Men are upset.
Men are upset that feminist critiques are getting more attention than any of their positive sucking up does. “She doesn’t even like the game, why won’t you listen to meeeee?”
Men are upset that feminism is gaining mainstream traction (again), and people—not just women, far from it—are calling out sexist elements in our communities, our industries, our society as a whole.
Men are upset that feminism is getting all that attention, and women are feeling more empowered to speak out, to call out their shitty behavior, to put men in their place. These men are not used to women doing any of those things, and in their privilege-shielded lives, have come to expect that women shouldn’t be doing any of those things. These men are wrong.
Men are upset that their wishes are not being catered to exclusively anymore. They still are catered to overwhelmingly, but not exclusively, and they are so used to being catered to exclusively that they did not even recognize it as being catered to. Their view of the world, which was overwhelmingly catering to their whims and wishes (as members of a straight male demographic), was being perceived as neutral and indifferent to them (as individuals).
Men are upset that women won’t just give them the sex they feel entitled to. After all, that’s the natural state of things that they believe in their heads, from having uncritically grown up in a society that caters to their straight male desires so readily and pervasively, never examining the societal influences that tarnish their daily lives, simply because that tarnishing appears to be in their favor. And on the surface, it is—it just happens to come with the very painful cost of having to eventually confront their long-lived and ongoing unfair benefitting from these privileges, or through stubborn refusal and aggravated and noxious fighting against this revelation turn into absolute monsters of men.
Not all men are like this. In fact, most men are absolutely nothing like it. But the small minority of men that is, is very vocal, and they have found one another more easily than ever before thanks to the ubiquity of the Internet and the World Wide Web. The InterWeb, comical portmanteau of inventions, has given everyone a global voice, yet with the undesirable but inevitable side-effect being that everyone with a toxic voice has had an easy time finding others like them, and growing louder together in a noxious chorus.
These men. Small men. Some, truly sociopathic. All of them, disgruntled.
I am not a betting man, but if I were, I would bet a lot of money that most of these men don’t cry. Maybe ever.
Many men—far too many men, unfortunately—have the mistaken belief that crying is a negative emotion, that it shows weakness on behalf of the cryer, or that “real men” don’t cry. All of this is wrong.
Crying is nothing more than an outlet for one’s pain, bringing relief. Suppress that outlet, and you suppress the relief—keeping the pain trapped inside, slowly turning into anger and discontent. It poisons you internally, and the more pain you trap inside of you, the more it gets to feed your anger and taint your actions. Pain needs relief. Anger and aggression are the outlets it seeks when crying is not permitted.
Crying shows no weakness, nor strength. Perhaps, in the face of the grand cultural stigma around crying and the widespread mistaken belief that men don’t cry (or get emotional, hah) it is easy to believe that a man openly weeping is showing strength through such socio-cultural adversity. But take that flawed stereotype and stigma away, and crying is nothing more than the first thing any of us do as we enter this world on our own. It is the mammalian way to express sadness and pain. Nothing more. Strength comes from recognizing your own flaws and mistakes, and overcoming them. Weakness is when you refuse to acknowledge your flaws or mistakes.
Nothing defines a “real man” in a way that isn’t folly. A real man is a person who identifies as a man, regardless of their anatomy, and regardless of how strictly to the extreme “male” end of the gender spectrum they specify. Crying has nothing to do with it.
But when men don’t cry, that’s when we get things like #GamerGate.
GamerGate is a sordid affair where a bunch of men all got together in their disgruntled state of being, their unwillingness to have a good cry over their pains, their refusal to acknowledge their own flaws and shortcomings, and their stubborn, noxious and relentless refusal to let anyone have a place in the world that they wish so desperately to claim their own, that they coordinated a huge, targeted harassment campaign and created various cover-up topics to deflect from how openly misogynist and racist their efforts were.
Why would they do that? Mostly, because these men feel alone. They feel alone and abandoned and betrayed by the very society that created them in its own attempts to cater to their wishes. Crucially, these men don’t recognize the patriarchal systems in society that have made them feel so entitled to things; they only recognize the influences—from feminism and other movements towards equality—that are slowly but steadily chipping away at the myriad privileges they have lived their entire lives with.
These men don’t see that the root problem is their male predecessors. They only see the cure to the problem, but the cure is one that stings them. The sting is mild, really, but these men have lived such cotton-wrapped lives that even the slightest sting feels unbearable—and so they don’t see it as the cure, they see it as an attack.
But feminist game critique or female sexual autonomy is not an attack, on anything. Anything! The former is a sign of a maturing part of media, the latter is none of anyone’s business.
The only attacks taking place are the ones coordinated by these men, who are collectively complicit in a grand attack on free speech—the free speech of women in games to say and criticize whatever they want, without being threatened or harassed out of the industry for doing so.
These men will cry out over “the artistic vision of game developers!” but there is neither an attack aimed there, nor much of a vision to cry out about. Criticism of games is not “censorship”, and abusing that word so readily and frequently will diminish your credibility and our collective readiness for when actual, real (government-driven) censorship may take place. For various countries in the world today, that is actually happening — these men and their misuse of the term are making a grave insult to the people who are actually being censored. But it’s not game developers.
These men will cry out about “nepotism! Corruption! Lack of journalistic ethics!” without having a single shred of self-awareness, the irony being too thick for their dulled and narrow minds to register. If there’s anything that neatly encapsulates the GamerGate proponents and their ilk, it’s the words “nepotism, corruption, and lack of [journalistic] ethics.” Like someone raising money to “start a trustworthy games magazine” but really just attempting to funnel money to their spouse. Or like the “Tropes vs Men” crowd-funded campaign that took the money and ran, being literally the only crowd-funded video games-related campaign to truly scam people for their money. And what could be more ethical than harassing, doxxing and threatening a female game developer when you claim to care about journalistic integrity (but never acknowledge that the person you’re attacking is not a journalist)?
These men should go and take some deep breaths, turn off their computer screens, sit in the quiet dark of night, and cry.
Because the real pain that they are suppressing is the knowledge that they are wrong. That they have done terrible things, that they have hurt innocent people, and that their sense of self-worth, their self-image, and the world they perceived themselves to live in, is full of lies and deceit.
I just hope they get to that point, perhaps after realizing that the lies of their lives will stop when acceptance of this reality starts, and that, ultimately, they were not the ones who created the society they became unwitting victims of. But maybe, just maybe, they’ll realize that they do have the power to help shape the games industry for the better, if (and only if) they choose the path of civility, respect, and humility. It’ll be painful to do so, painful to face the people who they’ve hurt for so long and ask for forgiveness, but thankfully, there is a solution to that pain also.