Way To Make a Rape Joke at Your Press Conference, Microsoft
12:30 pm, June 11th | by Colette McIntyre
As Anita Sarkeesian, the woman behind Feminist Frequency, can attest, the gaming world isn’t exactly female friendly. Don’t believe me, angry anonymous commenter? Well, the proof is in the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, pudding: during the Microsoft press conference at E3 (the largest computer and video game conference of the year), a male presenter dropped an apparent rape joke, telling the female Microsoft employee whom he was beating in a game demonstration to “let it happen, it’ll be over soon.”
Microsoft’s E3 event included a Killer Instinct demo intended to stoke the fire for the upcoming Xbox One. In the scripted presentation, a male game producer was brought out on stage and made to virtually duke it out with a female Xbox Live community manager. Of course the man immediately began to defeat the woman since, you know, girls can’t play games. #GenderRoles
We’ll let Raw Story tell you what happened next:
“I can’t even block!” the frustrated manager said, obviously overwhelmed by the on-screen beat down. “You’re too fast!”
“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.
“Just let it happen.” “Wow, you like this.” “No, I don’t like this!” …What does that sound like to you?
Here’s a video of the problematic interaction:
After the event, video game designer Jonathan Blow tweeted “It sure sounded like a rape joke. I doubt they planned in advance to have a rape joke in the show, but that is how it came across. Note the (nervous?) audience laughter after that line.”
Unfortunately it isn’t surprising that a poorly veiled misogynistic joke was made at a large-scale gaming industry event. The gaming industry is notoriously unwelcoming to women. (Seriously, just ask Anita Sarkeesian) Even though Microsoft has implemented a number of corporate programs in an attempt to alleviate the “boy’s club” mentality within the company and the industry, as it stands the company is only 23.7 percent female and less than 15 percent of its top executives are women. (Those statistics are only for the US; Microsoft recently refused to disclose the number of British women they employ although they did say its number of women in IT professional roles is “significantly higher” than the national average of 14 percent. Higher than 14 percent — setting high standards, dreaming big.)
As Badass Digest’s Devin Faraci wrote about the Microsoft keynote , “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.”