This one’s been bothering me lately and I wonder if it’s been bothering anyone else so I thought I’d write about it.
Recently, I got to know a group of guys that work across the street from where I work. Where they work is where I used to like writing my book. One of them eventually asked, “Where do you get the inspiration from?” and I replied, “The games that I played growing up and continue to play”. Suddenly, my cool levels in their eyes shot through the roof.
“Oh yeah, like what titles?”
So I listed a bunch of them and they’d go, “Oh yeah that’s a good one” or “Did you honestly like that one?” but more often, “Not familiar with that one”. Now I fit society’s expectations of what women should look like and one of them asked me out not too long after this.
Before I say anything else, I am not complaining about guys asking me out or “this is a pretty girl’s problem”. No no no no no. While I find myself good-looking, as anyone with a healthy dose of confidence should, this isn’t about being pretty.
This is about being fetishised by a subculture.
When I peruse GameStop, I get into conversations with the employees there, generally guys, and they say, “What are you looking for today? Something for your boyfriend maybe?”
So I reply, “Actually I was wondering what other JRPGs are out. I just finished a Tales game and while I’m currently playing an Atelier title, I just wanted to see what else was out there”. Now, GameStop employees should be used to seeing gamer girls, right? At least I would think so! But I cannot tell you how often I’ve been asked something like that and when I finish my sentence, their mouth drops or their eyes pop. More often than not, I end up selling them on why to play a certain game and I don’t work there. Then, they ask for my name and if I will regularly go to that location. Now, I should admit that some of them are professional. Some of them are merely excited to talk about one of their favourite hobbies, as am I. But the others try to talk to me for twenty, thirty, some as much as an hour about videogames because they’re so surprised that I play.
Now I’ve never run into someone that’s like, “So you’re a gamer girl huh?” and they try to one-up me on trivia about a game. I’ve heard stories of that happening but I believe it doesn’t happen to me because I supply so much information about the games I play that they believe I’m the real deal, even though there are girls out there who haven’t been believed they enjoy a fandom as much as the next nerd. And why they believe that I’m the real deal over someone else just based on how much I talk is ridiculous.
I’ve been told, “Thank you for getting my girlfriend into videogames” and “I’ve heard of gamer girls but never actually met one in real life. It’s weird to think that you actually exist”.
I’ve been sent this on more than one occasion:
with a tagline of, “C’mon, babe, I know you play so why don’t you play with me?;)”
When I used to play online, “Are you naked right now?”, “Let me see your tits, hun” or “Cute ass”. Sometimes I’d be like WTF! And they’d say “wc” which means wrong chat but we all really know the truth, don’t we? Too many guys online thought they were dating me or we had a thing or just because they flirted with me that one time we were now partners forever together. Now anyone who keeps up with what it’s like to be a woman online knows this isn’t anything new. Thankfully I very rarely got into anything verbally-abusive. Part of it may be that I was well-known on my server and they knew they’d still run into me. I think guys on Tinder and whatever think they can be an ass because they’ll never talk to you or see you again. Still, guys’d see my pics up on the guild website and they’d think it was okay to cyber (sext) me. There was a guy who would ask me to send him a pic of myself everyday to him. I never did but “srsly LOL o.o,,”.
I used to take pride that I had something in common with guys, that I could talk to any of them because I also played, and they’d think I was immediately cool. But that “pride” is equivalent to a girl finding pride that an older man likes her. I’d like to caveat that I thought that in sixth grade, well before my MMO days and days of being fetishised.
And I do want to say not every guy is like this. Some of my best friends I met on the MMO and my best friend in real life and I will play together when we hang out.
Of course, none of it will stop me from playing games. I’ve done it all my life and a future post is going to discuss one of my favourites. But I know none of this happens to guys. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.
Does anyone remember when EA asked fans to pick which FemShep they liked best?
I know already a lot of articles that’ve discussed this which you should read if you are unfamiliar. Is anyone surprised #5 won? That topic, my friends, is for another day on privilege and beauty standards and all that. But, let’s just process what I’ve already told you because it’s a lot.
EA created a beauty pageant for guys to pick which girl was the hottest. She is known as FemShep and not Shep when she is only Shep. She happens to be female and what everyone refers to as Shep happens to be male. If they’re literally the same character, just a different gender, why are we differentiating? Now Shepard, male and female, is an awesome character. Why should one be only noted for their looks and not the other?
My main point is this: guys are told that if FemShep 1-6 is the litter, they can pick their favourite of the litter and keep her, effectively objectifying women. I’m not saying guys can’t help themselves when they objectify us because they totally can. I’m saying they’re not being taught how to not objectify, or rather, the lessons are out there and they’re not willing to listen and learn. Of course, that goes back to male privilege and as much as I love intersectionality, I’m going to hold back on privilege discussions today.
Here is my call to action: Guys, understand no one questions if you honestly play videogames, no one tries to sexualise you while you play, and be more respectful of your female counterparts. We may just kick your ass for it. Girls, do not try to de-escalate or minimise a situation because you don’t feel like dealing with it. I know that’s hard and unfair but they won’t learn if you don’t tell them you don’t like it.
As for me, I’m sick of it. Y’all can talk to me about games but do not fetishise me because of my hobby. I’m too smart to not see what you’re doing.