This weeks post is not about games, but rather about why we continue to write about and criticize the way women are portrayed and treated in games and media in general. I’m staying in Dundee, Scotland right now. It’s a nice little town, not too crowded (unlike Glasgow and Edinburgh). Before I came here, I, of course, did a ton of research on the town, and I found mostly good things, but I also found the occasional reference to it being a “rough” town (or at least a town with “rough” areas). I haven’t seen any areas I would classify as rough, mostly it’s been lovely and relatively quiet. But, as a female traveling alone, I can’t be too careful.
I quickly fell into a routine when I arrived and figured out how to use public transportation confidently. Getting to and from the city centre via bus became normal and I didn’t think about it much. But, last Sunday, that changed a bit. I got to the bus station about 10am, enough time to get me to the city centre to hit up a couple of shops before meeting some friends. I didn’t realize that the buses run quite a bit less frequently on Sundays than I was used to, so I had to wait about 25 minutes for the next bus to come. This was not really a problem…except for the drunk guy.
When I first got to the bus stop and noticed the guy, I didn’t think much of it. In fact, he didn’t even seem to be trying to catch a bus. He seemed like he was just passing through. But, then I guess I caught his attention. He started talking to me, and at first I was polite, even though he was somewhat annoying. But, then he started to freak me out. He got closer and closer, and I had to keep backing up. Eventually, I had backed up enough that I wasn’t really even at the bus stop anymore, but at least I was in the sight line of the man working in the convenience store. The guy at the bus stop continued to drink from a flask (although he was trying to hide this from me). He showed me scars on his face and told me he got them during an attempted robbery for which he went to prison. In my head, I was reminding myself that it’s not 911 here, it’s 999 (I think, unless that’s just for the fire department), and I was really wishing the bus would hurry up. At one point, he touched my arm. That really freaked me out, but I still didn’t want to be rude. He just kept going on and on ranting about this and that. My responses were curt though and mainly consisted of “uh huh.” Eventually, he acknowledged he was bothering me, and he simply went away, off down the street. My first impression was correct: he never intended to get on the bus.
Now, every time I go to the bus stop, I think about this guy and wonder if he’ll be back. And, if he comes back, will he then get angry? This may seem like a mild story; he didn’t actually assault me. But, I still felt harassed, and I was/am a bit angry because I was just minding my own business, and he felt it was ok to intrude on my personal space. And, that’s the whole thing when we talk about stuff like the rapes alluded to in Tomb Raider. Whether she was actually raped or not, the game becomes a reflection of what is “ok” or normalized in society. It’s not ok to rape, or attempt to rape, or even touch someone who doesn’t want to be touched.
This incident doesn’t change my perception of Dundee and it hasn’t much affected the trip. But, it did remind me that I have to always be on guard. I have to be on guard everywhere. I love to walk, but even in Lafayette, I have to be on guard when I walk to make sure. Even during the day. I don’t think men understand how much we have to think about this. One evening in the dorms, I was talking to one of the male students, and he mentioned how he is really not afraid of anything. I was jealous.