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.