Interview with Jenny, Founder of “Not in the Kitchen Anymore”
Interview with Jenny,
Founder of “Not in the Kitchen Anymore”
Interview by Terra Olsen
Today’s interview is a little different. Normally we feature a nerdy lady and discuss their nerdy passion. However, for today we are featuring an awesome nerdy lady and a project she started called “Not in the Kitchen Anymore.” I really wanted to feature the project on Have You Nerd because I think it is important, and lucky for us Jenny was nice enough to answer my questions. Please read on and learn more about the project and this incredible woman.
You’re the founder of “Not in the Kitchen Anymore.” Can you please elaborate on this project for our readers?
It’s essentially an audio chronicle of my experiences as a female gamer. Women are a minority in the gaming community, and their mere presence can sometimes elicit bizarre reactions from fellow gamers. Responses can range from sexual harassment (“How much for a blowjob, bitch?), to speculations about your appearance (“Jenny sounds like a fat girl!”), to outright hostility and good ol’ fashioned sexism (“Get the fuck back in the kitchen and take your goddamn hands off a fucking video game controller.”)
What I’ve been doing for the last few years is setting up an audio recorder every time I game online, and capturing the interactions I have with other players. If something notable happens (i.e. someone harasses me specifically because of my gender), I then take that audio clip and upload it to the website, along with a transcript of what was said.
Where did the inspiration for this project come from?
I studied art at university, and one of the projects I needed to do several years ago was a sculptural installation dealing with a social issue. Given that I’ve been a gamer my entire life, I decided that I’d focus on the sexism/harassment female gamers can expect to face if they play online. That was when I initially started recording audio. The name of the installation (and subsequent website) comes from the stereotype that women shouldn’t be gaming, because they “belong in the kitchen”.
After the installation was finished, I decided to continue recording because some of the things I heard on a regular basis were so crazy… And sometimes hilarious. I soon had a bank of audio clips (plus the occasional text message), and decided to launch the website Not in the Kitchen Anymore in order to share them with my friends. It quickly became much more than that.
What do you hope to achieve with this project?
Mainly it’s meant to promote discussion. Since its launch, NitKA has been featured on a BBC radio documentary, on websites like Kotaku, the Sydney Morning Herald, Metro, and I’ve participated in a PAX East panel as well as lectured at a nearby university. Harassment in online gaming is an issue that people are genuinely interested in hearing about, and working to resolve. The scope goes beyond just female gamers; racism and homophobic statements are also fairly common in online gaming. So many people enjoy gaming as a pastime- why not try and make it safer and more fun for everyone?
Another one of the most important things NitKA does is provide proof. Many people (especially outside of the gaming community) are unaware that harassment like this is an issue female gamers have to deal with. The audio clips can be shocking, people saying things like “Let me fuck you in your goddamn ass and rape the shit outta you”. Being able to hear (and “experience”) it for yourself is an eye-opener. It’s hard to deny that harassment is an issue in gaming when you’re actually listening to it happen.
Additionally, the website also shows people that they are not alone. I receive a lot of emails and comments from people who want to share their personal stories with me, and are glad that someone is speaking out about this issue.
How can our readers help you achieve your objectives or help spread the word?
The biggest thing is to treat your fellow gamers like human beings. Trash talking in game is normal (and can be fun), but as soon as you start attacking someone for their gender, race, or perceived sexuality, a line has been crossed. If you see/hear someone berating another player for something not related to the game, don’t be afraid to speak up.
Jenny Haniver is a stone-cold badass, and the founder of the website Not in the Kitchen Anymore. She hails from Wisconsin, and when she’s not gaming she can usually be found hunting or fishing with her husband, working in a glass studio, or drinking way too many IPAs in front of a bonfire with her friends.
Jenny also asked us to help promote this Kickstarter for the documentary GTFO. It’s “a film exposing the harassment of women in gaming. It features gamers, bloggers, scholars, developers, and other experts.” Please take a look and donate what you can (even $5 helps).
Do you know a self-proclaimed nerd we should interview? If so, please contact Terra at email@example.com and tell us about them.