Let's face it: female gamers don't always have it easy. From the misogynistic stereotypes to not being taken seriously, women who play video games have to deal with a lot of unfair struggles.
If you're a woman who finds herself drawn to the fandom of League of Legends or Assassin’s Creed, chances are you've encountered at least a handful of these:
1. Guys assume you don’t know what you’re talking about.
No, I’ve never played Metroid Prime, I’m just wearing a $30 t-shirt because you’re trying to attract guys.
2. You constantly have to prove yourself.
Yes, I’d love to prove to you that I know the mechanics of Duel Monsters. That’s why I came here, to I like a thing to a dude in a Sonic the Hedgehog t-shirt.
3. If women like a piece of media, it’s somehow “lesser.”
Pretty much every time something gets a female fan following, it also gets a reputation for being inferior to whatever it is guys like. Women like The Sims? It’s not really gaming. Women like Free: Iwatobi Swim Club? Let’s pretend there’s no character development or plot and just make jokes about exploding ovaries.
4. Nerdy dudes who couldn’t get girlfriends in high school take out their anger on you.
If you’re in fandom, you’ve met this guy. He’s socially awkward with nerdy interests. Maybe he was bullied in high school. Maybe girls didn’t like him. Now, he’s meeting women in fandom spaces, and he’s got a huge chip on his shoulder. To him, you represent all the girls who turned him down in high school. How dare you invade his safe space by liking the same video game he does?
It’s an entitlement complex mixed with hurt feelings mixed with a totally lack of empathy for nerdy women who went through the exact same thing when they were in high school.
5. You might get rape threats.
If you end up saying something men don’t like, some might try to debate you on it, but others will cut to the chase and threaten to sexually assault you.
6. You might get death threats.
Others will threaten to kill you. Or both. Fandom can be a terrifying place to be a woman.
7. You will definitely be sexually harassed.
To be fair, this is true about being a woman in literally any context, but the harassment is strong in fandom spaces.
8. Female character designs are totally unrealistic.
Most of the time, nerdy stuff is still designed with straight men as the target consumer. That means that female characters aren’t designed to represent or appeal to women, they’re designed to be sex objects. This means spine-bending breasts, teeny tiny waists, and chainmail bikinis.
9. Cosplay invites unwanted male opinions.
Cosplayers just want to express their love for their fandom. They don't want random dudes telling them how they should and shouldn't dress.
10. Fan activities that women like are “a waste of time.”
Okay, yes, women do interact differently with fandom than men do. People of all genders can and do get creative with fandom, but women are known for writing fanfiction, drawing fanart, shipping, making fanmixes, cosplay, and basically all the other activities that make fandom a fun place to be. It's because those things are associated with women that they're looked at as an inferior, pointless waste of time. Just like what happens with everything else we do, including "feminized" professions like nursing and teaching.
11. It’s still hard to find media that passes the Bechdel test.
The Bechdel test is simple. To pass, a piece of media needs to include at least two women, who speak to each other about something other than a man or a boy. It's the bare minimum for female representation, and most pieces of media just don't pass. Sometimes it's hard to get invested in movies, video games, TV shows and books that don't acknowledge your existence, but that's exactly what women in fandom are expected to do.
12. Some women have it worse than others.
If you thought representation for women in general was bad, imagine how much it sucks for women who aren't white, cis, straight, and able-bodied. Finding characters in the media we love who are women of color, disabled or LGBT can be just about impossible, and it's the worst.
13. Depending on what you’re into, you might be the only woman there.
Ever walked into a Magic the Gathering tournament to find that you're literally the only woman in the room? That's what a lot of fandom spaces are like, and it's terrible. You end up being treated like walking pair of breasts instead of a person who just wants to play a game she's passionate about.
14. You get judged by your appearance constantly.
Not only are you into some nerdy stuff, but you're not conventionally attractive? That's it, you're banished.
But despite all of these annoying to downright unfair disadvantages, you wouldn't trade being a gamer for anything.
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