I usually try to keep this blog kinda academic, bringing in my experience as a game researcher into the topics I see discussed in the general blogosphere. When it comes to feminism in WoW, I find it hard to stay detached and distanced. As a WoW player and feminist, it just gets a bit personal.
So, I will share a few WoW moments which for me have defined the idea of what it means to be a female gamer.
- There is another girl in the guild. She is skilled enough, but not really my kind of person. She takes things too personal, and she makes giggly noises on Ventrilo (where I am shouting at people to “STEP OUT OF THE F*** FIRE!”). Other players makes fun of her behind her back about how bad she is, more then she really deserves. I feel sympathy for her, knowing that one of the reasons for her getting so much crap is because she stands out as a female player. If it was a guy I wouldn’t try to defend him, but as it is a girl I feel I should. Feminine solidarity isn’t easy…
- I lead raids and work hard as an officer. In my opinion I have proven my worth as a player and as a policymaker for the guild. Still, I can see that I have to work twice as hard (or atleast harder…) for people to respect my opinions about the game, strategies, gearing and specs. I don’t know if it has anything with me being a girl, or if it is simply something about my demeanour that they don’t find authoritative enough. The trouble with gender is that it’s always there, but it’s hard to know when it’s a decisive factor.
- I have just joined a small guild on one of my alts. I don’t tell anyone about me being a girl, as I feel it is completely irrelevant in that setting. After a discussion where I was making a decent amount of sexist jokes, I was told off for being a misogynist. I explain that the jokes were told with a certain amount of ironic distance, and that I am in fact a girl with quite feminist ideals that should be allowed to have a laugh too. As soon as I have “outed” myself as a girl, the GM approaches me in whisper. He asks about my RL name and what I do (which I gladly share, as my work demands a certain amount of openness). He then proceeds to tell me about his depressions and suicidal thoughts. Until that point we have had no personal contact, but as soon as I tell I’m a girl I get showered with unpleasant personal details. It’s not the first time it has happened, and after giving him advice about where to seek help I leave the guild and tell myself that I really should just keep secret about being a girl. But then again, why should I have to keep that quiet? Shouldn’t I be free to tell about myself too?
- I meet up with a girl at a party, she is really funny and smart – and we have lots to talk about. Then I find out that she plays WoW, does hard mode raiding, and is accepted by her guild based on her ability to perform well. I am over the moon. So rarely do I meet girls who are not only into WoW, but also care about being good at the game (which is kinda given based on how many girls play WoW and how many people are into hardmode raiding). I feel really happy that I have found another girl that I can relate to in this sense, but at the same time sad that I have played the game for more then 5 years and it’s only happened a handful of times.