Go Back to the Kitchen
WDKA graduation project
Drempelprijs social practice (2nd place)
Nominee Bachelor Research Award
Go Back to the Kitchen
It’s one of the insults heard the most by women playing online video games, including me. Upon speaking through voice chat, your gender is revealed and you can be treated very differently from male gamers. Sexual harassment and insults relating to stereotypes and gender roles discourages women to play video games and creates an environment that is harmful and unwelcome.
Based on research and experience I created a documentary providing insight into the world of sexism in online gaming. Alongside, I designed a toolset for female gamers to use in the video games itself based on items you can find in the kitchen. By turning the insult into a weapon, you reappropiate the slur and reclaim it. Empowering in the literal sense.
Words of the jury
The feminist counter-campaign labelled ‘Go Back to the Kitchen’ has an impressive amount of potential – it indeed has it within itself to become a 21st century ‘Semiotics of the Kitchen’ – and clearly fascinates everyone who sees it. Hannah Sterke wins second prize, with her project that counters the male gaze within gaming culture. She is stepping on something big here, even though supplying virtual stickers for a specific first-person shooter computer game may sound simple enough. She critiques sexist conduct within a space that is intended for virtual violence, while in the meantime finding sisters and allies. She uses the (visual) language of harassers against them, winning back terrain, all the while presenting every element of her project in a highly aesthetic and attractive way.
In my short documentary “Go Back to the Kitchen” I’ve combined my research and practice into one film to show what female gamers experience online and how the gaming world works.
Tools of empowerment
One of the most common games in which this sexism happens is shooter games. Shooters are known for their violent environment and weapons like guns and knives. Inspired by my story and of the women I’ve interviewed, I’ve designed a series of tools to reclaim the insult ‘go back to the kitchen’ and equip women against their harassers inside the gaming world itself. All the weapons are made of things that are involved in the process of sandwich making and can be found in the kitchen.
Graffiti & stickers
Some online games offer the possibility of putting stickers on your guns and to spray graffiti on maps. I designed a series of illustrations inspired by the weapons to expand the toolset and infiltrate the gaming world.