So, I’m playing competitive mode in Overwatch. First round, we have two people pick healers right off the bat. We’ve got tanks. So I pick Reaper and go gold in damage and eliminations in the first round. We do really well. Everyone is super polite and cordial and I’m listening in voice chat to the group just let each other know what’s going on and how we want to coordinate our moves.
And then at the end of the round I make the mistake of opening my big fat mouth to say “great work, guys.” What followed was “IS THAT A GIRL?” “A GRILL LOLOLOL” “What do you look like?” and so on. And then in the second round, the two guys who’d picked healers refused to do so and told me that I could heal. And for the sake of trying to win the game and make the team work, I went healer.
They relegated me to a passive healing role even though I’d done QUITE well as a damage character. And we lost.
And this is why women are fucking fed up with male gamers. We can listen to voice comms, but we can’t actually be part of the conversation. Because no matter what our value was to the team, the second our voice pops out and an anonymous male on the internet realizes that we’re women, our value drops. We become a token, a stereotype. We’re asked what we look like. We’re asked if we have boyfriends. We’re asked about our sex lives.
And the sad thing is, it only takes one. As long as ONE man out of the other five people we’re in a game with is crass enough to reduce us to sex objects, the other four will either jump right on the bandwagon, or hold their silence. And honestly? I’m sure some women would disagree, but to me it’s the silence that’s the worst. Because that means that even if you aren’t going to actually join in on verbally demeaning an individual based on what they’ve got going on between their legs, you’re complicit. Your silence says that it’s fine.
Women who are brave enough to open their mouths on public voice comms in online games have to armor themselves. Whether it’s the “bitch” mantle where they shout down the verbal abusers, or whether they armor themselves in cynicism or whether they just try to ignore it and focus on the games, or just stop talking entirely, it sucks and I’m fucking fed up with it.