I (still) Fight Like a Girl

So, I’m a girl. A really real girl with an adorable matching set of X chromosomes and everything.

If you’ve been reading along with me for a while, you’ll know that I am also a scientist. I’m actually a scientist twice over, holding degrees in Zoology and Geology. While I was in school, I paid for important things like heat in my house and booze (and less important things like books and my bus pass) by working as a butcher in a local grocery store. All told, I’m pretty much at home in an environment where the sex ratio is against me. Even here at the mine, by boss is a male, more than half of my co-workers are male and the entire drilling crew I’m looking after is, of course, all male.

It was certainly not a shock to me when I started playing MMOs that most of the people I met were also male. My first friend was a male and so were most of the folks in the first guild I joined. Most. But not all. Very slowly I came to realize that I had gone into gaming with a discriminatory attitude – against myself. I had assumed that I would be in the minority. But there are more female players out there than I had anticipated. It wasn’t long at all before I ran into my first female Guild Leader. I had sought out what I thought to be a male-dominated environment and had my own prejudices shattered.

Larisa is talking about whether or not there is still sexual discrimination within the WoW community. Are women gamers still a minority? Are we discriminated against? Are we treated differently – be that difference negative (discrimination) or postive (worship as a rare and elusive creature). Well, over at Blog Azeroth a poll was posted that asked bloggers what sex they were. The poll was created because it was suggested by Phaelia that because women are more contemplative, we blog more, and while the percentage of male players might be higher, the percentage of male bloggers is likely lower. At the time of writing this, the poll was 53% male and 46% female, out of a response from 41 people.

What I would like to suggest here is that the poll is not only representative of Warcraft bloggers, but of Warcraft itself. The gender split is about equal. I called up my guild roster and did a count. We’re around 90 players, with more than a third of them being women. And when you think that myself, my co-leader, one of my officers and at least three of my core raiders are female, there seems to be a myth in need of busting. There is no longer a paucity of women gamers. There is even a running joke in our guild about it. When it seems like there is a lot of girls on, or especially when Adi (my partner in crime) and I get a little girly, someone will say “there are no girls on the internet” which is a cue for all the female voices to chime in “oh no, nope, no girls on the internet.” And giggle, of course.

So we’re not rare. Are we treated differently? I’d have to say that we are, but not because we ‘act like girls’. I’m well known as being both the loveable drunk and the vicious, angry, 50 dkp minus!!! style raid leader, when needs be – neither of which are sterotypically female traits. Neither Adi nor I nor any of the other women in our guild are girl-y girls who want everyone to love each other and hold hands and look at the pretty ponies. But what I think is that Adi and I as women automatically get a little more respect, a little bit of old fashioned chivalry from our male raiders and that puts us a little bit ahead of the game compared to men who are guild leaders. I’d certainly say that we as women guild leaders are treated differently by our raiders – but I do not believe that it is a negative thing. I’m happy being me – all aspects of me including my gender. And if that gives me a tool that I can use to create a more successful raiding guild, then I’m all over it. I don’t want to be one of the guys, I don’t want to be some pampered “aww it’s so cute you can game” princess. I want to be Ori, Guild Leader of Imposs, a sucessful and happy raiding guild on Thorium Brotherhood.

Folks have left our guild and then come back, saying that the wide world out there is a lot different than it was safe at home with Adi and Ori. I know that I’ve had more than a few folks tell us that there is no guild quite like ours, and I believe it! So what I think is that women are doing quite well in the online gaming world. We are who we are. We can’t change that we’re female, and we can’t change that people will treat us differently. But I think that we shouldn’t be treated exactly the same because we’re not. We bring something unique to the gaming community -something that makes it different and better. I know that if my guild was run by two men, or even myself and another man, it wouldn’t have the same feeling it does with Adi and I at the helm. This is the guild it is in part because of the fact that we have women running it and a good deal of women in it. In my mind it is a more balanced and comfortable sort of environment than a guild that is skewed too far towards either sex. (You couldn’t pay me enough to be in a guild of all women.)

The point I am doing a drunkard’s walk around is simple – vive le difference. Acknowledging and appreciating the difference between the sexes, and the different things that they bring to a gaming (or any) community isn’t discrimination, it isn’t a ‘bad thing’. It’s just the way things are. And I’m glad of it.

Post Scritpum: This is a recycled post from the very first week that I was blogging. It both holds true today and fits it with the prevailing theme of the Warcraft blogsphere, so I thought I’d tweak it a bit and re-post. I’m still a girl. I still game. And it still puts me at no disadvantage – in fact, I think that it gives me several advantages in terms of guild-leading.

A very special thanks to J!nx for the title of this post.

8 Comments

  1. Larísa said,

    February 17, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    The problem I see when saying that women are “different” is that you put etiquettes and expectations of what a “real” woman is. We come in so many different shapes. If I’m not the giggling sort of person, does that make me “male”? I want to be free to explore all different parts of my personality without having my behavour explained in terms like “that’s because you’re a woman” or the opposite “that’s not the normal woman thing to do”.

    On the other hand I know that differences ARE good for a group and I really think that a shared leadership as you suggest is a good thing. But that goes with differences not only in sex, but in age, class, personality type etc. as well. I think the problem with the gender issue is that some people put to much emphases to it.

  2. oriniwen said,

    February 17, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    @ Larisa: I disagree. You are Swedish (I believe and I beg your pardon if I’m incorrect) and I am Irish. Saying that you are different than me doesn’t necessarily put any impetus on me to behave like a “real” Irish person. Irish people come in so many different shapes too and just because I don’t have a thick accent or drink a lot or loathe English people doesn’t make me Swedish. Or anything else. I don’t think saying that Group A and Group B are different necessitates a sterotypical A or B.

    There may be a mean (average) A or B though and that goes back to the comment on your post about sterotypes being useful after a fashion. But the fact that there exists traits that are more likely to be associated with a woman, or an Irish person does not by any means restrict someone who is a woman or Irish or the member of any grouping to behave only according to those characteristics and traits.

    But it’s still a true statement to say that we are different and we both bring different things to a group. My point is that any difference – be it sex, nationality, age, music preferences – will bring variety and spice and that is always a good thing.

  3. Nev said,

    February 17, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Hi Ori,

    I tried to write a reply and it sort of ballooned into a post.

    http://flashheal.wordpress.com/2009/02/17/women-in-warcraft/

    In Wow, women and pimply teen boys both get an equal voice with no authority figures to punish antisocial behaviour. Sexual discrimination happens when the bullying brats outnumber us. That was my point, kinda.

  4. Esdras said,

    February 18, 2009 at 4:48 am

    I dont think that women get treated differently at all.

    We have and have always had females in our guild and they are brilliant players and in fact 2 of our 4 officers are females also.

  5. Aleathea said,

    February 18, 2009 at 8:30 am

    As a female GM and part time Raid Leader myself, I appreciate your writing on this subject. My guild enjoys a fairly even balance between men and women in core leadership and raiding roles. I have often felt that the long-term stability we have enjoyed as a guild is due, in part, to the strong blend of male and female leadership we have. The important thing is to afford each individual the opportunity to rise or fall on their own merit as an individual. Not giving women a free pass, nor giving men default status.

    “Vive le difference” – well said, Ori.

  6. oriniwen said,

    February 18, 2009 at 10:29 am

    @ Nev: I feel your pain with the incredibly long “wow this should be a blog post” comments. I have a tendency to dump them over at the Pink Pigtail Inn an awful lot. I like your post and I agree with you. The Internet Anonymity Equation doesn’t have to equal Asshattery. It can equal safety and freedom as well.

    @Esdras: I think you’ve misunderstood me. When you defend that fact that your guild has women in it, has always had women in it, that they’re good players and hold important positions in your guild it makes me think that you feel “treated differently” = “discriminated against.” I’m trying to say that women in WoW are treated differently because we’re different – and that difference is a good thing and that different treatment is a respectful acknowledgement of the various talents and viewpoints that a woman can bring to a guild, not a discriminatory or a negative thing at all.

    @Aleathea: I would agree with you that a good mix of genders, races, ages, backgrounds and personalities, along with the maturity to respect and appreciate the differences between all people is what makes a community strong, balanced and stable.

  7. Rhii said,

    February 23, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    The only (unfounded) assumption that I run into frequently is that if I’m female I must therefore be the wife/girlfriend of someone I play with. I don’t like it when I wonder if the guys in my PUG think I’m dating my married friend I just happen to be grouping with.

    Granted, it’s not what it once was. I used to play with a friend regularly, and while he didn’t act like he owned me, most of our guildies treated me as his automatic second. Not an assumption I enjoyed. Even if I was dating someone else in Azeroth, I wouldn’t want to be his puppet. I’d be me, playing my character, with or without someone else.

  8. Ruarc said,

    February 25, 2009 at 9:06 am

    People of both sexes tend to /cuddle and /hug me more when they find out that the player is female. Its kinda odd I think.


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