Go Back to the Kitchen
- Advertising & Beyond
‘Go back to the kitchen and make me a sandwich’.
It’s one of the insults heard the most by women playing online video games, including me. Upon speaking through voice chat, your gender is revealed and you can be treated very differently from male gamers. Sexual harassment and insults relating to stereotypes and gender roles discourage women to play video games and creates an environment that is harmful and unwelcome.
In my short documentary “Go Back to the Kitchen” I’ve combined my research and practice into one film to show what female gamers experience online and how the gaming world works.
During my research, I noticed two very different reactions to my project. Either they were gamers and knew exactly what I was talking about. Or they didn’t play games and didn’t have a clue.
(Online) gaming is a world of its own, the community has its unique language, and games have specific mechanics. Therefore, I created a short documentary to provide insight into the experiences of female gamers and explain how these mechanics work. The film also functions as a stage for the women to tell their stories and provide them with the voice they are deprived of in-game.
“When they bring the gender stuff in, that really gets to you.”– Izabella (Socky), Esports team ‘Leo’s Angels’
Tools of empowerment
One of the most common games in which this sexism happens is shooter games. Shooters are known for their violent environment and weapons like guns and knives. Inspired by my story and of the women I’ve interviewed, I’ve designed a series of tools to reclaim the insult ‘get back to the kitchen’ and equip women against their harassers inside the gaming world itself. All the weapons are made of things that are involved in the process of sandwich making and can be found in the kitchen.
By turning the insult into a weapon it has become a tool of power, instead of an insult meant to degrade female gamers. Empowering women, in the literal sense.
Graffiti & stickers
Some online games offer the possibility of putting stickers on your guns and to spray graffiti on maps. I designed a series of illustrations inspired by the weapons to expand the toolset and infiltrate the gaming world.
Research – structural sexism
Studies have shown that a lot of female gamers experience harassment while playing online. They are seen as outsiders pushing their way into a space not designed for them.
During my research I discovered that this sexism is deeply rooted within the DNA of video games itself. Besides harassment in voice chat, the exclusion of women is further endorsed through stereotypical characters and gender marketing, resulting in design and environments that caters mostly to the male gaze.