WoW Celebrity, Twitter, and the Problem of Victim-Blaming

The following is a guest post by Apple Cider Mage:

Apple Cider Mage is a radi-cool gamer feminist who blogs within the World of Warcraft community. Her loves in-game are collecting non-combat pets, achievements and turning into a dragon. Outside of video games, she loves smashing the kyriarchy, graphic design and penning witty tweets. 

This was linked on Crendor's Twitter last night. It is the first image you get when you GIS "Paris Hilton whore". [Paris Hiton wearing a white bra top and a see-thru white skirt with her underwear showing underneath.

 

If anyone was paying attention to Twitter last night, it was a blood bath.  A fairly well-known WoW machinima creator by the name of Crendor (aka WoWCrendor) decided last night to use Twitter as his personal platform to berate women who dress like “whores.”  What surprised me the most was not that his fans jumped up to support him but the sheer number of people who Tweeted or re-Tweeted things that myself and others were saying about how sexist and victim-blaming he was. Instead of initially apologizing for the whole thing, he got wildly indignant and decided to dig the hole deeper, including tying a woman’s dress to the amount of times she getscreeped, abused or cheated onSound suspiciously familiar?

WoWCrendor finally pushed out an apology later, with little to no self-awareness of what he actually did wrong or why that train of thought was so damaging and promptly deleted most of the tweets. I have them all saved here if people wish to see them in the unvarnished light of day. I’m really disappointed by this as he was one of my favorite movie creators by far. I felt like he wasn’t one of the douchebags that randomly populate every aspect of gaming culture.

Now, I’m not writing this article just to point fingers at Crendor. Goodness knows I did enough of that last night on Twitter. I think we all need to sit down as a community and think about what he said, why he said it and confront some really thorny issues.  Because Crendor isn’t just a bad dude who said this. A lot of dudes say this. A lot of gals do too. This right here, this train of thought is what directly contributes to rape, abuse and other forms of harassment being so hard to punish for, because societally, we feel the real instigator of all of these things is not the person who committed the act, but the person who was victimized. They wore the wrong thing, they said the wrong thing, they dared to be in an alley or a bar, I could go on. We’ve grown so used to believing that the woman in this scenario brought it on herself that there’s little to no mention about the person who is culpable – morally, ethically and legally.

What is this called? The actual term that gets used in most feminist circles is “victim blaming.”

Victim blaming occurs when the victim(s) of a crime, an accident, or any type of abusive maltreatment are held entirely or partially responsible for the transgressions committed against them. Blaming the victim has traditionally emerged especially in racist and sexist forms.[1] However, this attitude may exist independently from these radical views and even be at least half-official in some countries.[2]

 

People familiar with victimology are much less likely to see the victim as responsible.[3] Knowledge about prior relationship between victim and perpetrator increases perceptions of victim blame for rape, but not for robbery.[4]

World of Warcraft is obviously a fictional world and a video game and we don’t all physically interact with each other. So it might feel like a lot of what was said last night doesn’t really apply to my little blog, but it does. It’s very apparent if you read my blog that the feelings and mores that we have about the real world very often carry themselves into our virtual spaces. Not only do people we deem “celebrities” in our nerdy little niche of the Internet say terrible things about 50 percent of their possible fan-base, but we have to deal with victim-blaming inside the game, even. Victim-blaming is such a pervasive thought that at it’s weakest concentration, it is even a defense for bullying and trolling. Have you ever thought, “well, they were just asking for it” and then done something mean or rude? Yeah. It’s that too.

But let’s bring it back a little. I was stalked and harassed via World of Warcraft by someone in my friend circle. You might even say that we had a slightly friendlier-than-friends relationship. I dance around this because even though I have a restraining order against this person now, since he’s been harassing me via blogs, Twitter, and WoW for well over 3 years, I still know that there’s many people who will read this and say, “Well, didn’t you do XYZ with him? That’s why he’s doing this to you.” See? Why is the person who is sending me rape threats on a daily basis less culpable of harassment than me, the person who gets to put up with this abuse daily? See how illogical it is? Or did it not even occur prior to someone you know saying something like this for you to see that?

This is why I’m exceptionally annoyed with someone like Crendor using a platform that is public and open to his entire fanbase to directly spout victim-blaming and other sexist malarky. Because all it does is serve to reinforce some really scary ideas that, out in the wild, have managed to make it hard to report any sort of abuse or rape or harassment by the victim because of what the backlash will be. It’s even become so normalized that women should expect and understand that they will be hit on because they were dressing sexy. And that they should just deal with that. Why is it that when the crime becomes involved with sex or abuse that suddenly we don’t find the person who did those things responsible? We don’t say that the bank was “just asking” to be robbed by having all that money inside of its vaults.

I want WoW celebrities to rise out of the primordial ooze, much like everyone else in our culture, and stop putting the fault of a crime on the person who had the crime committed against them. I want people to stop using their status and their public forums to spreading the same garbage we hear every day. I want there to be repercussions and consequences for thinking this is an okay idea to espouse professionally. I want people to think about this in all areas of their life, from bullying to abuse, to rape and even stuff like just creeping on someone at a bar. Unhook your brain from its track of “they were asking for it” and think about “what can I do to stop this from happening to more people?” We can even try all we like to make people “less of the victims” as we have been for years, but we really need to focus our efforts on not creating new criminals and bullies.

Clothes are just clothes, Crendor. They are swatches of material we use to express ourselves. They do not, however, force a person to do something to them. They do not ask for things. They are garments we wear for various reasons. A woman should be allowed to wear what she wants and not be at fault when lots of dudes feel compelled to hit on her in a creepy way. Dudes should stop hitting on people in creepy ways and if you think that clothes have anything to do with it, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

(Note, the bridge is wearing pasties and a thong. Hope that helps.)

[Originally posted at Apple Cider Mage]

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12 Responses to WoW Celebrity, Twitter, and the Problem of Victim-Blaming

  1. Kimadactyl says:

    Great article. It really annoys me when people casually use the word “whore” (we call them sex workers nowadays darling) in this way. It’s not only offensive, it’s utterly inaccurate, and to top it off usually coming from STEM-ish folk who should care about exactness.

    Secondly, sex workers generally wear what you want them to, as you’re paying them. There is no “way” that sex workers dress. They’re women (or men, or trans folk). Even using “whore” as a pejorative in this way means I can tell they don’t care about women, or sex workers, even before you get into the content of what they’ve said, which you’ve so eloquently done.

    TL;DR – he’s not even getting being offensive right.

    • Apple Cider says:

      It’s an extremely crass and oversimplified offensiveness – the idea that “whores” are sex workers that trawl corners in short skirts and “hooker boots.” It’s naive, insulting and childish.

      That kind of simplification also carries along with thinking that rapists are only scary stranger men that lurk in dark alleyways looking for women wearing too-short skirts.

  2. Quinnae says:

    Thank you for posting this and for sharing your experiences.

    You’re so right in everything you say here, but I would like to say that what your article does best, perhaps, is draw the link between words and actions. Almost invariably, men like this will defend themselves by saying- rather paradoxically- that what they said were “just words” and they can be easily ignored, switched off, dismissed, et cetera.

    That has always been a lie.

    Words have consequences as you rightly point out; the abuse and harassment you’ve suffered is a direct result of the legitimising force wielded by men like Crendor who normalise and validate violence against us by lending credibility to its first principles (in this case, that what we wear sires uncontrollable responses on the part of men, and that women are responsible for all rape/harassment/assault).

    It’s very apparent if you read my blog that the feelings and mores that we have about the real world very often carry themselves into our virtual spaces.

    This has always been very true, yes, a fact that some gamers choose to ignore. Games, indeed, only function *as* fun due to their connections to reality, and are only intelligible within the frame of what we already know. Furthermore, the Internet as a social space is not a new universe without any connection to the old meatspace world. We import our societies with us- and perhaps some transmutation occurs in the unique space of the online world, but it is not an unrecognisable thing that is thus created. Sexism, racism, transphobia and all the rest remain, and they retain their ability to wound.

    Thank you again for posting this here.

    • Apple Cider says:

      I touched upon that concept in an earlier post, but I do truly believe that language informs our thoughts and using language that is embedded in offensiveness makes us more prone to think and speak these things.

      Online spaces are largely text-based but still are saturated with our exterior culture, agreed.

      So people always bring that crap into the online world with them with little regard for anyone else around them.

  3. Deviija says:

    Tis a great post indeed, and I agree with it wholeheartedly. What a disappointing disaster on Twitter! Though the silver lining that I am pleased to hear about is how many people jumped in to call this fellow out rather than adding to the ‘yeah, yeah, slut-shame/victim-blame’ wagon. That’s great.

    But what I really enjoy is that this touches on the deeper thorny issues we should REALLY be addressing and discussing and analyzing and working through. Victim blaming and the belief that “she is asking for it” with what she wears or how she acts or what she says is so perverse and common to see argued that many seem to take it as fact at face value. It’s like the saying, “if you say something enough times, eventually it’ll be true.” Or the tactics used in politics where bloggers and columnists will link circles around to one another’s blog, citing them as a resource for a certain statistic or belief or buzzword talking point… yet there are no official and credited sources and citations to back it up. It’s just a lot of people saying something and soon buying into it that is must be true, or are trying to convince “you” – the bystander – that it must be true. What the article talks about is one of those things seen in gaming (and in general society at large) that we really need to confront.

    • Trodamus says:

      I didn’t witness this online but from reading about it here it seems to be part of what I call the “insane defensive”, or what happens when someone says something ludicrous, gets called out on it, and as a defense mechanism, insanely decides to defend their viewpoint rather than backing off.

      I’ve seen this happen where a friend, wearing a very unfortunately cut dress, got accused of being pregnant at a bar by an angry patrion that deemed her drink choice irresponsible. Not only was it insulting to tell a woman she looks pregnant (especially when she’s not), it’s doubly so to insist that she must be wrong and that she very clearly is pregnant — which this guy proceeded to do.

      It’s not that he actually believed she was pregnant, it’s just that, in a bizarre case of bad logic, he couldn’t face the embarassment of being so very wrong.

      The problem is that words do indeed shape our thoughts and actions, and if you argue for hours that women must be whores if they wear these boots and these skirts, you will start to believe it. To say nothing when you have a number of people that will just agree with you for …well, I don’t know why. As Q says, “just words” is a hollow, insincere lie.

      • Deviija says:

        Indeed, words do have weight and they do have impact on us as a society, being social creatures. However, the more relevant and deeper issue, which is what I think Apple Cider Mage mentions in the article, is asking the question of where do all these (mainstreaming) beliefs come from and how do we confront them? It all comes from somewhere – this victim blaming and shaming and notion that ‘she’s asking for it’ by how she dresses or acts – and that’s what should be confronted and disassembled. Media is a prime instigator and culprit in reinforcing sexism and shaming, for starters, and the more people that say ‘this is wrong’ and ‘this is untrue,’ the better visibility it will have.

      • glitchy says:

        I agree with your point, but I think calling this an “insane defensive” is rather ableist. There are plenty of perfectly “sane” people who will use this tactic, and plenty of “insane” people who may be more willing to see that they were wrong and back off.

        Equating irrational with insane is disingenuous. “Insane” people are not the only people who are ever irrational. Everyone is irrational sometimes.

  4. Doone says:

    Eloquently put and very good read.

    Part of the bad logic people use who are in Crendor’s situation, especially from a male perspective, is they hold this belief that they were provoked. When person A claims that person B did something which compelled them to behave that way, there’s this assumption that they were provoked — and that because they were provoked, they had a right to act the way they did. The idea that provocation (a woman walking down the street “provokes” all males to look her way) divorces person A from responsibility is is implied by their reaction. These people don’t stop to think of what *they* should be doing. Their actions presuppose that others can be responsible for them, can be blamed for their transgressions. I think if they just thought about that for a moment they would realize its absurdity.

    But thinking isn’t usually their strong point in the first place, or we wouldn’t be having these issues so often.

  5. Sif says:

    “(Note, the bridge is wearing pasties and a thong. Hope that helps.)”

    That part made me laugh. Well done the entire article.

  6. Sunflower says:

    Fantastic article! Thank you very much for this. I think one big issue in our society is that men are not taught to feel their feelings and take responsibility for them. Nobody can MAKE them into rapists with clothes and/or behavior. Men are not taught to take responsibility for their own sexual attraction and because they feel it’s out of their hands they assume women must be responsible for it. Also women are taught that we have to be responsible for the feelings of men before our own.

    Just last night I was on the forum of a video game composer I admire and I read a post from a man whining that his female friend slept in the same bed with him but then said she wasn’t interested in him as anything other than a friend..and this composer that I liked so much replied to him that his friend sounds like a “ho” and that her behavior was somehow egregious and wrong. I want to call it out but I feel constrained by many things..but this attitude of salving men’s feelings through slut-shaming is something we all perpetuate at times. It’s so sad to me, and so hard to break myself of that programming.

  7. Tusk says:

    I agree with pretty much everything in this article. Sadly we have nut-job politicians who would agree with some of these views of Crendors. National leaders and law makers who honestly believe that victims of rape are to blame for putting themselves in such scenarios to begin with bit is the same view that everyone I ghettos are to blame for not working hard enough and miraculously getting out. As if they themselves have any experience with either cases.

    Anyway, sounds like Crendor was using WoW logic; these girls equip garbs that increase their aggro, thus any attention they get is deserved, much like a tank character in his game. By such logic, if a girl doesn’t want attention she should dress like a rogue or feral Druid.

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