Sunday, August 24, 2008

I am woman

I'm sitting here and wondering how to approach this topic in a balanced way. Mithrilina of A Girl, a Gun and a Stripey Cat recently posted on women in WoW, sharing her not so pleasant experiences of the reactions of male players to the presence of a woman in their raid. Loronar over at 35 Yards Out also posted a response. Some time ago I also read a great post by Lume on the topic.

It seems to me that the reaction of men to women in the game is directly proportional to their level of maturity. Just like real life really, boys do go through that ZOMG girls stage. I think it's probably reasonable to posit the converse - that the reaction of women to this kind of behaviour is proportional to their age and experience in real life. Because girls do go through that stage in their development of ZOMG boys too and dealing with how to react to these kinds of situations.

I feel that we women are sometimes guilty of helping reinforce these behaviours and stereotypes. What do I mean by that? Well, it's a thorny issue, but I believe that you shouldn't hide your gender. You don't have to advertise it but why refuse to talk on vent just because you're female? How is that empowered? I do understand that many women want to avoid unwanted attention in game, but then how do you deal in real life with the idiot men out there? Personally I don't hide my gender; I don't advertise it but I have no compunctions about talking on vent. If someone acts stupid I shut them down, just as I would in real life.

If you're a women and playing with a group of people who don't respect you because of your gender then you should GTFO and find a group who will. Same as in real life.

Respect anytime shouldn't be about gender, it should be about the qualities that you as a player and person bring to the table, and I believe that goes both ways.

In short, if you are a female gamer I exhort you to stand tall and proud, the best way to deal with stereotypes is to debunk them.


Webmosher said...


I think I found your blog through Hunter's Mark, and I really enjoy your posts.

As a guy, I couldn't agree more with you on this topic. For me, knowing a woman is behind a toon gives me a much greater respect for them. Perhaps I am a minority on this issue, but I do have the utmost repsect for women in gaming. This is because of two factors: 1) I have yet to group with a person I knew was a woman and was a bad player. Far and wide, women seem to work harder to understand the game and their classes. I have a much deeper respect for them as players. 2) I have played female characters in WoW and other games. I personally have never been disrespected by other human beings as much as I am when I play a female toon. In one aspect, its nice that people can be so damn friendly too you, but that comes with a very big grain of salt. For you to put up with that behavior and still keep playing, my hats off to you.

It is maturity. Whether a player is 12 or 24 or even 34, doesn't matter. If they make the same "OMG U R soooo sexy" comment, it boils down to the same thing. Its disrespectful. Unfortunately, the internet has been like this forever. Even in the days of MUDs, I saw this all the time. Not a new thing. Basically, people objectify the gaming persona into something they want it to be. It becomes offensive to some people that their pretty little world is shattered by reality.

Fortunately, real women are fairly well equipped to deal with this crap pretty early in their lives. My daughter is only 16, and she can run banter around her 18 year old brothers without a blink.

Anyhow, sorry if that turned into a bit of a rant. Keep up the great posts.


Damage Incorporated

Jezrael said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comment Turing and I'm glad you enjoy my blog :)

I think boys teasing girls and vice versa is part of the socialisation process growing up. In real life I certainly experienced this kind of behaviour, whether that extends into actual sexism later in life depends on a lot of factors I guess. It's interesting to consider how the online environment affects this process for young people, considering the ability to present yourself via an avatar. The academic in me senses an interesting avenue of study for the social sciences. Heh.

Typhoonandrew said...

Agree totally Jez.

I think we should all not tolerate immaturity in players, for any reason. Academic or not.