Dota 2’s #metoo Problem: Yes, But

Yesterday, a thread was started by two women prominent in Dota 2.

First, Lawliepop referenced #metoo and related it to Dota 2, and then Ashnichrist provided examples of sexist behavior in the industry. Her last point was, “Some married, male personalities actively cheat on their spouses at events. Some players use fame to prey on weak women.”

Noxville joined the conversation at this point, responding with a “yes, but” comment.

I have a few of my own.

Noxville’s initial comment was true, women also cheat, but this was the most trivial part of the conversation and served to derail it completely. Rather than adding valuable perspective or context, he poked at the least significant part of the assertions of the women who had spoken before him. Several women and men pushed back as Noxville entrenched himself in a position that asserted sexual relations between players/talent and women is not an abuse of power. “Yeah, and I don’t think that’s an abuse of power. I don’t see (almost any) players walking around saying ‘I’m famous come fuck me’. And even if they did, I don’t think that’s them “abusing their power”. Women are willingly saying “he’s famous, I wanna fuck him”.” he said, and added that he wanted evidence in the form of stats about the magnitude of discrimination against women in esports/Dota.

Many reading the conversation were hurt, appalled, disappointed, and felt that Noxville’s comments were unhelpful and unsupportive, reduced the significance of the women’s shared experiences, and could be perceived as an implication that in Noxville’s opinion — a respected member of the professional community! — these problems don’t actually exist.

He used his own personal anecdote to indicate his experience was that the issue was more a lack of women trying to get into esports than discrimination or other issues they face due to gender.

This is problematic on many levels.

Why Noxville’s anecdote should outweigh those of the half dozen or more women who are living the issues being discussed was unclear.

Why he didn’t acknowledge that the 500:30 ratio of men to women trying to get into esports is problematic is unclear.

Why he felt it was appropriate to enter the conversation at all in anything other than a spirit of support is unclear.

Why statistics to determine the magnitude of the issue would be useful is unclear — he did clarify after the fact that he was only trying to determine magnitude, not expressing a lack of belief.

At one point, some women convinced him to continue conversing on the issue privately with them, and to drop the public discussion.

Later, one of those people, Kips, spoke out to assure everyone that they had satisfactorily resolved the conversation, and Noxville “is a great guy.” And then she went on to respond a few times in his defense — that it was miscommunication, that it was semantics, that he was trying to solve a problem.

I have issues with this. One, that Noxville himself has not spoken publicly to acknowledge his own role. That he hasn’t apologized for his lack of initial clarity, for his lack of support, for his disbelief.

I think he believes the individual stories. He was pretty adamant about that.

And he did clarify several times that his request for stats was about understanding better, about getting at the nuances of the issue, and eventually expressing his frustration that people were still flaming him despite those clarifications.

Yes, but.

He also tweeted this about the entire thing:

Why did it become an argument? The majority of people in the thread didn’t see a need to prove this problem statistically because they can see it happening — in the stories women share, in their own experiences. The thread was a space to share, a space for community, for reassurance of solidarity, a space to remind us that Dota does have these problems. Noxville’s desire for numbers, this desire to turn a dialogue into a debate to be won was a distraction from actual problem-solving, and completely unsupportive.

Noxville wanted numbers to understand how big the issue is (at one point expressed as, “I need evidence/stats because I’m interested in the issue. Looking at data let’s you see common issues and look for good solutions.”) at a moment when women are making themselves vulnerable, are finding their voices to say “this awful thing has happened to me”, while others are saying they’re still too afraid to speak because they worry it will negatively impact their careers — imagine this, please, being too afraid to tell people about how you have been harassed or discriminated against because of your gender because you think it could ruin your career. How vulnerable, voiceless, and powerless you must feel to see no option other than to put up with it.

Even with his heart was in the right place, surely we can all see that this was not the moment. It wasn’t the moment to say, “that’s an awful story; let’s see the numbers.”

This is how women are silenced.

Now, Kips came forward to say she’d worked things out privately with Noxville. Which is great for her — I’m thrilled that their working relationship or friendship is “gucci.” And I think it’s fantastic that Noxville continued to engage on the topic, was open to talking it through.

Yes, but.

Noxville hasn’t followed up on his own. No public apology for inserting himself into a conversation on Twitter that he wasn’t prepared to handle. No apology for blundering so badly and offending/upsetting/reinforcing some of the very things women are trying to push back against. Clarification is one thing, and the desire to defend himself when he’s being flamed is understandable — but he needs to also take responsibility for the impact of his words. He needs to set that example for others to see.

Kips has suggested she needed to be more patient.

This is bullshit. Her outrage — our outrage! — was justified. Noxville’s words were hurtful, whether they were simply unclear or deliberately sexist.

I have so much respect for Kips. She’s articulate, her work is brilliant, and I’ve greatly enjoyed all my interactions with her. I think she’s a great role model for women looking to break into the industry — tenacious, smart, determined, competitive. I think her public responses in the thread were very well-written. And I truly respect that she feels she’s learned from the entire exchange, and that she reached out to let everyone know the conversation had been continued privately.

Yes, but.

It is appalling to me that in a public conversation about discrimination and sexual harassment of women, one of the women involved has taken responsibility and the man who upset not just her but so many others has not.

Whatever private resolution existed between Kips and Noxville is great for them. But it does nothing to address the issue that Noxville’s words made a lot of people very upset, made them feel shitty, and have left many of us feeling diminished. I spoke with some women who were afraid of being perceived as outspoken, argumentative, and difficult if they participated in the conversation. I spoke with some who were afraid other men in the industry would see Noxville’s request for numbers as a suggestion this isn’t really a problem — that women are being overly emotional, overly sensitive, and so on.

This matter is not resolved. It didn’t start as a private conversation between two people (which is, I agree, an excellent way to educate, develop and enrich opinions and perspectives, and figure out how to personally do better!) It wasn’t a publicly held conversation between two people that could be easily resolved privately. It was something bigger, that affected many people.

It is an example of why women don’t want to speak up or out.

We spoke. A man inserted himself into the conversation with a “yes, but” comment that rapidly became more. We got upset. He disengaged publicly. A woman later asserted the matter was closed and explained away his behavior, while he said nothing.

Fuck that.

We need to do better.

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