Why We Shouldn't Accept Sexism from Established Gamer Communities (Comment of the Week)
Last week's post from Iris complaining about Xbox One's sexist advertising campaign provoked a lot of comments, including one from a reader who suggested that the sexism of gamers shouldn't be changed, because it's part of their community's established culture. Which in turn generated this great response from grad student Austin Walker (his cool website here), who eloquently explained why we can and should change gamer culture for the better:
"There's a lot of ways to tackle your beef. We could talk about how communities are always-already fluid, unstable things that grow and change. Or about we could have the debate about whether or not, in fact, there are times when we absolutely SHOULD try to rebuild some communities from the ground up.
"But we don't actually need to have those conversations, because there's a more fundamental problem with your premise. In your thesis, women -- and presumably others like ethnic minorities and LGBTQ individuals? -- should accept the social rules and standards of 'gamers.' When in Rome, you say, they should act like Romans do. Problem is they were in Rome all along, dawg."
Here's the problem with seeing gamer culture as a guys-only club:
"Gaming, and geek and nerd culture more broadly (whether you're understanding those things in terms of consumptive, play, or productive practices), have never been an exclusive club of straight white guys, no matter how effective countless efforts of erasure might be. Women helped to conceptualize, build, and operate the first computers, and have been making, buying, and playing computer and video games since there have been computer and video games. The same follows for other groups likely to 'rock the boat' with questions about representation in games and gaming culture.
"And to the degree that there may be a historical precedent that more men play games (and often, more men of means), that history is tied up with practices of exploitation of affective labor and attempts to actively exclude women (and others) from certain leisure activities. Often this practice was connected to broader ideological programs of categorizing genders, races, and classes according to 'natural' potentials and qualities.
"Put plainly: the community has always been bigger than you think it is, and to the degree that it is 'small' at all, it is small for reasons that are produced (not natural or 'organic').
"Put even plainer: You done goofed. We all deserve to play and we all deserve to voice concerns about the way we're treated." (Emphasis mine, because eloquence.)
Image from Iris Ophelia's post here
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