Sexism has become a very tricky issue in the gaming world. Not just as an issue itself, but also as a debate of whether gamers are ignoring it entirely. Many gamers do pawn it off quickly, but perhaps not entirely by their own fault, considering the way that the debate is so often poorly framed. With proper frame and a focused debate, the issue could be accepted and discussed fluidly - as long as gamers remain open and mature to the people who DO have balanced things to say.
Let's start by getting this out of the way; yes, sexism exists in the gaming world. Like any modern debate, the issue is quickly forced into a question of existence, and never about extent, and that rhetoric is quickly adopted by the loudest and most stupid. For example: "Yes, racism does and always will exist, but do we really need to impose special laws on certain states because of race issues in the 50s? Is the modern state truly dealing with the issue to such a degree that they still need such measures?"...that's how intelligent debate is framed, not..."Does racism exist in that state?" In the same way, we need to avoid discussing "existence" of sexism in gaming and start openly and directly debating what is really in question: "How bad is sexism in gaming?" (or, "Is sexism in gaming any worse than the general public itself?" as is sometimes argued)
Moving past that rhetoric nightmare, how do we debate the issue? How do we fix the issues with the debate of the issues?
For the side arguing on sexism being a major, specifically game industry/community issue:
1) Don't use forum posts and 12y/o's on XBL as "proof" of sexism of the overall industry and community. Neither forum posters or 12y/o's on COD are goalposts of the general gaming public.
2) Stay on point. Just the other day, I read an article that said "Stop denying talented developers opportunities because they have ovaries" ( http://n4g.com/news/1310609... ) ...as if to suggest that women were being denied work. If you start making up problems and going off topic, the real problems that you discuss won't be taken seriously.
For gamers arguing that sexism is more of a minimal issue in the industry/community, or else not specific to the game industry:
1) Can the f***ing sandwich jokes for a second. I know that you aren't necessarily a sexist for making a sexist joke the same way I don't get up during standups that involve racial jokes and shout "DUUUUURR RACIIIIIIST!" But fish-out-of-water sites like Yahoo that make up entire articles about N4G comment sections (because apparently there's nothing more important to report on - http://news.yahoo.com/gamer... ) do not understand that. It still looks bad.
2) Make sure that you ARE listening to the good arguments. There are plenty of people discussing the issues without overblowing them. Civil debate with such persons can only improve the situation and detract from extremists of both sides.
Right now, debate on the subject simply isn't very civil. Both sides feel ostracized by the other. It's time that we discuss the issue's extent in a balanced way.