Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Men Who Harass You Online Are More Likely To Be Losers

The Men Who Harass You Online Are More Likely To Be Losers

The Debrief: Gaming study shows that men who feel they’re on the back foot try to make up for it by being mean to women…

If you’re a woman online who likes to voice her opinions – small, large, controversial, uncontroversial, simple musings about people who don’t use deodorant on the tube – chances are you’ve come up against a bloke being mean to you. Snarking at your Facebook photos, posting laughing emojis under really serious Instagram-inspo photos or just simply calling you a prick on Twitter for no discernible reason than a disagreement about Kanye West – there’s oodles of ways the dicks of the internet world will seek to try and put you in your place.

And now, a study has indicated exactly why some guys will be shit to women online. It’s because they’re losers – literally.

The study, done by Michael Kasumovic and Jeffrey Kuznekoff, researchers at the University of New South Wales and Miami University, looked at men during 163 plays of Halo and analysed how they behaved towards other players – both male and female.

It turned out, regardless of a man’s playing ability, he’d always be cordial to other men. And guys who were great at the game gave compliments to other female players as well as other male ones.

But when men weren’t playing above average? They’d frequently make nasty comments to female gamers.

READ MORE: ‘Living With A Video Game Addict Made Me Realise It Can Be As Destructive As Alchol Or Drug Addcition

Why is this? Kasumovic says that ‘low-status males increase female-directed hostility to minimise the loss of status as a consequence of hierarchical reconfiguration resulting from the entrance of a woman into the competitive arena’. Which is as wordy an explanation as you’d expect from a paper called Insights Into Sexism: Male Status and Performance Moderates Female-Directed Hostile and Amicable Behaviour.

In simple terms? More women than ever are playing video games online and some men can’t seem to handle that this might mean the pool of gamers is bigger, thus (they think) pushing them further down the food chain of gamers. The one thing to know about Gamer Gate – a massive online argument that's been going on for years now and has led women to recieving death threats – is that it’s basically a tech-savvy expansion of what happens when a woman joins an all-male pool game, pots every ball and makes them feel like they’ve lost their own, causing them to retaliate to regain their footing as supposed alpha males.

When it comes to beta men trying to re-balance their insecurities by putting women down, we’d love to see this study extend to cases of e.g. catcalling and domestic violence, too. Because somehow, we think if a man’s totally happy in himself, he won’t then take it out on a woman.

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Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Tags: Tech, Science Says, Sexism