When I saw this headline pop up in my Twitter timeline this weekend, I thought it was just a lazy piece of clickbait: Tabletop Gaming has a White Male Terrorism Problem. But oh was I wrong.
Since July of 2015 fans of the game Malifaux have been attempting to overwhelm me with death and rape threats for no other reason than I am a woman who has opinions on the game. Wyrd Miniatures is silent on this matter and hangs up whenever anyone attempts to discuss the harassment. Given that a large number of threats identify the senders by name as Wyrd staff members, I do not find this surprising.
After what feels like a lifetime, I stagger away, ripping his hand out of my jeans. The convention whirls around me like a nightmare kaleidoscope as I beg for help. Eventually, someone takes me aside.
“This is a safe convention. We have a reputation to protect. If you go to the police, we’ll say you were never here.”
I nod numbly. I think I am crying, but no tears fall. I stumble into a bathroom in the lobby coffee shop and sob until I can’t breathe. When I am calm, I call the police and report the attack.
“You sound drunk. Were you drinking? I’m not filing a report for some drunken slut.” The officer hangs up.
I have no more tears.
I’ve quoted quite a bit, but there are tons more examples in this piece, and I urge you to go read the rest. You’re not going to have fun reading it, but it’s important.
Speaking as a white male who has never really dealt with any serious discrimination or harassment in my life, I find stories like these hard to comprehend. And while I’d like to think that stuff like this doesn’t happen, I know that’s just not the case and it’s important to hear this stuff, as painful as it may be to hear.
When confronted with stories like these, I’ve learned that there is not a lot I can offer. I don’t have similar experiences to pull on, and I certainly don’t have any advice to provide. Ultimately, my job is to listen. The best I can do is try and understand the realities of the situation and do what I can to encourage good behavior by those around me. If I can be doing more, tell me.