Battle for respect a never-ending fight for female gamers

By Melissa Talbert September 23, 2020

I love it when everybody wins. But, I really love seeing women win more.

Elaine Thompson-Herah rediscovered her best form, after a tough three years battling injury, and captured our attention with a stunning performance last week, after winning the women's 100m race at the IAAF Diamond League meet in Rome.

After the race, the double Olympic champion explained that the changes to the track season because of the COVID-19 pandemic has posed plenty of challenges. Nevertheless, she motivated herself and dug deep to find her best.  And I respect that.  We should all respect that.

Female competitive gamers would love some of that kind of respect, but for them, it is a hard to find commodity. Their work environment is full of challenges, yet they often overcome numerous obstacles to achieve their goals regardless.

Chiefly, male gamers often devalue their female counterparts. Competitive gamer Sashaun Bailey knows all about that.

While playing Call of Duty mobile, male gamers assume Sashaun plays it for attention or she isn’t the one actually playing. Either way, they try to make her feel less than a ‘real gamer’.  It’s a common practice by male gamers, especially if women are playing on a smartphone. 

Although the gaming world can be is a hotspot for harassment, for everybody, women often feel it more. Studies show that a female’s voice in the ‘Halo 3’ game is three times more likely to get negative comments than a male voice, regardless of performance. Sashaun can attest to that because once male players hear her voice, they instantly start firing nasty and rude comments in her direction.

“I’ve gotten some pretty bad comments. I’ve gotten disgusting stuff, the racist stuff. I’ve been called the ‘N’ word... the ‘go in the kitchen and make me a sandwich comments'," she explained.

In the gaming community, the abuse and derogatory comments directed at female players is called ‘flaming’.  But Sashaun has her way of dealing with it.

“A lot of these guys try to distract me with their comments and their rude conversations, but I just stay focused and kill them. If I can’t, I mute the whole thing, so I won’t hear anybody.” 

Sashaun isn’t alone in adopting that strategy. In most cases, female players conceal their identity to avoid harassment. According to Audrey L. Brehm(2013) research paper, Navigating the feminine in massively multiplayer online games: gender in World of Warcraft, many participants in ‘World of Warcraft’ pretend they have a malfunctioning mic to avoid participating in voice chat during a game.

At the same time, when she’s not masking femininity, she’s embracing it.

Sashaun admits to being a bit of a tomboy but she knows competitive gaming is a male-dominated sport and so, the majority of her views from live streams are from men.

Knowing that fact often drives an effort to make their videos as appealing as possible for female gamers. Especially because viewers can donate money if they like what they see.

“A lot of girls use their femininity as an advantage in different ways. For me, I like to keep things simple by exercising/staying in shape because naturally, people want to see a good-looking girl play games - especially if she’s really good.”

 Her video content ranges from playing games while lounging to dancing in tights. One viewer from Sashaun’s live stream opined, “it's less about the game and more about seeing the girls.”

Winning for many female gamers looks like just like this: in the end, it comes down to redeeming feminine qualities that face ridiculously unfair scrutiny on a daily basis.

However, there are growing concerns that female gamers oversexualising their content, and that it can influence how the gaming community sees women in general.

 

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

 

 

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