Is Your Skirt Too Short?

Sexual harassment in gaming communities recently came back into the spotlight thanks to Tekken player Aris Bakhtanians blowing up at Miranda ‘Super Yan’ Pakozdi on competitive fighting game reality show Cross Assault. There’s no doubt the gaming world is going to discuss this incident for days to come, but is sexual harassment in games really that much of a surprise? Hear me out.

In an environment that is, for the most part, heavily male dominated, it should not shock gamers to know that sexual harassment (of women, of course) is rampant in their communities. Sexist jokes, discrimination and harassment can be considered mainstays of online games.

But is it always the man who’s at fault?

Sometimes, girl gamers just have to ask themselves if their ‘skirts are too short‘.

With absolutely no more reference to Pakozdi, I make the defense that sometimes, sexual harassment happens because the girl gives the go ahead.

I once met a World of Warcraft player who complained her guild mate sent her top-naked photos of himself. I asked her how, since, you know, you can’t send photos over /w in WoW.

“I gave him my email,” she said.

Another girl gamer, who plays League of Legends, recently complained that someone had asked her for, well, let’s just say it’s got to do with an oral activity, over Facebook. This same girl gamer adds any and everyone onto her Facebook account, and then posts photos of herself posing seductively. Surprise, surprise.

As a woman and an online gamer of ten years myself, I’ve encountered lots of off-colour or offensive jokes about my gender and my gaming ability. Guys try their best to ask me out and/or to sleep with them. But nothing ever goes further than that.

Because it’s the lady’s onus not to let it.

Let’s face it – men are simple creatures. They don’t take hints very well, preferring hard facts to subtlety. If you take the initiative to give a man your email address and tell him you’re a girl, he’s going to take it as a sign that you like him.

And he might just send you top-naked photos.

With the anonymity of online gaming being what it is, there’s absolutely no excuse for a girl gamer to cry “but he sent me those photos anyway!”. There is no way a gamer who only knows you online is going to know you’re a woman without your consent.

It can get tempting to reveal you’re a girl. I know it can. I got two extra rolls on loot back in Karazhan (when we were still progressing, too!) because my raid knew I was a girl. But gaming’s a young culture, and it still has room to grow. Sexual harassment and discrimination can be eradicated, if both genders do their parts.

So sometimes, instead of complaining that all men are predators, you’ve just got to sit back and ask – was my skirt really too short?