Rock Paper Shotgun's John Walker has published an excellent essay called "Misogyny, Sexism, And Why RPS Isn’t Shutting Up," making the case for games (and tech) writers of all sexes writing about sexism and misogyny in public, documenting the intimidation that writers experience when they do so, and offering some explanations for the violent, vicious response the work evokes. I particularly liked the section where he deals with accusations of "trying to get laid," and "white knighting."
Both phrases contain those truths. The accusation gets a grip because of them, causes me to hesitate, to pause as I write, to worry my motivations are wrong. And that’s their purpose. Generally the motivation for my writing any sort of polemic on RPS is because I’m angry about something – constructively angry about something a person should be angry about – and I want to see positive change. That’s what causes me to start typing, including this piece. But as I go along, those words creep in. “You’re just saying this to win the approval of others.” “You’re just trying to make girls like you.” “You think women need you to stand up for them.” And so on. They get to me. They’re getting to me right now. They’re evil spells, cast to insidiously infect.
I like it when people like me. I like it when people come up and compliment me. I like the approval of others. Because that’s normal. And I write this both to exorcise the infection those words cause, and to make it known to everyone else who feels the same that these are not words that should stop you from speaking up for what you know is right. They are words that will never silence RPS on these matters, and they should never silence you either.
It’s vital that men speak out about this subject. Mostly because it’s vital that people speak out, a unified voice with whatever genitals it may have, condemning cruelty and inequality. For some men, only another man’s voice will be heard. If you’re a fellow, and you object to the portrayal and treatment of women within gaming, start saying so. You will receive abuse. And I am sorry, because it’s not fair. It really damned sucks, and it gets to me, it weighs me down. But it’s so worthwhile.
Abuse is the natural response of anyone wishing to perpetuate a privilege that by its nature demeans or diminishes others. And receiving abuse is horrible. But so long as you surround yourself by others who will support and care for you, it’s worthwhile. The louder the united voice, the more effective it is. So long as people remain silent, they provide a safe space for the cruel and oppressive to speak. When it’s clear that such behaviour is not tolerated in a space, it’s harder for it to be heard. And look at the positive change that’s already been seen. The positive change is why there’s a fight. Things are already getting so much better.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.