Sunday, October 5, 2014

Versus Them

I am, one might say, only marginally attached to gaming culture. I enjoy games, but I don't really consider myself a gamer per se. So I've been observing the battles of self-described Social Justice Warriors (and Rogues and Clerics and Rangers {It's a Gamer Thing. I'm not sure that I understand...}) against the forces of Evil in (guy) gamer culture with a certain amount of detachment.

And when I look at things from a distance, while I understand the anger at, and the desire to vanquish, the perceived "sexists, recreational misogynists and bigots," I think that it misses the point.

The gamification of misogyny predates the internet, but right now, in this world full of angry, broken, lost young men convinced that women have robbed them of some fundamental win in life, it's rampant.
Social Justice Warriors and the New Culture War
This statement that Ms. Penny makes, seems, to me, to hold the keys. If the gamification of misogyny is a symptom of angry, broken, lost young men who feel that they have been deprived of a fundamental win in life, then isn't it logical that the solution is to provide these men with the win that will soothe their anger, repair them and show them the way without needing to inflict pain on others? Of the conflict in the gaming community, Ms. Penny says: "This is a culture war. The right side is winning, at great cost." Which I understand. The idea that the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice is a common one. I don't think that anyone believes that this will still be an issue twenty years from now, or more than likely that it will even take that long to resolve. But, earlier in the piece, Ms. Penny had also made this point: "Gender isn't a game you can play and win by brutalizing and harassing and shaming and hurting the other 'side'." But as I see it, the whole of her op-ed is about shaming the other side.
They can't understand why they look ridiculous.

[T]here's nothing the sad, mad little boys who hate women and queers and people of color can do about it.
When I was in college, we were discussing domestic violence in class - it's roots, and who was at fault. And one person in the class made a statement that has always stuck with me. "It's clear that people learn this from the society around them, but we can still hold them responsible and punish them for allowing themselves to learn it." What I don't understand is why this is better than unteaching it.

As I've grown older, I've come to understand that "traditional masculinity" is a box, and any attempt to leave it is punishable. I know that it feels good to think of defeating the "terrified [...] mouthbreathing manchild misogynists," and punishing them for the "adversity, [...] shame[,...] pain and constant reminders of our own worthlessness" that they dished out. But if the very existence of the gamification of misogyny is the result of people attempting to deal with adversity, shame, pain and the constant reminders of their own worthlessness themselves, what are we really gaining when we enlist those tools as our weapons? If the so-called sexists, recreational misogynists and bigots have created their own worst enemies with these tools, why are the self-proclaimed Social Justice Warriors so certain that they aren't about to do the same? I understand the impulse to see those that injure you out of their own injuries as complicit in the wounds that lead to them being angry, broken and lost. I understand the impulse to see the "right" side of things as self-evident and to understand that opposing it is ironclad proof that "the other" is willfully and deliberately of insufficient intelligence and sensitivity to be worth saving. I was there, once.

"They" may be losing, but they haven't yet lost. In fact, for a time, they've won. Not because of the great personal costs that they've exacted from Anita Sarkeesian, Leigh Alexander, Zoe Quinn, Jennifer Lawrence, Laurie Penny and those that love, support and respect them. But because their hurts and losses have robbed them of their compassion for others; and their lack of compassion is robbing others of theirs. Gender oppression may create a world were everyone loses, but so do anger, hatred and hurt. They all do this through creating a broader culture where hounding and brutalizing and harassing and shaming and injuring others is the normal way of attempting to heal themselves, despite it's woefully poor track record. When we understand this, yet we deal in them anyway because the ignorance, weakness and/or evil intent of those we oppose make it right; and because we've convinced ourselves it will work out differently when we do it - we've become the servants of our pain, and not its masters.

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