FPS: Despite Being Called Names

Posted by mouthyb | Posted in | Posted on 2:22 PM


Since Wolfenstein 3D, I've been in love with first person shooters: the sound effects, the stream of lead pumping through the muzzle, figures falling away from you in a spray of pixelated blood, the elation of surviving an ambush.

Seriously, can anyone resist shooting mechanized Hitler with a minigun? How about zombies? Or, in my case, can anyone resist shooting Team Fortress 2 characters?

It depends very much on your experiences, though I and many other women I know play despite the annoyances of playing on a server. An ugly reality about playing against people on various servers is that they will break out in a rash of sexist, homophobic bullshit when they lose, when they win, when they're in a good mood and when they're in a bad mood. If they don't know you're female (I chose a feminine surname, so they know with me), they talk about what they want to do to women. If they know you're female, they talk about what they want to do to you. Rape comes up often.

I comment sometimes, depending on whether or not I feel like getting into it with the whole server. Other times, I make it a point to shoot them enough to 'dominate' them (to kill their character three or more times in a row). I can often cause them to ragequit.

My partner, and others, have asked me why I so often pick servers which are extraordinarily unfair (the teams are stacked with all the newer players on one team, against people who play every day). I tried to explain, but I'm not entirely sure I make sense to him.

What I tell him (and others) is that the server is a lot like life: the odds are stacked, the set up is fucked up and no one wants you to win because you don't fit their picture of who should win. They insult you and shoot you and make fun of you, tell you that you can't play and your efforts won't get you anywhere.

And on the server, you can shoot them for it. I don't literally want to shoot them, but I love stopping them mid-rant, mid-insult, enacting on them the symbolic violence which their words enact on me.

I can kill their characters over and over, as they sputter and threaten and posture. I come back because it's a chance to do something about the stream of insults I am forced to swallow daily for being female. Most days, I can make them swallow it and run.

It's the same reason shooting Hitler is fun-- I can do something merciless about people whose hatreds and banal evil hurt half the population of the world. Obviously, the nerds I shoot are not as evil, nor as violent as Hitler and his ideology, but there is more than enough violence out there against women, abetted by the same tired memes about what women are good for. The interviews with rapists and persons who commit domestic violence are consistent in that respect. They're saying the same thing these teenage boys and men are saying to me: don't make me have to hurt you, bitch. Fuck you, I'll punish you for doing well, I'll rape you.

The same ideology, but the odds of it happening in real life are somewhat less, and online I can defend myself without being shamed for the desire to do so (women are passive creatures, don'tcha know?)

I'm up 16,000 points on my favorite server, and I spend most of my time on the MVP board. It makes the daily insults a little bit easier.

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