Tag: culture

The Myth of Misandry

Males of the Internet, I submit to you the following:

If you think you’re the target of misandry, you’ve probably done something to deserve it.

Before I elaborate, let’s cover some trigger warnings. I’m going to talk about misandry, obviously, but I’m also going to talk about misogyny, degradation and devaluation of women, acerbic Internet culture, racism, homophobia, defamation, and rape. Just so we’re clear before I start rambling.

There are some folks out there who would like to tell you that gaming culture has always been ‘a certain way’. The prevailing sentiment is that everything from teabagging in first-person shooters to calling someone a faggot for inadequate game performance is normal. You can tell someone they’re about to get raped or suggest they kill themselves or get cancer when they beat you, and it’s fine. That’s “just how it is”. “Oh, you know how gamers are.” “Don’t be a little bitch, learn to take a joke.” And so on.

Lately, some folks have been fighting back against this. Everything from Anita Sarkeesian’s series on Tropes vs. Women in Video Games to posts about sexism and misogyny in areas outside of gaming (like this great stuff from Chuck Wendig) has emerged to fight back against this rather callous and insensitive habit of men to use the defamation of women, minorities, and the LGBTQ community as a source for humor that reinforces their need for cultural dominance. And what has their response been?

The threats of rape, I get. That’s a knee-jerk, juvenile reaction from a knee-jerk, juvenile culture. It’s a three-year-old stomping their feet while screaming and maybe chasing the cat with a crayon intending to draw dicks in poor kitty’s fur. It’s as tasteless as it is pathetic and useless.

Guys saying they won’t watch/read/buy anything from the person again, also understandable. I’d even say that’s a reasonable response. Sure, it’s usually wrapped in the sort of puerile drivel I’ve mentioned above, but people expressing themselves with their wallets is legitimate.

But guys saying they’re victims of misandry?

Really?

How is this even a thing?

Let’s look at the big picture, here. Until the 19th century, in most parts of the world that were affluent enough to do so, it was perfectly acceptable for people to own other people. Most if not all of the time, the owners were white males. Democracies began to emerge around the same time, and guess who got to do all of the voting? White males. Before then, we had a lot of dictatorships and monarchies, and most of them were controlled by men. And then there’s the institution of religion, especially in the form of the Catholic church.

Looking at that, men have had it pretty sweet for centuries. White men, especially. As our global population and culture continues to grow, and barriers of communication and distance break down, it’s logical for more people of different races, genders, creeds and outlooks to become involved in every level of living life on this planet, from governing the populace to charming diversions. To try and hold onto a position that’s been held through intimidation, abuse, defamation, character assassination, and the myth of “tradition” or the excuse of “that’s how it’s always been” is selfish, childish, and pretty damn unfair.

I’m not saying that misandry doesn’t exist. I’m sure there are people out there who hate men vehemently and violently. What I’m saying is that misandry as a tactic to be used against the ‘traditional’ gamer culture (and entertainment circles in general) does not exist. There is no great movement to rain hatred and destruction on men in entertainment. There’s no feminist conspiracy to take your games away. Just like the ‘gay agenda’ that FOX News loves to bang on about in their little corner studio in the asylum, misandry in gaming and entertainment is a great way for guys to deflect the thrust of the main issue at hand, which is that as our culture changes and evolves, those participating in it as creators or audience need to change and evolve with it.

And some men are either too lazy or too scared to do it.

That’s right. This talk of misandry, these threats of rape against rational voices pointing out the flaws in our culture, the pedantic and obstinate words that continue to get thrown around the gaming table; all of this is born out of fear and sloth. I know I’m going out on a limb here a bit, and I won’t be correct in every case, but from everything I’ve seen and heard, for the most part, guys who continue to use these words, spew this hatred, make these threats and “jokes”, are too lazy, too scared, or too dumb to change their ways. They’re not as powerful as they’d like people to think they are. They’re cowards, frightened to be placed on an even level with women and people of color and folks born with orientations other than “heterosexual”, and every time they tell a female gamer to get back in the kitchen or talk about getting ‘gypped’ in a game or indulge in other racial slurs, they prove it.

Misandry, as a general mode of behavior, is a myth, gentlemen. We don’t hate you because you’re men. We hate you because you’re behaving like spiteful, scared little boys. This isn’t the schoolyard anymore. It’s time to put away childish things. It’s time to grow the fuck up.

Sympathy, Courtesy, and Taste

Boston from the Convention Center

There’s a part of me that longs for convention floors. I just love being a part of an inclusive, open-minded crowd gathered in one place for the common enjoyment of a hobby or interest. I’ve been writer’s conferences, anime conventions, and gaming expos, and they all give me this positive, uplifting charge that can last for weeks afterward.

And yet, I know they can be dangerous places. I know people can violate the space of others. I know lines can and do get crossed. And I know that these communities, especially when it comes to gaming, are not as inclusive as I’d like them to be.

To which I have to wonder, “Why the fuck not?”

Creeps do exist, and I don’t mean the sort of guys and girls who are enthusiastic and well-meaning but don’t always say the right thing or aren’t adept at handling meeting new people or maintaining/ending conversations. I mean the ones who think it’s perfectly okay to berate people for being different, to undercut others so they can increase their own sense of superiority, or to introduce their genitals to any situation regardless of circumstances or permission of the other people involved. I’m not sure why these people are so unaware of the fact that this behavior is not okay. It’s not okay on a basic level and it’s also not okay as a means to get attention.

So how do we approach the people we idolize? How do we behave when encountering others of our craft or hobby? What should aspiring con-goers keep in mind when entering the hall for the first time?

Listen to the Rolling Stones, kids. “Have some sympathy, have some courtesy, and some taste.”

It’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind when entering the convention, firing up the console, or just walking through town. The people you encounter are people, nothing more or less, just like you. I doubt most people in this world are really dedicated to going out of their way to make your life miserable. Those that are probably have personal reasons for doing so, and that’s a different kettle of fish entirely. When meeting people you haven’t met before, keep in mind that it is impossible for you to know every circumstance of every aspect of their lives that lead up to them meeting you.

If you appreciate their work, tell them so. Say how happy you are to meet them. If it feels like an honor to do so, say so. If approaching someone who’s signing things, and you have something for them to sign, ask them politely to sign it. Ask them if they’re having a good time. After that, if you’ve been standing in line, chances are others have been standing in line behind you, and you should probably move on. Otherwise, let the conversation flow from there; don’t steer it constantly back to subjects centered on you so you can run off at the mouth. Good conversations don’t work that way.

I know, reading it dryly like this, these seem like common sense tips. But when meeting someone we know through work we thoroughly enjoy, it’s entirely possible for rational thought to simply stop working. When I met my first Internet celebrity, I pretty much lost my face. Thankfully, I doubt he remembers me, and as I can’t afford to go to the Escapist Expo this month, it’ll probably be some time before I see him in person again. The next time I encountered one, things went much better. I followed the advice given above, and we had a great talk about Boston, movies, PAX, and various other things. It felt good, and I never got the impression that he was uncomfortable.

Just think before you speak, people. It isn’t that difficult. Treat others the way you’d like to be treated. It’s very good to shake the hand of a stranger, introduce yourself, and get to know them and their way of life, but don’t be overbearing when you do it. If you keep talking, you can’t listen. And who wants to talk to someone who won’t listen to them?

Do these things, and not only will you not be a creep, you may find yourself overcoming that awkwardness. A little confidence goes a long way, and it’ll show. Try a little sympathy, courtesy, and taste the next time you’re in a situation with new people. You might be surprised.

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