Write what you know

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.

Fuck that.

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?

10 comments

  • Brinstar March 8, 2013

    I’m sorry that you and Anita have had to deal with such hate and terrible-ness. No one should be put through that. Your success is an awesome f-you to all those haters, and I’m glad you’re speaking out.

    Respond
  • Nick Hanson March 8, 2013

    don’t ask me how i got to your link. i’m still relatively new to the twitter. anyway. i enjoyed your article/blog/thingy. i think it’s totally fucked that people would treat you like that simply because you’re a woman!! that’s horseshit but unfortunately i have played w/ some of those types b4. never played WoW(or any other mmo for that matter) but i know how some people can be. they believe they can do whatever they like and use any racial/sexist slurs they chose due to the relative anonymity of the internet. honestly i wish someone would hack their accounts and “rape them.” anyway chicka, game on and fuck the h8rs!!!

    Respond
  • Jerico Fitzpatrick March 8, 2013

    I can’t believe people actually say these things to you Ash. I am grateful to be a guy and to not have to go through something like this. It’s 2013 and people still act this horribly? Pitiful if you ask me. Just know that you inspire people. Let those fuckers say what they wanna say. There will be a time when none of these disgusting things happen to people anymore. Keep it real Ash.

    Respond
  • Brendon Milligan March 16, 2013

    Hi i am male and i hate hearing that women online go through this but also remember many males also go through online bulling and stuff all the time so i hope u dont think its just females that go thorugh this. Also i think that people who bullied anita was unfair but she is also unfair as she is trying and in my opinion ruining videogames for all

    Respond
  • Matthew Ciarvella March 17, 2013

    I feel weird quoting Morrigan from Dragon Age (although she’s my favorite RPG character and not because of the outfit) but I think it’s worth mentioning:

    “Change is coming to the world. Many fear change and will fight it with every fiber of their being. But sometimes, change is what they need the most. Sometimes, change is what sets them free.”

    I believe that change is coming.

    I’m glad that you’re speaking up. I’m glad that Anita Sarkeesian isn’t shying from the fight. I’m glad for countless others who are saying “no, this aspect of game culture is not okay. This is not acceptable.”

    It’s not just impressive; it’s inspiring.

    Respond
  • nonpare April 25, 2013

    I feel you. I haven’t been bullied alot in the internet or games but I’ve gotten more than enough of the “go back to kitchen woman” jokes and bullying irl. Luckily Ive gotten some very good friends in game (wow mainly) now that stand up for me if any shit happens.

    Thanks for having this blog! Ill keep reading :)

    Respond
  • Sean Glenn April 29, 2013

    I really appreciate you writing this. For some reason over the course of the recent years gamers have become numb to common courtesy. I personally cant join a game anymore without there being either a) a belligerent asshole or b) A racist fuck. I am a peaceful player, therefore I cannot understand the behavior. Listen, the bottom line is that if it wasn’t for their parents “allowing” them to be on the internet in the first place, they wouldn’t seem so tough.

    Respond
  • Andrew Cothill May 7, 2013

    I’ll start by saying that i think it’s appauling you have to wade through such shite just to play a game.

    Mostly though, i want to thank you for linking to the Femenist Frequency vids. I’m currently makinag a game and didn’;t realise that my role for the one female character was comletely objectified in order to progress the plot for the male protagonist. I seems so obvious now but without watching those vids, i just would’ve carried on unthinkingly. A rewrite is called for!

    Thanks again.

    Respond
  • Berry U. Patrick July 18, 2013

    Justice Fitzgerald: Yes, right around that territory. I forget exactly where. So we spent, I think two, maybe three days there talking about how we would organize the Court of Appeals. Well, one of the first jobs that we had to do was choose a Chief Judge of the court who would have the responsibility of organizing the whole operation, getting the money and signing the leases and setting up the offices in the courtrooms, and all that sort of thing. What it came down to was really the chief contenders for the job were me and T. John because we’d sort of come out of the operation which created the Court of Appeals in the legislature and still knew many members of the legislature. The breakdown of the Court of Appeals, if you look at it politically, just for the heck of it, was more Republicans than Democrats, and I suppose if we had cast a ballot on that basis, I probably would have been elected, but there were two things that entered in here.

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  • matt October 26, 2013

    hey, I’ve just bumped into your blog. I was being lead by a sudden curiousity and aiming to find out how the girl gamer’s stereotype is exploited by our culture. apparently it is not only the matter of photos of the naked women holding a gamepad or the way game characters are designed to attract men. Thanks for writing how you feel, keep it going, cheers, M.D.

    Respond

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