Sunday, 6 November 2011

Blog about Sexism. EB games, Deep Seated ignorance and Wrestling

Well fuck me dead, its been a few days since this 'EB games is sexist' debacle and ive been pondering the consequences of my actions. In the course of a day we saw the fickle relationship between rage, outrage, and censorship trodden out for us to yet again debate. Ultimately this is a real world example of how pervasive and ingrain sexism still is. The tendency to immediately discredit and shutdown any argument related to feminism is a reaction symptomatic of the greater issue.

For those of you who missed it, the story starts with a usual 9 to 5 at EB
I head into work on Wednesday morning. Turned on the work rotation tape. An in house EB TV type deal that spurts advertisements and information at people. During my opening procedures I hear tsimilar theme music used in Always Sunny in Philadelphia, curious I look up to see EB games has made its own mock 1950s ‘mans guide to trading’ using Sirkian, melodramatic convention. The add sees a ‘perpetual man-child’ husband having a charlie brown style zone out while his ‘bitch wife’ complains to him that he spends too much money on games. She pops off to the supermarket, because that is what women do. While he pops into EB games, because men play games you see. The clerk states that he overheard their argument, because he is a cunning salesman using everything to his advantage to increase store profits and his KPI. He suggests man-child trades his old games instead of using money. Brilliant thinks the man-child, he does as promoted by the clerk and then uses the money he didn’t spend that day at EB on dinner for bitch-wife. Because women are interested in eating at nice restaurants and not playing games remember. Then the final kicker of a scene sees man-child on a couch playing batman, while bitch-wife dusts behind him. When he asks if he can help at all, bitch-wife replies totally in awe of her generous provider of a man-child that he has already done so much, he should relax. Man-child beams like a cunning hyena into the camera before the weak excuse for a satire comes to an end.

So. I get a little hot under my white shirt and neckerchief (which i'm told to wear because it is more feminine than the tie) I post to my own facebook that

God damn EB you have really outdone yourselves with provided negative representations of gender roles, you cunts. Then I mentioned the contents of the video, and swore some more.

I want to clarify, I do work at EB games. The staff at my store and for the most part all the stores are lovely. This is not about the people at EB, nor even the higher management, this video is simply an anecdotal reason to discuss sexism and how it very much does exist and that it very much does matter. I was asked to take down the status. It was censored, I did sign an agreement not to call EB games cunts while I worked for them. Which, for a business is standard. However I do feel in anger people call other people / entities cunts, and I stand by my outrage.

A facebook friend who writes for a gaming mag posted it on twitter. EB games picks up on it, games media picks up on it. Kotaku posts an article on it and people go a bit nuts with opinions ranging from ‘but Mad Men does it’ to people agreeing to people dismissing it as an overreaction and as if any woman who finds this offensive is too sensitive. Which as a reaction almost proves the compensatory device most people who align with the majority use for fear of being given this exact treatment .I agree this video is mild, this video is a poor excuse for humour, I understand so fully the concept of satire, homage and how it tried and failed to use (like Mad Men) the historical understanding of 1950s Western sexism as basis for a lighthearted MEN ARE DIFFERENT TO WOMAN LET THE HUMEROUS EXCHANGES BEGIN type advertisement for a company. But I feel the outrage at the tape is symptomatic of a much larger issue with sexism in general.

The representation of both male and female in this video is dismal, I've had both male and female employees of EB tell me they find it disgusting and lame. There is no doubt that for some this video is laughable as newsworthy, and for some it is completely offensive. Obviously we don’t need to dwell on the fact that we are individuals who react to situations based on biological and learned rational. Yet something has struck a chord. I know for myself as a female employed in a perceivably male dominated field I have found gendered reactions to my service. Now no one here is saying that men and women are the same, in fact the very structure of our neural pathways ensures that information flows differently. It's a given. Yet the gendering of service, items, the self as a woman or girl is not binary, gender is fluid, sex for the most part is not. (of course not forgetting everyone under the transexual rainbow but for the sake of this argument which is looking at gender binaries, the matter of sex can be left for another day)

I get to work an in environment where some men will immediately ask the male at the counter what they thought of the game they are buying, even if i'm serving them and standing right there. I work in a place where in I pick up the phone and the man on the other end has a technical question they will ask if ‘anyone else is there’ as if to assume my my high pitched voice, a female, I could not possibly help them. I work for a company which prefers it when I wear the feminine version of the uniform. I am allowed to wear pants and a tie, but it is ‘preferred’- almost as loaded as the Machiavellian necessity that I wear the feminine. I even had a man once tell me after I answered he questions about over-clocking and his graphics card that he was surprised I could help. I have been in very tense situations where a man who was so offensively sexist towards me, saying I couldn't possibly understand games or that the representation of females in games is not sometimes sexist that a manager had to step in. Again, this is not all men or all of anyone, if we eradicate generalisations in favour of individualism then we are left with anecdotal experience of the opinion giver.

In this environment feminism is a dirty word. To align yourself with that is to find yourself berated with all the negative stereotypes that come with it. To face all the predetermined arguments from people unwilling to see that there is any issue at all with being made to feel a second class citizen. I wouldn’t be surprised if the reaction to this piece is that Im being overly sensitive, that I’m not experiencing the worst of sexism, that I should wipe my arse with my arts degree and that I should cry elsewhere.Which again would ultimately prove my point that the immediate reaction of those who dismiss claims of sexism do so because of their unwillingness to be separated from the group. The desire to remain in the majority is subconsciously an attempt to remain safe, easily categorised and definable. Its innate, its natural and its often the root of many of humanities flaws.

And you are right, this is not the worst case of sexism in the world. Myself alone, a woman of 22 and a lower middle class upbringing I’ve had my arse slapped, pinched, grabbed at, Ive been called a whore, a slut a dumb bitch, I've been abused and hurt and taunted and teased and i’m not fucking complaining. I’m stating that sexism is so ubiquitous and pervasive that only the most extreme cases are taken seriously, and the status of the victim is paramount to how much anyone will listen to you. How many men out there have been raped in a taxi? In the common language of my friends, everyone has been raped, what else you got? And if you are thinking, this is a tangent far from EB games having a mildly offensive tape then you are forgetting how inextricably connected everything is.

The issue with this tape is that in my workplace I have outdated, unfunny, tired excuses for gender roles playing above my head. While I work just that little bit harder to prove myself as 'one of the boys' to men who are unaware of their preconceive bias. The tape, intentional or not enforces disgusting but ubiquitous examples of gender roles for both male and female which should not be encouraged in any work place. We can not control the mind of the individual, we can be annoyed when a large company that employes and targets a female demographic as much as they do male subverts any attempt at females being intrinsically gamers too. You are either a mother or a girlfriend buying games for your male counterpart. If you are a man, you too are supposed to fulfil the EB man-child ideal where you are for some reason married and are at the mercy of your wife who plays the whore, the mother and now the catalyst for trading games. Those of you who say this does not matter are confirming the ignorant and pervasive nature of sexism. These opinions and stereotypes of gender do exist for a reason, that reason being centuries of historical and biological misunderstandings creating gendered lifestyles that are so pervasive that most people are not even aware that they are constructs. Having a tape at your place of work which enforces and reconfirms these roles is so utterly disillusioning I wonder how it past anyones stamp of approval. Im sufficiently sure that this article will provoke further backlash from people who disagree. But what evs, Im going to paint my nails and play Batman Arkam City.

Further reading 
The Video:

EB TWITTER: Word on the street is we're not very funny.. we wanna give you the chance to give us a better idea! We'll make a vid of the best idea next:)

  Like I said, there is a woman's guide to trading on it's way out.. feel free to check it out when its uploaded:)

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