Posted tagged ‘women in wow’

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.

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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