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Harassment in gaming

Hussar

Legend
Wow. That's brutal. Not totally shocking, but brutal. Heck, even in somewhere as open minded as En World, all you have to do is start up a "chainmail bikinis" thread and you'll see all sorts of this kind of misogyny.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
I've been very fortunate. I'm a black guy in the hobby since '77, and I've only personally encountered one other gamer I'm pretty sure was racist, and AFAIK, I don't think the others in the game group realized it.

OTOH, I've seen some of the behavior women get subjected to in comic and hobby shops. In one, I remember a woman mistakenly walking into the game store- it was right next door to a salon- and @5' into the place, she realized her error as the store went dead quiet and every guy (that I could see) in the store was staring at her. (I generated a similar reaction walking into a C&W bar, once.)
 

Rechan

Villager
I was sorely tempted to post this link, so I'm glad someone did.

Nerd culture is going through a social upheaval right now, with these sorts of things going on in the videogame fandoms (Gamergate), the SF/F writing community (Rabid/Sad puppies), this degree of aggressive, polarized social war going on. I'm sad to see it in the gaming community.

Tabletop has always been a super niche fringe community. For gaming to continue, we can't afford to let such unpleasant behavior turn people away. And this sort of thing will snowball. One person saying they have this problem will contribute to someoen who hears about it deciding not to play. Gaing is one of those hobbies that seems to get sacrificed for ANY sort of RL reason (I call it the "activity of least commitment"); adding this to the list of things pushing people away hurts the game. And we all know how "no game is better than a bad game", with people who have Bad habits.

If you see/hear people in your group, or around you in a public nerd space being toxic, you gotta say something. Don't invite those people back. The mere suggestion that "hey that kind of stuff isn't welcome here" is often all it takes to halt it in its tracks.
 
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Elf Witch

Villager
I saw this on Facebook in several places and while it generate some good discussion a lot was drowned out by the old " I have never seen it so it does not exist" that and the "where is the evidence". :erm:

Even when several female gamer spoke up they were ignored. I will admit that the title can be a bit provocative and I understand that a lot of cis white guys are getting upset because they think all men are being blamed but that is not true.

I have been in gaming and other geek fandoms since 1975. Here is my experience. At the 1976 Worldcon when I was 18 I was in an elevator in the Fountinblue hotel. A famous writer got on he had been drinking he started coming on to me and then he grabbed my crotch. I was shocked and didn't know how to respond. I told con security about it and was told yeah he gets like that after a few drinks just try and avoid him. During the 80s there was a few well known writers and editors that we knew were leeches they harassed female writers, editors and fans. Basically how the con staff handled it was to warn us to watch out for it. Basically these guys were allowed to get away with it and the onus for protecting ourselves was placed on us.

I have to say now many cons are finally taking a stance against harassment of any kind and it has been openly acknowledged as a problem at least with many literary cons run by fans. I understand both Comic Con and Dragoncon claim to have anti harassment policies but good luck getting them enforced. A friend of mine two years ago took her 13 year old daughter to a large run for profit con in Miami she is a comic geek and so his her daughter. Her daughter dressed up as Supergirl not the micro mini crop top of the comic but the version from the older comics. When she bent over to take a drink some creep fondled her. Her mom complained to security and it was dismissed two things were said one that it was all the cosplaying girls dressing like sluts who were getting the guys riled up and secondly that her daughter should have been more careful. I guess the message is if you dare to bend over to take a drink you are asking for it. They have not been back to any con since.

In the 1980s I stopped playing DnD one reason because the games I was finding was filled with socially maladjusted guys. My one experience playing in a game store turned me off that. The DM had us captured and since I was the only female PC he had my character raped and he went into graphic descriptions of what was happening to my character. I asked him to stop that it was making me uncomfortable. We had words and I started to cry which I do when I get really angry he stated mocking me. Several of the other players were very uncomfortable and got up and left. A couple of the other players took the DM side and said I was being over sensitive it was only game. The game broke up and the DM complained to the store owner that I had caused drama and disrupted his game so I was one that was banned.

There was so much subtle sexism from DMs enforcing strength caps on female PCs to coming up with some off the wall house rules to handle realism of having a female PC. I remember one DM who had kept track of female PCs cycles because it was important to know if they were menstruating because that made them have minuses to will saves but hey we were allowed to rage. :eek:

If you tried to speak out about it then you were told you were over sensitive or causing drama. So as a busy mom of a young child I dropped gaming for my other geek hobbies. I did start playing again in the late 80s but DnD I played Hero or Vampire the Masquerade. When I started playing DnD again with some trepidation I found a group that still has member I play with today that was in mid 90s.

Since I don't play in stores or cons I can't speak about what happens there from personal experience but I have read other women gamers saying that harassment sometimes still happens.

I have played with a lot of great guys since the 90s. My son's gaming group has female players in it. So I know that not all male gamers are sexist jerks. I also don't have any trouble walking into a game store now but then I am also 58 and over weight so I am not really a target for it. It would be like harassing your mother.

I do think that all of us should do what we can to make our hobby inviting to anyone who wants to play.
 
The things she describes are horrible, and anyone who was there for those incidents who knowingly allowed them, ignored them, or refused to back her up are to blame, too.

I have a problem with this one statement, though:

>Men can shout all they like that #notallmen
>harass women, but as long as gamers defend
>their bigoted behaviour as a “sense of humour”
>(implying that women who don’t like being groped
>are somehow at fault), #allmen are complicit
>in the harassment.

All men are not gamers. Not all gamers defend the type of behavior she talks about, even when the bad guy in the scenario tries to claim it was a joke. Therefore, not all men are complicit in the harrassment. I hope she just worded that poorly.
 
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Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
By saying "not all men" you're acting defensively, and trying to shift the conversation away from the problem. It doesn't help.
 
No, I was just pointing out the inherent problem with making a sweeping generalization about an entire gender in an article which is pointing out the serious effects of sexism and gender discrimination. That's the type of thing that can weaken a strong article. I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt by assuming that it was just poor wording on her part.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Her approach to the issue of "not all men" is flawed. That is largely beside the point, but perhaps we should quickly address it so we can move on.

The defensive "not all men" stance is understandable - when someone says, "men do this" it does seem a pretty sweeping statement. It *reads* like stereotyping, and nobody likes to be stereotyped. Unfortunately, the defensive reaction does redirect the conversation to the innocence of some men, rather than on the actual problem.

So, there's a bit of a flaw on both sides - the generalized statement of, "men do this," is not as well-formed as it might be, and the response misses the actual point. The most constructive form of the conversation (at least the most that we can usually hope for) should go like this:

"Men harass women."
"Well, not *all* men harass women..."
"Okay, that is true. But *enough* men do it that there's a serious problem. Can we discuss that serious problem, please? I'm hoping you can be part of the solution."

Because, ultimately, that *is* the point. Men who *don't* harass women are in a position to apply peer pressure to help stop this behavior.

So, having noted this typical flaw in the argument, can we talk about the serious problem, please?
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Thank you [MENTION=177]Umbran[/MENTION]

So... what can we do, as individual gamers? Well... I know this part:

1: don't be a creep/harasser/rapist

2: Try to let go of sexist ideas, and specifically the notion that RPGs is a "guy thing". When I was young I just assumed that RPGs were a guy thing, same way GI-JOEs were a guy things and dolls a girl thing. (And yes, GI-JOEs *are* little dolls...). There is absolutely no reason why women shouldn't be about 50% of pen and paper RPG gamers. None.

3: Listen to women. If a woman tells you "I feel this art is demeaning" don't argue with her. If you don't get it, ask her why (and TONE of voice is important here people). As a white guy, I don't get to decide if using the N word is offensive, and I don't get to decide if a piece of art is offensive to women. And if a woman tells you she's been harassed or worse, for the love of god do something.

4: If another guy does or says something creepy, call them out on it, EVEN if there are no women present. When a rapist makes a rape joke around other guys, he's gauging the audience.

But appart from that... I don't know? :(
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
One thing I think is important to point out is that- when it comes to bullying and verbal/physical assaults- a lot of victimizers are victims themselves. The acts of aggression towards those they think are weaker is a maladaptive way to regain power they feel they have lost. I wouldn't be surprised to find out most of our fellow gamers who commit these heinous acts were themselves bullied.

Not that that's an excuse, of course, nor is it a reason for those of us who are witnesses to such behavior to tolerate it. Just something to keep in mind: the ones doing the hurting may be wounded themselves. Merely reacting with angry confrontation may not achieve the desired result
 
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Ovinomancer

Flip Nazi
By saying "not all men" you're acting defensively, and trying to shift the conversation away from the problem. It doesn't help.
If someone tells you that that guy over there harassed them, and you respond 'not all men harass,' then, yes, you're a douchecopter and are trivializing the issue.

If someone tells you that there's a white male terrorism problem in gaming, though, they've steered away from this issue with a bombastic, racist, sexist statement, and your response of 'not all white men terrorism gaming' is perfectly valid and not steering away from the problem because the problem was misstated. Telling people getting broadbrushed with racist and sexist remarks accusing them of terrorism that they can't defend against themselves because there's some real problem behind the rhetoric is cr*p. First, I'd ask that you discuss the actual problem without the broad brush insults and then I'd be happy to discuss it.

There is a large contingent of socially maladjusted men in gaming that do take out their social inadequacies unfairly on women and minorities. But that's an issue of spotlighting the actual behavior when it happens, not saying that gaming has a white male terrorism problem. This is an issue fixed by addressing individuals, not blacklisting entire demographics.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
First, I'd ask that you discuss the actual problem without the broad brush insults and then I'd be happy to discuss it.
So this person, who is fed up and mad as hell at all this harassment non-sense, must first adjust her messaging so not to offend your sensibilities. Until this is done, you are unwilling to address or even discuss the problem. Proper messaging is a bigger priority than respecting women.

I know that's not what you wanted to say... but that's effectively what you are saying. Umbran addressed this issue already. Can we move on and actually talk about the issue?
 

Mallus

Hero
3: Listen to women. If a woman tells you "I feel this art is demeaning" don't argue with her. If you don't get it, ask her why (and TONE of voice is important here people). As a white guy, I don't get to decide if using the N word is offensive, and I don't get to decide if a piece of art is offensive to women. And if a woman tells you she's been harassed or worse, for the love of god do something.
Your first 2 points are hard (and wrong) to argue with, but this one here is, ahem, problematic. You're conflating 3 separate things:

#1 A woman's response to a piece of art.

#2 A Black person's response to a racial epithet associated with centuries of both institutional and casual racism.

#3 A woman reporting sexual harassment and/or assault.

Muddying these things together muddies the point being made. Disagreements over aesthetics are different than one's about the use of racist invective. Besides, a single woman can't decide if a piece of art is demeaning to women. Only herself. Some woman hate pin-up art. Others create it. We need spaces that accommodate both.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Mallus, my intention wasn't to conflate them but I can see how it came across that way. Sorry about that :/

What I was trying to emphasize was the importance of listening, and also how we don't get to decide what is offensive to someone else - ie not to negate other people's experiences.
 

Curmudjinn

Explorer
Maybe my experiences in role-playing groups are an anomaly, but in face-to-face games with uncomfortable or harassing, sexual-based issues, about 80% of the time was by a female gamer towards others(males and females both) at the table.
Let me sternly say, I absolutely don't condone this from men or women towards unconsenting parties. I've read a lot about this problem of sexism from male gamers, but aside from online console games, I haven't seen much of it.

It needs to be stamped out immediately by all who witness it. The person being sexually persecuted or advanced upon should never have to deal with this alone in a group of friends or players.

Practice being good human beings.
 

innerdude

Adventurer
In response to the OP ---

It sucks. All of it.

It sucks that it happens at all. It sucks that the described responses to and treatment of those that report harassment are unresponsive at best and hostile at worst. It sucks that there is a correlation between those who engage in these kinds of behaviors and geek culture.

I am truly baffled by any male who would presume, under any circumstances, that they are allowed to physically touch someone they've never met, beyond a conventional, Western-society handshake.

I don't know what preventative measures can be taken to prevent these kinds of abuses and intolerable behaviors, but clearly there needs to be some work and research done. An easy one for "geek" conventions --- if there any reports of inappropriate contact regarding a convention-goer, the accused immediately has their credentials / pass canceled and are escorted from the premises. No follow-up needed, no witnesses required other than the word of the person making the accusation.

Is that possibly reactionary? Maybe. Is there potential for abuse for that kind of policy? Yes. There will most certainly be cases where an accused person would be wrongfully removed from a convention. But the staggering reported numbers would seem to justify such a policy. I've never been to a "con" of any kind, so I don't know if these kinds of policies are already in place. I know that the regional ComicCon closest to me, in Salt Lake City, is one of the most well-attended regional events of its kind, but I've never looked into their attendee policies.

For stuff happening at FLGSes? That's obviously business management's issue to deal with on a store-by-store basis, but other in-store participants also need to be willing to stand up and support those who have been treated inappropriately.

I don't know if there's any correlation between fantasy art and this kind of behavior, but I'm always surprised when I do a Google search for "fantasy warrior art" and see how much of that art is overtly sexualized, and in more cases than not the art in question is of women.

I also have to be realistic to know that I may in the past have unknowingly engaged in sexist behavior or had sexist attitudes, and that I should do my utmost to change those when I'm aware of them. In that sense it's good to hear things like this so as to take a step back and really think and evaluate how I can avoid being a problem and contribute to solutions in the future.
 

Mallus

Hero
Mallus, my intention wasn't to conflate them but I can see how it came across that way. Sorry about that :/
Hey, no need for sorry - I felt a bit like I was nitpicking. But I'm wary of social justice arguments that seem to draw unhelpful equivalencies.

What I was trying to emphasize was the importance of listening, and also how we don't get to decide what is offensive to someone else - ie not to negate other people's experiences.
Yeah, listening is important. But the harder part comes after, when you need to evaluate if their grievance has merit, and, if so, what action can and should be taken. To acknowledge a person's feelings isn't the same thing as agreeing they're right. It's usually so much messier.

The one bright side to all this is there are concrete measures that can be taken. Public gaming spaces like conventions and stores can be made safer and better with strong anti-harassment policies. On the individual level, each one of us can act better in places where we're hosting/running the show, or at least leave games/spaces we're not comfortable.
 

Elf Witch

Villager
I would like to make a comment on the subject of art in gaming. One of the things that has always bothered me was the pin up art for female PCs. I have nothing against pin up art I always thought Vargas's pin ups were sexy. But there is a time and place for it.

The litmus test for me is this would you dress a male PC in this and would you put them in that pose? If the answer is no then don't do it for a female. I am no talking about fantasy art work in general just gaming there is room in art for sexy beefcake and cheesecake but unless the PC is a succubus/incubus or they ply their trade in seduction why are we dressing female PCs as some kind of sexual fantasy.

And yes I know some women like that and want their female PC to run around in a chainmail bikini and that is fine and they go on the internet and find plenty of artwork to represent their PC. I just think that it is a turn off for a lot of female players and does not belong in artwork in game books.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
If someone tells you that there's a white male terrorism problem in gaming, though, they've steered away from this issue with a bombastic, racist, sexist statement, and your response of 'not all white men terrorism gaming' is perfectly valid and not steering away from the problem because the problem was misstated.
Actually, if there is widespread harassment, and the perpetrators are overwhelmingly white and male, then perhaps they have a point. You know about "the tone argument" yes? It is a logical fallacy - that an argument can be dismissed based on its presentation, rather than its content.

That it is stated in a bombastic or hyperbolic manner does not change the actual facts of the situation, which are also presented in the piece. What you are saying amounts to, "I'm sorry that you were given death threats many times over the years by men, but until such time as you can phrase your argument in such a way as I am not personally put out by it, I'm going to dismiss you for misstating your argument."

Dismissing them for hyperbole does nothing to resolve the real issues that are present. If you look past the overstatement, and address the real issues, then the need to overstate the case will disappear. Prove to them that you're listening, and they won't have to scream to be heard. Stick your fingers in your ears and sing, "LALALA! I'm not listening!" will tend to make them yell louder. You are, in essence, exerting your power over them, by insisting that you will not pay attention until *your* sensibilities are not met.

Telling people getting broadbrushed with racist and sexist remarks accusing them of terrorism that they can't defend against themselves because there's some real problem behind the rhetoric is cr*p.
Yes, it is. However, if you are a member of a group that doesn't have to take all that much crap, then maybe it makes more sense to take some crap and get to the point, rather than get into a crap-shoveling contest.

There is a large contingent of socially maladjusted men in gaming that do take out their social inadequacies unfairly on women and minorities. But that's an issue of spotlighting the actual behavior when it happens, not saying that gaming has a white male terrorism problem. This is an issue fixed by addressing individuals, not blacklisting entire demographics.
Chicken meet egg. How do you make it so that it gets addressed on the individual level, unless you raise the issue more broadly?

This is another answer to the "not all men" argument: Maybe not all men, but yes *all women*. This is not obvious to men, unless women tell them. Men must be told en masse. That's what this piece is about - another effort to inform the broad audience that the problem still exists, and men should step up to help fix it.
 

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