Gender-segregated F1 Esports tournament sparks controversy

It’s not exactly a big secret that a disturbing number of gamers are quite sexist towards women. Most aren’t, of course, but there are enough to leave a sour taste in any normal person’s mouth. Need proof? Just check out the reactions to the F1 esports series Women’s Wildcard event – an all-female sim racing tournament. Now as far as variety goes, racing sports, both e- and traditional, do attract more male audiences than female ones.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t women interested – and it’s also pretty obvious that one of the biggest turn-offs for women interested in racing sim games is precisely the sexist attitudes they encounter.

F1 Esports Series Women’s Wildcard

As for the event itself, it’s a brand new addition to the F1 esports circuit – and it’s a female-only qualification route into the following Pro Exhibition. The Wildcard event is taking place the week of May 3rd to 9th. Said Pro Exhibition will be streamed live on May 27th, and that’s where the qualifying hopefuls (of all genders) will be really put to the test!

The point of the added Wildcard tournament is obvious – to actively encourage women to participate in F1 esports. Any female racer with a valid Codemasters account and the F1 2020 game can register and take part – and their in-game performance will decide who gets a chance to be picked up by a pro team.

The reactions

You don’t have to look far to find all sorts of nasty comments about the event on social media. We’ve skipped over the really rude and egregious ones here, Twitter has even outright suspended and removed some accounts/comments.

F1 Esports Women

Now it’s also important to note that this type of comment is far from the only kind. In fact, there are tons of positive replies that show that the sexist people are, at best, a loud minority.

F1 Esports Wildcard

There are quite a few debates going on in the reactions, about equality, equity, and ‘barriers’ stopping women from competing. It’s a fallacious argument – true, there are no rules that say women can’t play.

Nobody is claiming there are… instead, it’s the very comments decrying potential barriers that prove there is in fact a barrier.

Equality or not?

If the access to these types of things was in fact truly equal, then either men would face an equal number of comments along the lines of ‘men aren’t suited for esports’, or women would receive no such comments (exactly like men don’t). By leaving negative comments, denying that women are any good at racing games, people are actively contributing to one of the most annoying barriers women face in esports – an invisible one. Naturally, women could just ignore such things. That, however, is not the point – the point is, they shouldn’t have to.

And if there was true equality, then they wouldn’t have to put up with that kind of comment at all, and there wouldn’t be a need for an F1 Esports Series Women’s Wildcard event. The fact that women have to ignore/rise above/get past sexist insults and verbal attacks is not only wrong, it’s the very barrier many of the people responsible for it claim doesn’t exist.

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