Last time I uploaded my resume to Monster.com and ran their “Career Advice” application it told me to start drinking and pray for The Rapture to come early.
It’s true that as a freelance journalist you work hard and wear a lot of hats just to pay the bills. A lot of my job consists of looking for jobs. Thanks to the internet, this process has become easier and easier. Employers used to check credentials, now I just create a resume of barely verifiable jobs from long dead websites and send it en masse to anyone with an email address.
One job I got this way was writing a column for a small Australian gaming website-let’s call it Boxingkangaroos.net. I’ve changed the address mostly because I don’t want this story to get back to them, but also because I like the mental image of a boxing kangaroo. I think I saw it in a documentary, or maybe Looney Toons.
I guess if I had bothered to read the job description I probably wouldn’t have bothered applying. They were looking for “A gurrl-gamer to round out their editorial staff.” But since I rarely read past the job title I didn’t know that until the editor-in-chief hired me a week later.
Ted here. It’s great to have a real female on the editorial team. I’ve read some of your writing and think that your unique perspective as a girl who also games is a real ASSet to the team.
P.S. We’re really interested in getting some headshots of you for your column, any chance you have some lying around?
I sure as hell didn’t have any pictures of myself as a young woman. I didn’t like the deceit, but money is money, and if they liked my writing, it shouldn’t matter that my name is somewhat misleading, right? Well, I decided that I’d better find a way to become an 18 year old female gamer.
The question then was “where do you go when you want to become a hot teenage girl?” The answer, of course, was The Internet. For a small fee, a guy in Turkey would cut the head off any celebrity and fuse it to the naked body of a porn star. While I admired his site filled with a collection of famous lesbians “batting for the other team” he suggested a sort of composite photo. A set of eyes from Reese Witherspoon, Penelope Cruz’ nose and a healthy dash of Jennifer Lopez (not that part). The whole affair was a bit macabre – I could imagine that the guy could have a healthy career in another life as either a plastic surgeon or Dr. Frankenstein.
The doctored photo was convincing enough to be worth the 13 dollars. And after Boxingkangaroo received my photo, they were thoroughly ready to give me some work. My first article was about what women really think about female character design in games? Ms. Cox pretty much felt the same way Mr. Cox did: “Who doesn’t like boobs?”
The picture, and the article, went over well with my editor. He claimed it was one of the most “surprisingly lucid” things he’s ever read by a woman writer. I wasn’t sure if I felt insulted or not. What exactly was a surprise? Is lucid even a compliment?
But my second article didn’t fare so well. Perhaps I’d gotten a little too into character when I followed up with an article called Girls Kick Ass…assins Creed 2. The article was about the roles of women in the game and how the women in Ezio’s life merely amounted to a place to collect money from and drop off trash that was cluttering up your doublet.
After my second article my editor got back to me to tell me that my view numbers were down and that we needed to “sex it up” for our readers. Attached to the email was a link to several YouTube videos and websites with women in various states of undress all playing games. There were images of a woman apparently masturbating with a fake plastic guitar, a woman dancing on a Wii-balance board and even one woman licking a PSP. I cringed at the last image; the finger grease alone on my PSP is enough to deep-fry a whole chicken.
Suffice to say, I wasn’t about to lick my PSP and I suspected that Boxingkangaroo’s readers didn’t want to see the real Marion Cox licking anything. Did I need to stand up for gaming women and put a stop to the exploitation – before they discovered I was exploiting them?
Being an angry young woman isn’t easy, especially when you’re basically the opposite of all those things. My only answer was to consult my surrogate mother: Wikipedia. I would have written a compelling argument about how the exploitation of women actually makes games less attractive to them. That is, I would have if I hadn’t misspelled feminism as Geminism and spent the rest of the night listening to Swedish Europop.
I felt defeated by my fat fingers and my lack of focus. I decided to do what Americans do best: I threatened to sue them for sexual harassment. Surely the fictional Ms. Cox had a case right? People have sued for a lot less than an editor suggesting they get naked.
A week went by with no word from my editor or any contact from the website. Even my editor’s instant messenger clients showed him offline. In fact, I got no word from anyone at the company until I received a form letter in the mail from the site’s legal department.
Dear Ms. Cox,
My name is Barnette Williaby, and I represent the site Boxingkangaroo. I am mailing you to let you know that we’ve terminated J. Bailey Jr. (Also known as JayRanasaurus) and sent you a lucrative settlement package. We take sexual harassment cases very seriously, and as such we hope that we can ease some of your emotional stress and pain. We’re also sorry to inform you but under our legal contract we can no longer employ you here.
With the letter came a big box and inside were all sorts of games and game-related swag. Most of it looked like it had come from last year’s Blizzcon and E3 2009. There were inflatable PS3 controllers and several women’s t-shirts for games like Muramasa, Red Steel, and Starcraft II. There was a pair of Battlefield 1943 sunglasses and a “pre-opened” Fatal1ty mouse box with nothing inside. To top it off – and which was the most degrading – there was also a bright pink Wii with a Wii-fit balance board, which was probably never opened because it was too effeminate. Whatever – I just wish the package had contained some decent games.
At least one good thing came as a result of all this drama: Dad has been playing Animal Crossing nonstop for the last week. He’s got quite a nice garden going on, but I fear he’s gotten a little too immersed – he keeps sending death threats to the beavers that live across the street.
Marion Cox suggests not mentioning that you have a pink Wii to a potential employer, unless you’re certain that they know what that is.