A Spineless Microsoft Caves to Pressure from “Feminists” Over Funny Xbox One Letter

Related Reading #1: http://microsoft-news.com/a-vocal-minority-of-idiots-journalists-ruin-innovations-on-the-xbox-one/

Related Reading #2: http://microsoft-news.com/instagram-non-controversy-shows-medias-willingness-to-bash-microsoft/

Xbox One MM

While the rest of us are enjoying the holiday spirit, it seems a small group of extreme, self-described “feminists” are out to kill the fun.  A recent non-story has been making headlines lately, stemming from Microsoft’s fun, ad-lib styled letter aimed at convincing loved ones to buy you an Xbox One for the holidays.  Earlier, Microsoft had released a fake doctor’s note to allow you take the day off work and play your Xbox One with your qt3.14 gf.

The controversy looms over how Microsoft originally released their letter.  Among the default options, this was possible:

Xbox One Letter Knit

That’s right, you could place in the idea that your significant other would rather knit than watch you play Xbox.  And maybe it is true, your SO finds watching you mindlessly play a video game extremely boring.  It’s not like we have not seen women make fun of men (misandry) for spending too much time playing video games.

h0E8842CF HusbandPlaysVideoGames

Hours after the new note’s release, two blogs run by Gawker Media, Kotaku and Jezebel, published posts attacking Microsoft of creating rife with sexism against women.  How was Microsoft sexist?  Jezebel blogs that in its default options, Microsoft came off as “sterotype-y” and seemed to assume its target audience is “dudes with wives/girlfriends who just don’t get it.”

It is unfortunate everyone read and noticed Gawker’s story, including the Wall Street Journal.  And here I am being forced to respond to it too.  In a saner world, we would not deal with this level of bullshit.

RELATED READING: Let’s not forget that Jezebel is run by these geniuses http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lizz-winstead/jezebelism_b_110903.html

Looking over all of the fill in the blank sections of Microsoft’s letter, it’s clear that it was not directed towards any specific gender.  George Melika summed up my thoughts quite well:

GMelika

“The funny thing is that [the Xbox letter is] gender neutral, aren’t people who are calling this sexist showing their own stereotypical views.”

The letter had a variety of people you could address it to, Mom, Dad, Grandma etc.  Danielle Burger on twitter claimed that “knitting” in the letter was sexist.  In fact, this only shows the closed mindedness of Danielle and others like her, showing that she thinks only women knit.  It is purely sexist on her part to believe that only women can knit.  ‘Honey’ is also a gender neutral terms and can refer to a man or woman.

Xbox One Letter Tax

Microsoft ended up changing knitting to ‘do your taxes early.’

This is a classic case of slacktivism, as defined by UrbanDictionary:

The search for the ultimate feel-good that derives from having come to society’s rescue without having had to actually get one’s hands dirty or open one’s wallet.

In my home country of India, I see real cases of sexism through the caste system, injustice in rape cases, and through cultural biases against women.  Of course, these are often isolated cases in more rural parts of India and the situation is improving every year.  Nevertheless, these ‘gamer girls’ are women with every right and opportunity in the world complaining about first world problems.  It is completely disingenuous and I wish they would put some effort into helping those who could actually use it.

The vocal minority of the feminist ‘gamer girl’ community has been nothing but problematic for Microsoft.  In an effort to broaden the base of the console, we now have a nightmare on our hands.  This post is already significantly lengthier than I intended, but I will leave train of thought with a quick definition and video of a ‘feminist gamer girl.’ (To clarify, I think most gamer girls are no different than men that play video games, but I am deeply concerned about the toxic sub-culture that has formed from the vocal portion of their community.)

 A girl who plays video games in order to get attention.  They can often be seen playing Call of Duty talking about how much of a “nerd” they are, taking slutty pictures of themselves while holding a controller, and just generally being attention whores.

The ironic part about this whole incident?  A source tells me a woman whose boss is also a woman wrote and approved the letter, respectively.  Some of the Xbox PR is still controlled by Wagner Edstrom.  Luckily the woman who wrote it is not being fired or reprimanded and will be able to enjoy her Thanksgiving holiday.  I would say the majority of the Microsoft WagEd team is mostly women.  In fact, there are four highly powerful women executives at Microsoft, lest we forget the ladies on the board too.  Head of Devices Julie Larson-Green, Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood, Executive Vice President of Marketing Tami Reller, and HR head Lisa Brummel.  Some of these women were even considered for the CEO position, although they did not make the short list.  Microsoft is a company women should be proud of, but of course, this goes against the culture & narrative that Microsoft is a horrible sexist evil big corporation run by misogynist men.  While in fact, Ballmer and Turner have been instrumental in being one of the only major technology companies to put so many women in high positions of power.

There are ways in which Microsoft can play the media game though.  Primarily these low-information women are often drawn to celebrities that have high value in their culture.  If Microsoft would have had “Vagina Fantasy” co-host Veronica Belmont or Felicia Day present the letter this would have indemnified the company from all criticism.  Criticizing the letter would have also been an attack on Belmont or Day which would have been counterproductive.

One of the important lessons I have learned throughout life is you cannot please all people all the time.  I think this is lesson most people learn at one point or another.  Microsoft needs to learn this too.  The whole history of the Xbox One is laced with caving and backtracking on innovations and marketing efforts.  The team needs to grow a spine and stick to what it believes is right.  I know being accused of racism and sexism is tough and I have been accused of both many times; however, you cannot act like a beta male.

A company that has a consumer base as large as Microsoft is always going to offend someone at one point or another.  Every time the company caves, it shows everyone that a small vocal minority of morons can cause Microsoft to change its tactics for no reason.  Over time, this effect will snowball and we will be left with a fearful company who is afraid to innovate.  Like Apple, Microsoft needs to learn to stick to its core audience, and not unnecessarily try to broaden its base.  The effects of base expansion are being seen in the National Football League, in what is now being called the era of ‘The Wussification of the NFL.”

As Niccolo Machiavelli wrote in The Prince, “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.”

One of the qualities I hope the new CEO of Microsoft has is being fearless.  I want to see the aggressive alpha male Microsoft I saw back in 90s.  Right now it feels like we have a beta male Microsoft that has gone through a divorce and is in the middle of a mid-life crisis.  I will end with this quote retweeted by Steven Sinofsky, the CEO that could have been:

SteveSi Quote

 

While researching Stephen Elop’s time at McMcaster University, I bumped into an interesting study by the university that was analyzed by the New York Times: Women Are Responsible for Slut-shaming http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/19/science/a-cold-war-fought-by-women.html?ref=science?src=dayp&_r=2&

P.S. Yes, I am still working on the Kevin Turner story; I hope to have it up soon, stay tuned.

About the author  ⁄ Suril Amin

Suril is a scientist, journalist and obsessive Microsoft observer. He holds an advanced degree in Biotechnology with minors in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology. Send him tips on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/surilamin

  • Emi the Strange

    wow… so knitting is sexist? really?… I know guys that do it. in fact they make really cute scarfs… but yeah its sexist. stupid close minded people who doesnt know, not only girls do knitting… or maybe they are too blind to know guys do it as well.

    • Fritzly

      Knitting is not sexist per se, associating it specifically with women is.

      • Emi the Strange

        and my point is Boys also do it… so if “you” associate knitting with women ONLY… is “your” fault and stupidity, not Microsoft.
        and thats what these “feminist” are doing, saying “oh Knitting must be sexist because no men do it” apparently this is what they think, so I guess these “feminists” are stupid and close minded, and end, and then making a complain that isnt there since, again, men also do it, so it wasnt sexist from Microsoft to put it there.

        • Fritzly

          On the contrary, it is the original pamphlet that does it. Of course “similis cum similibus”

          • LexiconRed

            Using complicate Latin will make his/her head explode

  • AwwwFrownyFace

    Soooooo glad I’m gay

  • jvs

    I see stupid people…All the time. They’re everywhere.

  • BIAS

    Spineless as usual.

    • Nham Thien Duong

      unfortunately I have to agree :-(

  • Pookiewood

    I think blog sites like Le Verge, CNuts and BGR (Boy Grunts Retorts) are either mad that MS has been on top so long or still upset about XP and Vista having poor OEM support causing instability. Who knows? What MS needs to do is deny access to these toxic sites instead of curling up cowardly. Let the consumers come to their events and market directly to them so they can make their own decisions. Use their stores and Best Buy store space aggressively.

    • Nham Thien Duong

      I agree.

  • LPHeadstrong

    I guess it could be sexist but my girlfriend would rather knit than play video games so this is spot on for me!

    Still, as far as I can tell it was an option so not like it said all non-gaming girls prefer knitting

  • Nham Thien Duong

    It’s weird, there were 2 sexist campaigns released by Microsoft, one was making fun of men (His and Hers) and the other of women, while also letting men play the submissive role (the letter), these women can’t even take a joke, they aren’t Feminists, Feminists fought for women’s right, these are just sad whining excuses for women that want to make a big deal out fo anything that even slightly offends them.

    You see misandry every day, men get hit in their testicles on T.V. and it’s ”all good fun”, most men can laugh about sexist misfortunes and many of society’s double standards that benefits women have yet to be challenged, but now we get another long article on how Microsoft is presumably sexist, the women in Microsoft’s top have earned their way into their through talent, not through complaining, and Microsoft has several video’s exclusively honouring women on YouTube, if anything, you’d almost say it is RUN by Feminists, I’m an M.R.A. because I stand against Misandry, but these women give women everywhere a bad name.

    The head of Microsoft’s devices division is a woman and she ran the Xbox division, not because of positive discrimination but because unlike these whining ”feminists” (actually they’re Gyno-chauvinists) who need it to get even the simplist jobs, thank the Gods that not all women take them serious.

    • arrow2010

      Owww My Balls will be the most popular TV show of all time in 2505.

  • Elyl

    Ah, Suril with his misogyny once again. This blog is super professional! You’re a twat, Suril.

    • laserfloyd

      Don’t use the word misogyny so much that it’s meaning is lost for the women in the world that actually do face mutilation, abuse, rape and other atrocities. This is NOT misogyny in any way, shape, form or fashion. Get it right.

      • Elyl

        Misogyny is not solely reserved for physical violence against women. Read a book sometime, and get it right.

    • Raygun

      And you come off as a complete misandrist. You’re a cunt Elyl.

      • Elyl

        Fuck up ya wee prick.

  • Bugbog

    Had a point, until it was torpedoed at the end.

  • Sampha

    Suril Amin, do you know how amazing it is to read an article written by a male, on what he thinks are ‘sexist’ issues? As if women don’t have to hear men go on, and on, and on about so-called ‘Misandry’ (like, you do know that isn’t even a thing? You can’t be oppressed when you belong to the oppressors group; society on the whole is shaped and dominated by men in positions of power) as if you have to deal with the issues that sexist and misogynistic society throws at women every single day.

    It’s especially amusing since you write ” I want to see the aggressive alpha male Microsoft I saw back in 90s.”, following a tirade about how women are sexist, and how we haven’t got our priorities right. Yet, what you demonstrate is the exact type of mindset which holds women back. In thinking that women are second-class to men, in assuming that we don’t know our minds, and harking back to era of ‘aggressive alpha males’ you identify what you consider ‘real cases’ for the Feminist community (and you mention cases of rape and brutal attack), yet you don’t see how those things only happen when men presume themselves to be better than women, dominating of women, and disinclined to care what a woman thinks of herself or what she wants. You want to talk about how rape is so rife and is such a big issue for women, then understand what rape is, and how it is a problem primarily shaped by misogynistic messages through the media (no matter how small you may feel them to be) and oh, calling women sluts for expressing an interest in something, doesn’t help either.

    You want to know why the original ‘letter’ by Microsoft was called-out for being sexist? This is because women especially by tech-brands/blogs and gamer companies etc are treated as if they only have one shared interest. Like, we couldn’t possibly like the things you like, because I mean, you’re an alpha male, and a woman has no right in taking part in alpha male activities! If she wants to play your Xbox, she can only dance and play games which you’ve decided are surely not going to cause her any harm or discomfort! But you have to realise that the phrasing of that original letter used so many tired-stereotypes that it’s laudable that a company such as Microsoft who surely know that there a lot of women out there who will be buying Xboxes for themselves, and loads of games and buying the subscription to the Gold services, makes out as if those same people giving them their hard-earned money (do you want to write another post about how it’s okay for alpha-males to earn more than beta-females?), would then side-line that very same consumer base. It’s boring, and unoriginal, and feeds back directly into the issues I raised above.

    If you have been accused of racism and sexism in the past, I suggest you take some time out addressing your perceptions of other people and learning how the words you use only add to all the other rubbish we have to listen to every day, especially before making a post about how women are actually the sexist people…

    • Arun Lobo

      “You can’t be oppressed when you belong to the oppressors group” -> So you mean to say men are the ONLY oppressors? Wake up please and see how many men face discrimination (women face it too, but you categorized only men in oppressor’s category).
      Misandry does exist, denying it only puts you in the same category as misogynists and every word of yours makes you sound like a hypocrite.
      You are the real example of what modern day feminism is upto, categorizing males as the ONLY oppressors and turning a blind eye at whatever issues you see but pretend not to. Speaking lies, hiding truth, asking for equality when you don’t have it (your right, you deserve it) but snatching that of others when you have an upper hand. No doubt you have accused of sexism, because your words prove it.

      And yeah it is very amazing to read the words of a PSEUDO-FEMINIST (I won’t call you a woman, because unlike you I don’t generalize and put all women in one category).

      • noturtles

        Misandry exists. White people are sometimes subject to racism. Rich folks have been “persecuted”. Statistically, however… these groups have little to complain about.

    • Raygun

      Take a day or two to listen to this woman. She get’s it.

    • noturtles

      I mostly agree but… that’s a lot of text. This is a specialized tech forum; a mini-essay on sociology isn’t appropriate, IMHO.

  • ugh

    This entire article is an excellent example of what’s known as “mansplaining.”

    Bing it.

  • William Anderson

    You started off strong there. Then you went off the deep end, starting with the actually sexist categorizing of female gamers and the completely unnecessary shot at the girl in the video. You do what all “-ist” do, they highlight traits displayed by a large group of people, attribute them to a subset of that group to prove a point while ignoring the rest. What do you call the male gamers that made videos JUST like the one you linked to? Nothing…gamers. But when a girl does it(who I assume you find attractive) she is doing it for attention and being “a attention whore” and taking “slutty” pictures. You, pretty much, called Melonie Mac a whore who takes slutty pictures and pretends to like games based on NOTHING besides her being a attractive woman who talks gaming. You just proved that you fall into the stereotypical “video gaming guys hate women”. The outcry about this letter was silly. Your response was stupid and hateful. Way to be dumber than the original problem there, dude.

    • Raygun

      And you are missing the big picture, dude.

  • Lou_Sasshole

    Yeah the reaction was silly, the comments weren’t sexist. Though your use of “alpha” and “beta” makes your whole article laughable, I will not be taking your posts seriously in the future.

  • Zdenko
  • Raygun

    Thank you for this article. I have to deal with feminnazis daily at work, one of which wants me gone and does everything in her power to make me look bad and none of which have had anything to do with me.

    I really wish people would wake up and see whats going on.

    • Elyl

      Yeah, I hope you are got rid of. You sound like a borderline rapist.

      • Raygun

        Typical feminist remark.

        • Elyl

          And what’s wrong with being a feminist? Aren’t you a feminist? Do you not believe in rights for women? No, because you’re a wee virgin. A shitebag who hides his inadequacies behind keyboard bravado. You likely live with your mum and hate the world because women find you physically repulsive.

  • BobRiggs

    “To clarify, I think most gamer girls are no different than men that play video games”

    LoL it is kind of hard to take your rant serious when write belittling lines as this and sadly many defenders likely can’t even understand the irony of it within the context of the post!

  • VHMP01

    What about the opposite video where ‘girlfriend’ uses XB1 and orders “Boyfriend, Get me a beer!” and “Boyfriend, go to the store!”. Of course those feminists did not mention that one, right?

  • PhilVoid

    I’m a man. I have knitted. Who the he77 are these women saying I’m wrong?

  • Brian Douglas Macleod

    This article is the second stupidest thing I’ve read to tonight. Good luck with your lonely, pathetic life, author.

  • ofro

    How many of these stupid loose feminist actually own and regularly play a console?

    Their target audience is men because thats what their audience MAINLY consists of.

    People need to stop getting butt hurt over stuff like this.