Romanticism develops in proportion to the liberation of women from their biology. As civilization advances and the biological bases of sex class crumble, male supremacy must shore itself up with artificial institutions, or exaggerations of previous institutions, e.g., where previously the family had a loose, permeable form, it now tightens and rigidifies into the patriarchal nuclear family. Or, where formerly women had been held openly in contempt, now they are elevated to states of mock worship. Romanticism is a cultural tool of male power to keep women from knowing their condition. It is especially needed — and therefore strongest — in Western couturiers with the highest rate of industrialization. Today, with technology enabling women to break out of their roles for good — it was a near miss in the early 20th century — romanticism is at an all time high.
from The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution by Shulamith Firestone.
When technology sufficiently advances that women have a chance to break out of our biological (and constructed as biological) oppression, new tools must be brought to bear to enforce gender roles. I was thinking of this criticism of romanticism while trying to figure out why there is so much sexism in gaming.
The exaggerated sexism in gamer culture makes a lot more sense when one thinks of it as backlash against a threat to gender roles. Since the old chestnut of physical strength can’t be used to demonstrate women’s inferiority, in gaming, methods have to be invented to keep women out. The rampant and well known sexism keeps a great many women out of gaming to start with (that is, the ones who have enough free time for hobbies after their second shift duties), so there is a much smaller pool of women than men. Then, the women who happen to be good and competitive are constantly beaten down with sexist bullshit. Only the most thick skinned survive, and for their resilience and strength are called bitches.