Today is International Women’s Day, GDC (Game Developers’ Conference) and PAX (Penny Arcade eXpo) East are wrapping up, and GamerGate is still hanging on to its undead, stinky existence. In honor of all the women – of all stripes, shapes, colors, orientations, and identities – out there, I want to acknowledge the efforts, struggles, and battles you have fought and continue to fight every day.
I want to tell you that you’re awesome for getting up in the morning and walking out the door, for logging on to the internet, for raising your voice, for simply being each and every day. Every time you do any of these things, you make the world a little better, a little brighter, a little more equal.
Which isn’t to say that the war we call daily life is anywhere near over, particularly not for women of color, transwomen, queer women, women of size, women in third world countries, women in STEM and games, women in academia… you get the idea.
A lot of people have been posting in honor of International Women’s Day, most positively, with role models and inspirational encouragement. On the other side of things, some have been using this as an opportunity to point out how feminism is oppressing men, asking “When’s International Men’s Day?” (The answer, by the way, is November 19th.)
Yesterday (maybe in honor of International Women’s Day, maybe not) Cracked posted a piece about “Feminist Easter Eggs” in the Portal series. It’s a pretty good read, all things considered, but the five things they point to aren’t Easter Eggs (which are hidden surprises, usually fun or funny in nature) – they’re the whole point of the game. Having a game with all female characters (Portal) is not an Easter Egg. Having a female protagonist who doesn’t look at her own boobs is not an Easter Egg. Having an abused women triumph over adversity is not a bloody Easter Egg. These things are the central point of the games, but they’re termed “Easter Eggs” so as to… I don’t know… not offend male gamers who might be horrified to learn that a game they played and liked is feminist? I’m really not sure of the logic there.
But it points to one of the reasons why it’s so important to commemorate International Women’s Day – because we still consider “feminist” to be a dirty word, because women who aren’t white and affluent are erased from conversations of women’s rights, because women still make less than their male counterparts, because women have to work harder and produce more in order to receive the same promotions, because men and women both deserve equal parental leave and accommodations, because women who don’t resemble the media’s “perfect female image” are ostracized and insulted on a daily basis, because women have to fear walking home alone, because street harassment is normal, because women are “bossy” while men are “leaders,” because GamerGate exists, because #yesallwomen and #notyourshield and #1reasonwhy and #letgirlslearn, because we’re afraid to put women forward as role models and heroes… because of all these things and more.
Because there are girls growing up who believe that because of what is (or isn’t) between their legs, they are less suited for leadership positions, technological innovation, scientific research, academia, business, and pursuing their dreams.
Happy International Women’s Day.