Call me a hypocrite.
Call me a traitor.
Call me whatever you like.
But don’t call me a slur.
While I respect and understand the plea that the Overwatch Community participate in Wednesday’s #ActiBlizzWalkout, I also know that it is not a feasible or long solution. At least, not on the gaming community’s level. It would have been performative empathy, but performative for whom? The people who already agree with me that a “Bill Cosby Room” should never exist and that women should be paid equally?
That’s why instead of my absence, I chose my presence to represent being “in solidarity.”
What I found when I clicked “play” was a cesspool.
Racial slurs. White panic. Fragile masculinity. Being told to perform sexual acts.
Everything that we are pushing to eradicate, and we let Overwatch be their playground. Literally. One user even went as far as to say “hey, guess we won’t get reported for all this” implying pretty explicitly that the absence of women and their allies meant freedom for accountability for one’s actions.
So I went in there and refused to shut up or leave.
I talked and I talked and I talked, because from my position in the community a sit in was a million times more effective than a walk out.
We are punishing the female and LGBTQIA+ subcommunity of these games when we say not to play, because it only creates spaces where the perverts, racists, and toxic people are most comfortable. I will continue to play Overwatch as well as titles that are created by badass women, because if I don’t then the oppressors win.
As long as we are eradicating ourselves from spaces (virtual and in person), we are aiding and abetting our own oppression.
The only caveat to this argument is that of mental health. If you are mentally healthier avoiding these spaces, then by all means you do you booboo. However, if you are tough skinned, strong willed, and fancy free about being a woman in a traditionally male space, then it is your duty not to back down.
I know this to be true, because on top of the jackasses I found during the #ActiBlizzWalkout, I found a new gaming buddy. A woman who I connected with, because her teammates on the opposing team asked us to report her. For being toxic? No, for not doing what they asked her to do.
Having been on the receiving end of that particularly annoying harassment before, I reached out, reported her teammate, and we went on to bond over several matches. I learned about her daughter, and she learned about my fiancé. We kicked names and took butt, and we talked.
We got asked to shut up…. But we talked (In between productive call outs of course).
That was the power of my one woman, turned two women #ActiBlizzSitIn: a delightful evening where we shut down and reported the haters who thought they were safe from accountability.
It is my genuine hope that the #ActiBlizzWalkout had the same effect: Accountability.
So you can call me a hypocrite or a traitor but doing so would be as untrue as the slurs that we have all become too accustomed to hearing.