A cautionary tale


Kotaku points to a couple of fascinating essays: one by Dan Golding on the End of Gamers, and the other by Leigh Alexander, saying gamers are over. They’re making similar points: not that gaming is in decline, or that all gamers are horrible people, but that the behavior of unchecked hooligans on the internet has so thoroughly fouled their identity that reasonable people are abandoning the tribe. Calling yourself a gamer has acquired the cachet of identifying as a white supremacist — it stinks.

What really worries me, though, is how much the gamer story sounds like the atheist story…only they seem to be farther along in their implosion than we are, or are imploding more rapidly. We atheists should be taking notes and telling ourselves not to go down this path. I have the feeling we aren’t.

But man, the language sounds exactly like what’s said in atheist controversies.

You don’t want to ‘be divisive?’ Who’s being divided, except for people who are okay with an infantilized cultural desert of shitty behavior and people who aren’t? What is there to ‘debate’?

Right, let’s say it’s a vocal minority that’s not representative of most people. Most people, from indies to industry leaders, are mortified, furious, disheartened at the direction industry conversation has taken in the past few weeks. It’s not like there are reputable outlets publishing rational articles in favor of the trolls’ ‘side’. Don’t give press to the harassers. Don’t blame an entire industry for a few bad apples.

Yet disclaiming liability is clearly no help. Game websites with huge community hubs whose fans are often associated with blunt Twitter hate mobs sort of shrug, they say things like ‘we delete the really bad stuff, what else can we do’ and ‘those people don’t represent our community’ — but actually, those people do represent your community. That’s what your community is known for, whether you like it or not.

When you decline to create or to curate a culture in your spaces, you’re responsible for what spawns in the vacuum. That’s what’s been happening to games.

Sound familiar? That’s what’s happening to atheism, too. You know it. Atheism is still growing — and gaming is still hugely profitable and expanding — but a lot of the early adopters and drivers of the culture are abandoning it in disgust, looking for something that isn’t burdened with the cretinous reactionaries.

It’s clear that most of the people who drove those revenues in the past have grown up — either out of games, or into more fertile spaces, where small and diverse titles can flourish, where communities can quickly spring up around creativity, self-expression and mutual support, rather than consumerism. There are new audiences and new creators alike there. Traditional “gaming” is sloughing off, culturally and economically, like the carapace of a bug.

I feel that way about movement skepticism — skepticism is an essential element of our toolkit, but the movement has attracted way too many thuggish jerks, especially in the leadership, who want to deny every progressive effort that some of their members want to make. We’re seeing a crisis of confidence with atheist leadership, too — I know there are a lot of readers here who are pro-science and pro-atheism, and yet don’t want to be associated with the labels because they detest the baggage. Atheists already had an image problem with the name, but somehow the scum rose to the top and worked hard to make it worse.

We also saw this:

A new generation of fans and creators is finally aiming to instate a healthy cultural vocabulary, a language of community that was missing in the days of “gamer pride” and special interest groups led by a product-guide approach to conversation with a single presumed demographic.

On the atheist side, that was Atheism+, and look what happened to that. It was immediately beleaguered by howling mobs of libertarians, sexists, and just general assholes, isolating it and making anyone who participated in it a target. There was intense pressure to shut down a community that was struggling to establish itself and adopt a wider set of social concerns…and it was made The Enemy and provoked so much screaming and whining and complaining. It’s still going on. It’s actually rather amazing: we have seen precisely what happens to social awareness when it arises within this larger atheist movement, and it’s not pretty.

And of course the bullying shouters, all the men with their privileges, are the ones complaining the loudest that they are being discriminated against if we treat gays, minorities, trans men and women, people with disabilities, asexuals, women, young people, old people, veterans, anyone who isn’t an older white male academic, as human beings deserving of equal respect. It’s getting embarrassing to be openly atheist and openly supporting any atheist organization anymore, because we’re getting associated with sexist anti-progressive “I-got-mine” privileged assholes.

Alexander has an optimistic idea of where gamers ought to go — by dismissing and rejecting the horrible people who give the hobby a bad name as the domain of child-men who scream gay slurs and think going to a virtual titty bar in a game is a awesome.

Developers and writers alike want games about more things, and games by more people. We want — and we are getting, and will keep getting — tragicomedy, vignette, musicals, dream worlds, family tales, ethnographies, abstract art. We will get this, because we’re creating culture now. We are refusing to let anyone feel prohibited from participating.

“Gamer” isn’t just a dated demographic label that most people increasingly prefer not to use. Gamers are over. That’s why they’re so mad.

These obtuse shitslingers, these wailing hyper-consumers, these childish internet-arguers — they are not my audience. They don’t have to be yours. There is no ‘side’ to be on, there is no ‘debate’ to be had.

There is what’s past and there is what’s now. There is the role you choose to play in what’s ahead.

It would be nice if that ugly brand of gamer were over…but then I look at the treatment of Anita Sarkeesian (read that; Thunderf00t is really famous now, as one of the loudest angry jerks on youtube, and everyone is being reminded that before he was an anti-feminist slimeball, he rose to prominence as a scientist/atheist. Thanks, Thunderf00t!), and I feel a little bit of despair.

Can we really dig ourselves out of this hole? I don’t know.


Ars Technica is also scathing about the behavior of the gaming community.

All of the tertiary accusations against Quinn (that she invented attacks or abuse) are aimed to discredit her. The same goes for Sarkeesian: the structure and content of her videos are extremely common to critical analysis, as the New Statesman points out. But when that style of criticism gets applied to video games, it feels like a threat to a certain insular, and extremely vocal, community for whom, as Leigh Alexander writes for Gamasutra, their “identity depends on the aging cultural signposts of a rapidly-evolving, increasingly broad and complex medium.”

For gaming to be taken seriously as an art form, it needs to be able to stand up to cultural critiques, and gamers need to be able to separate a developer’s personal life from her work. But it especially holds the medium back when these situations not only fail to play out in a civilized way, but become opportunistic embroiling of women in the “problems” of gaming culture, creation, and coverage.

You’d think gamers would be more concerned about the rejection of Ars Technica than the approval of 4chan and reddit, but somehow, I don’t think they will be.

Comments

  1. calgor says

    If history is any guide, it is always possible to get out of any hole… The downside is that the fight is against those who we once thought were family.

    Civil wars are usually the most vicious.

  2. says

    I don’t see this as primarily a problem with gaming culture per se, nor do I see it as a problem with atheist culture. They’re secondary issues.

    It’s a problem with U.S. culture generally, and that comes down to a tragically growing acceptance of the cardinal conservative value of “rugged individualism” which is really nothing more than a fancy way of saying “I got mine, screw you.”

    That “rugged individualism” is fast replacing a sense of communitarian obligation and participation, and with it enshrining selfishness as a virtue, while openly deriding empathy, compassion and selflessness as “bleeding-heart liberalism,” is why this trend exists in both the subcultures discussed. It won’t change as long as the worship of “rugged individualism” as some kind of virtue persists in USAnain culture.

    This is nothing less than an assault on the Enlightenment values of egalitarianism and moral equality. The neo-feudal mindset of the plutocratic culture, with its obsessive classism justifying its repression and exploitation of the rest of us, has propagandized the lower classes into support their medievalism by means of convincing them that “rugged individualism” is a virtue, and that is why conservatism is so popular. It is also why the Enlightenment is in a galloping retreat all over the world – but nowhere so much as in the United States, where this “rugged individualism” propaganda has been the most successful.

    So the issues you discuss, P.Z., are real enough, but they’re symptoms of the underlying problem and that is a resurgence of open medievalism by the plutocratic classes, which was once held in check by the now-vanished value of obligé noblésse. That is what needs to be addressed, and anything else is just working around the edges.

    If they won’t respect us as their moral equals and treat us accordingly, it’s time to break out the pitchforks, boys and girls.

  3. says

    I’m not ready to cede my identity to assholes. Fuck them. I’m a feminist, and I’ve been a gamer for 36 years and an atheist my entire life, and they’re not driving me out.

    I totally get the point of both writers, but I’m not willing to concede that fight for myself. They can certainly choose to, but I didn’t let TERFs redefine feminism for me, and I’m not letting bigots redefine gamer or atheist to exclude me either.

  4. hoku says

    I think this is less a problem with Atheists and Gamers specifically, and more a problem with groups that primarily interact online and groups that are just emerging into acceptance. You get to combine the often vicious and ugly nature of anonymity, with the reflexive fear of criticism that comes from being looked down upon, and this is what you get. Part of the problem is that the community is not large enough to have enough people to drown out the morons, and shun leaders that do moronic things.

    I’d also differentiate Gamers from Atheists in that atheists at least share a worldview, while my fellow gamers get into huge fights about platform/genre/DLC/the color of the sky. Atheists at least have a world view to come together on.

  5. kevinalexander says

    I’ve never been able to see that there ever was an atheist community. You can’t make a community based on what you don’t believe. You wouldn’t ask for a show of hands from a random crowd on the street and ask who doesn’t believe in the Easter Bunny, how many Apascalapinists are here? You’d get a big show of hands but there wouldn’t be enough in common to make any kind of community.
    Maybe it helps to keep in mind that there are, broadly speaking, two kinds of atheists, the Scientists who disbelieve in magic because there’s no evidence for it and the Infantile Solipsists who can’t emotionally handle the idea of a being greater than they are.
    The Scientists try to understand human nature so that we can fix the bad bits and enhance the good ones. The Solipsists just thoughtlessly go with whatever emotions surge up from the muck that evolution has given a predatory pack animal.

  6. laurentweppe says

    What really worries me, though, is how much the gamer story sounds like the atheist story…

    Given the cost of games, especially the expensive “AAA” ones so loved by who you call “early adopters”, the upper-middle-class-&-above crowds have been overrepresented within “gaming culture“: that’s the most damning similarity with american atheism I think: people very high on the food-chain fancying themselves as daring rogues who easily treated detractors as if they were all accomplices or lackeys of “The Man“, blind to the fact that they, themselves, often had a lot more in common with “The Man” than said detractors.

  7. hawkerhurricane says

    This saddens me. I have been a gamer since 1977, moving cardboard counters on paper maps to simulate famous battles, campaigns, and wars. We were misogynists of the old school, game night was our ‘boys night out’ with no girls invited and we let our hair down (figuratively, not all of us had hair). When we went to game conventions we did not seek to drive out the handful of females present. Our games did not include scantily clad women in abusive situations on the game box, nor in the game contents. Yes, our game group was a “No Gurls Alloud” clubhouse, but we didn’t spread our stink over large areas.

  8. daemonios says

    If you haven’t just eaten or aren’t afraid of spilling your lunch, go read the comments on the Ars Technica piece. It’s chock-full of victim-blaming, straw-manning, sanctimonious shirt-ripping commenters justifying sexual violence and death threats because they don’t agree with Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian.

  9. The Mellow Monkey: Singular They says

    CaitieCat @ 3

    I totally get the point of both writers, but I’m not willing to concede that fight for myself. They can certainly choose to, but I didn’t let TERFs redefine feminism for me, and I’m not letting bigots redefine gamer or atheist to exclude me either.

    I agree.

    Them making the term “gamer” so foul as to drive people away from wanting the label is, in fact, just another tactic to push us out. It’s the same thing with the broader category of “geek”. I’ve seen people–straight, white cis men from middle class backgrounds–explicitly state that they were so oppressed for their interests that, essentially, no one else deserves the label of geek. And so they go out of their way to make it as odious of a label as possible, to back up this martyr complex.

    They draw ridiculous lines about who counts, always trying to exclude us undesirables. (Real gamers are nerds and nerds are [straight cis] men who can’t talk to women!) (If you weren’t reading [some comic book] before [some popular actor] donned the costume, you’re not a comic geek and no amount of comic love will ever overcome that!) And when we push through those lines? They take a massive shit on their own fucking name through hateful bigotry and harassment and threats, all below the banner of gamer/geek/etc.

    Fuck them. They don’t get to take this from me.

  10. gussnarp says

    I’m already turning away from the term “atheism” except when strictly defining a philosophical position. As a movement, the rot already consumes too much of the core, as far as I can tell. I don’t for a second believe these people are the majority of atheists, or even the atheist “movement”, they hold too much power and are still over-represented, particularly in conferences, for me to want anything to do with a movement in which they are anything more than a fringe of hangers on who no one actually respects or listens to, much less graces with a speaking platfrom.

  11. closeted says

    @10

    It can seem useless, but it’s not. The stigma follows you, because it’s the larger group that applies the label and the mental shorthand to the smaller group. To the extent the larger society even cares, they might not see much difference between PZ and thunderf00t, despite their radically different positions on crucial topics, hence PZ’s bit of despair.

    Similarly, you can say, “I am not a gamer, I’m i fribblesnort” – but the larger society is going to see “Kevin plays games, ergo gamer” and your introduction comes with that baggage whether you like it or not. You can proclaim you are *not* a gamer to every individual as you get to know him/her, but long term that sounds about as exhausting as fighting to eject the jackasses and change the default perception in the first place.

  12. Esteleth is Groot says

    It isn’t just “gamers” (i.e. hard-core fans of video games), it is geeks. Though it isn’t quite as noisy and public, the exact same thing is happening amongst tabletop games, LARPs (yes, LARPs still exist), anime, comics, and the various strains of SF/F literature.

    I hate to attempt to construct a Grand Overarching Theory, but there’s something to the logic that what’s at work here is a combination of the Geek Social Fallacies and the spittle-flicked rage of d00dbros who don’t want to acknowledge that that their problems with socialization (not just with women, but that’s part of it) aren’t because “they” are bigoted against geeks (which allows the d00dbro to sneer that he doesn’t need “their” approval) but because the d00dbro has glaring personal problems. Hence the “if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen” rhetoric and the spectacular bile – they have to prove that “they” can’t hack it in their spaces.

    There’s also the rage in the knowledge that they’re losing. The latest statistics that the male under-18 crowd is now outnumbered by the female over-18 crowd cannot be denied (never mind that they’re trying really hard to do this, mostly in the form of “Sims and smartphone games don’t count” whining), and neither is the smashing success of games and characters like FemShep.

    This isn’t rats abandoning a sinking ship – this is “if I can’t have it no one can” temper tantrums.

  13. marcmagus says

    CaitieCat @3 said, I didn’t let TERFs redefine feminism for me

    That’s it! We need a term like TERF that will allow us to push these extremists within gamer culture to the margins and more effectively reclaim “gamer” for the mainstream. By accurately labelling them, not slurs they can rightly feel attacked by. Same thing for all the other aspects of greater fandom/geekdom as Esteleth just pointed out.

  14. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    I liked the games.on.net Announcement: Readers who feel threatened by equality no longer welcome.

    ” Literally the worst possible thing that can happen here is equality. That’s the worst outcome, that’s the nightmare scenario. “

    I’m still waiting for the nasty idiots to notice and slam the kickstarter for a book looking at women in tabletop gaming “Girls on Games: A look at the fairer side of the Tabletop industry

    My grandfathers taught me board games and card games. I’ve been gaming since I was little (though less in the video stuff since I don’t have the reflexes for it) and I’m not going to stop.

  15. Esteleth is Groot says

    The thing is, it isn’t enough to say “____ don’t define ____ for me.”

    At a certain point, you have to go and confront them.

    For example, I consider myself a radical feminist. I am not a TERF, and my opinion of TERFs begins with “bigoted asswipes” and ends with “they’re doing it wrong.”

    But that isn’t enough.

    Because they’re hurting people.

    And if I keep silent and fail to confront TERFs, I’m failing to help people who are getting hurt, and thus at a certain point I become complicit in the harm that they’re perpetrating.

  16. says

    Esteleth, am I reading you wrong, or are you suggesting that MellowMonkey and/or I don’t do enough to make games better? Because it sounds a lot like that. And I would like to politely suggest that if that is so, you are mistaken.

    As a small token of what I do: a couple of months ago, at the regular Friday gaming night I attend (boardgames abound, as well as some memorable RockBand performances), a player opined that if one gets to the end of a game of Arkham Horror and doesn’t feel like one has been raped, then one hasn’t played it right.

    Big laughs.

    Until I pointed out, calmly, “Actually, gents, I’ve been raped. It was nothing like playing Arkham Horror. Not funny.”

    And y’know, not a single rape joke at the weekly thing since then.

    So I hope I was mistaken, but if not…you were. Badly.

  17. The Mellow Monkey: Singular They says

    Esteleth @ 17

    The thing is, it isn’t enough to say “____ don’t define ____ for me.”
    At a certain point, you have to go and confront them.

    You’re right; it’s not enough, but it’s worth pointing out that confronting these forces is also really fucking terrifying and those who confront them are often the same ones who are getting hurt. I got called all sorts of misogynistic slurs (and one, blessedly vague, rape threat) for writing about rape culture and a game designer. It was terrifying and made me think twice about ever doing the same under a female-coded name again.

    It’s good to confront them and, yes, it’s necessary, but it sure would help if those with more privilege were doing more of the confronting. The people who might have to choose not to confront for their own safety need backup.

  18. Gregory Greenwood says

    CaitieCat, getaway driver @ 3;

    I’m not ready to cede my identity to assholes. Fuck them. I’m a feminist, and I’ve been a gamer for 36 years and an atheist my entire life, and they’re not driving me out.

    I totally get the point of both writers, but I’m not willing to concede that fight for myself. They can certainly choose to, but I didn’t let TERFs redefine feminism for me, and I’m not letting bigots redefine gamer or atheist to exclude me either.

    and The Mellow Monkey: Singular They @ 11;

    Them making the term “gamer” so foul as to drive people away from wanting the label is, in fact, just another tactic to push us out. It’s the same thing with the broader category of “geek”. I’ve seen people–straight, white cis men from middle class backgrounds–explicitly state that they were so oppressed for their interests that, essentially, no one else deserves the label of geek. And so they go out of their way to make it as odious of a label as possible, to back up this martyr complex.

    And not forgetting closeted @ 13;

    It can seem useless, but it’s not. The stigma follows you, because it’s the larger group that applies the label and the mental shorthand to the smaller group. To the extent the larger society even cares, they might not see much difference between PZ and thunderf00t, despite their radically different positions on crucial topics, hence PZ’s bit of despair.

    Similarly, you can say, “I am not a gamer, I’m i fribblesnort” – but the larger society is going to see “Kevin plays games, ergo gamer” and your introduction comes with that baggage whether you like it or not. You can proclaim you are *not* a gamer to every individual as you get to know him/her, but long term that sounds about as exhausting as fighting to eject the jackasses and change the default perception in the first place.

    These are hugely important points – we can’t just walk away from the lable ‘atheist’ (or ‘gamer’, for those of us who are gamers), because surrendering the term also amounts to surrendering intellectual ground to these bigoted arsehats. Even if we try to distance ourselves from their heinous prejudices, the general populace is unlikely to see the distinction, so even if we use a new term we will probably still get tarred with the same brush as the regressive jerks who drove us out of our own space in the first place. As much as I support the notion of atheism+, it suffers from this issue, since the term has no real weight outside those who are familiar enough with the atheist community already to grasp its significance. To anyone else, we are still identified with Tfoot and Dear Muslima and all the other toxic dregs that poison atheism as a movement. We risk being forced onto the fringes, and consequently seeing our voice within matters skeptical and godless weakened in the public forum, without actually outrunning the toxic mindsets and attitudes we are trying to distance ourselves from. It could easily turn into a disastrous lose/lose for us.

    To use CaitieCat’s example, imagine what would happen if feminists had allowed the most vicious and bigoted elements within feminism – the TERFs – to subvert the entire feminist label and redefine what it meant for their own purposes, to the extent that the MRA fantasy of feminism as a club dedicated to the obsessive hatred of men became a reality, and far worse, the intellectual impetous and authority of the term ‘feminist’ was employed to the fullest extent to promote transphobic bigotry and worsen the lot of a group that is already monstrously persecuted in our culture? If feminists switched to a term like ‘gender theorist’, would society at large care, or even notice? Or would anyone promoting the ideal that women are people too just end up being lumped in with the TERFs and conveniently dismissed as another strain of the mythical man hating feminazi? What would that do to the credibility of the pro-choice movement? Or the broader struggle against institutionalised misogyny within our patriarchal culture? There are serious knock-on effects when you enable the most regressive elements of a movement to start defining its lexicon.

    There is also the point that there is no guarantee that relabeling ourselves will even fix the problem – these misogynist, homophobic, transphobic and racist trolls have already infested and subverted one community identifier, why should we assume that they can’t or won’t seek to do it to another? If we cede these terms now, and are forced further onto the fringes, at least from an outside perspective, of the community in order to get away from the bile, then not only are we effectively marginalised but it is quite possible that we will find ourselves in the same boat a few years further down the road, forced to abandon another community identifier because the ‘brand’ has been rendered toxic. How often can that be allowed to happen before we are forced so far into the wilderness that we become entirely irrelevant and effectively silenced? Which is, of course, exactly what these areseholes want.

    Not wishing to trade in melodramatic language associated with toxic machismo. but this seems to me like the time to draw a line in the sand and say ‘this far and no further’. If we don’t, then an attempted rebranding may well end up becoming a rout.

  19. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Kevin:

    The comments in the Ars Technica article are so disappointing.

    Ars Technica has been going downhill ever since they stopped proudly announcing at the top of the page the life of their website in centuries.

  20. says

    Esteleth:

    At a certain point, you have to go and confront them.

    I don’t think you do. Plenty of women have already been driven off the internet from the stress and fear of torrential harassment and threats, all for the crime of writing while female.

    People can write in communities such as this one, where they have back up,* can work to persuade, donate money, help to lead the diaspora into more enlightened areas, etc. There are a lot of things which can be done, however, I don’t think it’s okay to decide to be judgmental if one doesn’t march right into a confrontation. And yes, confrontation is necessary, but y’know, it would be incredibly great to see more white males stepping up to the plate on this one, simply because certain levels of abuse are denied to the mob in such cases.
     
    *And don’t provide a handy nym hyperlink.

  21. anteprepro says

    Defining bigoted gamers to try to keep the mainstream “gamer” label from getting so tainted? I suppose we could them all “The F00t Tribe”.

  22. anbheal says

    @7 laurentweppe — bang on, I think it is very much wound up in privilege and class…I remember kids in college pooh-poohing those who had just bought a band’s fourth record, with “I saw them at the Hammersmith Odeon back in ’79, when they were cool” — oh really? Nice that you could afford to pop over to London for the weekend at age 18!

    The only online gaming I participate in is chess. As a kid, the chess clubs in both my elementary school and my junior high were all boys, not a single girl, and that was how the game was viewed, a pursuit for boys. In high school, there was one Asian girl, pretty damn good, and the boys were of course embarrassed to “lose to a girl”. In college, there was a certain cachet to breaking down gender barriers, and occasionally young women showed up at the chess cafes. But the real breakthrough came with the fall of the Soviet Union, and all of a sudden there were Russian and Ukrainian and Latvian and Romanian emigres showing up at the cafes and kicking ass — over there it’s incredibly rigorous, the training, and they knew the book lines up through 14, 15, 16 moves. It’s probably a blessing that they all had accents, so the American men could excuse their loss to a woman with: “well, she’s Russian”.

    I still play café chess in Mexico, and when the young women and girls beat the boys and men, there is no embarrassment, as there was in my youth. Now the men’s excuse is: “bah, she’s learned all those tricks by playing against the computer — I learned my chess the REAL way!” (And in faith, the only way I can compete with these women and girls is to toss some unorthodox — and incorrect — moves out there, and hope that they are so accustomed to the main lines on their computers that they will stumble when the play deviates from the book).

    So, in the small corner of gaming represented by chess, there has been some progress. And of course there’s much less classism — poor kids anywhere in the world can learn it, and there’s no cost to finding an old man on a park bench who’ll give you a fine game.

  23. doublereed says

    This is just a natural extension of gaming becoming more mainstream.

    There aren’t ‘moviewatchers’ and ‘bookreaders’ and they don’t brag about how much more hardcore they are compared to others. It just doesn’t work that way. The ‘gamer’ term was always meant to become anachronistic at some point.

    The fact that’s its becoming anachronistic in such an ugly way is not good, but the label of ‘gamer’ is frankly a lot less important than gamers like to think. It’s far more useful to say what kinds of games you are ‘into’ rather than just use some generic term ‘gamer.’ “I’m into JRPGs” “Dungeons & Dragons is my BAG, baby” “I’m all about the competitive fighting tournament scene” These are useful informative things to say. Games have become far too huge for ‘gamer’ to be that useful a term.

  24. Who Cares says

    @daemonios(#9):
    I started reading that there, now I don’t just want to renounce me being a gamer but being a man as well.
    And Anita Sarkeesian is so right about pointing that how women are treated in games is problematic. Just wish those idiots fighting against her would realize that it doesn’t harm them as men (or gamers) if this would be changed. I think it would probably lead to more interesting story telling in games.

  25. toddsweeney says

    Happened before. I’m thinking of the Japanese Otaku, who ran away from the term when the connotations got particularly horrible, and then sort of took it back. Or the process of appropriation of certain racial, ethnic, etc. slurs I won’t repeat here by members of the groups they’d been applied to.

    I do agree, it is time for the greater group of people who enjoy games to give up on repeating the “no true Scotsman” riff. Like it or not the haters are defining the group, not just to wider audiences, but within many of the community’s own channels of communication.

    And, yeah, it doesn’t do much good to stand there in a kilt and sporran holding the Highland Pipes and claim you aren’t a Scotsman yourself. Especially if that means not only do you still get lumped with the haters by the outside world, you are also getting cut off from much of the life of the gaming world.

    I’m thinking Casey Johnston may have the least bad of the options. Wait for the big-budget, hyperviolent games and their shrinking audience to continue to define themselves until “Gamer” and “Game” are seen as more inclusive and new language naturally arises to describe the shrinking pit of overpriced, over-hyped slime. Just like the summer action flicks don’t define movies, and reality TV doesn’t define broadcast, but have specific language that identifies them as niche products.

    Not to say we can’t hasten the process, though. Be nice if there was some short descriptive and not terribly impolite word or phrase that described the $45 a pop, major-studio, system resource hogging, stereotype-dependent, hyperviolent, pretty-much-like-last-years titles and their followers.

  26. anteprepro says

    “I was a gamer BEFORE it became an almost meaningless term describing virtually anyone who wasn’t in the small handful of people who actively hate playing games of any kind!”

  27. ronjohnalpha says

    Long time lurker, first time poster. I finally felt like joining a conversation, as I am both an atheist that subscribes to humanist morals (and actually rather liked the Atheism+ idea) and a life-long player of games who now works in the games industry. To say this week has been weird would be an understatement (it’s also crunch time at work here), but I think PZ hit the nail on the head on what it feels like.

    For a long time, I’ve had this feeling of “when did all the jerks move in to my hobby?” for games, and at least part of the problem is the industry itself, with publishers basically getting to dictate much of the content of games and pushing this regressive garbage as a means of targeting teenage boys and emotionally stunted twenty-somethings and developers going along with it and letting stuff through the cracks. Our industry caters to the worst of humanity, so of course the worst of humanity defends it.

    It irritates me how much this attitude of rationalization for this trash comes out of these people. Yesterday a coworker tried to defend the Watch Dogs sex trafficking scene example from the recent Sarkeesian video in exactly the way one would expect, by saying it was taken out of context and so on, completely unaware that it does not excuse both the way it is used (as a lazy way to seem “mature”) and how it interacts with the game play (since watch dogs is an action game, this scene is used as an excuse to try to make the player’s vigilante justice seem “right”).

    Part of me wants to stick with games and game development to try to make whatever change I can from the inside… but the industry and the vocal minority are so toxic to change the other part of me wonders why I should bother.

    Not sure if I have much more to say than that right now, but I wanted to get my two cents in.

  28. toddsweeney says

    Or, yeah. The field is so diverse, might as well start self-labeling. Instead of “Gamer,” something like “I play driving games” Because “MMORPGer” doesn’t really roll off the tongue. Or just skip trying to create the right box — because that is really only an aid to the industry that wants to know what advertising to target to you, and say “I’ve been playing Tomb Raider.” Not a “gamer,” not a defining element of my identity, just one of the things I do.

    (Not sure this is as much a help for people who are part of the industry or who make a living or who have a lot of their social world built around playing, reviewing, discussing, following the new releases, etc. They could still benefit from a name, and the one that is out there is currently problematic.)

  29. says

    I didn’t read the article as saying that we should stop attempting to reclaim the “gamer” label. I read it as saying that gamer culture is so toxic that the label has acquired some degree of shame.

    When “skeptic” started to become associated with all the anti-feminist nastiness, I wanted to reclaim the label, because that’s not what skepticism has ever meant to me. But a lot of people here wanted to ditch the label, and that seems eminently reasonable to me if that’s what you want to do.

  30. says

    Doublereed:

    There aren’t ‘moviewatchers’ and ‘bookreaders’ and they don’t brag about how much more hardcore they are compared to others.

    Yes, there are, and yes, they do. Most people just don’t give much of a shit about them.

  31. anteprepro says

    I’ve been fascinated with how similar debates were going on in pretty much every “geek” online community. The gamers and atheists were the most notable to me, but as Esteleth noted, it is also happening in the Sci Fi, comics, tabletop, and anime fanbases, as well as others I am sure. But I cannot help but wonder what role politics plays into this. For one, all of these nerdy communities skew liberal. And it seems like all of the ones on the side of that most foul and horrible thing known only as Social Justice always seem to be really liberal, moreso than the average of the already liberal leaning communities they are part of. Whereas the anti-Social Justice brigade seem to vary wildly. I wonder this mostly because I wonder what the ramifications are for these online debates in meatspace. And I also wonder WHY these debates are happening in some places but not other, but my working hypothesis is that the debate even occurring at all is a GOOD sign for a community. Lack of debate over social justice doesn’t show that they have their shit together better than the gaming community, atheist community, etc.: I think it is likely that arenas where this conversation is not occuring are probably even worse off. The debate probably is needed there too, perhaps to an even higher degree, but somehow it is being stifled, prevented, or discouraged before it even starts, reflective of an even more poisonous climate than the ones we are currently dealing with. Which, if true, is actually depressing as shit.

  32. Brony says

    @

    I’ve never been able to see that there ever was an atheist community. You can’t make a community based on what you don’t believe. You wouldn’t ask for a show of hands from a random crowd on the street and ask who doesn’t believe in the Easter Bunny, how many Apascalapinists are here? You’d get a big show of hands but there wouldn’t be enough in common to make any kind of community.

    I think that our current situation is a natural outcome of both the fact that atheists strategically organized as a community in response to religion, and as a fact of what happens when new social groups form and the problems are similar in both cases.
    You form a new group, you spend some time enjoying what you are doing but at some point the personal conflicts based on what each person thinks the group is to them start to get more noticeable than what you were getting from the group. I saw the exact same dynamic in the Brony community and it’s what plagues the gaming community.
    For atheists the problem is more intense because we become atheists for many reasons and we want to unite based on the things that we individually care about that led to our atheism. For many of us those involve social justice concerns. A smart leadership will try to address as many of these as possible to grow the movement. Not doing that pretty much means that the current leadership does not care about why many of us because atheists.

    The two groups you mention do exist. But I think that the “Solipsists” also happen to be group-think authoritarian types that are functionally doing social warfare instead of trying to find a more broadly acceptable solution. The Solipsism arises from the fallacious nature of the arguments.

  33. Brony says

    @Esteleth

    This isn’t rats abandoning a sinking ship – this is “if I can’t have it no one can” temper tantrums.

    I agree. When I was a substitute teacher I never saw a bully scream louder than when they were caught and in trouble. More pressure is required.

  34. Esteleth is Groot says

    Ah! No, I’m terribly sorry. I was not, in any way shape or form, saying that people need to overextend themselves in order to confront people who are perpetrating harm – demanding that someone confront them is itself a form of harm. After all, by putting the onus on those hurt to do the confronting, the not-so-subtle effect is that the problem is your problem to deal with and not everyone’s.

    My comment wasn’t in reply to yours, CaitieCat – it was more of a general-issue commentary on the need for the perpetrators of harm to be confronted and not be allowed to coast by without criticism.

    I’m terribly sorry for all the confusion and for any hurt I caused by not paying as much attention to everything else being said in the thread as I should have. :( :( :(

  35. says

    Wow I never thought of myself as a non-gamer. But given that I only play games like WOW, GW2, and select RPG’s (I haven’t owned a game console in years). I came from the old school co-op “gamer” culture. And much like then, women enjoy games where they play together with their friends or love interest, cause nobody wants to sit around and watch someone play a video game. It has been disheartening to see so few games focus on working with others to achieve your goals. My big complaint with games like GTA and others that you can actually play the villain, is that they tend to focus on more on shock violence and racist themes to make a quick buck, more than actual interesting game content. I enjoyed the game Tenchu a one player (you played a ninja and had to sneak around and assassinate targets). But hey if your perceived audience is 13-15 year old boys then it’s no shock these games are made to exploit the taboo. Much like the majority of movies which are made for teens the game industry seems to thrive on exploiting this group. What I also find somewhat disturbing is how many male adults (even with families) play these games.

  36. says

    Wes Aaron:

    What I also find somewhat disturbing is how many male adults (even with families) play these games.

    I think you might want to be specific as to why you’re disturbed. It’s not as though adults can’t (and don’t) enjoy books, movies, games, etc., that are primarily targeted at a younger audience. Frinst., Carlie & I have a conversation over every new book in the Olympus series by Riordan, and we certainly are not the target audience.

  37. says

    Also,

    What I also find somewhat disturbing is how many male adults (even with families) play these games.

    You might want to lose that whole vibe of “oh, he’s an actual man, got sprogs, so he should act like one!” shit.

  38. toddsweeney says

    Oh, yeah, its the same fear the NRA plays off of (and oddly similar, isn’t it, how “responsible gun owners” are a self-labeled group trying to distance themselves from being called “NRA members.”)

    In short, that in some ill-understood way publishers will fold under criticism or bureaucracies will come down with a regulatory hammer and there will no longer be anything like GTA.

    In games — as happened in the SF field a long time ago (and the echoes continue) — the error is seeing it in zero-sum terms. We’d like to see MORE games. So some of us can be playing a cooperative game, or a game with more inclusive gender representation, or a game with better story. And some of us can still be blowing the heads off zombies.

    The only “risk,” as I see it, is that if there is enough good, it will start to drive out the bad. That the industry will realize how much more money is to be made with different games, and the Hitman and similar titles will drift down into the same underfunded obscurity as Steven Seagal movies.

  39. toddsweeney says

    I should add — most of the women I personally know who game enjoy the hell out of blowing the heads off zombies. When we’re describing the need to have more options, we shouldn’t fall into the trap of assuming isolated and stereotyped markets for those options.

  40. zmidponk says

    To me, the term ‘gamer’ is as broad as the term ‘atheist’. Do you believe in any god or gods? No? Then you’re an atheist. Do you play games? Yes? Then you’re a gamer. Unfortunately, this means that, in both cases, you get atheists/gamers who are misogynistic, racist, homophobic and/or bigoted in any other way you care to name, as well as not being in the least bit shy about making it clear this is the case, to put it mildly, and this means that anyone who wants to paint either group in a bad light need only to point their fingers at these people. Whilst it’s a natural reaction to try to shy away from these terms in describing yourself, so as not to get splattered with the shit they’re happily bathing in, it cedes too much territory to them. What would be better is countering any effort to use these shitstains to tar the entire community by simply pointing out that some people are arseholes, and atheists/gamers are no different in that respect, plus, of course, the kind of thing CaitieCat describes doing in #18 – calling out any such bullshit done by gamers/atheists when it occurs.

  41. says

    Inaji @39-40

    No I don’t mean act like a man, it’s more that they have children and their buying games that have highly questionable content. And by buying and supporting the manufacturer’s making these choices are adding to the problem. Also being that I was once a kid it wouldn’t shock me if in a weird way it almost reinforces the negative behavior. Kinda like my dad’s OK with it so I should be too. As for young girls I cannot say what it would do to them to know their dad is playing these violent games where you beat up women and kill prostitutes. Children have friends and some friends get to play the really violent games (many reasons but usually their parent is ignorant to what is in the game), so the child won’t be in the dark about the games content.

  42. Foible says

    There’s an awful lot of women bashing going on in this thread supposedly about gamers and atheists misbehaving. I guess as long as you make up a name like TERF you don’t have to think of them as women. You can just accuse them of hurting people when their only goal is to live their lives the way they want, just like everybody else.

    The term TERF shows the egotistical nature of the trans community. The women in question are male exclusionary, they don’t draw distinctions between different kinds of males. Whether you agree with them or not, they have the right to associate, and not associate, with whoever they want. This was an unquestioned right until 1976, that was when males decided that males can legally become females.

    The attacks on these women are scary and ongoing. They range from anonymous death threats to “TERF registries” threatening to reveal the personal information of these women. For all the claims of harm to the trans community there is very little evidence shown to back them up. The evidence that I’ve seen presented has been people discussing gender roles that don’t match the trans party line, this is considered “hate speech” and therefore grounds for violence and threats.

    Drop the sanctimonious hypocrisy folks, you are just as hurtful as the people you are bashing.

  43. says

    I also should add that even if you don’t have kids, by buying games like this the consumer is setting the bar for companies. Is this really what you want more of?

  44. says

    Foible:

    Drop the sanctimonious hypocrisy folks, you are just as hurtful as the people you are bashing.

    Personally, as someone who has been involved in feminism for 45+ years, I have major, major, massive, major problems with those who identify as TERF. There is a great deal of harm happening, and that sort of attitude, it ain’t helping. Also, at least one of the people in this thread would not be considered a woman by those who identify as TERF. That’s some serious dehumanizing shit right there.

    I’ll end this derail here. If you have more to say, Foible, I suggest you click over to Thunderdome, an open thread.

  45. says

    No one has questioned the right of TERFs to associate, just as no one has questioned the right of other kinds of bigots to associate.

    I would agree completely with you that making death threats against TERFs is unacceptable and wrong and to be condemned, but no one is saying that here — people are using their right to criticize and express their opinions of TERFs.

  46. says

    Wes Aaron:

    I also should add that even if you don’t have kids, by buying games like this the consumer is setting the bar for companies. Is this really what you want more of?

    I don’t game. That said, no, I don’t want more of this shit. Even though I don’t game, I do get that people who enjoy gaming play a wide range of games, because they are…gaming. I agree with toddsweeney @ 41 – yeah, people have to be made aware, and yeah, people should demand a better, wider range of games that are not stuck in the same old misogynistic violence box.

    None of this, however, addresses what was wrong with your posts. You’re slamming adults for being capable of enjoying things not exclusively targeted to them, and going heavy on the ‘parents should be better’ vibe. Most of the parents I know are already pretty damn careful about things like this, but as Carlie pointed out in another thread, kids pick up stupid, harmful shit outside parental influence.

  47. says

    Inaji

    You’ve definitely missed the point, but hey to each their own. If consumer’s support games that victimize women then companies make more, as an adult we should make sure our actions aren’t hurting others. It has nothing to do with enjoying kid stuff, it has to do with what are you supporting.

  48. toddsweeney says

    Man, I hate the Google octopus. Everywhere else, I use the nym “nomuse” and I am happy to work openly under it — it is easily tracked down to my real name, location, and workplace, all of which I identify in my Blogger account.

    But the tentacles reach out, and they apparently decided a name I chose once for Amazon or something — picked so I could track back who was selling my data to the spammers — is now slapped across my ID here with no choice of mine involved.

  49. zmidponk says

    @Foible

    You are a complete arse. What the term ‘TERF’ is about is people who try to dictate the gender identity of other people in the name of ‘feminism’. That term bashes them, and them only. They can still not ‘associate’ with whoever they don’t feel like ‘associating’ with (bar, of course, the forced association that comes with actually being part of the same general society as them), they just can’t force them to be treated as not really being women because they’re not cis ones.

    As for your proposed ‘TERF registries’, doing a quick Google, I can only find one such registry, and it was a reaction and counter to Gender Identity Watch – who ‘dox’ and ‘expose’ transgender people, and this ‘TERF registry’ only lists and collates public acts that make the person concerned seem to be a TERF. As for attacks, any death threats going to TERFs, in my experience, are utterly swamped by threats of assault or death coming from TERFs to trans women, and if you really want to compare this to the kind of attacks transgender people get on a daily basis, just for existing, this is simply the very first result I got for a Google search of ‘transgender violence':

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/transgender-violence/

  50. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Sadly, I must respond to Foible, 45:

    There’s an awful lot of women bashing going on in this thread supposedly about gamers and atheists misbehaving.

    Why don’t you name names and quote the women bashing? As it is, you’ve got me @21 every bit as guilty as anyone else on this thread. Yet you’d have to work pretty hard to get me to concede that commenting on the Conde Nast-driven changes to Ars Technica constitutes woman bashing (or women bashing).

    I guess as long as you make up a name like TERF you don’t have to think of them as women.

    Who on this thread invented the term TERF?

    Where on this thread is it asserted or implied – even once – that the persons others have referred to as TERFs are not women? Can you come up with that single instance, or would you prefer to keep to an evidence free denunciation of everyone participating in this thread?

    Also as an aside, TERF, as you know, is an acronym for a descriptive phrase. No one is calling these women cockroaches. We’re saying that these women are radical feminists, and that their work is exclusive of trans folk. If you think that’s an insult, then pick the insulting part and fucking stop doing it.

    Me? I prefer existentialist feminists as a description, existentialist radical feminists when absolutely necessary. If I abbreviate it to EF or ERF, it would be no more an insult that describing those feminists as feminists. They are free to reject the primacy of existentialist ethics or radical feminism if they think that it’s somehow bad to embrace an encompassing existentialist ethics or to be a feminist or to be a radical one. But I doubt that many will. And my use of EF or ERF will be no more insult that calling a rock a mineral.

    You can just accuse them of hurting people when their only goal is to live their lives the way they want, just like everybody else.

    y’know, Japan initiated the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere for the sole goal of living their lives like any European or USAlien. Why do you diss them over the rape of Nanking?

    Seriously, however, we note your diversion into magical intentions and away from the actual actions of the feminists under discussion. I’m not a mind reader. Furthermore, I don’t fucking care whether the feminists under discussion – ERFs, if you will – are motivated by greed, global love, Laissez-Faire economics, erotics, early Peripatetics, or post-hypnotic suggestion. When someone is accused of, to use your phrase, “hurting people,” we judge that accusation true or not true because of the actual actions of the person accused, not the “only goal” of the accused – much less whether the goal is common or un-.

    If you really don’t get that intent isn’t magic, you don’t have a feminist analysis worth anything at all. I don’t call out sexism because men have as their conscious goal the creation of a one-gender government. For the same reason, despite the popular trend, I don’t say shit about homophobia. I could care less if the thought of gay sex gives Pat Robertson the willies. I care when Pat Robertson advocates laws and policies and actions that hurt queers. His heterosexism is the problem, not whether or not his heterosexist actions are motivated by deep seated fears.

    Why don’t you try starting over again with feminism and think about what role intent plays in a sexist society? When you’ve got an actual analysis of the role of intent, come back to us again and explain how when someone is accused of hurting people an abstracted statement of the accused’s intent is at all fucking relevant.

    If someone accuses an ERF of employing an intent that cannot be honestly abstracted into a form that we would recognize as a common human desire, your ‘intent’ assertions might be the tiniest bit relevant (though I would still prefer actual fucking **evidence** of those intents). Until then, you are simply employing a tactic that minimizes harm unintentionally or intentionally inflicted by diverting discussion into the bullshit question of how commonly people feel a need to “live their own lives”.

    The term TERF shows the egotistical nature of the trans community. The women in question are male exclusionary, they don’t draw distinctions between different kinds of males.

    Oh, bullshit. Don’t lie. ERF philosophy equally rejects female bodied trans folk gendered as something other than “woman” and male bodied people regardless of gender. They are, in fact, exclusive of male folk, but their anti-trans stance is quite easily seen through the fact that they are not **only** exclusive of male folk. They are exclusive of all trans people. There is quite good evidence that such feminists exist and that these feminists are the group intended to be described by the term TERF.

    You keep thinking TERF is an epithet. It is a description. When we talk about white feminists, finding a black feminists doesn’t mean white feminists don’t exist. TERFs exist. If you find a feminist that is exclusive of male folk but not of trans folk, then that feminists is not trans exclusive and is not a TERF. By fucking definition.

    If YOU believe that to be a TERF is to be a horrible thing, then don’t be one. But your horror at some women being described accurately as TERFs doesn’t mean that a perfectly accurate description should be shunned.

    Whether you agree with them or not, they have the right to associate, and not associate, with whoever they want.

    Quote one person in this thread saying something different. It has been asserted that ERFs are bigoted, that they are doing feminism wrong, that their philosophy won’t dissuade some of us from calling ourselves feminist, and that if ERF philosophy and tactics ruled the feminist movement that the feminist movement would be much the worse for it, including in how it is publicly perceived.

    Nowhere was it stated that ERFs (or TERFs, to use others’ language) have, or should have, a compromised right of association. Come up with an example in this thread or admit that you were slandering the people of this thread. Your call.

    This was an unquestioned right until 1976, that was when males decided that males can legally become females.

    Oh, bullshit. If you don’t know anything about the history of the freedom of association – one can only assume that you are using a USA-centric analysis and referencing the attacks on Sandy Stone and the feminists of Olivia Records who themselves freely associated, and were attacked for their free association by too many feminists – then don’t make any assertions about the freedom of association.

    The limits of the right of free association were in question going back to before the signing of the fucking Constitution. The Lochner-era jurisprudential rebukes of the political perspective on section 5 of the 14th amendment eviscerated the Civil Rights Act of 1875, it’s true, but those were hardly a string of unanimous cases, nor were they the first cases to assess the freedom of association. Moreover, Lochner and its progeny were fully repudiated before WW2. The dramatic reinterpretation of the commerce clause in Wickard v Filburn was only the dancing on the grave of the Lochner-rationale and jurisprudential analysis that highly privileged freedom of association and by extension, contract. Long before then were cases involving labor laws regulating the hiring, pay, and working conditions of women and children. These cases found that certain types of associations that hold themselves out as public – in some circumstances regardless of incorporation or lack thereof – are regulable by the governments of the states as well as by the federal government.

    You may, if you give a shit about freedom of association and anti-oppression work at all, be familiar with Heart of Atlanta Motel v United States where the court explicitly acknowledged the balancing act to be performed between freedom of association and 14th amendment guarantees as interpreted and enacted by congress under section 5.

    That was 1964, not 1974.

    If you want to lecture people, please, PLEASE do not make up your own facts. You are spouting bullshit to people who actually care about issues of justice, justice which can only be achieved if we don’t make decisions upon fantasies. It took Reed v Reed in the early 70s to get SCOTUS to acknowledge that fantasies of differences between men and women were not, under the 14th, a constitutional basis for differential treatment under law. Before that, women were excluded from serving on juries, among other indignities and injustices, despite Strauder v West Virginia in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War and smack dab in the middle of reconstruction – 100 fucking years before Sandy Stone was hired by Olivia records.

    I’d prefer not to go back to basing justice on the fantasies of the privileged, thank you very much. If you agree, then shut the fuck up about topics about which you know absolutely nothing until you take some time to learn enough to make a post on this thread that will actually bring new knowledge to the minds reading your words.

    Given your absurdly erroneous ideas about an unquestioned right of freedom of association, I expect that will take quite some time.

    The attacks on these women are scary and ongoing. They range from anonymous death threats to “TERF registries” threatening to reveal the personal information of these women.

    Oh, fuck you. Don’t blame anyone here for death threats and “TERF registries”. If people here aren’t doing it, your only possible purpose for bringing it up is dishonest slander. Some of the commenters here don’t like, to use their description, radical feminists who are exclusive of trans people. Some abbreviate this TERF. That is hardly, of itself, an attack on any woman, much less a large group of women, much less women qua women.

    Either take issue with the specific actions of specific people in this thread or admit that you have no problem with the specific people in this thread and their actions…and thus that you yourself are hurtfully slandering people here, with malice aforethought.

    For all the claims of harm to the trans community there is very little evidence shown to back them up.

    Who gives a shit? Is anyone in this thread cataloguing claims of harm to trans people or communities? If there are such people, which claims are supported with “very little evidence”?

    If there aren’t such people, why the fuck are you talking about this?

    The evidence that I’ve seen presented has been people discussing gender roles that don’t match the trans party line, this is considered “hate speech” and therefore grounds for violence and threats.

    cite the evidence.

    Now.

    Or shut the fuck up.

    Drop the sanctimonious hypocrisy folks, you are just as hurtful as the people you are bashing.

    And yet you haven’t once cited anything hurtful done by any specific person in this thread. Anything hurtful at all, much less “bashing”.

    Accusing us of bashing without any fucking evidence whatsoever is, to use your phrase, “sanctimonious hypocrisy” coming from one who is shouting loudly about “accusations” and “lack of evidence”.

    Go learn some feminist basics about how intent is used to avoid accountability. Go learn some ethical and legal basics about the freedom of association and the degree to which this “unquestioned” freedom was questioned repeatedly from the drafting debates for the Articles of Confederation through to today, much of that time coming slightly before 1974. Go learn something about “evidence” and what it means to accuse someone of something without any.

    Then and only then will you be in the least ready to continue this discussion.

  51. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @zmidponk:

    That term bashes them, and them only.

    Concede nothing, zmidponk. A description is not “bashing” of any kind, of any one. If Foible wants to prove that a bashing has occurred, I don’t want to have to start with Foible for using the term, “the trans community”.

    If Foible shuts up, I’d like it to be because Foible has actually realized that comment #45 is proof that Foible knows jack shit about the topics on which Foible proposes to lecture us. Not because she wields such horrible terms as, “commenters on freethoughtblogs.com”.

  52. says

    Let’s see…how about Zorking Exclusionary Radical Gamers? ZERGs? Tell them it’s a compliment for their swarming tactics, and we’ll get rockin’ amounts of bonus XP for the metajoke (, Citizen!).

    I’ll defer to the sniny and effective CD on the ‘Stop describing me accurately!’ crowd. Bravissima!

  53. says

    Foible:

    For all the claims of harm to the trans community there is very little evidence shown to back them up. The evidence that I’ve seen presented has been people discussing gender roles that don’t match the trans party line, this is considered “hate speech” and therefore grounds for violence and threats.

    You’ve not been looking very hard for evidence then. If you were actually interested, it isn’t hard to perform a Google search for ‘TERF violence against trans women”. Here I’ll even give you a little help. Now off you go you blasted idjit. Please don’t come back.

  54. hexidecima says

    I am a gamer. I’m not letting the term get taken by assholes. No one wins until you let them.

  55. samihawkins says

    I’ll bet my left nut, my feminine left nut attached to a woman who’s just as female as any other woman, that Foible found this thread by googling ‘TERF’ and checking the latest entries. I predict they’ll either leave after one drive-by trolling never to be seen again or they’ll return at the head of a bigoted horde trying to shout us down for having the nerve to point out what horrid bigots they are. Staying for an actual rational discussion is not a possibility I see happening.

    As for the subject of this post it seems to me to be good ole tribalism and stubbornness. They can’t accept that things are changing and ‘their’ group is now welcoming people they view as outsiders, so they lash out. I wish I knew how to deal with the problem of them dragging down the image of the rest of us gamers, but if I knew the answer I would have proposed it ages ago to fix atheism.

  56. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @samihawkins:
    meh.

    Foible may very well be a long-time/first-time. There’s lots here to respect while disagreeing with the relatively rare use of TERF. Also, Foible is a reasonably-regular commenter over @ Ophelia’s house of lepidoptera and collections of the 2nd classical Simple Machine of neoclassical fame. Further, Foible has shown up on other FTB discussions that included the term TERF.

    So my money is on Foible actually reading Pharyngula… but it’s possible someone philosophically sympathetic, but less recklessly overconfident and arrogant in the absence of information read this thread and mentioned this discussion elsewhere, leading Foible to come here as a first-time/first-time.

    If Foible really was obsessed enough to use the Google time-based search function to relentlessly search for recent uses of TERF, I suspect some of us would remember the nym from previous encounters elsewhere. Since I know of Foible primarily from B&W, I think your hypothesis isn’t the likeliest.

  57. Scr... Archivist says

    Regarding a name for the elitist jerks, how about “leetist”? I’m not the first person to suggest this, by the way. The haters clearly don’t want atheism or gaming or other good things to be shared by everyone, so I think this may go to the heart of the division. It also works as an adjective.

    That said, I don’t think we should allow the jerks to take over the meanings of the words “gamer”, “atheist”, “feminist”, etcetera. I’ve seen it happen before with “libertarian”. It used to by a synonym for “anarchist”, that is, someone who opposes hierarchies, and I think in Europe it still has that connotation. But in the U.S. in the 1970’s, the word was taken over by people who are happy to have an economic hierarchy as long as they are on the top of it. It annoys me to have to keep explaining this to people who read historical or European references to the socialist version of libertarianism and become confused.

    Please don’t surrender to the hijackers!

  58. samihawkins says

    @60

    Well you’re clearly more informed on this than I am.

    Now about living up to my end of the bet. Does anyone have a pocket knife and a bottle of painkillers I can borrow? This is gonna be messy…

  59. zmidponk says

    Crip Dyke:

    Concede nothing, zmidponk. A description is not “bashing” of any kind, of any one.

    That’s a very good point, because ‘bashing’ usually has a connotation of being an unwarranted and unjustified attack on a particular group, which this isn’t.

  60. Foible says

    It seems I wandered into an MRA meeting here, the Male Rights Activists are all over my comments.

    PZ, you may not personally be questioning female’s rights to associate but you’re not making a fuss when they’re stepped on. The gender conference in Portland Oregon this summer was forced out of their first location by threats. You may see that as bigots getting what they deserve, for me it looks like females being pushed around by males yet again.

    Tony, I followed your link. Did you post it hoping most people won’t? Most of those tumblr entries are trans people hating on women.

    I’d like to suggest to every woman reading this thread to go back and substitute woman or female for every occurrence you see of the word TERF. See how comfortable you feel about those accusations when the “othering” is removed. These women are just trying to live their lives without males and it is bringing them a shitstorm of male violence.

  61. Esteleth is Groot says

    Foible, the crux of the issue here is spectacularly simple.

    We, as non-TERFs, see that trans women are women, full stop. Trans women are female. They are thus, entitled to everything – positive and negative – that women are entitled to.

    You disagree.

    You happen to be (1) wrong and (2) on the losing side of history.

    And, for the record, I am a woman. I’m cis, not that it matters.

    But you’re going to pop back and say that “cis” is a slur, right? Because a simple adjective that means nothing more or less than “not trans” is automatically a slur?

  62. ceesays says

    Foible:

    Tried it. Doesn’t work. Why?

    Because when you substitute woman for TERF in the explanation, the message is STILL not about me, and I feel no need to jump up and holler “Not ALL Women!”

    Actually, thanks for suggesting it. you’ve confirmed that the hit dog hollers. I appreciate it.

    and since the ferragamo fits, honey, why don’t you lace that darling little kitten heel up and chasse out?

  63. Gregory Greenwood says

    Foible @ 65;

    It seems I wandered into an MRA meeting here, the Male Rights Activists are all over my comments.

    Pharyngula is a diverse community with a high proportion of left leaning progressives, many of whom are feminists and social justice activists. It is irresponsible of you to try to assert that this is some kind of MRA haven because it has the effect of minimising the very real harm that MRA hate sites like AVfM do to women and women’s issues in society. If you want to see an MRA, look to an abominable misogynist and male supremacist like John the Other. The damage the MRA mindset does is very real and very widespread, and plays into existing patriarchal power structures that function to oppress women such as the accurately entitled Republican war on women and its sick crusade to deny women bodily autonomy by restricting access to abortion services. ‘MRA’ is most emphatically not a synonym for ‘people who criticise trans-exclusionary radical feminism’, still less for ‘people who disagree with foible’. The term has an existing meaning that describes a very dangerous ideology; do not attempt to redefine it to try to score cheap rhetorical points.

    PZ, you may not personally be questioning female’s rights to associate but you’re not making a fuss when they’re stepped on. The gender conference in Portland Oregon this summer was forced out of their first location by threats. You may see that as bigots getting what they deserve, for me it looks like females being pushed around by males yet again.

    Any use of threats is of course wrong. I have found an article that seems to describe some really nasty threats of violence, and these must be condemned as the same kind of online victimisation that is such a blight upon the internet. There is simply no excuse for such behaviour.

    It is, however, entirely possible to condemn threats of violence against TERFs without in any way agreeing with what they say, and indeed while still considering their viewpoint toxic, socially regressive and bigoted.

    PZ appears to have missed this particular incident, but I think you are reaching if you are trying to argue that his failure to report on a series of events he probably wasn’t even aware of constitutes some kind of complicity in the notional oppression of TERFs.

    Tony, I followed your link. Did you post it hoping most people won’t? Most of those tumblr entries are trans people hating on women.

    Did we read the same page? The page Tony linked to included a range of opinion, and most of the people with a hostile attitude toward TREFs seem to be describing events from their own lives in which they feel harmed or oppressed by the ideology promoted by TERFs. Complaining about the people you demonise disliking you seems to be a little unreasonable, and not entirely lacking in similarities to the whining pity-parties we get from MRAs who can’t understand why women don’t like them.

    I’d like to suggest to every woman reading this thread to go back and substitute woman or female for every occurrence you see of the word TERF. See how comfortable you feel about those accusations when the “othering” is removed. These women are just trying to live their lives without males and it is bringing them a shitstorm of male violence.

    There you go again; trying to redefine established terms with an established meaning to mean whatever you want them to mean to bolster your argument – you don’t get to do that. Trans-exclusionary radical feminism is a very specific term describing a very particular ideology – you can’t just declare it as synonymous with ‘women’ as a broad gender identifier and then try to use that to declare that anyone who critiques TERFs is oppressing women. Not all cis women are TERFs. Indeed, the vast majority of feminists are not TERFs. Trying to manoeuver a fringe group with a radical minority socio-political stance into a position where it can claim to stand for half the species is disengenuous to say the least.

    If we try your approach of word substitution, it transforms my post back at 20 not so much into a misogynist screed as a meaningless, self contradictory word-salad (though I concede the point that it is often difficult to discern the difference between misogynist screeds and meaningless word-salad, as all too many obnoxious MRA trolls have demonstrated whilst getting rhetorically spanked on Pharyngula threads from time to time);

    To use CaitieCat’s example, imagine what would happen if feminists had allowed the most vicious and bigoted elements within feminism – the TERFs women – to subvert the entire feminist label and redefine what it meant for their own purposes, to the extent that the MRA fantasy of feminism as a club dedicated to the obsessive hatred of men became a reality, and far worse, the intellectual impetous and authority of the term ‘feminist’ was employed to the fullest extent to promote transphobic bigotry and worsen the lot of a group that is already monstrously persecuted in our culture? If feminists switched to a term like ‘gender theorist’, would society at large care, or even notice? Or would anyone promoting the ideal that women are people too just end up being lumped in with the TERFs women and conveniently dismissed as another strain of the mythical man hating feminazi? What would that do to the credibility of the pro-choice movement? Or the broader struggle against institutionalised misogyny within our patriarchal culture? There are serious knock-on effects when you enable the most regressive elements of a movement to start defining its lexicon.

    You see? That doesn’t really make a whole of sense. You might as well replace ‘TERFs’ with ‘butterfly’ or ‘neutron star’ – it wouldn’t mangle the paragraph any more than your example does.

    As already stated, violence against TERFs is unacceptable, as is violence used against anyone for simply subscribing to a particular ideology. However, criticism is not the same thing as violence. Any argument worth its salt must be strong enough to survive the free exchange of ideas and perspectives. When you declare any criticism of you position as being the same thing as oppression, then your movement’s ideology becomes mere inflexible dogma, and that is the fast road to irrelevancy.

  64. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Giliell:

    Because a simple adjective that means nothing more or less than “not trans” is automatically a slur?

    You wouldn’t believe how offended some women in Portland were when I described them as “non-trans” in the 90s and naughties.

    Cis/* is actually a step up, or would be if they were being at all rational, because it describes people without reference to transness. The original objection, sorry, stated objection, that being described as “non-trans” is insulting because **it privileges transness**, despite being accurate, is removed with “cis”. And yet people still insist on hollering.

    Oy. It’s like acknowledging that trans* people exist is a horrifying affront.

  65. says

    Foible:

    It seems I wandered into an MRA meeting here, the Male Rights Activists are all over my comments.

    PZ, you may not personally be questioning female’s rights to associate but you’re not making a fuss when they’re stepped on. The gender conference in Portland Oregon this summer was forced out of their first location by threats. You may see that as bigots getting what they deserve, for me it looks like females being pushed around by males yet again.

    Tony, I followed your link. Did you post it hoping most people won’t? Most of those tumblr entries are trans people hating on women.

    You think we’re a bunch of MRAs because we condemn the harmful actions of TERFs. This is false. A great deal of the regular commentariat recognize trans women as women, which clearly you don’t, which makes me both sad and angry for/at you.
    You continue to claim that being called a TERF is an insult, when it’s a description of a group of people and what they do. They do seek to exclude trans women from feminism. They *have* resorted to horrible tactics. My link *does* contain examples of what TERFs have done to trans women. Given your wording its clear you do not regard trans women as women, a view I find deplorable. I linked to that page to show you that Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists do harm trans women. That’s what you’ll find on that page-if you regard trans women as women, like I do. But again, you don’t, and you appear to support excluding trans women from feminism. As trans women are women, there’s no reason to exclude them. As pointed out upthread, you are wrong.
    Wander off you TERF defender.

  66. Esteleth is Groot says

    Point of fact, Crip Dyke, that was me, not Giliell ;)

    Personally, I see the whining over “cis” as an extension of the whining over “straight” in previous years: allowing the setup of antonym pairs inherently implies a sort of equality.

  67. says

    Foible:

    the Male Rights Activists are all over my comments.

    What on earth makes you think the people responding to your incorrect, uninformed comments are all men? You appear to have issues considerably deeper than making stupid, unsupported comments.

  68. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Ack, sorry Esteleth.

    I agree with your further point in #71 as well.

    @Inaji, 72

    Ooops. I slipped past Foible’s reinterpretation of the common acronym MRA, which in point of fact stands for “Men’s Rights Activist/s”, as “Male Rights Activist/s”

    it really shows Foible’s inability (or refusal) to distinguish between sex and gender, doesn’t it?

  69. zmidponk says

    Foible #65:

    It seems I wandered into an MRA meeting here, the Male Rights Activists are all over my comments.

    So criticising…no, actually, strike that, describing bigots who happen to be women as bigots makes me an MRA? Nope. I criticise bigotry, and I don’t really care if the bigot is male, female, intersex, cis, trans, black, white, or anything else.

    PZ, you may not personally be questioning female’s rights to associate but you’re not making a fuss when they’re stepped on. The gender conference in Portland Oregon this summer was forced out of their first location by threats. You may see that as bigots getting what they deserve, for me it looks like females being pushed around by males yet again.

    The main reason no-one here has addressed that is because it has little or nothing to do with the topic being discussed. Trying to use that as a criticism of what we have said is about as sensible as me trying to criticise you for not addressing the incident on a train in Atlanta, back in May, where two black transgender women were physically assaulted by several men, and one was stripped naked, with the only intervention by the other passengers being that several of them got out their phones to tape the show.

    Tony, I followed your link. Did you post it hoping most people won’t? Most of those tumblr entries are trans people hating on women.

    You really must be reading a different link. Most of that is people, some of whom are trans, but others might be trans or might not, I don’t know (nor does it really matter) giving fairly solid evidence of the hatred TERFs have towards trans women in the form of personal accounts of violence being directed at them by TERFs, links to TERFs specifically saying things like ‘all trans women should be killed’, and similar things like that.

    I’d like to suggest to every woman reading this thread to go back and substitute woman or female for every occurrence you see of the word TERF. See how comfortable you feel about those accusations when the “othering” is removed.

    This makes no sense. The term ‘TERF’ is quite specifically meant to describe people who fit a particular criteria, so changing the term changes the meaning. Saying this only makes it look like you have some confusion over what words actually are and how they work.

    These women are just trying to live their lives without males and it is bringing them a shitstorm of male violence.

    No, they’re actually trying to dictate that the people they perceive as being men MUST conform to what they dictate is man-like behaviour, and it’s bringing them a shitstorm of criticism. If there is any actual violence directed at them then, yes, that is to be condemned, but, as I already said, from what I can see, any violence directed against TERFs in general is far outweighed by violence directed at trans women by TERFs in general.

  70. korensnow says

    I’ve been a gamer since I was three and got my first gaming console (Nintendo), though I never stuck with a “gaming community” or read much reviewer stuff. I have been following this Sarkeesian thing though. While I do agree that Anita may have misrepresented one or two games, I think her efforts are for the most part good. The level of misogyny in games is out of control, I know my angry peers would say “Oh rape happens in the real world so it’s okay for video games” but a lot of horrible things happen in the real world that game devs don’t touch on as much because they know EVERYONE would find it disturbing: How come you don’t see rampant child molestation?

    I think that Misogyny gets a pass because most men don’t find it uncomfortable. When I say we don’t find it uncomfortable I don’t mean we all like it: Seeing a rape scene or domestic violence scene just makes me want to stop or prevent it (Male Power Fantasy)

    I don’t know if I’m right in my assumptions, but regardless I agree that every game dev should review Anita’s videos. I don’t want these Game Dev’s to consider this “Policing Them”, I want them to think about the implications every time they do a damsel in distress, sexy seductress or an attempted rape in their games, I want them to consider how much victimization is in their games already, and whether or not they need any of it.