Recently, one of the tech-related websites I read on a daily basis has published a number of articles on the disgusting and continuous attacks on female writers and publicists that discuss the blatent sexism and misogyny. Needless to say, it being a tech-related site, misogynist gamers came crawling out of the woodwork to voice their opinion. I got into a discussion with one of them, who seems so completely oblivious as to why he’s a sexist and misogynist, that he’s actually proud of being one. So I thought I’d publish the exchange here for posterity.

It starts with someone posting a link to Anita Sarkeesian’s exellent talk at TEDxWomen 2012. Then the gamer who I shall not name makes his first post:

I don’t know why guys went after her with such vigor, but I understand why she pissed them off. Having women objectified in video games is part of the fun for a lot of guys, esp the damsel in distress thing. It’s a fantasy, you know? Kind of like women and their romance novels. You don’t see a lot of guys bitching about those, do you? Imagine if some MRA dudes came along and started talking about the objectification of men in these novels and publicly shaming the women who read them. Although I doubt they’d get death threats, they’d probably get a few strongly-worded letters from women asking, ‘Why are you trying to piss in our pool?’

“Having women objectified in video games is part of the fun for a lot of guys”. Right. So I responded:

Yeah, it’s a fantasy that denigrates women to mere objects, depicts them as willing slaves you can beat up and kill, and… oh, how dare she complain, right?

That’s the whole point, isn’t it? You and all the MRA gamers seem to think that games are for men, and it should stay that way. It’s your “pool”, right? Except that you have no fucking business deciding what’s “your pool” and whether other’s should stay out. That reeks of “white only” restaurants and beaches, to give one example.

Many games depict women in deplorable ways, and both women and men have the fullest of rights to point that out, and to call to shame those who make them. The fact that there are so many players of these games that come to the rescue of their “game providers” points out the problem in a most ironic fashion.

Next, he seems to be upset about the pool thing:

Yes indeed, it is OUR pool. We have been swimming in it alone for a long time. We’d be happy to share it with the girls if they want to come and swim, but not when they come and bitch that the water is too cold, there’s too much chlorine, etc. We like our pool the way it is and if you don’t, then go build your own damn pool and swim in it. Maybe we’ll come try yours out if you let us, but we won’t complain that the edges are pink and demand that you paint them blue to be more ‘inclusionary’. Just like we don’t read your romance novels and insist there should be some threesomes or girl on girl action because we find all this guy stuff repulsive. No, we go read our own books instead.

I kinda lost it there at such sheer ignorance, and was somewhat impolite:

Man, this is the most misogynist drivel I’ve read here so far. The sheer arrogance of claiming something THAT ISN’T YOURS to start with. What a load of sexist crap. Exactly the same tripe the white power advocates throw up. I’m astonished by the sheer lack of comprehension.

Then he thinks that complaining about Angry Birds is about the same as complaining about women playing games, and throws in some clueslessness about feminists and women in general for good measure:

LOL, you’re like those dipshits who label things as ‘intolerance’ or ‘hate speech’ in order to try and censor opinions that you don’t agree with, because you can’t address the points that were raised. Just so that MAYBE your feeble mind can grasp what I am saying, I’m going to take females out of the equation for a moment …

A lot of people in my G+ circles are hardcore gamers, and they are CONSTANTLY ragging on phone games, talking about how Angry Birds sucks and is ruining the industry. They are convinced that phone games will never amount to anything, because you can’t play military shooters on a touch screen very well. And I’m like, ‘why the hell do you care? If you don’t like these games, don’t f-king play them. We have our games, and casual players have theirs. Everybody wins.’ In other words, they’re complaining about games that were never designed for them to begin with.

That’s kind of how I see the male/female gamer demographic. Women tend to not like the majority of games that guys have traditionally been playing, and for good reason. Not only are they violent, but also tend to portray women in ways that piss off feminists. And that’s just the way we like them! If girls want to play GTA and beat up hookers, I’ll be happy to play co-op with them. If not, aren’t there some ‘girl games’ they can go play? Maybe that Kim Kardashian one, or whatever the hell it is they like.

In other words, I don’t care if girls want to play ‘guy games’, but stop trying to neuter them because YOU think they’re offensive. You don’t see guys starting a campaign and demanding that there should be lots of explosions in chick flicks, do you? No, we’ll go watch football or something, and let you enjoy your romantic comedy.

Since he admitted to liking games for portraying violence against women and pissing off feminists, I responded:

And there you expose the core of the problem. You like to play games that portray women in a very negative, stereotypical, sexist way, and you like it! You like your “hardcore” misogynistic corner of virtual space, and you think that everyone should just shut up about it. It is very honest of you to say so, I have to admit (usually this kind of rethoric is packed with lame pseudo-excuses), but it’s very unsettling nonetheless.

It seems you have very strange, twisted ideas about women, liking “chick flicks”, reading chicklit, playing “Kim Kardashian” games. I can only guess you’ve been raised in a very traditional type environment, where women are home-bound doing the laundery, and real men are drinking beer, chainsaw logs and shoot deer. But in fact, women are really not that different from men once you take away the cultural brainwashing, and may even like to play GTA and FPSes containing extreme violence. They just don’t like that these games TREAT THEM LIKE SHIT, and portray them as filthy whores worthy of rape and murder. I appreciate you can’t grasp that, and I appreciate that many “hardcore gamers” don’t. But that doesn’t make them right, nor does that give them the right to claim a certain territory.

If you like games that treat women like pieces of property that can be exposed when done with, and especially if you like those aspects of such games, you are a blatent misogynist. You are then no better than a racist that “doesn’t want n*s pissing in his pool”. And I’ll celebrate the day when the likes of you will be marginalized and hated like the racists of today.

His extreme cluelessness and resulting honesty is somewhat refreshing, I have to admit. Here he responds to me saying he likes games that portray women in a sexists way:

And why is this a problem, exactly? Liberals have traditionally defended all kinds of vile and despicable shit over the years, including these guys, whom the government tried to censor back in the 80’s:

(link to video removed)

When Jack Thompson came along and told us our games were too violent, he got the same middle finger that the feminists are getting (minus the rape threats, I’m sure). I don’t treat women I encounter in person or online with disrespect, and I never will. Just like I’ll never jack a car after playing GTA, or pick up a gun and start shooting people after a marathon session of Call of Duty. Why? Because I understand the difference between video games and real life. To suggest that I don’t is both narrow-minded and insulting.

Then he responds to me calling him a misogynist for liking these games. He seems to think that him being a misogynist depends on other gamers being psychopaths:

You know what? I’ll agree with you here… IF you also agree that anyone who plays military shooters is a violent psychopath in the making. And I guess we should ban horror movies too, as anyone who likes those is obviously a sick, twisted individual. I swear, liberals have become the very thing they used to fight against.

And finally, he responds to my closing statement about being marginalized, throwing in a strawmen and still being clueless about what “misogyny” means, and about it being on level with racism:

Yeah, okay. And I guess you can burn books you don’t like while you’re at it. And you’re still using the ‘misogyny’ and ‘racist’ labels, neither of which are true here.

My respons starts with an answer to his question about why he’s a problem:

Because, no matter what you say, and no matter the faulty comparison with car jacking or shooting (see below), this means that your view of women is twisted.

Followed by a response to his self-proclaimed respectful treatment of real-life women:

“women I encounter in person” – you make that sound like that’s a very rare occasion, and I tend to believe you! Other than that, it is, again, the narrative of the racist: “I don’t treat blacks with disrespect, they’re just different, that’s all!”

He’s insulted by a strawman of his own making, viz. me accusing him (which I didn’t) of not understanding “the difference between video games and real life”. I respond:

You don’t go car-jacking after GTA because car-jacking is clearly a crime, and you probably don’t have the resources (e.g. a gun) to pull it off, and you know fairly well that in real life, you’ll end up in prison in no-time. Also, playing GTA probably doesn’t reinforce your stereotypical views on how dumb cars are, and that they deserve to get jacked! You don’t go shooting people after CoD for the same reasons, plus afaik CoD doesn’t have an urban setting, but is a war game – I would probably have objections to the game if its objective was a shooting massacre at a kindergarten, for example!

However, playing games that treat women as disposable objects mirrors everyday life way too closely. Women *are* treated like that all the time, and I guess even you would agree that in *real life* that’s really *not* ok. Also, if you’d decide to rape a women, you could very likely get away with it, given the rape culture we live in (at least in the US), as long as she wears sexy clothing and is drunk (i.e. asking for it!). Also, I’m pretty sure that most if not all teenagers (starting age of most gamers) know that shooting and looting is something that is to be avoided (for reasons I mentioned above), but those same teenagers may have denigrating thoughts about women (living in a rape culture, not “understanding” women, etc.), which are completely reinforced by these games.

And to him “agreeing” with me:

I’d say they’re soldiers in the making. Military shooters are that, *military*. Now, if as I said above they were shooters with an aim to kill toddlers or school children, I would agree with you.

And on book burning, throwing in a Godwin (sorry, it’s too useful sometimes :)):

Strawman. I’m absolutely against book burning, and in favour of almost complete freedom of speech. However, even though I think one should be able to deny the Holocaust, I *don’t* think neo-nazi ideas should be portrayed in mainstream games (imagine a game where the objective is to kill Jews, or a sim-concentration camp, etc.). And equally so I think it’s fine if MRAs clump together somewhere and discuss their vile ideas, but I *don’t* think it’s fine if major software companies include those ideas in their games!

He put in one last reply, to which I couldn’t respond because of the five-day comment limit. I’ll post it anyway, to show he is still cluesless:

So I guess I’ll go beat up a hooker somewhere tonight, and if I happen to get questioned about it, I’ll just tell the cop she was wearing a mini skirt and the bitch had it coming. I’m sure the cop will let me go, because this kind of thing is tolerated in our society of rape culture.

/s (I’m putting in a sarcasm tag, because I’m sure you would otherwise think I was actually being serious.)

Right, you mean like in GTA V, where you take control of a group of psychopaths who’s very first mission is to shoot up a bunch of cops? And people have actually complained that there are no female leads in this game, as if we had at least one woman to assist us in the virtual murdering of police officers, that would somehow make everything okay. So no, this is NOT about misogyny, as Jack Thompson would attest. It’s about what it has always been about – weird morality, where people want to point out the speck of dirt in somebody else’s eye, and pay no attention to the plank in their own eye. Nobody wants to be told that their entertainment choices are ‘dirty'; it doesn’t feel so good when the shoe is on the other foot, does it?

It’s interesting that people like you who rail against sexism in video games will jump through all kinds of hoops to defend the violence. In other words, you can blow peoples’ heads off until your thumbs get sore, but beating up hookers? OMFG, we can’t have that!!!

In other words, you are STUNNINGLY and EMBARRASSINGLY full of shit.

So, that’s it. I’m stunningly and embarrassingly full of shit, apparently. I’ll let you decide.

Fundamentalist believers by definition regard their Holy Book (or Books, depending on the religion) as the litteral, historical truth. Though the reasoning for this may vary, it is typically circular, and comes down to “the Holy Book tells us the Supreme Being gave us the Holy Book, and therefore it’s true” (see e.g. here and here). What I found most astounding though is not having faith that the claims made in these books are true (supreme being not bound to laws of phsysics creates everything and prescribes the does and don’ts), but having faith that the book, in its present form, is True. Since, for it to be True, and to be the litteral, historical truth, we need a whole bunch of suppositions:

  1. There actually is a Supreme Being
  2. The Supreme Being tells the truth
  3. The Supreme Being directed a mere mortal (or more than one mortal) to write something down
  4. The mere mortal wrote it down in exactly the way the Supreme Being commanded him*
  5. When copies were created**, no copying errors were made
  6. When copies were created, the copyer did not willfully introduce alterations to the original

And the last two steps can be repeated ad infinitum, since there isn’t a single Holy Book that has been demonstrated (or even claimed, as far as I’m aware) to be an original or a direct (first generation) copy of an original (save perhaps the Book of Mormon).

So even if we accept the first two premises on faith alone (and there’s enough reasons to dismiss them), it may go awry with the subsequent ones. For example, christians will acknowledge that premises 3 and 4 may not hold, given that they deny the divine inspiration for the Quran. And certain orthodox protestant christians will acknowledge that premises 5 and 6 may not hold, given that there are differences between Protestant versions (“received text”) and Catholic versions (“Alexandrian text”) of the bible (see e.g. here).

So why believe one Holy Book over another, why one version of a specific Holy Book over another? I think that’s the most difficult and uncomfortable question any religious believer has to answer. In the next posts I’ll look at at least some of the answers I’ve heard in the past (and present a rebuke).

* I’m not aware of a woman having written down a Holy Book, ever
** Or when relaying the content to others (illiterates), which is analogous to copying

Since I’ll be writing about atheism, I thought it’d a good idea to explain why I’m an atheist. First of all, for those who didn’t grow up in the Netherlands, for most people over here religion is not that much of an issue. We have a right wing orthodox christian political party representing most of the Dutch bible belt, we have our share of extremist muslims, but otherwise religion is pretty much dying out as an organised force (note that this used to be completely different in the first half of the 20th century, with a religiously vertically divided society). That’s not to say the Netherlands is an enlighted society, since homeopathy, spirituality and other crank stuff (hello there Ms. Margolis, Mr. Ogilvie) is still rampant, but the fact that there isn’t a decent atheist movement is telling.

I grew up in a moderately religious house hold, meaning that we said our prayers over dinner, read from the bible on a daily basis (modern translations and children’s bible) and went to church once every Sunday (as an echo of the pillarisation, my mother being Gereformeerd and my father being Hervormd they went to different churches, me and my sibblings going along with my mom). I basically went along with this: I’ve never had an epiphany about the nonsensical aspects of it, nor did I suddenly resent it; I accepted it thoughtlessly as part of our culture. When I was about 13 or 14, I started objecting to going to church, mainly because I got a wooden ass sitting an hour and a half on hard wooden benches listening to boring stuff, and not long after that I refused to go, which as far as I recall went unprotested by my parents.

The next recollection I have concerning religion was when a few years later, me and two of my friends went to “catachese” (bible study) at the local church, all three of us intially to please our parents and not long after because we liked poking fun at some of the overly religious kids. So by that time (I was about 15 or 16), I was already firmly an atheist, or at least a firm disbeliever in the biblical truth. As a funny detail, quite often the presiding reverend agreed with us on topics like the non-literality of biblical passages and the unprovability of deitical existence.

Being a very arrogant juvenile, I thought that was it: since I didn’t believe in God, He didn’t exist. I didn’t really care about other people’s opinions, and went on with my life. That basically was it, until I married a moderately religious woman, which caused me to having to give arguments for my disbelieve (“there isn’t a single shred of evidence”), and later when we discussed having kids why I opposed them being baptised (“no organisation will claim my kids as property”). A few years later, I discovered Richard Dawkins, Pharyngula and shortly after its inception Freethought blogs. The blogs on these sites reminded me in an in-your-face kinda way of the damage religion inflicts upon innocent children (a pleonasm, if there is any), minority groups and society at large, and how much better of we would be without it (as well as shape or sharpen my opinions on other issues like abortion, feminism and privilige). And with that, I sign off.

Since being active on Twitter (“active” being relative here, I’m by no means chruning out the 300+ posts a day some people manage), I found it a perfect medium for broadcasting one-liners, but lacking (obviously) the full explanatory force a more elaborate medium has. So after deliberating for a while, I chose to set up a blog at WordPress, to be able to ramble a bit longer than fit in 140 characters. I chose to call it “The Atheist Passivist”, as the first content word (yes, that is “atheist”) pretty well describes what I intend to mainly blog about (though check the subtitle), and the second to clearly indicate I’m not even close to being an activist (so yes, that’s passivist, not pacifist).

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