One of the things I hear whenever I write about misogyny in video games is that there’s a silent majority of male gamers who are uncomfortable with the vicious sexism some of their counterparts deploy against women (and frankly, against men, too). Women aren’t alone in feeling hopeless, or like there’s no effective way to change either the behavior of individuals or the culture that leaves space for the harassment of women. So I hopped on Twitter yesterday and asked men who play video games, and who push back against sexist behavior when they see it, what kinds of arguments they’ve found to be effective. Dozens of you responded, with a lot of terrific advice. So if you’ve ever wanted to call out sexism in video games but weren’t sure how to start the conversation or how to make sure it would be productive, here’s the collective wisdom of the internet.
-Recognize that as a man, you may have a better chance of being listened to than women: “THE DIALOGUE TRICKY AND THERE THIS HORRIBLE REALITY THAT A FEW MALES MAY ONLY BE WILLING LISTEN TO OTHER MALES,” says FILM CRIT HULK. Women who write about sexism in gaming—and sexism in entertainment in general—often find themselves discredited on the grounds that they’re acting in their own self-interest (which is strange, when you think about it). When men speak up against sexism, it gives validity to the idea that sexism is a problem that affects everyone, not just something that only women see or experience.
-Have the conversation one-on-one, if possible: “As a rule I think direct 1 on 1 conversation is more valuable than a public setting (Internet included) w/ groupthink,” writes Reuben Poling. If you think someone is reachable in private, but likely to get their hackles up in public, start the conversation there before shaming or banning them more aggressively.
-Take the high ground—but don’t sound superior: “SOMETIMES IT ABOUT STARTING FROM PLACE GIVING RESPECT EVEN IF RESPECT UNDESERVED?” asks FILM CRIT HULK. And Byron Hauck suggests avoiding prissiness: “‘Don’t talk like that with me.’ Pepper in swearing or ‘bro’ as you feel appropriate. Works on homophobia & antisemitism too.”
-Stay as calm as possible. If you need to blow off steam, don’t do it in conversation with the person your’e trying to change: “Speak calmly and then back off,” says Ian Dickerson. “Avoid messy argument. Hope silent majority feel more able next time as a result.”
-Use humor: Lots of recommendations for this. Humor and sarcasm change the perception of who’s in violation of norms, and shows that feminism is cleverer than sexism.
-Be clear, from the beginning, the conditions under which you’re willing to play with someone, and stick to them: “We simply did not tolerate any sort of sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia, or other bigotry, even jokingly,” Grayson Davis of Beeps & Boops wrote in an email. “We had a zero-tolerance approach, with exceptions only made for long-standing players who seemed genuinely sorry, and even then we handed out long bans—several weeks or months, which is a very long time in multiplayer gaming.”