I’ve spent the weekend reflecting on what it’s like for me to be a woman this International Women’s Day 2021 and I’ve come up with a list that sums up some of my reflections of this last year:
- My wish for improvement in the industry I work with
- A personal incident that I’ve spent some time dealing with this year
- What cause I want to get engaged with this year
1. My wish for improvement in the games industry
There have been so many issues brought up about sexual harassment and misogyny in the games industry it saddens me. I feel sometimes that we take 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. But I think that it’s more to do with institutional misogyny finally being exposed and that women everywhere are standing up and saying that they’re not going to take it anymore. This must be a great thing, right?
I’m very thankful to be working with a young game studio that has an incredibly thankful attitude when it comes to women in the games industry. They often disagree with me, but I have never felt that it is because I am a woman. I also have 4 female colleagues that are pretty exceptional at what they do and it’s an honour to be working with them.
There is one field, however, that I would like to see a little more improvement. A large part of my current job is to find business partners for the growth of the company which means reaching out to “money” in the games industry. Now, please let me be very clear in stating that I’ve met some of the most interesting and inspiring people in this category. People that have taught me so much and that have been great role models for the type of business developer that I want to become. But it is way too rare that I talk to women. I really want to see more women representing money and investment in the games industry. I mean everything from investors to publishers to platform holders. From my view, and lets keep in mind that I’ve only been at this a short while, there are not enough women in the position of business strategies and it feels like most of the gatekeepers in the games industry are men. They’re lovely and smart men – but I’d really love to see them disrupted a little by some wild, adventurous and smart women.
They most definitely exist! I feel like I meet smart business savvy women in this industry all the time, but I’d love to see more of them representing money in the industry. A little actual disruption instead of just talking about disruption would fill me with glee. And just answering this call by referencing the exceptional WINGS isn’t good enough.
This is my wish in the upcoming years.
2. A personal incident that I’ve spent some time dealing with this year
I don’t like talking about my own personal experiences of misogyny because I have a lot of layers of hurt, disappointment and anger to deal with on the subject. And I need to deal with it all at some point. But a lot of it is very personal and private. I started talking a little bit more openly about it this summer because I realised that on one hand I saw and industry that I adore patting themselves on the back a little too much for being misogyny free and on the other hand I had game developers telling stories of harrassment where my advice to them was to go to the police. Something wasn’t right and I felt that I needed to be an adult in the room and say that there’s room for improvement.
It’s kind of in that spirit that I want to share this with you. There’s one thing that I’ve found to be a recurring problem for me and that I’ve been very ashamed to be a victim of. It has been implied way too many times while I’ve been on this path that I should find a partner that earns money to survive. I’ve been through a lot of patches without pay and that’s been extremely difficult, but I’ve been willing to go through it for the team to achieve the best result. During one of these patches, a few years ago, a man sat me down for a serious talk and told me in all sincerety:
“Linn, let’s come up with a plan to fix this financial situation you’re in. Let’s get you on a diet so that you can be more attractive to a man with money that can help you through these first few years in the industry”.
It’s upsetting for me to write this because I didn’t get angry and throw my drink in his face, which he totally deserved. Instead I just walked away and ignored him while the words dug their claws in my soul. It didn’t shock me, I was used to hearing it. If not so directly, at least very much implied. It gave me a feeling of not having any value. That my work was just a hobby, a past time. And that I wasn’t a good enough woman to sell myself to a man that earned money. There were so many insults in there.
And it’s given me a lot of insecurities that I’m still dealing with today. But I am getting better at understanding my own value. And I hate the thought that this might be normal and other women are going through the same issues. I read somewhere earlier this year that someone went through something similar, where a leader wouldn’t give a raise to a woman and suggested she get a rich boyfriend instead. It set me in a rage and it made me realise what a deep impact this had on me.
I’m in constant fear that I’ve worked so hard for years and not given any value. That it hasn’t been worth it and that I bring nothing to the table. But I’m working on it. I’ve slowly started to convince myself that I am valuable and that I do deserve to be paid for the work that I do. It is work. I may not always do perfect work – but I do bring value. This has been very difficult for me to come to terms with but it has helped putting price tags on the work that I do. I’m getting better at valuing the work that I do and I honestly don’t think that I could have done that by having a knight in shining armor come and rescue me. Perseverence has been my strategy and I’ve tried my best to keep the voices that insist on bringing me down outside my window.
Income has been way too powerful in surpressing women and this is just a personal story where I’m trying to give a little insight into how these attitudes have an impact. I hope that my story can help other women who are struggling with the same issues. If you have the same problems – don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. It’s so much easier to see the injustice when it isn’t happening to you and you’ll find a willing soldier in me to help you!
But please, dear reader, do not take pity on or feel sorry for me. I’ve come this far and I have absolutely no intention of stopping now. And to be honest – I’m fine with being my own knight in shining armour. I enjoy a free life where I don’t need to ask for permission to do the things that I’m passionate about.
3. What cause I want to get involved with this year
I feel I need to get involved with more of the injustices I hear and see in the world. So this year I wanted to make a pledge to do what I can in research, engagement and perhaps money raising for a cause that I think is important.
I feel like this past year I’ve been hearing about more girl school kidnappings from several places in the world. Latest being Nigeria: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/02/world/africa/nigeria-kidnapped-students.html . It’s something I want to learn more about. Why is it happening and what can I do to protect these girls and help them be safe in getting an education? I can’t just listen to the news and be heartbroken about it anymore. I want to get involved!