It’s long been a struggle for women to be taken seriously in “male-dominated” fields, but you’d think that there are some places where the playing field is relatively even.
One place I frequently encounter sexism is in a world of a much more virtual kind. And I don’t think I’m asking for much when I request a little more equality here.
All I want is for dudes to realize I’m a threat when it comes to playing video games.
I first encountered this phenomenon during my one day as a player of World of Warcraft. I designed my character and geared up for what I assumed would be a fun few hours of nerdiness.
Instead, all that came through my headset and my little chat box were people asking for my “a/s/l” — and when I made the mistake of revealing that I was a girl, I was immediately treated like an inferior.
And I don’t even want to get started on my one experience with Xbox Live. I usually end up with a pretty solid kill ratio on Call of Duty, but apparently the best way for a man to deal with my domination is to sexually harass me or insult my gender.
I have stopped playing online multiplayer games entirely and choose to play alone or with my actual friends.
And I’m not the only girl gamer I know who has had to deal with this. Just because I want to play Halo — and probably destroy you at it — doesn’t open doors for sexism or insults.
Just like anyone else who games, I take it seriously. I’m passionate about it. It infects my life.
I have a Legend of Zelda tattoo, and I refuse to marry anyone who hasn’t at least beaten Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64.
I brag regularly about my unbeaten Soul Calibur streak and the fact that I was able to catch all 151 Pokémon in a bygone era. I still play my original Game Boy Color, and there are an absurd number of consoles hooked up to the TV in my living room.
I’m not saying any of my nerd feats make me any better than anyone else, but how is it fair that I am immediately less of a gamer by being a girl? At what point am I inferior to a guy who can claim the same feats?
I’ll be the first to say this is obviously not the biggest issue facing women today. There is a lot of ground to make up before females are equal to males.
But the fact that sexism can spill over into something as simple and universal as video games is disheartening.
Is that going to stop me from doing what I want, though? Absolutely not. I’m going to keep gaming like my life depends on it.
So, boys, who’s up for getting their butt kicked at Street Fighter? I’ll even let you be Chun-Li.