Good morning. If you’re joining us here on the game-centric corner of Internet for the first time in a while, you may be wondering why the hell the name “Nick Robinson” is all over your dashboards and timelines.
Robinson is Polygon’s video editor. He’s currently under suspension pending an investigation for allegedly sending creepy DM’s to women who work in the games industry. NeoGAF is doing a good job of keeping up with the incident, so you can indulge in some Sunday reading over there.
I’m not going to comment on the incident itself. Robinson is under investigation by Vox and I never interacted with him in any direct capacity, so anything I add to the discussion would just be noise.
I can say this much after reading screenshots of a couple of the DM’s he’s accused of sending, though: Man, this shit brings back some memories.
The DM’s aren’t exactly direct threats or dangerous-sounding – and, to counter-act the people who believe Robinson is getting swept up in a “witch-hunt,” the people who posted the DM screenshots aren’t accusing him of being a criminal. Their accusations don’t go far beyond “Yeah, he sent me this creepy discourse.” It seems the accusations against Robinson go deeper than those DM’s, which is why there’s an investigation. Until everything comes out in the wash, there’s zero point in complaining about the nature of the evidence against Robinson.
But the reason I’m typing all this up despite having a sliced finger (cosplay mishap) is because I just want to say this much: Dudes. It is 100% possible to have friendly and funny discourse with an internet-woman without making direct or indirect references to your dick.
If you’re talking to a woman who you’re friendly with, but you aren’t officially in a relationship with her, stop. Think. Ask yourself, “Do I need to imply, however coyly, that simply reading the words she types for me makes my Little Captain lift himself halfway out of his chair?” Then act wisely.
The shit that’s going on with Robinson now? Tale as old as time. Let me take you back to 1995, when I discovered the internet. I learned all the secret codes and keys that let me access the endless database of humankind’s cumulative knowledge, and my first order of business was to find other people who wanted to talk about Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, and Mega Man X3.
I found people. Men. Dudes. If you think the internet is a man-zone now, let me tell you about the late ’90s. Still, most of those guys were great. I still talk to some of the guys who ran those well-intentioned, clumsily-coded sites built on the 2 megs of space GeoCities offered.
But I also found guys who seemingly felt obligated to flirt with me because I guess that’s how they thought things are supposed to be done. Shit got kind of weird, too. Yeah, there was suggestive discourse even when it was utterly uncalled for, and one guy just straight-up said he wanted to fuck me up the ass in an email discussing Breath of Fire II’s translation issues (who says romance is dead), but things got even stranger.
See, being a person of some note in the Mega Man community thanks to my fanfiction (cough, cough), I had people sending me weird creative works involving my characters – or me in general. No teenager should have to learn about inflation and vore through fanart the dragon-Reploid she created for the sole purpose of inserting herself into the plot of Mega Man X, but the world is bloated with sin.
Now, these fanworks, including a short fanfic about my character banging Magma Dragoon from Mega Man X4 (ugh, of all the Reploids I’d want to do the Dance of Creation with, he’s bottom-tier shit), were unsolicited. The artists and writers just said “Surprise!” and sent them to me. I usually responded, “Uh, thanks!” and tried to forget what I’d seen / read.
I don’t doubt these guys were trying to be kind. That doesn’t change the fact the stuff they went was still kind of slimy. I imagine Nick Robinson similarly thought his cringe-inducing “compliments” were a clever way to show off his wit to women. I don’t know if he expected his sly “SEND NUDES” riddles and illusions to bear fruit. I don’t know how he would have reacted if they did.
The point I want to make here, is: Don’t do it. Don’t think you’re being clever by sending advances, however coy, to people on the internet. Now, women are overwhelmingly subjected to this shit over men, but the opposite is still true: Ladies, don’t subtly proposition a man via internet DM’s if you’re not in a relationship. Men can be made uncomfortable, too.
Finally, because it’ll inevitably be brought up: “If you look at the DM’s, you can see the woman talking to Nick Robinson was into the flirting!”
Dudes, I’ll let you in on the worst-kept secret of womanhood: That nervous smile, laugh, or “omg hahahah” a woman gives you when you sling a lewd comment is a defense mechanism. I was polite to the budding Picassos who drew me fanart of Red Draco swollen in the throes of (mammalian?!?!) pregnancy because being polite is my first instinct in life. It’s how I was raised, and it’s also my nature. When I’m in a situation that calls for me to be assertive, my brain seizes up. So when I’m hit on, or complimented by strangers – yes, it happens, even though I’m more corgi than human woman – I just kind of grin and move the fuck on and pray to God I don’t get followed. If I was in the same situation as the women who got the DM’s from Robinson, you know what? I’d probably react the exact same way. Grin stiffly, move on, try to avoid making a scene.
Is there a percentage of women who enjoy getting a little freaky with their co-workers and mentors via DM’s or elsewhere? Sure. But please take the word of a woman who’s been writing about games on the Internet for a long time: That percentage is far smaller than you think it is.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your women colleagues. I’m not trying to warn you away from forming friendships. Just talk about any of the billions of things in the world that isn’t your libido. Talk about dogs. Talk about cats. Talk about games, the weather, sports, Game of Thrones, cartoons, or cooking. Take the “No-Talking-About-My-Dick” challenge. You can do it!
(Special thanks to Cat News for obvious reasons)