Women in the tech industry often endure some really horrible incidents of sexism. The gaming industry seems to be the worst, the source of a constant outpouring of such stories.
And that’s doubly sad because the gaming industry is a dream career for so many people.
Another incident happened last week that led to the public apology and the resignation of Josh Mattingly, CEO and founder of games/tech blog Indie Statik, and an outpouring of outrage Twitter under the hashtag #thatwoman.
This is the story:
Mattingly reached out to a game industry veteran on Facebook to try to get her to leak details about a new game. In that Facebook chat he began writing inappropriate sexual comments. The more she politely tried to end the conversation, the more he ramped up his suggestions of what he wanted to do to her.
We won’t quote his comments, except to say they were explicit, and involved his private parts and hers. It became so detailed that one of the screen shots of the chat that circulated on the Internet had part of the conversation blurred out.
In other words, this wasn’t some misinterpreted “dongle” joke.
I am mortified by my behaviour as it was not only completely inappropriate, but it was fuelled by alcohol and depression. My younger brother committed suicide last year and ever since then I haven’t been myself.
Shortly after the apology, blog site Kokatu wrote about the incident calling it “a stark illustration of the kind of treatment of women in the games industry that gets glossed over or discussed in general terms, but rarely gets exposed in so raw and ugly a form.”
Ultimately, Mattingly resigned, tweeting: “Stepping down for a bit to work on myself. @indiestatik is in great hands and will continue to do good for indies.”
After his resignation, Indie Statik condemned his behaviour, writing:
The rest of the staff has been truly devastated by his actions. We do not condone this type of behaviour, within our own staff or in the industry at large, and we are sorry for the discomfort and the confusion this has caused. We also want to assure our readers — gamers, developers and critics alike — that they can feel safe interacting with us …
But that’s not the end of it.
Many of the comments to Kokatu’s article and Indie Statik’s blog post were also awful. Some asked if the woman was somehow ok with being treated this way. (Short answer: hell no.) Many asked why she didn’t shut him down faster and go public with it all herself.
Long answer: because in a sexist environment women don’t want to be labelled “that woman,” the one that causes trouble. And that led to an outpouring on Twitter with the #thatwoman hashtag in which people shared more sexism stories about why they did or didn’t speak up. (It joins other sexism-in-tech Twitter hashtags like #1reasonwhy.)
Here’s a few: