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Playstation CEO Jim Ryan Breaks Silence on Abortion Rights, and It’s Very Bad

I love my cats, too, but this is ridiculous.

two cats having a nice birthday

The silence of corporations in the wake of the Supreme Court’s leaked decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has spoken volumes. For example, in 2021, Georgia-based companies like Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines eventually came out in opposition of the state’s restrictive voting rights laws—even though it took them way longer than it should have. That uproar feels impossibly distant to this whimper in the wake of the leaked decision, despite it affecting every single American company, because every American company employs—it’s true!—people who have uteruses. Well, one prominent CEO has weighed in on how he thinks women’s rights should be discussed at his corporation, and the result gives an unfairly bad rap to his cats.

The gaming industry is definitely not known for treating women well or equitably, at least as a whole. Still, in the past two weeks, a handful of studios came out with strongly-worded statements and/or pledges for action. My favorite was Bungie, the developer of the Destiny series, who sassily went after anti-abortion gamers in their Twitter comments. Microsoft pledged to pay for employees’ travel expenses to get abortions, if necessary. But in a May 11 story, a Washington Post reporter revealed they’d sent emails to 20 major video game companies, seeking comments about the leaked decision. Only two answered: Microsoft and Activision Blizzard (LOL). (Activision Blizzard, which has nearly 20 lawsuits against them for sexual harassment and labor misconduct, said they “will closely monitor developments in the coming weeks and months.”)

One of the many developers completely missing from all of this discourse has been Sony, which produces countless games, as well as the PlayStation. This morning, Sony CEO Jim Ryan broke his silence in a company-wide email. His comments not only angered employees, but the whole email is unhinged. Absolutely nothing I’ve seen in recent journalism can compare to the opening paragraph of Forbes’ report, which broke the story: “Some staff at Sony Group Corp. are seething following an email Thursday from the head of PlayStation that urged employees to ‘respect differences of opinion’ on abortion rights before entering into five detailed paragraphs about his two cats’ first birthday.”

This is a lot. Ryan apparently did this because he wanted “to share something lighthearted to help inspire everyone to be mindful of having balance that can help ease the stress of uncertain world events,” which of course, is gaslight-y as hell. He really went into it, too. Now every Sony employee knows he wants a dog one day, and that he made his cats birthday cakes. If only he cared that much about his employees whose reproductive rights are in danger! One Sony employee told Forbes they’d “never been so mad about a cat birthday before.” I’d laugh if I weren’t about to cry.

Before the absolutely unhinged cats’ birthday story, Ryan made some incredibly insensitive comments about the Supreme Court decision. His tone downplayed the severity of the moment even more than five paragraphs about cat birthdays. Ryan wrote, “We owe it to each other and to PlayStation’s millions of users to respect differences of opinion among everyone in our internal and external communities. Respect does not equal agreement. But it is fundamental to who we are as a company and as a valued global brand.” Respect my ability to control my own body, ya turd!

Ryan’s placating BS is especially weak compared to Bungie (which is being purchased by Sony) saying the decision is “a direct attack on human rights.” Ryan’s comments perfectly illustrate the false “both sides” narrative anti-abortion factions have forced into the American cultural mainstream. Respecting a difference of opinion is the right thing to do when, for example, I say that I prefer Nintendo games. (Nintendo has also not commented.) But “respecting a difference of opinion” is not the correct path when that opinion co-opts control of another person’s body or identity.

So as one doting cat-owner to another: I sure wish you showed as much thoughtfulness to the needs of your employees whose bodily autonomy is being threatened as you do to your cats, Jim. It’s my cat’s birthday this month, and I somehow still found time for this.

(featured image: Harry Whittier Frees / US Copyright Office)

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Kirsten (she/her) is a musician, audio person, writer, and nerd. When not talking about One Piece or Zelda (among other anime and games), she's finding surprising ways to play the guitar.