeesian is just another Jack Thompson or Pat Pulling. Somehow, because she’s a woman and a feminist counter-criticism was conflated with trolling.
The relevance of feminism is that its an ideology. Its not ‘women’ that are objected to, it’s an ideology – often extreme – intruding in much the same way evangelical Christianity did in the past. The claims of sexism are spurious, the attempts to censor are dangerous. We’ve been through all this before and yes, they are driving censorship.
Good post, hoss.
Ahhh…some enterprising person is doing research on this very topic. If you would like to participate I have a link for you:
Yes, unfortunately it’s a terrible and biased survey. It’s not going to tell us very much of any use.
if nothing else it will give us some idea as to how widespread the issue and we can go from there.
Sadly I think it’s going to be next to useless. Everyone has one story or another but that doesn’t give you frequency and I know many people have filled it out but addressing the less ‘typical’ harassers etc.
What occasionally bothers me about any of these studies, interviews, reports and whatever else they’re called is the particular one-sidedness they display.
Leaving anecdotal evidence aside – although I’d disagree with grimachu on its validity and importance – there’s still another thing that always seems to be left out.
It seems to me, might only be my own perception, though, that most male players who attack, harass and assault women are the less “successful” ones. So far this appears to go for basically every kind of gaming – at least the ones I’ve been a part of. Pen&paper RPG, LARPS, Cosplays, online video games … it usually seem to be the “little” guys who turn nasty.
From what I’ve experienced I’ve mostly felt and received rather enthusiastic responses to me being a women. They were supportive, friendly, welcoming and usually the ones most vigourously stepping in when other male players became mean, offensive and insulting (sexually as well as non-sexually). While the players (or participants in case of cosplay, cons, etc.) who seems to be or at least appear to be on the bottom of the barrel (hence less “successful”) I feel are the ones more prone to discrimination, sexism, racism, etc.
Among the “good” players, the ones in higher regard by their peers so to speak, however – probably also the somewhat more mature and “balanced” ones by default – I’ve rarely met any of the above. Maybe the occasional (rare) odd joke that was a little misplaced or inappropriate but still, not with the underlying tone of ill will and desire to offend and insult.
Concerning the study linked: Although I did participate (also out of interest in what kinds of points, questions and answers would be raised) I think it suffers – or will probably suffer – from the usual problems:
1) Honesty & manipulation by participants through false answers (always a big risk when it comes to internet surveys)
2) Missing or at least incomplete questions as well as options for replies
3) Interpretation of the results and use of them afterwards
I would also like to point out that feminism isn’t intrinsically an “ideology”. Maybe modern-day feminism or at least what most people associate with feminism these days, is to a large part but the honest striving for women’s rights and equal rights isn’t merely an ideology. It all depends on the people involved and what they want and how they want it. The more people get involved, the more opinions and agendas you get. So “feminism” certainly isn’t one absolute anymore. I’d definitely call myself a feminist as well. But to other feminists I’m not, not at all …
Thank you so much for your thoughts on this, they’ve been really helpful.
The phrasing of questions is so important with any kind of questionnaire because t’s so easy to skew the results with an unfortunate turn of phrase or choice of word and this kind of mistake can happen with the best of intentions and it really is easy to fit your data to your theory rather than the other way around. With something like this people tend to go in it’s an agenda and it can come out in the handling of the data. I’m starting to think that if, as I intend, I want to put a questionnaire together I’d need to talk over the questions with a statistician friend and ask them to look over my report before posting it. Gathering anecdotal evidence is fine as far as it goes, but all it really does is point to an issue that may need further investigation.
Obviously, there are going to be some respondents who will lie. That’s pretty much a given and I’d need to find a way to allow for that. If people have strong enough feelings and think that the results are going to fall in their favour anyway, they may have fewer qualms about doing so. Again I’d need to talk to a statistician in order to find out how to allow for that.
Then there’s the problem of people using your conclusions to draw their own in ways you never intended, to impute to you something you never said or meant. We see that kind of thing happen all the time.
Your point about male players who harass being less successful is interesting. If you’re a good player and they aren’t some types will retaliate. I once had someone I beat at a con try to have me disqualified because I could use my SA on the designers and GMs and schmooze my way to winning a trophy (WTF?), which, while it wasn’t actually sexual harassment was certainly a discriminatory argument, which was met only with laughter.
Hi and thank you, seranvali.
I’m glad you feel that way and I actually wanted to post a reply here but I grew way out of proportion so I decided to make a post out of in on my blog.
So let my shamelessly direct the discussion there. 🙂
Of course, if grimachu would like us to go on, I’m up for that as well.
S**t, can’t anyone start a forum? 😉
Can you give me a link or do I just tap on your name?
Ah, sorry. Forgot about that. 🙂
You can take the “long way round through my name of course but that’s not necessary.
Here’s the link: https://thestreetsofgotham.wordpress.com/
I do accept as true with all of the ideas you have offered in your post. They are very convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are very brief for starters. Could you please extend them a bit from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.