Of The Treatment of Women in WoW, part 2

Welcome to part 2 of a topic I’m sharing with Anea from Oh look, it’s an alt! (She doesn’t have her take up yet, but I’m sure she will soon!). This is a direct continuation from part 1, so I would recommend reading that first if you haven’t already.


OMG It’s a GIRL!

Ah, the joys of speaking on vent for the first time in a PuG. Most of the time, my delicate, sultry feminine voice (for the record, I talk off key so my voice is actually horrid) doesn’t cause too much of a commotion. Every now and again, though, it happens. “OMG WE HAVE A GIRL IN THE RAID!!! SQUEEEEEEEEE

I can’t help but feel a wave of pity whenever that happens. You have to wonder what kind of sheltered lives some people have. But if it makes them giddy and happy to have a woman in the chatroom, I’m not going to burst their bubble. I roll my eyes, smile and ask if everyone is ready to start the fight.

Women are cute and cuddly – every man should own one.

To be honest, I don’t really notice sexist jokes. Mainly because I’m far too busy making sexist jokes against men. But because I know this bothers a lot of female gamers, here’s how I handle it.

If I want to call a group to order, I have two lines to choose from.
1- Now children, less chatting, more killing.
2- (In a mockingly annoyed tone) You’re such boys.

Otherwise,

Why do all men like smart women?
Opposites attract.

When would you want a man’s company?
When he owns it.

What are my four favorite animals?
A mink in my closet, a Jaguar in my garage, a tiger in my bedroom,
and a Jackass to pay for it all.

Why did God create man?
Because a vibrator can’t mow the lawn.

I strongly suggest any woman who spends a lot of time in testosterone-filled environments have a list of sexist jokes on hand.

The “Aww You’re So Cute” Card

I like to think I’m pretty tolerant. I’m as much of a bra-burning feminist as the next female WoW player, but I can understand that boys will be boys. I get over stuff easily and can take most blows with humour. But there’s one thing that just gets under my skin.

Me: Well, I think XYZ about this topic.
Male WoW Person: You’re so adorable.

This is different from flirting. Flirting is flattering. This is an insult. The message here is “your role is not to give your opinion on this intelligent topic, your role is to be cute”.

On the rare chance that it is a huge turn on to hear a woman’s opinion on a topic (back to sheltered lives, I guess), there’s still a time and a place for everything. Right now we’re discussing this topic. If you want to gush about the sexiness of women who get involved in discussions, you’re welcome to do so after we’re finished.

In my experience, this doesn’t occur very often, and it’s generally very, um, simple, men who play the “aww you’re so cute card”. My guess is that they, themselves, have nothing to offer to the conversation and are just looking to draw attention to something else. It still bothers me, though. I like conversations.

Of course, now my guildies are going to read this and will say “awww you’re so cute” everytime I say something. =/

I’m going to go easy on you because you’re a girl

Well Intended Guildie: Does our language offend you?
Me: No.

Me: But I’m kind of offended that you think I’m offended.
Well Intended Guildie: Oh…sorry…really?
Me: (laughing) You dummy.

The woes of being a modern woman.

On one hand, I’m always delighted when someone takes into consideration the fact that I might not have the same sense of humour, the same ways of communicating or the same tolerance to teasing as the guys.

On the other, I’m not exactly a porcelain doll either and I like when people can just be themselves. I enjoy being considered one of the gang and I get very annoyed when I realize someone is walking on eggshells to avoid offending me. Plus, as hard as I try to be classy, I have the dirtiest sense of humour in the world. Being deprived of dirty jokes is a tragedy to me.

And if I’m confused on how I expect to be treated as a woman, I can’t imagine how confusing it must be for those around me!

I’m not going to deny the fact that “locker room talk” often conjures flashbacks of being in the sixth grade, sitting in the back of a schoolbus and thinking that the boys around me are so stupid. I’m also going to say that I empathize with women who don’t like the use of certain words (“rape” is the typical example). While I’m extremely lucky those words don’t evoke anything to me, I can definitely see why there’s nothing funny about them.

At the same time, I appreciate that sometimes guys need to be guys. And I have to admit that I secretly laugh at things I shouldn’t.

Of Sexism and Harassment

I’ve seen many complaints on message boards from women saying they weren’t treated as equals in their guilds. I’ve seen women (well, generally younger girls) get badly mistreated in trade chat. I’m not going to pretend it never happens. Obviously it does. There are ways to avoid sexism though.

Pick your battles. Your average trade chat jerk is the male version of the girl who posts pictures of her boobs all over the internet. Same for the dumbass pug guy. They’re not flamboyant misogynists, they just want a reaction. The more you react, the more they’ll do it. Unless you enjoy arguing with them, they need to be ignored. If you can’t tune them out, leave trade or find a new PuG. Yes, there are situations in life where you shouldn’t give in. You know, like when your job or safety are in question. But this isn’t a battle worth fighting.

Choose your guild carefully. If you play a lot, these are the people you’ll be spending a lot of your evenings with. It’s worth going the extra mile to get an idea of how they view female players before you join. Do they have female officers? How do male and female members interact on the forums? Don’t buy crap about “stuff being worse elsewhere”. There are a lot of excellent, open minded guilds out there.

Don’t automatically assume it’s because you’re a woman. I remember the first few times I tried to raid lead. It was awful. I had ZERO authority. It would have been so easy to assume that they wouldn’t listen to me because I was woman. Instead, I prepared better for my raids. I pushed the group harder. I spoke more confidently. Magically, everything fell into place.

In the end, WoW is a social game. It’s a game, it should be fun. It’s also social and subjected to the same issues you would get in the offline world, with the addition of anonymity allowing people to get away with just about anything. As a woman in WoW, my power over how I’m treated lies in setting my boundaries and finding fellow players who can respect them. It’s not the place to try to change mentalities. Should us women be trying to change mentalities? Yes! But in the offline world. Volunteer at a woman’s shelter, educate yourselves about social issues, heck educate yourselves about everything, read, be strong and positive role models to young girls, do what you love with your lives, take care of yourselves. We have enough to battles to fight in the real world to waste our time arguing with people in WoW.

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20 Comments on “Of The Treatment of Women in WoW, part 2”

  1. Will Says:

    I’m a new reader of yours. I discovered you only a couple of weeks ago. And so this is my first comment here. [Waves]

    I enjoyed reading this little series. As I’m sure you gathered from my name, I am male, but I’d like to share my perspective, if I may.

    In my time playing the game, I’ve met several female players. Some of them were introduced to me, and as such I knew they were ladies beforehand, and others I learned the gender of as our friendships progressed. (Several of these have become close friendships that I treasure very much, even though distance prevents me from meeting them in person.) And just like men, they’ve come in all skill levels.

    I’ve read many horror stories about women in WoW being treated demeaningly or without respect. Frankly, it sickens me. I treat those that I meet with respect and kindness, regardless of their gender.

    I do tread carefully when it comes to humor, though, but I do it with my male friends as well as my female friends. Because my sense of humor can be rather sarcastic at times, and text can’t carry vocal inflections or facial expressions that clearly show the comment to be in jest. So I often find myself taking “baby steps” when it comes to humor.

    But as you mentioned in passing, I’ve discovered that some of them can match or surpass my sense of humor like I never would have thought. (Which is a good thing.)

    I am male, though, and a straight one at that, so I will from time to time make a lighthearted, yet “flirty” (for lack of a better word) comment or joke to one of my closer female friends, or compliment their voice if I hear it, or their appearance if I see a picture. However, I only do this with those that I’ve come to know reasonably well, and those that understand that my intentions are good.

    I never try to “pick up” women while playing WoW. For one, most of the ladies I know that play are married/in a relationship (I’m single), and I don’t believe in straying. And besides, they all live far enough away that it would be pointless to persue any sort of romantic liaison, even with the single ones. (I wonder if some people take that into account when they try to hook up with women in WoW…)

    I’m sorry; it occurs to me that I’m rambling a bit. I know what I want to say; but I’m not entirely sure on HOW to say it. Suffice to say that I don’t want people to think that all guys fit the model of knuckle-dragging asshats.

    I am who I am. I only ask that people be as genuine with me when I interact with them. It’s futile to pretend that gender doesn’t exist, and there are some instances where it will affect what I say to someone. But I always know where the line is.

    Thank you for putting up with my verbosity. Heck of a first impression, eh? >.<

    • Ophelie Says:

      Hi! Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

      I loving hearing male perspectives on the topic and I’m really happy that quite a few male players took the time to raise some excellent points that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. Don’t get worried about verbosity! It might take me a bit longer to answer long comments, but I love discussion.

      I really hope no one gets the take home message that I think that guys are generally “knuckle-dragging asshats”! This part was somewhat more aggressive than the first part, because I don’t think we should stick our heads in the sand and claim that everything is rosy. Still, my personal experiences have been mostly positive and in all the guilds I’ve been apart of, my gender has never been a big deal.

      Flirting probably is the most common “treatment” we women get. And, as a general rule, it’s not a bad thing. (Heaven forbid we be warm blooded human beings!) Still, as you’ve pointed out, it’s important to get a feel for someone’s comfort zone first, and the same goes for joking around.

      Unless I’m really dense (which is highly possible), I don’t think anyone’s ever tried to randomly “pick me up” in game. Like you pointed out, the fact that us WoW players are spread out all over the world would make most attempts at pursuing anything romantic pretty futile. My experience has also been that the majority of men (or at least the ones around my age) are married or committed, so I really don’t think of WoW as a dating service! I know some couples have met on WoW and have been happily in love ever since, so it does happen, however randomly hitting on female players probably isn’t the best way to meet someone.

      • Will Says:

        I’m glad that my comment seems to have been well-received. I probably could have said a couple of things a bit better, but I suppose that’s what I get for writing it at one in the morning…

        I didn’t mean to imply that you gave the impression that you consider us to all be knuckle-draggers, and I certainly don’t advocate ignoring the problems that exist.

        I do read things like this, though, and as a guy I sometimes feel like it puts me in a bind. I worry that if I pretend that gender doesn’t exist and doesn’t matter, I’ll come across as phony. (And frankly, it would be.) But if I act nautrally, in this age of the aforementioned asses and jerks, I worry that my behavior might be exaggerated in people’s minds and interpreted far worse than my actual intent.

        I like to think that I’m a decent guy. I get along with most people, and people seem to get along with me. I only ask that I be allowed to be myself, and not let the bad apples taint the reputations of all of us.

        • Ophelie Says:

          It’s kind of a sticky situation, isn’t it?

          There’s no universal way to act and you can’t please everyone all the time. (This applies to any type of social thing, really.)

          Going over what I write in both posts, most of what I described was more social clumsiness than blatant asshatery. I think WoW is more subject to social clumsiness than the offline world because 1)many gamers aren’t necessarily the most socially adapt people in the world, and 2)you can’t rely on body language feedback.

          I purposely left out graphic descriptions of true assholes because we all know how jerks act. I’m far more interested in solving problems than crying over them.

          As a girl among all the guys, I see it as my responsibility to chose who I spend my gaming time around and to make my comfort zone known, when it is different than the guys’. Sometimes I don’t even know how I want to be treated, so I certainly don’t hold anything against the guys if they do something a bit off.

          I would assume most seasoned female gamers would do the same.

          • Will Says:

            “There’s no universal way to act and you can’t please everyone all the time. (This applies to any type of social thing, really.)”

            That pretty much sums up the crux of what I was trying to say over the course of those last two comments…

            I do my best to be polite and respectful of everyone that I meet. Since that’s a natural part of my personality, that thankfully isn’t too hard for me to do. And if a woman (or anyone, for that matter) sticks with me and chats with me enough to really get to know me, then I suppose I can assume that I’ve done something right.

            I’m sure that there are people that genuinely enjoy getting people upset and making them feel inferior. I like to think that I, in my own little way, help make up for them a little bit.

            I’m going to step back and try not to make a nuisance of myself by commenting too much. I’d hate to chase you away right after I start leaving them…

          • Ophelie Says:

            The day I complain about too many comments, I’ll have to stop blogging. As long as you have something worthwhile to say, feel free to comment all you like :)

  2. kyrilean Says:

    “Of course, now my guildies are going to read this and will say “awww you’re so cute” everytime I say something. =/”

    If I was in your guild, this would totally be me! :P

    That said, I think I might start doing this to Amber! LOL! :)

  3. elenaltarien Says:

    I have to admit I have been very fortunate to have been in some great guilds where being a girl really wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. My first two guilds (which add up to 4 years of my time playing) were both run by female GMs! Every guild I have been in has been a couple (and single female) environment and I am thankful for that. All that said, however, I’ve had my fair share of being hit on by random guys in the world (of warcraft). I find it funny when random folks hit on my husband’s BE female pally. You gotta wonder if some of these folks really are that desperate!

    • Ophelie Says:

      I’ve had the same experiences with guilds. I’ve played in a few guilds in my four years of WoW and my gender have never been an issue. That’s why I want to insist that there are plenty of female-friendly guilds out there. I know, I’ve been in them.

      You know, from reading comments, I’m starting to think that I’m either very dense or there’s something wrong with my character since I never get hit on. Meaningless flirting from friends, yes, but nothing more. Hmmm. Maybe strangers subconsciously know that I’ll eat them for breakfast and toss their remains to the wolves in AV if they try anything silly?


  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by B.J. Keeton, jan zuppinger. jan zuppinger said: Of The Treatment of Women in WoW, part 2 – cont. still great read. http://icio.us/jw2ahj [...]


  5. [...] pair of posts over at The Bossy Pally and the Giant Spoon about women in WoW (part 1 & part 2).  I’m not a woman but I cringe when I hear some of the behaviour in our guild from time to [...]

  6. elenaltarien Says:

    In my experience, I’ve only been hit on while playing one of my Elves. Maybe I should dance on the Goldshire mailboxes less often. Just kidding! Not something I would do.


  7. [...] Of The Treatment of Women in WoW, part 2 – “This is different from flirting. Flirting is flattering. This is an insult. The message here is “your role is not to give your opinion on this intelligent topic, your role is to be cute”.” [...]


  8. I remember a few years ago when my wife got me hooked on wow. We rolled some gnomes, and were out questing together and what not.

    We’d always meet people and they would always be chatting her up, giving her gold, and inviting her to join their guilds or wanting to give her free runs.

    I rolled a blood elf female for my auction house alt, and I CONSTANTLY get dudes flirting with me. But once I mention I’m a dude, they immediately start flaming, telling me how genderly confused I am…when they were the one flirting with a wow character, lol.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Oh my. You really have to wonder about some people!

      Actually, while playing on my lowbie blood elf, I have run into people asking me to join their guild or give me free runs, but I never associated it with my character’s gender. I should level a male character sometime just to see the difference.

  9. Jel Says:

    I really appreciate your posts. This part in particular.
    “On one hand, I’m always delighted when someone takes into consideration the fact that I might not have the same sense of humour, the same ways of communicating or the same tolerance to teasing as the guys.
    On the other, I’m not exactly a porcelain doll either and I like when people can just be themselves.”

    I am glad to know that I am not the only one out there that has issues with enjoying being treated like a girl and also annoyed when treated like a fragile doll. I know it can make life difficult to understand. When I was in my early twenties I went to the extreme. I didn’t want anyone to treat me differently just because I was female. If you were going to say a joke around all the guys then you had to say it with me in the room. I hated the statement “there is a lady present”.

    I have changed perspective though since that time in my life. I am now in my mid thirties and I don’t want people to walk on egg shells but I want and deserve respect. So does anyone that is around me. I can take good nature flirting and a few dirty jokes and some foul language once and again if it isn’t constant and degrading to someone in particular. But like you said, referring to rape or other topics of the kind that is just tasteless is disrespectful for both men and women. It isn’t necessary so I politely ask them to stop. If they have a problem (and a few have had) then we have a problem, else I let it go and we move on.

    One thing that I wanted to bring up was something that a commenter alluded to and I wonder how other women handle it. How do you deal with guys giving you gifts in wow. Flowers are a nice sweet offering, but I have had guildies give excessive gifts to me. Like top of the line crafted gear that I know took quite a bit of effort to create. I try and politely refuse and or try and get them the equivalent in some fashion but it isn’t always feasible. I would love another’s perspective on it.

    I’d apologize for my verbosity but I read the previous comments :P

    • Ophelie Says:

      That is something that has crossed my mind in the past but I didn’t think of it at all when writing the post! Do you mind if I elaborate on that thought in a future blog post?

      I think the context and intent behind gifts, as well as my guild’s culture, would be major determinants in how I’d react. Generally when I receive a useful gift for my raiding character, I see it as a way to improve the guild instead of a personal gift. In my old “casual” guild, members gave each other items and shared crafting mats freely so it wasn’t a gender thing or a big deal. I’m also pretty free in my giving and even purposely save things in case a friend might need them, so I’m not shocked when others do the same. In other circumstances, I, personally, would have trouble turning down a gift, but I’d insist to pay them, or tank some heroics for them. And make it clear that WoW isn’t a dating service to me. I can’t say I have an issue with receiving gifts as long the giver knows they’re not getting special rights (which isn’t an issue these days since I’m not an officer) or expects to consider them as more than a friend.

      I suppose I would be annoyed if a particular person was constantly giving me things and not getting the hint that I’m not “interested”, but it hasn’t happened to me yet. *knock on wood*

      • Jel Says:

        Please feel free to elaborate on that thought in a future blog post. I look forward to reading it.

        You are right. I need to look at the intent behind the gift. I too give mats and such to fellow guildies and don’t expect anything in return. I think it is one of my issues of always being better at giving than receiving gifts. ;-D


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