Dear Male Friends, No Definitely Means No

"I'm not interested" does not mean "keep trying until I give in."

We live in a society where boys are taught not to take no for an answer--to go after what they want. Great! They, as everyone, should reach for the stars and work hard to achieve their goals. Unfortunately, society teaches them that this includes girls. Boys are taught that if a girl says she's not interested, then she's playing hard-to-get and he must work harder "wear her down".

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One of the reason online gaming soared instantly with its inception is that it allowed gamers to play with others and make friends from all walks of life. But it also provided another avenue for harassment. I recently made friends with a pretty decent Overwatch player while in a match.

Sometimes it's difficult to find random players with whom you have decent team-symmetry with. This guy and I were pretty damn lethal. Soon, I noticed a bit of clinginess on his part, so I backed up and began to play with him a little less, only grouping with him when we were playing with other friends.

Then, one day, while we were playing with friends, he sent me a private message and asked if I were single. Harmless enough. "No, I'm not single," I told him. "Is your bf okay with you being with other guys?" Whoa! What is this guy even talking about? "No, he's not," I responded. I knew where this was going, so I continued. "Even if he were, you and me, definitely not going to happen. I'm just not interested." His response, "Why? I've been with older women." I reiterated, "I'm with someone. Plus, we just wouldn't be compatible. I'm not interested. Sorry."

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He tried to get me to talk in Discord. I kept focusing on the match. Then he added, for some odd reason "I usually look for fwb but idm (I don't mind) taking it slow." Once again, I told him, I expressed my disinterest. Still not getting the hint, tells me he bought something to help him "ejac". Why would I even want to know that?!

After the match was over, I logged off. The next day I went to log on and saw he was online and I decided not to log on. For two days. I came to the realization that I was going to have to block him because I want to play my damn game. The next time I logged on he sent me a group invite before my screen finished loading! I declined. Then I told him "Look, I don't feel comfortable gaming with you anymore." Then he hit me with "No one wants to play with me anymore." That actually made me feel bad for him. So, instead of blocking him, I told him that I'm just going to play alone for a while.

I confided in one of my gaming groups that I'm in and other women talked about their very similar experiences. One woman made very good sense in saying

"Men are socialized to believe that wearing women down through persistence is a legitimate and acceptable way to get what they want from them."
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I thought about it and this was not the first time. And each time it had happened, I felt uncomfortable, then guilty for saying no. I've even dated guys because they "wore me down" even though I still wasn't interested; I was made to feel bad for saying no. It's called coercion and it's a common narrative among girls and women. It's one of the many reasons ladies have begun to create spaces just for them.

So here's a piece of advice to our guy friends:

When a lady tells you she that she is not interested in you, do not assume that you must wear her down and keep trying. Back off. If she changes her mind later on down the road, she will let you know. Or, if you feel the climate has changed down the road, try again. But don't be pushy. Don't try to coerce her into dating you. That's not cool at all. It's beyond creepy. And yes, this definitely goes both ways because we know that guys experience this just as well.

Have you had a similar experience? Tell us about it in the comments. Don't forget to LIKE us on Facebook.

 

 

After Only 2 Days, #BullyHunters' Website is Offline Due to Backlash

Standing up to bullying and harassment in video games should be a goal worthy of the gaming community's support. But after Bully Hunter's live stream on April 13, they've encountered the behavior that their organization was created to fight. 

When Ge'NeL first learned about the creation of the BullyHunters, we wanted show our support for an organization standing up to harassment. BullyHunters' was cloaked in mystery until it's launch. Their teaser video did just that--teased, offering no details except that women gamers are tired of the casual sexism and harassment that's treated as if its supposed to be normal and accepted by everyone. Like everyone else, Ge'NeL had to wait until their first live stream for more details. 

BullyHunters seeks to address the growing problem of in-game harassment and bullying. The premise is " to connect victims of bullying with elite gamers who can come to their defense in real time." It's almost like a buddy system. If you're being harassed in game, you hit the button and ask for a hunter to come to your aid. Their purpose isn't to harass the bully. Their purpose is to offer assistance. Someone to have your back. Despite the message, BullyHunters is facing swift backlash online for a myriad of reasons.

Source: Bullyhunters.org

Source: Bullyhunters.org

Reasons for Backlash

During their live stream, there was a mixture of support, uncertainty, expected trolling and the behavior that Bully Hunters was created to fight. Afterward, Twitter was aflutter with talk of BullyHunters' stream. While some called it a "trend" others called it a scam. The data that BullyHunters used was not thoroughly researched and may have been extremely exaggerated or made up. We attempted to verify the given sources but ended up with more questions than answered.

"21 Million female gamers..."

BullyHunters claimed that "21 million female gamers have experienced sex-based taunting, harassment or threats while playing video games online." This number was based on an article written in 2012 that surveyed 874 women. Then, BullyHunters exaggerated the figures based on market size estimates.  BullyHunters named YouGov as its source, but did not provide a link to the survey for this particular statistic. Ge'NeL was unable to find any such research to verify this statistic.

Source: BullyHunter's website

Source: BullyHunter's website

"Over 3 million female gamers have quit a game because of harassment"

Again, these figures are based on market size projections (estimations) in relation to the 874 women polled in the 2012 article. The BullyHunters quotes, but misrepresents the quote with the omission of the word "temporary." They also greatly exaggerated the "874 women" in the study via the PriceCharting blog. What's more concerning about the information that BullyHunters cited is that, when one Twitter user, Platinum, asked about the figures, she was dismissed and blocked due to being an "inter-misogynist". Platinum, a mental health researcher, deciphered BullyHunter's stats in a blog post.

35.8% of women reported having quit playing temporarily because of sexism, and 9.6% reported that they quit playing a certain game permanently because of harassment.
— Original quote from VGA247.com

People thought the platform wasn't inclusive to men

Male gamers claimed the platform was biased against men and took offense to not being included. Some pleaded that "men experience more harassment than women," information likely seen or quoted from PEW Research Center that said, "Overall, men are slightly more likely to experience any form of online harassment (44% vs. 37% of women)". For women, however, harassment isn't about name-calling; It's about being respected as a human being. That same study conducted by PEW found  that "among adults ages 18 to 29, women are more than twice as likely as men to report experiencing sexual harassment online (21% vs. 9%). And among the youngest adults – those ages 18 to 24 – women are more than three times as likely to be sexually harassed online (20% vs. 6% of men)." It's a very serious problem that some men and women do not care to address.

Viewers of the live-stream thought the in-game harassers were fake

After watching the video several times after the live stream, it's very possible that the CS:GO matches were scripted. Ge'NeL has no way of knowing this for certain. A possible explanation for being scripted or in a custom match is to demonstrate how the BullyHunters platform works, which would have been acceptable had they disclosed that the matches were either scripted or customized for demonstration purposes.

"They're just bullies themselves"

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

After their video demonstration of how BullyHunters works, critics of the campaign felt as if the Bullyhunters were just bullying the bullies, which solves nothing. Critics also shared a year-old tweet with Bullyhunter spokesperson, ZombieUnicorn exhibiting behavior akin to those bullying. Though, after reading the tweet, it is clear that ZombieUnicorn was defending herself.

A general lack of understanding of the severity of online harassment, especially in video games.

What's more disheartening, however, is the way critics have responded to the BullyHunters, their misinformation and their existence in general. People have different ideas of what harassment is and expressed difficulty in understanding the difference between typical in-game shit-talking versus flat out harassment. Many began harassing BullyHunters' partners via Twitter--their behavior actually displaying why women gamers are trying to fight online bullying to begin with.

Most male gamers do not believe harassment in online gaming is a "thing". And those who do mis-characterize it as name-calling and don't think it's a big deal. And that's part of the problem that people fighting against in-game harassment are facing. People who dare speak up against in-game harassment are called white knights, social justice warriors, feminists or feminazis and worse in order to detract from actually addressing the problem.

Attitudes toward online harassment vary by gender

While people can easily hit the ignore/block button, ignoring the problem does not solve the problem. When you hit the ignore button, the offending person think's he or she has won and will take his or her behavior to someone else. However, when people speak up and stand up to bullying, letting the offender(s) know that that behavior is not okay, there is more of a chance for that person to stop the offending behavior and not continue or at least try to correct their own behavior in the future. That is the importance of speaking up and standing up for others.

These mistakes by BullyHunters led to, not only the backlash, but their partners pulling their sponsorship and the BullyHunters' website being taken down. SteelSeries issued a statement, though, issuing false statistics of their own in order to combat the backlash they received due to their affiliation with BullyHunters. Diverse Gaming Coalition went so far as to throw ZombiUnicorn and SteelSeries under the bus.

Diverse Gaming Coalition went so far as to throw ZombiUnicorn and SteelSeries under the bus.

All in all, the BullyHunters' intention to combat in-game bullying is noble. However, they lacked professionalism of thorough research, transparency in their actions and inclusiveness of male gamers who are also subjected to various forms of harassment. BullyHunters missed out on a great opportunity to gain male allies because they, themselves, didn't quite understand the data and, therefore, manipulated it in order to make a point. And that backfired. 

What do you think about the BullyHunters campaign? Do you think they can recover from the backlash? Or do you think it's game over? Let us know in the comments.

Join Us in Support of #BullyHunters April 12, 2018 at 7PM EST

Bullying and harassment in the gaming community are plagues that continue to spread throughout the gaming community. While both men and women are victims of bullying, women are more likely to be sexually harassed, threatened with rape or other forms of sexual violence. While developers and social platforms are finally beginning to address the issues of online harassment, there is still more to be done.

I recently played Overwatch and stayed teamed up with a few guy players after we wiped the floor with the opposing team. We began talking in on Blizzard's voice chat. When we got into the next match, one of the guys, a 13 year old boy, on our team became angry at another player who had admitted to being new to the game. The 13 year old proceeded to call the new player bad, berating her. Before I could even say anything, our teammate jumped in to correct his behavior. "Yo! We're not having that toxic shit on our team. Everyone starts out not playing that well. There's no need for name calling, man." And you know what? That kid apologized! But of the many times I've witnessed such bad behavior, that was the very first time I was witness to a man stepping in to correct another guy's bad behavior online. 

But of the many times I've witnessed such bad behavior, that was the very first time I was witness to a man stepping in to correct another guy's bad behavior online. Even when I had joined a CS:GO game to play with my so-called friend. I hadn't played CS:GO before but my friend wanted me to play with him. Almost immediately, I'm asking my friend questions and one of the guys in voice said "Must be a girl." Another guy chimed in "Yeah, probably a n*gger girl." The other guys laughed. My "friend" who was streaming was passive and just said "come on guys, that's not nice." I left the game, not only disappointed with those toxic, racist fucks, but in my so called friend. I haven't been able to play with him since. By being passive, we allow people to think this behavior is okay. And it's not okay!

That wasn't the first time nor the last that I've encountered racism and sexism while gaming online. As a Twitch streamer, I've been told to "show me your n*gger tits" and "wow a n*gger trying to play video games" and "another game whore". This has to stop.

This why I and many other women gamers are taking a stand with Bully Hunters. We're tired of being told to "Just ignore it," which ultimately allows the harassers to just go and do it to someone else. We're tired of being told to "get over it". We're tired of being expected to be passive and not fight back because of the detriment it has done to other women who have stood up for themselves only to receive incredible backlash. We're tired of our supposed guy friends not having our backs. We're tired of guys not checking their bros when they exhibit abusive behavior toward anyone.

Though we're not sure what we will see at the unveiling of Bully Hunters, their mission of standing up for others is one we can get behind.

Will you join us at Bully Hunter's Facebook Event on April 12, 2018 @ 7:00PM EST?  

Harassment in the Gaming Community Needs to Stop

IT'S TIME TO STOP MINIMIZING WHAT HARASSMENT IS AND START HOLDING PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS ONLINE.

The American Psychological Association defines harassment as "threatening, harmful or humiliating conduct based on race, color, national origin, sex or disability" regardless of intent. Harassment creates a hostile environment that interferes with or limits a person's ability to participate in an activity. Harassment can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony if the prosecutor can prove specific intent, "which is intending the specific act that one is charged with. This means that the prosecutor must show that the defendant did or said something with the intent that the communication would harass the victim. The person may intend to annoy or intimidate the victim, or the words may be designed to provoke a fight." Why, then, do we allow online harassment to grow into a toxic culture in the gaming community?

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As gamers, we have to have thick skin, especially when competing in games such as Counterstrike: Global OffensiveOverwatch, and other games where you communicate with people. That is not, however, an open door policy for harassment, and it shouldn't be considered normal. Unfortunately, harassment is becoming the norm in the online gaming community because we allow it. There is a fine line between typical gamer trash talk and harassment. When a gamer talks trash, it's generally about gameplay and/or strategy. Harassment delves into a much nastier conversation intended to mentally and emotionally cause harm. Stanford University alumnus Kaitlyn Williams wrote an award winning research essay, "When Gaming Goes Bad: An Exploration of Videogame Harassment Towards Female Gamers". Inexperienced with the online gaming community, Williams's research found that

For female gamers in online settings, harassment generally includes sexist or misogynist comments, threats of rape and death, as well as demands for sexually-related images or favors. According to a survey conducted by Emily Matthews on Pricecharting Blog involving 874 respondents, “63% of women reported being called a “c*nt, bitch, slut, and whore” while gaming. Others reported they were threatened with sexual assault, asked for sexual favors, and bombarded with stereotypical comments regarding female gender roles”. Comments related to female gender roles range from “go make me a sandwich” to “get back in the kitchen and make me some pie”. Generally, the content of the harassment does not relate to gaming, and unlike trash-talk, harassment is solely intended to mentally wound or silence female gamers.

 

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While men definitely experience harassment in the gaming community, women are more often the targets of gender-based harassment.Overwatch player Glisa recently recorded her gameplay as she was being harassed by her teammates. She uploaded it to Youtube and, unfortunately, it's harassment that many women gamers—including myself—have experienced. So why is it so prevalent? Harassment in video games is rampant for a number of reasons, the biggest being people's perceived safety behind the anonymity of an avatar. Anonymity means no consequences for actions that, outside of the online community, would warrant confrontation and/or legal action. Most of the people—predominantly young men—who find entertainment in harassing others would not do so outside of the online community.

Another reason for the continued growth of harassment in the gaming community is the "just ignore it and it will stop" mentality. This is the same tried and not true method that parents would tell their children who would come home from school after having being bullied. And lastly, probably one of the saddest reasons that harassment continues to grow like a poisonous weed, is that we, as a community, continue to reduce harassment's severity to "just trolling". Trolling does not sound as severe as harassment. Trolling sounds like a joke. This is where we learn that words really do have power in how they are used. No one wants to use the word harassment because of the stigma of being seen as someone who whinescomplainscries wolf, or is called a feminist. Remember the backlash known as GamerGate, that Anita Saarkesian faced for exploring stereotypes of women in video games?

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Unfortunately, combating harassment in the gaming community is not easy and it never will be without help from game developers themselves. The gaming community is filled with countless forums and groups that offer support for specific games or general gaming. When someone posts in one of these groups about being harassed online, the likely response from other community members is to "just hit the ignore/block" button. The problem with simply ignoring the problem is that it does not go away. It moves onto the next person and the next. And sometimes, the harasser will be so bold as to create another character in order to continue to harass the person who blocked him/her. As Laura Carruba explains in her article "Why Reporting Offensive Players in Online Games Is a Losing Battle", "...reporting a bad player can take longer than playing a game session with said bad player, the path of least resistance is to put up with" the harasser. One Twitch streamer gives an example of how to handle mild harassment in the video below.

How, then, do we combat the plague of harassment in the gaming community when ignoring it and just putting up with it is clearly not helping? We don't have to stoop to anyone else's level in order to defend ourselves. If you are streaming, record it. If your harassment is via text, screenshot it. Report that player and keep reporting the people who think that the culture of being as offensive as possible is acceptable because there are no consequences while being online. Petition game developers and platforms to update their policies on harassment and to hire staff to specifically deal with harassment. And if you see someone being harassed, don't just sit there and watch. Do something! At present, Halo 4 is the only online gaming platform that takes a "Zero Tolerance" stance on harassment. It's not impossible just because people don't want to put in the work. We do not have to foster a culture of harassment. We don't deserve that. We can do better. We all deserve better.

Have you experienced harassment in gaming? How did you handle it? We want to hear about your experiences.