There was a news post on Gamespot recently entitled "Documentary on industry sexism fully funded." (http://www.gamespot.com/news/documentary-on-industry-sexism-fully-funded-6407948) And to the surprise of no one, like all posts related to the subject of sexism in the games industry, the comments section was flooded with disgruntled male gamers decrying and denying the need for such an expose. I'm roughly estimating 90% of the commenters were opposed to the documentary, women in gaming, women in general, feminism or any combination of these things. It's difficult to understand how anyone could look at the fear, anger and outright misogyny in those comments and not come to the conclusion that the gaming community has a problem with sexism.
I've been trying to understand the root of all this anti-female sentiment think I may have finally figured it out. It has to do with peripheries of the man-boy mentality that's so common with men in the gaming community. I think what we're seeing is a large portion of the males in gaming basically don't understand women, are ultimately afraid of them. Some of it has to do with resentment at the way they've been treated by women in their own lives, or at least their perception of the way they've been treated.
I've taken a sampling of the comments this article elicited to show where I'm coming from. I think everyone can agree these reactions are not unique. If you've read any of the comments sections related to gaming and sexism you've heard all these things before, many times. The comments are attributed to the Gamespot members who made them. I don't suppose anyone can justifiably get mad at me for using their comment, after all it was made in a public forum and the members are relatively anonymous. I'm thinking I get to claim fair use. :) I'll try to make arguments against the general mindsets on display in the interest of enlightenment, but I don't think it's strictly necessary. The comments themselves more than support my basic premise.
First of all we see the comments that lead me to believe these guys have issues with their personal romantic lives:
Gamers are the nerdy kids who treat women nicely and therefore don't get girlfriends since girls like asshole sports jocks. - Saketume
The games industry shouldn't bend over backwards to accommodate a group that has traditionally laughed at it. - Pulfasonic
Generalizations to be sure. There are as many different women as there are men and we're not all looking for the same thing in a partner. If one has been been rejected and laughed at by one woman or even a few of them, and said woman went on to date "asshole sports jocks" that's a reflection on her, for better or worse, not an indication of what all women want.
Then we have the lack of general understanding of women that either puts them on a pedestal:
Ideally we expect women to be these sweet innocent people. - Gen007
Or attempts to knock them off the pedestal the commenter thinks women have put themselves upon:
Femi-Bushido (the Way of the Woman) - you can make mistakes, you can ruin the whole dev project, you can bitch about anything without any particular reason, you can make films about mistreatment of your kind. And nobody has the right to criticize you - shuwar
Female gamer, on the other hand, is used as a cry for attention. Like "Look at me!! I am girl who plays games. Tee hee!" - underoath83
Remember the good old arcade days where you had to EARN the respect by proving yourself amongst other gamers, females apparently just want that respect like its their God given right... - musalala
Women in 2013 don't want to be idealized, put on a pedestal, put in an ivory tower or anything of the sort. Nor do they expect to be given a pass in the face of a lack of aptitude because they're female. They want to be treated as an equal in their professional lives and in their personal lives, not instantly thought less of simply because they're a woman. Of course there are some misguided people who think women are inherently better than men but they're in the minority. Just as he-man woman haters (whether the hate arises from fear or something else) are in the minority. The problem with the games industry is many of these guys seem to have been attracted to it and they're in wildly disproportionate representation.
And then there's the false comparisons:
"And what about MEN getting harrassed online? There are 2 sides to each coin but feminists only want to see one -,-" - hella_epic
"nobody gives a shit about every single man being built like a tank" - Pulfasonic
The simplest way to dismiss these arguments is to point out that two wrongs don't make a right. That's elementary school logic most of us should understand. In this case I'll go beyond that to say that men are not harrassed online simply because they're men and men generally like to be presented as the ultra-buff strongman. Sorry guys, it's just the truth.
Then finally we get to the outright fear some of the comments aren't afraid to put to words:
I cant wait to listen to these steps to (emasculate) change the environment for the better. - zombielandv
Games are mostly for a male audience and we like seeing some skin. What's so wrong in that? God why do All groups now start to hate on games??? - amvivin
Yes, that's what we have here. The scary, indecipherable women are coming to destroy gaming. I think that's the root of all the hateful comments that are provoked by the issue of sexism in the gaming industry whenever it comes up on Gamespot or elsewhere in the online gaming world. Fear is the at the root of, and the basis of the rhetoric that always shows up when one group is afraid that another group is going to step in and uproot their way of life. Arguments that are made in situations regarding serious things like segregation, universal sufferage and immigration and with more trivial things like video games. But if history tells us anything it's that these fears are never realized when the new group is ultimately fully included. What generally happens is benefits are granted to everyone involved. Yes there are changes but nothing of value is lost, the world is usually enhanced by the expansion of the community.
It's even less of a cause for anxiety in the world of gaming. For better or worse, games aimed at men that include all the things that attract men aren't going anywhere. The appeal to masculine sensibilities is still present in movies and any other entertainment you can point to and it will always be present in gaming as long as men want it. The benefits we'll see by welcoming women to gaming as both developers and players are a more diverse selection of gaming themes and mechanics, expansion of the audience and growth of the industry that benefits everyone involved.