I'm going to be completely honest here; I'm somewhat leery of talking about this topic. My apprehension doesn't come from misogyny or misgivings about whether what's being said is truthful, but rather because I'm afraid that because of my own perspective that I may not be able to properly relate the true scope and impact of what's going on.
I can't be sure what the exactly catalyst for this is. Part of me thinks that it might be a response to all of the recent ridiculous outcry over "fake geek girls" that's been going around, but this is something that has much more profoundly distressing implications. Right now on Twitter searching for the hashtag #1ReasonWhy reveals some truly disheartening tweets coming from women in the industry about how they've had to put up with being treated as second class citizens, abuse, being patronized, and sometimes not even feeling safe at events that are designed to pay homage to their professions.
Of course, by the time you're likely to be reading this, the hashtag will likely be bombed with idiots saying stupid shit. I'm fairly positive of this because it was already happening to a good extent when I checked the hashtag myself. Seeing people trying to dismiss or make light of this problem -- and yes, it is a problem -- is almost as bad as the root discrimination in the first place. A lot of websites have already started covering this, but I'm not trying to jump on the bandwagon here. Some of what I've read has been truly disturbing to me.
And what worries me even more is everything that's not being said.
I believe that this blog post, written by Katie Williams, strikes a chord with the final line "Because I’m scared to post this on Twitter." I can't help but wonder how many tens, if not hundreds of women in the industry are in the same position as her right now. Wanting to speak out but too fearful of the scorn and even the potential loss of work that doing so might bring.
I can't even begin to understand what some of this must be like. I'm a white male, that's basically life on easy mode. But having to put up with crap just to do a job that you want to do, to pursue a dream you love? That's just wrong. I'm not talking about the trials that everyone may face, I mean to be put down and dismissed just because of your gender?
The whole gaming scene has been looked at like a boys club for too long, and not talking about, dismissing, ignoring, or even making light of these problems isn't helping the industry or people's perceptions of it one bit. I applaud those women that have been brave enough to share their stories, and I hope that rather than meeting with scorn or disbelief that people will instead strive to change.
I fear though, that may be asking something that is nearly impossible, at least at this time.