Are gamers sexist? How could you know?

I haven’t kept abreast of this #gamergate stuff, but from what I understand one of the issues is the lack of female protagonists in video games. A thought occurs: How could you know if gamers are sexist?

Say there was a game with a female protagonist and no men bought it. We could interpret this as sexism: Men don’t want to play as a woman. But with no less justice we could interpret it as a flat-out refusal to be sexist. After all, as men they can’t possibly understand what it means to be a woman, can’t possibly understand what it feels like to be a woman. But if this is true, then a man playing as a female character would be the equivalent of a white person “blacking up”, something we regard as unequivocally racist. So, in the absence of an admission of guilt, sexism and anti-sexism are here indistinguishable, and – in an odd twist – developers of male-targeted games that have no option to play as a female character may, in actual fact, be acting in a thoroughly progressive fashion.


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