I was routinely called a cum dumpster when I played World of Warcraft.
Before that I’d never encountered sexism in extreme levels. I grew up with Mario and Link. I marathoned Street Fighter II with the boys. I played Counter-Strike competitively. I used to stay up late watching Korean pro players dominate in StarCraft. But I had breasts and when that fact became obvious on the internet–well, let’s just say I wasn’t welcome anymore because women are total sluts and drama queens apparently.
Get a thick skin, they said. Get over it, they said. It’s just boys being boys, they said. Don’t be so dramatic about it, they said. People are allowed to dislike you, they said.
So I tried that. They said I was a whore and I said fuck off. It felt kind of great for a while and, with a temporary solution in place, I worked on becoming immune to their insults. I got the thickest skin–it was like that mithril armor Bilbo gets in the Hobbit. Bitch got devalued to the same meaning as idiot. The word rape became the same as going for a walk. And if being told I was probably really ugly was as bad as the insult got, I was actually happy that they didn’t hit anything really personal that would actually sting a bit.
I never realized how sad this was until I started to really follow the Feminist Frequency thing last year. For those who don’t know, she got a lot of insults and a lot of extreme hatred for basically getting a lot of funding on Kickstarter to make educational videos. People made games of her being beat up, told her they’d kill and rape her, and the whole rest of the underbelly of the internet. Her first video released today and it was a pretty great watch–something I really enjoyed watching and learned from.
Unfortunately, it also reminded me of the entire debacle and that’s when I had this realization.
I realized that I had become numb to most internet trolling. I’ve experienced a lot of the abuse she has. And once I realized that, I realized a lot of women probably have experienced degrees of this. Then I realized A LOT of us are probably silent about it because we don’t want to be called names or give our aggressors any power. We don’t really want to look like we’ve let this experience define us, either.
And fuck them.
It doesn’t define me, but it is a small part of me. It’s also one I’m not going to actively hide anymore: I have a lot of internet haters, primarily male, and almost always misogynistic. And while it doesn’t hurt anymore, they should be ashamed to harbor such disgusting beliefs and such a negative fixation on me.
They should also know that they can’t change the fact that I love video games. Call me a cum dumpster for it and tell me I should be raped and strangled in an alley–it won’t make my love for League of Legends, Left 4 Dead, or other games falter. Video games are amazing and they will continue to be amazing despite the dark side of its culture. They will continue to be amazing despite how sexist they can be. And hopefully in time they will continue to be amazing without the dark side and sexism. Because I think change is coming and I truly think in twenty years or so it won’t be something we just “tolerate” and “deal with.”
Because really, how many times can you be told to not have a feminine online handle? To not voice chat? That you were asking for it because you spoke, because you dated someone you played with, because you posted an online picture of yourself?
Maybe it won’t change in a year. Maybe it won’t change in five years. But it will change in my lifetime. And anyone who has called a woman a cum dumpster and believes that they’re truly above her–that she can’t be an equally skilled gamer because she’s a woman–will be in for a rude awakening when they finally see how much of a tiny, bitter vocal minority they really are.
And maybe if we’re lucky, they’ll learn what it’s like to have to be silenced. And when they complain about how women ruined everything that’s great in gaming, maybe we can just tell them to stop being so dramatic. To just get over it.
To learn that people are allowed to dislike them.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go do better things. Like do work because I have a job where I work on video game websites for a paid living. Huh… How did scaring me off from video games go for you guys again?