Penny Arcade / PAX gender controversy catch all.

Tanglebones wrote:

Ben Kuchera apparently was:

But then shut down that side of the discussion and went back to talking about games.

Ben's good people and has done a good amount of coverage of the bigotry in the fighting game community. I think he's smart to stay clear of the situation since it's not his fight even if someone else in the organization is running their mouth like an idiot. I think it's pretty shameful that he's doing some great work with PAR while Mike is running around undermining the whole operation though.

Tanglebones wrote:

If the language describing the panel wasn't couched in completely sexist and racist terminology, I'd have been more willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

*nods* It's all about balance. If there's a discussion to be had about the level of response to the sheer volume of crap that's been brought to light in the last year or two, then it should be done, and it can be done without starting off with one side immediately antagonizing the other in the invitation. That panel as originally described was not acting in good faith.

I haven't really caught up on this yet and it doesn't sound like there's much to really catch up on, but I'm disappointed that it sounds like there hasn't been much in the way of an official response on the matter aside from altering the description of the panel. It makes me a little queasy that PAX tries to put on a show that attempts to be all inclusive, or at least that's how I feel, yet somewhere along the way the organization let this panel go ahead with a really toxic description. I can ignore a loose cannon shooting his mouth off, but a failure by the organization is a completely different story and is when I start to reconsider my plans for April.

The other thing that bothers is me is how dismissive the panel description read originally. Even if there is some element of overreaction lately on many of these issues, these are issues that need to be brought up for games to mature along with the culture and industry that surround them. Not only that but there's going to come a point (and we might already be there) where treating this medium like an exclusive club for straight, white, males is no longer commercially viable. Because the industry certainly can't grow artistically and culturally if we're actively (whether consciously or not) making some people uncomfortable at the table, and the industry can't grow financially if there's not a growing audience to support ever-increasing budgets. A panel which actively seeked to undermine the discussions currently going on in our culture is not productive no matter how much some people don't want to hear them.

Tanglebones wrote:

Ben Kuchera apparently was:
https://twitter.com/BenKuchera/statu...
https://twitter.com/BenKuchera/statu...

But then shut down that side of the discussion and went back to talking about games.

I really liked Kuchera when he was with Ars, but when he moved to PA I felt like the tone of his Twitter messages changed for the worse. I stopped following him then, on Twitter and PA. Good to know he's not all bad.

I'm pretty bad though! Or at least not super-constructive but hopefully a bit funny (in this as in all things):

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/mIVY5yu.jpg)

I'm so used to the original image I didn't realize it was new.

I'm so used to the original image I didn't realize I was double posting.

SixteenBlue wrote:

I'm so used to the original image I didn't realize it was new.

Indeed, it's become such a pat, cliched response my eyes passed over it as white noise until your post. Cunning, Gravey.

Until I see more evidence of truly toxic things happening to anyone who does something that gets construed as any of the -ists, I'm going to have a real hard time accepting the panel could offer anything of value, or even be anything other than rather grotesque false-equivalence. Given the actions of the MRA trogs, I really don't see "We're aggrieved too" as an honest beginning to a discussion, even if I were willing to grant that was the purpose of the panel. Case in point here--apparently Gabe says he's received death threats. Has he, actually? If so, I'd like to see them, because he has so little credibility, I wouldn't be all that shocked to see, eh, you got to squint pretty hard to see them as death threats. Still, compare what he's gone through with what happened to Sarkeesian. Do they compare at all? Is there a squad of militant transsexual hackers getting into all of Gabe's accounts? Color me dubious. There's a time for temperance and balance, and a time for recognizing one group gets criticized, and the other gets threatened with rape and murder while others attempt to destroy their lives for doing much, much, much less offensive things.

To be frank, I'm at the point where I think we should stop selling Doritos for two months and let them starve to death.

I didn't expect so much unbridled hatred here...

I don't defend Mike's reactions on Twitter, he clearly has issues with self control and sympathy when reacting to criticism. I will however defend his right to think that a woman has a vagina and a man has a penis. I read it as him not understanding the modern difference between sex and gender and trying to articulate that scientifically he believes that a person is of a certain sex.

If someone has a penis, are they of the male sex? Yes. Unrefutably. When that is threatened, it's understandable to me why he takes the childish position of "I'm Batman. Please call me Bruce." In his mind, fact is being threatened, thus if you take the position against facts, the doors open and anything is possible, and all future 'evidence' is meaningless in the argument. We see this kind of thing a lot when people talk about religion.

Now if we consider that maybe Mike does know the difference between sex and gender, and just doesn't agree with other people's opinions on it, but still respects them enough to treat them the way they want to be treated? Well, that's all I ask of people. If that is truly how he would act in personal encounters with it(I exclude online because there are enough issues with fame spotlight, interactions through text, and the ability to talk to millions of people at once, to make it hard determine how someone really is as a person) then good on him. I don't ask people to change how they think, that can at times be impossible, and they're not bad for having different thoughts. If someone thinks gay people shouldn't marry, but treats them like people, I'm fine with that. If someone has sexual thoughts about kids, but understands it's wrong and doesn't act on it, I'm fine with that. So why does Mike have to instantly change his mind on what he believes, even though(he claims) he treats trans people properly.

The thing that seems to get lost in all of this is that I got the impression that Mike said (paraphrased) "I am going to treat you as the gender you want me to treat you as." Now, crappy phrasing and, as mentioned by Delerat, a lack of understanding of the difference between sex and gender aside, isn't that the goal?

Delerat wrote:

I don't defend Mike's reactions on Twitter, he clearly has issues with self control and sympathy when reacting to criticism. I will however defend his right to think that a woman has a vagina and a man has a penis. I read it as him not understanding the modern difference between sex and gender and trying to articulate that scientifically he believes that a person is of a certain sex.

If someone has a penis, are they of the male sex? Yes. Unrefutably. When that is threatened, it's understandable to me why he takes the childish position of "I'm Batman. Please call me Bruce." In his mind, fact is being threatened, thus if you take the position against facts, the doors open and anything is possible, and all future 'evidence' is meaningless in the argument. We see this kind of thing a lot when people talk about religion.

Now if we consider that maybe Mike does know the difference between sex and gender, and just doesn't agree with other people's opinions on it, but still respects them enough to treat them the way they want to be treated? Well, that's all I ask of people. If that is truly how he would act in personal encounters with it(I exclude online because there are enough issues with fame spotlight, interactions through text, and the ability to talk to millions of people at once, to make it hard determine how someone really is as a person) then good on him. I don't ask people to change how they think, that can at times be impossible, and they're not bad for having different thoughts. If someone thinks gay people shouldn't marry, but treats them like people, I'm fine with that. If someone has sexual thoughts about kids, but understands it's wrong and doesn't act on it, I'm fine with that. So why does Mike have to instantly change his mind on what he believes, even though(he claims) he treats trans people properly.

I think my thinking may be along those same lines. Feel free to flame, but I find it refreshing that someone will say something that ends up offending others, and not fall all over themselves backtracking and apologizing for it. Those apologies are almost never real, and are forced by either bosses or profit. It's not like someone's opinion changed in a week.

Tanglebones wrote:

Hi Zudz, welcome to P&C - make sure you've got your flame retardant suit at the ready

The very short, short version is - just because you weren't offended doesn't mean that a whole lot of people who *were* directly affected by Gabe's language were also not offended.

Thanks for the warm welcome, Tanglebones.

I get that it was offensive, I'm just trying to suss out why. Though it looks like I missed some shenanigans on Twitter too. Presumably Gabe was fanning flames there, as is his wont. I'll have a poke around there later and see what happened.

bombsfall wrote:
complexmath wrote:

But that doesn't excuse inappropriate behavior when hearing an unfamiliar term.

Oh totally agreed. I mostly wrote that up front to concede the existence of a learning curve, the fear of angering people by getting it wrong and to head that off as an explanation of his behavior. All day on twitter it's been "the real jerks are the people who yelled at him! he just didn't know the right terms! raaaaar!"

That does happen though. The MS gaffe totally went over my head and i had no clue that phrase had been co opted to describe rape. My own fault it seemed because when i asked my wife about it she said that she could remember it being used in the 300 movie.

mudbunny wrote:

The thing that seems to get lost in all of this is that I got the impression that Mike said (paraphrased) "I am going to treat you as the gender you want me to treat you as." Now, crappy phrasing and, as mentioned by Delerat, a lack of understanding of the difference between sex and gender aside, isn't that the goal?

He followed that statement by basically saying, "but you're still a man". No, that's not the goal.

He already spouted a bunch of the same transphobic statements on June 7th. Apparently someone reached out to him enough for him to sort of apologize then. In just two weeks he returned to the same exact issues, spouting the same hateful crap. PA, PAX and PAR will do fine without me giving them views and money I'm sure, but I can't in good conscious contribute to someone that hateful and willfully ignorant.

Delerat wrote:

I don't ask people to change how they think, that can at times be impossible, and they're not bad for having different thoughts. If someone thinks gay people shouldn't marry, but treats them like people, I'm fine with that. If someone has sexual thoughts about kids, but understands it's wrong and doesn't act on it, I'm fine with that. So why does Mike have to instantly change his mind on what he believes, even though(he claims) he treats trans people properly.

I'm not okay with someone that thinks gay people should be denied rights. As a result of people legislating their moral views, I have two different friends that have left the US or are in the process of leaving simply because they can't sponsor their legally married husband to become a US citizen. I have others that are unable to divorce the person they're married to because the state they now have residency in doesn't recognize their marriage. (Divorce requires residency, marriage does not.) This is off topic to the discussion here though -- if you really want to take this further, skim through the Prop8 thread. We've already looped through conversations like yours multiple times.

It's 2013. Can we stop equating trans*, gay and pedophilia?

I don't care what Mike believes. I care that he has a massive following, has set himself up as a leader in the gaming community and spouts the hateful rhetoric he does that drives over 40% of transgender to attempt suicide. No, that number is not a typo. Mike can believe whatever he wants, but he should bite his tongue. No one would be defending him if this was a white supremacy panel that got approved and he responded with the n-word. I have a hard time seeing the difference between that and what he did yesterday.

Vector wrote:

I didn't expect so much unbridled hatred here...

Why not? Anyplace you see a large, diverse group of people gathered under one roof you will see political, social, and moral arguments break out over whose views on those topics should dominate in the community. PAX attendance mirrors a wider American community the larger it gets, and whatever conflicts show up in American society will show up there, too, eventually.

If it was more of an industry conference or run purely for profit, they'd be trying to stay away from politics and social issues. But that doesn't seem to be the goal.

Gravey wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

Ben Kuchera apparently was:
https://twitter.com/BenKuchera/statu...
https://twitter.com/BenKuchera/statu...

But then shut down that side of the discussion and went back to talking about games.

I really liked Kuchera when he was with Ars, but when he moved to PA I felt like the tone of his Twitter messages changed for the worse. I stopped following him then, on Twitter and PA. Good to know he's not all bad.

I'm pretty bad though! Or at least not super-constructive but hopefully a bit funny (in this as in all things):

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/mIVY5yu.jpg)

I have a lot of problems with Kuchera, his massive ego since taking over PAR and how he regularly breaks back into the game journalism model he claims is "broken". But I'll give mad props to him for actually standing up to his employer, even if only in a single tweet. I imagine he's asking himself some hard questions about who he's partnered with now and he probably should.

If Gabe were smart, he would apologise outright for causing offense (not with any secondary points, just apologise) and then stay off Twitter entirely for at least a couple of months. But I know that won't happen. Also, that photo is very apt. I actually have a shirt of the original Greater Internet Dickwad Theory. I doubt I'll be wearing it again.

Other people are better at explaining the delicacies and intricacies of why trans* people deserve to be treated, not only equally, but also respectfully with regards to their gender identity, that I won't get into the details of that. And actually, when you get down to it, the "why" is simply because they're other people and don't deserve to be treated like sh*t just because you don't understand them.

I heartily agree with RoughneckGeek's post above. The man has an audience. I'm not sure he fully grasps the magnitude of that responsibility, especially when they so often present their narrative as being the "good guys." Put simply, Mike Krahulik needs sensitivity training, and to do a little bit of growing up.

Gravey wrote:

I really liked Kuchera when he was with Ars, but when he moved to PA I felt like the tone of his Twitter messages changed for the worse. I stopped following him then, on Twitter and PA. Good to know he's not all bad.

They need to be really careful if they want to retain him, as it was clear he wasn't comfortable with what transpired yesterday. Any other outlet would snap him up in a hurry if the opportunity presented itself.

NSMike wrote:

I heartily agree with RoughneckGeek's post above. The man has an audience. I'm not sure he fully grasps the magnitude of that responsibility, especially when they so often present their narrative as being the "good guys."

I think he grasps the magnitude, but not the fact that you can't cede the responsibility temporarily to be a complete jerkwad. Which I think is part of the reason why this is an issue for people. The very first rule of PAX is "don't be a dick", which puts his Twitter behavior in a peculiar light. Do as I say, not as I do and all that.

Put simply, Mike Krahulik needs sensitivity training, and to do a little bit of growing up.

Can you do sensitivity training with someone who staunchly defends the freedom of speech and the right to say what they want? Completely agree about the need to grow up, just because you're free to speak your mind doesn't mean people aren't free to also speak their mind in response. If you say hateful or ignorant things (even if you don't know any better) you should be prepared to deal with the consequences.

I'll echo here what I said in the "women's tropes" thread.

Yes, Gabe is an immature douche who, I think, enjoys being an asshole. He seems to live for those type of confrontations like a troll.

But I don't have a lot of heartburn over a panel whining that sexism shouldn't be in gaming. Much like this P&C forum, I think that conversation and communication doesn't really hurt. In the best case, some minds might get opened. Worst case is that nothing changes. And even in the event that nothing changes, it is good to put a spotlight on people with closed minds so that their silly arguments can wither in the light of day.

How do you feel about the racist aspects of the original panel description?

Ulairi wrote:

Another thing: I hate the term "gaming culture" there isn't a gaming culture and I think that's one of the problem I have with people trying to tie social activism to games. Games aren't art. They are products. They are toys. Every time someone talks about "gamer culture" I feel like there was a club meeting that I wasn't invited to. I play, and I would say most people play games, to relax and have fun. How transgendered, gay, lesbian, and other minorities are treated is a culture problem. Not a gamer problem. I think far too often the social activist want to tie this into a larger argument about games and then they lose the audience that they need to speak to so they can feel smugly superior with the audience they already have.

But there is a gaming culture. Just like there is a football culture, to name another example.

Not everyone who watches football is actually a part of the football culture, and not everyone who plays games is actually part of the gaming culture.

Ulairi wrote:

Another thing: I hate the term "gaming culture" there isn't a gaming culture and I think that's one of the problem I have with people trying to tie social activism to games.

I agree that there is no single gamer culture, but would you agree that games are part of media, and that it's common for social activism be involved in the production or criticism of movies, music, TV, and books?

There is a lot in this post with which I disagree, but I completely see why you could get the impression that this was true -

Ulairi wrote:

I think now activists are too concerned with feeling smugly superior that actually change hearts and minds.

I don't think that is actually what they are most concerned with, I would posit they are more concerned with change. That said, the dog pile effect of picking apart every statement made and reading it in the most reprehensible light(as though the heart of a man can be deduced from one throwaway sentence) certainly does seem counter-productive to progress, and seems more like shouting to readers who already agree with you.

Ulairi wrote:

My problem comes in when we start hearing "gender is just a social contract!" It's not. Gender is real. I recently had a daughter. How do I know I had a daughter? She has a vagina. If someone has a kid and that child is in a stroller and someone comes up and says "what a cute baby! is it a boy or girl?" do people say: Well my child hasn't identified how they view themselves? I'm sorry but that's silly. If they have a penis you're going to say it's a boy and if they have a vagina we're going to say it's a girl. I didn't even know that pronouns are now considered offensive.

You're conflating "biological sex" with gender. No one is arguing the point that people with vaginas aren't biologically female (chromosome abnormalities aside)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_an...

On the other hand if you accept the analysis that gendered patterns of behaviour are socially constructed then gender is a much more nuanced and complex cultural phenomenon.

Ulairi wrote:

Another thing: I hate the term "gaming culture" there isn't a gaming culture and I think that's one of the problem I have with people trying to tie social activism to games.

If there is no such thing as gaming culture, or linked cultural practices around gaming then please explain cosplay, GWJ, PAX, fanart etc...

Ulairi wrote:

Games aren't art. They are products. They are toys.

Weird false dichotomy. Are you saying that because something isn't art then it can't have cultural practices surrounding it because that won't stand up to even the flimsiest of analysis. Just because you don't identify with it doesn't mean that it isn't there.

fogrob wrote:

Feel free to flame, but I find it refreshing that someone will say something that ends up offending others, not fall all over themselves backtracking and apologizing for it.

Truly they are the bravest of heroes.

You are in luck- there is an entire industry of mostly white dudes who act in such a way that further marginalizes already marginalized groups. And when people "end up" getting offended, they don't bow to the PC police! And their fan base cheers at their nobility, these exceptions in a world where people so regularly fall over themselves to accommodate and respect trans folk.

*fanfare for the modern man*

OK it wasn't a flame but it was sarcastic and that's the best you'll get out of me. Seriously dude, listen to yourself. Note that we have trans people here in this community reading this. Reading you say how refreshing a lack of apology is. People can change, and quickly! You don't have to complete a course in the topic to say "oh god I was really off base on this extremely sensitive topic and I am making a full effort to learn about it and I will not shoot my mouth off in a totally dickish way two weeks from now." and then actually do that. But Gabe loves this whole situation. This isn't the first time he's acted this way about a subject, probably won't be the last. But I bet both he and his fan base will keep finding it "refreshing".

Funkenpants wrote:
DanB wrote:

If there is no such thing as gaming culture, or linked cultural practices around gaming then please explain cosplay, GWJ, PAX, fanart etc...

Why is that gamer culture rather than cosplay culture? If 150 million people play games, and 100,000 of those gamers are cosplayers, why would you say gamer culture is defined by cosplay? Particularly when cosplayers draw inspiration from movies and books?

Cultural practices are not discrete and separated from one another. Much cultural practice intersects with other cultural practices.

DanB wrote:

If there is no such thing as gaming culture, or linked cultural practices around gaming then please explain cosplay, GWJ, PAX, fanart etc...

Why is that gamer culture rather than cosplay culture? If 150 million people play games, and 100,000 of those gamers are cosplayers, why would you say gamer culture is defined by cosplay? Particularly when cosplayers draw inspiration from movies and books?

Ulairi wrote:

I guess this is my own personal bias but I don't view games to be on the level as TV, books, and movies. I view games like I view Monopoly or Battleship.

Part of the difficulty here is that many games don't have narratives. They are like chess. But those are usually the games that draw the least complaints from social activists. Unless there is some artwork or animation or labels that violate acceptable standards they propose.

Also, it's not like toys aren't the subject of social activists, too.

Ulairi - the argument from ignorance, re: Mike K. falls apart when you realize that he a) lives in a major, liberal metropolitan area with probably a larger trans population, b) dealt with this same exact issue not two weeks ago, and agreed to educate himself, and apologized for his behavior, c) is a figurehead of a convention that has made strides toward openness, and avoiding meanness against marginalized parts of its community

Ulairi wrote:

I think actual cultures begat entertainment and the forms of entertainment speak about the culture that birthed them and not the other way around.

This is probably a topic for another thread. Ditto art vs. product. Would love to have those discussions with you, just not sure if this is the right place for it.

Tanglebones wrote:

How do you feel about the racist aspects of the original panel description?

I think that they are wrong and come off as whiny. But I believe that to tell them that they can't speak is doing everyone a disservice. Let them speak, let them have their panel. And, much like a Michelle Bachmann, they will become a laughing stock. Then that creates a precendent for others to point to saying "You want to be like them?"

Edit: Was going to talk about culture, but that's getting a bit far afield.

Nevin73 wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

How do you feel about the racist aspects of the original panel description?

I think that they are wrong and come off as whiny. But I believe that to tell them that they can't speak is doing everyone a disservice. Let them speak, let them have their panel. And, much like a Michelle Bachmann, they will become a laughing stock. Then that creates a precendent for others to point to saying "You want to be like them?"

Or it creates a precedent to say, "look, PAX has a panel on it - this makes it OK to be racist, sexist, hateful.."

In a world where this happens:
http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/1...

I don't want to be part of furthering the normalization of these attitudes.

Ulairi wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

Ulairi - the argument from ignorance, re: Mike K. falls apart when you realize that he a) lives in a major, liberal metropolitan area with probably a larger trans population, b) dealt with this same exact issue not two weeks ago, and agreed to educate himself, and apologized for his behavior, c) is a figurehead of a convention that has made strides toward openness, and avoiding meanness against marginalized parts of its community

I didn't want to defend Mike because I think he's an abusive jerk. I hate it when people say: I don't care what you are, man, woman, fox, and things like that. It's insulting and rude. So, I didn't want to defend him at all because I don't think he's defensible. I was speaking to a broader context. I think he's a coward when he says: when I was a kid I was picked on so now I can be a jerk. No. That isn't how it works. When you are a kid and picked on it, it means you should be more willing to make sure other people don't have to experience what you experienced. I was called retarded because I have aspergers. That doesn't give me free reign to treat people like sh*t and it doesn't excuse me when I do treat people like sh*t (which I'm sure I do from time to time). If anything, it means I should be more understanding when people are treated like sh*t because I understand what it is like to be treated like sh*t. Mike is a jerk and I stopped reading Penny Arcade all together because of his antics.

I was just speaking more in general.

Ah, gotcha - it was hard to pick that up, with the context of the thread being Mike and Penny Arcade.

In general though, I think that when someone's presented with evidence that they're doing something that's hurtful to a group of people, or that contributes to the violence a group of people are already suffering from, it's incumbent on that person to re-evaluate their speech, rather than double down and spew even more hatred. Seems like that's the difference between a good, but ignorant person, or a bad, but ignorant person.