Confessions Of A Teenage Sexist

Illustration for article titled Confessions Of A Teenage Sexist

It takes guts to look back at the things you didn't know when you were younger, and to examine them in light of the things you know now. But that's just what writer Jenn Frank (who we've featured here talking about everything from motherhood and sea monkeys to the adorableness of Diablo III) has done.

In a fantastic new article over at Unwinnable, Frank has laid out her path from teenaged blitheness all the way up to her present, perhaps less blithe state. It's a remarkable, honest piece of writing.


The article traces all the way from Frank's childhood dreams of being Rambo ("Not a man, not a woman, not a mother or an astronaut: only that mythical creature called Rambo.") to her gig as a community manager at 1Up ("When I accepted, my new employer made the happy announcement. I remember the first Internet reaction, posted by a semi-anonymous user: 'Hotness fail.'") up to the current day. When discussing "girl on the internet syndrome," Frank notes: "I have been on the Internet since 1993. I got over being on the Internet long before I ever got over being a girl."

Later, Frank muses on the nature of the oh-so-loaded (and yet actually pretty simple) concept of Feminism.

Feminism isn't only about correcting social inequality and wage disparity. If that's all feminism is, I was a feminist way back when I believed you could cut your hair short and behave just as boyishly as you liked, getting ahead on your balls alone. Don't cry, emo girl! You live in a boys' world, so be a man!

Instead, feminism – and other types of social justice, I figure – acknowledges that there is an invisible pattern of experience that comes along with being, very visibly, something else.

You don't have to think of ladies as "victims" – I'd prefer you didn't – and you don't even have to think of some experiences as "baggage."

But feminism does ask you, as an ethical human being, to objectively reexamine certain standards of behavior, which themselves are often based on an internalized, invisible set of shared beliefs and values.

Feminism isn't about holding another sex in higher esteem than the male sex. Rather, it's about anti-sexism.

It's about making sure your child doesn't grow up believing she is somehow subhuman.

And if someone ever makes your child feel like he or she deserves abuse, you better hope that kid is confident and surefooted enough to fight back.

Read the whole article, which covers a lot of the issues currently happening in the gaming scene, over at Unwinnable.

I Was a Teenage Sexist [Unwinnable]

(Top photo | Refat/Shutterstock)

(Note: An earlier version of this article stated that Frank was a community manager at Electronic Gaming Monthly, when she in fact worked at 1UP. The post has been corrected.)

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Seattle Dan

Most of you screaming about "another feminism article on Kotaku!" won't really care about this post, but for the few of you who haven't walled your minds off completely: this really does apply to the gaming community as a whole.

Sexism is a very real, major problem in online gaming. It's one most of us have seen, and many have, purposefully or not, participated in.

Those of you who are angry about "Kotaku is turning into Jezebel!" may not even be the types to call a woman in Halo a "whore" but you're probably the type who simply doesn't understand why it's offensive. But then, that probably means you're the type that doesn't understand why racial slurs in online games are offensive either.

I hope you all do some really deep soul-searching (no, I don't believe in souls, it's a phrase) about how people would like to be treated. Just because you personally don't think something is offensive, or cannot understand why someone might find it offensive doesn't mean it can't be hurtful or damaging. It's all about context and people's personal histories.

I'm not saying we should all treat everyone as if they're fragile and thin-skinned. I'm saying that maybe you shouldn't assume that everybody is iron-clad—or are inferior if they aren't.