I’m not sure if anyone has managed to miss the “mortifying” faux pas committed by a games journalist towards a game developer very recently.
I’d like to point out that the behavior was inexcusable. I’d also like to point out that the guy who actually sent these messages have issued an apology. Whether that is enough is up to the victim.
There are a lot of people on the internet who seem to be surprised at the female game developers lack of response in connection to the game journalists first, let’s call it sexual, comment. First of all – have you any idea how common this is?
I’m by no means a beauty queen, but it happens to me relatively often. I have a (text) conversation with someone and all of a sudden there is a sexual undertone, or as in this case very overt sexual content happening in a setting that was previously quite professional.
I’ve had wrong numbers end up in requests of phone sex without prompting. (It went something like “Hi, is NN there”, “No, sorry, you’ve got the wrong number”, “Your voice is really sexy”, “Ummmm… ok?”, “Want to talk some more? I’d really like to have phone sex with you”, “…” *hang up*). The guy called me two more times out of the blue and wanted to have phone sex so I blocked his number.
My point is this: it is never asked for, often unwarranted and completely out of the blue. It’s like being hit with a mackerel across your face. You NEVER see it coming and it often leads to a bit of “what the hell was that?”, quickly followed by “how do I handle this?”, “is he* going to hurt me?” and then – quite a while after the conversation is over – anger.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not really walking around prepared to be sexually harassed in a professional context. At least not that overtly. I’ve also been taught to be nice. That means avoiding confrontations.
Reactions to sexual harassment are a lot more passive than people think, and the optimism bias – the idea that we would react more strongly if it happened to us – actually increase the guilt and shaming of the victim by spectators.
There are a lot of reasons to remain passive. The biggest reason is that a confrontation almost never stops the harassment.
I recognise this from my own experiences with being bullied at work. Yes, my co-workers stopped telling me I was a crappy designer due to being female when told off by the boss to do so**. They also shifted focus and started attacking my eating habits (“how can you EAT that, that’s disgusting”), the way I looked etc.
Letting time pass (doing nothing) stopped bullying 3% of the time, an obviously ineffective tactic. However the other tactics — confronting, imploring the bully’s boss, filing an HR complaint, or telling senior management — were as ineffective as doing nothing.
There’s also the threat of violence, that may or may not be the result of rejecting sexual advances. We’re certainly being taught to expect it as women.
There’s the pressure to remain nice. Being a nice girl is also something we’re being taught from a young age.
It’s much easier to just be quiet, take the discomfort, walk away and hope the guy never does it again.
How would you react if, during an interview, someone asked you “can I kiss your penis/ vagina”? I’d like to think I’d clock the sonofabitch, but most likely I’d smile uncertainly, wonder if I really read/ heard that correct and try to escape as soon as I could.
* I’ve never been sexually harassed by a woman. I’ve been bullied by young women on several occassions, but I’ve never felt threatened physically by women. (I don’t shave my legs, the young women thought it proper to follow me around from Lund to Malmö to tell me exactly how disgusting this was. I didn’t confront them either.)
* This just in: the publisher we worked with had nothing but praise for my work. I quote “This is the best design and documentation we’ve ever seen”. Also, I’ve been called “the best recruitment I ever made” by another completely unrelated person at another company. So no, I don’t actually think I’m a crappy designer.