Tech and video game industry sexism: bathroom lines and rape jokes

Apple and Microsoft are both currently throwing big conferences, one for tech industry developers and one to sell video games. The conferences of these two giant companies are giving us an eye into some common-place sexism.

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference is currently taking place in San Francisco. Yesterday Dan Ackerman tweeted this photo from the conference, which says a lot about the gender imbalance in the tech industry:

apple conference bathroom lines

Meanwhile, Microsoft is hosting E3, their annual gaming expo, in Los Angeles. It’s easier for consumers to fight sexism in games than for us to push for the gender dynamics of the tech industry to change, because businesses want to satisfy their customers. Microsoft should want to cater to non-misogynyst gamers, should want to expand its customer base. But no, apparently the stage at E3 was a good place for a rape joke.

One of the producers of a new game, a man, got up to play it against a woman who hadn’t even played the game. He even had a special joystick. At least that was the set up – the whole interaction seems scripted (though if it was unscripted it’s still not OK):

Via Raw Story:

“Just let it happen, it’ll be over soon,” the producer advised, drawing groans and laughter from the audience.

“You have a fight stick!” the manager exclaimed.

“Wow, you like this,” the producer remarked as his continued the thrashing.

“No, I don’t like this!” the manager insisted.

Apparently the interaction had a twist ending where the woman was actually good at video games. Give me a break. Devin Faraci over at Badass Digest points out what’s so disturbing about this exchange:

What makes this a big deal isn’t the fact that it happened, but that it’s indicative of a larger cancer eating away at the gaming community (and, to be fair, many other geek communities, but it seems most horrible in gaming). This, basically, is what institutionalized misogyny looks like.

Exactly. E3 and WWDC are very different events with different focuses, and long bathroom lines are very different from rape jokes. Which highlights how broad and systemic sexism is, since we’re seeing examples of it from who gets tech jobs to the culture in which people play with technology.


Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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