Feminist Frequency, a pop culture platform that discusses women and video game culture created and hosted by Anita Sarkeesian, has published a video on their Youtube channel called “25 Invisible Benefits of Gaming While Male”. Important things to note is that this list is based off of the privileges of straight men but similar lists can be created for white, cis, and able-bodied men. This video is also based off an article written by Jonathan McIntosh called “Playing With Privilege: The Invisible Benefits of Gaming While Male“.
The video begins with an important point: females in the gaming industry are being dismissed by males for their opinions on gaming, stating there’s no actual problem for women in this community and anything they see as an issue is really just “no big deal”. The video goes on to say:
One of the luxuries of being a member of a privileged group is that the benefits afforded often remain invisible. This blindness allows many men, even well meaning men, to remain blissfully unaware of what roughly half of all gamers experience on a fairly regular basis. With that in mind the following is a checklist of some of the concrete benefits that male gamers automatically receive simply for being male gamers.
The truth is, women are frequently attacked for having any opinion related to the gaming community. There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing with an opinion, point of view, or perspective. But there is something wrong when a person is attacked, ridiculed, and threatened for said opinion. You might not be aware of the amount of hate and threats Sarkeesian received when she spoke on The Colbert Report; many 4chan users went out of their way to create backlash for her videos, beginning with disliking the video and referring to her as a “gang leader”. Some other 4chan-ers made posts stating she (and supporters) “would not be held, would not be coddled”. There’s also articles linked to Sarkeesian’s lack of credibility, being feminist or simply a con artist, being outed as a fraud – and that’s just the internet being nice.
The list video featured on Feminist Frequency focuses on points related to what Sarkeesian endured for her opinion on women in gaming — and again, you don’t have to agree with her but death threats are never necessary — and what other women deal with on a daily basis that most men (in this case, straight) do not even think about consciously. This includes (from a straight male perspective):
3. I can publicly post my username, gamertag or contact information online without having to fear being stalked or sexually harassed because of my gender.
5. If I enthusiastically express my fondness for video games, no one will automatically assume I’m faking my interest just to “get attention” from other gamers.
10. My gaming ability will never be called into question based on unrelated natural biological functions.
18. I probably never think about hiding my real-life gender online through my gamer-name, my avatar choice, or by muting voice-chat, out of fear of harassment resulting from my being male.
24. If I choose to point out sexism in gaming, my observations will not be seen as self-serving, and will therefore be perceived as more credible and worthy of respect than those of my female counterparts, even if they are saying the exact same thing.
This is just a few examples within the list of the twenty-five — no more or less important than the others, but they are ones I myself deal with far too often. The list can also be attributed to women outside of gaming, such as women who love comic books and are forced to “prove themselves” to be taken seriously.
As for the video, the unfortunate reality is, men are needed to read the benefits. There’s a reason it’s not women or a mix of men and women featured in the video. That is because in order for it to be “taken seriously” — despite this being a problem for women — women have be taken out of the equation. That in itself is absolutely disheartening. But even so the list can still be dismissed by many men for being “over the top” or “too sensitive” and therefore not a legitimate problem to be examined or solved. But this is the reality for women. This is a reality for my friends and for myself, who love all genre of games.
Likes/dislikes on the video, as well as comments, have been disabled. This isn’t something that needs to be validated by a thumbs up or down. It also doesn’t need to have the point completely forgotten through a variety of off-point arguments within the comment section. It needs to be heard, it needs to be discussed, but on platforms that can raise awareness.
What do you think about the video? Have you had experiences (as a woman or a male) related to the points brought up?