There was something rather surprising about the whole RealID fiasco (and I’m not just talking about the fact that Blizzard actually listened and changed their plans).
The overwhelming majority of people arguing against it were women. As one poster said, toward the end of the epic thread: “Who knew so many women played WoW?”
Well, I did, for one. The majority of the WoW players I know are, in fact, female. But I play primarily on Roleplaying servers, which tend to have a higher percentage of women and tend to be slightly more friendly toward female gamers. However, for some people it seemed that the fact that women play the game was a revelation, especially that women play in such large numbers. Gaming isn’t just a boys club anymore. It hasn’t been for a long time.
And then I read this over on one of the blogs that I happily discovered over the last week: “Geek Feminism as Opposed to Mainstream Feminism”
It brought up a lot of good points, one of which was that a lot of geek women learn to tolerate and even participate in the more misogynistic aspects of geek culture. It made me go back and review some of my own behavior. I didn’t like what I saw.
Like the writer, I have always been more comfortable around geek men than around non-geek women. I rarely find that I can even find common conversational ground with most non-geek women. It’s as if we speak different languages.
But I am a cisgendered – in fact often a very feminine – woman. Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile the typical things associated with femininity with being a geek, a skeptic, or a rational thinker, especially when you find a good many of the things that a lot of non-geek cisgendered women engage in or obsess over to be, well, rather shallow, boring, or silly.
But in branding non-geek women with those adjectives, am I, a long-time feminist, being misogynistic myself? Or worse, by becoming “one of the boys” and tolerating anti-female comments, slang, and stereotypes, have I given up my feminist ideals in favor of fitting in with other geeks? As Mary over at Geek Feminism writes:
It’s fairly common for geek ciswomen to remember a period of being actively misogynist, along the lines of: “I can see why men find women so bad, 99% of women are indeed trivial and annoying” or “I get treated in a sexist way, and it’s the fault of other women, for inviting sexist behaviour.”
Is it possible to reconcile being a feminist with also being a geek? I have to wonder why so many of those women protesting RealID seemed to feel it was okay to allow a misogynistic culture to force us into hiding our gender. I do understand why women might want to hide their true gender behind an avatar to avoid bias or sexual harassment, and I think that the whole RealID issue caused extreme privacy concerns beyond that. However, I have to point out that hiding your gender to avoid harassment is the rough equivalent to just laying down and taking it.
Isn’t it better to fight the misogyny than to submit to it? To go out there and admit your femininity and then show the boys that they’re wrong. The only way that anything in the gaming community will ever change for women is if we show the community at large what is and is not acceptable behavior. As long as we keep hiding our femininity away, pretending to be one of the boys, nothing will ever change.
And so now I say: If you use hate speech of any sort, I will report you. If you use slang which glorifies violence against women, I will report you. If you sexually harass me, I will report you. I will not play with you. I will not hide the fact that I am a woman to avoid any of the above, because that does more to help the problem than to fix it.
And if you assume that because I am a woman, I don’t know how to play, I will pwn your ass and enjoy doing so.
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