This started as a response to Glowbear's
excellent blog recapping some recent events at E3, but it grew far too long, and I've never been concise... so I'll put my huge ramble here in my own blog, but please read her blog FIRST (and comment on her blog!).
I've personally never had any issues either at any conventions or gaming events... but then again, I'm a 51 year old woman. (and I also don't mind enthusiastic hugs from Dtoid people that I'm meeting for the first time... so don't anybody worry about sexual harassment if you want to hug me at PAX this year!... and likewise, please don't call the cops on me if I give you a hug!).
This type of harassment isn't "common" at American or Canadian conventions, but yes, it does occur -at any large gathering of men and women, particularly at events that are part social, part business.
There is another side to this issue and one that feminist seem to refuse to address. Times are changing.... but exactly how DOES a man or woman signal their interest in wanting sex or sexual interest. Contrary to common thought, there are women that actually do like men. They want to date them, have drinks with them, be touched by them, and in some cases have sex with them. Dressing provocatively is no longer a signal, waving to a strange man across a room is no longer a signal. What exactly is the signal. Is it now up to women to directly approach men and touch them first? Is a touch on the arm from a woman even still a signal of sexual interest? If a woman is drunk (and this is in reference to several cases in Canada) and does express interest through touching and even getting naked with the man... does her alcohol content negate all of those signals (and for men who aren't aware...yes, yes it probably does... get her number, back off, leave and call her the next day).
Much of feminism has come to the point where it's almost assumed that women have no interest in having sex with men. The current message is that in social situations it's simply inappropriate for men to show sexual interest in a woman... and that's simply not realistic. If the rules have changed then men have to be aware that the rules have changed, and more importantly... they have to be told what the new rules are (because men are stupid). Men are aware of the new rules in the workplace... but conventions and events are often a mix of both work and social.
Is it not up to women to inform men of these new rules? (who else is going to do this). After every convention there is talk of these sexual assaults and approaches ...and in almost every case the women feels "powerless" to do anything when the man brushes their boob or touches their shoulders or caresses their arm, or says they like their hair... or whatever awful approach the man has used to try and elicit interest from the woman (big huge hint to the guys... learn patience, ask her politely if she'd like to go for coffee sometime and give her your number).
I'm sorry to harp back to my youth... but there used to be women's self defense classes. We became responsible for our own safety and instead of feeling "powerless" we felt empowered. It's not "victim blaming" to say that a woman's who's shoulders are being rubbed by a stranger should say something and back away instead of being paralyzed by fear. The current women's movement has become so focused on blaming men that they have made women into perpetual victims with no agency and we have become the very "objects acted upon" that radical feminists keep harping about... in large part because we no longer even see ourselves as subjects capable of action.
1. Look in the mirror and practice saying very loudly "that's inappropriate" or simply "no".
2. If any incident occurs, once you've said your "that's inappropriate", report the incident either to convention staff or to the harasser's employers. At the very least they'll likely end up enrolled in a corporate sexual harassment seminar where they might learn something (and at best, like the security guard, they may end up fired). This applies to both unwanted advances as well as to inappropriate comments. If someone asks a woman "do you actually play games?" - report it! Talk to their employer.
3. If you do want sex or sexual attention, it's not appropriate at any sort of business function, whatsoever, period - for men or women. Women need to be told this, just as much as men need to be told this. If the function itself is NOT directly business related, then women are going to have to do what men have always done... approach the man, make conversation, touch him, make intentions clear... and suffer rejection if it happens. The rules have changed. Women can't expect men to approach them sexually if we are going to call this harassment. If we expect men to change their behavior, then we have to change our own behavior. It's unrealistic to expect that men and women don't want to have sex with each other and current feminism NEEDS to recognize this and accommodate it in some way, rather than continually blaming men and victimizing ourselves. "Equality" used to mean that men could approach women OR women could approach men in a sexual manner, but this apparently isn't working any more. If the rules have changed, then we all need to know the new rules. I remember the "no means no" campaign to stop date rape... but we as women need to incorporate this into our daily lives. We need to say "No" I was not talking to you, go away. "No" don't ask me if I'm a gamer, I'm at a gaming convention you idiot. "No" I'm not scared to speak up, because I'm not a victim, I'm a person. We need to be empowered to do this in both business situations and social situations.
4. Before women write a blog about that terrible incident at E3 or PAX where they were harassed, ask what is the purpose in writing your blog? Is it to gain sympathy as yet another victim of male objectification and the patriarchy that oppresses women so that women can collectively get outraged and angered about how men act? ... and then do nothing but complain about the misogyny and sexism of the entire industry based on the isolated actions of a few jerks?
Are you offering anything, anything at all to the conversation aside from being a powerless victim of unwanted male attention? The "dongle incident" could have been entirely different if she had approached the incident from a viewpoint of true equality. The issue was that private conversations that are overheard at work events can sometimes evoke discomfort on the part of unintentional eavesdroppers. The males talking among themselves made a dongle joke... but men OR women at a work event should be aware that private discussions at a public venue should not include sexual jokes or comments of any nature because they can be overheard (so yeah, women making a comment about the buff water boy.... you too need to be aware that a male co-worker overhearing this conversation could be made to feel uncomfortable). In regard to the security guard incident, was the woman celebrating the fact that this man approached her through a misunderstanding, acted inappropriately and was then fired because of his actions... or was the bias that we are helpless as women and this is yet another example of men being sexist and we are powerless to stop it. When women write about these incidents, we have to offer more than "this happened", it's evidence that the entire industry is sexist against women.
My views are likely not popular, but again, I'll reiterate that I"m 51 years old and grew up in a feminist era of "I CAN". It saddens me to see the current feminist rhetoric of "I CAN'T" - because I'm a victim of the male patriarchy, of sexism, of intersectionality, of misogyny. Sheryl Sandberg recently wrote a book called "Lean In" that advocates women empower themselves to achieve business success... and she has met with criticism from feminists who accuse her of being a white, rich female and therefore has too much privilege to be a feminist... because women are victims in current feminist rhetoric and Sandberg isn't a victim. The thing is, she doesn't have to speak for all women... she is speaking for herself and what she achieved and encouraging women to simply be more assertive in pursuing business success. She doesn't have to speak for feminists that want the right to be stay at home mom's and advocate for better maternity leave rights, for part-time work with benefits. She doesn't have to advocate for feminists who are prostitutes and want legalized prostitution so that they are given better protections and respect. She doesn't have to advocate for black, single working moms who experience an entirely different form of oppression and discrimination than rich white women. She is simply offering her own advice, based on her own experiences, for some women that might benefit from this. NO woman can speak to the broad philosophies of feminism out there.
This isn't a feminism that I personally support... but the fact is that feminism has more than one face
(and bare breasted picture was fixed for Phil who pointed out that "real" boobies might not be acceptable... though personally I don't get the big deal... but then again, I have boobies - they're not the big mystery that they apparently are to men... though yeah, we have to think about the children!!!). :)
Frankly, feminism has become too sexist. The current rhetoric of feminism is no different than before feminism came along and men told women we were too stupid to vote, our place was in the kitchen, and not to dress like whores. Now it's some feminists themselves who tell us that our place is in the workforce, we have to vote for (or support) parties or people that advocate for women's rights, and that we shouldn't dress like whores. I thought equality was about choice... about not being told what to think or do.... by anyone, men OR women. I thought it was about being treated as an individual, not as a gender.
I CAN. I want positive change for women in gaming. We need to quit blaming men and the patriarchy, quit being victims and and look at the "real" issues. We need to recognize that many of these issues are not feminist issues... they are gaming issues (voice chat harassment, lack of diversity in protagonists, lack of originality in story telling, etc, etc... these are not just feminist issues and making them into feminist issues derails the conversation from finding real solutions.). We need to recognize that female does NOT equal feminist and that there are many varieties of feminism. Some women like wearing chainmail bikinis in the occasional game and celebrating their female sexuality while prancing through the countryside battling pixelated, imaginary creatures... it can feel empowering in the fantasy setting of a game. The focus should be on attire options... not eradicating attire some sex-negative feminists find "objectifying". We need to redefine how men AND women should act at gaming events or conventions.... rather than simply write off an entire industry as sexist because of the actions of a few idiots. We need to focus on positive change, not negative blame or victimization.
I am woman. Hear me roar.... but more than that... I am a gamer. I want to see gaming get better for everybody. I certainly don't have all the answers, I barely know the questions, but I do know that when a woman is paralyzed by fear because a man is rubbing her shoulders at a public event... there's something very wrong. Cultural change is the responsibility of men AND women. I want to feel empowered as a PERSON, not disempowered by men... and feminist rhetoric.