It’s been an interesting week filled with interesting things, and it’s only Wednesday. And I spent all of yesterday in a brain fog.
Monday was interesting, I guess is what I’m saying.
I can’t really put it better than I did on Twitter that night: “I have had the worst GIRLS SUCK AND DON’T BELONG HERE day in ages. It’s like suddenly my ovaries turned on a tractor beam of hate.”
I’ve briefly talked before about being a girl in the thick of “boy” stuff. I’ve spent most of my life being heavily into things that were not technically “for” me. If you were to ask me to list my favourite things, comic books and video games would be somewhere in the top five. Were you to describe my likes and interest in gender neutral ways to someone who didn’t know me, I give you 10:1 odds they’d assume I was male. I suppose I’ve been fortunate that with a few glaring exceptions this hasn’t really been an issue. And when it has been, I take no small amount of pleasure in showing up the offender and their bias in the most crushing and embarrassing way possible.
But I don’t have to do that much. I never intentionally seek out places either in real-life or online that are “girl-friendly”, but on reflection I think maybe I found them anyway. Perhaps just the level of discussion and quality of individuals I found myself associating with never brought things to that level; if a community was going to have the mentality “Hurrrr you have teh boobiez you can’t like X-Men!” I certainly didn’t waste my time.
In my ignorance, because I wasn’t around it, I believed things were better than that.
Monday showed me, not so much.
While it was three separate instances, there’s really only one that has wormed its way into my skull. (It’s still there, writhing in my brain juices, laying little baby worm eggs in the wrinkled folds. Time will tell if they’re symbiotic or parasitic.) It’s a doozy though and I’m certain to talk and talk and TALK about it, so it’ll be the last thing I discuss. I mention it now however because it infected absolutely everything, and I can’t say with utter certainty that it didn’t colour my perception on the rest.
In other words, I was already wounded, the cut fresh and bleeding, when these drops of lemon juice got flung at me. What might normally have rolled off now stung like a motherfucker.
Let’s begin with what was the most unrelated (yet most personal) event. Monday saw a patch for Rock Band, and a subsequent thread about what was changed and fixed posted to the forums. I’m not the most active poster (at least not so much anymore, for reasons unrelated to what’s being discussed here), but I usually make at least a few posts a week and read way more than I ever write. So I was reading this thread about the patch when this guy pops up. He starts going off about something, I don’t even remember what specifically, but it boiled down to “You didn’t patch what I wanted and everyone sucks.” Posts like that are usually magnets for Mike, and sure enough, just a few replies later, there he was.
Now I should point out that Mike never attacks people. He’ll attack their comments, he’ll attack the attitude on display, but never the person. That said (and this is noted with love), he can come across as pretty infuriatingly righteous and superior as he’s telling you how wrong you are, so it never surprises me when he gets backlash.
Backlash he got. Then the discourse took a weird turn. Again I paraphrase but the guy says something to the effect of, “You must be sad and lonely. No one would want to be around you. If you’re married, she’s pathetic and miserable. Or maybe you have a boyfriend, you seem the type.” So much fail in so few words.
Well you can imagine how well this was received when I read it. So I posted to tell him so. Again I want to point out that all of the following is paraphrased:
Me: I am the wife in question, and I’m doing great. Thanks so much for dragging me into a conversation that has nothing at all to do with me.
Him: LOL. Are you a real account? I think the guy I was talking to made you up but I can’t prove it.(*)
Me: I am very real and I don’t appreciate being used as ammunition to attack someone. A wife, a girlfriend or a boyfriend are all people who deserve to be treated with more respect than as pointless fodder for your internet forum argument about a video game.
Him: Look lady, this is Rock Band. This is how the internet works. You shouldn’t be here anyway. If you can’t take it, go back to The View.
(*) This was not my first read of his post. I thought he wasn’t able to determine that we were in fact married. Mike’s interpretation was that he was saying I was completely fake and that Mike made me up. By the time our encounter ended, I was no longer willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and now subscribe to Mike’s interpretation.
At which point I told him his posts stood without need for further comment from me and disengaged. Not long after, our exchange was deleted by the mods (no complaint from me, I concede it was way the hell off topic) and he was banned.
It’s no secret how much I love Rock Band. The Rock Band community can drive me up the freaking wall, but it’s still a place where we come together over something we feel passionate about and there’s a camaraderie in that. Yes, the place will do the standard Internet thing of assuming everyone on it is a white American male, and yes for a while there it was a constant battle against the idea that a girl can only be interested in playing songs by Paramore or The Go-Gos. But I was never made to feel that I didn’t belong there, I was never made to feel unwelcome. Until this guy on Monday.
It was only one guy, I know that. And I suppose it could be argued that I “won” in light of the fact that a banhammer is the single biggest indicator of being unwelcome it is possible to receive.
Still, see above, re: lemon juice.
The second prong I won’t focus on too much. It was Reddit, and it was in response to what I’m about to talk about. Suffice it to say that while I don’t subscribe to the hivemind theory, I’ve read and seen some really amazingly awesome things Redditors have done for strangers, for each other. Then when I read the discussion on this article and how it was filled with just the most bitter, insensitive, misogynistic things … well when it would only take being the victim of a random act of hateful violence to make all that about you, it’s hard to not feel excluded and unwelcome there too.
Finally we have the main event.
Penny Arcade and the Dickwolves.