Then I'd wager we've encountered very different arms of the modern feminist movement. My interactions with them lately are those who fall within the feminist arm of the atheist community (along with that whole Atheism+ business), and the denizens of the Anita Sarkeesian crowd within the gaming community/industry. By and large, these two groups are pretty much identical. They have this all but immutable rule of limiting themselves to the most shallow of analyses and saying that alone is all the information needed to prove everything they have to say. That's pretty much what I was alluding to. These are the sorts of people who would look at the Lenna picture and say that the fact that it is a cropped Playboy centerfold image is proof positive
that CS is awash in misogyny and is deeply imbued with prejudices that women aren't fit for the field. "What kind of message does it send when academia itself is willing to let smut that objectifies women be a benchmark?" Press for evidence that prejudices within
CS are prevalent or pervasive motivations behind anything? "Well, it is absolutely obvious since there are fewer women in CS than men!"... and that proves it without need for further discussion. Press for more detail or actual data to show that said culture actually exists or that a picture like this one is in any way meaningful? "You wouldn't ask for such stuff if it was a white male telling you all this! You're just refusing to take me seriously because I'm a woman!" If this sounds like an exaggeration, the sad reality is that I've had this same conversation almost verbatim on other topics. And the mere mention of demanding any level of intellectual rigor merits an accusation that I'm a misogynist myself. Tell them that they haven't really outlined the causal chain between the target of their ire and the end effect, and all I get is that "I'm in total denial about the prevalence of The Patriarchy
It's true that no reasonable
person would suggest that the bar be lowered for women entering STEM fields simply for the sake of diversity, but the problem is that I'm running across fewer and fewer reasonable
people in this movement as of late. These are the same people who thought up that whole "Ban Bossy" idea and think no deeper than a single facet of reality shapes everything and it can all be blamed on men hating women. As if forcing people to do something actually helps. Many times, I do hear the argument that the only way to get things in order is to enforce a quota system, and you could never convince these people that doing so would undermine the field. In their minds, if there are more women in the field, all things are automatically better by definition.
I have had arguments with people who have drunk the Sarkeesian Kool-aid who claim that the "proof" that the game industry actively
undermines the career prospects of women in the industry is the fact that there isn't already gender parity. I have mentioned, for instance, that it wasn't that long ago that a career in the gaming industry was not seen by society at large in any way as a respectable line of work, and it was more or less seen as an infantile loser party... Now if women were seeking to demonstrate competence and career success, do you really think they'd do so by seeking work in an industry that until recently had a widely negative
reputation? Moreover, in a mobile age, casual gaming has become the bigger weapon, and this is attracting a wider market than ever, and now women are much more involved in games than ever. The reality is that women have never even tried until recently for reasons such as that. And the argument always went "They'd try if they didn't think you'd push them out." I defied them to show me examples of women in the industry who actually said that the industry itself (and not internet trolls) and the people they worked with actually made it hard on them. I don't find any. There are plenty of people who had hard roads getting to where they are, but there's nothing unusual about that. Nothing to suggest that women have had it harder than others. Look at Japan, which has had a widespread and much more "traditional" gaming culture a lot longer than the U.S. has, and you'll see that the game industry there doesn't have quite the gender disparity... but it's not as if that happened overnight, either. When I point that out, all I get is "it would happen a lot quicker if there weren't so many barriers to women getting into the industry." Usually, if I ask such people to identify what those barriers actually are, they'll either mention internet forum trolls or scream "Fuck you."
I worked with dozens of women in my years in the game industry. Crystal had several, for that matter... and I've never seen or heard an incidence of one of them feeling uncomfortable in their time there. Moreover, everyone viewed them as competent colleagues, and the primary reason for that is because there's a certain level of competence they had to have to even hold onto their job. I've only had one job in gaming where I had the power to hire and fire employees, and indeed, the only employee I ever fired was a female engineer. If I were to mention that to the crop of feminists I've met, I guarantee I'd get an accusation of being a member of The Patriarchy or the Male Supremacist League out to marginalize women in gaming... not under any circumstances would any of them dare to ask the question "was there a valid reason to fire her?" and instead declare by fiat that the only reason I fired her was because she was a woman. As it so happens, the reality is that this woman was competent and filled an important knowledge gap in our engineering dept at the time... but she also had a habit of bringing her personal problems into the workplace and that led to frequent disruptions and awkward moments... but never mind that... she was a woman! and I'm a wannabe WASP who is out to destroy the futures of all women! Never mind that I still gave her recommendations for other jobs.
Likewise, I look back, for instance, at Jade Raymond -- when she was hocking the first Assassin's Creed, a lot of criticism was leveled at the fact that Ubisoft took advantage of the fact that she's an attractive woman to sell the product. Whether Ubi viewed it that way or not, that is a criticism for them more so than her, but the Internet is a field made up almost exclusively of moronic assholes and cat videos. There was even a pretty darn offensive comic put out which depicted her giving blowjobs to random people to convince them to preorder Assassin's Creed (as if that was her actual job). Now, that's the sort of thing that at the face of it, should make any feminist seethe with rage... but her own response to it was that she never really felt there was a problem... and in her own words, she was "too busy trying to make good games" and had "no time for bitching and complaining." That, to me, is a real feminist. Equal opportunity and rights to seek out those opportunities are things worth fighting for. Yes, there was a time when women had to fight hard for the right to even be allowed to try
, but that time is not today. Once those doors are open, the rest is up to the individual. Rather than bitch and moan about the patriarchy and play the eternal victim, argue by poisoning the well, and just exercise enormous intellectual dishonesty screaming and crying until you get your way... just actually take some time to prove that you're worthy of respect rather than demand it as if it's owed to you. If society at large is telling you "girls can't do math," then it's not as if we're in an age where the laws prevent you from being allowed to show that you're better than that. Yeah, it's hard... and if it's any harder for you, then good! That only means more chance to prove you're tougher. That's the kind of feminism I tend to favor.