"Women haven't been in the kitchen in a long ass fucking time and women have been enjoying video games for a long time too."
At some point while perusing around Twitter I came across the website Not In The Kitchen Anymore (NKA). NKA reveals the side of the gaming community that is often hateful, offensive, and sexist. The side that the majority of us gamers despise yet it continues to exist. Of course my curiosity was peaked. I wanted to know more so I sat down and had a little chat with the sites creator, Jenny Haniver.
Not In The Kitchen Anymore stemmed from a college project. While working on her Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts Jenny was given an assignment to create a physical representation of a social issue. Thinking of an issue that effected her personally was easy, "Since playing online I noticed getting into lobbies, as soon as I started using my mic and people realized I was a girl I would get flack."
Jenny recorded audio of her interactions with other gamers (mostly male), printed out giant banners of quotes from said audio, and created a welded sculpture holding two Xbox controllers. Pick up the pink controller, put some headphones on, and experience an online game from the perspective of a female; pick up the blue controller and hear a game from the male perspective.
Image from NKA.
About a year ago, Jenny expanded on her project and started Not In The Kitchen Anymore. Take away the physicality of her installation and ba-da-bing you've got one excellent website: recordings (and transcripts) of gamers acting like complete ass hats and the casual, nonchalant replies from Jenny. In fact, it often doesn't even seem to faze Jenny, she just keeps playing. "I will play even after someone says they want to rape me or refers to me as an it." In the worst case she says she just gets tired. "I get so tired sometimes because all I want to do is play the game."
For many it's not so easy to shrug off. The banter between gamers has gone beyond trash talking to a point where legalities kick in. Most women who have ever played a game online have been unfortunate enough to experience some form of sexual harassment. A majority of female gamers have also been exposed to some shit head threatening to stalk, kill, or rape them. One of the worst clips I've heard on NKA catches a gamer saying this: "JENNY. Let me fuck you in your goddamn ass and rape the shit outta you," continuing with "I’m gonna pull your goddamn pants down, and start butt-fuckin’ you," and finally "I’m gonna fuckin’ finger the shit out of your pussy ’til it bleeds."
FUCK YOU, asshole.
Again, Jenny unfazed. But what does she really think? Simply put, she says "There's no need for that shit." Jenny deals with this buffoonery on a daily basis because it's part of running the website. She doesn't mute or block people because it's part of what she does. "It's kind of my social experiment. I have to submit myself to this shit for the good of the cause, I guess." And it's working. NKA is getting a lot of attention from some pretty big names. BBC, Kotaku, and PAX East to name a few.
PAX East N00dz or GTFO: Harassment in Online Gaming Panel
I asked Jenny what she would suggest for females experiencing sexual harassment online. At first she hesitated, saying she was a bad example for this. However, clearly not true. I see her as a great example for female gamers as she is exposing an issue we can all relate to; she's doing something about it. So, she tells me "First of all to remember these guys are a bunch of morons, take everything they're saying not with not just a grain of salt but an entire fucking shaker," "It's not worth your energy getting upset over these people," "Laugh at them."
For some of us it's easy to laugh for others it's easier to cry. Totally kidding, but if the harassment gets so bad that you need to mute someone, do it. "The mute button is there for a reason. The problem's not solved but it's not there for the moment, you no longer have to hear it for the moment." Jenny also suggests to "take the time to file complaints." "If you don't use the system it's not going to work."
And who knows if it works. But, at least you're doing something and something is better than nothing. Beyond the individual Jenny believes gaming developers can have a better complaint system in place. "From my experience I've reported people who have said some pretty graphic things to me and a few days later they're still on Xbox Live."
Let's get on that now.
It was great talking to Jenny and it only made me appreciate NKA even more. As long as there are fucktards on XBL Jenny will be there pointing them out. So what's next for the website? "My ideal situation would be going to universities and speaking as a guest speaker for video game developers [or in] any type of classes on social or women's issues. I really enjoy public speaking and want to spread the word on this topic."
Please do Jenny, and let me know when you're speaking in Minnesota.