I give up – I can’t stay away from the last weeks’ blogging hot topic that is female gamers and gender issues. I know there’s been a lot of great points made already by a lot of prominent WoW Bloggers and that’s why I don’t want to rephrase it all. But there is something I am missing after all of this – I miss some sort of conclusion. Especially with topics like these I find it so important to ask the final question: “And now what?”
Also, I really just like to share what I think – I know it’s probably much ‘cooler’ to be quiet sometimes with a superior smile on your face or something – what can I say, I’m kinda weak that way.
What’s been established
Many of the blogs I’ve read and left far too many comments on (now wait, Bloggers love that actually, hah!) the past few days, have taken a close look at the subject and given a lot of thought to the different layers of complexity. It is hard not to lose yourself in some of the arguments and stay away from overly generalizing statements and labels. At the same time this doesn’t mean we should shy away from such discussions.
At this point I also need to vent a little and say that I really do not understand female gamers that say things like “I don’t know what the big deal is about sexism, I am an officer in my guild and don’t see its a real problem”. I’ll say that I find this not just ignorant but about as insightful as a privileged person claiming that there’s no poverty in the world or your grand parents telling you to stop whining because they “did it the hard way” too. I don’t know why that vexes me more than male ignorance, probably because you really should know better.
I think what most will agree on is that female gamers do have a harder stand in online worlds reflecting their cultural and social status in the real world. And why would it be any different anyway. Women who dare to enter ‘male terrain’ will have to put up with a good fight and most likely put in extra effort to gain equal respect from male colleagues. And if you have to wait twice as long or work twice as hard to get your rank or title that’s not really equality.
What’s also fair to say is that while men get the ‘better deal’ in power and status, that doesn’t mean by any means that they are actually ‘free’ or do not have to struggle with sexism and injustice. Men are equally bound by cultural restraints and stereotyping. There is a big discussion going on about this currently at Righteous Orbs. So even if a woman, by whatever means, reaches equal social or economical success in today’s society, what she can hope for at best is a shift in dictation – that she gets measured like a man instead of a woman.
Is that really where our striving for equality ends?
When equal is not the same
The ultimate goal for both women and men alike is probably when we can set all the labels, the feminine and the masculine, as much as all the do’s and don’t aside.
It’s problematic for both genders that for now we strive for an ‘equal’ that means we have to act the same in order to be successful and accepted. A lot of men cannot actually identify with many so-called ‘male qualities’ any more than women do. True freedom it will be once we can be unlike one another and still be of equal worth. The ultimate equality lies in freedom of choice.
I like to wear bunny ears on my female priest when I feel goofy and I’d like to split horde skull in battlegrounds when I feel like kicking ass – without these things making me either girly or masculine or anything but a human. Or to put it the other way around: what’s wrong with acting ‘like a woman’ or ‘like a man’? Do we really need to associate certain qualities with gender in such ways? I’m sure men have plenty of similar examples they can come up with.
And women shouldn’t shy away from playing DPS or tanks in WoW, any less than they should start avoiding rolling a healer in order to be forcefully ‘not stereotype’ (funny enough in numbers most healers are still male anyway).
I play a priest because raidhealing is actually a challenge, ok?! I don’t know who the mastermind was that established that DPS in WoW is more demanding but the responsibility and multitasking effort required to deal with healing is a lot bigger for me than (face-) rolling a warlock, thank you very much! Plus I get to boss people around, tip the outcome of battle and laugh in the faces of the morons I chose not to heal. God I love healing!! Ooops, that was offtopic.
So what’s your conclusion then?
So far goes the theory and overall state of affairs. And as much as I love philosophizing with friends over a good glass of red wine, I’m a practical person in the end. What are you gonna do with all these blog posts and comments now, all these great insights – where’s the part I can actually do something about and act on? If anything this is the most important part.
I know the answer for me. I know I’m a spiteful person with an uncanny taste for conflict. I agree that women “shouldn’t have to” fight twice as hard to prove themselves, but I will continue all the same while treading a fine line between following code and staying authentic. Just because something is twice as hard won’t stop me from trying. I will call for help against injustice whenever I can but I will also continue to make my own luck relentlessly.
Women have stayed passive for way too long. While you wont be able to change it all at once, it sure as hell doesn’t help to sit back silently in your corner either. I’ve seen so many women getting overlooked in guilds because they were timid or overly apologetic about things like mistakes or shortcomings. If you like others to have confidence in you, you need to have confidence in yourself first and look it. I believe that we can make changes in the small worlds we live in. In this we are actually privileged as citizens of the western world, which makes it all the more important.
When I started raidhealing in vanilla, there was a certain co-healer I didn’t like at first because he already patronized me on my first MC run. I know he didn’t like me either but as time works, we came to know each other better and played during such long and intense periods that we ended up buddies. Sometime in early TBC he said something to me one evening that got me totally by surprise. What he basically said was that he had always thought women were a bit ‘shitty’ players, but coming to know me (and 2 other women in our guild) he felt positively corrected. He could see that some women were indeed awesome and fun players.
Uhh…I think every woman understands how one feels in such a situation and how hard it is to react to something like that. While that statement is no doubt meant as a compliment it is rather bitter on a different level and if you chose to, you could undoubtedly take offense.
But I took the comment the way it was meant. Knowing my friend to be somewhat clumsy with words, I understood the praise there. It had taken him over a year of playing with me to say something like this and in essence, he was just being honest.
This was an achievement. Not because he had acknowledged my skills even though that is undoubtedly nice to hear; but especially because playing with me and other female players had actually managed to change some of his outdated views. Experience is the best teacher they say. I was really happy about it because I knew that in the future he wouldn’t dismiss female players as fast as he had done in the past.
These are small changes, trifles maybe. But they do count on the way to greater equality. You can touch those you live and play with. Or you can chose to go the distance and maybe one day find yourself in a position where you have the means to bring even bigger change for those that follow after you.
If you make it to officer or GM in your guild, you can make sure the women get treated fairly or tell the bigmouth, sexist trialist in your guildchat just how happy you are to end his misery. Whatever rank or position you hold, inside and outside of the game, don’t accept discrimination. That doesn’t mean you cannot laugh about a silly joke.
But my question isn’t exclusive to our female readers, it goes to both you gaming ladies and gents alike: What are you gonna do with it?
And thus I close with a quote I have used as a forum signature in the past. It just seemed to fit so well.
“Theres two kinds of people in this world when you boil it all down. You got your talkers and you got your doers. Most people are just talkers, all they do is talk. But when it is all said and done, it’s the doers that change this world.
And when they do that, they change us. And that’s why we never forget them. So which one are you? Do you just talk about it, or do you stand up and do something about it? Because believe you me, all the rest of it is just coffee house and bullshit.”