Battle lines

A new online game against sexual harassment is fast gaining currency among women.

Written by Georgina Maddox | Mumbai | Published:August 20, 2010 10:20 am

A new online game against sexual harassment is fast gaining currency among women.

Blood and gore are nothing new to the world of online gaming. But,in this case,it’s a woman wielding the gun and knocking down men who harass her on the street. heybabygame.com has gripped a segment of urban women in Asia,including India,who love gaming and are addicted to sites like farmville.com,and mafiaworld.com.

Suyin Looui,a Chinese lady,decided to hit back at the constant ethnic taunts and verbal sexual harassment she faced in the US. She got together with Emily May,executive director of Holla Back,an online community aimed at ending street harassment to co-create the game. “A few years ago I was on the New York subway when somebody called out a racial taunt to me. The idea of Hey Baby was born then. The game is not suggesting that shooting random “bad apples” who harass women is going to put an end to sexism; in a way the design of the game speaks of my concern that there is no end to it,” she says. In India too,the game is becoming popular with urban women. “As it stands the game is pretty engaging. It’s fantasy revenge. Though some of the violence is a bit appalling,one can see why virtual violence can be gratifying,” says Mumbai-based Maya Ganesh,a feminist writer and gamer. “You feel a sense of satisfaction when you hit back at the men blocking your way,but in the long run,there doesn’t seem to be an end to it,” says Nalini Arora,a Delhi-based web designer.

It’s this reliance on violence to combat sexual harassment,even if it’s in the virtual world,that has drawn criticism for the game. “The game is hardly cathartic,” says Delhi-based Lesley Esteves,a writer and queer activist.

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