Posts Tagged “feminism”

OK, OK.  I have tried really bloody hard not to end up writing about this whole gender thing that seems to be the big issue in the WoW Blogosphere at the moment.  It’s so spread everywhere that most people probably feel saturated by the whole affair.

However, I’m going to blather on. 

I’ve got broad shoulders, so I’m going to admit that I am the person being called out here.  Kudos to her for not identifying me (although, hey, almost all of you would have seen the conversation on Twitter about it!)  If you want the full back story, scroll to the bottom.  If you want your delightful Warlock author to still smell of fel roses in your mind, don’t bother.

Essentially, I had an issue with the idea of a post that Ophelie and Matt were discussing about ‘The Male Experience in WoW’ as a part of a discussion that seems to be happening with feminist issues in WoW.  I still do honestly believe that such a post has an incredibly high risk of taking all the wonderful discussion that has been going on around women and feminist issues in game, and undermining them for the sake of men saying “But what about us?  You want equality, no?  Look at how we suffer!”  It really is the most classic way I can think of to undermine or derail someone’s discussion or argument – some times it is well intentioned, some times it is not, but it is almost always effective.

Really, that would be like me writing a post on the trials and tribulations of being a well educated, middle class white person.  Yeah, I know that everyone who isn’t one of those things has problems to overcome, but what about me?  If we are going to be equal, then damn it, you have to listen to everything that sucks about my life too!  Next thing you know, we have a mass of people ‘in my boat’ going “Oh, yes, what about me?” and before you know it the original issue has been lost in a storm of ‘let’s feel sorry for the ones who probably need it least’, or, even worse, forgotten entirely.

Yes, I said that there would be ‘nothing to say’ if you did a gender post about men.  I’m kinda looking forward to seeing a gender post about men, as much as the whole idea aggravates the hell out of me, because to this point I can’t think of any real major issues (apart from the ridiculous body image problem in the game that affects both genders) men would have.  Sure, women aren’t ‘rare’ in WoW anymore, but we aren’t commonplace either.  Men still maintain the majority.  Men still have a lot more privilege than women in this game.  I know after reading all the wonderful comments over at Ophelie’s blog that many people say they don’t understand privilege.  Many people don’t believe in privilege.  Some days, I have trouble understanding it myself, and some days, I get bothered when my privilege gets used against me (see: my typical work day).  However, my understanding or lack there of does not change the fact that it is there, and it does cause some of the problems.

So, yes, I get incredibly irate when I see a male reaction of ‘I’m going to talk about men in WoW’.  I get equally irate when I see women encouraging such a derailing action.  And that will cause the reaction outlined below, in the italics.  Sure, it’s not fair, or pretty, or very bloody nice at all.  Having all that privilege doesn’t make me a perfect person!

As for my views regarding the game and feminism?  Oh boy…

Don’t expect me to start going on about how men treat women badly in WoW.  You know what?  I honestly believe most of them don’t.  Sure, I’ve been sexually harassed (albeit awkwardly), I’ve listened to things that would make a sailor blush (but I’m a school teacher, that’s a daily occurrence for me).  However, most men I have dealt with in the game have been wonderful people.  Most women I have dealt with have been equally wonderful.  Sure, there are going to be a few dodgy ones of either gender in the bag, but you deal with that and move on.

Most of the issues I have with the game are not the community – they’re within the game itself.  I’d love to have a strong female character who doesn’t go bonkers.  I’d love for Blizzard to think about events like the bunny ears at Noblegarden.  I’d almost roll over and beg if they had a think about some of the flirt emotes and perhaps gave the male and female characters some equally ‘domineering’ ones.  However, while they have the mindset that they are catering to a male audience, and that the female audience isn’t significant enough to worry about, they will continue doing these things.

Might I be painting a poor picture of men by implying that they welcome these things?  Possibly.  However, I really do believe this is the reasoning, if there was any, behind some of Blizzard’s poorer choices.

Ophelie would probably be interested to know that I actually agree with her with a lot of her post.  Yes, if we continue painting women as victims, we aren’t going to get anywhere.  I wouldn’t say that all women should be more aggressive in their reactions to discrimination or harassment (that would be lovely, but I do understand that some people lack the confidence to do that, or are in situations which make it difficult for them), but the women who are that confident should stand up and do something.  I can’t comment on the ‘talking on vent’ situation, simply because I did avoid talking on vent for most of my WoW playing life, but for a different reason.  Even now I am awfully quiet on vent, but that has a lot less to do with my gender than the fact I just don’t like contributing useless noise in the middle of a raid, and I have always been lucky enough to have raid leaders who notice everything, so I don’t ever need to call stuff out.

Similarly, I refuse to blab on about ‘I’m a girl I’m a girl I’m a girl!’  Yeah, I’m female.  Yeah, I am a guild master (although my wonderful ‘essentially a guild master without the name’ does most of the work for me at the moment <3).  Yeah, I play a class that is stereotypically perceived as ‘female’ for some reason.  But who cares?  I’ve had people tell me I won’t be able to handle raiding.  I’ve had them tell me I won’t be able to handle blogging.  I’ve had them tell me I won’t be able to handle leading a guild.  I just shrug them off (just like I shrug off every ‘but you’re a girl’ comment and take no notice) because I know what I can and can’t do.

I’d love to know why being a hardcore WoW player as a female is even seen as a ‘feminist’ thing, or a ‘stand for women’.  Huh, what?  When I was a hardcore raider, I never once thought that I was proving anything about women. I was just raiding and having a damn good time doing it.  Now I am in a casual guild, I kinda resent the implication that I am ‘doing what is expected of me’.  The reason I chose to be in a casual guild has nothing to do with my gender, and everything to do with the fact that I lead a stupidly busy life.  The reason there are less women in top guilds than men, I suspect, is because a) there are less women in the game and b) (look out, sexist alert!) women typically seem to end up doing the usual household ‘stuff’ (dinner, kids, cleaning up, etc) after dinner.  If we fix that problem in the greater world, then yes, we might be able to start fixing that problem in WoW.

At the end of the day, I don’t care who or what you are.  You could be a spotted dinosaur for all I care.  Do whatever the hell you want to do in the game, and out of it.  Don’t let anyone tell you to do more.  Don’t let anyone tell you to do less.  Don’t let anyone say that you can or you can’t because you are male, female, black, white, yellow or purple.  At the same time though, don’t judge those who feel that they can’t do those things because of their gender or their race or their social class or anything else.  You don’t know what it is like to walk in that person’s shoes.

 

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Twitter was all aflutter this morning at an ‘article’ published on World of Warcraft’s European site, about a couple of female gamers who do art and stuff.  And who play WoW, obviously.  I had a quick peruse of the article (and I suggest you do so as well), and it’s really just your basic fluff piece.  You know “Ooh, these girls play WoW and make art and stuff”.  Nothing especially exciting or interesting, but there you have it.

Well, of course, as I looked at Twitter in my half asleep daze, I saw people complaining about it everywhere.  “How DARE they say females playing WoW are uncommon!”, “Why did they have to choose two super-casual players who draw, rather than hard core raiders?”, “Why does it even matter that they are girls?”.  In essence, I really got the feeling that most people saw it as a way of isolating women within the community and drawing attention to the things we apparently have been trying to patently ‘fix’ for however long.

1.  There’s heaps of girls who play WoW!

Sure, there is.  I know plenty of women who play the game.  However, proportionately… a lot more men play WoW than women.  Sure, we have enough girls in the game that we can have female only guilds, that most people raid with at LEAST one other woman, but we all know the game is somewhat skewed to the male side.  Various studies have put the game anywhere between 16% to 45% female.  I’m personally inclined to believe it is somewhere in the middle of those 2 ranges… the 16% was from 2005, and I think the female player base has grown since then.  However, 45% seems excessive, almost ridiculous.

So, sure, there are a lot of girls who play WoW.  We aren’t a ‘minority’ anymore, so to speak.  However, I would not go so far as to say there are just as many girls as there are guys.  So, this feeling people are getting that Blizzard are saying ‘There’s less girls who play WoW than guys’?  That’s because there probably IS.

2.  The headline ‘Girl Power’ is not an attack, ladies.

Blizzard using the words ‘Girl Power’ isn’t undoing all the ‘hard work’ (may I ask… huh, what?  Burning our pixelated bras and choosing wrinkly faces or something?) girl gamers have done over the years.  Pointing out that yes, these people are female, isn’t the same as saying ‘and that is the most noteworthy thing about them’.  Headlines do not equal articles.  Only one of their questions actually drew a distinction between the experiences of a male and a female player (and there will always be a difference.  Just as there are differences in our experiences everywhere ELSE in the world!).

The thing I find most amusing is that many women who vehemently complain about this sort of distinction being drawn are often the first ones to point out that they are female.  Ladies, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.  And, really, does it matter?  For instance, I have read MANY good blogs where the fact the writer is a female is discussed in the name of the blog (Chick GM, Girl Meets WoW… damned if I can think of a current example that is still being updated).  Neither of these websites make a point of saying that being female is a benefit or a detriment.  Being female just is.  It’s not something to rub in someone’s face “Ooh, I beat you at PvP, and I’m a GIRL!” nor is it something to use as an excuse “I suck, but that’s because I am a girl”. 

3.  Urgh, by choosing casual players, they reinforce the whole ‘Chicks can’t raid!’ idea!

Um… huh?

I just read the article as ‘look at these two artists’.  I really thought it was about their artwork, not their raid style.  We all know there are chicks out there who raid.  Hell, there are whole guilds dedicated to both sides of the coin (Female only guilds, Male only guilds… all the same.  Although why is one socially acceptable and not the other, I wonder?)  I honestly believe the average WoW player knows that girls play.  That, my goodness, we DON’T suck.  The last three guilds I have been in have been LED either fully or in part by women (entirely a coincidence, by the way).  The guild I raid with has several women who are active raiders (and yes, we are competitive with the men… except for maybe me.  WTB new gear!)

At the end of the day, I really don’t think this article has in ANY way put down female gamers.  We have much more important places to be pointing the finger when it comes to sexist stereotyping and marketing.  I also think it takes away from the achievements of these two ladies when we complain about the article.

I’m a girl.  I play WoW. 

Does making that statement immediately mean I am ‘putting back the cause of female gamers’?  I think not.

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