Content note: Sexism, rape, and abuse.
Creeps and assailants of any kind—rapists, harassers, inappropriate co-workers, slimy strangers in a bar—rely on complicity to function. They know it is unlikely that their actions will elicit repercussion. They commit crimes [...] without fear of ever being punished because they’ve learned that they won’t be. And so we have a culture that treats [victims] like voiceless, undermined objects of servility. [...]
Silence may seem civilized, but passivity is diabolical.
- Carly Lewis, The Year of Complicity
The original piece is specifically about certain high-profile, famous rapists, whose fame entitled them to commit horrible acts while others looked the other way. I feel that it really describes why I haven't felt comfortable in any Free Company in FFXIV, though, and I will explain why so that people who don't play the game can relate it to their own experiences.
Every time that I've left, it started with someone giving offence ... being mean to new players, using gendered or homophobic slurs, or having sexually explicit conversations in the main FC chat when it wasn't a dedicated ERP (erotic roleplay) free company. But the offence itself is never what caused me to leave.
What caused it every time, including the most recent one, was the complicity. The taking offence for granted. The enabling abuse, and allowing abusers to get away with their acts, while punishing those who speak out.
In the last FC I was in, I actually thought I was handling things well. I'd handled situations with people using gendered slurs, like "slut" and "bitch," in a way that maintained enough levity that (I hoped) they did not take it personally. I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that the time that I took it personally was when someone started insisting that Final Fantasy XI, FFXIV's MMO predecessor which helped keep me alive through long years of abuse, was "objectively" a bad game. So when I called this person out, I did it in a way that was more hurt than teasing.
Apparently, that's unacceptable.
One of the moderators broke up the conversation, and it was then that I realized that this person being a jerk in the chat was okay. Making offensive remarks about other people, and the things that are important to them, was just taken for granted. It was only when I replied with bitter sarcasm that there was suddenly a problem, and a mod needed to step in.
I pointed this out in the chat. That it seemed like being hurtful was okay, but retaliating was not. Having and expressing hurt feelings was objectionable, but causing them was not.
I was told to shut up.
I hope I will eventually find enough people in-game who value my friendship that I'll feel safe in their home and their chat.