Well, I do realize I’ve been a bit flighty recently, but each time I go to put together a post I keep getting distracted by some stupid King demanding that I kiss his ring, and then 10 hours later, I realize I’ve just spent all that time playing Civilization IV: Revolution. Anyway.
Blah blah blah, there’ve been quite a few posts about feminism going around lately, as I’m sure you know. Since it’s actually something of one of my favorite topics, I’m surprised myself that I haven’t commented on it earlier, but I’ve had some pretty bad backlash from doing so before, so I decided discretion is the better part of valor. Also, since gender issues are sorta “my thing” if you will, then maybe it can be explained by my own admission that there is no way I can address the topic of sexism in WoW, and keep it focused on WoW, and not go on a full-fledged rant.
And then this morning Chas posted what I think is quite possibly his all-time best post at Righteous Orbs, and it really touched me. And then I decided “Valor” and “Discretion” can both go have a cup of tea with Stalin for all I care, because RANT INCOMING. Consider yourself warned.
I’ve mentioned previously that I was once in a PhD program at a nice school in the Eastern US and that certain events led to me withdrawing after one semester, and therefore giving up all my little hopes of being a professor, and all that jazz. Well, here’s one of the other major components of that story.
My first semester, I focused most of my attention on Feminist Geography. Every time I tell people that, I get scoffed at by people who have no idea what that means, and as much as it irritates me that instead of asking what it entails, people merely laugh at it, it’s not particularly important for this story. Suffice to say I spent my time essentially in Women’s Studies, and exploring how gender issues are affected by where people live, work, etc. My professor and advisor, someone I’d admired for years, was a product of the old school bra-burner generation, and I had a lot of respect for her for that, mind you. So when I presented my research at the end of the semester, it was heartbreaking to me that she was absolutely NOT impressed.
Maybe it’s simply because I am a female, and I prefer to study things that are foreign or novel to me (which is why I get such a kick out of British TV), but I was much more interested in the way sexism negatively affects men. Because it does, and to say it doesn’t is to be just as blind as someone who says that all women who complain about sexism are making mountains out of molehills.
How many single dads do you know? When I went to try and get demographic information on this, imagine my surprise when the published numbers from the 2000 US Census I found only documented single mothers, and not single fathers. When a friend of mine who is a single dad was unemployed, I told him he should try operating a daycare out of his home because he’s so great with kids. He laughed, and informed me that no one would give him the business, and that he would likely get in trouble for it – men aren’t supposed to spend that much time with children, or they are pervs, didn’t you know? This was brought even more to light by a long-standing policy by British Airlines which was finally brought down this week: Before a recent lawsuit, lone male travellers were not allowed to be seated next to unaccompanied children.
It’s hard enough for women when they are victims of rape… but what about men? I used to live in a pretty shoddy area, and during the three years I lived there, I know of four men who reported being raped, and I really felt for them. Chas’s tale of the comedian in Edinburgh made me think of those 4 young men in my old neighborhood who were victims. Did they go to the University Women’s Center for support and empathy after their attacks? For the men who are victims of domestic violence (and you would be shocked by how common it is, because of how rarely it is reported), do they go to the special women’s shelter for abuse victims? I’m all for having these support groups around, mind you, and I fully recognize that I’m getting caught up in semantics, but when a gay man decides to join a GLBT support group after being bullied for being “girly”, maybe it would be a little more supportive if he didn’t have to visit the Women’s Center in order to employ it.
I’ve got a pretty good sense of humor, and most of the time I can roll with the punches. In general, terminology that people use does not really offend me. I’ve got a bit of the sailor in me, if you catch my meaning, but one thing I absolutely cannot stand is jokes about men getting raped. The jokes that suggest that a man can’t be raped, or “you can’t rape the willing”, or something to that effect enfuriate me. Jokes about raping a boss don’t bother me, nor do people using the dreaded “c” word… but jokes about men getting raped? I will throttle you. The reason it bothers me is because it reflects a societal belief that genuinely exists and is not subject to nearly enough discussion and debate… a vast majority really do believe that a man can’t really be raped, and it sickens me.
I didn’t want to study Feminist Geography, I wanted to study Geography of Gender… and at the time, that was simply unacceptable. There is this idea that the dreaded Patriarchy is some group of old white men sitting around a table trying to think of ways to keep the woman down, but it’s not like that. The concept of patriarchy is just that – a concept. It’s a vast structure of societal and cultural beliefs that affect both men and women. There is an underlying cultural belief that women can’t be truck drivers and coal miners and still be heterosexual, just as much as men can’t be flight attendants or nurses and still be heterosexual. The whole Patriarchy is the enemy of not just women, but men as well. Maybe a lot of men do benefit from it, but most are victims just as much as women are.
I am a Feminist because I believe women should be treated with equality. I am a Masculinist because I believe men should be treated with equality. The fact that my spellchecker just alerted me that the word “Masculinist” does not exist is very telling in and of itself.
Err, and to bring this rant back to WoW, enter the invisible and incredibly awkward segue...
I hate that the choices I have for toons in WoW are generally so disgusting to me physically. I love my female dwarf, and everytime I log in in Dalaran, or join a pugged raid or a battleground, there are comments about how rare female dwarves are. Female dwarves are so butch, after all! But they aren’t… they are quite possibly the most realistic body image for women, and I wanted my toon to be a reflection of me (even though I’m 5’10). The closest thing Chas can find to what he looks like is a Blood Elf male, who are considered the “girliest” of male toons, much like the femdwarf and the femorc are “butch” toons.
There have been a lot of comments that suggest women in wow need to step up and play more tanks! Play more DPS! Step away from the female-as-a-healer stereotype! (I’m exaggerating, by the way) Well, as a dedicated and permanent female healer myself, I absolutely fit the stereotype, but that’s okay with me. Just play whatever role, whatever toon, whatever class, you love most: And damn what other people think about it. If you feel like you ought to play something you don’t enjoy as much merely to make a point, then I think you might, in fact, be missing the point. The idea behind what others were saying, is that if you have even an inkling or a notion that you might enjoy tanking or DPSing, then go for it, and I and many others encourage you to do so, ladies.