Actress and political activist Ashley Judd (IMDB) did a TED Talk back in October looking at the abuse of women online. While the talk happened months ago, it has now been made available on YouTube.
During the talk, Judd takes aim at the games industry saying that “profiteering off misogyny in video games must end.”
While seemingly retelling a story she had an interaction with an industry professional she talks about “about how deplorable #GamerGate was when you’re still making billions of dollars off games that maim and dump women for sport.” Likely a jab at Rockstars’ Grand Theft Auto series where the act of killing prostitutes, or anyone else male or female, is possible. It is a stance that ignores the fact that most video games involve the “maiming and dumping” of male characters.
Obviously knowing that the video would spark a tirade of hate speech in itself, the YouTube comments on the video have been disabled.
Ashley Judd is the chair of The Women’s Media Center Speech Project which looks to raise awareness of online harassment. While the “About Us” section does acknowledge that online abuse happens to everyone, the project is about covering how women are targeted.
While we agree that equality should be normal for all and that the games industry can improve in areas like more female lead characters, the talks like this aren’t as black and white as they would tell us. Yes, there are games which you kill women but there are more games where you kill and save male characters. While the video game industry is relatively young, TV, movies and even books feature just as much violence against women if not more. Could the games industry lead the way in this area, it remains to be seen.
Online abuse affects everyone, all genders, races, beliefs and political standings all being a target for abuse among a massive list of others. If you write it or say it, someone will likely direct abuse at you for it and should not be tolerated. If you find yourself a target of abuse, do not interact or retaliate, instead, block the person/people and report it to the relevant authorities. You can find out the reporting processes for your own country by searching your favourite browser for “How to report online abuse”