On Civility & Sexism Online

Content note: cyberbullying, abuse, sexual assault

Some interesting news in the world of electronic incivility: 1. a police officer was fired for using profanity, including racial slurs, on X-Box live, and 2. Reuters reported on the sheer depth and breadth of electronic violence against women.

First, let me say electronic abuse is a serious problem, one whose danger and breadth we are only just beginning to comprehend as a society. Its severity probably has something to do with the combination of anonymity and entitlement that encourages behaviors for which one might normally be held accountable. I think about it a lot and have written about it at least twice, maybe more. But misunderstandings about its rise and the media’s passion for reports on “cyberbullying” have led to skepticism by some, ably voiced by none other than Tyler, The Creator of American hip-hop outfit Odd Future:

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Not in the Kitchen Anymore

Recently I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled more than ever for articles talking about gaming culture and its effects on its members, in addition to its effects on the people that supply us with our drug of choice (i.e.: game devs). This may come as a shock to some people, but apparently when you keep your eyes open, you actually find things. Today’s Web Crush hits a spot very close to my heart and combines two of my favorite things: Xbox Live and laughing at stupid people. What? I never said I was nice.

webcrush picNot in the Kitchen Anymore is a site that documents fellow girl gamer Jenny Haniver’s day-to-day experiences as she plays games over Xbox Live. This doesn’t sound all that interesting from my description, but it’s the simplest way to explain the layout of her posts. On a deeper level, she’s exploring the misogyny that’s so rampant within the community. Or, well, I wouldn’t say exploring—it’s “exploring” if the temples Indiana Jones “explored” came up and knocked on his door. What’s happening here is more like watching Cops.

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Gaming Company Leads Want Players to Think Before Raging

Trigger warning: derogatory language and slurs below.

“Fuq u pussi biiitc h lern 2 play”

This is part of the verbatim bullshit I was forced to deal with during a game of League last night. However, it looks like someone heard my prayers, or the prayers of a huge chunk of the gaming community, of cracking down on negative sexist banter on co-op games. We’re not talking just anyone here; we’re talking Kiki Wolfkill and Bonnie Ross kind of people. These women are the Executive Producer of Halo 4 and the head of the Microsoft 343 Industries, in case you were unaware, and their initiative can be summed up in six words: check yourself before we wreck you.

Taken from an article on Jezebel, the two of them have started work on a zero-tolerance policy for the popular Xbox Live service Microsoft provides. Like screaming words like “cunt”, “retard”, or “faggot” over your headset? Well you won’t once you get banned for it! Oh, and this is a lifetime ban too, so don’t think you’ll be getting back on in a week or month.

This initiative is to aid in making female gamers in particular—and perhaps gamers as a whole—feel more comfortable with getting a more expansive gaming experience. Of course, as is the case with filter dodging like above, there will be people that find a way to circumvent these rules, but with any luck it will drastically cut down on the dude-bro mentality in some of the more popular multiplayer games. I can’t say that I have high hopes as of now, but I do have hope that it will work out in the end.