Woman gamer harassed

I have been a gamer since 1980 when I purchased my first Atari console unit. I played Space Invaders, Pong, Circus and many other games for hours.

After purchasing my first PC in 1984, I played DOS games which consisted of text only or the simplest of games with limited graphics.

I purchased other console units for my oldest son over the years and always played games on those consoles (Sony Dreamcast, Nintendo, Sega Genesis, etc.).

My next PC had Windows OS which opened up the world of Myst to me and my kids. I bought educational games for the kids and played my own games while my kids sat beside me and helped me solve puzzles from the notes I took.

A decade or so later, I was introduced to the world of MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games). I joined the online gaming world and began to meet other online players. Some of them were women, but the majority were men.

In this world, there are men who play female characters and GIRLs: girl in real life.

I have made some real-life friends through online gaming, both male and female.

Within the online gaming environment you find all types of male players: protective types, kind types, gentlemanly types, socially-awkward types, controlling types, cliqueish types, macho types, quiet types, outspoken types, highly-competitive types, profane types and finally the really ugly types which portray a variety of bad male stereotypes: immature, unrestrained, abusive and sexually predatory (these behaviors are not exhibited exclusively by men, though).

In one game that I played for years, a new guild member started sending me private messages which started with this question: “Do you swallow?”

This was in response to the name of one of my characters which was inspired by a butterfly. What I thought was lovely and amazing, a male player twisted and perverted.

I reported him to our guild leaders and he was booted from the group.

This guy had started playing the game after a stint on Second Life, which is not a game at all, but actually an online community with an X-rated section for adults. I guess he thought all online games were populated by the same types of people. He was mistaken.

On other occasions, I have had character names twisted and perverted by male players in public chat (you can tell the guys who watch a lot of porn). I always reported any player who was obviously sexually harassing me. Many ended up banned from the game, not just because of my reports but because these people generally bring down the gaming environment to a low, base level which game developers do not want (especially subscription-based games where female players are valued).

Most recently, I started playing Blizzard’s first-person shooter game Overwatch. This team-based game is crazy fun, with a choice of 22 characters for each short match against other players.

There is attack and defend, capture and escort. After playing a set of matches with a 6-member team, you might find yourself playing the next set of matches with players from the other team. It is always a good idea to be a good sport after a match, a concept that seems to elude many players.

When I created my gamertag for Overwatch, I used a variation of my very female name. It was obvious that I was a female player.

Obnoxious male players have attempted to motivate our team with statements such as: “everyone get your dicks out.”

When I informed him that I didn’t have such equipment, he was not very nice.

Over the next few weeks, I found myself the subject of negative talk if I participated in voice chat and attempted to provide any leadership or guidance to my team. This negative talk was not just from male players, but younger female players as well. I was often teaming up with one of my sons who witnessed the behavior. It was an interesting dynamic.

If a guy offered the team leadership, he was usually rewarded with cooperation and thanks. If a female player attempted to provide leadership, she was often treated badly during and after the match.

When I reported to my other son that a male player had called me a “f***in bitch” after I called him out on his abusive chat, my son was upset but not surprised. As a male player, he was used to seeing and hearing such language. He had not, however, dealt with it directed toward his mother (you know, the argument that sexual harassment and/or assault isn’t a big deal until it could be your daughter, sister, mother, etc.).

I used this experience to try to educate my sons on what women must deal with in a man’s world, as gaming has been primarily male dominated for years. That is changing quickly. More and more women are populating the online gaming world.

I made a decision after yet another male player heaped abuse on me  to change my gamertag to something masculine.

For the last three weeks I have not had a single negative comment aimed at me. Not one.

Male gamers will argue that women who complain about the gaming world are just whining or being snowflakes or SJWs (social justice warriors).

The New York Times article SWSX Addresses Online Harassment of Women in Gaming is a disturbing read which I recommend to everyone.

There are YouTubers who regularly make fun of women who are trying to change the online, console, and PC gaming world so that such games do not perpetuate harmful attitudes, behaviors and stereotypes.

Indi game developers Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn, and Anita Sarkeesian, social justice warrior who owns the Feminist Frequency blog and YouTube channel, are the favorite subjects of deniers of misogynistic and anti-femiinist themes in games. These women have received death threats and continued online harassment through Twitter and other forums.

Gamergate is the subject of many naysaying male gamer YouTubers such as Investigamer who mispronounces impartiality over and over (I know, I’m nitpicking) after gaming journalism was accused/exposed as being corrupt.

I understand that male players are just not going to see and understand what women endure in male-dominated environments because they are not on the receiving end of such behavior. I understand this. However, men need to learn to listen to female voices instead of denigrating or atttempting to silence them.

Polarizing men against women in the gaming world is not going to accomplish anything. Men and women must care about ending online harassment especially in the gaming world.

I know what I have experienced. I know that the harassment stopped when I quit using voice chat and changed my gamertag to one that is obviously masculine.

If women must disguise themselves as male players in order to avoid harassment, there is something wrong with the online gaming world.

If a female player challenges a male player because he is being a dick, her voice should be respected. If a gamer chooses to be a dick, he should expect to be called out for such behavior.

It is one thing to be upset during a game and expressing said frustration, it is another to attack a female player with the aim of humiliating and ultimately silencing her.

I have an announcement: men don’t rule the world anymore. You have to share the world with women, and this includes the military, politics, business, education, and, yes, gaming.




The filthy truth about women

In my ongoing evaluation of my failed marriage, when I take a break from beating myself up I engage in occasional analysis of my estranged husband’s attitudes and behaviors, and his very obvious disappointment in me as a woman, wife and Christian.

This morning I read Jonathan Swift’s “The Lady’s Dressing Room” where a man, Strephon, exposes all of a woman’s filthy secrets: her bodily functions, her sweat, snot, and excrement. She has been posing as a beautiful creature when all the time she has been sweating, pissing and shitting. The shame! The travesty! Peter-Paul-Rubens-Adam-und-Eva-The-Fall-of-Man-1628-29

I think about the women of the Bible who are put up on pedestals for men to admire and women to aspire to, and others to despise and blame: Mary, the mother of Yeshua (Jesus is a corruption of his real name) who worshipped her son every day of his life provides the world with an archtype of female perfection, while Eve, the mother of all mankind who was perfect until she thought for herself, provides fodder for the finger pointers and blamers (the same people who think women should cover their bodies because men might lust after them).

These women are, or were, godly, lovely, and pure in their undefiled religious presentations, until they’re not. Mary, the Madonna in Catholic tradition, remained a virgin after the birth of her only son who was conceived apart from any filthy sexual act. She was never corrupted by sexual intercourse, except Protestants think she actually married Joseph and gave birth to other children. Eve, of course, brought about the knowledge of good and evil, ruining the perfect life she and Adam had in the Garden of Eden. But before she did that, she was perfect (brainless, but perfect).

These pure, holy women didn’t sweat, piss and shit. They just didn’t, unless they were human. Eve obviously became quite human while Mary, the mother of Yeshua, never did according to some religious traditions. As a matter of fact, she became deified to some degree.

But the rest of us are not biblical characters or virgin mothers. Women are, in reality, human beings. Apparently that was of concern to Jonathan Swift: the humanity of women. I wonder what he thought of his mother.

Some men are born of very human mothers. These mothers can be selfish, emotional, and not perfectly beautiful. They blow their noses, menstruate, have sex with their partners (who are usually the father), throw dirty things in bathroom waste baskets, brush their teeth and spit in the sink. They, on occasion, probably even stink up the bathroom. These poor boys live their entire childhoods in the presence of filthy mothers.

My husband had such a human mother, and he married a human wife. I think this was a big part of our problem.

How in the world did it become necessary that women maintain this clean, pure, and certainly-not-so-human persona?

Humans are creatures of nature. They eat, drink, burp and fart. Their bodies excrete waste, purging what is toxic, attempting to keep inside only what is healthy. The human body is a beautiful, amazing, and some even consider miraculous system of organs, nerves, bones and grey matter. It takes in and it excretes. It must do this. How has this become filthy? Or is it merely female excrement and fluids, menstrual flow and breast milk that is distasteful or disgusting? Do you know how many men are disgusted by the thought of ingesting breast milk? A lot!

Has religion so twisted gender perception that women are either spiritually-superior or morally-inferior beings? Are the roots of misogyny nourished by the misconception that women are on earth primarily for the care, nurture and pleasure of boys and men, and that the only successful women are those who maintain this illusion of purity? What about the concept of feminine perfection?

I could write all day about the beauty and glamour industries that make millions, nay billions, of dollars so that women can be made presentable to men. In our natural form, I guess we are abhorrent, so we must be shaved, plucked, with some parts restrained while others are presented for sexual appraisal and worthiness to breed.

Are these pressures to engage in extreme beauty regimes misogynistic?

Is misogyny rooted in a desire to be mothered by and married to a Madonna figure, a type of female perfection? Is mankind holding a never-ending grudge because of a woman exercising free will with such catastrophic results?

I feel as though I am on the verge of some kind of understanding (and it occurred to me that I was venturing into Freudian territory).

The psychology of the male is a mystery to me, but I feel as though I have been allowed to peep through a tiny crack in the curtain, board, or huge boulder used to guard the power of man.

The dirty beautiful truth about women is that we are natural creatures. Maybe we should begin to embrace this truth. Maybe misogyny needs to first be addressed by women by analyzing our own attitudes and rejecting the many feminine stereotypes that are in actuality illusions.

Something to ponder.

P.S. I entered “beauty of natural woman” in a Google search for images and hundreds of photos of perfect women with professionally-applied makeup and perfectly-styled hair popped up (screenshot below). Good grief!
screenshot beauty woman

No more arms and legs, or lips or ears

I think a lot when I am in the shower.  I have no idea why the bathroom and car seem to send my brain into overdrive, but they do.  A few days ago I was getting dressed, drying my hair, generally getting ready to go out someplace — can’t remember where so I guess it isn’t important.  The image of a body with no arms, legs, mouth and ears but especially no heart popped into my head.  Then I thought that this is what the modern Christian church looks like.  It can’t go anyplace because it has cut off its own legs.  It can’t help others because it has cut off its own arms.  It can’t speak words of comfort because it has sewn shut its own lips (I guess cutting out the tongue would accomplish the same thing but after studying the French Revolution I just can’t go there), and it can’t show compassion because it has no heart.  It certainly does not hear the heart cries of its people.

Church Painting by David Wagner

Church Painting by David Wagner

It is just this big blob that stays in one place, having church in its pretty buildings, singing songs, applying marketing strategies to rectify lower and lower attendance numbers, not making any social impact on the world, and it has a cold, cold heart or no heart at all.

I had my first experience with the heartlessness of the church when I was 8 or 9 years old and was a part of a children’s choir at a Baptist Church in Cutler Ridge, Florida in South Miami.  I loved music.  I have always loved to sing.  My mom said I sang as a baby.  Well, the children’s choir director cured me of that real quick by declaring that someone was making this squeaking noise.  He looked right at me.  I didn’t know about singing alto, which is where my true range is, and always tried to sing soprano.  No one taught me differently.  I quit that choir and stopped singing unless I was alone.  I still don’t sing much in front of others.

My second experience was when my brother, a boy entering puberty whose father was never around, wanted to join some kind of church sports team.  We weren’t members of this particular church so he was told that he couldn’t participate.  Oh my gosh! Really???

I continued to attend my local Baptist Church regularly until I gave up around the age of 12.  No one seemed to care whether I showed up or not.  I know now that a big part of the disconnect was that I was changing, questioning what I had been told most of my life, and that this is perfectly normal.  I just didn’t have anyone who showed any personal interest in me during this difficult, transitional time to help me through it.

Fast forward to my mid 20’s where I finally found a group of people that seemed caring.  I later learned that they were a borderline cult, and had been under investigation by the church police for years (yes, there are groups that police churches lol).  Well, lots of legalism and control in that organization.  If you misbehave, speak out against anyone or any church practices you get cut off.  It is just like shunning that the Amish practice, what I consider a form of spiritual abuse, designed to control.  Years later, I found myself in a new church.  This one didn”t really excommunicate anyone but if you are no longer useful or stop attending you get the left foot of fellowship really fast.   If you attend church you are a member in good standing.  If you are too sick to attend you are not in good standing.  Weird, right?

So back to my vision of the limbless, heartless body, a head on a torso with no lips or ears.  I see this as the modern Christian church.  Instead of being open to change, especially gender roles and treatment of women overall, the church just cuts off anyone that doesn’t fit in or agree with what they are doing.  If you are an arm who doesn’t believe in more children’s programs but does believe in clothing the poor, you are shut down. If you are a woman who has a heart to teach, you can’t because you don’t have boy parts.  If any of you have read your Bibles, the Church is called the Body of Christ with all “members” contributing.  Well, if you cut off the legs, arms, ears, lips and rip out the heart, you end up with a body that doesn’t go anywhere, do anything or have anything to say.  It certainly isn’t hearing its people or caring about them.

You have a church that makes no impact.  You have a church that is  not relevant to its members (who have mostly been cut off anyway).  You have a cold church that doesn’t recognize when it is failing.  You have a mega church that just build a $132 million facility whose members might be going without food and medical care, or might be homeless next week.  I don’t get it.

I wonder what Jesus would think, or how he would be treated, if he walked into one of those palaces of religion.  Would he be ushered down to sit in the front row even if his clothes were worn out or his shoes had holes in them?  Would the ushers try to keep him out of the areas where the television cameras focus during televised services?

I actually had this happen to me one time when I tried to visit a church in a rich area of Austin, Texas.  Me and my little boy (I was a single mom) thought we would visit Hyde Park Baptist Church one Sunday.  Silly me, I didn’t realize that they televised their services.  I tried to sit on the main floor as near to the front as possible because I find fewer distractions that way.  I was blocked from proceeding and led to the balcony area.  I know I wasn’t dressed very nicely, though I was in a dress.  I know I had a small child with me, one who might get a little wiggly sometimes.  But to turn someone away and make them sit in the back of the church was rude.  I never went back there; that place left a really bad taste in my mouth.  I was turned away at a church in Middletown, Connecticut once because I wasn’t wearing a dress.  Do these people know what they are doing?  Do they even really think about how they are representing, or misrepresenting Jesus, to visitors?

Today I see a church that is no more than a torso with a voiceless head on top.  What a shame.  I refuse to step foot in any church now.  I am so disillusioned that I just can’t do it.  Last Sunday I started this blog and thought to myself, “Instead of going to church I am breaking taboos!”

You ask:  why did you keep trying?  Why did you keep going back for more?  I have always felt the presence of God in my life.  I cannot explain it.  I just know He is there and I have always wanted to know Him better.  I have given up on religion, though.  I think I am leaning towards deism at this point, or back to agnosticism.  I find I must reject modern Christianity and the Pauline teachings as misogynistic and cruel, heartless and controlling.  Blasphemy, I know.  I must be true to myself in my search for God.  And I have not found it in man’s interpretation of God.  I must look elsewhere now.