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

About Corelin

An Eve playing Fool who occasionally writes about the shenanigans he and his minions get up to.

Posted on February 28, 2012, in Meta, Things I think I think, Things You Should Know About. Bookmark the permalink. 52 Comments.

  1. Aaaand…THIS is a man I’m proud to know.

  2. Good on you, excellent write up… as far as a submission, “Bubble Wrap”

  3. Silly Army guy, you have a term for this already, don’t you?

    Kill Box

  4. Maxwell Albritten

    “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. ”

    These two sentences contradict each other. A feminist IS someone who believe in treating both sexes equally.

    Anyways, this post is so on point it isn’t even funny. CCP (and to some extent, the players) are asking themselves how to bring new players into EvE. The answer isn’t in the tutorials, or making the game pretty, or advertising. The answer is dealing with the rampant sexism, racism, homophobia, and gross-out porn link bombing in local.

    Why is it so hard for so many people to just be a decent human being?

    • no a feminist is someone that believes women should be treated equally an they normally see men as the enemy.

      • No, that is not what a feminist is. There are, however, many people who make a lot of money ranting that that is what feminists are.

  5. A lot of this is addressed by corp attitiudes.
    Our corp had a few females in it and they where treated well and stayed a awhile. They did seem to get bored and burnt out faster however.

  6. I’m gonna go with dead zone or fu bubble after what some of our guys called napalm in Vietnam fu gas. Besides I really need a plex been out the game 2 years LOL

  7. Some of my best EVE-pals are women. *shrug* Then again so are some of my best RL-pals too.

    EVE is the irrefutable proof that elevates the Greater Internet Dickwad Theory to the status of Fact, and goes on to postulate that some people will STILL be Internet Dickwads even AFTER you know who they are and where they live (ahem, Mittens?)…

    I don’t think the term was deliberately created with the intent of “Hey guys, ok, we gotta think of the most sexist, insulting, woman-hating term we can for this…” perhaps it was, maybe, but I Wasn’t There, so I can’t say for sure.

    On a similar token, I’d like to extend an apology to those persons who have been the subject of chemical or fire accidents: my referring to my neutron blaster-fit Thoraxes as “face-melting” was cruel and insensitive to your situation and daily struggles.

    While you’re feeling apologetic, you should go read Stanziel’s blog piece about his being banned from the official forums for taking someone to task over the subject of suicide gankings or even “legit” combat in a wardec/lowsec situation causing heart attacks.

    Seriously, man, while I don’t even use the term “rape-cage”, I don’t think it warrants painting the vast majority of us as knuckle-dragging, woman-beating cavemen… (again apologies to those with excessive limb length or prominent brow structures)

    I don’t think the use of 1 term keeps most women from playing the game. What keeps most women out of this game is the fact that 1) women, in general, are more “social” creatures than we are, they tend to do things like “play nice” and “get along” — things that this game actively DIScourages, (ironically of the 5 women I know who play, only one is really a true “carebear”) 2) sci-fi is a genre that is generally dominated by geeky basement (or comic book store)-dwelling dudes, and for some reason, they seem intent upon keeping it that way…guess they prefer the fantasy of women over the reality, or some such. 3) listen to the leaked soundclouds of PL’s FCs emoraging over their recent capital losses to us: “YOU. ARE A. FUCKING. RETARD!!!” one guy screams.
    Hell, I’m an insensitive, uncaring, Internet Dickwad dude and I wouldn’t wanna play with that guy. You think a woman who’s likely 50x more empathic than I, would?

    There’s a lot of insensitive internet dickwad dudes who can’t “hack it” in this game for various reasons, and some very fine (and internet dickwad too!) ladies who CAN. *shrug* I guess in the end it comes down to “to each his/her own”.

    • Hong, I understand what you are saying, but lines have to be drawn somewhere, and wherever it gets drawn I certainly hope “rape-cage” can’t even see the line from its misogynistic hole in the ground.

      “Face Melting” refers more to Nazis melting like chocolate bunnies in the microwave. As a jew I say fuck the nazis. If you are offended I’m sorry, watch Raiders and you’ll get it. I will admit it is a lot closer to the line tho.

      As for Poetic. I’ve been the victim of CCP GMs not understanding grammar and got a 3 day GAME ban for someone misinterpreting something as a threat to his person. Silly guy thought i’d make the mistake of telling him I was going to kill him before the bullet hit him. I’ve read and endorse the mad overlord’s rules for success. I also posted there several days ago.

      I’m not dragging everyone into the mud because people use it, I’m dragging people because we let people use it, because we embrace a gaming culture that is offensive to MANY, MANY people, and then worry about why people choose not to play the game. I can stab you nicely, I’ve even done it to people in-game. Usually it involves sending them a well fit version of the embarrassingly badly fit ship I just wrecked. You actually come close to this in your 2nd to last paragraph, you are right, it isn’t 1 term. It’s a culture built on many, many terms and attitudes that pervade entire alliances.

    • I think you’re right that ‘rape-cage’ and similar terms were not coined to intentionally insult women – but that makes it only worse. Rape, a heinous crime which is still downplayed by many males, used as a laughing matter? I can understand if people turn to other games to play.

      And +1 to ‘Bubble Wrap’.

  8. PS: +1 for “bubble wrap”. That’s hilarious.

  9. couple of suggestions

    1. you can bubble trouble a tower

    2. you can michael buble the tower

    3. you can kerplunk the tower

    4. you can bubble bobble the tower

  10. +1 man
    and for the name (after all it’s a plex!).. it’s a shame schrödinger’s box is to hard to stick so what about bubblebox?

  11. Well written.

    I’ll suggest BubbleCage, BubbleJail or BubblePrison. Simple, yes, but all these terms instantly open to a EvE-player who has anchored bubbles around a POS.

    Bubblewrap is quite hilarious though 🙂

  12. How to deal with ignorant, careless, thoughtless, or intentionally hurtful language is always a problem in the online environment where people can hide their true identity.

    Having been the CEO of an all-female corp in EVE, I’ve had the experience of having to console a corpmate who was a rape victim when an ally of ours was persistently, deliberately hurtful with his language choices. I’ve had transgender corpmates frothing with rage over extremely hurtful viewpoints cluelessly expressed by others on voice comms. There are a lot of people from all different walks of life in EVE. I myself have cringed at some of the insensitive comments/language I’ve seen used, and I’m probably the most tolerant person around.

    Thing is, people in EVE come from all walks of life and represent every conceivable social niche. There are some who are overly sensitive to stuff that should be ignored. Some are jerks who get off on hurting people. There are others who think it is their role to police everyone’s behavior to an unacceptable degree. There is no “blanket solution” for dealing with the problems like those you describe in your post.

    But there are ways to mitigate it. Corp leaders can enforce more Politically Correct language, including using different terminology for such things as “rape cages” for example. They can enforce bans on voice comms of certain behaviors. They can impose penalties for violating the rules. But overall, quiet one-on-one conversations with offenders to explain the impact of their hurtful language combined with a courteous request to tone it down was almost always the most effective approach for me as a CEO.

    • I take these points very strongly, with only one real question: Why must political correctness – which is as fake and often offensive in its own right – play a part? This is an issue of common decency, perhaps of decorum as well, and should not require extraordinary measures of any sort.

      Speech codes rarely win converts to a cause. Au contraire, they often as not inflame passions. But an argument made in the name decent, humane behavior toward one another has power beyond mere words.

      • Mainly, the reason I didn’t use the phrase “common decency” is because hard as it is to believe, that is a variable concept…means one thing to me and you, another thing to someone else who may have far different standards. “Political Correctness” might be more universally understood in terms of the kind of language and behavior it rules out. But again, just my opinion/perception (for what THAT’s worth!).

        Regardless, the only important concept here is figuring out what actually offends, and that is determined by the people hearing whatever anyone says, not the speaker (although the speaker may consider his/her words to be offensive and use them intentionally in spite of or because of that). So…it isn’t even a simple matter to identify what is or to what degree something is offensive or violates “common decency” … as the comments to this post illustrate.

        At the end of the day, it just comes down to communications being necessary among groups of players who work together to decide for themselves what is and isn’t acceptable…and that is usually a process of stepwise refinement and adjustment as people get to know each other and new folks join the group.

        What a good discussion!

      • I don’t know about that, Mynxee. I do not see common and decent behavior – saying please and thank you, avoiding the use of vulgarities, etc. – as a variable, subjective concept. It doesn’t mean these don’t slip, even often (for instance, I find it far to easy to swear, even though I know I shouldn’t), but that makes it no less a common standard. After all, who walks into a restaurant, say, and starts f-bombing the attendant while ordering your food? Very, very few people, and most of them probably with other serious issues to deal with …

        The point is, it should not take a code of any sort, political correctness or otherwise, to behave in a polite and considerate manner toward one’s fellowman (or expect such public behavior); and I don’t think there’s a need to bandy logic just to determine what that looks like. If such standards of behavior _were_ so entirely subjective, then we – and society as a whole – have got FAR greater problems than just what the OP’s talking about.


  14. I totally agree with the sentiments of your post Corelin, whilst also understanding Hong’s perspective above. I think the issue is centred on respect and behaving in a manner appropriate to the circumstances and audience.

    The sad truth is that for too many people, consideration for others is just not a priority. The problem is not specific to EVE Online, or even the internet (although the anonymity effect certainly magnifies poor behaviour). Having worked as a paramedic for over a decade and engaged with people from all backgrounds, I’ve come to the sad conclusion that a frightening amount of people in modern western society are over-entitled, amoral and narrow-minded.

    That EVE provides an environment where amoral behaviour is relatively unpoliced perhaps encourages poor behaviour, but also exposes people to ugly truths and allows people to make a choice. That you choose to champion an alternative to inconsiderate language use is to your credit and I wholeheartedly agree with you. But I think we are a minority.

    Sadly that’s just not the world we live in.

  15. I have two sons and three daughters. I don’t use that sort of terminology anywhere, anytime. It’s just a matter of respect – same reason I don’t use typical MMO slang like gay, retard, fag, etc. I’m capable of getting my point across just fine without it.

    How about calling it a Monkey Fist?

  16. What’s interesting is the implied interaction of ideas between this an Mittens bit on EVE-born vs. Community-Born players. I agree with your argument above, but I also think that the GIDT predicts no movement on this front for the reasons Mittens highlights. People pull shit like this because they can get away with it.

    Every voice raised against them won’t change their behavior. On the other hand it /does/ help mobilize and alert the rest of us for whom this matters. So thank you for that.

  17. I’ve been thinking about an alternative to “rape cage”. The choice of words here, however distasteful, is about asserting aggressive dominance and implying the helplessness of the targets. For sheer shock-and-awe descriptive power, “rape cage” just can’t be beaten. There was a time when people would have settled for “besieged”.

    Freudian psychologists might posit that this phrase, along with the prolific misuse of “gay”, “faggot” and assorted other sexually-themed words, is connected to the frustration of the user, expressing his impotence or insecurity through aggressive language in attempt to demean others and assert their sexual dominance. They should be pitied.

    The problem with a replacement phrase is it just won’t have that same show-stopping impact. It’s hard to find assertive manly words to appease the internet sex-pests when you’re starting with the concept of a “bubble”. Foam, lather, suds? Instant emasculation, they’ll never go for it.

    I think I’ll go with “warp-siege” or a comical “shampooed”.

    “I can’t undock, the station has been shampooed.” – so rubbish it’s good.

  18. As a gay guy who plays Eve, I see certain terms thrown left and right any given day that directly insult me (not to mention the other derogatory racial, ethnic, gender terms I see along the way). I’ve been forced to develop a bit of a thick skin, knowing that as one person, I’m just not going to make a difference in what has become almost engrained in the culture, for better or for worse. I’ve learned to deal with it, if only through cynical acceptance (though I don’t mean to imply that anyone else should HAVE to develop a thick skin, it’s just been my response to a fairly widespread problem).

    That said, even for me there are words and phrases that go too far, and I’ll still step up and say something if I think it crosses the line. But its hard to get anyone else to care. Even those who would normally find such words or phrases unpalatable (like me) have developed a somewhat laissez-faire attitude. The few times that I HAVE called anyone out on something like that, others have told me to just block the offending player, or reminded me of the oft-repeated mantra “don’t feed the trolls.” And I truly do get their exasperation since I share it myself: there’s just no way to show the consequences of using certain words and phrases. I don’t like it, and I’ll support anyone who does attempt to get those words out of the vernacular. But again, I unfortunately just don’t see it happening.

    Does that mean it’s either HTFU or get out? Deal with the offensive phrases in your own way or just quit the game? I don’t know. I guess in some cynical way it does ultimately come down to that, even though I’m loath to admit it. But it’s incredibly hard to beat back the tide on something like this, for better or for worse. It’s a tough issue that I’m not sure has an answer, outside of providing individual support as problems come along, like Mynxee suggested. I can only talk about my own particular experiences on this.

    On a lighter note, I’m totally voting for bubble wrap.

  19. Wow… the difference between the comments here and the comments on en24 are profound. Wonder why such a difference.

  20. I’m a new EVE player, and such a term isn’t in my game vocabulary, thank goodness.

    I salute you for being a fairly decent human being who thinks of others, and for that, I submit the term “being Rubber Duckied” to add to the bubbly terms of other folks here.


  21. you can put in a petition if you find something offensive,which may need a bit more advertising to the general eve community.

    your seen as a big girl’s blouse if you as a man stand up to that type of thing an yes it is a social problem because men have to be tough an manly its what we learn growing up from the different media that’s out and from our family,friends an yes even girlfriends.which all comes back to the social view of what a man is meant to be an if you don’t live up to that then you are not seen as a man.

    or to put it simply the menly men complex ;P (if you’ve ever watched mel brooks robin hood movie you’ll know what i mean) and also John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Dickwad Theory is so very correct lol.

  22. ““Face Melting” refers more to Nazis melting like chocolate bunnies in the microwave. As a jew I say fuck the nazis. If you are offended I’m sorry, watch Raiders and you’ll get it. I will admit it is a lot closer to the line tho.”
    lol Sorry Core — I don’t get this one. Seen all the Indy movies, still don’t get reference. Prob fail on my part. *shrug* Even if the allegory as stipulated is right on, what’s wrong with melting nazis? I’d think that would be highly entertaining and hardly offensive at all…? *confused*

    To be clear, I don’t defend any of those terms, and I agree with whoever a few posts above who made some insinuations about possible sexual insecurity and identity issues of those who use such terms on a regular basis, at least in a derogatory fashion.

    At the same time, though, I neither attempt to censor nor censure others for how they express themselves, nor do I expect others to “tread carefully” for fear of offending me, either.

    I remember a decade ago when I sat down to my first Criminology class. The teacher was a retired cop who went back to school after retirement, pursued “even higher” education, and then went back as a prof…rather cool guy. His first introductory comment to us was a recitation of the “PC Police Miranda warning”: “You have the right to remain silent. Should you waive this right, anything you say can and WILL offend SOMEbody.”
    Ever since then, I’ve made it a point to either remain silent, or say something guaranteed to piss somebody off, even if phrased in a polite manner. 😉 After all, if yer gonna do it, make sure to do it right. >:-D

    • And I’m not calling for official censorship. I’m asking players to police their own communities. I prefer players of my corp or playing in my pub rooms to show a certain amount of respect. Some will choose to hold themselves to a higher standard, some won’t. I like letting morons point out who they are all by themselves, it is one of the advantages of free speech is people who choose to celebrate their stupidity often put signs on themselves telling smart people to stay away.

  23. Feel free not to publish this if it misses the the point, but:

    Put a jimmy hat on that POS. Or your condom euphemism of choice. That way we are still giving people some crass humor, while being all sneaky about promoting condom use!

    Or maybe I’ve been in grad school too long…

  24. I think people choose to get insulted and worked up about stupid shit. I also think you wrote this to get laid.

  25. Why not just “cage”?

  26. +1
    I am a youth worker and deal with over 200 females a year who have been exposed to sexual trauma and abuse. Thank you for this post.

  27. I like “fubble” for “F*** yoU buBBLE”.
    Or “Yafle” for “You Are F***ed bubbLE”
    Or “Wafle” for “We Are F***ed bubbLE”

    • You would write this right after I tell someone else he has won. I’ll find something for you. It won’t be a PLEX but it will be cool.

      • Yeah, sorry, back-logged on blogs and reading reverse chronologically so didn’t see the latest post. 😦 A mail has been sent to this “Corelin” person I hear of. I’ll try and not get him fubbled this weekend, but we might yafle his friends and wafle an enemy super.

  28. BBARed – bubbled beyond all recognition?
    FuBBared – effin’ unbelievably bubbled beyond all recognition 🙂

    On topic – as Morg said, corporate culture has a lot to do with it and one of the reasons why it pays to ensure new peeps fit with you, and you with them.

    If you get it right first up, you shouldn’t need to enforce the pc language requirements or have to corral the drama llamas either.

  29. Seriusly its so simple. That right there is a BUBBLE BATH!.

  30. How about not being hypersensitive pussies.

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