Powers Gaming’s Texas Battlefield 3 LAN Party and the Practices of Re-Inscribing Misogyny Through Sexism

Stacie Hanes posted a link to this story by Tami B. about a unofficial Battlefield 3 launch LAN party being held in Texas that specifically excluded women from participating:

A large launch party and LAN for Battlefield 3 is being held in Texas, and women are disallowed from attending in order to protect them from misogynistic insults.

via Texas Battlefield 3 launch LAN bans women from attending | Border House.

Tami B. was responding to an earlier post on Kotaku.com, a video gaming blog, which summarized the situation as:

Enthusiasts of military-style first-person shooters are not well known for their progressive thoughts on the matter of gender. The organizers of a large LAN party in Texas, scheduled to celebrate the launch of Battlefield 3, have decided the best way to deal with any slurs hurled at female gamers is to simply forbid them from attending.

I wanted to know more about the knuckleheads who thought that the most logical way to nip misogyny in the bud was to apply a sexist attendance policy to the LAN party, so I found this response by Jason Powers full of “truth” meant to combat the “lies” perpetrated by Internet folk commenting on Power’s LAN party. Powers begins with the supposed origin of their “no girls allowed” policy: a guy named “Joe” said misogynistic things to another player named “Jane” during a LAN party. Instead of policing for idiots like Joe, Powers decided it was easier to exclude girls from the get-togethers.

Then, in order to set the record straight about how the world come to give a damn about his LAN party, Powers writes:

Fast forward to last week… Some girl from the QuakeCon forums was interested in attending our upcoming event, and read that “no women allowed” paragraph and took it the wrong way. Can’t say I blame her honestly; it was poor wording on our part. She never bothered to contact us regarding that policy; she was “just upset” and vented on an all-girl reddit forum.

[. . .]

Anyways, back on topic, this same “QuakeCon” girl contacted one of our admins (who’s also an admin for QuakeCon) and apologized for what happened in a PM. As it turns out, she’s really a nice girl who had no idea her one post would bring some 40,000+ hateful people to our sites, overwhelm our servers, and create a national fiasco. To me, that fact that she came to us (along with several of her friends), says a lot about the gaming community. We’ve been able to put this behind us, and move forward in support of something we truly love: Gaming…
I suppose someone whose logic is to exclude women from gaming events in order to eliminate the need to confront misogyny would think that a woman in the QuakeCon forums would take their “no women allowed” policy “the wrong way.” Then, as if placing the blame of the events on the event planners’ wording rather than the concept itself was not enough, Powers comes full circle to say that the “QuakeCon girl,” who is a “really nice girl who had no idea her one post would bring some 40,000+ hateful people to our site, overwhelm our servers, and create a national fiasco,” apologized for bringing this to the wider online community’s attention. First, I think it is selfserving for Powers to share a PM between that individual and the site admins. Second, and more importantly, he presents her apology in such a way that it re-inscribes the sexism that his group’s gaming policy enforces. The logic of presenting her apology to the public is essentially saying that this whole problem, as in the earlier case with Joe and Jane, is the girl’s fault. If Jane weren’t at the earlier party, Joe wouldn’t have been able to espouse his misogyny. If the QuakeCon forum member hadn’t publicized Powers Gaming’s stupid no-women-allowed policy, Powers and the other organizers wouldn’t be scrutinized or demonized in this way. Furthermore, the second example firmly places the blame on the woman and not on Powers and his friends. She supposedly apologized to them for making others aware that misogyny and sexism takes different explicit and implicit forms.
Powers Gaming is only a blip on the gaming landscape, and I suspect that this kind of policy is rare. Nevertheless, these kinds of exclusionary and sexist practices should be put in the spotlight online, because people need to know that they still take place and we can work together to stop these kinds of practices from continuing to happen in the future. Powers and his friends should rethink their policy in light of the fact that removing women from an event does not erase the misogyny of attendees. Instead, it erases women from a space where they can enjoy gaming with others. If someone wants to be a misogynistic knucklehead, that person should be kicked to the curb as Joe apparently was in the event that precipitated this policy. Simply removing women from this and future events is a sexist response to misogyny by excluding one group of gamers on the basis of their sex.

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I direct the B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing Program and coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.