Recommended Reading: Sexism Bingo, EDs in geek culture, and more

Feminist Bingo. For full text, click through.


Geek Feminism has posted a Sexism in Games bingo card made by @fireholly99 that is a must read.  I will definitely be saving this one to whip out in the future!

[Trigger Warning: Disordered eating, bulemia]
In an amazing, thought-provoking and powerfully personal story, Jezebel republishes an article from Geek Feminism about geek women having eating disorders.  This woman deserves a lot of credit for sharing her story with us, and some support to know she’s not alone.

I’ve grown up through both geek and jock culture and they’re both the same. Dominated by men, a thin varnish over pervasive misogyny. The only difference is where the jocks know the girls have eating disorders, but don’t care; the geeks genuinely think that this part of the world cannot touch them.


So it’s okay to make fat jokes, cos everyone knows you don’t mean them, not when you’re fat and 2/3rds of the room is too. And it’s okay to mock girls who are “stupid” enough to want to starve or puke themselves pretty, because we all know that geeks are too smart to succumb to such base stuff as the desire for control and perfection.


Nicole Leffel guest authors for Kotaku about how developers should not be passing the buck to Japan in terms of misogyny in gaming.  As always, avoid the Kotaku comments like the plague.

Blame Japan. And, well, why not? It’s easier to imagine that vicious cultural problems are solely the product of some Over There place halfway around the world. Within the same minute Killian made another joke, this time dismissing the gratuitously sexualized camera angles used for female characters as a sign of improving technology. Again, the crowd laughed.


I hoped for the “But seriously…” moment that sometimes happens after someone makes a joke about an inflammatory topic, but it never came. There was no sobering transition to give the issue the weight it deserves. No examples were offered to show what’s being done to address the problem. The moderator pointed out that this isn’t just a problem in Japanese studios or with fighting games, citing StarCraft as another example of a game whose representation and community struggles with sexism. When nobody stepped up to challenge Killian’s comments further, it was on to the next question.

Again at Kotaku, Leigh Alexander pleads for some acknowledgement of simply being a games journalist and not always a “female games journalist”.   She then followed it up with a post on her own blog giving more insight.

And yet on a regular basis I hear–-even from you guys who write to me and describe yourselves as my “fans” (sidenote: be fans of the people I write about who actually make things instead of people who just talk about them)… I hear myself described as “one of the most prominent female gaming journalists”, or as a “feminist writer.” When you guys come up to me at events you want to tell me about things you’ve read or games you designed that I might be interested in because they deal with gender stuff.


Which, I mean, okay, is fine. Obviously I’m concerned about gender inequity and prejudice in the gaming space or I wouldn’t have spent words to get us here. I’ve written a lot about sex stuff, too. But again, you guys: I work all day every day and have done so for years. I write about business models, gaming and art culture, gamified apps (just in the past couple weeks!)-–and so many of you still think my gender is my most important adjective.

What else have you read that we should be talking about?

About Tami Baribeau

Lead Editor and co-founder of The Border House, feminist, gamer, lover of social media, technology, and virtual worlds. Pansexual, equestrian, dog lover, social game studio director and producer. Email me here and follow me on Twitter!
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12 Responses to Recommended Reading: Sexism Bingo, EDs in geek culture, and more

  1. I sympathize with Leigh Alexander’s tokenism as always being a “FEMALE gaming journalist” instead of simply a “gaming journalist.”

    Yet I think she needs to realize that not every reader is going to be interested in everything she writes. I for one don’t give a toss about business models and gaming culture (insomuch as I perceive “gaming culture” to generally be generally hostile and exclusive towards me), so I wouldn’t seek those out. I AM interested in reading about progressive roles for women in gaming, so I WOULD seek out those articles and I’d praise Alexander for them in person.

    It’s not a matter of type-casting her as a woman, but of audience being selective in what they read. Speaking for myself, I’m not interested in reading articles about the status quo of a sexist gaming industry. I AM interesting in reading articles reporting change or demanding change for diversity and inclusion.

    As a fiction novelist, I can’t demand that an audience enjoy everything I write. A science fiction writer can’t expect every one of her readers to be interested in her horror, romance, or political writings as well. A journalist can’t expect her feminist audience to be interested in her non-feminist articles. Readers will seek out what they want to read and ignore the rest. It’s just the way it goes.

    • Nigel says:

      Yes, but a journalist can expect to be acknowledged for being a journalist who write articles about feminist issues that are part of a larger body of work rather than a female journalist who only writes about feminist issues. N’Gai Croal probably gets the token treatment too but I think he is generally recognized as a game journalist rather than just that black guy who writes about race in games.

      • Alex says:

        Right, exactly. And she’s also talking about people asking her to “weigh in” on every minor gender-related thing that comes up, as if she speaks for all women. Which is sexist!

  2. Trodamus says:

    I’m sorry if no one wants to answer this, but on the bingo card, one square says “But they call her a ‘bitch’ because they’re the bad guys.”

    Is that a bad thing? Bad people do and say bad things, and the heroes get to beat them in the end. Is it problematic in some way?

    As for what I’ve been reading …well, not much besides BDH for feminism in gaming. Read up on sex-positive feminism recently and found it interesting and wondered as to its application to this diaspora.

    • Ikkin says:

      Bad guys saying bad things isn’t inherently problematic, if that’s what you’re thinking the card suggested – it’s just that the particular argument quoted by the bingo card relies on fallacious reasoning to defend something with deeper-seated issues.

      See, just because something is done by a bad guy doesn’t mean the author doesn’t wish they could get away with it. It’s certainly possible for a bad guy’s sexist behavior to seem more like the female protagonist is being put in her place or degraded than that the bad guy is acting out inherently-problematic social patterns depending on how it’s framed; the quoted argument fails to recognize this possibility and simply assumes that everything morally-questionable that a villain does is automatically condemned by the story on account of being done by a villain.

      • Trodamus says:

        Kind of like the old Moral Code movies that would show criminals living large until some piece of Deus Ex karmic justice got them in the last moments. I see now.

        Thanks Ikkin!

    • feministgamer says:

      You should read Hulk’s response to all the backlash he got for saying that “bitch” was used too much in the new Batman game ( Sorry if you have already.

      In general, he said that it’s the lowest common denominator, it’s lazy, and that laziness is exactly what breeds sexism. I’ve written bad guys that say “bitch”, etc. But the reason this is on the board – that someone HAD to explain “but they call her a bitch because blahblahblah” means: there was REASON to be offended by it, and someone voiced concerned, and someone is DISMISSING that concern with “lol they’re bad duh”, not actually addressing that the writers themselves have accountability. You can say the same about every sexualize succubus demon dominatrix villain using sex as a weapon as “duh she’s bad lol” … but she isn’t a REAL character. Someone CREATED her. That person should be held accountable for furthering sexism.

    • Sannom says:

      For your first question, I think this blog links to some articles that dealt with exactly that problem. It’s an article about Arkham City written by a movie critic named ‘HULK’.

  3. ProdiGal says:

    Sometimes I feel like “recommended reading on Kotaku” is sort of an oxymoron.

    I mean, the two articles themselves are great, but sometimes I wonder if they’re being green-lighted out of a genuine concern for these issues or to simply to troll for pageviews.

    • Kasey says:

      Sorry if this is a double-post, I tried to post this yesterday so please forgive me if it shows up twice!

      My question about the Street Fighter piece is this: what would have been a more appropriate response from the developer? Actually, I just looked him up and apparently he’s not even a developer, but actually a Community Manager.

      Given that character design seems to be unconnected to his role, is the problem a matter of tone? In other words, not “setting up a joke” and making it more clear that he’s not dismissing the author’s concerns? Or something deeper, like an acknowledgement that he should not be working at a studio that depicts women in such a manner?

  4. Veyz says:

    I don’t think gamer culture is uniformly geek culture. In fact, most of gamer culture isn’t geek culture, it’s mainstream culture in people playing games. In other words, gamer culture is not a monolith, and is reflective of the broader mainstream culture and it’s subcultures.

    For example, FPS has alot of cultural overlaps with jock culture, military culture and mainstream culture. MMOs tend to follow mainstream culture more closely than any other form of game (especially WoW). Roleplaying games tend to overlap geek culture, escapist culture and any culture the RPG itself to modeled to look like.

    My point is, is that I don’t think the culture in the first article is geek culture – it’s the same exact misogyny that exists in mainstream culture, it simply exists in both places and springs from the same source. The misogyny does not ~define~ geek and gamer culture, it simply goes unchallenged due mostly to ignorance and assumption.

  5. Felladin says:

    The one about sexy men made me think of an interesting editors response I read in a Swedish womens magazine a few years back. Think Cosmopolitan, and it was the only paper they subscribed to at work, so don’t judge me!

    Anyways, the editor took her editorial to discuss a question they received quite often from the readers, which was why the paper always had lightly dressed women on the cover that were so shopped they didn’t even have knees or elbows anymore.
    To get back to my story, her main, and only, point was that they had tried this a few times, and every time there was a good looking man on the cover, sales would plummit. Their readers weren’t interested in seeing men on the cover.
    I’m not sure if they ever tried to showcase real women on the cover, I guess that would be too farfetched to even think about, but there is the answer to why sexy men aren’t featured as much. It’s bad for business.

    Of course, this is not an answer to why there should only be DoubleD women in games, it was just something that popped back from memory when I read that Bingo-square.

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