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Published on January 21st, 2014 | by Ari Nellen


Why We Don’t Call Out Sexual Harassment

I don’t want to go into too much depth into this article, most people are currently saying what I’m saying, maybe even better than I am about the totally abhorrent work interaction of a games journalist towards a female game developer.

If you’re somehow not on the internet, or maybe you slept really late and is your game page or something, I don’t know, then you haven’t already heard and read the conversation between Josh Mattingly and a female game developer.
It’s obviously unprofessional, and it should never come up in a work situation. Why? Because work is a place where people are given power. Your boss has power over you, they can fire your ass. A reporter has power over you because they write about your content and you want that to be positive. Literally Jo Smoe in your workplace has power over you because they talk to the people you have to work with everyday and they can make your life difficult by changing social dynamics  making it harder (or easier) to work.
Obviously. Most people seem to be on this page.
But people are blaming the victim for not calling this guy out.
For not saying no.
I’ve already mentioned the power structures of work, that a person you work with, even peripherally, can affect how your other coworkers see you how they interact with you. Also it’s hard when the offender starts the harassment out as a joke, it makes it so easy for them to deflect criticism because ‘it’s just a joke, can’t you take a joke?’ So you put up with it, in case calling them out backfires. Makes you the aggressor, the prude, the bad guy.
When a person at work attempts to hit on me, do you know what my first thought is?
Oh god, how do I tell him I don’t want to date him without him telling him I’m assuming he’s hitting on me, and without threatening his masculinity.
It’s not, how do I get this guy to never do this again, it’s how do I do this without him becoming aggressive, with him going away thinking I’m some sort of ‘prude’. Without that entering the work dynamics, ‘oh you don’t want Ari for the job, she’s cold and unfriendly.’
Do you think this is just me? Recently Kate Beaton of Hark a Vagrant made a comic about a similar experience. With over 3,500 notes there’s something that rings true about this to other women.
Luckily I’m pretty secure in my job and , and so my next thought is, he’s unlikely to get violent, I can probably say that’s inappropriate. But I’m lucky. Only 11% of game designers are female. I cannot imagine the sexism those women have to deal with on a day to day basis. Did you know that 46% of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace? And while this isn’t just a problem for women, the majority of sexual harassment is targeted at women.
There is a personal cost to calling out sexual harassment, there are studies showing that reporting caused effects to job, phycological and health effects more negative then if someone did not report it in the US Military. Women do no call men out on these things because it is dangerous for them to do so. They’ll be branded as unfriendly, aggressors can get violent, and women are always trying to find the way out that will leave men’s ego intact. If his ego is intact he won’t attack you, physically or verbally, or socially. In this case, I’m sure you’ll agree, calling this guy out on his words defiantly deflates the ego.

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About the Author

Ari Nellen

Ari is a gamer who lives for adventure game, horror games, puzzle games, a good shooter on a console or PC. They've been gaming since a little tacker, leading to a misspent youth. They have a linguistics major, with a philosophy minor and currently work in IT. When they aren't gaming they love to take photos of gigs, weddings and food and cuddle their corgi puppy.

One Response to Why We Don’t Call Out Sexual Harassment

  1. Loki says:

    I don’t think ego, and the possibility of aggression, has ever been a part of my thought process. My thoughts tend towards ‘How can I say ‘no’ without being insensitive and hurting his feelings.’

    I’ve also never dealt with sexual harassment before. And I’ve never been made aware of it happening to another person I know (work colleague or friend). Which is probably why I wouldn’t hesitate to call someone out on this kind of behaviour. I think everyone should. Though I recognise that for some people the consequences can be worse. Pretty shitty truth that. Employers need to take a harder line on shown cases of harassment, sexual and otherwise.

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