Yesterday was pretty typical in three ways. First, people dumped a bunch a hate on someone at BioWare, blaming them for “ruining” a particular franchise (in this case, Dragon Age). Second, people chose to express their disappointment with this person’s contribution to Dragon Age by taking potshots at her appearance and slinging gender-based insults like “whore.” (Jim Sterling provides a pretty good summary of the whole ugly mess, so feel free to check that out before soldiering on.) The third thing that happened was the loud and inevitable protest over the gaming populace belittling this woman, Jennifer Hepler, simply because she was a woman. (To be perfectly clear, not all of the commentary directed at her was out of line – much of it had to do with just her work and/or apparent fitness to do the job being asked of her, not what she looked like. ) There was a call to action, as there always is, to end the sort of mud-slinging that led to Hepler’s request to be removed from Twitter. But I’d really rather it continued. Please, by all means, keep on deriding females you don’t agree with by calling them whores or saying that someone should shove a cock in their mouths. I’d really consider it a personal favor if you did.
See, I’m a really busy person, and while I do my best to communicate with the people who take the time to post comments either on this blog or over at The Escapist, or who message me over Twitter, or contact me any of the number of other possible ways you can find me, the sad truth is that I simply don’t have time to answer every single last one of them. And if the sole substance of your commentary is that you wouldn’t fuck me, or that I’m fat/ugly/old (see also that bit about not fucking me), that I should be raped to death (anally seems to be the preference), or that the only reason I’m currently employed is because I fucked someone, then I know immediately that you are either a troll or a fool and I needn’t waste any time paying attention to you. It would really, really help me thin the herd if those of you incapable of verbally grappling with a woman without resorting to referencing her physicality would just keep on going that route. No, really, I’m serious. It’d be a real time saver.
I’m not alone in that thinking, by the way. I asked some colleagues of mine – all men, I might add – if they believed that taking abuse was in our job description, and most of them admitted that yeah, it probably is. Some of them have received death threats. Others have received hate mail based on their appearance. Their genitals (and the potency thereof) have been discussed in disturbing detail, and of course they’re all homosexual, because apparently that’s just the worst thing a person could ever possibly be. (I get that one a lot, too, like calling me “gay” is some kind of venomous condemnation. Gay, straight, or otherwise, I’d still have trouble finding a significant other willing to put up with my reality TV obsession.) While none of us particularly enjoy reading through posts where readers fantasize about caving in our skulls or impaling us because we dared to like a game that they hate (or hate one they love), such posts don’t really have the impact the authors hope they will. They don’t make us rethink our positions on anything, they don’t drive us to abandon game journalism, we don’t suddenly understand how wrong we’ve been and mend our ways. We just call you an asshole and go about our business. Because, to paraphrase Labyrinth (which doesn’t age particularly well, I must concede), you have no power over us.
You are sound and fury signifying nothing. You are intellectually bankrupt, small and boring. We have what you want – maybe it’s a job in the industry, maybe it’s a voice that people listen to, or maybe it’s just the spotlight – and you despise us for it. We’re cool with that. Yes, yes, we’re all stupid, corrupt, fat virgins who are also gay and may also be hygienically-challenged and/or living in a basement. We know. It’s all been said before, many, many times and will be said again. So keep on slinging that bile.
Or…instead, you could do something really daring and speak to us like we’re reasonable human beings worth of respect. Even if you disagree with us. Even if you think we’re wrong. Hell, especially when you think we’re wrong. Don’t waste your chance to interact with us by calling us names – explain your point of view. Help us understand your perspective, assuming you understand it yourself. We don’t mind when you have an opposing point of view, we really don’t – we welcome the chance to trade ideas and expand the collective understanding of a particular subject. None of us think we’re the final word on anything (well, I am the Grand Arbiter of Cute, but other than that, we’re pretty wide open), and are willing to be persuaded by a good argument. The people who were taking issue with Jennifer Hepler because she admitted she didn’t like playing games might not have really understood the point she was trying to make, but they weren’t wrong to say that her disinterest made them uneasy. That’s a conversation worth having – does a person really need to love playing games in order to be good at crafting them? – but a conversation can’t take place when one side is shouting nothing but hate speech.
But, hey, if you can’t get over the fact that I’m a broad and find yourself fixating on things like my snatch when it comes to pointing out my inadequacies, that’s fine, too. Like I said, you’re just helping me streamline my day.