June 6, 2010
· Filed under Linksplosions
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RPS really does have a decent community over there. I was pretty surprised at how shitty they were being about this in the first place, though it’s good to see the site stepping up.
Yeah. I was really impressed with Mr Gillen’s piece, and even moreso with the intention behind it. I went back and read Leigh’s piece, too—I didn’t so much as peek at the initial backlash, no thank you, but even with goodhearted, good-natured readers, oh, boy, I can still imagine. It’s very hard to talk about gender and sex, just as benignly as you can possibly work it, without your reader nonetheless feeling attacked or accused.
I really feel for Leigh. The day after I read both columns, my boss sent me out of work and across the street to pick something up from a convenience store. So even as I was walking across the crosswalk, come on, I was technically at work. I was seriously running an errand! Some dudes at the stoplight started leering and hanging out the window and yelling, and it was really humiliating! I realized, very suddenly, that it really does happen all the time, that I had never really paid it much thought before, and that generally I just smile idiotically in the direction of the harassment so that it doesn’t escalate. Maybe that situation isn’t as frightening or tenuous as when men follow you away from the el station going “pssst pssst pssst pssst,” which is also a real actual thing, but yikes! Or, the last time I returned a smile and said “Hi” to a stranger in a bar—and I was with other people!—he grabbed my butt. Yuck! Yuck! It’s one thing to not be able to “take a compliment,” but that sort of thing is quite another. Smiling isn’t “asking for it.”
Oh my God, obviously this whole thing has pinched a nerve. Sorry! I’m sorry! It’s impossible to talk about this sort of thing without sounding like a really angry person!
But there are so many reasons to be an angry person.
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that a few years ago when I took my first (and only) Psychology seminar on women’s psychology I was completely jarred by it. I was the only guy in a class of 25 or so and I was the one freaking out most of the time when going over topics of abuse and harassment. The depressing thought was that perhaps I was the least acquainted with the subject matter because I didn’t have to live it; doing so would have hardened my skin a bit more.
Hardened skin in a society of primates masquerading as thinking beings is one thing, but using your ‘thinking’ to justify sexist or abusive behavior of any kind is indefensibly despicable. I forget where exactly I read the notion, but it’s essentially this: how we react as a society to our abuses is a secondary matter, the fact that we abuse (in the case of the author’s point, children) in the first place is the problem. The question shouldn’t be ‘how wrong is it to do something,’ but ‘because we know it’s wrong at all, what kind of people are we to continue to do it?’
I want to say that the average male gamer is juvenile anyway, but I’m sure it would give rise to the wrong connotation. People are juvenile, and simultaneously morally undeveloped and morally corrupted, let alone males, let alone males that happen to play video games. The dialogue to have in any of this is to what extent being a certain type of person and practicing certain habits contributes to one’s outlook, and that’s the one that could have happened. It’s booth babe week in LA for f[luffy kitten]’s sake—the dudes at RPS were missing the point about patriarchy.
There’s a whole nother tangent I’d like to go off on about objectification and its philosophical connotations outside of sexism, because I think it’s interesting and worth mentioning, but if this microcosmic conversation that happened at RPS (and here and wherever else it did) should mean anything it’s that we shouldn’t neglect the real experience of actual people who have to deal with this stuff just to talk about how it makes us feel. ‘Cause again, reaction is secondary to just not doing the bullshit in the first place.
So for what it’s worth, sorry about the cat calling and butt grab. You’re not the one who should be sorry.
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