Today in “duh” news, a recent study posits that men who harass women online have inferiority complexes and are quite literally losers. Researchers from New South Wales University and Miami University studied 163 games of Halo played by male and female games alike and studied the results. In a shocking twist, the comments between players varied based on their gender and skill levels. Men who were competent players treated everybody well, and men of all skill levels were more or less nice to other men. But men who couldn’t cut it and were bad at Halo were far more likely to send angry and lewd comments to female players than those who were good at the game.
Comparisons to other online forums can easily be made here (one researcher says “video games actually make incredible proxies for studying real-life behavior, especially Halo 3”) which means the results are not surprising in the least. As many women who receive harassment on the internet can tell you, it is usually pretty obvious when a harasser (but especially those of the male variety) has larger problems than just the specific post of comment they are getting angry about at that moment. There are usually deeper issues than just being upset by someone’s opinions on sports.
The report draws parallels between FPS games and online forums in ways such as the pervasiveness of anonymity, the relative brevity of each interaction, and the tilted ratio of men vs. women playing the game/interacting online. The study asserts that each interaction is a response to women invading a male hierarchy when they were previously scarce. This study probably won’t change anything as far as terrible online behavior, but at least there is scientific evidence that supports why men act this way to women online. Next steps, finding a study that makes major inroads to fixing the problem itself.
(via The Washington Post)