Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Some followup: Jim Sterling, Reddit, and DM's Roundtable

DM's Roundtable follow-up interview

Hey, folks. Before I get to the meat of my post, I just wanted to update you all that last night was the followup interview done with the folks on the DM's Roundtable podcast. After hearing the podcast that originally went up in which I got fairly lambasted, I was pretty wary of going on. But, happily, things went really well and we had a really positive conversation. Those of you who want to give it a listen can find it here. Fair warning, though, it's long. (A little over an hour, iirc)

Reddit response to yesterday's post (trigger warning! rape jokes...)

Why do I read the comments on reddit? Whhhhyyyy? After the backlash I got from reddit over my post about gaming not being sexist against men, you'd think that I'd have learned my lesson? But no, I guess I'm just a glutton for punishment.

So, some dude over on reddit called me an "ignorant judgemental cunt". The fact that all the horrible shit Jim Sterling has said was meant as humor apparently puts me COMPLETELY in the wrong. Of course, given that in THE SAME COMMENT this dude joked that the difference between football and rape is that women don't like football., yeah. I guess I should feel vindicated rather than annoyed. But. Wow. Yuck, dude.

Jim Sterling. Sorry? Well....

Okay, so here's the thing that prompted me to write a followup post, rather than tackling one of the many other things that I've been working on entries about. Kaonashi forwarded me the email from Niero that was mentioned yesterday, and the summary was pretty accurate. "Sure Jim crossed a line and he knows it but he's a nice guy".

Which, you know, fine. As an apology it kind of sucks. I have yet to see anything resembling an apology that isn't full of defensive bullshit from either Destructoid or Sterling, but I'm not about to hold my breath since I honestly don't expect it to get better than that. An acknowledgment that a line was crossed and that it's not okay to call people feminazi cunts is about as much as I can reasonably expect since Jim Sterling has proved his worth to Destructoid by being able to get pageviews to Destructoid by saying inflammatory things. Is that out of the ordinary in the gaming world? No. Is Kotaku worse? Oh fuck yes.


I was skulking the Destructoid site yesterday looking to see if there were any editorials offering a more official apology for Jim's conduct (there weren't) when I spotted this post by Jim Sterling about a recent "news" segment on FOX in which the recent rise in reported rapes is blamed on sexy scenes in video games. As is to be expected from FOX, the segment offered no supporting evidence or really any reasoning beyond "be afraaaaaaaiiiiiiid! only FOX can saaaave yooooouuuuuu!".

Now, is this worthy of ridicule? Absolutely. Does this sort of thing deserve coverage on a major gaming site? Sure. Do the people at FOX deserve to be lambasted for making the same groundless accusations that no one has been able to prove for the last thirty years? Right on. As someone who had to promise her mother not to become a serial killer in order to be allowed to buy Mortal Kombat as a child, I get just as tired of the blame that video games get for just about every social ill that exists. So for once I was cheering Jim on, until I got to the last sentence:

Now if you'll excuse me, there are some vaginas that have not been raped yet, and Kirby told me I need to "get on dat sh*t!"

...really? Really, Jim? Wow. This doesn't make me all that confident that Jim has, in fact, grasped the nature of the line that was crossed. Calling people feminazi sluts? Not okay. But you know what else isn't okay? JOKINGLY SAYING THAT YOU'RE GOING TO GO RAPE A BUNCH OF WOMEN.

I've come to terms with the fact that hottest chick lists aren't going away any time soon. Will I mock them? Sure. Are they a staple of "game journalism"? Unfortunately, yes. Ditto with all of the stuff masquerading as "news" that boils down to "hey look! Boobies! We all like boobies, amirite?". It's crass, it's tasteless, and it carries with it an undertone of "tits or gtfo". But that is still something I can roll my eyes at and walk away from. Jokes about going out and raping a bunch of women? Not so much.

So I've just sent the following email to Niero, the editor-in-chief of Destructoid:

Dear, Niero

A commenter on my blog was kind enough to forward the email that you sent him in response to his complaints about Jim Sterling's comments in the twitter dust-up that occurred last week and I was very happy to see that in that email there was a clear acknowledgment that Jim's comments were entirely out of line. I want to make it clear that in no way do I support Daphny's actions - her comments were entirely disgusting and tasteless and I do agree with Jim that no one gets a free pass on discriminatory language just because they happen to be a member of said group.

That being said, I have grave concerns about the larger context of this twitter dust-up when viewed in light of a larger history of things that Jim has said as an official writer on your site. When the flare-up originally occurred, I refrained from taking sides on my blog, but I did put together a chronology of offensive comments that display a consistent trend of denigrating feminists, feminism, women, domestic abuse, and rape. So when I saw your email to Kaonashi, I was very pleased and had every hope that perhaps Jim would be a bit more thoughtful in his official commentary in the future.

Imagine, then, my dismay, when yesterday morning I saw a post by Jim about FOX news blaming Bullet Storm for the increase in reported rapes. Did FOX deserve to be thoroughly lampooned? Absolutely! But Jim ended by saying: Now if you'll excuse me, there are some vaginas that have not been raped yet, and Kirby told me I need to "get on dat sh*t!"

This makes me very concerned that perhaps there wasn't any sort of real lesson learned at all and that the apologies were just lip service to win back those publishers that Jim managed to offend with his comments.

Look. I don't like the boob-centric nature of your website, but I'm not about to start a crusade to take down Destructoid because you folks like boobs. Whatever. I just really hope that you can understand the difference between jokes about liking boobs and jokes about going out and RAPING A BUNCH OF WOMEN. I really do. I'm not trying to be a "humorless feminist here". I just really hope that you can make it clear to Jim that just as it is never okay to call a woman a feminazi cunt, it's also never okay to joke about engaging in rape. The fact that it's a joke does not obviate the fact that Jim is an influential guy within the gaming community who gets a lot of respect for the consistency of his gaming scores and, like it or not, there are people who look up to him.

I do hope that you will relay this message to Jim. And I do very much hope to see Destructoid clean up its act.

Thank you for your time and attention.

I'm not sure if I'll get a response, or if anything positive will come of it. I mean, I'm not a user on their site and I'm a woman, which already puts me at a disadvantage. But it's worth a shot, and I hope that those of you that agree with me that rape jokes ARE NOT OKAY in game journalism (or, you know, anywhere) will also send Niero an email and let him know where you stand on this.

That's all for now