By John Walker on March 27th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.
We made a mistake. It’s important as a website that readers can trust that we are up front when this happens, and willing to admit to our failings, and promise to address them. And as recently as last week, Rock, Paper, Shotgun let a woman write an article. We would like to apologise to our readers for any offence caused.
Perhaps what makes what’s becoming known as #PeaSoupGate so serious an error on our part was the apparent subterfuge used in the run up to this article. The author and – we now confess – woman, Cara Ellison, had been writing articles for us for a few months in advance of this particular piece. And with no appropriate warning, the article finished with an image revealing that Cara was in fact female. Clearly many readers were upset, and we now hope to redress the balance over this unfortunate incident.
The piece, an interview with someone else we have since discovered to also be a woman, Rhianna Pratchett, finished with a picture of Ellison in the foreground, with a pot of pea soup in the background. What is so particularly problematic with this picture is that rather than containing the face of a man, as readers trust to expect, it seems we published what is identifiably a picture of a woman.
Naturally commenters expressed their shock and rage. Most were in fact so upset by the situation that they forgot to even mention that their horror was born of Ellison’s apparent lack of a Y chromosome, and instead in their confusion simply argued against the use of an image of the writer at all. With RPS’s male writers having frequently posted their own faces on the site over the years – and of course to no complaint – it just shows quite how wrong it was of us to allow this situation to occur, so upsetting and confusing as it was that people would become so muddled.
Some have observed that it is deeply peculiar that none of RPS’s male writers have ever been so vitriolically criticised for featuring picture of themselves, if it’s even happened at all. Others have claimed that rarely do readers feel the need to comment on whether they find the male writers of RPS attractive or not when images of them appear. Also that complaining about Cara’s writing about herself seems peculiar on a site that is proudly self-indulgent before it’s informative. Lines like “it’s almost like women in games journalism have something to prove” applied to a style of writing used by all of RPS’s male writers since we launched nearly six years ago, they say, appear incongruous. But this is a very insensitive argument that does not take into account the severity of the trauma our interview has caused.
RPS would also like to apologise for featuring other female writers, both born and identifying as female, on a regular basis. Clearly by being women they are imposing their agenda on an undeserving audience, in a way that is inexcusable.
From this point going forward, we will ensure that if a woman is somehow writing on the site, that during the process they will be required to wear a top hat, false moustache, and steely, manly glare as they type, in order to eradicate the unpleasantness so many have had to experience. No longer will they be allowed to “play the gender card” by openly having their gender be so not-male.