You’ll Kill A Girl Over A Game?

About half of gamers identify as female

About half of gamers identify as female

Women and girls who make and play video games have long been harassed — especially if they are good at it — and most especially if they criticize misogyny within it.

Some have been threatened with rape and murder (see GamerGate). A few have fled their homes.

Really? You’re going to rape and murder someone over a game, or her reaction to it?

Why the rage?

Gamers grasping at virtual power

So game-boy enters a world of virtual power.

He transforms into the big man fighting off bad guys and gals — or good guys and gals. He’s rescuing damsels in distress. He’s ogling sexy ladies — who’ve dressed enticingly for him.

And the virtual feels real.

Girls playing video games

Girls playing video games

But then some REAL girl comes along and knocks him off his pedestal. She’s the better fighter. And she doesn’t think women need to be saved, or should be objectified.

And his virtual world of power and status goes “POOF!”

Back in the real world he implements Plan B: Make virtual threats. Virtual, because he’s probably not dumb enough to carry out a real threat and end up in jail — over a game.

Of course, there may be some crazies who would carry out the threat for real. But they would only gain virtual — not real — power. And end up disempowered in prison.

Gang-bangers grasping at virtual power

It reminds me of real rapists and real gang members who also grasp at fictional power — which sort of feels like real power — but isn’t much real power at all.

Kids in gangs usually sit at the bottom of the social hierarchy. They don’t own real estate, and so they “take territory” via tagging and gang bangs. The punches and killings make them feel powerful.

And then they end up in prison. Or dead. Not so powerful, after all.

Some men rape to create a sense of holding power over someone else: He takes over her body, makes her submit. He feels control, dominance and superiority as he humiliates her.

But does he actually end up with any real power? Not really. And he could end up in prison, too.

You can’t get too much of what you don’t need

Instead of grasping a virtual power through games or threats or violence, why not become truly empowered?

That may involve changing yourself, or changing society.

But in the end fake power can’t satisfy you.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on December 12, 2014, in feminism, men, psychology, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Now that I think about it, yes I do believe that people would kill others over a game. Not because they were stupid or anything, but rather because the game became “real life” for them. That way, if a woman/girl entered their life and turned their world-view upside down, that person might feel threatened and “defend” themselves.

    Yeah, I can see how people could rationalize things to themselves that way.

  2. What an insightful post! I loved how it went from the virtual reality of gaming to the virtual reality of fake power. Awesome! That craving for power…so interesting how our society has placed such an importance on it when the only thing we can control is ourselves.

  3. “Instead of grasping a virtual power through games or threats or violence, why not become truly empowered?” so true. I sometimes feel that trollers and other online bullies think that their actions don’t count as real because they are virtual- when the violation and violence can feel just as palpable emotionally and verbally as if it were being done face to face.

    I’ve read that a lot of people who commit acts of violence–domestic violence in particular– come from a place inside of feeling powerless and hence the overcompensation… just one of the many reasons, obviously. I agree- if someone were truly empowered and not in the power over dominating way, but in his/her authentic power, that distortion would not need to be committed, the person would not want to.

  4. Easy to be an arsehole to people when you can hide behind a screen. I am sure it is not people who are happy with their life that say and do these things!

    • This. Most people who are mean and abusive towards other people who play the game wouldn’t say these kinds of things to someone’s face in real life. Of course, this just shows how the internet enables greater degrees of bullying and harassment than would be tolerated in real life, and most website and game developers make no effort to prevent cyberbullying, which can be just as harmful as regular bullying and even harder to impossible to escape from.

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