Hey Mom, What Does “Die Feminist Gamer” Mean?

My 9-year old daughter can jump in and out of a first person shooter game and then quickly morph back into a bunny to go to someone’s “den” for a bunny dance party.

She’s a gamer. A girl gamer. And right now, that is a dangerous thing.

So dangerous, in fact, some women have received death threats, their public info blasted all over communities so they can be harassed, and if that weren’t enough we hear about Anita Sarkeesian. Sarkeesian was slated to speak at Utah State University until they got an email threatening a mass shooting if she dared open her girl mouth on stage. Sarkeesian, refusing to cave to their threats,  said she would STILL get on stage and give her lecture, provided there were some security checks.

Seems totally reasonable to me.

BUT (there’s always a ‘but’) school officials weren’t all that into being TSA at the doors. I’m not sure why, considering the Salt Lake Tribune reported the emailed threat claimed it would be “the deadliest school shooting in American history.”

WOW. Ok then.

According to the LA Times, “During the discussion, Sarkeesian asked if weapons will be permitted at the speaking venue. Sarkeesian was informed that, in accordance with the State of Utah law regarding the carrying of firearms, if a person has a valid concealed firearm permit and is carrying a weapon, they are permitted to have it at the venue.”

Yeah, I think I’d go ahead and sit this one out too.

As many of you know I’ve given lectures and sat on panels regarding the death threats my family and I received via online trolls. Threats that garnered zero attention until the trolls went after my kids and their school. Then, suddenly, the cops & Twitter cared. Well, that’s not entirely true. Twitter didn’t cooperate with law enforcement until an emergency order was issued by the judge. Then they cared. The detective assigned to the case, the first “cyber” case for him…he cared. He cared because he understood, at the time, this was only going to get worse and these cases would become much more frequent in my town and in yours.

My point? Each time I’ve had a speaking engagement post-threat, the venue and organizers have been more than willing to offer security. Sarkeesian can only stand up for herself so much, showing the world she won’t back down, without downright being stupid and taking a huge risk on her life and the lives of everyone in that auditorium.

Currently the online scene is as I would expect. People are picking sides, blaming each other, and women online and in tech (yes, that includes gaming) continue to endure what can be career ending torture by a minority of douchecanoes who seem to think themselves superior. These trolls are threatened by anyone with a vagina that dare tell them or even ask politely they consider some games have a female character and maybe, just possibly a female character that doesn’t resemble a whore. Apparently that’s waaaaaaay too much to ask of *some* of this demo without causing an uproar. There is also the fight over this being about journalism (I’m using a lower case j on purpose…because please don’t get this traditional news reporter started on citizen journalism, real Journalism and reviews, pay-for-play,  and blah blah blah …see, I said don’t get me started) and not being about feminism. THAT has *some* in this demo screaming at the top of their lungs to be heard over the rustle of headlines simply stating a feminist received death threats.  As with everything there is a long backstory. As with many backstories it is filled with truth, lies, and lots in the middle.

What I have seen, personally, by simply tweeting about the issue (and using the all important #) is ugly. And the word FEMINISM really pisses off a lot of people. Let’s not kid ourselves there are idiots on both sides.  In fact, I was told repeatedly via social media last night my “agenda” needs to stay the fuck out of “their” games.

I love how they think these are “their” games…so cute.

I was also told I was a horrible mother, saw some really nasty rape memes…you get the idea. All I asked for was an end to the escalation. You see, these movements have become the next game for many of these men and women. Their next quest.

There is even a self-proclaimed Democrat woman who calls herself the ‘Factual Feminist,’ lending her credibility to a movement aimed partially at challenging journalists & Journalists (of which I have been both) and partially ( I THINK?) to poo-pooing the idea that …wait for it… women and girls play games and can be hard core gamers and…no really, wait for it…..wait for it….. wait for it………..there is NO PATRIARCHAL PROBLEM in gaming.

Imagine my spit-take on that one. If it helps, I have tea. 

I swear to CHEEBUS that’s what she said. Yes, Dr. Factual Feminist spent a few weeks (weeks people! WHOLE WEEKS!) checking out the gamers and she’s concluded there’s no issue here, you silly little girls. It’s all in your head, which is where she virtually pats us, tells us to calm our shit down, and ignores what has been decades of a certain “culture” she can’t seem to find with any male gamers online.

Deadspin has a great rundown of everything that includes the video of this so-called feminist. My absolute favorite part is where she says “They want the male video game culture to die

WOW. I totally missed the memo on this one.  Did you all have a meeting without me? Hilariously and somewhat dangerously, she then strokes their egos and talks about what a smart little subculture they are.

ooooh what a smart widdle subculture you are….do you do twicks you cootie patatootie widdddle subculture… now roll over, roll over… goooood boy!

Well, yes. We did have an inkling of THIS side of gaming too!

Our life- caught perfectly by @undomesticdiva

Feel free to steady yourselves before you get the vapors and need to sit a spell on the fainting couch.

Did you all think we women just randomly hung out with neanderthals all day and let our daughters do the same while we game? I don’t think the argument here is “all male gamers suck and want to hurt me”…unless my son and husband are secretly plotting. The argument, Professor, is within that smart subculture is a STUPID, NASTY subculture (and I’m being generous by calling it a subculture, it can at times BE THE CULTURE) with some bad apples. Every subculture, culture and otherwise has this issue- and to “stand down” as you suggest is to accept this behavior. In the words of my daughter, “Mom can I say a bad word? … That’s really stupid.”

Back to the kids…since I mentioned my gamer daughter. I briefly and somewhat vaguely told the kids what had gone down on the internet all night, while they slept all snuggled and cuddly,  and then proceeded to bust out the phone while they reacted…and we packed for school:

Yeah, you heard me right…my son knows a whole lot more about gamer culture than his sister due to their ages, what we allow, and my husband’s constant vigil gaming WITH my son so when things come up they can discuss the matter. Same thing with my daughter, just two years younger- and it’s reflected in the video above. I mean, did anyone tell the good Professor about tea bagging as she did her research?

Now, there are some serious accusations levied in this war of #GamerGate vs #StopGamerGate2014- even to go so far as deciding if women count as gamers, you know, the real kind…not the kind that play Angry Birds or Bejeweled. Because heaven forbid we add in THOSE numbers. If we do that *some* male gamers get really upset. Like, stomp their feet and whine and moan like toddlers upset. Like…hurl death threats at women upset.

Now, why did I say “if we add in those numbers,” you ask? Because it seems all of this only becomes a problem when there is a threat to their special hold on their special place in their special world where only they are allowed to be king of their gaming castle.

Sort of like what we’re watching the GOP do right now: trying really hard to stay relevant to the LGBTQ community and women and people of color, yet instead looking like total asses and eventually saying or doing something so very stupid no one in their right mind would want to play in their sandbox. Like I said, death threats. Or when people post about these threats, answering with those super triggering (thnx ever so much!) gifs about raping girl gamers all while complaining and mansplaining we can’t take a joke.

I honestly hope we can move forward in this mess with a coalition of feminists (men gamers, that includes you…in fact it DEMANDS you) standing UP to the systemic and overt creeps in the culture TOGETHER and without hesitation. I could give a rat’s ass which hashtag they fall under or what their criteria for “hard core gaming community” entails. Both sides need leaders that are loud, bold, strong, and the hero they attempt to play daily on their screens. Except without the legendary weapon.

If this fails, and these ridiculous and entirely unacceptable threats and violations continue, at least I know that my home is not oddity or behavioral study.

We have digital kids. You may have heard of them. They are growing up a bit different than we did. iPads before they can walk kinda thing. They read their books for school on these devices and they have their playdates on their consoles. My son was up Friday night, or Saturday (or was it both?) with his best friend who lives several states away, dropping in on public events in Destiny. All while my daughter made a video jamming out to Lorde with her Animal Jam friends.

As you see above, they aren’t buying any of your excuses. I have full faith they will fix the misogyny and insecurity and yes, patriarchy, prevalent in gaming…because let’s face it, they already care more than most of you and are willing to stand up while others are patting them on the head, insisting they stand down.



(photo credit: Megan Hook Photography)

*you all might be interested in this ESA study, claiming “women age 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (36%) than boys age 18 or younger (17%)” FYI it’s a pdf. (update added Oct. 16, 2014)


  1. wait for it… women and girls play games and can be hard core gamers and…no really, wait for it…..wait for it….. wait for it………..there is NO PATRIARCHAL PROBLEM in gaming.

    Riiiiight. Although my guild is awesome (because I run it with my husband and made it specifically a safe place for anyone to game) I’ve had to deal with crap from juvenile boys in the World of Warcraft. The ones who still think it’s funny to say, “Girls don’t play WoW” and then go on to say that I must be an unemployed 40 man living in his mom’s basement. The ones who decide they have to flirt with my character, or send private messages to flirt with me as a person. The ones who say I must play like crap if I’m a girl. Or that I must only play because my boyfriend does. (I’m the one who got my husband to start playing, for the record.)

    Thankfully, I’ve never been the target of even worse behavior. At least not in the game world. Although my husband and I left another guild because the old boys club couldn’t handle when the old guild master passed the torch to me. They couldn’t handle a woman being in charge. I was called a power-hungry bitch for trying to enforce rules that had been in place for 7 years. “Private” messages between players would be “accidentally” said in public guild chat where I could see them. Even after I made my husband guild master and took a lesser officer role, it persisted. My anxiety and depression got worse and worse. The game that used to be so much fun was now making me cry multiple times a week. We could have kicked the jerks out and held onto the guild for ourselves, but since we’d only been playing for two years, my husband wouldn’t do it. So we left and started our own guild, which is wildly successful for it’s “be excellent to each other” philosophy. We have a lot of couples in our guild, many people ages 30+ who are tired of the crap the younger players spout all the time.

    …Yeah, I’ll stop ranting on your post now.

  2. but don’t you know sweetie… women aren’t real, hard core gamers! That’s where you went wrong!

    Other than the whole people wanting to kill my family thing… the majority of gamers & online only folk I know are very nice, wonderful, openly loving people. BUT good god almighty when you find he assholes, you FIND THE ASSHOLES.

    The idea that this isn’t an issue though…. sigh. I’m not sure how you can spend a few weeks checking out gaming culture and just ‘miss’ that whole side. It’s rather prevalent. As in…are you purposefully trying to ignore it? Or…is it just so deeply entrenched it’s ‘normal?’

    I have to admit, I miss some Second Life fun every now and then. I was laughing tonight as my daughter got new hair for one of her animals and was showing it off to friends in AJ….then she said ‘and now to Skyrim where I will vanquish a dragon!’

    They will bitch and moan we’re not ‘real’ gamers…heck, I don’t consider myself a hard core or real gamer by any stretch. But my family…that’s another story.

  3. The stupid thing is that you don’t need to be a “hardcore” gamer to be a “real” gamer. Although from what I’ve heard about Candy Crush – which I avoided like the plague because of my electronically addictive personality – a lot of women are/were pretty hardcore about it! If you game on any sort of regular basis, even weekly, then you’re a gamer. Guys weren’t knocking Mario Kart as a game that “doesn’t count” despite its lack of violence.

    And I’d like to know where Factual Feminist was hanging out that she “missed” all of the sexism. I’m not giving her traffic by checking her out myself, but almost any multiplayer game out there has its bad eggs out in force on evenings and weekends (no school) – so if she was roaming around during the daytime, the sparser populations might have skewed her results. Plus, if you’re not already a gamer and then are only able to run around as a noob, you’re not going to encounter the end-game players who are most likely to be vocal in their belittling of other players. And try to join a raid group with people you don’t know where someone doesn’t casually shout that the last boss “totally raped them.” (Rape is one of those words I’ve banned in my guild. Along with gay and retarded, if any are used in the derogatory sense.)

    (And slightly tangential, here’s just one example of hard-coded sexism…chest armor in WoW that covers the whole torso for male characters, but serves as a bikini top for female characters.)

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