What prompted a gaming writer to go on a Twitter rampage against actress, gamer, and self-described "new media geek" Felicia Day last weekend? The now-fired blogger says he was just acting "drunk and stupid." But the incident is yet another example of how easy it is for gamers to bond over misogyny.
"Does Felicia Day matter at all?" Destructoid contributor Ryan Perez tweeted to no one in particular last Friday night. "I mean does she actually contribute anything useful to this industry, besides retaining a geek persona?" Then, he tweeted directly to Day: "Could you be considered nothing more than a glorified booth babe? You don't seem to add anything creative to the medium."
Perez' tweets could've gone unnoticed a few months ago; if the U.S. had a dollar for every bitter, ignorant dude online, we wouldn't be in a recession. But there's been so much rampant misogyny in the gaming industry lately that people are justifiably on edge when it comes to sexism, and Perez woke up on Sunday morning to an onslaught of Twitter followers (he had around 50 when he first tweeted at Day, now he has almost 2,500) thanks to shoutouts from people like technology reporter Veronica Belmont and Wil Wheaton, who each have way more than a million fans following them on Twitter. "I have fucking had it with idiot asshole men being shitbags to @feliciaday because they're threatened by her creativity and success," Wheaton tweeted. "I'm sick of idiot men giving *any* woman grief in gamer and geek culture. Enough already, we're better than that."
Wheaton criticized Destructoid for employing an "ignorant misogynist," and soon, the website cut ties with Perez. "Destructoid has ended its relationship with Ryan Perez, effective immediately. We again apologize to @feliciaday and all others concerned," the website's editors tweeted. Perez also made a big, pathetic multi-tweet show of apologizing to Day, who classily accepted his apology.
You might think, what's done is done: a nobody writer says a shitty thing and pays the price. But let's revisit the original question: why did a gaming blogger risk ruining his career by calling Day a "booth babe"? Because he didn't think twice about the repercussions of calling a prolific, well-established gamer a "booth babe" since the idea that women gamers are "lesser than" is so pervasive within the community.
Although Perez lost his writing gig and got publicly excoriated by some of his idols, he also gained a following of guys who called out Destructoid for firing him and eagerly jumped aboard the Day-bashing train. One blogger, "Mundane Matt," became extremely interested in the issue and spent 20 minutes interviewing Perez about how and why it happened. "I was just being drunk and stupid," Perez said, adding that he had only joined Twitter a month ago and didn't really understand how it worked. (He also said it was his idea to distance himself from Distructoid.) The two men bonded over how unfair it was that everyone assumed Perez was sexist simply because of the sexist nature of his tweet. "People thought I actually gave a shit because she was a woman," he said. "I don't care about the gender … it's so beneath me, I don't give a shit."
But his tweets imply otherwise. "I should have been smarter and just made a comment against God or the Catholic Church…" he tweeted at one point, before he apologized. Also: "Why are so many women following me? If you're waiting for another 'misogynist' thing that you can get angry at, don't bother. Fuck off." According to PC World, at the time of his initial Felicia Day tweet Perez' Twitter bio read: "I've been a gamer for about 1.412 seconds. In that time, I've written for GamePro, Bitmob, and now I write for Destructoid. I love the smell of busty women."
And it's no wonder that Mundane Matt sided with Perez; he recently posted a video to his blog by tweeting, "I love "Girl Gamers" but I hate 'Gamer Gurls,' and I won't put their pussy on a pedestal." Another recent entry instructed Felicia Day fans to look at a PG-13 rated photo of Day, "conquer it, calm down, and fuck off."
How can the gaming community weed out sexism if its members continue to bond together over imagined misandry? Publicly criticizing and refusing to work with writers like Perez is definitely a great start, and he's not completely oblivious to the fact that he fucked up: "I'm getting what I deserve, there's no unfair treatment," he told Matt. But their bro-bonding interview doesn't even begin to explore the possibility that there's a problem with sexism in the gaming community; it's all about how hard the last few days have been for Perez. That's way more telling about how Perez really feels — and about the issues within the industry — than his apologies.