Today, I Cried

CN: sexism, ableism, internet harassment

 

Today, I cried. It didn’t last long, but it finally got to me, and I cried.

 

Three weeks ago, I was participating in a discussion on a site I regularly go to, where I felt comfortable saying the a-word and the s-word, and the thread was stated to be closely moderated for things like the s-word, and harassment and.

 

I was, pretty much immediately, told that other people were allowed to have opinions too and if I couldn’t handle that I didn’t belong on the Internet. My actual post wasn’t referenced in any way; it was just a personal attack. I pointed out as much. The poster went off at me, calling me various names, outright stating that they didn’t think I was worth talking to as they’d decided I had a mental health condition, said it was weird I called them out because they didn’t actually say anything relevant anyway (you know, what I pointed out), claimed that the harassment was actually them sharing their privilege and I was silencing them by calling them out for it, and for the last two and a half weeks, it’s been the same comment, over and over.

And over.

Now, since the post was meant to be closely monitored for such things, naturally I assumed that reporting it would result in some kind of mod action, and in the meantime, kept explaining. I ran it past my mum, past people on Facebook, and I was both sure and reassured that he had actually screwed up. My mum pointed out that if I stopped replying, it looked like I ‘lost’, and asked where the mods were.

 

So it’s been three weeks of me receiving multiple comments a day where my mental health was called into question for standing up for myself, and then painting themselves as a victim (did I mention that they called social justice irrelevant?).

 

Today, I napped for an hour and came back to find another one, accompanied with a mod comment.

The mod comment boiled down to ‘I’m not saying he’s right, but I think he set up a bot to harass you so you should just move on because you probably have better things to do!’

 

And that’s why I cried.

Instead of taking action to stop or prevent the harassment of people like me, the mod position is ‘let it go’.

Because, of course, instead of speaking out when people deliberately act to hurt us, we should just take it, since they’ll be allowed to set up bots to harass us anyway (nvm that it’s apparently a bot that’s only online when he is, and has no regular scraping interval).

 

I don’t even have words for how wrong this feels, and that’s why I keep starting to cry.

 

Firstly, that it was allowed to go on so long, in a post where they explicitly said they were policing such things.

Secondly, being told to move on places the burden of dealing with this firmly on the victim (which is me). It says there’s a threshold for how much these things are allowed to hurt us, and a correct way of dealing with it. It minimises how these things affect us. Someone designs a bot specifically to harass you? Move on. Never mind that you can’t go anywhere online without it telling you you’re insane, feeding those little dark anxiety monsters in your head.  However, that’s not the point. The mod requesting action from me to end this, instead of taking action against the person who is hurting me, is displacing the burden of their actions on to me – it says they’re allowed to harass me, but I’m not allowed to show that it hurts me or explain why.

Thirdly, ‘lol it’s a bot it’s pointless because he moved on’. It’s a bot specifically designed to harass me. They didn’t move on. They explicitly took action to minimise the amount of effort to put into harassing me because that’s how much they cared about the effect of what they were doing. The mod is like ‘it’s pointless because he’s not reading it’. But that’s part of the point – that they can casually and simply harass people, and have a large impact from a small effort. It strengthens the already normalised and internalised structural inequality. It’s saying ‘lol it won’t work anyway so why try?’.

 

The mod’s actions here have compounded and crystallised the hurt I felt from the initial reply and subsequent harassment – by trivialising the ease with which the harassment was allowed, and placing the burden on me to deal with it in a way they feel is appropriate, they are tacitly approving of it.

 

Did I mention this is a gaming forum? Post-Gamergate?

 

The only words I had for the mod were ‘If that’s allowed here then I can’t stay anyway.’ Because after three weeks of someone targeting me specifically because I dared to be open about how I was being treated, I’m all out of words. I have spent my life being harassed, for various reasons. I started ignoring it sometimes around high school, and it became a game to them, to get worse and worse just to see if they could make me react. I learned that the only way to stop harassment is to make people understand what they’re doing is wrong; that’s not done by telling them directly, because they get offended and defensive, but by creating an environment where it’s not okay, where people are allowed to stand up for themselves and are made to feel safe about doing so. If people see that someone who is sexist, or ableist, gets called out, they will, eventually learn that is the consequence of hurting someone that way. People who don’t want to do that will learn not to do it; in this case, the person hurting me didn’t care, and they got away with it because I was the one being told to move on, to behave appropriately.

 

Because, you know, when someone hurts you, you’re meant to act the right way so as not to upset anyone else.

 

I can’t even make this make sense or adequately explain why this is the action that is so hurtful. I’ve said that it comes across as allowing the harassment, that it’s placing the burden on me to behave the acceptable way instead of expressing my hurt and saying why it hurt me, that it reinforces the privilege that lets people think they can do this instead of making a safer environment for everyone.

 

But this has hurt me, and if I can’t say it there, I’ll say it here: it’s not okay. It is not okay for a privileged person to dismiss my opinion as emotional because I am not male and therefore subject to such things. It is not okay for a privileged person to (repeatedly!) tell me that my opinions are not valid or worthy because they decided I have a mental health issue (that’s right, I’m not out there as neurodivergent, they just… came up with it on their own…). It is not okay for them to repeatedly dismiss and hurt me for pointing out that they hurt me.

It is not okay for the mod to choose to behave the same way instead of taking action against them. It is not okay to allow them to continue at the cost of hurting me.

 

‘You know, he doesn’t even have to put effort into how he’s hurting you! Just move on!” is how structural inequality is reinforced.

 

 

 

 

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I finished P5! It’s over!

I finished Persona 5, thank goodness. I like RPGs, but not ones that go for so long and have balance issues. (By which I mean, by the time I was reaching the final dungeons, I already had those Personas and was not gaining experience due to being so far above the enemy levels just by doing the story dungeons and the social link requests. Given that there’s so much to do, that basic level of gameplay shouldn’t be making the entire party OP enough to one-hit kill physical resistant enemies with melee attacks.)

 

More spoilers below the cut, finishing off my thoughts on Futaba.

Continue reading I finished P5! It’s over!

Everything Wrong With Persona 5 – so far…

The amount of Gladio hate just builds and it makes my life. Though explaining to white male gamers that psychological conditions are not a sign of weakness of character is an uphill battle, the discovery that the stairs in Altissia have white lines painted on the edges (an aid for people with low vision, so they know where the steps are!) makes my argument that certain other low vision accoutrements aren’t up to scratch a tiny bit more grounded, and I’m happy in my spot on the Descartes graph.

 

But while I can still go on about FFXV (I got the Afrosword before my brother, and I acquired the Black Hood without using a glitch, unlike my brother, so I am very happy), I just went back to Persona 5 after taking a break after being spoiled and having some ragey moments.

 

I don’t have a good history with Persona, and quite frankly this one is more upsetting than the last. Persona 4 Golden was generally upsetting due to its weird fixation on a flawed perception of sexuality and stereotypes, but certain aspects of Persona 5 are quite personally upsetting.

Spoilers below the jump:

Continue reading Everything Wrong With Persona 5 – so far…

FFXV and Disability… maybe

TW: visible vs invisible illness, privilege
SPOILERS for Final Fantasy XV

You might remember a while ago, before the computer incident, I said I wanted to talk about how Final Fantasy XV treated disability.

I (apparently stupidly) mentioned this a few other places, and showed a few people a rough draft of the key points I wanted to cover.

This draft was rough, really. It was a paragraph for each point; there were meant to be three, but I described point three under point two; I didn’t go and play the game again, check the videos I had saved of my playthrough, It was <i> a draft</i>.

This revealed a few points about how gamers see disability and games that felt, to me, more important than pointing out that the game treats invisible disabilities much more cavalierly than visible ones. (Sure, now that the dust has settled, there are a lot of people who feel like it was ‘unfair’ and ‘could have been better explained’. That wasn’t my point. My point was that the game showed this as okay, and as an AAA title with a worldwide audience, which took into account significant player feedback during development, it should have made an effort to portray the invisible disability just as compassionately as the visible one. (On the same place where this discussion took place, there were arguments about Scarlett Johanssen’s casting in Ghost in the Shell, Riverdale erasing asexuality, and Black visibility in American media. I would have thought I wouldn’t have to spell this out.)

My conclusion out of all this was that it was useless trying to continue talking there, because the counter arguments were “but they are privileged and in character so it’s okay” and “but you need a doctor to diagnose mental illness because it’s really hard so we shouldn’t expect people to know anything is wrong” and “we have more information than they do so we can’t expect too much from them”. I didn’t have it in me to try to explain that in-universe privilege doesn’t excuse anyone not noticing their best friend is in crisis, or that even doctors don’t always understand or correctly diagnose/treat mental illness, or dismiss it completely (as happens in-game). It shouldn’t be shown as okay or in-character for someone living in close quarters with someone else to bully and put down that person explicitly for having a crisis, while being solicitous of someone with a visible disability. This normalises treating mental illness as an other, as a thing that people can’t see or understand, and that filters onwards.

“But they’re young and don’t have experience with it, so they don’t know what to do,” was another thing. Nobody ever asked, either.

 

I didn’t want to keep on trying to explain how in-game signals and the very change in personality they pointed out were exactly what should have clued them in to Something Being Wrong, and that a character not knowing what to do shouldn’t mean that ignoring the entire thing was okay. I was told I was disregarding character in favour of wanting a “Correct” approach, like a “How To Deal With Disability Handbook checklist”.

 

And then, when I left the conversation, the person who silenced me was told that they won.

 

I don’t know how to explain that none of this is okay. I don’t know how to say that dismissing something because you can’t put a name on something isn’t okay. I don’t know how to say that lowering expectations of portrayals of disability because illness is hard is not okay. Apparently, I’m not able to do that. But that was their argument, which they supposedly won with, as if it was a competition, as if the whole aim was to shut me down.

“You need a doctor to diagnose mental illness because it can be so many things and it’s really hard, so we can’t expect normal people to notice what up and not tell people off for having something wrong,” is not okay as an argument or a position in real life. If we switched ‘mental illness’ there for ‘physical injury’, it would sound stupid.

“You need a doctor to tell you your leg is broken because it could be so many things and it’s really hard so we can’t expect a normal person to notice that you can’t walk and not tell you off for not walking. ” Sure. A normal person couldn’t easily diagnose or treat a compound tibial fracture, but it’s pretty likely that your normal person is going to be able to tell that you can’t take weight on that leg (even if it appears totally normal, isn’t swelling, doesn’t have a bone sticking out or foot pointed the wrong way) and that you’re in pain, and is socially expected to help to the best of their ability – calling an ambulance, bringing water, blanket, making the area safe. If someone with medical training is present, most law areas have provisions allowing them to provide first aid with the expectation of not being held liable for doing so.

“You need a doctor to tell you have acute adjustment disorder with anxiety and depressive mood because it could be so many things and it’s really hard so we can’t expect a normal person to notice that suddenly you’re withdrawing from your friends, having emotional outbursts, and having trouble coping with your job.” Sure. A normal person wouldn’t even know the term, but they could pretty easily tell that your entire personality changed, or that you’re not doing things you used to,  or that something that society deems easy is suddenly really hard and making you cry. They can check on you more often, ask what you need, offer you time off, call an ambulance (which can be humiliating, so I recommend only doing this if there’s actual, you know, risk in play, not just someone crying in a corner for a few seconds; use discretion and judgment), offer to include you in a social thing and not tell you off if you don’t participate at a certain level. The point here, is that even though you can’t <i>see</i> the injury because it’s inside, you can see the <i>effects</i> of it. You can see that frequent panic attacks may not allow someone to work full time.

Except, when someone can’t do the thing society expects that you should, and you’re not visibly unable to do it, then society puts you on the outside. You have to fight to get the same treatment as someone with a visible injury. In many cases, even people with a visible injury and a proper name for it and an army of doctors who agree have to fight for things like compensation, welfare, and/or accommodations. Normalising that because it’s something we can’t see and diagnose, treating it differently to a visible illness is okay, IS NOT OKAY.

 

I will now refer specifically to the in-game situation, so if you haven’t played and don’t want to be spoiled, thank you for reading and I hope I made sense.

Continue reading FFXV and Disability… maybe