Reporter sexually harasses female game developer, apologizes

sexual-harassment

I’ve seen a lot of sexual harassment in my geek community during my time as an active member, but the example that was made public today blew me away. Reporter Josh Mattingly, founder and CEO of the indie gaming website IndieStatik, apologized today for comments that he made to an anonymous woman in the gaming industry via a Facebook private message conversation on January 18th, 2014.

Laralyn McWilliams posted an image of the conversation online today, which blurred out the name of the victim, whom she says Mattingly has no personal relationship with. In what is truly a display of morally reprehensible behavior, Mattingly starts the conversation normally enough, asking for information about a game in development by a studio the woman is familiar with. However, Mattingly quickly degenerates the conversation, repeatedly offering to “kiss [the woman] on the vagina.” After the initial conversation, which lasts less than an hour, ends before midnight after repeated sexual propositions, Mattingly again messages the woman just before 6am with an extremely vulgar paragraph.

Not okay

Thank you to Kotaku for the edited version of the conversation. For the uncensored version, click here.

What’s most painful to read in this conversation is the struggle evident in the woman’s replies. Never does she respond to Mattingly’s overt sexual messages in a reciprocal way; at first, she completely ignores his inappropriate comments and does not address them. After she has established that she can not help him with the professional matter that he is handling extremely unprofessionally and he continues, she asks Mattingly if he’s tipsy. This is an attempt to change the topic of conversation and make Mattingly aware of how he is behaving. When that fails after a few more attempts, the woman rightfully stops replying. What stings is how she can’t simply tell Mattingly to stop, she has to dance around his comments and try to make him recognize the realities of his own behaviour; women are socialized to behave this way when affronted by this kind of verbal assault. There’s the fear that if she tells him to stop, that if she tells him he’s being extremely rude, that he’ll become angry with her and will shun her in response. This means that her company will no longer receive the press attention that Mattingly provides, and it will be since as her fault, not his. I did not say that this thought process is logical, and indeed, it is not. However, it is how women are socialized to behave. It is extremely difficult to tell a creep he’s being a creep.

However, Mattingly has apologized and, to his credit, it is one of the better apologies I’ve seen for such behaviour in our community. Mattingly doesn’t fault back to the “I’m sorry you were offended” non-apology so common in such situations. Mattingly states, “What I did was completely wrong and something that I, myself, take responsibility for .” However, he is quite quick to say that his behaviour is the result of alcohol abuse and indicates that he will start treatment for alcoholism and depression. Read the full apology below;

There has been a recent situation that I regretfully put myself into involving a woman who I consider a friend in the industry. I want to take a moment to sincerely apologize for the way I acted and the words that were exchanged. I am mortified by my behavior as it was not only completely inappropriate, but it was fueled by alcohol and depression. My younger brother committed suicide last year and ever since then I haven’t been myself. A tragedy like that is something I hope no one has to endure. Even though I’m aware that alcoholism runs in my family, I have been using it to cope with the pain that I feel every day. It’s compounded my depression and clearly clouded my common sense and dignity.

Contrary to what I drunkenly typed, I have nothing but respect for this person. She has always been a positive ray of sunshine and I got very carried away in a conversation that I never should have started. Just because someone is nice to me doesn’t mean I can act inappropriately or say whatever I want to them. Especially since I have been such an advocate of women in games and treating everyone with the same level of respect and decency. I was a complete hypocrite and I am more mad at myself than anyone else will ever be with me. Since the other night, I have taken the steps to get into therapy to deal with the loss of my brother as well as regular AA meetings to deal with my self destruction.

I want to be perfectly clear, I’m not using my brother as a scapegoat to give me cart blanche or excuse my behavior. I know that women in the industry have to deal with these sorts of things every day and I hate myself for adding to it. What I did was completely wrong and something that I, myself, take responsibility for. I only bring up my own depression and loss to try to find the root of my poor choices.

Once again, I am terribly sorry. All I’ve ever wanted to be is a positive influence and I let my metal health and alcohol abuse get the best of me.

-Josh

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Genevieve LeBlanc
Genevieve LeBlanc 126 posts

Genevieve LeBlanc is a contributing writer for NerdReactor.com and lives in snowy Canada.