For the past year and counting, I have been employed at a retail gaming store. Seeing as I am, in fact, a female; I know that this market is not specifically for men. Gaming, while seeing a shift in its demographic, still appears to be male dominated. After only a month of working for this company, it became eminently clear as to why. Within my first month, I had multiple male customers attempt to inform me that I am not a gamer. This was decided based on a series of questions that usually involved obscure anime titles. I have had multiple men dismiss my knowledge, even on store policy, and immediately ask my male coworkers for a second opinion. Some customers refuse to acknowledge my existence all together. I could probably type a 60 page rant and sell a novel about all the chauvinistic behavior that occurs just in the world of gaming but instead I’d like to take this in another, more broad, direction.
This is not going to be about how I am being excluded from a culture that I know more about than some men. Sometimes they do know more than I possibly ever could. After all, I’m not omniscient. Sometimes they don’t know anything but insist I am wrong anyway; For example, one man attempted to inform me that women can’t use the force because females don’t have enough mitochondria to be force sensitive. Working at this company has not been the only time that I have ever experienced sexism. A plethora of women that I speak to about these issues experience similar problems to the ones I stated previously. Maybe not those exact situations, seeing as some of them are relatively specific to my job. In general, I typically find that my opinion, my voice, is often ignored. I am not considered a human worthy of having anything significant to say. I am not the only one.
When I go out, when I work, when I walk down the street, when I walk across campus, or even if I decide to just leave my house that day; I am at risk for men hitting on me. This isn’t me bragging about how attractive I am. I have been objectified since I hit puberty, as I know many women have experienced the same problem. This is me pointing out that I am in danger. Notice that I used the word risk? I mean that very word. It isn’t an annoyance in the way many men assume. I’m not complaining about compliments or flattery. I actually rather enjoy that aspect of the whole ordeal. Unfortunately, many women around the world have varying forms of unfortunate interactions. Seriously, it’s just a quick Google search away to see what horrible crimes men have committed just because a woman has told him “no.”
There is one answer that seems to work, the one answer that typically makes men just let it go: “I have a boyfriend.” It’s strange how my simple answer of “no” has no meaning to many men except for when it is followed by the statement above. Even during times when I am absolutely single, I use that answer. I don’t particularly enjoy lying. It’s honestly not the best policy. However, these men have more respect for my possibly imaginary boyfriend than they do for me.
Here is all I want; the hopefully obvious point that I am attempting to make. It’s quite simple really. I honestly don’t think that I’m asking for much; just a little respect. I’d like equality. I would like for men to talk to me and actually care about what I have to say. I want them to listen to me. I want them to acknowledge that I have interests similar to theirs and I’m not faking it for attention. Honestly, I don’t want that type of attention from the guys who dismiss me so easily. I want to be able to just say no and let that be taken at face value. I want to be taken seriously as a human being. That’s not too much to ask, is it?