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February 21, 2005

video game harassment

[Reposted from Utopian Hell]

Stumbled on this one while on my lunch break and searching for patch notes for World of Warcraft. It seems you’ve got a massive pole up your ass if you can’t just take male harassment in MMOs.

The thread is here. I’ll just paraphrase it. A female player logged into her female character and was greeted by a male who told her she had a nice chest. She doesn’t say exactly what he says, but it offended her, so she told him to knock it off and that she was reporting him. He went on to scold her about how her doing that would ruin the game for everyone else, and that it was just good fun.

Now, granted, she over-reacted a little bit (she said she never wanted to play the character again because of the comment), but it wasn’t necessarily the original poster’s upset about the avatar having big tits that got me riled, either. It was the responses of other people in the community. Apparently, if you don’t just roll over and take it, you’re just a big stick in the mud. Oh, and didn’t they tell you that video games are a boy’s world, and you should just deal with it?

Read on, my friend…

Sounds to me like you’re a touchy broad who has a weight problem and spends too much time at home. - Mariousmoo

I’m a woman as well, get over it.
Seeing as the game was created by men, as is evidenced by the female Night Elf avatar and her dance, just deal with it.
- Absalom

/ignore is there. Use it and stop making a big deal out of what some doofus said to your avatar ingame.
Please try to act like an adult (even if you’re not one - it’s good practice.) and just forget that idiots like whoever was bugging you even exist.
Yesterday in Darnassus somebody came up to one of my female alts and said “I’ll give you 10s to strip.” I did the /boggle emote, /ignored him and walked away.
Simple as that.
- Usdachoice

In public, if a perfect stranger walks up, says some remark about your breasts and then walks away, there’s really nothing you can do about it. He didn’t harm you and is not continuing to harrass you so the cops will not do anything.
So what he did is more like my example and nothing like yours…
Get over it. People are jerks…grow a thicker skin.
- Rotaerc

you need some sex and quick…
- Darkseeker

Are you friends with the Kobe Bryant Accuser?
Also, nice butt.
- Kressa

You fail life. What is it that ever single species in the known universe has in common? Reproduction in some way shape or form. If your a lonly overweight woman and you live off of twinkies and icecream and no one loves you is no reason to be all grumpy. Put down the Rocky Road and pick up an apple. Stop stitting around and feeling sorry for yourself and go out and move a little.
- Dozimbar

All women characters should never get any gear to wear, walk around in the nude, should be created as well endowed blondes, and do nothing but bounce around for everyone else because no women play online games.
And every dwarf should get three broads cuz we be that good lassie!
Have I ticked off the feminists yet? Play sims online.
- Jouphan

“Hey, it’s just all in good fun.” has to be the most commonly trotted-out, ridiculously stupid, overblown excuse I’ve ever heard in my entire fucking life, and anyone that uses it should promptly be drug out in the street, shot in the head, and be left as an example to anyone else that thinks it’s the best way to handle these situations. Hey, it was all in good fun! I didn’t hear her say no before I jammed my dick up her cunt. I thought she wanted it! Hey, it was all in good fun! I didn’t realize that there were roofies in her drink. Hey, it was all in good fun! I didn’t think she’d find it insulting when I told her what I wanted to do to her in the backseat of my Nova.

How on earth any of these people can come up with the nerve to say that making degrading sexual remarks to women is ‘fun’, I’ll never understand. If that’s fun, these people need therapists, and a good dose of reality (or maybe just about two days in the pumps of a female secretary in the 60s).

On the Internet, no one knows you’re dick-less.

Posted by zephoria at 01:21 AM in Gaming | Permalink


This doesn't surprise me.

Female paramedics said the same things and worse to me when I reported the firefighters at our station for sexually harassing one of the female paramedics. I was called a traitor, told that I would not be backed up in dangerous situations, and had it explained to me that sexual harassment was something to be accepted because "It's a man's world." That I did not engage in similar harassment led one woman to question if I was gay.

I'm not surprised at all.

Posted by: Rob at Feb 21, 2005 7:58:20 AM

I am not surprised, but depressed and shocked.

We saw the same thing during the Clarence Thomas trial, as Anita Hill was not only betraying her sex, but also her ethnicity....

One thing I will say here Danah, is that while the player's actions might seem extreme (that she never wanted to play the character again), we cannot discount her experience or chastise her for not wanting to play anymore. Harassment online (in the office, in labs, on the streets etc) deters many women from using the internet. It's tiresome and intrusive. While my response or reaction may not have been the same as hers, I can't say that what she did was an overreaction - it's her perrogative....

Thanks for posting this and bringing it to our attention. It reaffirms why I do the research I do.

Posted by: Netwoman at Feb 22, 2005 10:05:34 PM

There's an interesting tension between established feminist arguments about offline sexism (challenge harassment in the workplace, report rape, press charges against an abusive partner...) and the recommended response to the online equivalent, trolls and griefers, which has always been to just ignore them.

But if there is a growing sense of user entitlement and citizenship in virtual worlds, as suggested by the occurence of virtual protests, why should sexism go unchallenged? And if the average MMORPG player spends 22 hours a week online, as Nick Yee (an anthropologist of virtual worlds) suggests, is it really so easy to just ignore a threatening in-game experience?

Game designers are realising that griefers are bad for business and trying to limit their impact but I suspect that with the emergence of adult games like Sociolotron - an MMORPG that gives players a platform where they can act out a wide range of fantasies, including rape - the problem of sexist griefing is going to become more acute. After all, if Richard Bartle is correct when he says, "Players view all their subsequent virtual worlds in the light cast from their first one. They will demand that features from their first world be added to their current world..." then surely this goes for social practices at least as much as for designed features?

(Note to self: Must read Julian Dibbell's A Rape in Cyberspace.)

Posted by: Foe at Feb 23, 2005 8:12:41 AM

I find this whole post annoying. Which is the offensive act really? The comment on the features of a Female features? Or
all the justifications of others for it? Really - I'd like to have people who get offended by my middle finger stay off the road forever. What is harassment in virtual reality? "hey your character has huge feet" - omg i'll never play that game again. go cry me a river. So it's only wrong if it points out female mammaries and pudenda? pulease. I'd rather not live in a politically correct virtual world.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward at Feb 24, 2005 11:52:32 AM

Ian Bogosh posting again, perchance? You are a coward, and an idiot as well.

Posted by: marnie at Feb 25, 2005 6:50:42 PM

My last "sexual harassment" encounter online was over a year ago in FFXI, and I downplay the fact that I'm female as much as possible to people I don't know. I had a guy walk up to me and ask for a blowjob. I simply told him I was reporting him, and had another player in the area actually start verbally attacking my harasser. My online sexual harassment experiences are tame in comparison to some that I've heard (one girl was overburdened in UO, leaving her unable to escape a guy who was quite vivid in his description of raping her).

Judging from the quoted comments (thread seems to be gone now?), they don't seem to think it's a big problem, but in reality, it happens a lot more often than it should. There is no virtual equivalent of a slap or throwing your drink in their face; a slap emote simply doesn't carry the same weight as a physical one. Things that are taboo in real life are seen as having no consequences online to those who have maturity issues.

Sadly, paging a GM is the only way to deal with them. An ignore option is not good enough because you can still see them and any gesture they may make (a bowing gesture in UO looked like "humping" if you stretched your imagination a little). A stalker isn't physically hurting me in real life, either, but s/he is threatening my sense of security. Stalking is also a crime in the real world.

I love how they're quick to assume every member of the fairer sex who plays video games is overweight and sex deprived. The same could be said for those who come to the defense of their brother-in-arms who likes to ogle at virtual boobies.

Posted by: c. s. at Feb 26, 2005 11:20:23 AM

If she stopped playing what she liked in the game just bcoz that sexist, MCP said that, then he has won.

Nobody should ever be harrassed when playing games or in the real world.

Posted by: MJ at Feb 27, 2005 2:52:38 AM

I play WOW too...as a female character. Why? Because all the 'boys' in game love to feel they're helping out a girl. I get things given to me, clothes, armour, food, potions - even weapons and cash. What do I do in return? Emote /blow them a kiss.

Yes, from a male point of view the Night Elf females are pretty well put together, and on my first day of playing I had a male character come up to mine and he typed 'press X'. I assumed it wasa trade thing, but no - my elf knelt...positioning my head at eye level with his groin.

I commented that he should go and work off some of his testosterone on some beastie somewhere, and he remarked 'It's just a joke'.

So - 'kneel bitch and suck my cock' is a joke huh? Even as a member of the much maligned male species I find this offensive in the extreme. How dare you presume to know me well enough to make crude and suggestive remarks.

Is THAT the difference? That in the real world he'd NEVER have said this to someone - unless they were perhaps really good friends messing around? Those barriers of personal space and respect just get washed away when there are no repercussions - even if embarrassment would be the only one faced in real life?

He then offered to trade and I got some very nice potions and a pair of high armour bracers out of it...am I a slut for accepting? Too damn right - and I'll take anything I can get for the poor saps who are prepared to give it...for a chance to hang out with a 'girl'...something they're unlikely to manage in real life.

And let's remember ladies - while these dick-less wonders are online, they're not adding to the gene pool.

Posted by: Phil at Feb 28, 2005 7:21:56 AM

What amazes me is the intelligence that folds itself behind a game? More women *(those who play games) are more to opt to games that last longer (more thought process) then men?
I have found that myself compared to those at the same intelligence level as myself have been more female. Thoughts?

Posted by: Pam McCratic at Feb 28, 2005 10:03:44 PM

I think to be honest it's the same in all forms of entertainment - men are stereotyped as loving action films, car chases, etc...whereas women it's all Bridget Jones and All About the Boy...

Don't get me wrong - there is of course crossover...one of my friends girlfriends loves Halo 2 with a passion - but the number of women you bump into on those kinds of games is a tiny fraction. On the PC, where there are no voice comms, it's hard to tell, on Xbox, or PS, it's easy to know whether it's M or F you're talking to.

Personally, I'd consider myself to be of reasonable intelligence and I enjoy both - action games, and something like Warcraft where there is more scope for intelligent character development.

Posted by: Phil at Mar 1, 2005 4:37:59 AM

*Sigh*, that's one of the reasons that I never play MMORPGs, because even if I were willing to pay a monthly fee for a game, there are too many assholes around.

I may be a guy but I prefer to avoid those kind of monkey-minded pests whenever possible. It's probably what drives my disinterest in graphics-intensive, publicly-marketed social video games.

Posted by: Stephan Sokolow at Mar 3, 2005 9:00:27 PM

I think it is all very sad. I am really sick of how graphic they are with women on video games. They don't have a bunch of naked guys running around because thats right women aren't the target market, men and little boys are.

I have been into video games for years and years and I hope to be able to play them with my kids but unfortunately they will not get to play the games where they have hootchy women that they can abuse.

Funny not many of the female characters have realistic breasts. Whats up with that?

It's all very sad that even in the video game world you can get harrassed being a woman.

And no we shouldn't just forget about it.

Posted by: Ikatron at Mar 7, 2005 1:19:16 PM

Actually - to a degree you're mistaken. The male characters are put together just as 'creatively'...if you want to run around in a leather loincloth sporting your pecs, abs and calf muscles that look like Arnie...then you can do.

Games like Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas (PS2), and Fable for the Xbox both had central male characters that could run around in their undies - (Union Jack ones in the case of Fable) if you so desired, and both games allowed you to customise your body by exercise, buffing and tattoos, hair, beards etc...

World of Warcraft gives both sexes the opportunity to select hair, body, facial features etc, and the girls are actually probably a respectable 'C', rather than the often expected triple 'F's. The men however tend to look a bit like Fabio...!

Posted by: Phil at Mar 8, 2005 5:30:53 AM

My friend Gus recently posted on her experience of being one of a handful of women in a roomful of men at an International Game Developers Association meeting. The title of her post: Open Letter to Game Designers: Don't Make Me Be That Bitch (or, Boobies!) Very relevant in the context of this discussion.

Posted by: Sarah at Mar 9, 2005 2:12:50 PM

Arg. Totally messed that last post up. Short version: my friend is Gus, her blog is The Dancing Sausage Web Journal, and the post that I referenced above refers to her experience as one of a handful of women in a crowd of men at a recent International Game Developers Association meeting.

Posted by: Sarah at Mar 9, 2005 2:15:19 PM

Good written I must say.
I agree withthe statement of shooting everyone who says "Hey, it's just for the good fun".
In WoW, I play a Nightelf Female although I am a Male IRL. I started out as a Nightelf Male, played many diffrent characrets and races such as Human Paladin to Tauren Hunter. I got stuck when I started roleplaying a Nightelf Female. I have earned valuable friends in the game ( who Im unfortunatly haven't been able to play with these past 2 days and 1-2days more to come due to game time expired T_T ), meet asses which my friends have instantly protected me from when they show up, done the same thing for the friends, gotten money stuff etc etc.
She was only meant to be a secondary character, but she turned out to be my main character and my former main character is deleted, never to come back again. THAT much fun is it to play her.

It so extreamly fun, everyone is nice to you just about and gives you free stuff just because you did /eye - /shy
when they walked by. I think that if anyone says something negativitly to you real females, you should do /slap on them instead of just ignoring. If you ignore, you show that you are weak if you slap, others will notice and some will do /cheer for you.

Why ignore when you can have fun mocking them back?
Show that you have some spine for once, I've never noticed a girl ever loved anyone 'cause they are to afraid of getting attached. Insert Insults Here<" then response with "Haha" and "Is that why you want me?" he will probably respond with "Who would ever want YOU!" then you say "Why are you hitting on me then?". If he stil don't stop insulting you, /laugh at him or remind him or "Section i" in the "Terms of Use" which states that insulting comments like those he is sending out is reasons to get him banned from the game.

This, I cannot understand:
"Yesterday in Darnassus somebody came up to one of my female alts and said “I’ll give you 10s to strip.” I did the /boggle emote, /ignored him and walked away.
Simple as that.
- Usdachoice"

I mean common now, its not that hard and it's easy money. You should have pressed him and said "Make it 1 gold and I'll think about it". Why do you think Nightelf Females dance like they do? Because, Blizzard wanted an exotic yet tempting dance for them because they lived for 10 000 years and all of a sudden becomes mortal. Example is Nightelf Males /flirt "You know we're mortals now... Times a wasting".
If anyone wants you to strip, claim 1 gold otherwise /bye and leave them behind.
Used to strip for them, could earn about 5 gold / day ( Note: USED to, not anymore. Takes vaulable time from friends and questing and visiting the tavern in Stormwind Old Town... With your friends ;P ).
Do you think that is bad, or misbehaving and why in that case. Because you earn money or you gives away your integrity? ( or how to put it in words ).
Stil, noone can completly strip of all clothes in the game so what is the big deal?
Earn money and use them well, that is what I say.
With 5 gold / day or more you could easily make enough money to get what you want quickly, just don't make it a habbit and never do it at IF, all do it for free there anyway =P

"So - 'kneel bitch and suck my cock' is a joke huh? Even as a member of the much maligned male species I find this offensive in the extreme. How dare you presume to know me well enough to make crude and suggestive remarks."
You should have slapped him and given him a lecture on how to behave, that whats I would have done. I would have chased after him and given him a lecture meanwhile lower his reputation amongst other players in the cities who walks by.

So, all who gets insulted, just do as I. Don't ignore, just fight it back and get some really good friends who will help you out even when you don't need the help.

I don't play the game anymore for leveling, getting better stuff, killing horde etc etc.
I play the game to be with my friends whom I gotten to know there.

With this said, I hope it will either be a helpfull text to all whom reads this and finds it usefull or those who finds this repulsing and insulting who now wants to kill me =P

That is all... I think ^o)

- Lair ( Al'Akir ( the Windlord ) European Server - Lv. 15 Druid - Send me a mail if your on the same server ^^ I really am a nice person )

Posted by: Lair at May 29, 2005 7:30:29 AM

Just deal with it if you know a level 60 let the level 60 kick his ass or tell a GM

Posted by: WoW person at Jun 13, 2005 3:57:42 AM

Online sexual harassment is usually more pronounced than real life sexual harassment.

Posted by: Claire Shower at Jun 19, 2005 1:24:22 AM

I don't play WOW but you can imagine the comments I get on Halo 2 w/my monicker. It's sad we have to go through this just to play games. At least most of the guys I encounter get extremely protective when I am insulted over the headset, which reminds me that most men are not at all this way. That has been my experience, of course, I don't do alot of custom matches, rather I normally play with friends.

A while back I did have one experience that shook me and it took me weeks to come back. I like to think I am stronger now and could get over it asap, but who knows...

By the way, I am writing a book on female gamers. If there is anything you want me to make sure I cover, let me know. Here's the url.

Posted by: athomemama at Jun 20, 2005 1:31:52 AM

I have this same crap happen to me. I RP a human female, and I have guys hit on me and harass me.

The worst by far was when someone said "I'm gonna slip something in Halima's drink, and something in her pink." He did this in general chat too, and was immediately torn into pieces (especially cause half the people in there knew I really am a guy).

I'm sry you girls have to deal with these kinda dickwads online.

Posted by: Dennis Hancock at Oct 30, 2005 1:46:53 PM