Of the Treatment of Women in WoW, Part 1
Anea from Oh look, an alt! mentioned on Twitter that she was thinking of doing a post on the treatment of women in WoW. I jumped in and said that I’ve been wanting to do a similar post myself. We then decided to do our own “mini shared topic”. I’ll admit I was worried about starting some controversy. Not that it’s a horribly offensive topic, but it’s so incredibly complex. I tried to address it briefly and still ended up with two posts worth of text. As long winded as I am, there’s no way I can do justice to it in a couple of simple blog posts, so please keep that in mind when reading.
Now I’m assuming here she meant treatment of women players in WoW. Because that’s what I’m going to talk about. Since I don’t exactly have what it takes to conduct a scientific study of wow life as a woman, I’ll stick to my own experiences, my opinion of them and how I deal.
Somehow, I get the impression that my perspective of my gender is somewhat unique. I’m fairly young, in my mid twenties. I’m (happily) single more often than not and thus self reliance is a way of life. I grew up surrounded by women who were doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers, police officers, accountants, yet who were also beautiful and elegant. I don’t understand why “the average woman” is often portrayed as someone meek, dependent, dumb and overly sensitive. It’s entirely possible to be a woman, be successful (however you define success), self reliant, intelligent yet feminine. None of these traits are mutually exclusive.
So back to WoW.
Why do I feel like a visible minority?
WoW Friend X: I bought this new gadget today.
WoW Friend Y: I bought this new video game today.
Me: I bought this super cute dress today.
WoW Friends: *change topic pronto*
I know there’s sexism and harassment of women in WoW. But what I find hardest to adjust to is just the basics of being a minority. I have no problems with boy talk. While I haven’t been one of the boys since I turned 10 and sprouted boobs overnight, I still enjoy the company of guys. I love video game talk, I like hearing about the TV shows they watch, I love drinking contests and I find guys to be absolutely hilarious. However, there are topics I have to avoid around the guys. Well, unless I purposely want to make them squirm (as if I would ever do such a thing!). Me, I love pretty things. I’m all about beautiful dresses and flowers. Apparently most guys are not all about beautiful dresses and flowers. I also have no problems candidly talking about my feelings. Apparently the guys do have problems candidly talking about my feelings. Talk about culture shock!
I enjoy the rare times I get “hang out” and have girl talk with other women in WoW, especially other single women. It seems your life changes drastically when the “r” word comes into play and I find that I just can’t relate as well to married or seriously committed women.
The Problem with Other Women
As much as I look for the camaraderie of other women in game, whenever I meet new players, I’m more worried about my treatment at the hands of the women than of the men. We tend to be more judgmental about the other women our social circles than the men are. If a woman is too quiet, she must be a snob, if she’s exuberant, she’s an attention whore.
Among the younger women, there seems to be a disdain of all things “girly”, as if to be good at WoW, you have to be some sort of man wannabe. I really hate reading “I’m not like your average girl, I’m a good player”. I can never say it enough, being feminine and being a good player are not mutually exclusive.
(The sad thing is I’ve encountered many women in game who claim they are not a typical women in one breath and will brag about which guildie is their boyfriend in the next. I’m sorry, but basing your self-worth on who you’re sleeping with as stereotypically, degradingly girly as you can get. And yes, as much as I hate it, the rare times I’m in a relationship, I totally do it too.)
While I find it silly to flaunt being a woman, it’s nothing to be ashamed of either. Most of the time, it’s not a big deal and no one cares.
Hey Babe, You Come Here Often?
Oh yes, flirting. I get a lot of it, I think most female gamers do. I can’t speak for anyone else, but it usually doesn’t bother me. On most occasions, I enjoy it. I know it doesn’t mean anything, it’s just good laughs and it’s flattering. Nonetheless, there is a certain etiquette for flirting.
Familiarity: Flirting that is flattering when coming from a friend I hear on vent every night is downright creepy coming from a stranger in a PuG raid.
Respect for your spouse: Even though I’m not a relationship-type person, I take commitments very seriously. My own as well as other people’s. If someone talks to me in a way that I judge disrespectful to that person’s spouse, I will be offended.
Keep it to compliments: Any kind of flirting that implies sexual actions is creepy. And this is coming from a fairly “liberated” woman.
Flirting is not a substitute for regular communication: As shy as I am, I can carry on a normal conversation. I expect that those I interact with on WoW also possess this skill.
I like getting flowers in game: Just sayin’
Note here that I will rarely flirt back. It’s been my experience that guys tend to get the wrong idea too easily. Oh, I’ll make the odd remark about someone’s hot voice or I’ll playfully throw in some “<3"s when someone does me a favor or makes me laugh. But unless someone is a very close friend, that’s as far as I’ll go. Being a rather playful person, I hate to be limited, but I’ve been a girl on the internet long enough to know my boundaries. It sucks, but that’s the way it is.
So ends part one. Part two is mostly written, but I’ll let this half be digested first. Coming up: dealing with sexist jokes, being disregarded as “cute”, being labeled “fragile goods” and more!Internet Anthropology
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