When tasked with telling a story about gender/sexuality/ability/class standing, I couldn’t really think of anything that has been ‘out there’ in my life. Then I thought “well, what do I like?” and the first thing that came to mind is video games. This was a huge opening point because while there’s not a single story I can put to this, I can contest that there are multiple times where I have experienced sexism in video games. Multiple little examples snowballing and making a whole narrative throughout my entire life that I’ve been playing video games.
There is a reason I don’t play games with my microphone unmuted. As soon as I turn it on or try to communicate with my team, if I’m not doing well in the game I’m immediately “looking for attention” by playing these games. There are many things I’ve been called in the midst of multiple video games that’s made me realize that women in video games have more to prove than their male counter parts.
Names or phrases that have been said, include:
- “Go back to the kitchen”
- “Make me a sandwich”
- “Looking for attention”
- “You’re bad because you’re a girl”
While there are many more than just those, especially some explicit terms/names, it does not end there. It’s been a recurring issue throughout all of the video games that I have played, not just one or two, but ALL of the games I’ve played or interacted with. While you would think that most of these people would be adults, saying these things, I have noticed more recently that there are kids (or people that sound like kids) that say these kinds of things. While the situation is grim, I find it kind of funny that even kids nowadays still have this mindset that only guys can play video games and that women are supposed to be ‘in the kitchen’. These roles that have been pushed, as Judith Butler says in her video, that “our acting, or roleplaying, is crucial to our gender” is still enforced on the younger generation. That we are still forcing people to act ‘their gender’ or belittling them to take on these roles. I think that it’s super important for future educators to enforce that these roles should not exist. That these roles should not be put in place regardless of where they are or what they are doing. To be able to see that change in the future and have a time where women are not looked down upon in video games or any other ‘men-centered’ media and content, but to instead celebrate the content without the underlying sexist tones would be a lot great to imagine and I hope that I can help change that by empowering girls in my class and other classes to stand up for themselves and enjoy what they enjoy with no regret or dismay to the people that still think it’s a men-centered field.
Another comment that Butler made in her video is that, “gender is culturally formed, but it’s also a domain of agency or freedom” and I think that yes, it is culturally formed, however, if we continually allow it to be formed like this, these “roles” won’t go away and there will still be people who think that women do belong in the kitchen, or that women don’t deserve to play video games. Reflecting on this, as an educator, I would like to lean into the agency or freedom aspect because then people can decide their own roles and if everyone gets to decide their own roles in society, people might be able to function better and accept each other for who they are rather than their ‘assigned’ gender roles.
Big Think’s video “Judith Butler: Your Behavior Creates Your Gender” here: