On my post calling for those involved in video games to let me know about any experiences of sexism, I received some comments that appear to be off-topic and just plain strange. Consider this one.
First, there’s no need to “interpret” anything. I quite explicitly state in the title I need others’ help with this topic. I’ve not claimed to be an expert, to be writing the definitive view, or anything of the sort. I’m interested in hearing stories, seeing what kind of options are available to combat this sort of horrible discrimination, how extensive the problem is, and so on.
Second, when did “having agenda” come to mean “advocating a viewpoint I oppose”? My agenda isn’t outlined by our anonymous commenter, but all that’s necessary is to merely accuse me of having one. Apparently, it’s impossible that one’s agenda is to be making non-males feel less targets of hate, to make marginalised people feel more welcome in yet another area of life. That is my agenda.
Weirdly, in a way, the commenter is right: I do know little about this topic and I do have an agenda. But the post is about trying to find out what to do about both.
Perhaps, I’m wrong: perhaps there’s nothing I or you can do, perhaps I’m exaggerating the problem, perhaps I’m underestimating, etc. But these perhaps will be corrected or confirmed with data, not reactions that claim I “have agendas”. I’d hope that even my commenter agrees that making spaces safer, more inclusive and less exclusionary is a good thing. Once we agree on that, then s/he can tell me why I’m wrong going about achieving this goal by trying to find out more.
Third, this sentence is confusing: “I think there are a zillion bloggers and pundits and reporters that believe this is reasonable, ethical, and profitable.” What is “this”?
However, it’s the final sentence which not only confirms more awareness, more focus, more writing on this topic, but is also a call for acting immorally.
“I’d prefer you just shut up and listen unless you have real life experience on this.”
What does my experience have to do with this topic? Whether I have or have not experienced discrimination is irrelevant to whether most of you who are not male, my friends who are not male, most of my colleagues who are not male, my cousins, my nieces, feel unwelcome to an industry that I consider important – because they feel excluded on many levels (levels I do not know about, being male, not playing online games, not being threatened with rape or death, not attending gaming conventions, etc.).
Indeed, it’s none of this commenter or anyone’s business what’s happened to me: that doesn’t make our options or others’ experiences less important to consider. Indeed, it would be selfish and immoral for us to fight for causes that only we have experienced. I will probably never experience the oppression that comes from sexual orientation, but that’s never and will never stop me speaking out against homophobia – will this commenter tell me to “shut up and listen unless you have real life experience on this”, when pointing out homophobia, or racism, or capital punishment, or the many topics I’ve written and read about?
Also, this is “real life experience”! It’s just not mine.
But there are couples unable to marry, here, today, right now, because they are both men or both women; here, today, right now, women are being targeted or discriminated based solely on their sex; here, right now, today, abortion is outlawed, forced marriages occur, starvation happens, death and suffering flow through various rivers of life like a poisonous torrent of shit. And no, I’ve not experienced abortion, a forced marriage, starvation: Should I shut up about it?
Opening your eyes can mean opening your mouth, can mean pointing your finger. If you mean to tell me I should press that finger against my lips instead of aiming it in a direction I think deserves attention, then you simply have missed much of the point of my writings. In which case, you would need to convince me that all that I’m “allowed” to write about is that which I have personal life experience of – which would make nearly all of my writing not only boring, but immoral, since my writing could be aimed to change minds about important things (that do not actually effect me) that cause suffering to many other people.
Do I even need to mention the strangeness of a sentence telling me to “shut up and listen” on a post calling for people’s stories — for me to listen to?