Online harassment is a problem. Women in particular are more likely than men to be victims. But a new study has just shown that what women have been saying all along is true – men who harass women are losers…literally. They get beaten at video games all the time.
Researchers from the University of South Wales and Miami University have set out to investigate how male players treat female player in online gaming communities and whether or not that behavior has an impact on anyone’s game. For this particular study they focused on the Halo 3 community.
What they found was that men who were good at video games treated every player with respect, regardless of their gender. However, men who were not so good at video games had the habit of sexually harassing female players, or even threatening them.
The lead authors, Michael Kasumovic (University of South Wales) and Jeffrey Kuznekoff (Miami University), have a working theory that says this type of harassment is most likely a form of bullying. Sexist male players typically harass female players when they can tell that they’re about to lose a game and notice a female player that’s more skilled than they are.
The problem may be psychological as Dr. Kasumovic went on to add that the gaming community has traditionally been dominated by men. The bad male players feel than female players are intruding in their space and disrupting the pre-existing hierarchy.
The author also explained that this line of thought lands itself to the belief that misogyny may be “a form of inter-sexual bullying that arises when women compete against men”. Some men may feel the need to lash out at women when they get scared that they may be “losing their position in a hierarchy” to a member of the fairer sex.
When such a scenario occurs, this type of men have a habit of focusing on the most stereotypical characteristics that they can think of as they believe these comments “have the effect of reducing a woman’s power”.
Sexism is nothing new to the gaming community. Male players have harassed female players pretty much since the first game in history came out. And even though we’re reached a point where 44 percent (44%) of modern day gamers are women, female players still feel like they’re a minority in the community due to how they’re being treated by the sexist male player.
Jenny Haniver who opened Not In The Kitchen Anymore, one of the many websites documenting the sexual harassments and threats that female player encounter, gave a statement to BBC saying that most of the male players are “kind and welcoming”. The problem is, per usual, that the unkind and unwelcoming minority is a very loud one.
Dr. Kasumovic informs that the gaming community is not the only one hosting this type of harassment. Another big online example is Reddit, a male dominated website where women are often harassed and insulted.
A recent Pew report has revealed that while men and women receive about the same amount of harassment (name calling, public shaming, etc), women are much more likely than men to encounter the most severe forms of such a behavior.
Experts are divided when it comes to how seriously people should take online threats. Jim Pagels believes that such messages are harmless as many people find it easy to write them, but few take the time and energy to track down a person and make good on their threat.
On the other hand, Amanda Hess believes that because the internet is becoming increasingly central to the experiences that people have, such threats will affect a woman’s ability to “live and work freely online”. She mentions that the tech companies that keep hosting these messages, the law enforcement officers responsible for investigating them and the high-ranking user who dismiss them are all led by men who can’t relate to what a woman faces online on a daily basis.
The study was published earlier this month, in the journal PLOS One.
Image Source: gamesradar.com