The video game store where I work happens to have an unusual gender ratio. Where most of the stores in the chain are typically staffed mostly by men, our store is instead staffed almost entirely by women and/or female-presenting people. As of now, we have one male part-time employee, and our male ASM was recently replaced by a woman.
While we don’t get comments about this all the time, when we do they are usually positive or neutral. Often, we’ll even get mothers and older women who say they’re happy to see more women working at a store like ours.
However, the world is not perfect and they are still enough sexists to hassle us.
Usually, the remarks are subtle. “You don’t really play video games, do you?” Is something we get. Other times, we’ll be exhaustively quizzed on our knowledge, as though they can catch us on our “lies”. ((Not that this makes any sense, anyway. Even those who work there who don’t play video games still know a lot for the sake of the job.))
We also tend to get a lot of prank calls, which turn very nasty and sexual as soon as the caller hears a female voice. Male coworkers get the typical “Battletoads” calls and meme shouting, while women get threats of rape and are asked if we’ll have sex with the pre-teens on the other end of the line.
A few instances stand out though.
One time, a couple walks in looking for some PS Vita games for their son. They come up and ask me if we carry a very obscure accessory for the Vita. I checked and said I couldn’t find it in the system, and admitted I wasn’t too familiar with the Vita at that time. I then referred them to a senior associate. It turned out that she wasn’t sure either, but told them it was likely something they would have to purchase online. The father became upset, and kept asking questions even though we admitted we didn’t know about the accessory. He eventually shouts this statement on the way out:
“‘I don’t know’, that’s all I hear! You know, if there was a man here, I could get a real answer!”
Even when the remarks aren’t as insulting and blatant, the intent is obvious. We have one regular in particular, an older man who buys his son every new game and collector’s edition, who obviously has a crush on our SM. Every time he comes in, he demands to get a hug from her, then spends his time hitting on her even though she is already in a relationship, less than half his age, and clearly uninterested.
Recently, our SM got her hair cut from being down her back to being very short. She was unsure about the look, even though it ended up looking good. Said regular got upset at the fact that she did this, and kept asking why she cut all her hair off, and told her to her face that her haircut was ugly and she wasn’t attractive anymore. I had to go to the back to reassure her that he was just being an asshole and that the haircut suited her.
We all get hit on, and regularly. It’s not just being nice or casual flirting, but asking us for our numbers while we’re at work, trying to touch or grab us, or making inappropriate comments.
Our SM once again received these remarks during a midnight launch. She went outside to hand out posters and talk to people and as she was heading back inside, one of the boys in line called her a bitch and asked if she would sit on his face.
So, this is the kind of stuff we deal with. Sure, it’s not often, and most of our customers are cool, but anyone says that the video game industry/fandom is totally fair to women needs to take a walk in our shoes.