I have to confess, I got far too much pleasure from writing that title.
In case you’ve missed it a quick recap. A female games developer (who has already been getting a lot of hate for daring to be a woman in the games industry and having the gall to point out the games industry has a problem with sexism) split up with her boyfriend. Said boyfriend then wrote a blog and went to 4chan to accuse her of cheating on him with 5 guys. One of these guys was a games journalist who had given her positive reviews. Now people are up in arms about her corrupting the games industry.
I’m not actually going to talk about this specific case because all the facts aren’t out there, and I don’t fancy speculating on someone’s private life. I do want to talk about some of the themes that keep coming up.
The supposed “ethical” reason for so many people attacking her is that she’s been accused of sleeping with a journalist in exchange for positive reviews.
Now this is a seriously old trope, the idea of women sleeping their way to the top. What I find interesting is that in those stories the woman is always cast as some kind of evil temptress while the men are absolved of any guilt. As if she has some kind of magical power to make them sleep with her against their will and then this grants her the power (via her magical vagina?) to force them to do things in exchange for sex. Aside from this obviously being totally ludicrous, it’s also deeply offensive to men. To believe this trope is to believe that men are only capable of thinking with their penis, and their penis forces them to do things against their will. I do worry that so many men buy into it, what does that say about them?
I believe that men are more than just walking penises (penii?) and that they are capable of rational thought, even if they are offered sex. They are able to say no to the sex. They are able to say no to doing things in exchange for sex. And if someone approaches them with the proposition of sex in exchange they are able to say no then too. I believe men are capable of choosing things for themselves, I do not believe they are that weak willed.
I do find it interesting as well that this trope is always about a man being tempted by a female temptress and not the other way around. How do we know in these circumstances that it wasn’t that the “reward” was offered by the man if the woman would just sleep with him? It’s not like this is beyond the realms of possibility. Obviously the same applies as in my last paragraph, she can say no. But what I’m looking at is how, while this is an equally likely scenario, it is more often spoken of as the woman as the temptress. Not that this is an old story, not at all.
Are our vaginas really that powerful?
And if they are, do you think I could get mine to persuade my husband to buy me one of these?
There’s also little said about the imbalance of power in these scenarios. For example, in the version of the trope where the woman sleeps with her boss, little thought seems to be given to the fact that the boss holds a position of power over the woman, and that she potentially has something to lose if she says no. She may well gain something from saying yes, but what happens if she says no?
One of my biggest problems with the “sleeping her way to the top” trope is that it is often used as a way for misogynists to justify their position. Whether it is what has actually happened, they then use it to say, “See! Look what women do if we let them in!”. They also use it to denigrate any woman who does well, assuming the only way she’d do well is if she’s making men do her favours (there’s that magic vagina again).
I did see one comment about how this one incident will cause people to think that way. As if it wasn’t happening before. It also brings up the point that single women shouldn’t be ambassadors for all women, something I see especially in gaming. When a man games badly others think he looks like a bad gamer, when a woman does badly it others think all women are bad gamers.
The other comment that left me amazed was, “This is one area where women have the advantage”. Really?