Group offers female gamers an online space without judgment

“(There is) the stereotype that women play games ‘for the attention’ and they subsequently use their sexuality or gender to be given things and advantages in games from male players who ‘think they have a chance’ with the girl,” said Katherine Lo, creator of the women-only group on Reddit.

Lo added that women are often attacked on online games just for being
women, and said a stereotype has been placed on every female who plays a game online. The group /r/GirlGamers, also known as Redditor Lady Gamespace, was created so women can avoid this.

The group is a “subreddit” which is a smaller subject-oriented forum focused on the social media site, Reddit.

Lo, from Southern California, noticed that women are frequently targeted
for a disproportional amount of harassment relative to their male peers. So, Lo set out to create a space where the constant threat of harassment is not present. Today the site has more than 8,000 members.

“I originally created /r/GirlGamers to provide a forum for discussing women in gaming, and for women in gaming to find each other,” said Lo.

“These stereotypical female beings are generally perceived to lack
gaming skill, and can only succeed because of the help they are given by their male counterparts.  In short, it is called ‘attention whoring’ and is a label frequently granted to women in gaming, regardless of their behavior,” Lo said.

What is Reddit?

Reddit is a social media website of multifaceted outlets with forums,Female gamers are often a target online simply because of their gender.

Photo ilustration by Hannah Cawsey
known as “subreddits” that range from the normal, like video games, politics, news, music, science, to the crazy, like a university student posting daily pictures of his roommate sleeping.

As of November, there are 187,384 subreddits.

Anyone can make a subreddit about anything, which allows for users to find people who share their interests, no matter how specific. Content is either up-or down-voted based on relevance and popularity.

Many of those forums have centered around topics that can make many
women feel uncomfortable, until Redditor Lady Gamespace was created, followed by its sister group on Facebook, also called Redditor Lady Gamespace.

What it /r/GirlGamers?

The Redditor Lady Gamespace forum was created for women
in geek culture who want to talk about experiences that occur as a result of their gender. The forum doesn’t condone using one’s gender and sex appeal in a place of merit to gain attention. It’s a place where girls can be girls without the fear of societal judgment.

“It is possible the sexual objectification of women in games causes many gamers to view women in gaming as objects, rather than peers.  As a result, gamers fail to empathize with women as people, and can attack women with ease and lack of guilt,” Lo said.

“To many, these abstract ideas of women deserve the harassment
because of what they embody (attention whoring).  The sad reality is that these women are not objects or abstractions, they are individuals who are, for the most part, nothing like the negative stereotypes of women in gaming,” stated Lo.

A different view

Shawn Savard is a moderator on Reddit – someone who is appointment as a cornerstone of the online community to approve posts on forums and create rules. He said he believes the Internet should just be open for everyone and that there should be no stereotypes.

“I think the Internet should just be for everyone. There doesn’t need to be segregation or any -isms based on people’s beliefs or traits,” said Savard who moderates two different subreddits, including the popular Nicolas Cage-based forum, OneTrueGod.

“That being said, I am completely open to people forming groups
based on their interests or in this case, gender.”

“Reddit has communities for everyone, and as such there are subreddits designed with women as the main demographic. Everyone is allowed the
chance to be outspoken or quiet. I have no qualms with this system and think it’s better for the community”

Words from the members

“I know that for me I got kicked out of a raid in ‘World of Warcraft’ for being a girl.” Dee Ribeiro, a member of Redditor Lady Gamespace from Edmonton, said, “There’s an age old ‘rule’ online, there are no females on the Internet.”

“I don’t agree with it but I have met more than a handful of people who follow this rule to the core. They are vicious and ruthless, whether it be comments or the way they communicate to you, not all people are this way online but more often than not I have to deal with people who behave this way.”

A Netherlands-based member of Redditor Lady Gamespace, Charlotte
Rouget-Murphy, said she joined the group to see if her experience in gaming was the same and to meet like-minded females for once.

“I have made so many friends from the subreddit and the Facebook group, and I have been able to relate to them in a way I couldn’t relate to my non-gaming female friends, or even my gaming male friends.” 

– Katherine Lo, group creator

“I feel that it is good for women who feel threatened or mistreated by the gaming community, and to also find a place where you can find more people like yourself where you can talk about girly things,” Rouget-Murphy
said via email.

Sierra Arena, an American Redditor Lady Gamespace member from Portsmouth, R.I., said she has previously fallen victim under gaming sexism.

“Women do seem to provoke it more,” Arena said, of the harassment women speak about in the group.

Redditor Lady Gamespace members discus everything from the latest games to which stores have sales going on.

“It’s nice to have others to talk to about these things aside from other people in everyday life. It can’t always be candy and sunshine, there has to be some mud in it too,” said Edmonton’s Ribeiro.

“I have made a lot of friends on there, three of which I talk to every single day on Facebook,” American Arena added.

Arena is planning on flying to Canada to meet with Ribeiro, and the two girls are planning on sending each other Christmas presents.

“I have made so many friends from the subreddit and the Facebook group, and I have been able to relate to them in a way I couldn’t relate to my non-gaming female friends, or even my gaming male friends,” said group creator Lo.

hcawsey@cjournal.ca