About an hour ago, I was pretty pissed off. Now that I haved calmed down, I feel betrayed.
First and foremost, I would like to point out that the black gaming community isn’t represented as it should be and seems to be very small, with more marginalized communities within it even smaller. It’s no surprise that black femmes get a bit of a slingshot from black men into streaming or maybe even video game journalism. As black femmes grow up in the gaming community, especially nowadays with social media, it can be very easy to find another femme to connect with on Twitch or on YouTube. Ten years ago, however, it was a different ballgame. Twitch was called justin.tv, and streaming involved more bulky tech and programs, and I was trying (and still am) trying to find my particular niche of players to vibe with.
In the beginning, I wasn’t into multiplayer shooters, but I did play with random people a few times. I got caught up with one streamer, and we became friends. However, at the time, I was young, naive, and not as aware as I am now of misogyny, and just general sexism in the gaming community. After a decade of hearing “You’re our female mouth” or “you’re our bitch” while in a Xbox Live party and having personal growth with it, you get tired of biting your tongue. So, today, I finally snapped.
Fellas, seriously, calling femmes and women “females” isn’t endearing, and it’s not respectful. It’s the sexist equivalent of a white guy you know that is a low-key racist calling you “boy”. It doesn’t feel good, does it?
“But, Robin, sexism and racism are two different things!”
Yes, however, I am affected by both. The lines blend into each other everyday.
The term “female” is so scientific and sterile and cold. If you respect a female human (which would be called a woman, by the way), you should deem her as such. You wouldn’t call your mother or your grandmother a female, and you damn sure wouldn’t let a stranger dehumanize her as such. That’s what the word is. The word “female” dehumanizes the woman and femme you’re talking to.
When a femme manages to find their niche or start their own, it isn’t uncommon for males to come in, try to flirt, and try to befriend them for the goal of nudes in the end. Not because they have a mutual respect for each other and feel comfortable doing so but because the end goal is to have material for the male’s personal spank bank. If the femme in question denies such advancements, it’s very rare for the male to be understandable and leave. The male will get angry and start calling the femme all kinds of “thots” and “whores” and “bitches”. The male might even tell the femme that they could have helped them get bigger by handing them a picture of their genitals. If the femme in question denies the advancements while dressing “less-than lady-like”, the male will get even angrier and tell them that they won’t get viewers or followers by dressing like a whore.
There is no right or wrong way for a femme to deny male entitlement to their bodies. So, in the end, they just end up blocking the male or being gaslight into giving into their demands. It is 1,000,000% okay to say no if someone demands pictures from you. Your body is your own and if they feel inclined to your body and time, they can either pay you for it, if that’s what you’re into, or they can leave you alone. The block button is your friend.
If a femme has had a run in with a relatively nice and normal-seeming male and pictures are exchanged but the femme in question doesn’t want to do it anymore, the male will lash out and say that the femme has no self-respect.
Femmes struggle their whole lives trying to figure out who they are, while tip-toeing the line of respectability and patriarchy as not to upset the males. When a femme says “FUCK IT” and starts dressing less and going out more to suit their own needs, males start frothing at the mouth, telling them they have no respect for themselves, when it fact, they are glowing with it. It takes a lot of heartache, drama, trauma, and breakups for a femme to come to the conclusion that their body isn’t for the male gaze, it’s a canvas ready for the paints of fabric and jewels and trinkets, and this makes the males mad.
The freedom that is self-respect for femmes, especially black femmes, is revolutionary. To go out about your day in your truth, in your fashion, in your “you is sticking it into the system” meant to keep femmes second to males, when femmes and males are both equal.
When males scream and cry about a femme’s self-respect, they’re just projecting their insecurities onto them and to be perfectly honest, I am over them doing that.
My self-respect does not involve males calling me “female” anymore. My self-respect will not let males bribe me into letting them stay in my life. My self-respect will not let males think they are entitled to my body because I happened to share a nude or 500 with them.
Black gamer community, if you happen to run across a veteran gamer femme or a newbie, please treat them with the respect they deserve. They aren’t your moldable, sexy sidekick, they are a person with dreams of doing something in our small community. If they want to dress up as a sexy Commander Shepard, uplift them, don’t scold or shame them. If they feel comfortable enough to give you nudes after several months of gaming, appreciate them and thank them, never ask for more.
Please respect the wishes of the femmes in our communities.