When I worked in technical theater, one time I worked with a head carpenter who would make crass jokes and sexual innuendo regarding a 14-year-old female apprentice, right in front of her, and tolerated the same in the other young men he was in charge of. The girl was very pretty, skinny but well-endowed for her size and age (which is a combination that makes the breasts really obvious, no matter what you wear), and she got a lot of attention. When she told me about it, I went and had a talk with him. I wasn't censoring him. I wasn't his boss, I was another worker in the same shop. I was telling him that what seemed like fun was damaging this girl, that though she might smile and play along in the presence of him and the other guys, because she wanted to be liked, in truth she felt unsafe, objectified, and mistreated. (I didn't use those exact words. I didn't know the term objectified back then).
When he told me this was technical theater, it was a man's field and everyone did that sort of thing, I told him I didn't care about everyone. I wasn't talking to everyone, I was talking to him. I believed he was a good person, and I expected better of him. And things did get better.
This is the same kind of message that's coming from Felicia Day, directed at gamers. She's saying she knows most gamers are good people, that games are beautiful things, and she hopes people will focus on coming together to do things we love and share the joys in that AND not think it's okay if other people are hurt or threatened by activities by people in the community that are _not necessary_ for gaming to be fun and awesome.
It should be okay to discuss issues about sexism in games, or any other issues and ways the industry can improve. It should be safe for _women_ to discuss those issues, in public, as directly as men. But some people obviously don't feel that way. As they posted on The Guardian, men like Chris Kluwe have made very nasty attacks on gamergaters and never had personal attacks or terrorist threats directed at them in response. But women keep having that happen to them. This is worse than sexist. It is very very wrong.
My friend Andrea Phillips, who is both a gamer and a game creator has also written about her anger and fears regarding GamerGate. If you aren't commenting on this on the blogosphere, that's fine. But I hope you're still paying attention, because this is important.
I really really hope it's just a few people making the death threats, and that the authorities find them and shut them down. But I think it's important for the whole community to think about the long-range implications and impact this is already having on our community. It's not okay for a small group of people to make a whole gender of people feel attacked and unwelcome in a field, and we need to be sensitive to the message these events are sending to girls and women who haven't even gotten involved in gaming about whether or not they want to go down that road. Whether it was the original intent of #GamerGate or not, we need to focus on messages like Felicia's.
Anyone who enjoys gaming should do it. Anyone who does it has every right to be critical of any part of it, without fearing that they will be personally attacked, online, at home, or anywhere.
Nil bastardum carborundum.
Don't let the bastards grind you down.