Why do women experience more online sexual harassment than men? Playing video games online is one of the most popular pastimes for all ages. However, it can be quite a hostile environment for females.
The National Center for Women & Information Technology found an interesting statistic. They found that 47% of women experienced online harassment while playing video games. The Center also stated that the percentage of sexually harassed women was 25%. This was in 2014!
Now, with the rise of better and newer online games, the number of online harassment incidents increased. Why does this happen?
What is Sexual Harassment in Games?
The definition for this term is any unwanted sexual attention occurring online. It also happens in many forms including making sexual comments or jokes. However, the more popular instance is asking for sexual favors. It also includes the sending of unwanted sexual messages or images and stalking.
It can cause severe harm to both men and women alike. The effects of online harassment may include anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and the eventual fear of playing games. Yet, it happens more often to women than men.
Why Does Online Sexual Harassment Happen?
There are tons of reasons why harassment can happen online, especially in video games. One of the major reasons is anonymity. When people believe no one will find their real identities, they are more likely to harass other gamers.
It can lead to increased levels of hostility and aggression. After all, they feel safe behind the screen. However, it doesn’t explain why it happens more to women. The answer is simple: a toxic traditional culture.
Since most video games have a male protagonist with a supporting female character, it influences the view that games are only for men. It also leads to a sense of entitlement for toxic masculine gamers, who feel that games are for them alone.
This culture mixed with anonymity creates a more hostile space for women in gaming. It also often leads to severe negative consequences.
How Do We Combat the Issue?
The only reason why men engage in online harassment is because of the toxic culture. One of the best ways to combat this issue is to educate gamers. We need to create a new generation of players that understand video games are for leisure and destressing.
Another way to counter the issue is to consistently apply pressure and hold gaming companies accountable. After all, the harassers are on their platforms. Video game companies have an obligation to make a welcoming and safe environment for gamers.
That is also why we have access to reporting features in video games. One perfect example is how Riot Games handles online harassment in VALORANT. After all, more reports mean a better crackdown on these harassers who feel safe behind the screen.
You can evidently see it when Garena players transferred to Riot servers. Tons of gamers experienced permanent bans or temporary penalties once you report them. It’s just a matter of taking action against online harassment.
However, the excuse of ignoring the issue, because it hasn’t happened to you or anyone you know, is irrelevant. Will you wait until someone causes damage? Or will you start taking action against online sexual harassment? After all, you can’t be a bystander all the time.