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eSports association promotes sexism

No girls allowed

I have been trying to steer clear of articles about sexism, mostly because it always feels like a giant can of worms. However, statements have been made that made my blood boil, and it should make yours do the same.

Local Facebook uproar

It all started over on Facebook, in that glorious Facebook group, Dota 2 South Africa. There, a young lady made the following request:

All girl team

Now, I don’t want to say anything negative about this particular girl. She says she already plays Dota and League of Legends (LoL), and maybe she does want to get involved in eSports. Plus, can you really blame her for wanting a free overseas trip just by playing video games? I love the fact that I get to travel thanks to my passion for gaming – why wouldn’t others want to pursue that?

Well, the issue comes in with sexism. Just why exactly is there such an opportunity for a women-only team? Don’t worry – for those familiar with the MSSA and its former president, Colin Webster, you won’t be surprised to read that he explained this in a way only he can:

It is now accepted by many academics world-wide that there are many differences between males and females when it comes to gaming. As a result there will always be different outcomes, and until the situation is fully understood the IeSF has decided to run the two genders separately so that as many people can benefit from international competition.

Not only that, but it is a requirement from the international sporting governing bodies insist that all events be run for both males and females.

He went on to site that the Swedish National Federation is a big proponent of this, yet I have yet to be able to find the federation he speaks of [Edit: we found it, I think]. I assume that he heard about it during the one academic he can name who made this point, a “Ms Bergstrom” (Professor? Lecturer?) of Stockholm University who gave a lecture about gender issues in gaming at Wits.

Before I look at the validity of these statements, I just want to point out that the very notion of someone gathering together a group of women, “no matter how shit” they are could only work under the auspices of the MSSA. They sent a female StarCraft II competitor to play in an international tournament, despite only having played the game for a few months and clearly being a below par player. It was an embarrassment for South African eSports, showing the world that our competitors aren’t up to the same standard as international players. Plus, it encourages the idea that girls don’t have to be good at eSports, they can be awarded and sent overseas purely based on having a vagina.

Eswc winners

Can women play eSports? Of course they can. If you look at the DGL (which allows men and women to play together) you can see two co-ed premier teams. Considering that far fewer women engage in competitive gaming, it’s encouraging to see that LoL team MaDJabberwocky is captained by a woman, and BF4 team eLement also has a female member. Yes, eSports is still dominated by men, but women can and do play, even with and against male counterparts.

An international debate

The issue of sexism in eSports is a big one. I haven’t even touched on the abuse and harassment that women can suffer when engaging in eSports, nor will I look at the differences in depictions of athletes and teams. Continuing to look at access to games and separation/segregation of women, we see that this is an international trend, although it is dominant in Asia.

I suppose this is the double-edged sword: eSports is hugely popular in Korea, Singapore and China, which means that many countries follow them when deciding how to approach eSports. However, those countries are still very patriarchal and, despite plenty of rights for women, treat women differently. Just look at this all girls tournament Dota 2 tournament under the brand of AsianCyberGames: it’s literally called “Call for the Beauties”. The IeSF is the federation that the MSSA chose to affiliate with for eSports, and is also based out of Korea; it makes sense why we see these policies.

Other people across the internet are debating this issue. Over on Reddit, people across the debate weighed in, including well-known shoutcasters. However, I think this comment summed it up the best:

I would gladly make a team with people as skilled as me and compete in tournaments that befit that skill. But i would NEVER compete in those paraolympiads where i am treated in a special way because i got tits and people are using me to sell tickets based on the fact that sexy girls will be put onto the tournament. Those tournaments are not creating space for woman, they are creating a cage and creating the exact opposite of “promoting esports for women”, they are creating a situation where womans are considered beautiful mannequins. If a serious female tournaments will be ever organised I will be the first to buy a ticket.

Call for the beauties

I may be able to believe that the intentions are good, that women’s only tournaments are just built to give women extra opportunities and encouragement to participate in eSports. Unfortunately, it seems to be implemented in a wholly misguided way that actually continues the trend of objectifying and undermining female gamers. The MSSA has gained the reputation of sending any woman overseas, regardless of ability in the eSport discipline, leading people like Maryke to try to put together a national girl’s team for travel and competitions. And what about the issues that women only sports engender – just what would I need to do to join this team? Is there anything I need to show to “prove” that I’m a woman? Traditional sports already have this issue, just think of Caster Semenya, do we really need to bring these debates into eSports, when men and women have no inherent differences that predetermine their different eSporting abilities?

It all just goes to show that the MSSA is not only promoting sexism in eSports, they’re actually also letting their cis-gendered mentality discriminate against men, women and the trans and inter-sexed community. People of all races, genders and orientations are welcome to play eSports – I just personally recommend that they do so in competitions other than those held by any association that engages in sexist tournaments.

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Author:Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let's get on with it!
  • hillbilly gamer

    Note saved this oops for lazy gamer court case.

    • Unavengedavo

      Meaning what exactly? I do not see the oops that you are referring to O_o

    • Rince Striving Abomination

      You’ll note that this was written by Zoe. Gavin, being a man and coincidently a completely different person, is the one going to court, not Lazygamer.

    • Hillbilly gamer

      Let me phrase: Note save this oops for Colin Webster vs Lazy gamer count case.

      • Unavengedavo

        As Rince mentioned, the court case is between Colin Webster and Gavin Mannion, and not LazyGamer. And can you point out anything wrong written in this article? They merely quoted what he said on Facebook

        EDIT: Or am I confused about the meaning of this post? O_o

      • Rince Striving Abomination

        Ahh, that makes more sense!

      • http://www.lazygamer.net Gavin Mannion

        I’m not sure what you are saying.. but as mentioned below the court case is Webster vs Mannion and this article isn’t about Webster it’s about the MSSA and IesF.

        • Rince Striving Abomination

          I still think you and Webster should just UFC this out. Kervyn can be the commentator, Geoff the ref, and Darryn the card carrying girl.

          • Unavengedavo

            Again my mind is flooded with Darryn in a mankini O_o Maybe I should photoshop a picture of this and post it so that I do not suffer alone

          • Kensei Seraph

            You are an evil, evil being.

          • Rince Striving Abomination

            I am sure even the Avo has limits, surely this would be beyond even what he can do?

          • Unavengedavo
          • Her Highness the Hipster

            noooooooooooo! please no – you like us, don’t you? you don’t need to do this…

          • Eric

            Well we’ll rather have him do the photoshop instead of you :P

            Edit: You doing the photoshop job

          • Unavengedavo
          • Rince Striving Abomination

            Come on now *backs away with hands raised) there is no need for this, we are all friends, right, hey buddy? Avo, look at me!

          • Kensei Seraph

            You need to learn how to phrase your statements so that they don’t come across as a challenge to Avo’s abilities.

          • Rince Striving Abomination

            You WOULDN’T. even you must have limits!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            With a rubberised bat-butt on display. Brain bleach!

          • Rince Striving Abomination

            HAHAHAH!

        • Hillbilly Gamer

          Just make a note of this blunder they are always handy oddest of ways

          • Kensei Seraph

            I’m still not clear on what “blunder” you’re talking about.
            Am I just being oblivious or is it something really subtle that us lesser individuals are unable to perceive?

          • Rince Striving Abomination

            I think Hillbilly is saying this is a blunder on Webster’s part and could be used in court as character reference, or something…

          • Kensei Seraph

            Not sure how as Gavin’s only contribution to the writing of this article was to provide a medium for it to be posted.
            We all know Lazygamer doesn’t have any editors. :P

          • Rince Striving Abomination

            I meant as in proving how badly run the MSSA is and what the character of Webster is. Nothing in the negative for Gavin.

        • Admiral Chief in Space

          Pity your grudge can’t be solve by quake deathmatch or something

  • Bobby

    Mhe. Most sports are gender specific. The London marathon yesterday and a winner and a woman winner. Esports (if it ever takes off) will likely end up going the same way.

    • http://www.lazygamer.net Gavin Mannion

      Most sports are seperated by gender because men are physically stronger than women. When it comes to gaming that physical difference no longer matters.

      • Umar’s Sin

        According to Colin, there is a difference, shown by studies

        • http://www.lazygamer.net Gavin Mannion

          Thankfully the world isn’t run according to Colin.

        • Unavengedavo

          Maybe we should write a quack study that proves eSports should have it’s own separate governing body and then send him a link to it.

        • ElNicko

          You mean “Studies” right…..???

          • Umar’s Sin

            lol I actually forgot the quotes

          • ElNicko

            no worries man , I got your back.

      • Rince Striving Abomination

        I think they separate the genders because women have an unfair, multi-purpose, advantage over ‘OMG YOUR MOM’s FACE DIK! men.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    That quote.
    Such ignorance.
    Much patriarchy.
    Wow.

  • Rince Striving Abomination
  • Hammersteyn

    In physical sports like the Olympics it’s understandable to split the two genders but when it comes to Esports physicality is not applicable.

    “Until the situation is fully understood the IeSF has decided to run the two genders separately”???

    What’s there to understand? Are they going to weigh peoples brains?

    • Spathi

      Splitting men and women for physical sports is also a contentious point actually, in some circles.

      • Hammersteyn

        Really? Can’t wait to see mixed gender rugby matches

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          Finally I can live my dream of competing in the Lingerie Football League.

        • Spathi

          Yeah it is a weird issue. But I don’t want to elaborate on something I don’t really know about, only read something where someone was complaining about how women was characterised as the weaker physical sex because of their built and there was a huge fight about it, because the other party started saying it wasn’t true and it was one of the prejudices of society, or something like that. Or maybe not at all. I think I’ll rather keep quite now…

          • Hammersteyn

            Ag I think the same argument comes in play regarding women in the army.

  • VampyreSquirrel

    I don’t see the point in splitting men and women in eSports… I know a lot of women that kick my butt in games.

    • Rince Striving Abomination

      Yeah Tim is not a bad gamer *RUNS

  • Unavengedavo

    It is now accepted by many academics world-wide that there are many differences between males and females when it comes to gaming.

    Had a quick look and the only “differences” I could find that people mention is what genres are preferred by men and women, but nothing regarding outcomes of games or anything like that O_o

    • Hammersteyn

      He meant “academics”

      • Unavengedavo

        Well “academics” once thought the world to be flat or that the solar system revolved around the earth O_o

        • Hammersteyn

          Exactly.

  • Lurker

    Colin Webster is an [censored] but imo he has a point. Interesting comment on reddit:

    “The biggest issue with most of these arguments that come up, is that although there isn’t a physical difference, there is a cultural / societal one. Playing video games as a female isn’t really encouraged, and as such most girls will pick it up a lot later in life, or they won’t really have a community to get behind to get better at it. Most feel alienated, or uncomfortable, and the ones that are actually serious about getting better run into a host of issues. Most of the men you’ll play with will not take you seriously or hit on you, and if you refuse their advances you’re some kinda bitch, or if you date someone you’re a slut etc. If you do happen to be good and get on a top team, a lot of people will question if you’re actually that good, or if you’re on the team because you’re sleeping with someone or you’re a girl etc. Imagine trying to get better in that sort of environment. Anyone that’s actually saying that online gaming is an equal ground for both men and women are oblivious. These types of tournaments aren’t being advertised to ban out males and try and glorify sexism, its to try and encourage females to find other women to play with, have a more encouraging atmosphere to get better at, and find the competitive drive. It’s about building a better atmosphere. If there was a women’s only TI4, I’d have some issues, but a tournament like this? Anyways I guess what I’m really getting at is can Zephyr participate in this and whats the prize pool like?”

    http://www.reddit.com/r/DotA2/comments/22rnoe/allfemale_tournaments_should_not_be_in_esports/

    [Mod] Removed naughty word

    • Kensei Seraph

      So for these tournaments they then do a background check to ensure you’re from the properly disadvantaged section of society where you were only able to start gaming within the last few months/years?

      To me it would seem like a better idea to have skill based tournaments.
      I.e. Amateur, Rookie, Expert, Invite-Only, etc.

      • Her Highness the Hipster

        agreed! just imagine a “previously disadvantaged only” bracket – would be accused of segregation in eSports. So why do the same to women? Just keep it based on skill, not physical characteristics.

    • http://www.lazygamer.net Gavin Mannion

      I get that for the smaller things.. having a girls amateur bracket in the DGL or at rAge I think will be fine.. but once you move past that initial social issue it shouldn’t be split anymore.

    • FreddyBear

      This should not be valid at higher levels of e-sports. I see this in business everyday, and it still annoys the crap out of me. If you can’t keep it professional, you shouldn’t be competing at that level. It’s not only about your skill in a specific game, but largely about your attitude and professionalism as well.

  • http://www.lazygamer.net Gavin Mannion

    I found Bergstrom, she isn’t from Stockholm university and she doesn’t talk about eSports but rather how women are portrayed in gaming. http://yorku.academia.edu/KellyBergstrom Close enough though I guess

  • Ultimo_Cleric N7

    Umm….
    *sees loaded conversation coming, runs far away….

    • Kensei Seraph

      *Chases after Ultimo_Cleric N7*
      How dare you try to run away from an debate about gender equality.
      By not fighting for gender equality you are promoting gender inequality and I’ve run out of f*cks to give for this.
      *Stops chasing Ultimo_Cleric N7*

      • Ultimo_Cleric N7

        *Stops, turning around with angry face……
        You think that’s why I am running? Actually, I do care, but this such a loaded conversation that I would rather avoid it since this topic since it has been brought up numerous times in the last few months. If you had actually taken a minute to see some of my other comments in the those articles, you would know this.

        Also, whenever this is brought up, people end up swearing or pointing the blame at someone else.

        Thank you for proving my point.

        • Willem Van Wyk

          *standing in the distance watching this all blow up and catching the roflcoptors

          • Admiral Chief in Space

            Get to the choppa?

          • Rags

            Just don’t say #boobs one more time man or the femtards and whiteknights are going to crucify you.

          • Willem Van Wyk

            Still don’t get why that is bad though, I love boobs, I love woman, they are amazing…

        • Kensei Seraph

          Sorry.
          I was trying to be … sarcastic isn’t the right word but it’s close enough.
          What I said was meant in jest.
          Here’s a gif that will hopefully inspire warm fuzzy feelings.
          http://d24w6bsrhbeh9d.cloudfront.net/photo/a8WXYb6_460sa.gif

          • Ultimo_Cleric N7

            OOOHHH, ok I see what you meant. My bad, was misinterpreted.

            Fuzzy feelings may now commence. Sorry :-(

          • Rince Striving Abomination

            Lol ;0 When you going to come join us for a pint?

          • Ultimo_Cleric N7

            When you guys meeting up again?

          • Rince Striving Abomination

            Not sure, was thinking of second week of May as the next few people are busy, what with all the holidays.

          • Ultimo_Cleric N7

            Cant Thursday or Friday (8th & 9th), away for work. Maybe Saturday could work. Will have to check with management though ;-) Have a funny feeling she wanted to do something Saturday morning.

          • Rince Striving Abomination

            We usually meet up around 1/2pm at the River Club for a few drinks and occasionally even make it to the driving range.. ;)

          • Ultimo_Cleric N7

            Sounds cool.

          • Rince Striving Abomination

            Well that escalated quickly…

  • Quentin Huggett

    I want vagina… oh no wait.

    • Her Highness the Hipster
      • Quentin Huggett

        Can we request a specific design, or is it just as it comes?

        • Her Highness the Hipster

          you should just be grateful that it comes. badumtsh!

          • Quentin Huggett

            Hahaha i am happy when it comes, and gratefull when it shuts up so i can watch sport..

          • RedRover

            Why? Does all that talking make you wanna go Grrrrr? :P

          • Admiral Chief in Space

            O_O

        • Unavengedavo

          Well according to the article they are custom-built so I am sure you can chose a design:
          Atala said the pilot study is the first to show that vaginal organs custom-built in the lab using patients’ own cells can be successfully used in humans

  • Michelle

    I have an all gamergirl clan,we have competed in the Telkom dogaming league and MWEB ghosts LAN,the reason we made an all female team is not just to play competitively,but also create a bond/friendship with other female players(that are good),cause they are quite rare…..and that guys tend to hit on us or discriminate cause we are female.
    There shouldnt be something as “just guys or just girls” teams,if they are mixed or just one gender then so what,they are still a team.
    At the MWEB LAN the guys showed us respect before and after our matches.With the Telkom dogaming league we had some teams on the ropes and they respected us for our gaming skills and gaming ettiquette and wished to have scrims in the future.
    SA should not send female gamers or male gamers abroad for tournaments if they CANNOT play the game,as they are representing our gaming community and country.

    • Willem Van Wyk

      Well done, how about we have a prestigious league with mixed teams and then a female league for just woman, to promote female gaming in South Africa?

      • Michelle

        I suppose that could work,yet some would feel “why should women have their own special league”.

        • Willem Van Wyk

          To promote female DotA 2 players, because they are in the minority and due to gender roles in society they don’t the same opportunity as the guys.

          • Michelle

            I recently started playing Dota2,another one of my members play it religiously.

  • Matthew Holliday

    Nitekitti from warcraft dota days, 8!+cH and Vixen from CoD4 all used to make me hate life when playing with them.

    but when it comes to sponsors, they want that attraction quality, been trying to follow a few all girl dota teams for a while, and they drop off the grid almost as soon as they appear, if they dont win games or pull an audience, sponsors dont see the point.

    Im a firm believer that women shouldnt be denied access to any teams, and should be accepted on merit into regular teams, if that results in lower amounts of pro-girl gamers, then so be it, but atleast its fair.
    Girls and guys are forced to compete separately in sports because of physical differences, that physical ability is a non-entity in gaming and makes no sense to split them up.

  • Jackofall1987

    Letting their cis-gendered mentality discriminate against men, women – says the site plastered with FHM “hotties” – Lazygamer is one to talk about objectifying…. And in other news…

    • Lardus-Resident Perve

      There is a difference between “discrimination” and what you see as “objectifying”. Nobody wants to be discriminated against, and saying models are objectified is discriminating against their personal life choices as they choose to pose for photos and share these photos.

      • Unavengedavo

        And most of the things we do say are either in jest or meant as a compliment.

      • Chip

        You can be as technical as you want.. it still looks ridiculous. “Oh my gosh women are equal.. womens rights and stuff.. boo hoo.. *flash picture of boobs*

        • JHN

          So because I look at boobs im sexist?

          • Chip

            Who said anything about looking at boobs.. this isn’t about looking at anything. You can’t compare looking at boobs with someone championing the rights of women and then objectifying them in the same sentence.

        • Lardus-Resident Perve

          Only looks ridiculous to someone with a chip on their shoulder or an axe to grind. Bonus: http://9gag.com/gag/aZPdo53

          • Chip

            On the flip side you could argue that it only looks OK and NOT ridiculous to someone wearing a rose coloured glasses.

            Honestly I couldn’t care less what feminists think about the content on this site… my point is just that there’s a lot of mixed messages that come out from here… it chops and changes every other day.

          • http://www.lazygamer.net Gavin Mannion

            Just because we support women and their rights doesn’t take away from enjoying the female form… it’s a sad state of affairs that femninism has now been equated with being ugly.

          • Chip

            From what I’ve read from some of the comments from female gamers, a lot of them appreciate having the segregation in place in tournaments and such because of the behavior of some of the guys. Posting pictures of girls wearing next to nothing falls in line with that kind of behavior – you may see it otherwise and make it sound more mature by calling it “enjoying a form”, but it is essentially that same sort of boyish fooling around. So the incredible irony here is you guys are pointing the finger at organizations that are being “sexist” and sheltering these girls from that kind of behavior, which is what you are promoting in the same breathe. Actually kind of astounding.

          • Jackofall1987

            The Facebook comments make for interesting reading, finally the other side of the story these “Journalists” didn’t seek out has come to light… Enjoying the female form (In your gratuitous promotion of this enjoyment you promote objectification)….. Hypocrite much? Please pick a side and stand by it Lazygamer…..

    • Chip

      Agreed.. also I am struggling to keep up with Lazygamer’s view on discrimination towards females. One day its all a lot of nonsense when some advocate for equality in the gaming industry wins an award, and next there’s a big storm in a tea cup when the MSSA said something which discriminates… confusing.

    • Rags

      How is using models discrimination?! They are professionals.

  • Chuddinater

    In this case it seems that she is taking advantage of a situation to travel and have fun. However, working with the IeSF the intentions are not to make some show of the women that play. Rather they want to promote e-Sports to everyone and have competition available to both genders. Yes, I don’t believe there is a difference in men and women in e-Sports, but as of now there is few if not no pro gamers that are girls. Maybe it’s because there are just less women playing the competitive titles or that it is less socially acceptable at this time for women to play as much. It could be that the community does not take kindly to female gamers, but none the less the IeSF want to promote e-Sports for something everyone can take part in. If they did not do this then women would have no opportunity at this time to compete.

  • Rags

    There are a few people to blame here. Not Maryke.

    1.) MSSA for not setting standards. Its a well known fact that to qualify to compete in several international competitions you need to both qualify by their standards and local standards. Our swimming and athletic standards are higher than the minimum international Olympic standard. So only the top people get send who stand a realistic chance of getting a medal or high finish. Why? So don’t look like fools, that only the best get rewarded, and 3 so more politicians can milk the rest of the budget for 1st class flights(athletes usually travel 2nd class) and stay in top hotels.

    2.) MWEB, by sponsoring an organisation that is careless about they money(see point 1) and affiliates what we as gamers consider a shitty international organisation the IeSF.

    If I was her, I’d milk that shit. But it’s up for MWEB to take notice. And for SAEASA(or whatever the acronym) to inform them.

  • Rudi de Lange

    Those blondes in the middel, mfw.

    • http://www.lazygamer.net Gavin Mannion

      lol wondered who was going to say something about that

    • Charl van der Merwe

      Beat me to it~!

  • Stan Smith

    When I saw this debate on the Dota 2 SA facebook page I knew it was going to land up on lazygamer. But yeah, the article is spot on.

  • WhiteRock

    Maybe it’s the only way “The man from MSSA that shall not be named for fear of lawsuits” can get close to the female gender, without it being called stalking or voyeurism?

  • Charl van der Merwe

    Storm in a teacup people.move along

  • Z7

    forgot why i don’t use this site, this post just reminded me.

  • Chuddinater

    Unfortunately this will be buried, but the reason there are separate leagues for men and women is because international rules created by SportAccord and the Olympic Committee require international events to have separate events for men and women. I would hope they would contact the IeSF or any of the affiliated National e-Sports Federations before posting incorrect information.

  • Mongo

    Gay players from Gauteng? We want to try get a national Gay team going :P no matter how shit you are, I just need 4 more (just part time, for the free overseas trips and competitions)

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