Daily Archives: February 28, 2012

Sexism in EvE Online

EvE has a serious gender imbalance.  This imbalance has created an environment of misogyny and a hostile environment for women in the game.  Now, I don’t personally identify as a “feminist.”  I believe in treating both sexes with equality and I’m generally blind to gender in a societal sense.  If one person can do a task at a certain level they should always get the same treatment as another person who can, as far as expectations and rewards.  Somehow this makes me a raging feminist in the eyes of many.

However, I have often noticed people in EvE, including myself, engaging in behavior and using terminology that would be highly offensive to many of my female friends. Rape jokes pervade this game.  For instance, let’s talk about the term “Rape-Cage.”  In EvE Online it means the action of placing bubbles around a Station, POS, Wormhole or Gate so that no one can enter or exit without being trapped in a bubble, helpless against the aggressors.  Get it?  Rape-Cage…. aren’t we clever…

Now, I’m a guy.  I consider myself a fairly tough guy, with some good reasons for it.  I tend to make comparisons between EvE and real life combat because I’ve been shot at and am familiar with the emotions and sensations .  I choose to curb what I say because I’ve never lost a friend in a fight I was in, and I’ve never been hit myself, so I can’t speak to those extremes.  I respect the emotions and sensitivities of those who have been through that.

Yet until fairly recently I was dropping the term “Rape-Cage” like it was okay.  Like it wouldn’t affect the millions of rape survivors worldwide.  Like it wouldn’t affect the roughly quarter million female victims of sexual assault just in the US every year.  That’s awful.  By making the word “rape” – in any context – desirable or funny, we make it more acceptable.  We make it easier on guys AND girls to think it’s not a big deal, when it is!  When talking to several of my female friends (who have been survivors of rape) the day after a wormhole op where we had bubbled a tower to hell and gone, I thought “I am so glad they weren’t on comms last night,” and I was ashamed.   I was ashamed at myself because I know better than that.  I was ashamed for my friends who use this term as well, who I know are good and decent people or they wouldn’t be my friends outside of the game as well as in.

John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Dickwad Theory gives reasoning for why otherwise perfectly normal, bright, intelligent people with no misogyny in them will act like a damn fool:

Now I have talked a lot about how EvE is not for wimps, and how people need to Harden the Fuck Up (HTFU), and a lot of people are probably laughing at this and going “Well survivors need to HTFU too!”  Fuck.  That.  Shit.  Inexperienced people need to HTFU on in-game aspects like losing ships, being scammed on contracts, or having your POS massively bubbled.  I don’t have a problem with throwing a ton of bubbles around towers – unless it’s my tower, of course.  But I have a problem with the term “Rape-Cage,” and there’s a difference.  One is an essential part of a tower siege in WH or Null space.  The other is a highly offensive term that doesn’t become a decent person.  One is a clever tactic that gives the attacker a big advantage.  The other is an offensive example of rape culture and a serious disincentive for the millions of rape survivors JUST IN THE US to play the game.

I won’t ask you to try to put yourself in the shoes of a rape survivor.  I will assume that anyone who hasn’t gone through the physical and psychological trauma of a rape could never understand it either, just as no one who “wasn’t there” can understand real combat.  Instead, I will ask you to put yourself in your own shoes.  You find out your sister, mother, girlfriend, or daughter has been raped.  You spend days or weeks trying awkwardly to console them.  One night she overhears you laughing on TS about how you just “Rape-Caged” a tower.  How will you feel about yourself?  Why shouldn’t you feel that way when “No one but my EvE friends” hears it?

If you are one of the people asking himself why EvE doesn’t have more women, look in your chat logs.  I’ll bet you find the answer a hundred times over.  Look for how many times you see “rape” or “fag” or “pussy” or “cunt”.  Would you like that if you were a woman?  Would you like your friends talking like that around your sister, around your girlfriend, around your mother, or around any of the important women in your life?

Decent behavior isn’t extraordinary.  Decent is not a superlative adjective, there’s nothing extreme about it.  It is average.  Ordinary.  Simple.  What we should practice every day, no matter where we are and what we are doing.  Somehow it isn’t easy.

To show how committed I am to this, I will be offering a PLEX to the person who comes up with the best alternative to “Rape-Cage.” If you don’t play EvE, I will buy you coffee.  If you don’t live near enough to collect *AND* don’t play EvE I will feel sorry for you.  For those not involved in EvE here is a picture of the phenomenon I am talking about

I’m going with BubbleStorm.  I know you can do better.

Not a good thing. Not Rape Either