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Why again is there a Women's-Only Division in e-Sports?

It takes a lot for me to raise my feminist hackles, but by golly they did raise when the International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) would only let women compete in certain events. Even if women competitors could compete in the same games as men, I still would have bristled at the fact that there is no logical reason why men and women should be separated in e-sports. The IeSF said they did so to get proper recognition from international sports organizations, which separates men and women because these are mostly physical sports. I have grave issue with that as well, but that’s a topic for another day.

Long story short, after much outcry on the Internet, the IeSF agreed to create an “Open-for-All” category, where both men and women could compete against one another. Had they stopped there, I would have applauded them quite loudly and possibly let it slide that it took mass rioting to get there in the first place. But then the IeSF added one more category, something that confuses me to no end. In addition to the Open-for-All division, there’s also a women’s only division.

If there’s already an Open-for-All division, why is there a women’s only one as well? The IeSF explained that it is important to provide women with “ample opportunities to compete in e-Sports--currently a male-dominated industry.” Statistics say that about half of all gamers are women, but only a small percentage of e-Sports competitors are women. Therefore, in order to bring more diversity to the competition, IeSF wants to improve the representation of women by hosting women’s only events.

I’ve read their statement numerous times and it simply does not make sense to me.

Are they trying to say that the only way they can get women to compete is if they offer a girls’ only table? The only way more women will come flocking is if they’re guaranteed to only compete against other women? The only way to show that women are interested in e-sports is to separate them?

So instead of saying, hey girls, you’re equal to the boys, all of you compete together, we’re telling some women that it’s okay to not want to play against boys? How does that really fit into gender equality?

Now, how would that go, exactly, if the IeSF had both an Open-for-All division and a men’s-only division? I think you know exactly how that would go; it would go down in flames from all of the cumulated rage across the Internet for such obvious inequality and sexism, all of which I would completely agree with. But how is this particular scenario with a women’s-only category really any different? The idea of giving women their own division when they’re already allowed to play in a co-ed division is ludicrous. If you’re going to give women their own division, then men should have that option too. Although, every single one of those men would be called sexist for opting to play only with men. I can guarantee you that no woman will be called sexist for choosing to play in the women’s-only division. Therefore, any smart man would never register in that category, but I’m sure plenty of sexist a-holes would. Am I calling women who would sign up for the women’s-only category when there is a co-ed division sexist a-holes? Absolutely.

So no, I’m not asking for a men’s-only division, as that clearly would be just as ludicrous as this women’s-only division. In face of true gender equality, verbiage straight from the words of the IeSF, then all genders should be indeed equal. All on the same playing field, all playing against one another. No separation. No segregation. No one is a man or a woman; they’re all gamers, competitors, and foremost, people.

Isn’t that what we, as feminists, genuinely want anyway? Aren’t we supposed to encourage equality and not special treatment?

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3 post(s)
Reader Comments
finaleve Jul 16 2014, 08:48 am EDT
Probably to encourage women to actually compete in the first place since a lot of dudes are complete dickheads. Personally like playing with women because at least when they shit talk, it's usually better than what guys say.
starmagnus Jul 16 2014, 09:00 am EDT
The reason there are women only events is the same reason there was affirmative action. Gaming is a male dominated sport and that makes it hard for women to enter just like when jobs became required to ignore race, different races still had a hard time getting into fields because they stood out so much. So programs were developed to accelerate the process of integration and now that a lot of jobs show normal diversity affirmative action is becoming a thing of the past. And it is expected by most female groups that women only events like this will become outdated too. Yeah it'll happen on it's own eventually but that's not fair to the female players that want to compete now.

Basically a room full of men has proven to not be a welcoming place for female players and so this is the answer to accelerate balancing out the gender split in gaming sports and it has also been proven to work.
touretul Jul 16 2014, 10:37 am EDT
what division? what e-sports? bah...
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