Many feminist bloggers, geek or otherwise, have already spilled an absurd amount of ink on the topic of the “Missing Stair.” You know, that person (usually, but not always, a guy) with no boundaries who aggressively hits on every person of their preferred gender, is at the least verbally abusive and may escalate to physical and/or sexual abuse, yet mysteriously keeps getting invited to parties, games, LARPs, and other social outings.
Well, fuck that guy (regardless of gender). Today I want to talk about the people who enable the Missing Stair, who warn new members of the group, or fail to warn new members of the group, but STILL INVITE THIS ASSHOLE TO YOUR EVENTS.
I want to tell you exactly what your continued acceptance of this asshole is stating to the people they victimize.
I did warn you all that the new and improved GGR was going to be 100% more salty.
Every time you make excuses for this asshole you send a loud and clear message about who and what you value.
Every time you include them, you tacitly endorse their behavior.
Every time you warn women (or whichever gender is this asshole’s target) instead of kicking their ass to the curb, you send a clear message to all the parties involved that you value this giant clamhead and whatever contributions you think they make more than you value the efforts, contributions, and, yes, safety of their victims.
I decided to write this because I read yet another account of someone being abused by an asshole in their circles, and the response of the friends group/organization was to suck it up or GTFO.
Oh, undoubtedly not in so many words, or bluntly. There was probably a lot of pussyfooting around the topic, voicing superficial concern about what they were going through, but the outcome was the same as if they’d actually said ‘suck it up or GTFO.’
And the thing is, I’m not worried about outing any specific person with this incredibly vague yet also very specific description, because this is something that I have seen/read/experienced myself hundreds if not thousands of times.
Now, I use this example a lot, but I like it because it is a really straightforward and unequivocal example of what I’m talking about. One of the women on our GGC* panel about all-woman gaming groups told the audience about the time she’d been kicked out of her gaming group because they (the rest were dudes) had invited a new player in and he was a sex offender, so they didn’t think she’d feel safe.
Let me diagram that shit out for you.
The kicked an EXISTING player out of their group for a NEW player because they valued playing with someone who had (they implied through their actions) committed sexual assault over playing with her.
I’m gonna repeat that with different words, ok, because this is important.
They asked an established player to leave so they could game with a rapist.
If that doesn’t send a clear message about whom our culture values more, I don’t know what does.
I have seen people leave groups where they have been assaulted, literally assaulted, and the group response was, “Yeah, but he’s not really THAT bad a guy, and…” he GMs, he hosts the game, he brings great snacks, he’s funny, he’s a good role-player…
If you’re valuing any of those things over another person’s safety, you need to pull your head out of your ass post-haste.
The thing is, the people you lose out on because of the Missing Stair? They may well have been better GMs, hosts, role-players or maybe not? But can you really tell me your Missig Stair’s contributions are equal to or more valuable than the safety of other people.
There are other places to game. Other people can GM (I know it can be a pain in the ass to get other people to GM, but really they can). Other people can build props or bring snacks.
There is not one fucking thing your Missing Stair provides that another non-odious, non-racist, non-sexist person cannot.
And the gods know I’m not claiming I’ve never done this. I certainly have, and I’m not going to make excuses for having done this in the past. Internalized Misogyny is a hell of a drug.
I know I had “good reasons” for what I did. (Hint: They really weren’t.) The offender was an old friend, the GM, a landlord, misunderstood…
They may in fact have been any or several of those things.
But none of that excuses letting them victimize people or valuing their “contributions” more than someone else’s safety. None of it.
I lost opportunities to play with some great people over the years. I lost some great friendships over that shit. And while it hurt at the time it hurts worse now knowing that it was my own damn fault for not valuing them and their safety as much as I valued “keeping the peace” or the status quo.
I am sorry, so very sorry, I did that, that I enabled asshats, that I did not believe you or value you as I should have.
This is my promise to do better. I have been doing better, this my promise to keep doing better.
I will not tolerate sexism, racism, ageism, ableism, harassment or unwanted sexual advances in any game I am running or playing in.
I promise that I will speak up. I will have your back. I will believe you.
We should not, as women, as people, have to tolerate abuse and assault to enjoy our hobbies. Cosplayers should not be sexually assaulted because they are dressed as a sexy character. Players should not have to put up with verbal or physical assault to play a game.
People, and by this I mean the ones who do nothing, need to quit ALLOWING this to happen. All people, all genders, all colors, all people.
Don’t warn the new girl about your Missing Stair.