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)
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.