‘Ghostbusters’ star Leslie Jones exposes racist harassment on Twitter

On Monday afternoon, the Ghostbusters star and Saturday Night Live cast member tweeted that she was tired of receiving constant harassing messages with overt racist and sexist imagery. Jones announced that she was going to stop blocking her Twitter harassers so that their tweets and comments could be seen publicly in order to expose their offensive nature. Almost immediately, her fans sprung into action. 

If all of your main ships only contain white characters, take a step back and examine how you treat characters of color.

If all of your main ships only contain male characters, take a step back and examine how you treat female characters.

If all of your main ships only contain cis characters, take a step back and examine how you treat trans characters.

If all of your ships are M/M, and you don’t have a single F/F or even F/M ship… take a step back and examine how you treat female characters, especially non-straight female characters.

Stop thinking you’re being progressive for your white, cis M/M ships. If that’s all you’re shipping, you’re not.

According to Ubisoft technical director James Therien, Assassin’s Creed Unity will not include playable women because it would be too much work.

No, really, that’s what he said.

“It was on our feature list until not too long ago, but it’s a question of focus and production,” Therien explained. “So we wanted to make sure we had the best experience for the character. A female character means that you have to redo a lot of animation, a lot of costumes [inaudible]. It would have doubled the work on those things. And I mean it’s something the team really wanted, but we had to make a decision… It’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality of game development.”

All those female NPCs milling around in the cities of Assassin’s Creed? The plot-relevant secondary characters? Sure, Ubisoft can design, model, rig, animate, and voice-act them. Not a problem. But a playable woman, with character designs and animations no doubt similar to the other Assassins? That doubles the workload! How could the company be expected to surpass such an insurmountable obstacle, with such limited means?

“Again, it’s not a question of philosophy or choice in this case at all I don’t really [inaudible] it was a question of focus and a question of production. Yes, we have tonnes of resources, but we’re putting them into this game, and we have huge teams, nine studios working on this game and we need all of these people to make what we are doing here.”

Tonnes of resources, huge teams, nine studios, no room for playable women. Not in the budget (that they wrote), not in the plan (that they made). No, it’s not their fault! It’s a reality of game development, not a flimsy justification for excluding women in a medium desperately in need of better representation.


No female leads in Assassin’s Creed Unity ‘unfortunate but a reality of game development’ - Ubi.” (Steven Burns, Videogamer.com) 11 June 2014.

Watch Dogs’ narrative stumbles are bad enough, but it ventures into even more troublesome territory with some of its representation. Female characters in Watch Dogs are victims, to be kidnapped or murdered in the interest of plot or character motivation and are almost all overtly sexualized. Black characters fall into two camps — the aforementioned victims, or, just as maddeningly, criminals. The city of Chicago has an incredibly complicated, difficult history with race, discrimination and segregation. This is a difficult subject to explore in any kind of entertainment. But Watch Dogs’ portrayal of Chicago’s racial divide seems potentially tone-deaf.

Meanwhile, the Profiler’s “flavor text,” dynamic descriptions assigned to the randomly created NPCs that fill Watch Dogs’ Chicago, frequently seem to be lowest-common denominator attempts at humor. When I saw “transgender” and similar attributes presented as throwaway personality quirks, I wasn’t laughing.

—  Arthur Gies calls attention to the sexism, racism, and transphobia present in Ubisoft’s newly-released Watch Dogs.
Mansplaining 101

We have a regular customer at my work (sushi restaurant) who is antiquated with my manager through friends and exes. She usually refers to him as “her friend Lexie’s ex” and leaves it at that. He doesn’t usually cause much trouble and tips well.

HOWEVER, last Saturday night my coworker made the mistake of asking him if he wanted his change back, or if it was meant as a tip. 
He went on a tirade, belittling her, and claiming in his “years of working in restaurant management” he’d been taught to “NEVER mention the tip in front of a customer”. (as if tips aren’t the ONLY way servers make money?)

He also refused to leave a tip because of this interaction. 
So I told my manager the next day. Come to find out, this guy had never managed any business in his life. He’d worked at an Olive Garden for less than 3 months before being fired for lack of “personable service”. He’d also been caught soliciting men for gay sex on Craigslist. (despite being in a supposedly heterosexual relationship with my manager’s friend at the time.)

So, my manager called him up and made him come in and apologize. She made him leave a tip for his server from the previous night, and a tip for the sushi chefs as well.

Basically (and this part is particularly directed towards any ladies who have experienced mansplaining which, let’s be honest, is probably all of us) when a man tells you you’re doing something wrong, check him. Ask how he knows it’s wrong. Ask him what makes him think he’s so much smarter than you. Call him out on his bullsh*t. Because 9 times out of 10 it’s some douche like this Prince Charming who doesn’t actually have a clue about anything, and just wants to make you feel inferior to him.

The reason women get objectified more than men has nothing to do with there being more men in the marketing industry. Women just don’t want to see half-naked men on posters and billboards because they have no sex drive. The naked male form doesn’t appeal to women the same way the naked female form appeals to men. Sex only sells when it is aimed at men.
—  Second year, Marketing Major

Girls in the DA fandom don’t want dick - they want power. Why else would they be obsessed with boring white men like Solas and Alistair? One is a king and the other is a god. If Blackwall was secretly prince of Orlais, he’d be popular too.

People: OMG, JJ Abrams made a new Star Wars movie, what a visionary!
People: How dare J.K. Rowling write a screenplay for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! What an attention-seeking golddigger desperate to stay relevant!


In case anyone’s wondering why I’ve been a bit on the quiet side these past few days, this is why.

These are just a few of the literally hundreds of similar comments I’ve received. I can’t even show you the worst ones because I’ve reported them and had them removed (you can see that I’ve hidden a few pending review by Facebook) but needless to say that I am not feeling 100% tip top rad right now! 

I should add that I’ve also had a decent amount of support - the only platform whereby people haven’t been either wholeheartedly supportive or respectfully in disagreement has been Facebook. Everyone on Tumblr or Twitter has been very polite and welcoming in expressing any disagreement.

Obviously, I expected this backlash when the article went up. It was a controversial subject and came from a female / feminist perspective, which always draws heavy criticism and commentary, but not to this extent. 

I didn’t expect this particular article to go viral; it was shared over 1,670 times and reported on in the Mirror as well, and while this has meant that I’ve been able to see a lot of support, it also means I’ve seen a lot of people calling me a ugly feminazi lesbian bitch. Leaving the house this morning was not easy; because it’s a local newspaper, I’m convinced that someone will recognise me and confront me, which is a concern not alleviated by the comments that I ‘need a seeing to’.

Looking on the bright side, it has at least inspired the debate that I hoped it would - it’s just a shame that I’m having to wade through the comments telling me to grow up, get laid or get a life to find any of these honest and genuine differing viewpoints which relate to the actual content of the article, and not just the perceived flaws of the writer.

Still, this just proves that the issues I’m writing about do have a basis in reality, and that there’s a lot more work to be done.

Harassment is never acceptable.

This seems like a very obvious thing, but apparently, it needs to be put in no uncertain terms: harassment is never acceptable. It cannot be framed as one side of a debate. It cannot be misrepresented and dismissed as “trolling”. It is not just another unfortunate reality of life and work in the games industry.

Harassment is a violent act.

Encouraged by the pervasive myth of games as an exclusive place, an enclave Just For Them, the hostile elements of our community have taken to identifying and persecuting perceived outsiders. People of color. LGBTQ folks. Women. (Especially women.) They posit themselves as even-handed arbiters of the medium, then lash out at anyone and anything that doesn’t adhere to their standards. They send waves of hate mail and threats. They violate online and offline privacy to find potential ammunition. They circulate hate speech. Blackmail material. Smear campaigns. Sexist, racist, homophobic hatred masked by flimsy arguments about critical ethics, objectivity, and what-does-and-does-not-constitute-a-game.

Nothing can justify this.

No matter what laser-focused, single-demographic publishers might lead you to believe, the much-feared “outsiders” have always been a part of our community. Modern social networking makes their involvement more visible, but the fact is that women, PoC, and queer people have been playing, making, and critiquing video games for ages. They’re not popping out of nowhere to take all the games away. The playground persecution fantasies bandied about by territorial fans are lies.

But the harm they cause is real.

A disturbing number of people try to re-interpret, downplay, and defend this behavior. They share uninformed opinions from positions of privilege, drawing false equivalence between their experiences and the open hatred directed against visible minorities. They hem and haw about “complicated issues with multiple sides”, when one side is quite obviously a hate campaign. They look at unfolding acts of violence and treat them like jokes, share them with their friends and followers, and in doing so, they endorse harassment. They normalize the abuse of vulnerable people.

This is perpetrated by people with platforms. People with influence.

We can’t break this cycle by putting the burden on the people who are suffering. This is a community problem; it has to have a community solution, one that’s supported across our industry. Publications need staff who can responsibly address political and social issues - not just a few familiar faces over and over, but people from a variety of disparate backgrounds, people who are actually affected by the issues at hand. Forums need to improve their moderation policies, explicitly punishing bigotry and expelling abusers instead of letting them run rampant. Community leaders need to call out reprehensible behavior from prominent people and organizations, to yank support and promote marginalized voices instead. We can and should do some of this on our own - but every development company, every convention, every sponsor, every news outlet has a responsibility to do the same. To move forward. Because if they don’t, they provide tacit support of toxic behavior. They imply that, perhaps, this violence is warranted somehow.

Harassment is never acceptable.

Full stop.