Tag Archives: homophobia

So much ethics: An anti-GamerGate rant @Veeren_Jubbal @INeedDivGms @ChrisWarcraft

Today, CypherofTyr, who started the #INeedDiverseGames tag on Twitter and eventual blogs and groups on various social media and gaming sites, posted this to Tumblr:

Please keep Veerender Jubbal in your thoughts. He’s been targeted by GG yet again but this could get him killed. A bathroom selfie was photoshopped to make it look like he was holding a Quran, wearing a bomb lined vest and for some odd reason, a dildo was added. An Italian news outlet has run the story as true sadly, but Buzzfeed (for once was useful) and called out the obvious photoshop.

It looks like a piss poor photoshop, and it’s a photo where he’s staring straight ahead which someone else couldn’t have taken. However news outlets are running this photo, and that piece of shit Milo Y of Brietbart/GG infamy is trying to harass him further by asking for an exclusive for Brietbart.

Veerender is a very young, sweet guy who’s only asking for equality in games and more representation of Sikh’s and brown men like him. For this, for his rightful anger he’s been targeted yet again. The incorrect party line of “he’s a Muslim terrorist” isn’t new but with the strong anti-Muslim vibe going on because of Paris right now, I am really, really worried for his safety. Not tagging him so I don’t bring hate to his FB.

If you follow him on twitter, please send some words of support, cute animal pics or something. I am very, very worried someone will believe that image is real and go after him.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ellievhall/gamergate-photoshopped-a-canadian-sikh-man-to-make-him-seem#.iwWMapMo5

They did this this weekend, AFTER Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, for which ISIS has claimed responsibility. They did this in a time when anti-Islam sentiment is boiling over and Muslims all over the world are in danger of hate crimes.

It won’t matter that this innocent man is a Sikh. Many Sikhs have been subjected to hate crimes, especially since 9/11, because most people are too ignorant to realize that they’re not Muslims.

This is especially troubling because GamerGaters have been known to attempt murder-by-cop, in the form of something called swatting. Swatting is something that is done to a person who has been doxxed. The harasser makes some form of anonymous report to emergency services that something urgently bad is happening at a person’s address. Like, they’re holding a hostage or they’re waving a gun or whatever. This is done in the hopes that police will show up and bust down the target’s door with guns blazing.

Not that they’ll admit that is the goal, they claim it’s just harassment. But who living in the post-Ferguson world believes that it isn’t actually attempted murder? Especially since the targets of several notable incidences have been black or trans people (such as in this incident last year in Portland) both of whom have every reason to be afraid of being murdered by police.

(Ironically, a few months ago I started writing the sequel to Player vs. Player, called Swatted. My protag is of Middle Eastern descent. Guess what happens.)

For over a year now, I’ve been posting occasionally about GamerGate. GamerGate became a thing last August, just as I was finishing up edits to Player vs. Player (a book which was inspired by harassment of Jennifer Hepler, a writer who used to work on the Dragon Age franchise at BioWare) and Anita Sarkeesian, a media critic who runs a site called Feminist Frequency and does a Feminism 101-level critique of the portrayal of women in video games.

I’ve posted before about how I wrote Player vs. Player a year too early, because it wasn’t, in fact, informed by GamerGate. It just happened to be timely.

GamerGate claims to be about ethics in gaming journalism–which they basically define as preventing any gaming news outlets from posting any articles that might suggest in any way that women and minorities should receive better representation in video games. But here’s the truth about how it actually started.

TL;DR version: posts speculating about Zoe Quinn’s sex life kept getting deleted from legitimate gaming boards, and harassment posts kept getting deleted from other places. So the harassers decided they needed to try another tactic. Here are some of the posts leading up to these harassers deciding they were actually about “ethics in gaming journalism.”

(Extreme TW: Misogyny, misogynist slurs, homophobic slurs, harassment, bullying)

GG Zoe Quinn 01GG Zoe Quinn 02GG Zoe Quinn 03GG Zoe Quinn 04GG Zoe Quinn 05GG Zoe Quinn 06GG Zoe Quinn 07

So it’s completely well-documented that the “ethics in gaming journalism” was a deliberate ploy on the part of these guys to put a veneer of legitimacy on their campaign of harassment of women. The #GamerGate tag was invented, coined by Adam Baldwin, and began spreading all over Twitter.

In the aftermath, the harassment spread to Anita Sarkeesian, who was already misogynist gamers pin-up girl, and to a woman named Leigh Alexander, who posted an article in which she asserted “gamers” are over. You can read the post and see for yourself what her meaning was, but misogynist gamer dudebros didn’t look beyond the title, which they decided was an attack upon them and their identity, and they attacked back.

Then a game developer named Brianna Wu created a few memes mocking GamerGate. For that, she was driven from her home by death and rape threats. (TW: death threats, rape threats, extreme misogyny.)

In the process of crusading for “ethics in gaming journalism”, there has been a flurry of awful behavior. #GamerGate co-opted antisemitic propaganda images to smear Anita Sarkeesian. (TW: antisemitism)

(that’s a caricature of Anita Sarkessian)

(Source: Weev: Gamergate is “the biggest siren bringing people into the folds of white nationalism.”

They equated gamergaters to the #BlackLivesMatter protesters in Ferguson, and equated male gamers to black Americans in the Jim Crow era:

The GamerGate photoshop

The original image

Source: Things #GamerGaters Actually Believe, Part 294: Gamers are as oppressed as African Americans in the Jim Crow era

They created the #NotYourShield tag, which was supposed to prove they weren’t all white males, and then created sockpuppets posing as minorities to boost its population. Internet blackface.

(White nationalists are also claiming GamerGate is boosting their numbers. GamerGaters also frequently reference a trumped-up concept named Cultural Marxism, which is pretty much the next generation of the Nazi buzz phrase Cultural Bolshevism.)

A man named Davis Aurini, who outright confesses to being a white nationalist “on paper” partnered with another GamerGater to make a documentary called “The Sarkeesian Effect” and sought $15,000 per month for their trouble.

(This while accusing Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu of being “professional victims” capitalizing upon their harassment for sympathy and money. The irony astounds.)

They have committed ACTUAL acts of terrorism. In October 2014 Anita Sarkeesian had to cancel an appearance at Utah State University because someone threatened a campus massacre if she appeared (in the process referencing the actual 1989 massacre of several women on a campus in Montreal.)

This is on top of what Sarkeesian deals with on a daily basis.

When Felicia Day, popular actress and geek culture darling, timidly spoke up condemning GamerGate, they doxxed her. (Doxxing, for those who aren’t aware, is the publishing of a person’s personal and financial information–such as address, phone number, employer, family addresses, social security number, etc, for the purpose of harassment.)

Former NFL player and LGBTQIA+ rights activist Chris Kluwe, who had a couple days later posted an absolutely EPIC rant about #GamerGate, was also eventually doxxed. It is pathetic to note, however, that while Felicia Day was doxxed less than an hour after her post, it took them months to dox Kluwe. #GamerGate targets women much more aggressively than it does men.

They even spoke of trying to dox Brianna Wu’s veterinarian in the middle of the night as Brianna Wu waited at the vets with her dying dog. And then, of course, rejoiced and celebrated and harassed Brianna about her loss.

Last year, a Canadian teenager was arrested for swatting female gamers all over North America.

That’s not even close to the end of it.

The Venn diagram of GamerGaters and so-called Men’s Rights Activists isn’t quite a perfect circle, but I’d call it a short oval, at least. Paul Elam, leader of the MRA website A Voice For Men, initially voiced his support for GamerGate, but later seemed to walk to back. GamerGate is also supported by Roosh V, notorious pickup-artist who advocates for the legalization of rape (extreme TW: misogyny and rape apologia) and even confesses to committing rape (TW: rape descriptions).

The person who threatened the massacre if Anita Sarkeesian appeared at Utah State University referenced both GamerGate and repeated a lot of MRA rhetoric.

GamerGate also has a tremendous amount of overlap with neo-Nazi ideology. This really isn’t surprising. All three groups exist for the purpose of upholding white male supremacy, and they echo a lot of the same rhetoric.

For instance, ranting against the concept of so-called Cultural Marxism. The only difference between the three groups is MRAs blame feminists for it, white supremacists blame non-white people for it (as well as feminists), and GamerGaters blame “SJWs” (social justice warriors) for it.

It should be noted that “SJW” is pretty much the “all of the above” option, seeing as how it encompasses any oppressed group advocating for equality, including the groups that MRAs and white supremacists hate.

Here’s where it gets scary though:

Murder in the name of white supremacy is pretty much so universal that I’d be here for weeks listing them. Anders Behring Breivik springs to mind as one, but honestly it happens nearly every day in the US, frequently in the form of law enforcement killing black Americans.

MRAs has a history of celebrating men who murder women in the name of anti-feminism. They have stated Elliot Rodger would have been a hero if he’d just killed women and no men. They have blamed feminists for Rodger’s actions, because Rodger was an “incel” (involuntarily celibate) and because feminists engage in “creep shaming.”

Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot accused of crashing Germanwings Flight 9525, was called an incel hero and his actions an indication of the “beta uprising.” Vox Day, fantasy author and all-around horrible excuse for a human being, opines that Lubitz wouldn’t have crashed the plane if women and just jumped on his dick. MRAs also celebrated the recent massacre at Umpqua Community College.

PUA RooshV is so convinced that one day his followers will commit a massacre that he’s already formulating his response to it.

GamerGaters are already trying to commit murder obliquely with tactics such as swatting, and “raids” on sites such as Tumblr to attempt to harass depressed trans people into committing suicide.

How much longer before they go for the direct approach? Will someone have to actually die before these guys stop being handwaved off as just trolls?

They’ve just spread images of a Sikh man photoshopped to make him look like a terrorist. In the aftermath of a terrorist attack when the entire world is on a hair trigger. How can this be anything but attempted murder?

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Player vs. Player blog tour, days three and four!

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It’s Day Four of the Player vs. Player blog tour! Here are some buy links for you:

Riptide
Amazon US
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble

Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.

Yesterday, my blog tour took me over to The Blogger Girls, where I discussed my background and  motivation for writing Player vs. Player. I also shared an excerpt over at Book Reviews and More by Kathy.

Today I’m sharing another excerpt over at Love Bytes, stopping by TTC Books and More for a brief spotlight stop, and The Jeep Diva is sharing a review and hosting a spotlight stop as well!

Remember, commenters will be entered into a drawing for one of my backlist titles.

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Also, if you missed the middle-of-the-night news, Saugatuck Summer is on special this week for $0.99 at several outlets, including Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. Now is a great time to grab it if you haven’t yet!

Enjoy!

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Player vs. Player blog tour, day two!

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It’s Day Two of the Player vs. Player blog tour! Here are some buy links for you:

Riptide
Amazon US
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble

Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.

Today my blog tour is taking me over to The Novel Approach, where I discuss a particularly mind-boggling bit of irrational reasoning regarding the presence of women in gaming spaces. Also be sure to check out TNA’s lovely review they posted yesterday! Then I head over to to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for a brief spotlight stop, and finally over to Smart Girls Love Sci-Fi, where I share the history and love of gaming that led me to write Player vs. Player. Remember, commenters will be entered into a drawing for one of my backlist titles. Enjoy!

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Player vs. Player release day and blog tour launch!

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Today, Player vs. Player is officially available just about everywhere. Here are some buy links for you:

Riptide
Amazon US
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble

Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.

I start my blog tour off today over at Prism Book Alliance, discussing diversity in gaming then follow that up with two excerpts, one over at All I Want and More Books and the other at Cup o’ Porn. Commenters will be entered into a drawing for one of my backlist titles. Enjoy!

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Why I wrote Player vs. Player: @FeliciaDay @FemFreq @Spacekatgal @ChrisWarcraft @TheQuinnspiracy @gogreen18

I’m gonna get my bona fides–or lack thereof–out of the way up front.

I’m a gamer. I’m a feminist.

Am I a hardcore gamer? I imagine by most definitions, the answer would be no. I don’t have time for it; I have a son to raise and books to write. I drift in and out of gaming when something catches my attention. Whenever I’ve tried to be a hardcore gamer–for a while my husband and I had an arrangement for me to be able to take Friday evenings off from parenting starting at 7 PM so I could raid with my guild–it never worked out. 7 PM for me was 10PM for many of my guildies, so they wanted to start raiding at 5:30 PM, just when I was eating dinner with my husband and son. I always felt guilty because either I was letting my guildies down or I was ignoring my obligations to my family, so I just stopped trying to be a raider. Trying to do RaidFinder-type raids resulted in me being rejected and sometimes harassed for not being geared to their standards, so now I mostly stick to single-player games or do solo and small group content that I can work on in my own time.

While I am a feminist, I also don’t pretend that I’m the most educated and informed person on many of the issues. I’m very reclusive and sometimes that puts me behind the ball on current events and issues.

So, there. I’m by no means either an expert gamer or an expert feminist. I’m just someone who cares enough to try to call attention to issues when and where I can, using the voice and the medium I have available to me. Which, in this case, means as an author of LGBT romance.

When I started writing Player vs. Player , it was about a year after the harassment of Jennifer Hepler (formerly of Bioware) had taken place, and slightly less than a year after Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency had received such toxic backlash for starting her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games Kickstarter.

Those incidences stayed with me because I knew that internetting while female could be a nasty business, and because the harassment was so very vile, because it spoke of such a deep-seated hatred in gaming culture toward women, part of me thought, “Dear God, what is going to happen when one of these people goes from trolling to actual violence?”

It didn’t seem like a far-fetched possibility to me. In fact, it seemed downright inevitable. Because that’s the way things work. Bullies egg each other on and make one another feel bolder and try harder to impress each other and the bullying keeps escalating. That’s the way it’s worked ever since I was the bully-magnet on the playground when I was a kid. One kid would say a cruel thing. The other kids would laugh, so he’d say something crueler. Someone else would try to one-ups him. Next thing I knew, I’d be cornered with them all trying to out-do each other and intimidating me physically. A few days later, someone would be walking down the halls right on my heels, stepping on the backs of my shoes to try to trip me, pushing me into lockers, or, when I got older, grabbing my ass to impress his friends when he came across me browsing the book aisle in the supermarket.

Bullying escalates. So it didn’t seem at all unrealistic that the sort of treatment Hepler and Sarkeesian had received could eventually morph into actual physical violence. After all, what is the point of disseminating someone’s personal information such as their phone number and home address unless you’re trying to encourage someone to go after that person physically, and trying to intimidate that person with the possibility of an actual physical assault?

So that is what I wrote about. But I’m a writer of LGBT (primarily m/m but that may be subject to change in the future) romance, so I used the platform I had, making the story a murder mystery with a romantic subplot between two male characters. At one point I tried to contact Ms. Sarkeesian and see if I could get any more insight that would help me craft that story, but I imagine the amount of email she gets is tremendous so I’m not surprised that mine didn’t catch her notice, and that’s okay. I wrote as best I could, with the information had.

I thought I’d seen vile. I hadn’t seen anything yet.

I hadn’t seen an ex-boyfriend with a sexist ax to grind mobilize a bunch of misogynist trolls against Zoe Quinn (see next paragraph for explanation of this event.) I hadn’t game developer Brianna Wu driven from her home by threats. I hadn’t seen a college campus massacre threatened just because Anita Sarkeesian was going to speak about misogyny in video games (see below.) I hadn’t seen Felicia Day, the darling of geek culture, doxxed less than an hour after cautiously standing up and saying, “this isn’t right.”

(It should be noted that a couple days earlier, former NFL player and notable gamer and LGBT-rights activist Chris Kluwe said the same thing Day did, only much less diplomatically, but he hasn’t been doxxed. It’s only women being targeted.)

I’ve been posting recently about GamerGate, both here and on Tumblr. Maybe some of you don’t know what that is. I’m not going to try to explain it, because many people have done so much better than I can. I will refer you to this article, which explains it nicely.

ETA: After you’ve read that, check out this for a series of screencaps from discussions on 4chan in the first few days of the GamerGate operation, where we see it transition from a misogynist harassment campaign that wasn’t getting any traction to a concerted, calculated effort to try to cloak the harassment under a veneer of legitimacy and co-opt social justice hotbutton issues and language in an attempt to turn other women against Zoe Quinn.

But let’s just make one thing very clear. Despite subsequent recruitment of well-intentioned but misguided stooges and efforts to cloak themselves in legitimacy and claims of being about journalistic ethics, GamerGate is and has been from its very first inception about harassing women in the gaming industry, and women who critique gaming and gamers. It is a misogynist movement whose supporters are willing to make terroristic threats to silence people for suggesting that maybe, just maybe, using images and tropes relying on sexualized violence against women (and people of color, and LGBTQIA+ people) is at best, unimaginative and at worse, harmful to actual people.

GamerGate came along right after I had finished final edits on Player vs. Player. Part of me wishes sometimes I had written it a year later. It would have been a much more informed book. What was primarily on my mind as we were wrapping up PvP was Elliott Rodgers and the UCSB shooting. I even addressed the dedication to his victims and started the book with a quote from vlogger Laci Green, where she said about the shootings: “Misogyny actually kills people.”

At the time, Laci’s message was topical to PvP because that is, at its heart, what PvP is about. It’s about the misogynist/homophobic/racist backlash against gamers requesting (and game developers delivering) more diverse gaming content.

Misogyny actually kills people. That’s an important point to make. We know–especially right now in the aftermath of the murder of unarmed young black men in Ferguson and elsewhere across the United States–that racism kills people. We know that homophobia kills people. And misogyny kills people.

What is so very terrifying about GamerGate and the anti-diversity backlash in gaming is that it’s a perfect storm of misogyny, homophobia, and racism. These people are making terrorist threats against people who are simply asking for fewer harmful tropes and more diverse representation.

A very sad, jaded part of me wonders if the fact that Anita Sarkeesian, Brianna Wu, Zoe Quinn, and now Felicia Day are being terrorized, threatened, even driven out of their homes, would be getting as much play in the press if these women were black, and an even sadder part of me knows the answer to that question would be “no.” We’re taking notice because this is happening to white women (Correction: Ms. Sarkeesian actually identifies as Armenian, I’m told, and her family is from Iraq.)

If I were writing Player vs. Player today, the murderers in the story would identify themselves as supporters of GamerGate. The only reason they don’t is because I wrote the book a year too early. In the author’s notes at the end of the book, I reference Jennifer Hepler and Anita Sarkeesian and explain how their incidences informed the writing of the book. If I were writing it today, that list would be a lot longer, and the book would probably actually be a lot grimmer, because the situation is far more toxic than even I envisioned at the time I wrote the book.

Ms. Sarkessian, Ms. Hepler, Ms. Quinn, Ms. Wu, Ms. Day, this book is for you, and for all the women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ gamers who have been and are being harassed into silence. It’s for cypheroftyr and dragonreine, two amazing LGBTQIA+ female gamers of color who are running the Why-I-Need-Diverse-Games blog and the #ineeddiversegames hashtag. It’s for more people than I can possibly hope to mention, who are refusing to be silenced, despite the best efforts of these misogynist, racist, homophobic trolls to turn gaming and simply being online while female into a culture of terror.

Thank you for fighting the fight. I know my contribution is nothing next to yours, but I’m doing what I can and I will always, always have your backs.

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Oh, hey, Player vs. Player is available now @NetGalley! #mysterysuspense #lgbtqia+ #gaming @RiptideBooks

PlayervsPlayer_468bannerI was wondering when review copies of Player vs. Player would be available. Somehow it snuck up onto NetGalley without me realizing! You can also pre-order PvP at Riptide or Amazon.

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In honor of the #INeedDiverseGames tag, I share an excerpt from Player vs Player @RiptideBooks

For those of you who aren’t aware, I have a mystery/suspense novel coming out in December titled Player vs. Player. This novel is set within the gaming industry and deals with the rampant misogyny, homophobia, and racism in gaming and geek culture, and more specifically, the violent backlash against anyone who speaks out and threatens the status quo. It was inspired by, among other things, the way Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency has been treated for her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games video series.

Today, CypherofTyr on Tumblr started the #INeedDiverseGames hashtag on Twitter and a Tumblr blog called Why-I-Need-Diverse-Games. It only took a couple hours for trolls to appear and start trying to derail a tag that has already picked up some absolutely awesome momentum. In support of this, I thought I would share a particularly relevant excerpt from Chapter 18 of Player vs. Player.

Cast of Characters:
Rosena Candelaria: (Latina, pansexual) CEO of Third Wave Gaming Studios
Niles River: (Half-Turkish MOC, gay) Lead writer at Third Wave
Jordan River: (Half-Turkish MOC, gay) Niles’s identical twin brother, marketing director at Third Wave
Angela Payne: (Black, lesbian) Police detective
Timothy Wyatt: (White, bisexual) Police detective

Continue reading

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The Cult of Masculinity

Okay, folks, I’m going to the ranty place. Buckle up.

So, one of the latest bits of misogyny to make feminists on social media see red (and for good reason) is this commercial:

For the moment, let’s forget all the not-so-subtle subtext here. Let’s forget that something associated with being a woman is quite literally being equated to shit (he picks up the purse the same way a dog owner will collect their dog’s droppings.) Let’s forget that it’s saying that finding ways to cloak any un-masculine presentation is an endeavor worthy of applause, or that holding a woman’s purse for a couple minutes is so emasculating a task that he has to find ways to avoid being seen doing it.

When did carrying a purse become a purely feminine trait?

(The answer, for those of you who care about the history of fashion, is “sometime after the late 17th century, when men’s fashion started to come with pockets for carrying their coin, which was the only currency option back then.”)

Today, I was driving past the mall and I saw a man on the sidewalk wearing a very small backpack. Like, half as wide as a regular backpack and not as long. It looked something like this, but more canvas-like, not so padded and athletic:

In fact, in terms of size, it actually looked more like, well, this:

Titled on Ebay: “Cute women’s mini-backpack.”

Let’s face it, folks. He was carrying a “man purse.” And I hate that I have to call it a “man purse.” He wants the carry capacity of a purse, but he’s too manly to carry an actual, you know, purse.

Which is why I started wondering when carrying a purse became something unmanly. I mean, look at Scotsmen with their sporrans.

I mean, Liam Neeson here as Rob Roy is rocking long hair, a skirt, AND a purse, and I don’t care if you’re some freaky mutant hybrid made up of the combined DNA of Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vin Diesel and The Rock, your poor, teeny-tiny steroid-shrunken penis is curling up and weeping in envy because it knows you will never be half so butch as Liam in this picture.

Do I have a point here? Yes, of course I do. It’s the fact that ultra-masculinity is held up as such a gold standard for existing that anything which even hints at femininity is treated as though it will TAINT that masculinity by mere proximity. (Seriously, how manly are you really if the sight of a box of tampons can make you squirm?)

Now, as a woman, as a feminist, of course this bothers me because femininity is viewed as being inherently and by its very nature inferior. It’s even codified into our vernacular. A guy who feels he’s being treated like a woman will complain about the implication that he’s “less than” a man. Less than. I’ve heard femme gay guys use that verbiage. Men who were feminists and who love and support the women in their lives and claim to have no problems with femininity, especially their own manifestation of it. They use it without thinking about what they’re actually implying.

Less than a man.

Let’s say we’re getting away from this idea of gender as a binary and treating it as a spectrum. It’s still being treated as a VERTICAL spectrum, with masculinity at the top and femininity at the bottom. And that’s not good.

As a writer of LGBT romance (m/m for now but that may change in the near future) this affects me because a subject that comes up periodically in the m/m romance community is the trope that the roles a guy plays sexually correlate to his gender presentation. In other words, the femme gay guy is the bottom and the butch gay guy is the top.

Now, this is an absolutely 100% valid criticism. These heteronormative stereotypes are no good for anyone. The assumption that all gay men participate in penetrative sex is no good. The assumption that anyone has any business knowing what role someone plays in their private sex life is no good, unless the concerned parties are happy to share and not pressured by intrusive questions. There is a lot of BAD about that trope and I absolutely support dismantling it, so long as we can do so without committing erasure on or belittling the femme gay guys who DO enjoy bottoming exclusively, or the butch guys who do enjoy topping exclusively. We have to respect their presence in the community as well and not eschew them just because they slot into an uncomfortable stereotype.

But the TONE of the criticism sometimes bothers me as a woman. Because, of course, gay couples get asked (rudely and unacceptably) “which one of you is the girl?” So gay men are lashing back (justifiably) saying, “don’t ask me what role I play in sex. Don’t assume I’m the top or the bottom.”

Which is great if the end of that sentence is “because it’s no one’s business but mine” or if the answer were, “maybe I top and maybe I bottom, or maybe I do neither, it’s not your business and anyway, what difference does it make?”

But sometimes the subtext of that conversation isn’t “don’t assume I’m the bottom,” it’s “don’t assume I’m the girl.”

To which I would have to reply, “Wait. What’s wrong with being the girl?” I mean, why is being the girl fine for me (as a girl) but not for you, unless you think that “being the girl” makes you . . . less?

Unfortunately, just as straight women who purport to be friends and allies of the LGBT community can espouse homophobic and transphobic biases they might not even realize they hold, sometimes gay men, even those who claim to love and support women, can be misogynists, too.

But here’s the kicker: MISOGYNY IS THE ROOT OF HOMOPHOBIA/BIPHOBIA/TRANSPHOBIA. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it a million times again. There would be absolutely nothing threatening about men and women who cross sexual and gender lines if those lines weren’t in place as scaffolding to uphold this notion of masculinity being superior to femininity, and if the commingling of the two weren’t perceived as tainting that superiority.

So, guys–straight, gay, and otherwise–rock that purse if you need room to carry something. If you do to the store for your girlfriend/wife/platonic female roommate/BFF, slap those tampons down on the conveyor belt with an utter lack of give-a-fuck. Stop trying to uphold your masculinity by distancing yourself from the “taint” of femininity. Harmful stereotypes, damaging gender roles, and homophobia doesn’t end until the taboo of femininity ends. Work on dismantling that, rather than dodging it.

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Player vs. Player now available for pre-order at Amazon #mmromance #mystery #gaming @RiptideBooks

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Player vs. Player is now available for pre-order at Amazon.

Keep in mind that if you pre-order through Riptide, you get the book two days earlier, and more of the proceeds support the author and publisher. However, ordering at Amazon affects the chances of the book making bestseller lists upon its release, and that’s important too.

But, most important of all, readers have a choice. Which is always awesome.

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Get your first look at Player vs. Player @RiptideBooks #mmromance #mystery #gaming #comingsoon

This weekend while I was enjoying myself at Gay Romance NorthWest in Seattle, Riptide released the excerpt for Player vs. Player in their weekend newsletter. It’s now available on their website, so feel free to take a peek!

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Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.

Player vs. Player is coming December 8, 2014 and is available for pre-order now!

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Some weeks there’s so much to say that you can’t say anything

So, last week I was mostly offline except for blog tour stuff. Nothing going on, I just felt the need to crawl into my hole for a while, and then my kid had Friday off as well as Memorial Day so it was a long weekend parenting. Except for checking email, I went totally dark. No Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, whatever.

The point being, I was a day or two behind the ball learning about the UCSB massacre.

How did I find out about it? Well, my husband emailed me a YouTube video, which I ignored for a day because he often sends me links to miscellaneous stuff he has found interesting so I didn’t think it was pressing.

This was the video:

I’ve spent the week wanting to say something about it, but honestly I think Laci says it all in that video. I’ve been following the posts on Tumblr and the #YesAllWomen hashtag and vacillating between being saddened to the point of tears and enraged to the point of wanting to do violence myself, particularly at some of the male responses (and even some of the female ones.)

We live in a world where women who are killed by men for rejecting a man’s advances are being held culpable for their own deaths in the court of public opinion. Honestly, what is there to say about that? I can’t even. My mind goes blank and I just want to go HulkSmash! all over everything.

I read the #YesAllWomen hashtag, though, and while each and every anecdote fills me with sorrow and impotent rage, I actually don’t share most of those experiences. See, I’m pretty much a shut-in. I go out into public only when I absolutely have to, maybe 2-3 times a month, and usually it’s just to run a specific errand and head home, interacting with as few people as possible. The thing that saves me from sharing the nearly universal experiences of women trying to exist in our society today is a nearly pathological level of reclusiveness. Which is ridiculous. Is that honestly what it takes to escape the invasive sexism in our culture? Living like a hermit?

It seems almost a portent that this should happen the same week I contracted Third Wave with Riptide. I was originally going to self-publish Third Wave due to some scheduling conflicts that wouldn’t allow it to be released when I was hoping to release it, but those got worked out and now my family can go on our first vacation in almost four years rather than paying the editing costs for the novel.

Why do I say it seems a portent? Because Third Wave is about misogyny and homophobia, wrapped in a whodunit set in the gaming industry and geek culture. The same week that Laci Green says in her video, “misogyny actually kills people” I signed a contract on a novel about exactly that issue. My MC, Niles, is a gay man, yes, but an equally important character is his boss, Rosena Candelaria, the CEO of Third Wave Studios, which produces video game titles with mass appeal that specifically make a point of giving equal representation to women, POC, and LGBT players. It’s a book about feminist politics (and make no mistake, homophobia is at its heart an issue about misogyny as well, because there would be nothing threatening about people who blur the line between masculine and feminine if masculinity weren’t considered a gold standard that needs to be defended from any taint of the “inferior” femininity) and the backlash against anything that threatens the status quo of white cis-het-male privilege.

And just when I feared people would sneer or think I was exaggerating the problem, that no one would actually KILL over something like that, well, look what happened.

So remember that when you read Third Wave. Remember it’s not blown up for dramatic purposes. It’s very, very real. In the book I show some of the tweets and texts that Rosie and Niles deal with, and I will say right now that every single one of them is a paraphrase of a real tweet or text shared by feminist activists like Anita Sarkeesian of FeministFrequency, or the Fandoms and Feminism Tumblr, or Fat, Ugly, or Slutty.

So, stay tuned for more about Third Wave in the months to come. And pray/meditate/do whatever you do for the victims of the UCSB shooting, their families, and the women living in daily threat of similar violence being visited upon them.

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Interneting while Female: women and online harassment

Let me tell you a little story. Actually, let me tell you a few of them.

Let me tell you a little about Jennifer Hepler. She was a writer for BioWare, a gaming company known best for their Star Wars, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect franchises. She wrote some very popular characters, but one day she made the catastrophic mistake of creating a Twitter account. Within just a few days, trolls had dug up a quote of hers from years before about the direction of gaming (most notably that games would probably adopt a “story” mode for players who were playing for the narrative rather than the combat) and had declared war on her. They targeted not just her Twitter, but her personal life. If you want to see even just a fraction of the abuse she was subjected to in those few days, check out this entry for her at Encyclopedia Dramatica, where the trolls continue to take their pot-shots. (I recommend you take anti-nausea medication before you do so.)

Then, right on the heels of the Jennifer Hepler harassment, there was another major incident in gaming circles.

Now, understand that I don’t even know the whole of it, only what I’ve read in articles and blog posts. I would really love to sit down with Anita Sarkeesian and talk about it someday. If you’re a woman on the internet, particularly a woman in “male-dominated” communities like sci-fi and gaming, this woman is a hero and you need to be aware of her. She’s on the front lines fighting the fight so we don’t have to.

Anita Sarkeesian runs a website called Feminist Frequency, which is dedicated to analyzing the representation of women in pop culture. Instead of telling you what happened when she took on a project dealing with the portrayal of women in video games, I’ll let Anita do it in her own words:

The TED-talk in the video was over a year ago. The harassment it details was nearly two years ago. Now look at the date on that tweet at the top of this post.

It’s still going on. (Though Anonymous has disavowed any involvement.)

“Every day I’m encouraged by the women who persevere, who continue to engage, and who refuse to be silenced.” — Anita Sarkeesian

This. So much this.

Some of you may know I hang out on Tumblr pretty regularly, and I follow a number of feminist blogs there, particularly http://fandomsandfeminism.tumblr.com/. So every day on my dash, I see dozens of messages from the person running that blog, dealing with not only sexism, but minority representation, homophobia, transmisogyny, and racial issues. A lot of those messages are asks–messages sent directly to the blow owner–that are very hostile, and I don’t know if she responds to them all, but I know she responds to a lot of them. Enough so that I’m exhausted watching her do it.

I honestly don’t know how every day, she and Anita Sarkeesian go back out there and take on the fight. I’m not sure I could do it. I’d like to think I could, but realistically? I think I would get too weary and disheartened.

Homophobia is another issue in online gaming spaces, though I admit I’m not as conversant on the subject. But take a look at this video:

The tenor of homophobic harassment in gaming seems to be different, but it’s still quite toxic.

What’s the point to this?

About a year ago I decided I wanted to pay some tribute and shine a spotlight on these issues in a book I was writing. The book is called Third Wave, and it’s an honest-to-God whodunit, a mystery who’s main characters are a pair of gay twin brothers and their female boss at a video game production company called Third Wave Studios. The boss, Rosena, is a bit of an amalgamation of all the women I’ve mentioned above, dealing with the same sort of harassment as she attempts to run a studio dedicated to creating video game titles which are not only successful, but also present positive and non-stereotyped LGBT, POC, and female heroes. One of the twins is the lead writer on the studio’s most controversial franchise (controversial because of its LGBT characters and content) and the story deals heavily with the battles they face.

I’m almost at the end of writing the story, then I need to go through and make some revisions because the plot took a few turns that I need to account for earlier in the story. But I really want to present this story as a sort of homage to the people on the front lines of the battle of gendered and homophobic harassment in online gaming spaces, do my part, however small, to spread awareness of what is going on in the underbelly of our pop culture.

But this post isn’t to pimp my WIP. It’s about the people I’ve mentioned here, the ones who wake up every day and fight the fight I don’t know if I’d had the guts to. Read the links. Watch the videos. And just…be aware. Know that this is going on, even if it’s not happening in your line of sight, and that if you’re not in the middle of it, it’s almost certainly far, far worse than you assume it is.

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