Sarah Graves’s article, Girls, Games, and Post-Feminism, does well to both discuss what women (and feminists) want out of video games and the divisions in online communities of gaming women.
For a while now I’ve been part of an online community of girl gamers. It’s a livejournal community with close to two thousand members, and another thousand or so watching. … Every now and then someone will post about an experience online or in person where they were either mocked/praised/drooled over/harassed based on their sex. Some girls sympathize and groan- nearly every one has had a similar experience. Others get downright angry. Not at the mocker/praiser/drooler/harasser… But the girl bringing it up as an issue.
Graves’s observation is one I’ve also observed in gaming communities and in online games: You’re playing in a man’s world, what do you expect? A safe environment with like-interested folks to vent about harassment is reasonable. The victims are blamed, or told to toughen up and stop being so sensitive (“masculine” traits), enough in game and in the real world.
In fact, talking about your personal experiences as a girl gamer has become quite a point of contention in the community. Some members are supportive, share a laugh or anecdote, other members get angry that girls keep mentioned shoddy treatment based on sex. For them, it’s either an absolute: It’s a game…it’s entertainment. Women are exploited in almost every genre of entertainment. or something that happens so often, mentioning it is just redundant: As long as the male turnout overweighs the female, expect stupid reactions, and indeed, dumber questions.
Is it really that much of a turnout? 43% of people who play video games are female, according to Entertainment Software Association.