The image above was created with a sample of recent post titles, and the comments I found on those posts.
Gawker has 8 different blogs, each with a different focused topic. Kotaku is Gawker’s gaming blog, and it’s little surprise that they also have a bit of a problem when it comes to women. While in recent months the site has semi-frequently posted about the issues that women in gaming face, and the misogyny that’s usually allowed to run freely, their comment moderation shows a serious case of hypocrisy on the part of the editors.
While men are the majority of Kotaku’s writers (they compromise the entire daily editorial team), there are two female contributors who write occasionally for the site. A majority of the comments on the bios of Leigh Alexander and Lisa Foiles comment on their looks, or belittle them for constantly drawing attention to the fact that they’re female. (Interesting side note – neither woman writes the posts that deal with gender issues in gaming – these pieces are almost exclusively written by the all-male editorial team mentioned above.) A comment on one of the women’s bios included a death threat which was visible for months before it was finally removed, and the user banned.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many options for gathering gaming news that doesn’t also include having to read through sexist drivel. IGN, Joystiq, and Destructoid all have the same problem. However, while a site like Destructoid makes a mockery of a petition against Duke Nukem, Kotaku asks why girl gamers don’t get respect, then retweets someone who reduces one of the female staff members to her breasts. Oh, and the featured comment on one of the women’s latest posts was “Tits! Nice!” Talk about a hostile work environment.
No matter what is written, no matter the topic, the focus always becomes their appearance. On every one of Lisa Foiles’ recent posts, the majority of comments are sexually harassing, threatening, belittling, and just plain cruel.
Kotaku wants to draw attention to women’s issues in gaming and hear our thoughts but provide nothing even slightly resembling a safe space for us to do so. If they are promoting comments that reduce their female staff to their cup size, why the hell would I want to register for an account to contribute to the discussion of “I’m An Anonymous Woman Gamer“?
My guess for the reason behind this completely contradictory attitude is that if they remove comments and ban users who contribute misogynistic comments on a daily basis, their readership will suffer. (Something that I don’t think any Gakwer blog is willing to risk after the redesign.)
Kotaku’s own commenting guidelines claim, “…break the rules, get off topic, start calling names, and you’re going to get banned.” However, with a complete lack of enforcement, the “guidelines” are joke, and utterly worthless.