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Author Topic: Effects of sexualized video games on online sexual harassment  (Read 1576 times)

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Offline kat

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In a recently published research paper[1], "Effects of sexualized video games on online sexual harassment", Brad J Bushman[2] and co-authors[3] write they were able to successfully evidence the assertion that playing video games containing sexualised themes causes sexism and (online) sexual abuse towards women.

Whilst it might appear at face value the assertion was proven, looking deeper the paper is actually little more than partisan political advocacy dressed in a lab coat for, like most examples of what is now euphemistically referred to as "grievance studies", the papers fundamental premise is to pursue its 'truth' from a gynocentric perspective, that sexism is a 'norm', an expectation that is also only directed at women. In other words the question being asked, contextually unbound by the researchers, is "how much", not "if".

Best paraphrased as "sexist games doth sexist gamers make", what this expectation does to the paper and research is create an investigative narrative that is (mis)appropriately framed towards supporting a 'sexist' conclusion - because sexism exists in the minds of the researchers the question does not need to be asked whether it exists in games or that they might cause it, just the degree to which they contribute or perpetuate it - citing as it does non-academic advocacy research[4], and a highly controversial series of events in which a number of prominent anti-game/r, sex-negative, personalities[5] were subject to alleged online and offline abuse[6] said to have been perpetrated ostensibly by male gamers[7].

In defining the papers operational environment this way its authors grant themselves sufficient thematic rationale, and the necessary degree of latitude, to direct the study omni-directionally towards its preordained, sex-negative, outcome[8], that 'sexual' can only ever equate to 'sexist', or 'sexualised games always lead to sexist behaviours (sexism)'.

This is highly problematic to say the least because at no point is this theory tested again or acknowledge; harassment is gendered (sexed); that women tend to face more sexually themed abuse whereas men face more violence/death related abuse; that men tend to receive more harassment and abuse generally. In other words, only the abuses faced by women matter to grievance research.

With this said the study did find[9] its female participants were more likely to be abusive towards other women in the group, supporting a growing body of data that women are as toxic, if not more so, than their male counterparts. Unfortunately, but as perhaps expected, this observation is rationalised as a reflection of toxic male behaviour because bad behaviour and behavioural pattens or expressions; i.e. aggression, abuse etc., are all considered to be 'male traits' by grievance researchers due to the intersectional framework, the "grievance hierarchy"[10], within which they function.

Put bluntly: all roads lead to patriarchal (male) sexism regardless as to who perpetrates it.

"Negative consequences of video games have been a concern since their inception. However,one under-researched area is the potential negative effects of sexualized video game content on players.

This study analyzed the consequences of sexualized video game content on online sexual harassment against male and female targets.We controlled for a number of variables that might be related to online sexual harassment(i.e., trait aggressiveness, ambivalent sexism, online disinhibition).

Participants (N=211) played a video game with either sexualized or non-sexualized female characters. After gameplay, they had the opportunity to sexually harass a male or a female partner by sending them sexist jokes.

Based on the General Aggression Model integrated with the Confluence Model of Sexual Aggression (Anderson & Anderson, 2008), we predicted that playing the game with sexualized female characters would increase sexual harassment against female targets. Results were consistent with these predictions.

Sexual harassment levels toward a female partner were higher for participants who played the game with sexualized female characters than for participants who played the same game with non-sexualized female characters.

These findings indicate that sexualization of female characters in a video game can be a sufficient condition to provoke online sexual harassment toward women." Effects of sexualized video games on online sexual harassment.

Further Reading
- 50% of women are misogynists
- Men harassed online more but like, seriously, it's not about them - Pew 2017
- The mediating effects of violent video games on violent individuals
- Games Media, Cultural Critics and Partisan Duplicity on Violent Video Games
- Digital Self-Harm Among Adolescents, a new phenomena
- Females, despite being 50%+ of gamers, spend 2/3rds less than males


[1] paper was received for publication in Aggressive Behavior late 2017, accepted late 2018 and published Mar/Apr 2019.

[2] Bushman is responsible for a number of controversial research projects that have been shown to use shoddy work to the extent that one in particular, "Boom Head-shot...", was retracted and a project researcher let go from their position as a consequence.

[3] "Each slide contained a pair of jokes written in French [...] Participants completed a French version of the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory" etc.. Although the jokes used to test the hypothesis were written in French (a translation of English text) it's not clear if it the entire project was conducted in France, at a French University, or other French speaking Region (e.g. Belgium), or of individuals who spoke/speak the language located elsewhere. As incidental as this may be at face-value, cultural differences do play a part in attitudinal display that does not appear to be compensated for in the research - the French, when compared to the British for example, are stereo-typically less reserved about sexuality and expressing such sentiments such that an two Nationalities might see the same comment in completely different light.

[4] the use of 'advocacy research', investigations of a given topic conducted under the auspices of public awareness campaigns or advocacy, is itself controversial because such research is often poorly conducted and/or intentionally framed towards a given outcome - in this instance the material cited is heavily criticised for the broad and leading nature of the questions asked of participants such that a supportive conclusion was guaranteed.

[5] the series of events in question is 'GamerGate' and the alleged harassment and abuse received by a number of prominent personalities who happened to be female, a consequence of their politics (being sex-negative, intersectional fourth-wave radical feminists). It is not an untenable suggestion that the "Effects of sexualized video games on online sexual harassment" is another attempt by academia, media, political activists and advocates, to indirectly evidence their assertions on GamerGate, that it was only ever about the harassment and abuse of women in games rather than as a direct response to, what was discovered to be, a highly coordinated and deliberate effort to marginalise gamers in media and through high-profile public events simply because they, gamers, were unwilling to support, or cow to, the particularly divisive and toxic political invective being 'jacked' ('culture jacking') into gaming culture by the same media and political figures attacking them whilst simultaneously denying them access to avenues of discussion - literally every mainstream news, media and corporate gaming website (including 4Chan of all places) removed article comments and comment sections, communities and forums, or imposed strict no-tolerance discussion policies, as a direct consequence of the fallout from GamerGate; had discussion been permitted unrestrained the controversy would have ended relatively quickly. As it was, GamerGate blew up, and was sustained by the reaction from TPTB, their push back and outright refusal to allow any discussion, any where.

[6] Anita Sarkeesian is perhaps the most notorious exponent of the "sexist games make gamers sexist" trope, her use as an argumentative prop for this study is particularly egregiously and disingenuous as the authors omit, as grievance researchers and media propagators are want to do, important reasons for the reaction received, ostensibly from the very group subject to her criticisms, gamers, of the self-confessed variety, those who often spend more hours gaming than watching TV. Of this broad demographic, and bolstered by an undisclosed (at the time) network of similarly embued advocate and activist journalists in key positions at prominent publications (GameJournoPros), Anita Sarkeesian would; persistently refer to this group of individuals as "sexist", "misogynist", "women haters" and "bigots" due to the types of games played (typically FPS, shooters and action games); ignore challenges or counter-arguments, claiming such criticisms as sexist, abusive and hostile; ignore or refuse debates with those opposed to her ideas or philosophy; police conference panels and public events and appearances, shuttering them or cancelling if opposition were given an opportunity to speak; constantly claim harassment, abuse and victimisation if messaged or spoken to solicited or unsolicited; promote a 'sex-negative' image of women, minorities or other genders in games if such representation did not meet her specific undefined demands/criteria; appear in-front of a special UN panel on women, using the opportunity to call for the censorship of the internet; claim her critics were "grifters", harassing and abusing women in games solely because it generated ad revenue; and so on. To Sarkeesian, as is common to many pushing agendas that feed on legitimate grievances, criticism and push back is waived aside by simply claiming words themselves are an abuse, a form of overt marginalising patriarchal oppression, and therefore do not need to be addressed, leaving their toxic research and unfalsifiable conclusions to spread into the wilds, dangerously into academic and legislative/policy development circles seemingly unchallenged with a degree of authenticity and authority that is entirely fake. Perception is far more powerful than truth. And all of this is notwithstanding recent and troubling revelations concerning her mafia-style tactics to raise funds for failing non-profit Feminist Frequency in a series of controversial tweets (many of which were 'ratio'd') sent to CD Projek Red, developers of the SciFi game CyberPunk2077, which she claimed she could improve, for the right price, not at all dissimilar to revelations about the unhelpful and bullying behaviour of Zoe Quinn and her CON initiative.

[7] omitted from the story of GamerGate in mainstream sources on the topic, Wikipedia included, is the fact that as an expression of their politics, the personalities on the receiving end of the backlash from gamers targeted communities ostensibly comprising male gamers specifically because they were (are) male domains - the culture jack into gaming culture is not so much about the games themselves or their content as it is the presumption antagonistic and divisive ideological thought could be interjected unchallenged into the community as a means to disrupt and control what may have been (is still) hither unto considered male spaces (first person shooters and other games in the action genre, the targets of attack by intersectional activists and advocates, are still largely played by male gamers) - the foundational aspect of intersectionality, the politics that fuels fourth-wave radical feminism and associated ideological thinking to which many critical proponents of GamerGate subscribe, requires male protagonists, benevolent recipients of patriarchal privilege based on an all pervading systemic hierarchical structure that enables their, males, exercising of hegemonic power over other marginalised groups - there is no sexism in games without male gamers.

[8] the research is not dis/proving the existence of sexism and the correlation to sexualised game content, i.e. whether sexism might result from playing sexually themed content, that sexist remarks might be a consequence of playing with sexualised characters, rather who sends and receives more sexist content. In other words, it starts with the presupposition that sexualised games cause sexism and concluded, due to the way participants communicate, that sexualised games cause (increased) sexism.

[9] to the authors apparent surprise female participants sent more sexist jokes to other women, males receiving more overall from both male and female participants (which inadvertently reveals the dangers associated with use of unchallenged or tested advocacy research (Stop Street Harrassment in this instance) - "Another unexpected result in this study was that female participants sent significantly more sexist jokes than male participants. This might be due to the fact that sexual harassment is perceived as usually committed by men, and toward women (Stop Street Harassment, 2018). Therefore, among our participants, women are likely to have experienced sexual harassment. Therefore, when sent to the in-group (i.e., another woman), it might be perceived as a simple joke, but when sent to a man, it might be perceived as a form of retaliation." - which is an explicit imposition of a rationale contrary to that suggested by the data - the authors are impugning intent where none exists. In other words, and to paraphrase, 'it's not sexism when women do it' (to either sex) thus revealing the bias and gynocentric nature typical of grievance studies, and why such research is fundamentally and persistently flawed.

[10] 'grievance hierarchy' is a colloquialism for 'intersectionalism', a hierarchical framework that's built on a victim/abuser power dynamic that places white men at the top of a 'power hierarchy' because they hold the power in society, and at bottom of the 'reparation hierarchy' because they have no need for the latter, reparations, so should be last in line in terms of equitable outcomes, e.g. de-prioritised because they're white and have everything ("everything" being 'power' and the freedom to act unilaterally against others) - intersectionalism is not specifically about need in the sense of putting food on the table, it's about the distribution of power. In this context, sexualised games, the theory being tested means women cannot be sexist towards other women, even when they most certainly are, because sexism is an expression of male power ("patriarchy"). Males on the other hand, can be sexist towards anyone regardless. In other words, intersectionalism is a self-reinforcing system of oppression that sees women as perpetual victims, a 'victim-class', always negatively affected and subject to, men and male behaviour, even at the hands of other women. This is the description of a systemic pathology not the qualification of a principle.


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