You’ve probably heard a lot about privilege, especially male privilege. It became a pretty popular discussion in feminism. It’s pretty weird that feminists stopped talking about women’s struggles and experiences, and moved on to the male experience, but males and females are in constant interaction so I guess there must be a reason. This is a response mainly to Jonathan McIntosh’s article, which also appeared in Feminist Frequency.
McIntosh is the prducer of the fantastic series of Topes Vs. Women in Video Games. If you listen to some rap music, you’ve probably heard a lot of talented producers who can’t rap. Anite Sarkeesian is CL Smooth and her series is “They Reminisce Over You”, while Jonathan McIntosh is more like Pete Rock. I’m thankful for his producing, but when he stepped up to write the drop in quality is drastic.
I’m going to address specific paragraphs and then the whole list. I might drop some comments on the articles he linked later, but don’t consider them a definitive response to them. Also, I will frequency say Lack of Misandry here, so for the rest of this article I’ll just abbreviate it as LOM.
“This backlash, along with a number of other recent high-profile harassment incidents targeting women, has highlighted sexism in the gaming community and brought the issue to wider public and media attention”
He didn’t bring evidence for the frequency of harassment of women, but I can live with that. We have Anita’s series, and the responses of male gamers to Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian and others. I have no disagreement with him over the amount of misogyny in the gaming community.
“Working towards solutions requires that, as male gamers, we become aware of the ways in which we unconsciously benefit from sexism. We can’t work to fix something unless we first see and understand its effects. When women as a group are systematically targeted by discrimination, it means that men are elevated by default.”
There are a few problems here. First off, the problem with misogyny is that it makes women suffer. How men benefit or not doesn’t make it any less or more wrong. Misogyny is a women’s issue, and it should not be turned into a male one. Men do benefit from misogyny, but later he shows us that it’s more that men benefit from LOM.
He also says that we all benefit from sexism, and that is almost as calling everyone sexist, or at least that I should feel guilty for not suffering from LOM. He says that we are all taking part in misogyny just by being male and benefitting from what he later shows as just as LOM. Also, his use of the word ‘systematic’ is wrong here. Systematic means methodical, having a plan, involving a system. That’s a claim that needs to be backed up by showing me a system whose agenda involves misogyny. Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games show that misogyny is not really systematic, but rather a system unaware that women are more than just stereotypes. It’s still sexism, but not a systematic attempt to oppress and silence.
If video games were systematically misogynistic, they would have been consistent in portrayal of women. However, women are portrayed as many things – evil seductress, blank love interests and as decoration. These are all bad stereotypes, but there’s no method here. For misogyny to be systematic among gaming, well, he didn’t back that up.
(Related: Her videos regarding Lego’s ads have a similar idea. Women are being kept out less because of pure hatred or to make them suffer, but rather because the guys who make the ads are ignorant and think women and men are just stereotypes.)
In order to understand whether the privilege comes from LOM or from misogyny, we need to ask: Will males still enjoy this in a world without misogyny?
“One of the luxuries of being a member of the dominant group is that the benefits afforded us often remain invisible to us.”
I’m not sure. There are a lot of articles and discussons about privilege recently.
1.I can choose to remain completely oblivious, or indifferent to the harassment that many women face in gaming spaces.
2. I am never told that video games or the surrounding culture is not intended for me because I am male. – LOM.
3. I can publicly post my username, gamertag or contact information online without having to fear being stalked or sexually harassed because of my gender. – Again, LOM. If misogyny didn’t exist, this wouldn’t change.
4. I will never be asked to “prove my gaming cred” simply because of my gender. – LOM
5. If I enthusiastically express my fondness for video games no one will automatically assume I’m faking my interest just to “get attention” from other gamers. – LOM
6. I can look at practically any gaming review site, show, blog or magazine and see the voices of people of my own gender widely represented.
Imagine if a Jew complained that DJ Khaled’s albums are full of black rappers, and contain little to no Jews. There is nothing wrong with a certain group being the dominant one in a certain medium. It becomes a problem when people don’t let people outside that group participate. Eminem didn’t complain there are a lot of black rappers, he made fun of those who thought that because he was white he was somehow shouldn’t rap, or was ‘trying to be black’.
In order for this to be evidence of sexism, we also need to see how many women are trying, or interested, in getting into gaming journalism/blogging/whatever. If a lot of women express interest and yet they can’t get there, then it’s safe to say it’s because it’s a hostile enviroment that they don’t feel welcome in.
7. When I go to a gaming event or convention, I can be relatively certain that I won’t be harassed, groped, propositioned or catcalled by total strangers. – Agan, LOM. It would be more correct to say that, “I can go a convention, sexually harass a women and people will blame her because of what she wore”. This benefit is because of misogyny. Howeve, the ability to go somewhere and not be harassed is something we also want women to have – there’s nothig wrong with males enjoying it, and pointing it out is stating the obvious.
8. I will never be asked or expected to speak for all other gamers who share my gender. – LOM
9. I can be sure that my gaming performance (good or bad) won’t be attributed to or reflect on my gender as a whole. – LOM.
10. My gaming ability, attitude, feelings or capability will never be called into question based on unrelated natural biological functions. – LOM. I’m glad he mentioned “biological functions”, because these are the way we distinguish males from females. Later, he will mention ‘white people’ and won’t define it. Sadly, I don’t think he referred to Handsome Boy Modeling School.
11. I can be relatively sure my thoughts about video games won’t be dismissed or attacked based solely on my tone of voice, even if I speak in an aggressive, obnoxious, crude or flippant manner. – LOM
12. I can openly say that my favorite games are casual, odd, non-violent, artistic, or cute without fear that my opinions will reinforce a stereotype that “men are not real gamers. – LOM
13. When purchasing most major video games in a store, chances are I will not be asked if (or assumed to be) buying it for a wife, daughter or girlfriend. – Kind of makes sense, but it feels like a very silly thing to complain about. Misogyny expresses itself in much crueler ways.
14. The vast majority of game studios, past and present, have been led and populated primarily by people of my own gender and as such most of their products have been specifically designed to cater to my demographic. – A lot of rappers are black, therefore rap music is racist and discriminates against people from Polynesia. Black people should check their privilege!
There is the topic about targeted marketing, when something is marketed as gender-specific. Anita Sarkeesian covered it nicely in her Lego videos. This is an issue that deserves its own article. It can’t be just summed up in a single point.
15. I can walk into any gaming store and see images of my gender widely represented as powerful heroes, villains and non-playable characters alike. – Again, a good issue that can’t be summed up in a single sentence. It’s something Sarkeesian covered and explained, and why my Black Rappers Argument doesn’t negate this. This also deserves its own article. He also acknowledges that males dominate not only the protagonists but also the villains and other NPC’s. The worlds are full of almost only males. If you’re like me, and you’re big on extracting meaning from stories, this is a problem.
16. I will almost always have the option to play a character of my gender, as most protagonists or heroes will be male by default. – I think a lot of story writers write stories that, somehow, relate to them. Since a lot of them are male, it follows they would write their protagonists male too because that’s what they understand. Writing women as a male is a challenge. The solution to this is not to attack male people for writing stories about males, but to encourage females to write stories about females.
17. I do not have to carefully navigate my engagement with online communities or gaming spaces in order to avoid or mitigate the possibility of being harassed because of my gender. – LOM
18. I probably never think about hiding my real-life gender online through my gamer-name, my avatar choice, or by muting voice-chat, out of fear of harassment resulting from my being male. – LOM
19. When I enter an online game, I can be relatively sure I won’t be attacked or harassed when and if my real-life gender is made public – LOMIf I am trash-talked or verbally berated while playing online, it will not be because I am male nor will my gender be invoked as an insult. – LOM
20. If I am trash-talked or verbally berated while playing online, it will not be because I am male nor will my gender be invoked as an insult. – LOM
21. While playing online with people I don’t know I won’t be interrogated about the size and shape of my real-life body parts, nor will I be pressured to share intimate details about my sex life for the pleasure of other players. – LOM
22. Complete strangers generally do not send me unsolicited images of their genitalia or demand to see me naked on the basis of being a male gamer. – LOM. Even if I met a random girl while playing LoL, I would prefer her to send me nude pics.
23. In multiplayer games I can be pretty sure that conversations between other players will not focus on speculation about my “attractiveness” or “sexual availability” in real-life. – LOM
24. If I choose to point out sexism in gaming, my observations will not be seen as self-serving, and will therefore be perceived as more credible and worthy of respect than those of my female counterparts, even if they are saying the exact same thing. – I’m going to comment on that in the next point.
25.Because it was created by a straight white male, this checklist will likely be taken more seriously than if it had been written by virtually any female gamer. – First off, McIntosh failed to define ‘white’. Race is pseudoscience. As for what he claims, I actually think the opposite. I think that because this list was created because McIntosh had a bit of White Male Guilt, so he wrote an article attacking White Males to make himself feel better.
Based on this artifcle, it doesn’t look like McIntosh’s particularly cares about women. He didn’t sought to write about women’s experiences and to understand them, but instead he wrote about the male experience. He mentioned sexual harassment, but instead of talking about how women experience it he talked about how men doesn’t experience it.
Feminism is about women and it’s concerned with women’s issues. That’s why when MRA’s point certain discriminations against men, it does nothing to weaken the main feminist premise because it’s off-topic. This is a similiar case. Almost every privilege has nothing to do with misogyny and everything to do with men not experiencing misandry. If this was an argument against people who claim misandry is a serious issue, it would be relevant. In a discussion about women’s issues though, he might as well have written about the biology of eggplants.
Men do benefit from misogyny. By pushing someone else down you can lift yourself up. Discussing how men benefit from misogyny is important because it helps us understand why we still have it, and to point to some people who are having sexist thoughts without acknowledging it. However, none of the benefits McIntosh showed are gained by pushing women down. His article says almost nothing.
This is my general problem when discussing privilege. I will probably write more about it, but the basic problem is that a lot of the discussions forget that it’s not wrong for one group not to experience discrimination – it’s wrong that the other group does.