Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Microsoft, E3 and "that rape joke".

I'm not a huge fan of labels, but for the sake of this post, I will share the following: I am a girl, I am a gamer, and I am a feminist. Now, I've been a girl my whole entire life now- nearly 22 years- and unfortunately I've experienced my fair share of sexism and inappropriate comments/behaviour. I'm sure any other girl would say the same.

Being a feminist massively shapes the way I see the world, particularly in relation to political incorrectness- in particular, sexism. Although women make up nearly half of the world's gaming population, this is still an industry and environment where we're often made to feel uncomfortable, objectified, and otherwise the attention of some pretty unsolicited inappropriate comments. It's such a massively talked-about and widely-experienced issue that it's almost exhausting having to talk about the same issues over and over with little resolve. I've been working on a somewhat lengthy piece on women and gaming, preferably with a fresh twist or perspective- I don't just like to repeat what others have written.

But then this happened:

Oh, dear. I mean... really, Microsoft? Really? This makes me cringe so, so hard, and not just because of the awful scripted dialogue. Is any kind of rape joke okay anymore? No, I don't think so. Why? Because rape is still a huge, massive issue. Rape culture is real. Rape is happening every single day, to thousands of women. It is nothing to joke about. There is literally nothing funny about it. I am a feminist, and a woman, and that is my honest and truthful opinion.

But... is this a rape joke? Well, that's where it gets tricky. I'm not going to go in to the raging (and barely intelligible) debate currently going on in YouTube comments and Twitter feeds everywhere, but the jury seems to be out on this one. The comment made was a line that is frequently used in rape "jokes"- and, indeed, rape situations- and made by a male gamer, towards a female gamer. Even the follow up comments venture pretty far in to actual-assault-scenario-dialogue ("Wow, you like this!" "No, I don't like this").

Basically, the joke was in poor taste. I understand the intentions may well have been innocent, with no assault-like connotations intended (apart from the obvious player-versus-player assault); however, I just think it ventures a little too close to rape joke territory. It was in pretty poor taste, and I kind of do find it hard to believe that someone would miss the underlying inappropriate subtext of it all (though if they missed how terrible that scripted smack talk was, then who knows). How did PR even let them get away with this? Tacky, inappropriate and potentially going to create a fair bit of negative publicity, it sadly reflects the accepted misogynistic attitudes so prevalent in this industry.

Stay tuned for my lengthier post on women, gaming and sexism!

-The Pixel Pixie

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