By: Chelsea Ward
The Femme Gaming community is fortunate to have a number of male members who support our cause for female inclusion and empowerment in gaming. Many have shown their support in asking us how they can help the cause, so we’ve compiled some helpful tips and practices that will help strengthen your allyship.
Listen and learn
It can be hard to understand a problem from the outside looking in. A good place to start is by asking the female gamers in your life about their experiences with harassment and prejudice. In these conversations, be sure to ‘read the room’ and gauge how comfortable the other person is with talking about their experiences – not everyone is ready to share, and it should never be coerced or forced out of someone.
An important note here is that not every woman experiences harassment the same way. WOC and transgender gamers experience significantly higher rates of harassment online due to their identity, and their stories may vary from those of white cisgender women. In your learning journey, be mindful of how these experiences may differ and why.
If you don’t know any female gamers, I would recommend attending some of Femme Gaming’s Ladies Power Hour events to learn about the issues that women are facing in the industry. And if nothing else, a simple Google search will also lead you in the right direction to better your understanding.
Review your past behaviour and correct it
When a person does want to share their story with you, make an effort to learn from those conversations to understand the types of behaviours that are damaging to women in the community, and reflect on whether these behaviours are ones that you have embodied or witnessed in the past.
Remember that we can’t always apologize or make up for our actions in the past, but we have control over our future. The best rule of thumb, in my opinion, is to refrain from harmful and offensive behaviour toward other gamers – period! It doesn’t matter if they’re male or female. The age-old adage of ‘treat others the way you’d like to be treated’ rings true, especially when you’re looking to improve your gaming etiquette, and takes the guesswork out of wondering if you went too far with a joke or made someone uncomfortable.
Vocalize your support
Part of an ally’s responsibility is to use their privilege to advocate and support the cause of marginalized people. In this case, vocalizing your support for female gamers both in-game and in-life will be a big part of your role in the fight for equal treatment and opportunity.
When you hear a woman being harassed while gaming, call it out and make it known that you don’t support that behaviour. When you see a new game developed by a woman or one with a female main character, make an effort to advocate for it (whether it’s your type of game or not). By being loud and proud of your support, you’ll be letting the industry and community know that men are just as supportive of women in gaming and that it’s everyone’s responsibility to make the space more inclusive.
Whether a woman is an experienced gamer or not, don’t make assumptions about her skill level based on her gender. Recognize opportunities to invite women to game with you, whether it’s couch co-op with friends or online, and always extend an offer even if you’re unsure it’s a game they’ll like. Too often we get left out of ‘manly’ games because some men just assume we won’t like them but – news flash! – tons of women do.
In general, don’t treat female gamers as ‘other’ to male gamers. While our experiences may differ, they don’t always. A lot of us have played the same games and have overlapping interests with male gamers. We’re just people, after all, and we’re all here to enjoy the game.
Of course, there are many more ways to practice allyship beyond these four suggestions, and we encourage you to continue your educational journey on the topic by keeping up-to-date on new articles and information related to harassment in gaming, as it applies to women and POC. Thankfully, being a good person isn’t hard, and that’s a big part of being an ally. And considering you’re here, we’d say you’re already on the right track! On behalf of female gamers everywhere, thank you for undertaking the journey of allyship and supporting our cause.