Posted tagged ‘feminism’

But This is Where It Ends, This is Where It Ends

September 7, 2010

But this is where it ends
This is where it ends
Call the police and call the press
But please, dear God, don’t tell my friends

– This is Where It Ends, Barenaked Ladies

I’ve had that song stuck in my head all weekend. The summer is ending, of course, not the blog. The blog, hopefully, will actually pick up now that I’m back on a regular schedule and will have plenty of hours of staring at a computer screen at the library.

The whole song actually does feel appropriate, though, after last weekend. I knew it would be rough to spend my last few days on the West Coast- and my birthday- alone in a city that likes to violently scrape the thoughts from my mind the way you’d scrape burned egg from a frying pan. What I wasn’t accounting for was when Life nailed me to a wall and hurled Herself (Life, of course, doesn’t have a gender, but I always call Her “She”) at me until I gave up. One day I’ll tell those stories, but not today.

Still, in the end, I think it was worth it.

As I was walking east on Georgia, following the overpass, heading back to my hotel one last time to pick up my luggage and get ready to go to the airport, I looked to my left. The setting sun lit up one particular building. Just under the roof it read Everything Is Going To Be Alright. Do you ever feel as if Life actually tries to converse with you?

Over my summer spend adventuring the West Coast, I’ve found comfort in two novels, one by Elizabeth Gibson, Eat Pray Love (which I swear I read before I knew it was going to be a movie!), a tale of the world traveling adventures of a recent divorcée in her 30s and one by Alice Steinbach, Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman, the Europe traveling adventures of a long divorced woman in her 50s. I love how they’re so different from myself age-wise and lifestyle-wise, but as solo travelers, the lessons we learn about ourselves and the internal challenges we face are the same. And the mornings where I woke up sobbing in my pillow, wondering why the hell I was doing this to myself when I could be back in my hometown living a NORMAL AND SIMPLE life, it helped to know that I’m far from the only female solo traveler who’s felt that way.

You meet a lot of people when you travel alone for months at a time. But most of all, you meet yourself.

All the Blogging I Missed!

I think I’ve read most of the major discussions, but my time was so limited that I couldn’t participate much. I loved reading all the feminism posts- I’ve taken part in (and started) a few WoW-gender trends in the past, but this was by far the largest and most elaborate discussion on the topic I’ve seen so far. Since I’m the ultimate people watcher, I especially enjoyed hearing about everyone’s personal experiences.
(more…)

Refuting Accusations Made Towards My Feminist Side

August 17, 2010

I was originally working on a post about intergender communication in a raid setting, but I kept veering off topic. I just had too much say. So I’m writing this post to get a number of things off my chest. You can still expect a post on communication in the near future, once I get this out of the way and can focus better.

I had someone try to explain feminist WoW blogging to me the other day. Apparently, I don’t understand feminism.

While I didn’t really take part in the recent flurry of feminist posts started by Pewter’s (excellent and well researched) literary analysis-style post on WoW, I have written a number of blog posts about women and WoW. I’m proud that some of them even sparked discussions stretching beyond the portals of my little corner of the internet. In my WoW life, I’m very involved with my predominantly male guild (in the 10 months I’ve been with them, I can’t think of a time where we’ve had more than 4 active female raiders at once), I’m a serious player, I’ve had tanking as my main spec in the past, I’ve led raids, I’m not afraid to speak up on vent when I’m pugging and when male players act patronizing towards me, I tell them off. In real life (because real life is important!), I’ve lived without the security blanket of a relationship for years, I’m finishing up my second university degree, I’ve volunteered in women’s shelters, I’ve written papers on domestic violence, I’ve been a girl guide leader, I wrote my IBO extended essay on the portrayal of women in Lord of the Rings, I’ve participated in vigils remembering the Montreal Polytechnic Massacre … Yeah, apparently I need to have feminism explained me.

I know I’m pretty mild when writing about gender issues. It’s that I don’t believe in complaining. I believe in taking action. I don’t talk feminism very much because I’m busy living it.

Step up and take control

Don’t get me wrong, injustices (be they gender related or not) should be called out. Yelled from the rooftops. They should be clearly described, discussed and, if at all possible, solved. That’s not complaining, it’s educating, it’s raising awareness.

But words only get so far. I do have problems with sites like My Fault, I’m Female, where angry women rant to other angry women about how much their life (and the world around them) sucks because they’re female. I certainly understand the benefits of venting to individuals who can empathize, but victimizing yourself puts you in a powerless position, at the mercy of jerks everywhere. It’s true that you can’t ever control what others believe and how they behave (well, in countries where most workplaces have very strict sexual harassment laws, you can control behaviour in some situations), but you can choose how you deal with things.

I’d prefer to read a site where women empower other women by going beyond sharing the frustrating moments in their lives and add how they’ve overcome those adversities and reached their goals. I don’t believing in victims, only survivors.

In a WoW setting, I wish other female players would speak up on vent when they pug. Yes, there’s a small chance someone will make a sexual remark, that someone will claim you’re a bad player, that it’ll be assumed you’re the healer. There’s also a small chance you’ll be stabbed in the subway someday. Or that you’ll get mugged on the street. Or that you’ll be crippled in a car accident. Do you stay home every day out of fear that, maybe, something bad might happen?

Ok, some people do. But the thing is, if you keep quiet on vent out of fear, you’re giving all the WoW assholes power over you. So if you want to speak up, then do so. If something bad comes of it, then use the experience to raise awareness and empower other women.

If it’s any reassurance, in my 5 years of playing WoW, I’ve always been open about my gender. I call stuff out on vent while I’m pugging, I correct people when they say “he”, I walk around with my Ammen Vale Lashling out, and the worst I’ve ever gotten from random strangers was “hey, cool, we have a girl in a the raid”. Which really isn’t insulting at all.

And the more women who are open about their gender (note, “being open” DOES NOT equate “flaunt”), the more the inhabitants of the World of Warcraft will realize that female WoW players are in fact quite common and, omigosh, not a big deal.

“WoW, from a women’s perspective”

When Matt and I exchanged some lines on Twitter about blogging about men in WoW and about men/women in-game interactions, we got a few interesting reactions.

What’s there to talk about?”

It’s been done to death.”

So boys, apparently, you’re boring, you have life served to you on a silver platter and you’ve been talked about so much that no cares anymore. What do you think of that?

I don’t know what the ratio of men to women is in WoW, but it’s not that impressive anymore. The millions of blogs with the tagline “WoW from a girl gamer’s perspective” make me smile. There are corners in WoW where women are uncommon: hardcore pvp, high end raiding, auction playing, serious tanking. I have a lot of admiration for those women who dare tread in waters they’re not expected to be seen in.

But for the most part? We’re not special little snowflakes anymore, but it pleases us greatly to believe we are.

(As a side note, I do recognize that it’s just pleasant to talk about WoW with other women, which is probably why groups like WoW_ladies are really popular. Talking about WoW to men just isn’t the same.)

Men on the other hand… I have yet to see a “WoW from a guy gamer’s perspective” tagline. And I bet, if it does happen, it’ll be very scandalous.

It’s like single gendered guilds. Male-only guilds are “sexist”. Female-only guilds are “admirable”. Female-only guilds do tend to be better at marketing themselves, touting the pleasures of playing amongst girlfriends instead of spewing bullshit like “we play better than the other gender”. But at the end of the day, single gendered guilds are about having guy-time or girl-time without the social and sexual pressure oozed by the presence of the opposite gender.

Women are the victims of a lot of double standards, but it doesn’t justify double standards against men.

Having non-cavemen guildies isn’t “fortune” it’s choice

I cringed a little at Metaneira‘s choice of words when she wrote “Ais and I are fortunate enough to be in a guild that promotes inclusiveness“. Her and Ais aren’t in their guild thanks to luck. They’re not guilded with cavemen because they’re self-respecting women who chose a guild where they’re treated like human beings. They chose to not join a guild that doesn’t believe in female tanks, that doesn’t allow women to be officers and that ignores contributions from female players on basis that they’re female.

To all women who are in such guilds: leave. Alt tab over to WoW THIS VERY INSTANT and type /gquit. There are tons, tons, tons AND tons of guilds that judge players according to skill (in a performance guild) or personality (in a social guild) rather than gender. Why the heck would you be wasting your time with a guild that doesn’t?

Of posting your photo on your guild forums

I’ve been thinking on that one quite a bit lately. In the past, I’ve felt the same way as those fearing the wrath of other females about posting pictures. Then I thought about it.

I once criticized a female applicant for putting her picture in her application. But really, a guy applying with a picture would have triggered the same “lol…wut?” from me. Guild applications are about who you are as a player, not what you look like in real life. Guildies post pictures of themselves as a faces-to-names/voices thing among friends. An applicant is a stranger, no one is nosey about looks quite yet.

As for posting provocative pictures, yeah, a woman posting pictures of her breasts will cross other women. If a guy posted provocative pictures of his 6-pack, though, well…do you REALLY think the other guys will let him get away with it?

Same goes for the woman who posts 20 pictures of herself. If a guy posts 20 pictures of himself, he’d get his share of crap too.

As for “you’re hawt!” type remarks, as long as they’re not creepy disturbing or coming from someone 10 years younger, I don’t see what’s offensive about them. No one complains when I compliment my male guildies on their pictures. And between you and me, I kinda like being told I’m hawt. Iin my real life, I’m appreciated only for my listening skills and my ability to recite chapters of Therapeutic Choices, it’s pretty nice to be treated like, you know, a warm blooded human being sometimes.

If you do get creepy disturbing comments after posting a picture, please scroll back up to the part about being guilded with cavemen.

Want to read more?

For a topic that’s supposed to be exhausted, I find I still have way too much to say about it. But I’ll give you all (as well as my fingers) a break from my wordiness and make a few reading suggestions for those of you who still believe women in WoW are a rarity. (Also, I can only think of so many blogs off the top of my head. I know there are tons more. If you write or know of a blog that fits into a category below, feel free to suggest it and I’ll add it to the list)

My past gender-related posts
The Treatment of Women in WoW part 1
The Treatment of Women in WoW part 2
The New Recruit or How I Almost Got in a Fight with a Sexist Jerk

Gifted bloggers who regularly write about gender in WoW
The Pink Pinktail Inn
Pugnacious Priest

Recent feminism posts
The ‘mental Shaman
Empowered Fire
Stories of O
The Lazy Sniper
Raging Monkeys (also a co-GM, raidleader and pvper!)

The following bloggers aren’t necessarily preoccupied by gender in WoW. They are, however, successful at roles or playstyles that are often described as “difficult” for a woman to be accepted in. Most of the time, our greatest limitations are the ones we impose on ourselves.

Female GMs/Raid Leaders
A Healadin’s Tear
Dwarf Babble
Kiss My Alas
Flash of Moonfire
You Yank It You Tank It
Tree Bark Jacket
I Like Bubbles

PvE Progression Focused Female Players
Moar HPS
Kurn’s Corner
Disco Priest
Falling Leaves and Wind
Ecclesiastical Discipline
HoTs & DoTs
Life in Group 5
Tales of a Priest

Topic to Ponder: Sexism or…

January 12, 2010

Yes, once again I’m stuck in an airport. After staying up all night getting ready for the flight, I arrived at the airport, only to find out my flight’s been canceled. In the past 6 hours, I’ve done some achievements I’d been putting off in WoW (until servers went down for maintenance), ate some overpriced airport food and read several chapters of the book I’ve been trying to get through since this summer. Now I’m just staring into space and letting my sleep deprived mind run wild.

Since writing my posts on the Treatment of Women in WoW (Part 1 and Part 2), I’ve been particularly attentive to gender issues in the game. I’m noticing behaviors I hadn’t remarked before, I’m more conscious of my own behavior as a female player and I’m remembering various issues from the past.

In pharmacy school, they constantly remind us to “treat the patient, not the test results.” It basically means that while test results will give you some general information on your patient, they don’t show you the whole picture. And in some occasions, the test results might even be mistaken. In every day (and WoW) life, I’m a huge proponent of “look at the person, not their gender.” It’s the same principle.

However, some time back, in my old guild, I encountered a situation where I couldn’t do that. The situation can be summed up to one line:

15 year old girl looking for guild.

The decision to decline her application was unanimous.

It had nothing to do with her application itself. It had nothing to do with her character or her estimated playing skill. It had nothing to do with her personality and potential for “drama”.

It had everything to do with us not wanting her exposed to flirting or obscenities from men older than her father and anything that may entail. While the /g environment was pretty mild, fact remained that it could get pretty mature (or immature, depending on how you look at it) at any time. We didn’t want to be responsible for exposing a teenage girl to that. Oh, bad behavior coming from her peers would be one thing, but from us, it was a different story. I was also personally concerned about what her parents would feel if they read /g over her shoulder. It wouldn’t take much to land us in trouble with them.

Furthermore, there’s no control over what goes on in whispers. We liked to believe that all our guildies were good people and not perverts, but really, you never know. The last thing we wanted was to read in the paper that she’d run away to meet up with some weirdo she’d met in our guild.

It’s an unfortunate reality. We had to turn her down based on her gender. Yes, it was the combination of her age and her gender, but it was nonetheless her gender that forced us to turn her down. You just can’t consider a teenage girl applicant the same way you would a teenage boy applicant. The implications are just too different.

Even in day to day life, I don’t treat teenage girls the same way I treat teenage boys. With teenage guys, I’m very laid back and I’ll typically speak to them at their level. I’m very tolerant, and if I do have to call them to order, I’ll do it with humour or I’ll use intentional ignoring. With teenage girls, though, I hold myself to higher standards, as if I’m trying to set an example. I might even bring my mommy side if needed.

When I sit and think about it, I get sad. It’s awful and it’s sexist. Gender shouldn’t be the determining factor as to which opportunities are available to us, even in a silly video game. Yet even with my love of problem solving, I don’t see a solution.

Of The Treatment of Women in WoW, part 2

December 31, 2009

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.

Of the Treatment of Women in WoW, Part 1

December 29, 2009

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.

Yes, I keep my girly flower out.

My Perspective

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*
Me: :(

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!


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