There’s a frightening hashtag on Twitter right now. Click here to read through it.
I’ve seen women deciding to change career path because of the obstructions set before them by male colleagues.
I’ve seen women discouraged from chasing their dreams.
It’s terrifying. We already know that the games industry is sexist and unfriendly towards women from its ugly top to its seedy bottom. It’s one of the reasons why we hate it. But through that #1reasonwhy hashtag we can put faces to the women directly affected by the casual sexism that we’ve allowed to prosper.
And as horrible as it is that ANY women have been pushed off-course by these attitudes, it frightens me that we’ve probably lost some great storytellers. We’ve probably lost some giants. And importantly, some giants who will offer fresh perspectives.
Look at Joni Mitchell.
She is the greatest singer/songwriter of all time. Of all the storytellers to stand in a spotlight with a guitar, she is the best - her lyrics telling stories that hang in the air like campfire tales. And yet despite proving her worth time and time again, she is still described as a “great female singer-songwriter”. She’s been called “The Female Bob Dylan”, when Dylan couldn’t lace her boots. It’s that old casual sexism thing where a woman can’t just be the best - she has to be a female version of something. As if she’s nothing more than a successful tribute act.
And yet, her albums exist. We can swoon at the elegance of Hejira whenever we want, and marvel at the honesty and wit of Court and Spark whenever we feel low. (I remember, as a young man, hearing her People’s Parties and thinking “That’s me. She knows me. She’s like me.” I remember it helping me cope.)
We can hear Joni and tune out the noise of the male-dominated music press who spent decades painting her as the chick with the guitar. We can hold her up as a human being who fought adversity and left behind a legacy filled with truth.
But the great women that the games industry has lost, and will continue to lose, will never have the chance to fight sexist perception and enlighten us with their brilliance. They will never get the chance to be a great creator dismissed by the male-controlled media for having a vagina. Until things change, they won’t even fucking have that. That’s how bad things are.
And you know… we need women up there doing that stuff. Because equality is essential, yes. But being a woman matters.
Joni once said, about her musical contribution to the film “Grace Of My Heart”: There was a great line in that movie: “You’re a woman-you will be able to write things that men can’t.” They took it out, but I thought it was great. I said. ‘Nobody ever said that to me.”
Nobody ever said that to Joni. Nobody said that- even to the greatest living singer-songwriter.
Right there is another reason why.