This Mum Wouldn't Let Her Son Play "Grand Theft Auto" Until He Wrote An Essay About Misogyny
Heather McNamara told BuzzFeed News why she wouldn't let her son play the game until he wrote an essay on its misogynistic undertones.
This is 12-year-old Alexander. He currently plays games such as Halo, Portal, and The Sims, but has wanted to play Grand Theft Auto (GTA) for five years.
His mum, Heather McNamara, told BuzzFeed News that he first asked to play GTA when he was 7.
"When I told him five years ago that he had to be able to write an essay about misogyny before he could get the game, he couldn't even pronounce the word," she said. "I was fairly confident that it would be a long way off. He did not forget that conversation."
Last week, she set him a number of questions and posted his answers on Tumblr, asking the online community whether she should now allow him to play the game.
McNamara's post on Tumblr was seen by members of the GamerGate community, who started attacking her online for it.
"The post got a lot of hate because there's a movement called GamerGate that's led by misogynists," she said.
"I got a lot of hate for posting that picture on Tumblr. I laugh at it and make fun of it, but it's pretty tragic that there are so many people who are so angry that there are people who want different kinds of media to what they enjoy."
They accused her of child abuse.
"I'm sure there were some women amongst the haters," she said, "but judging from the number of people that went into my inbox to call me a cunt and tell me I was ruining my son for women and turning him into a cuckold, I'd say there was definitely misogyny."
McNamara called Alexander's answers "adorable" and said he had delivered what she was looking for – an interest in how these sorts of games can make women feel.
"To me, his essay and his initiative ... showed that he cared and that he knew where to begin," she said. "He obviously did not demonstrate a higher level understanding of feminism. A wrestling game with female-opponent options, for example, is something I wouldn't call misogyny.
"Ultimately, I would like him to have a deeper grasp of social gender inequality than just knowing that men hitting women is wrong, but he's 12, so that can wait until later."
As for why GTA in particular was off-limits, McNamara said it was unique in its "excessively misogynist options".
The game sends the message to young boys that jokes about sexualised violence are OK, she said.
"Most of the female characters in GTA V are sex workers that can be sexually used for health upgrades or just gathered and killed," she said. "Transgender sex workers are depicted and mocked. I think the idea behind it is that it's supposed to be entertaining or funny."
So, will Alexander be finding a copy in his stocking this year?
"Haha, sort of," said McNamara. "I talked to his stepmom and his father about it and we decided it's definitely a great start.
"We're letting him play Saints Row now because I'm told it's a little easier on that kind of thing. There are a lot of drugs and crime and other weird things in the game, too, though, so we'll talk with him a bit more and if he seems to understand, it'll be under the Christmas tree. He's very excited. Apparently, all of his schoolfriends are quite envious."