Posted tagged ‘sexism’

The New Recruit or How I Almost Got in a Fight with a Sexist Jerk

April 8, 2010

EDIT: Due to this post getting way more attention than I expected, I feel the need to make a few clarifications.
1) This was a one time event that I felt like talking about. A one time event. I write 1500 words about something when I find the topic interesting. It doesn’t mean it’s in the end of the world.
2) After reading the discussion surrounding this post on my blog and on other blogs, I realized that I’m really not being fair to my GM here. Yes, I pointed out his faux pas in the story. Leaving it out would have ended my tale rather abruptly. I (stupidly) wanted to keep explanations brief and simple and focus on myself and on my part in the story. I (again stupidly) left out everything else going on in the guild as well as how he scolded our little troublemaker and patiently listening to my complaining. He also let me get away with this blog post which definitely earns him props. (I’m nervously anticipating his rebuttal blog post, though.)
3) I know troll commenter Kimbo personally. Don’t let him annoy you, his ego would explode and that would be a pain to clean up ;D

I’m acting out of character a lot lately. First a whiny post. Now I’m going to go into guild-related specifics, using a pretty harsh tone. Before you know it, I’ll be making posts about Paladin Cataclysm changes. Ok, maybe that’s pushing it. But anyway, an interesting situation in guild came up recently and I found it worth talking about.

The Story, part 1: How it all started.

On my guild’s application template, there’s a “tell us a joke” section. It’s a rather brilliant idea and tells you a lot about an applicant’s personality. Most applicants tell really lame jokes, but end up being ok people, just not very funny. This one kid, though, had “woman’s rights” as his joke.

While I wouldn’t qualify that as exactly offensive, I had to roll my eyes. Real mature there, kiddo, real mature.

When one of the officers replied with “invited because of joke“, I still wasn’t offended quite yet but was getting a little annoyed. After all, my eyes were becoming sore from all the rolling they were doing.

Things got a little heated when our kickass (female) bear tank cocked an eyebrow. The kid replied with a sarcastic remark. Having enough, I jumped in with a sarcastic remark of my own, pointing out how he was really impressing the women in the guild.

His answer? “Oh yeah, that’s what I play WoW for, to impress women.”

Is that a challenge, little boy? Are you challenging me? I accept your challenge little boy.

I wanted to take him on then and there, but instead I bit my tongue and left a note for my GM.

Let’s play Find-the-Line

Our guild chat is rated well beyond PG-13. Racist and pseudo sexist jokes abound but, for the most part, no one is bothered. Why was this particular behaviour unacceptable to me? Where’s the line?

The line is different from one person to the next. When it comes to sexist jokes especially, tolerance levels vary from woman to woman. A woman who grew up in a sexist environment and who had to fight her whole life to be listened to and respected will probably find nothing funny in sexist jokes. A woman who grew up in a sexist environment and who accepted it as part of life will probably be pretty difficult to offend. A woman who, and I fall into this category, grew up in a female dominated world and sort of takes respect and equality for granted will be somewhere in the middle.

What about this behaviour crossed my line?

1- All I knew about this guy’s personality was negative. The main reason none of the other guys’ pseudo sexist remarks bother me is because I’ve either had normal, enjoyable conversations with those guys in private, or I’ve had strange, irrational conversations with those guys in private, which had them excused as “raving lunatics, not responsible for their words”. All I had seen from this applicant was a very lame attempt at humour and blatant disrespect towards myself and another guildy. Not even good enough to be lumped into the “raving lunatic” category.

2- He didn’t know when to stop. When in doubt, don’t take chances. My guildy and I were subtle in our warnings, but when you have two women, strangers, coming at you with displeased tones after you showed some sexist attitude, you’ll want to test the waters before adding fuel to the fire. Not knowing when to stop is a red flag.

3- An application thread is supposed to impress. When I read an application thread, I see it as the best this person has to offer. This is them selling themselves, trying to impress their future guildies. Obviously, the best this guy has to offer is pretty crappy.

4- The timing was bad. Pseudo sexism was getting stale. We were in the middle of a roster turnover. I was burned out and sick IRL. Sure, he couldn’t have known that this was not the time act like a moron, but when you don’t know what kind of group of people you’re talking to, you should play it safe. Social skills 101.

The Story, part 2: It only get better!

Here’s where things take a strange turn. Our 10 man runs are organized on our offnights. One team runs on Wednesday and one team (my team) runs on Sunday. The kid signed up for Wednesdays’ 10 man. Guess who leads the Wednesday team? Heh. All I can say is that she was far more polite than I would ever be in explaining to him that 10 man teams require a certain level of respect and maturity, qualities he would need to display in order to be considered for a spot. (I would have just flat out told him I have a no asshole policy. In my opinion, he was beyond redemption. He could go die in a fire. Like I let him do several times during Tuesday’s raid.)

Here’s a condensed version of the exchange that followed:

Kid: The GM said I could put smilies when I’m being sarcastic to show I’m joking.
Me: It’s obvious when you’re joking, it’s the nature itself of your joking that’s unacceptable.
GM: Well, what else is he supposed to do?
Me: Usually when you offend someone without meaning to, you apologize.

He did privately apologize to our bear tank. I asked for an apology as well. I didn’t receive one, but I can’t say I was too surprised. After all, he doesn’t need anything from me. (That he knows of.)

Now tells us what you learned…

Did I handle the situation as well as I could have?

No. Of course not.

Honestly, and I know it’s strange, I’ve never encountered this sort of thing before. Ever since my childhood, I’ve been in female dominated environments. Grade school, high school, college, my psych undergrad, pharmacy school, every job I’ve had, the females outnumbered the guys by a lot. Among my siblings, I was the only girl, but I was the oldest and the strongest, so it was a non-issue. I’ve never really had to stand up for myself as a woman. Even in WoW, my old guild was mainly composed of thirtysomething, highly educated, upper middle class, working professionals. Anyone who displayed immaturity in an application was turned away and anyone who offended guildies during their trial period was given a swift /gkick with very little discussion.

When dealing with the pseudo sexism of guild chat, dispelling the joking with more joking usually works pretty well. If I get a “yes, mom” from a guildy I happen to be scolding, I’ll play along, asking if he’s eaten his vegetables. If a conversation takes a turn for worst, a snarky comment of a warning will generally get the other person to back off.

This guy was either utterly clueless, or had no regard for others whatsoever. Either way, it’s very difficult for me to respect such a person. I don’t want to raid with him, I don’t want him in guild chat. The fact that I’m even blogging about this shows a lot.

Still, I recognize that being direct is the way to go for these situations. To me, it’s obvious that you should apologize when your attitude offends. But apparently it isn’t obvious to everyone. Or instead of making a sarcastic remark when he crossed my line, I should have flat out told him on the spot that his behaviour wasn’t cool and that I’d like for him to change his attitude. Would it have made a difference? Maybe not, but he wouldn’t have been able to use “I didn’t know any better” as an excuse.

The “Panties in a Wad” Fear

A large reason that I get nervous about flat out telling people they’re going too far is the “Panties in a Wad” fear. Basically being accused of exaggerating or blowing things out of proportion. The second us girls disagree, it’s “OMG, drama!”, “OMG hissy fit!”, “You must be PMSing!”. This is how we’re taught from a young age to not speak up. Enraging, yes, but once the message sinks in, it’s difficult to unlearn. So we communicate with hints, until we reach our breaking point and it all comes rushing out, reinforcing the notion of women throwing hissy fits and starting drama.

Is the “Panties in a Wad” fear justified? Probably not. Especially not in this guild where, despite our huge member diversity, people are pretty accepting of each other’s limits. Actually, I didn’t even realize how ingrained my panties in a wad fear was until I scolded this kid on the forums and immediately wanted to crawl under the floor afterward.

Moving Forward!

I am looking forward to seeing how this is going to play out. At this point, I’m more entertained than anything else. It’s hard to stay offended given the hilarity of the situation. Still, should the question be asked, I plan on enforcing a “no asshole” policy for my 10 mans. I am going to focus on being direct (I’m sure my guildies will loooooooove this, hahaha) and I’m going to work on getting rid of my panties in a wad fear. I hope for many panties in a wad accusations following this post so I can practice not caring.


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