I’ve been quiet about this since Adepticon… I just can’t do it anymore. Fellas, some of you need to learn how to look at a woman when she’s walking through a tournament hall or an FLGS.
First, some baselines:
• I am not saying that everyone exhibits this behavior. I have, by far, been treated like a human being by the men I interact with in the gaming community – and I greatly appreciate and respect those men. I’m talking to the ones that don’t follow that pattern. I’m talking to the ones that prefer to stare at female gamers like they’re a piece of meat.
• I understand that you’re going to look, it’s ok – it’s how you do it that’s the issue. We stick out of the crowd, and it would be stupid to ask you to look at the floor or the ceiling any time one of us walks by. We look at our surroundings and those that fill them, it’s just how humans are. This doesn’t mean you get a free pass to be unmannerly, mind you.
Giving me the up and down 3 times while my male compatriot stares at you in obvious disgust is not acceptable – I’m looking at you, guy at Adepticon. Nor is attempting to bore a hole in my chest with your eyes, guy at WGC. Or making comments about particular parts of my anatomy within earshot as I walk by, guys in front of my FLGS.
Let’s try a thought experiment. Think about this for a moment. Let’s say someone stares at your nose and ignores everything else – the rest of your body, your intellect, your humanity. Your nose becomes the personification of who you are [a big pair of… nostrils]. You are nothing else, and it’s all you’re judged by. How does that make you feel? Uncomfortable? Angry?
Simply: it’s not acceptable behavior.
By the way, this extends to the internet equivalent of street harassment: comments left on forums. Calling out a woman’s appearance in order to shoot her down instead of making a logical, on topic comment about her written arguments makes you look like this:
Not what you intended, is it? It’s what a lot of us see when we read your comments, though.
So… how do you manage to not come off as one of those guys? Don’t stare, and keep your comments [this includes whistling and suggestive noises/gestures] about a woman’s appearance to yourself… till she’s out of the room, at least. Takes a little self control and thought, but it’s not that difficult to do.
If you really want to make us feel included come over and talk to us about the army we’re playing, ask about the gaming systems we like, etc. in a way that’s not patronizing. It’s really easy to feel like an outsider when you’re one of maybe five in a group of 400 at a tournament, and folks are staring at you in a lascivious/”what the heck are you doing here?” manner.
For those that don’t need the reminder: help stop the harassment. I know there are a lot of great men in this community – I’ve met you, I’ve talked with you – don’t let the ruffians give you a bad name. Make it clear that this kind of behavior is unacceptable to those that are doing it. Requests like the one I’m making here won’t do much good unless y’all help back me up with action.