Tag Archives: sexism

Misogyny and discomfort with women’s sexuality

Yesterday, an anonymous gay man made a post about the fetishization and objectification of gay men in the m/m romance genre.

I won’t say he didn’t have some good points. He absolutely did. The fact that people in the m/m romance genre objectify and fetishize gay men is not a new one; it has come up repeatedly since I published my first book. It does exist, and it should really stop.

I also won’t say he tarred all women with the same brush, either. He included the obligatory “not all women” disclaimer. And I think if any woman reads that post and her response is “Not All Women!” then she’s doing exactly what she shouldn’t be doing and missing the point.

However, even though he made a good point, and even though he took care not to generalize, there is some deep misogyny in the post. And that’s not a new thing, either. It’s no surprise that some gay men are not exempt from misogyny. We live in a culture that actively works to undermine women, and no one is free of that influence, even women who are trying to overcome it.

As I mentioned in a comment to AJ Rose on Facebook, a lot of the fetishization and objectification I’ve seen in the genre actually happens outside the books, in the behavior of some readers and writers. In the presence of purely sex and phallus-driven stuff so prevalent at LGBTQ reader/writer conventions. At go-go boys and images of penises and nearly nude men in a space where the subject is supposed to be books.

But then he takes aim at the books themselves, and that bothers me. Because he acts as though all these books are about is the sex scenes, and that’s not true.

He says author’s portray men as “sex-crazed pigs.” It’s true a lot of books in the genre have characters who fuck around a lot. Usually the point of the book is for them to realize that that fucking around isn’t fulfilling them and that being with one person with whom they have an emotional connection is much more fulfilling. So if anything, the point of those stories is that men are NOT “sex-crazed pigs” but that they sometimes act that way for a number of factors.

Gay men are not exempt from the effects of toxic masculinity, which INSISTS that men must have high, aggressive sex drives, either. Nor are gay men exempt from hookup culture, which has spread throughout western society since the sexual revolution of the 60s. To ignore that would be to paint incomplete portraits of things gay men experience and deal with in our society.

Portraying that reality is only fetishization or objectification if the only point of it is to titillate. To portray it as part of a character’s journey is something else entirely. Especially when that portrayal involves the characters in question moving beyond those influences into something they find more satisfying with a single partner.

Now, I’m gonna throw a wacky, far-out concept out here. It’s sort of a big word, and Anonymous might want to write it down. The word is “storytelling.” It’s sort of a thing with authors. We’re kinda known for doing it.

Anonymous also lambasts the fact that protags in the story have sex with each other frequently. Again, that is only fetishization or objectification if it exists only to titillate. If it happens within the context of a new relationship forming, where the sexual energy is high because hello, the relationship is NEW, then it’s not fetishization or objectification. It’s simply portraying the very realistic experience of a newly-minted couple. It happens with m/f romance as well. Hell, it happens in real life. When my relationships were all new, we fucked like bunnies. It’s just a thing people do when they’re new and discovering one another sexually.

Okay, you say, those are valid points that Anonymous got wrong, but they’re not misogyny.

Well, here’s where it becomes misogyny:

He only smacks around the female readers and writers for it. Apparently it’s okay for male readers and writers to portray and enjoy these things, but not women.

As far as I can tell, according to Anonymous’s rant, the problem isn’t that these things EXIST. It’s that WOMEN ARE ENJOYING THEM EXISTING. That’s what he says is wrong with it all.

And that’s because we, as a culture, are very uncomfortable with women as sexual beings. See the phenomenon where women who willingly share nude selfies are whores and sluts and the pictures are disgusting, but a huge number of men in our society have an insatiable appetite for selfies that are shared without the woman’s consent.

Because it’s okay to enjoy women’s nude selfies, as long as they’re not shared and enjoyed willingly by the woman in question.

Men are allowed to propagate and consume sexuality. Women are not. And that, my friends, is bullshit. And it’s hypocrisy, and Anonymous should be ashamed for his lack of self-awareness.

We are uncomfortable with women’s sexuality on a societal level. And I say we because women are not exempt from this. It’s a product of the patriarchy which tells us that men’s sexuality is good and healthy and women’s sexuality is shameful and needs to be buried and repressed.

OH NO! WOMEN ENJOY SEX-TYPE STUFF. THE WORLD IS ENDING. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!

Even I, as sex-positive as I am, still struggle with it. The sight of (cis) women’s genitalia makes me squirm and not in the good way. Yonic imagery makes me uncomfortable, phallic imagery does not. It’s entirely possible that the reason I have gravitated toward m/m romance is because I find it easier to deal with male characters in a sexual context than female characters. Maybe. Back in my fandom days I wrote PLENTY of m/f erotica and erotic romance, so maybe not. Maybe m/m is just where I landed because it works for me as a writer at this stage of my personal development. Possibly the pendulum will swing the other way someday. Certainly I’m not in m/m romance for the money; I’d make far more money writing m/f.

Every day, as I evolve as a human being, I try to be aware of this influence and overcome it. I challenge myself daily to be as comfortable with the sight of a vulva as I am the sight of a penis. I struggle daily to find the same aesthetic value in f/f pictures and porn videos as I do in m/m pictures and porn.

That’s because I’m a self-aware human being, and I know that I am still under the influence of internalized misogyny.

Anonymous could do with a healthy dose of self-awareness. Because the problem made apparent by his post is not the problem he was ranting about.

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So, GamerGate finally worked up the guts to go after @ChrisWarcraft

How did #GamerGate respond when former NFL player and outspoken LGBT rights activist Chris Kluwe savaged them?

They went after and doxxed Felicia Day, the darling of internet fandom and all things geeky, when she very gently and timidly suggested that maybe these dudebros shouldn’t be threatening and harassing women.

That’s because GamerGators are cowards and they’re misogynists. As far as they’re concerned, it’s open season on women who stand against them, but it took them a while to take their balls in-hand and go after a guy.

In case you’ve missed my other posts about GamerGate’s antics, here’s a few highlights:

They’re cowards, though. So they do this shit, and then try to find ways to weasle out of the consequences.

So, honestly, I’m not sure what to make of the fact that they’ve gone after Chris Kluwe now. Does it mean they’re escalating, growing bolder and more dangerous? Or that they’re just becoming less misogynist and more diverse in their harassment?

I’ve said before and I’ll say again that if #gamergate had happened a year earlier, Player vs. Player would have been a very different book. Or rather, it would have been the same book, but the collection of real-life events that made up the inspiration for it would have been so much more informed about just how low these guys will sink and the sort of tactics they use.

For instance, in Player vs. Player, we have this incident in PvP:

“That leaves us with the final wave. Now is Niles Grace or Chino, and who is the last person?”

Payne looked from the drawings to Niles and Rosie. “After the player character, Grace is the leader of the company.”

Rosie blinked. “Me? You think I might be a target?”

Jordan laughed, though it was bitter. Nothing about this was a damn bit funny. “Rosie, when haven’t you been a target?”

“But he’s been leaving the notes for Niles.”

“Because you have a doorman and security. He can’t get to you, and if he sent them via email, they would just get lost in the thousands of other threats we file and ignore. He wanted our attention, and the emails and texts aren’t the way to get it.”

“You’re the boss,” Niles said, staring at Rosie. He had a quaver in his voice that Jordan didn’t like, as if he were moments from falling apart. “To get to the boss, you have to go through his or her lieutenants, right?”

Witnessing what GamerGate has been up to, how they’ve steered clear of going after high-profile male targets and instead concentrated their harassment on women, I wonder if I would have written that section differently now.

At any rate, my support is with Chris Kluwe, as it is with all of their targets. May 2015 be the year when sniveling, neckbearded cowards decide that hey, maybe it’s time to be decent human beings and not send rape threats and drive people from their homes and threaten college campus massacres, all because women would like to see a few less chainmail bikinis in their favorite hobby.

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Score one for the terrorists #misogyny #gaming @femfreq @RiptideBooks

When I decided to write Player vs. Player, a great deal of it was inspired by events that happened a couple years ago to Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency and Jennifer Hepler, formerly of Bioware.

As the months have passed nearing the book’s publication, I worried that people would think I had hashed up an outdated incident and exaggerated it for story fodder. But I haven’t.

The reality is actually much grimmer.

Before I go any further, I will need to apologize. I’ve gotten three hours of sleep in the last 48 hours, I’ve had no coffee this morning, and my blood sugar is so low that I’m trembling. And I’m deeply upset and just… heartsick. My soul hurts. So I’m not necessarily at my coherent best right now, but I don’t have much time to post this before I need to leave.

Today as I woke up, looking forward to attending GRL, I discovered that Anita Sarkeesian has been forced to cancel an appearance at Utah State University. Apparently, the fact that this woman wants to speak about the treatment imaginary female characters receive in imaginary worlds and how that treatment reflects in our real-life culture is so intolerable that men have resorted to terrorist threats to try to silence her message.

This is after I’ve spent a week watching the #ineeddiversegames hashtag on Twitter and following the why-i-need-diverse-games blog on Tumblr. Which has also received a great deal of harassment from misogynists, racists, and homophobes who don’t see the lack of diversity in gaming as a problem.

Meanwhile, unarmed Black men are being murdered by the police forces who are supposed to protect and defend the people. And women are being assaulted and murdered for having the audacity to ignore catcalls or refuse unwanted advances on the street.

Do we not see that the reflections (or lack thereof) that we see of women, people of color, and MOGII/LGBTQIA+ people in our media (like video games) informs the culture in which women can be shot in the head and have their throats slit for not responding favorable to street harassment? That the portrayals of people of color in these games as being villains or victims or cannon fodder but never heroes whose stories we experience contributes to the dehumanization of people of color, to the point where young Black men who aren’t threatening anyone, who aren’t armed, who have committed no crime.

And the people who point out this issue are being threatened with rape and massacres and harassed until their voices are drowned out.

Maybe it’s my lack of sleep or lack of caffeine or lack of food, but today I just can’t with it all. We live in a world that hates women, that hates people based on the color of their skin or who they love or whether or not their gender matches their genitalia. And I just want to cry.

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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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The summer in review (or: “where the heck have you been, Amelia?”)

So, it’s been almost two months since my last blog update. I know. Ask me how long some people have been waiting for responses to emails they’ve sent to me.

My dear friend Depression has been visiting this summer, and hasn’t wanted to leave. For the last several months, it’s been increasingly difficult to make myself do anything unless it has an actual deadline attached to it. Mostly I’ve been doing escapist stuff and avoiding talking to people (if you’re one of those people in question, I beg you not to take it personally, as I’m avoiding everyone. It’s not just you.) The avoidance is probably for the best, actually. When I tend to get this bad, I will often go off the rails and behave badly and lash out at people and it’s not pretty. It also, however, has not helped me get a whole heck of a lot done.

So, what have I been doing?

In order of what you’re going to see released, I have two projects approaching completion.

The first will be coming out just in time for GRL, and is a box set with a bunch of other authors whose company I’m incredibly thrilled to be in.

UnconditionalSurrender_400x600My story is titled The Houseboy: Initiation, and is nothing short of pure, unadulterated erotica. Seriously. There are a lot of stories where I go for “smut with substance” and there is a lot happening behind the sexytiems. This…is not one of those times. It’s Daddy kink. It’s BDSM. It’s age difference, virginity kink, gangbang, objectification, semi-public sex, exhibitionism, and God only knows what else. In many ways, it’s what Strain would have been without the angst and the fuck-or-die element driving the plot. If that sounds like your cuppa, I’ll be sharing an excerpt in my next post. 🙂

Of course, my depression means my inner critic is being particularly loud, and I’m convinced the story is awful and has no place in the bundle and blah blah blah, but hopefully it will go over well. The bundle is up for pre-order if you would like go that route, and here are the links:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
iTunes

No, you’re not imagining things, Yes, we really are offering you 300K of original stories by some of your favorite authors for only 99 cents. Jump on this. Seriously.

PlayervsPlayer_468bannerThe next project in the works will be coming out in December. I’ve already shared some about it, but in case you missed it, this is my first attempt at an honest-to-God mystery. (Yes, I went to the plotty place.) This is also the same book you might have heard me refer to in other places as Third Wave. I also went to a surprisingly low-smut place with this one. I’m not sure if I was proud or appalled at how sparse the content and kink warnings were when I was filling out the information for the product page at Riptide. PvP will be out in December and is available for pre-order from Riptide. Right now we’re in the middle of edits and I imagine review copies will be going out in the next month or so.

Now, what else have I been working on? Well, a great deal of my new-word productivity this summer has been spent on Bane. What Bane is, I’m hesitant to say, because it keeps changing on me. It started as a prequel to Strain, set about ten years before the events of Strain. It was the story of high-end escort Nico and Zach Houtman, the disowned elder son and brother of Father Maurice and Jacob in Strain, and how their actions and the actions of those around them led to the activation of Project Juggernaut and the plague that wiped out most of humanity.

And then I discovered that Darius, Rhys, Xolani and the rest of the Delta Company gang wanted in on some of the plot threads that developed as a result of those pre-plague events, it became a sequel to Strain with portions that jumped back in time (via extended flashback-like sections) to before the plague. So it was sort of going to be a prequel-within-a-sequel, if that makes sense?

But then, as I brainstormed a few plot points with Chris, the editorial assistant at Riptide, I realized I probably have too much content for just one book. Nothing is set in stone yet, but it is looking like it might be two books–the original prequel I envisioned, and then a sequel which will take the events of the prequel and bring them together with the characters from Strain. Right now the whole project is still being called Bane, though I imagine at some point there is going to be another title involved.

So, what does this mean? Well, I’m really excited about Zach and Nico’s story, especially since I get to delve into a lot of the politics and build the world and events that resulted in the plague, but for those of you who were fans of Strain, I’m sure the big news here is that yes, Darius and Rhys WILL be back. It was actually pretty amazing from a writing standpoint. I was stuck writing some stuff with Zach and Nico, so I decided to switch over and start working on a new scene with Darius and Rhys, and I swear, everything just fell into place. They came back to me so easily and naturally, and it just felt so right, and once I started working on them, everything else started to take shape and make sense. So I’m hoping to have the first draft of this two-book manuscript done in another month or two, and then hopefully Riptide and I will have more information for all of you.

And don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten that Geoff and Robin from Saugatuck Summer, or Matt and Chris from The Field of Someone Else’s Dreams, are still supposed to get their own books. Those are just on the back burner for now because Bane is consuming my brain. And for those of you who are looking forward to PvP, you might like a heads-up that Niles’s twin brother Jordan will also be getting his own book, and also I may be dipping my toe into the f/f pool and giving Rosie, Niles’s boss and best friend, her story as well. In fact, she’s poking me in the back of the brain pretty hard and demanding it, and you just don’t say no to Rosie. It doesn’t happen.

Next month, I’ll be up in Seattle at Gay Romance NW 2014, and then in October, of course, I’ll be at GRL2014 in Chicago. I was not one of the lucky few who got an author spot, so I’ll be attending as a reader, but I will be at the Riptide table for the book signings, and I’ll be around, so you’ll get a chance to see me.

So there’s a lot in the hopper right now, the big issue is just overcoming the urge for avoidance and escapism that is part and parcel of being depressed. I’ll be trying to dig my way through my email and message backlog, so hang tight if you’re waiting to hear from me. Hopefully it will get easier the more I work on it. But for those of you are are still reading at this point, especially those of you who deal with chronic depression, what do you do to overcome it when you get in that place where you just want to avoid anything and everyone and not deal with it all?

 

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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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