And the Horse You Rode In On

So, we had to guild kick someone the other day. I don’t generally like to guild kick people because I’m a) kind of soft-hearted and sentimental and b) afraid that if I start I won’t be able to stop. We at Imposs like to use gkick as a last resort and we like to make it stick. In the past year I think we’ve only asked about four people to leave and it’s mostly been without seeing hide nor hair of the Drama Llama. Well, after the kick that is. (One of my biggest fears is that someone who has been kicked will get all disgruntled and start some serious shit. Not happened yet, but I worry. I always worry.)

We have a policy in place that details the behaviour that the guild community expects from its members. Generally, if someone is transgressing, a simple whisper from an officer is enough to get them back on the right track. Sometimes two reprimands are needed, but there’s never been a guild kick over it until just recently.

In the case of our erstwhile guild member, they decided that calling our raid leader “gay” several times over vent was an appropriate way to express their displeasure. Seeing as this was coming the day after a late-night vent conversation between this guildie and one or two others where the offender also used “gay” as a synonym for “stupid” enough times to warrant two unhappy emails in my inbox the next morning (and neither of them from any of our openly gay members, btw), our homophobic slur-slinger got a whisper from me post-haste.

“Hey, I know you’re not intending to do any harm with your word choice – but I just want to let you know that you are. There are people – real people – in this guild who identify as gay and they don’t appreciate you (or anyone) using ‘gay’ to describe something you dislike. I know that you don’t want to hurt any of the friends that you have in this guild, and I know that you’re more than clever enough to come up with another way of expressing yourself, so please do so. Thanks so much.”

That was met with a surly silence and a marked display of ‘pouty’ behaviour from our former guildie.

Later on that night (after I had logged off, tellingly) there was a rehash of the earlier vent conversation. Not one, not two but three members and three officers (not including me) told this ex-Imposs member that his language use was well over the line and that he should just stop. Please stop. Please, please stop. His response was to gquit on his alt. The response of the officers was to gkick his main. My response was to post this on the forums, under the title “The Language Police.”

Yup, they’re here. And I am them!

I think it would behoove everyone to take a look at this post again, maybe check out some of the finer points on it, including the bit that goes:

The final thing I want to say to you all here is to reiterate something I’ve posted on these forums before:

your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.

The general channels are open to any form or topic of conversation, but that freedom is granted on the grounds that it will be administered with a respect for all of the members of the guild. If someone voices an opposing viewpoint, or someone requests a change in topic or language, then – as long as those views or requests are presented in a respectful manner – they must also be respected. I don’t mean “respected” in the form of “obeyed” but in the more literal sense of treated with compassion and dignity.

Because we all live in an imperfect society, and we all drop the occasional sexist, racist, homophobic or otherwise unacceptable comment through a combination of laziness, ignorance or just plain thoughtlessness. It happens, and I’m not here to scold everyone or make them watch every word they say at all times.

But when you start dropping a sexist, racist or homophobic slur like it’s on your fucking Word of the Day Calendar, and you’re asked politely by several people to stop – stop. Stop using it, and start thinking about how maybe there are actual people who are gay, female or people of colour – and who are people who don’t appreciate being compared to all that is stupid or worthless. Maybe there are people in the guild who are not directly affected by your words but who are nonetheless tired of you using them anyhow.

We’re all adults here. We’re a community here. Let’s realize that we should act like one. And acting like an adult within a community of adults means being able to use the phrase “whups, my bad” and move on when you’re respectfully asked to stop offensive behaviour.

There has not (as of yet) been one reply on the forums to that post.

The post script to this story is that over the next few days I had a series of conversations with our former member. The first conversation did not go well. It basically consisted of a non-apology along the lines of, “Well, I didn’t mean it in that way. I’m sorry people are upset.”

Dude.

I’d like to make it clear that intent does not bloody well matter. It doesn’t matter if you meant to hurt someone with your words – you did. It doesn’t matter if you meant to be a douchecanoe – you did. The big boy response here is to say “I’m sorry.” Just, “I’m sorry.” Not, “I’m sorry you were offended” – which is about as meaningful as “I’m sorry I got caught” btw. But, “I’m sorry.” Period. Full stop.

I suggested to our no-longer-raider that because his offense was pretty public, and that most of the guild was hurt and or pissed off, then the appropriate response would be to make some sort of public apology. Not just to try to get your way back into the good graces of everyone, but because our ex-member had been a member for a long time. And had made many friends and many connexions within the guild. A forum apology would reach everyone and show that even though you’ve been asked to leave, you still value the Imposs community, its members and the history you shared.

Surprisingly, he did.

I was actually shocked by it. He made a real and genuine apology to the guild, and the n server transferred with quite a respectful and remorseful adieu. I was impressed by the fact that he realized his behaviour had been sinking lower and lower over the past few months and that with his homophobic rant he had finally hit rock bottom. In the end he bid Impossibilium and ThoBro a graceful goodbye.
There is a lesson to be learned here.

WTB ERP

So, I’ve learned a few things from ERP. I’ve learned a few techniques about how to write a good erotic scene. I’ve also learned (through some very cringe-worthy moments) about what does not constitute a good erotic scene or even good writing period. I’ve learned a bit about the spectrum of people that play Warcraft (or at least the subsection of players that are willing to take on a role-play scene involving romance and/or eroticism.) But the most important thing I’ve learned, and certainly the thing that I wish to distill into this week’s Everything I Need To Know I Learned In Azeroth broadcast is about communication.

Blizzard has by design limited the explictiness of sexual encounters possible in the game. Mods aside, your character cannot achieve true nudity and the animated emotes and the pre-programmed sounds that go along with them are written to be risque but certainly not offensive. (None of which I disagree with, just to set the record straight. This is a game that younger children can and do play, and I completely agree that Blizzard is responsible to keep their product acceptable to the parents of those children.) So, if you and an of-age and willing role play partner decide to engage in some adult recreation, your possibilites for body language are limited. You are, for the most part, restricted to writing out your scene, your reactions, your thoughts, your wants – in short almost everything that matters in an erotic encounter. (Yes, I realize that the restrictions in terms of body language apply to almost every in-character encounter, erotic or not. Keep reading, I promise I’ll get to a point eventually!)

When my single-and-looking gnome finds an acceptable playmate for the evening, she is limited to the boundaries of my writing capabilities to communicate to that playmate exactly what she wants and how she wants it. She needs to be explicit in her actions and reactions for the scene to have any meaning or purposefullness at all. While there may be a certain amount of ‘chemistry’-driven spontenatiety, there is very little room for mind-reading. To get what you want you have to say what you want, clearly and possibly in great detail.

So, with all the people out there role-playing (and erotically role playing) with fun and satisfaction had on both sides, how is there such poor communication skills in our daily lives and our at-home relationships?

I understand that there are socialization forces at work here. Men are told they are “less manly” if they don’t know what they want and get in there and get it. Women are told they are “unladylike” if they voice their thoughts on what they want and demand they get it. We are told that people who are together should “just know” what the other person wants and that saying explicitly what you want or want to try or are even just thinking about makes a relationship seem less sexy. Toss in a healthy measure of Puritanistic thinking about sex and you ceratinly don’t get an atmosphere that is in any way conducive to frank conversation.

I also understand that there is an element of fear here. If you turn to your partner and say “I want to try X, with Y and some of Z” then you’ve given them a very specific way to say no to you. To reject you and your wants. It’s frightening to open yourself to that kind of rejection from someone you are close to. What if they say no? What if they think you’re a deviant for even suggesting it? What if they tell someone else? What if they mock you? It’s a leap of faith, to be sure.

When you add in Internet Anonymity, a lot of those obstacles disappear. Gender and sexual orientation boundaries become blurred, the emotional investments lessen and the great warm security blankie of the internet whispers us the promise that if things turn really nasty, we can just disappear back into the crowd. Free from the frightening realities of having to look someone in the face and say “what I want is this” we are given a safer environment in which to hone our skills in terms of exploring the boundaries and possibilities of human interaction – sexual and otherwise.

I know that I have the skills to properly, clearly, conscisely and effectively communicate my thoughts on any matter up to and including sexual encounters. Just by some of the comments I get on this blog, I know that I am capable of making my point known and understood. I can also see concrete examples of other bloggers and other role-players, having the skill set to communicate the most exquisite nuances of human thought and interaction. We need to start trusting in those skills. We need to trust in the relationships that are closest to us. We need to be able to trust our friends and our partners to treat our emotional nakedness with tenderness and dignity. We need to be able to go to our guildies and speak our minds and be heard and understood. We need to go to our partners and express our wants and our desires, our insecurities, our hopes, our curiosities and trust that because they are there with us, they will understand us.

There needs to be less fear and more open emotional honesty in all of our human interactions. Yes, you might be ridiculed. Yes you might be hurt. But someone, somewhere needs to extend that first hand of openness. Every guild, every partnership, every relationship out there can benefit from better lines of communication. Trust me. Try it.

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