In other news…

August 6, 2009 at 11:47 am (Navel-Gazing, WoW General)

Stepping away from the Intro to Warlocks, there’s been an interesting back-and-forth at World of Matticus recently.   Apparently, last week, a contributer named Lodur wrote an article that discusses particular sorts of guild members to be on one’s guard about.  All well and good.  The problem?  The categories of people to avoid boiled down to (a) women, and (b) men who act like women.  Oops.

Sydera penned a very good rebuttal that addressed why, despite the occasional “this could apply to men or women” aside, the original article’s criticisms are not, and can’t really be, gender-neutral.  The critiques were not aimed at “guild members who think the guild revolves around them”, or “guild members primarily interested in loot”, or “people who engage in inappropriate chatter in guild chat” (all of which can be problematic).  It’s “guild princesses” and “vapid vixens”.

Every guild I’ve ever raided with has had women in the leadership.  One was run by a woman.  Some have been excellent leaders, some have been lousy ones.  Some have even (heaven forfend!) had particular aspects of their role that they were strong at, and other aspects they were weak at.  Just like, y’know, the men in leadership roles in the guilds I’ve been part of.  Some have been administrative assistants in real life.  Some have been US Marines.  As with a lot of raiders, some of the women I’ve raided with had somewhat saucy senses of humor (certain people in one guild I was in will never think of the name “Bob” in quite the same way again).  Some did not.  Just like, y’know, the men I’ve raided with.

As an aside, the original article included, as one of its categories of people to avoid, men who play female toons in an effort to get something from men who think the person behind the toon is female.  As a man in real life who (for a combination of reasons) plays primarily female toons, I found this hilarious.  I did not, in my pre-raiding days, go out of my way to advertise my real-life gender.   A lot of people assumed I was female in real life as well (I think this was before it had really sunk in how many female toons are played by men).  To suggest that the treatment I received, as a result, was preferential is nothing short of absurd.  When I wasn’t being hit on by every twelve-year-old jackass in Azeroth, I was being condescended to.  It was…instructive.

Like every other WoW player, I’ve heard the stereotypes.  The woman who can’t get a raid spot except by being flirty or being the girlfriend of the raid leader.  I’m sure somewhere, that’s happened, but it’s funny how the stereotype isn’t the-guy-who-can’t-get-a-raid-spot-except-by-being-the-raid-leader’s-buddy (or cousin/brother/gardener/whatever), which I’ll bet you pops up more.  We all know people who get carried in raids.  When it’s a woman who gets carried, however, it is (surprise surprise) about the failings of her sex.  Guys have the privilege of getting to just be terribad.

I don’t think anybody looks to World of Warcraft for the vindication of one’s views on society, but it’s amazing what an amplifier WoW can be for what our society is already awash in.  I’ve heard people I once liked and respected hurl sexist, racist, or (especially commonly, alas, as this is WoW) homophobic slurs at other players.  I alternate, depending on whether I’m feeling optimistic or pessimistic that day, between thinking that, behind the mask of anonymity WoW provides, people behave in ways that are unlike them, and thinking that being behind such a mask is when people are most like their true selves.  If the latter is the case, ignorance was bliss.

4 Comments

  1. Tamarind said,

    The reason I think you have have no comments on this post yet is we’re all nodding vigorously. Agreed! Well said. Bravo etc. etc.

    I actually stepped AWAY from the whole discussion. I hated the original post, the comments were, if anything, worse (the only women who could possibly be offended by this article are the sort of women it mentions – holy fuck, can you *hear* yourself). The rebuttal was very good, of course, and this is an excellent post as well.

    I suppose I am naturally suspicious of “the x number of y archetype” posts anyway – I mean you say archetype, I say stereotype, let’s call the whole thing off. Even if you do it in a tongue-in-cheek way, classifying people into types so very easily validates the sort of assumptions that are profoundly harmful.

    I do worry about Azeroth sometimes, and what it brings out of people. But the blogsphere helps :)

  2. Temitope said,

    As a fellow Girl On The Internet I know exactly what you mean.

    You just gradually realize that nobody seems to be listening to you or taking you seriously and you suddenly go “hang on, this is because you think I’m a woman, isn’t it”.

    It’s pretty much why I left my previous Horde guild, the resident Deathtard kept trying to tell me how to play my class.

  3. Cassandri said,

    “The woman who can’t get a raid spot except by being flirty or being the girlfriend of the raid leader. I’m sure somewhere, that’s happened, but it’s funny how the stereotype isn’t the-guy-who-can’t-get-a-raid-spot-except-by-being-the-raid-leader’s-buddy (or cousin/brother/gardener/whatever), which I’ll bet you pops up more.”

    So true! I’d never thought about that.

  4. TotC: the disco « Righteous Orbs said,

    [...] are some fantastic posts from the Feldeeds archive: on Enchanting (and why it sucks), on PVP, on sexism, on boosting, on alting. And finally because it cannot be overlinked, the infamous ‘Seperated [...]

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