So, this is a thing. I have talked about Accountability for the male members of Geek Culture here, before. I have on occasion named names, but even more frequently I have alluded to incidents without directly naming people.
A lot of other women do this, too. While calling for accountability, we are not making sure that the men who need to be called out, are. A lot of the time, the allusion is enough for most of the people in gaming or convention circles to guess, and often people will contact us privately for collaboration of their suspicions.
But why do we do that?
Why do we (women) call for more accountability without actually holding these dudes accountable?
Well, because usually it goes pretty poorly for us.
If we’re lucky, people will just blow us off.
If we’re not it’ll start with internet harassment, and if we’re super unlucky, it will escalate to physical things sent to houses, photos of our homes or children’s schools posted on the internet with discussions of how best to “get” us. There will be a(nother) cavalcade of rape and death threats.
And it doesn’t matter what we’re calling out. It can be as simple as saying, “Hey, guys, cornering a woman alone late at night in an elevator is not ok, don’t do that.” Or it can be as elaborate as someone posting a page full of links to evidence of her harassment, as the perpetrator co-opts the language of the oppressed to turn it around on her. (“I only mention her 2200 times on my website because SHE’S harassing ME.”)
We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t.
If we don’t say anything, it won’t get better.
If we do say something, it might get better, but not until after we’ve been put through the wringer time and again.
Yeah, the guys from Penny Arcade have finally, apparently, cleaned up their act a little. Do you know what that cost every female blogger who called them out?
For me it was a year and a half of constant rape and death threats.
Even when you realize that the majority of these guys are cowards, it’s fucking exhausting to read a constant assault on your inbox day in and day out.
It drives women, queer people, trans people, and poc out of gaming, and it keeps others from even trying it.
You have to love something a lot to keep dealing with the steaming piles of toxic shit that we put up with to participate in a hobby that is supposed to bring us pleasure. I, personally, would never ask anyone to put up with this much shit on spec that they might love it.
Hell, sometimes it’s too much for me to deal with and I have to take a break from it for my own sanity.
So, yeah, we walk a fine line between calling for accountability and protecting our own mental health and means of making a living.
A lot of women who DO work in the games industry don’t want to call others out because people have lost jobs and contracts that way. Call out the wrong person, even when there is irrefutable evidence, and you could find yourself out of the industry. So a lot of the time, it comes down to those of us on the outside, who then get disbelieved or discredited because we’re not “industry insiders.”
If I were to list all the ways and reasons dudes (and some other women, internalized misogyny is a hell of a drug) find to ignore the charges of bad behavior by dudes (usually, but not always) they like, I would be here all fucking day. Everything from, “He’s always nice to me!” to “Well, what are you REALLY after, here?” There will be character assassination of the accuser, via charges of character assassination from the offender and his friends. There will be minimizing, and “You must have misunderstood.”
There will be out and out denial and accusations of lying and questioning of the accuser’s mental health.
Sound familiar? Oh yeah, it’s the way dudes react when any woman accuses any dude of anything.
That’s why we keep trying to call for Accountability, while still protecting ourselves, our families, and our incomes. That’s why we hesitate to name names and point fingers, even secondhand, because we don’t want to draw undue attention to the victims of the bad behavior.
We allude, and describe without naming names, trying to maintain plausible deniability just in case this comes back to bite us on the ass. Again. We try to give you enough details that you can follow the breadcrumbs back to what happened and figure that out yourself, so that we can honestly say, “I never said X’s name,” when the attacks start. And start they will. And, we’re also hoping that enough people will put together, that if we didn’t say X’s name, and his supporters realize that they immediately knew who we were talking about, that maybe some of them will pull their heads out.
If Geek Culture is serious about accountability, there is a long list of shit they need to do. And at the top of the list is “Believe women.” Because we are the canaries in the coal mine, and bad behaviors rarely occur in isolation.
Update: Surprise, surprise, one of the worst offenders attacked another dude in his in-group, and people (dudes) are FINALLY calling his shit out.
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