Boss Battle 166: Sorry for the Boob

This week on Boss Battle 166, we have our cast of Bobby (@bobbyfjtown), Chachi (@chachisays), Sorg (@sorgatron) and Rizz (@theerizz). On this week’s show:a

  • We played games this week! We achieved things! Fallout Shelter, The Simpsons Tapped Out, BLOPS2, Advanced, Hearthstone
  • It’s time for video game themed things with Chachi.
  • Want to play Ocarina Of Time?  How about blindfolded?  Someone did – in 3 hours.
  • Halloween has come to Destiny for the next 2 weeks.  Get your candy and masks on!
  • XBox One Experience will be here November 12 – including backwards compatibility.
  • Typos happen in gaming.  Sega’s Sonic Runners typo renames character Boo to “Boob.”
  • Sharing some Playstation news from their press conference.
  • SXSW organizers announced that 2 video game related panels have been cancelled due to the threat of violence.
  • Final Round Question: Do you think it was wise for SXSW to cancel panels because of online harassment?

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Rizz Rant: GamerGate Horror Story: Freak Show w/ Ashly

Last time I wrote something for this site, I ranted about how I couldn’t be upset with Gamergate because it was the same sort of crap women have been putting up with online for years and what we would put up with again in the future.  I didn’t have the energy to get upset because I’d have to do it all over again in a few weeks anyway.  At the time, this was very true.
But I was wrong.

I wish I could say that I was wrong because the response to Gamergate was for those involved in and around gaming to tell the people behind the campaign to sit down and shut up.  I wish it was because they were called out on their not-even-casual misogyny and made it very clear that the gaming industry caters to those who play video games, not just to those who label themselves “gamers” and set their own rules about who can and can’t come into their club house.

I was wrong in the opposite direction.  This was not just a normal campaign of rape and death threats.  This is violent, disgusting and very, very real hate being spewed in all directions and it isn’t slowing down.

I started out planning this follow-up piece to be centered around comparing Gamergate to a series of slasher horror movies.  You know, as the series continues the plot becomes more and more muddled and yet the shocks become more horrific and ridiculous because that’s all you’ve got left?  And it fit, I had a good metaphor going in my head, complete with eventually retconning in an apparently sympathetic history for the villain (“it’s about journalistic integrity” except for, no, how about from the very beginning it was men with an agenda against women, specifically women in gaming, who only later amended their reasoning to be more PR friendly) and the realization that the villain has become the celebrated star of the franchise despite the fact that he is actually a mass-murdering psychopath, has everyone forgotten this?

But it was as I was writing this in my head that I realized I had to stop.  Yeah, it was entertaining for awhile, but then it hit me: It’s not funny because there is a very strong likelihood a woman will end up dead over this.

If you think I’m exaggerating, let me explain the situation.  Women who are actively speaking out against this are still mentioning that they are scared of what will happen.  Many of us who are taking a stance are terrified to do so with any of the official hashtags calling out Gamergate’s BS and lies, sometimes even refusing to use the phrase “Gamergate” in our posts or Tweets at all because we know who is searching for the phrase ready to pounce on and punish us.  And what are we/they afraid of?

That their personal information will be shared online, that someone will find where they live and come after them.  Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency had to cancel a speaking engagement on a college campus because someone claiming affiliation with Gamergate threatened to shoot up the school if she were allowed to speak.  Many people will consider all of these to be idle threats.

We can’t take the chance that they are.  We are too aware of how far someone will go when they truly, honestly have a deep hatred for women.  We are aware of how much people will write off what we experience as trivial: please revisit earlier in this piece where I actually used the phrase “a normal campaign of rape and death threats.”  There is a normal amount of threats and worry about violence that women live with day after day after day, and that we are expected to just tolerate because trying to do anything about it would just upset the same sort of men who are behind things like Gamergate.

You know what that means?

“They” are the men who began Gamergate. They don’t want ethics in journalism, they don’t want their video games pure and untouched, they just want to silence women.  They just want a justification for acting out their internalized hatred of women and this seems as good an excuse as any.  They have lured in people afraid of losing the cultural identity of “gamer” and having to define themselves in another way and are using them as cover for their agenda.  And to a certain extent I want to sympathize with some of them, because YES the world has this messed up toxic view of masculinity and YES video games and gamer culture feed directly into it and YES stigmas about seeking help and therapy for these sort of things are terrible.

But you lose my sympathy, any and all of it, when you ignore that problem entirely, the actual problem that needs to be looked at and critiqued and is probably at the root of a lot that is upsetting you anyway, and when you instead follow the lead of that same system that is screwing with you and direct all of your blame and your hatred and your violent rhetoric at women who are already fighting an uphill battle.

I can’t compare Gamergate to a horror movie.
Gamergate is a real life horror.

Rizz Rant: Gamergate w/ Ashly (@NewAgeAmazon)

Last week we four lads had a discussion on Gamergate and later on in the week, I found Ashly (who is quite the follow on the Twitterverse) who was really into getting her words out at 140 characters (there is no such thing as “or less”) and, well, I asked her to speak her peace on here. Let her vent. Speak her mind. Because…you know? I’m a nice guy….:)1409767571-GamerGate

I really can’t wait until this whole gamergate BS is over and I can go back to being told that women aren’t REALLY harassed on the internet.

Please be aware: that is sarcasm. It is also true.

Despite being someone outspoken about especially this kind of topic, I have remained largely quiet on “gamergate.” It isn’t because I’m not paying attention, I can’t get away from hearing more about it. It isn’t because I’m not upset, I’m absolutely sickened by the behavior and deeply disturbed that this is all happening over the fact that women are creating and critiquing video games. And it isn’t because I don’t have anything to say on the matter, because I do, though it is mostly just an endless string of vulgarity that seems to be my reaction to 99% of what goes on in the world right now and is the constant soundtrack to my daily life.

It is because I am tired, because I keep seeing the outrage and yet I know that I will be this tired again in the future. Because I’ve been through all of this before, time and time again, have spoken on it and written on it before myself and have seen much more prominent figures in video game culture do the same, but I still know that in two months we’re doing this again. Same basic song, different artist and lyrics.

In short: I haven’t commented because I don’t have anything new to say and I don’t see how anyone has missed this up to this point.

Weeks and months and years of people in these circles and others (though there’s some discussion about how the vitriol of the gaming community is alarmingly unique) writing off the experiences that women have gone through, insisting it’s not about gender and maybe nodding to the fact that things suck for women pretty much everywhere almost all the time in some kind of “special interest” piece has left me cynical. Not fatalistic, mind you. Just less than trusting. It takes a woman being forced out of her home because of safety concerns for many people in the community to stand up and say “Hey, maybe we should start treating women like human beings!”

Thanks for your consideration, you couldn’t have done that three weeks ago when we were just dealing with gaslighting, name calling and implicit rape threats?

And even that aside: these are notions so deeply embedded in our cultural and social attitudes that the fact is nothing here is really going to change. The people who began this campaign of horrors against Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian as well as anyone who has dared show them the slightest bit of support? They’re not going to reconsider their actions, behave better in the future and realize a new-found respect for women. They’ll just try to figure out how they can get away with it again and not get caught. Because they’ve been taught by a wider scope of privilege that they have a right to get away with it.

And beyond even that is the fact that while it’s not exactly revolutionary to say “I’m against sending people threats of rape and gendered violence!” Even if it has at times been treated like it is. This is a “goes without saying” thing. Yeah, you SHOULD be against that. But you should also be aware that those things are like…okay, you’re allergic to tomatoes, so you pick the tomatoes off a sandwich you order. Then you bite into the sandwich and it is literally the most disgusting item of food you have ever put in your mouth. Oh, you took out the parts that are most dangerous for you, you’re not going to get hives or go into shock or choke to death, but you are still eating a sh*t sandwich. And here’s the “best” part: that is the only sandwich they serve at the only restaurant you can eat in, while you watch the guys sending you these threats dip easily into any place in town, order whatever they want and if they happen to see a warning sign about “some items may contain tomato” they freak out because who are you to bring up tomatoes to THEM?

Maybe that extended metaphor didn’t work for you. Point is: I’m the one here who’s going to be left eating a sandwich of microaggressions and crap attitudes that don’t get recognized as misogyny because they’re so low-key or “normal” and acceptable. You aren’t going to send me rape threats, but you’re also not going to reconsider the million or so things you could do in a single day that could, can and do make women uncomfortable, but if we speak up about them we’re just causing trouble or being picky or “feminazi” or even other women rolling their eyes at us because why haven’t we just learned to put up with the way men are yet? Don’t we know they have a right to be unquestionably offensive and we just have to live with it because…


…funny, can’t think of an actual reason.

Point is: thanks for the support, guys. That’s only partially sarcastic. I do appreciate seeing voices being raised to make people aware of the issue and I’d rather you choose to be an ally than the other option. On the other hand: Nice job polishing the surface of the issue. It’ll make it easier for us to see reflected in it all the other issues we don’t have the luxury to ignore.

Really, in the end, I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m confused and hurt. But mostly I am so. very. tired.

Ashly Nagrant is a writer, media-enthusiast and a founding member of Team Get Drunk, Slay Dragons.  She is a regular contributor for LiveNation’s Always Summer tour site, as well as sporadically writing for DOOM! Magazine.  Her work has previously appeared on SubCultured, Pop Damage and other outlets. You can find her on Twitter @newageamazon where she will talk about things.  And stuff.
Do you agree with Ashly? Do you disagree? Leave it in the comments below.