The furor of #Gamergate, a cesspool of Internet gaming trolls who have been harassing women online in the name of “integrity in gaming journalism” has died down somewhat in the media. That doesn’t mean Internet harassment has died down, by any means. As long as people can hide behind muscular avatars, there will be men hunting and harassing women, especially in a pastime with a huge gender disparity like gaming.

One funny thing about this ugliness has been discovered in a study conducted by Michael Kasumovic and Jeffrey Kuznekoff, researchers at the University of New South Wales and Miami University. It’s entitled, “Insights into Sexism: Male Status and Performance Moderates Female-Directed Hostile and Amicable Behavior.” Blah, blah, tell it to me in English, doc!

“We hypothesized that female-initiated disruption of a male hierarchy incites hostile behavior from poor performing males who stand to lose the most status. To test this hypothesis, we used an online first-person shooter video game [Editor: Halo 3!!!] ... We show that lower-skilled players were more hostile towards a female-voiced teammate, especially when performing poorly. In contrast, lower-skilled players behaved submissively towards a male-voiced player in the identical scenario.


“This difference in gender-directed behavior became more extreme with poorer focal-player performance. We suggest that low-status males increase female-directed hostility to minimize the loss of status as a consequence of hierarchical reconfiguration resulting from the entrance of a woman into the competitive arena. Higher-skilled players, in contrast, were more positive towards a female relative to a male teammate. As higher-skilled players have less to fear from hierarchical reorganization, we argue that these males behave more positively in an attempt to support and garner a female player’s attention.”