Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Suddenly, Sexism!

.:Suddenly, Sexism!:.

How dare you get all uppity and ask for things like decent and humane treatment?

To say that geeks (Particularly, male ones.) have been looked down upon as immature, petulant, whiny man-children would be stating the obvious. Indeed, geeks have caught a lack of flak for things that are apparently now mainstream, particularly video games, and superheroes. I identify with being a geek because let's face it, when you're friends with Sacha Chua, Clair Ching, Peppy Salita, and Sean Uy, that's probably what you are.

There are a ton of negative things people paint in broad strokes about geeks, but there's one in particular that makes me cringe every single time, especially when some of us appear to go out of our way to prove it: that (male) geeks are ridiculously misogynistic people.

Lately, there has been a lot of discussion going on about Ari Bakhtanians, a fighting game player who made very lewd and sexual comments about a female gamer, Miranda Pakozdi. As if using sexually charged language weren't bad enough on its own already, what makes this worse is that Ari Bakhtanians was actually the team captain of Team Tekken, which Miranda was also part of.

How stupid do you actually have to be to videotape yourself making these comments about a woman? I mean, seriously. I never even heard of Ari prior to this, but afterwards, I could only shake my head at the things he did, and the stupid excuses his sorry @$$ came up with after the fact. Granted, Ari and Miranda have reportedly patched things up already, but just like the FHM Cover brouhaha, I don't think this means that this should be the end of dialogue.

This morning, I saw the news that the Azkals are being sued for sexual harassment by Cristy Ramos. This is a pretty interesting and disappointing development, considering how much fame and attention the Azkals have been getting.

In both cases, we see clear instances of harassment, and what is glaring about this is how these things happen to women more often than they happen to men, and how because of this gap, we see a lot of excuses being thrown to cover up for the offending men.

In the case of Aris, people have been using the fact that this is the Fighting Game Community as an excuse for his bawdy, uncouth behavior. I mean, wow. Really? We're going to institutionalize ill behavior towards other people now? Because really, if he wants to exercise his freedom of speech to demean Miranda, why are his defenders now demanding that people critiquing him suddenly care about his feelings and not make any comments? You mean, only Aris has the right to free speech now, and we can't call him out for being a grade-A douchebag? How does that double standard even begin to make sense?!?

It's been upsetting me a lot whenever I find myself playing an involuntary game of Oppression Bingo, as wave after wave of defenders for what should be taboo for an FGC that actually wants to expand and gain more recognition crawl out of the woodwork. That these people don't know any better is a given, seeing how they've spent most of their lives completely oblivious to the privilege they enjoy for belonging to a patriarchal society.

For a guy, it's easy to be oblivious to the glaring gender differences between men and women that are institutionally in place because it simply isn't relevant to us. Because so few of us have to deal with people leering at us and giving us so much unwanted attention, we think that it's such an ego boost for any woman to have someone praise them for their looks or their body, and to ogle them for it. For gamers, women are so few and far in between that when someone remotely attractive comes along, she becomes the center of attention for all the guys, and not all of these women will enjoy the fact that she can't enjoy a game in peace without some horndog hitting on her in the middle of it.

For the most part, men don't get that. And it's so easy to say they just need to toughen up and grin it and bear it because we aren't going through it every single day in our lives. When a man sticks his neck out to woo a woman, the worst that could possibly happen is that he gets heartbroken. But when a woman breaks somebody's heart, she runs the statistically valid risk of being physically abused for rejecting a man's advances.

The gap of empowerment between men and women seem immaterial to men because they are the ones enjoying the benefits of this gap. While some will actively go out of their way to keep this balance of power largely in their favor, a vast majority simply don't see it, so don't think that anything is wrong with it. Of course. How could anyone expect them to?

That doesn't excuse their behavior, though. And with this case the Azkals are facing again, no amount of being good-looking or winning tournaments (Which hasn't even been happening lately.) is going to be enough of an excuse for their behavior around Cristy Ramos.

Hades, you can even throw in Chris Brown and Rihanna and how many people quickly assumed that Rihanna getting beaten up was probably her fault, which just sent a cold chill down my spine.

Precisely because the power balance is not commensurate, a man beating up a woman is in no way a show of equality. This, and affirmative action, seem to be concepts that the privileged simply cannot wrap their heads around. It's frustrating to see these people insist on upholding the institutional power imbalance, and feeling so high and mighty about it. There's just something to be said about people's insistence on wanting to be douchebags, then wanting to silence people who call them out on it. Freedom of speech works both ways, bud.

Sexism in this day and age will always be a hot-button topic that many people will want to sweep under the rug. Despite that, I hope that by calling attention to it enough, I could contribute somehow to changing that fact along the way.

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