Microsoft’s “Rape Joke” Flub and Feminism (from a female gamer’s perspective)

In the wake of the Tosh O rape joke scandal, Microsoft goes and flubs their shit during a game demonstration at a Microsoft Xbox one event.  I provided the link, but the general gist of things was a game banter gone wrong kinda deal that came out disgusting and offending a lot of people for it’s tastelessness and what some see as blaze’ reference to rape.

“I can’t even block correctly, and you’re too fast,” she says.

“Here we go. Just let it happen. It’ll be over soon,” he says.

The audience laughs at the remark that many have been interpreted as a rape joke. The banter continues between the two, further adding fuel to the allegations that the joke mimicked a sexual assault scenario.

“You have a fight stick,” she says.

“Wow, you like those,” he says.

“No, I don’t like this,” she says.

I didn’t actually hear about this until a gamer friend of mine, with whom I regularly have “debates,” asked me what I thought of the whole thing.  Even though we are very like-minded, it seems our conversations always take on tangentially adversarial note.  As if we agree, but not exactly.

My initial take on what I read about the “rape joke” was judging from the info in this link, was that it was intended to be normal, harmless gamer banter.  If you’re a gamer, you know how we like our trash talk!   That said, considering how damn sensitive everybody is about everything, it was not something that should be done “on stage” as it were. The first comment was fairly ambiguous, but the following comments made the situation worse, and added additional sexual connotations. The fact that Microsoft claimed the “banter” was unscripted and they were aiming for “friendly game-play banter”, but used two employees (who are not improv actors) to give said unscripted banter strikes me as a rookie mistake for a big company to make.

My gamer buddy, we’ll call him *Leon Kennedy, had this to say:

Well what bugs me about this is that it’s normal gamer trash talk. I’ve said stuff like that to guys I was beating and heard the same when they were beating me. Hell you know how we get playing Resident Evil.

His point brought me to an important idea…something I’ve noticed before in other aspects of my life as well.  Well, yes it is normal trash talk, but why is it that trash talk almost always seems to have sexual connotations?   Especially in an industry still rife with sexism (Anita Sarkeesian, anyone?), in a world that has become super-sensitive (sometimes to a fault) but very vocal, one would think Microsoft should know better.  SOMEONE is gonna get their panties in a bunch over SOMETHING.  (See what I did there? 🙂 )

And yet, the fact that all our trash talk is still geared overtly or subtly to sexual domination or gender stereotypes says something, doesn’t it?  Maybe it’s because I hung around with a lot of guys when I was younger, or maybe it’s because I have always struggled to be strong, independent, take no bullshit, not girly girl… but I have caught myself making misogynistic remarks too, in the form of banter.  For instance, when hearing about some of my husband’s co-workers or “friends,” and their bad behavior, I have been known to tell him they were acting like “whiny bitches,” or ask him if they had “sand in their vaginas.”  I know, terrible, isn’t it?  But it seems like this aspect of gender stereotyping is, to an extent, so ingrained in our culture that I don’t even take offense to it in the traditional sense.  I’ll admit, the fact that this is the case is probably indicative of further need for a shift in attitudes in this country… I’m just not sure what to do about it, because railing against “the man” or the status quo over it seems to me, a largely futile pursuit.  At least, to it’s not worth the aggravation it would cause me.

Edit: Leon adds:

I think this Microsoft thing brings up so many issues.  If he was playing with a guy no one would have blinked. If we are supposed to be equal than we have to be equal. It can’t be equal until its inconvenient.

This statement also struck a chord with me, because it ties into role of feminism in my life lately.  And it’s not what you might think.  If anything, I am apparently not enough of a feminist for some people, I mean, to the point where I am losing friends…which is ironic to me.

Have you seen any of the photos from the “I Need Feminism Because…” project?

Well, I came up with my own, and I don’t even know if it’s really relevant to the Microsoft thing, but it certainly applies to the concept of feminism in my life.  It also applies to other aspects of social equality and humanity that one would think are a given, but for some reason are not… like for instance, the right for gays to marry.

I NEED FEMINISM BECAUSE:  there are still some “feminists” who believe that I’m “not enough of a feminist” because I am a Stay At Home Mom.

Consider that a hyperbole if you will.  It generalizes to mean basically this: Having the “right” to do something does not mean you have an “obligation” to do it.

Basically, equal rights is not about following a prescribed set of behavior “because you can/should,” it’s about having choices to begin with.  

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