Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sex, Sexism, and the World of Warcraft

One blogger (I can't remember whom) commented on how many blogs by women gamers advertise that being a girl is an important aspect of their game play, but never actually blog about what makes being a female gamer so noteworthy. I agree with this, though I see why they advertise as they do: It's still a relative rarity for a woman to be a gamer. For the most part, however, there is no difference in the gaming experience between the sexes. There are men and women at every level of game play, individuals that can kite Fel Reavers to A'dal and individuals that don't even know what a shot rotation is. There are people that can farm for 10 hours straight and others that lead progressive guilds through endgame content. And they are of both sexes.

Azeroth is still an man's world. I don't emphasis the fact that I am female so often, here or in the game (unless I'm confused for a guy, such as a "Thank you, sir" to which I simply correct them by saying *ma'm), but it always comes up, and sometimes it's the point of a conversation. I suppose these sort of things come up more frequently than I actually acknowledge, because I've been playing for three years and it's become a fact of life. I took notice last night when one of our shaman told me in party "Hey Neg, did you know that women on average speak more than three times as much as men do?" Regardless of whether this little factoid was true or not, I essentially told him, not really surprised, since women tend to validate things, but so what? His response was: "Nag nag nag nag nag."

What am I, the Source of All Information on the Female Gender? I suppose this may be the common ground scenario, where it's okay to ask these sort of questions because we're all gamers here, and who better to ask questions regarding the opposite sex than that conversation-friendly female officer? But it's just SO MUCH.

Once I casually let slip that I've always been considered "one of the guys": I grew up a tomboy, I never had a gaggle of girlfriends, it was always my guy friends that I hung out with, mainly because there never were any hidden agendas or complications arising that girls were always fond of creating. The response from the guild towards this slip of the tongue? "So, does that mean you have a penis?" /facepalm Jokes ensued after that, which for the most part I ignored to the point that I actually forgot where it originated, but the point remains the same - I have to be emphasized as a girl, separate from the guys.

If I say anything that could even remotely be taken for a sexual innuendo, it's not just taken, it's snatched and ripped to pieces. I don't even notice how regular it is anymore, but the frustration of having a normal conversation turned into a joke-trading orgy eventually gets to you. At one point last night I just snapped and yelled in Officer Chat "Why does it always have to be about sex?!" And, of course, I was berated for not being able to take a joke.

Jokes are fine. Jokes are swell. Jokes that never deviate from the topic of "Neg Is Woman" get really really tiring after the eight thousandth time. I'll get back into the rhythm of ignoring them soon enough, swatting the jokes away with a bored "OMG" over Vent, but they are still there, and they will never leave. I know the jokes are truly in jest, that I am respected as a player and an officer, and that I'm good at taking the jokes with relative stride (Oh, I have plans for, believe you me ;) ), but like so much of today's culture, what is different will always be emphasized over what is the same. Such is life.

1 comment:

Rilgon Arcsinh said...

"I know the jokes are truly in jest"

You are a stronger and more trusting person than I, because I would seriously doubt the validity of that, myself.

Then again, I've been unduly harassed in other games and in other venues, so it's very, very difficult to gain my trust nowadays. I'm like the Timbermaw - everyone is a potential enemy until they prove otherwise.