She’s not a feminist, but…

I don’t mean to keep using other people’s articles as fake posts of my own, but if you read one thing about women in MMOs, this should be it. It says everything I’d say except the author remains calm and rational throughout, whereas I’d probably end up foaming at the mouth… or trying too hard to convince.

When something is right, you don’t need to froth to pass the message.

Archetypes of the Female Gamer, Revisited — and the first paragraph to whet your appetite.

Shock. Frustration. Anger. Despair.

Before last week, these are words I never would have connected to my experience with World of Matticus, either as a writer or a reader. However, last week Lodur’s article on guild Egoists just left me cold. I’ve invoked these four words to let you the readers know what powerful effect such things can have, in the short term at least. Over the weekend I did a lot of reading and a lot of thinking, and I think I’m finally ready to explain why a recitation of stereotypes about women disturbed me so much. First of all, I would like to say that I mean Lodur no disrespect. I am quite sure that his intentions were good, and in his own mind, his article is not even about women.

Read more:

EDIT — and to the “there’s a grain of truth in every stereotype” response, I’d like to say this. A grain of truth does not the entire beach make. Sometimes I drink too much and go over the legal limit — that doesn’t make me a hardened criminal, even less so an alcoholic. Not a great analogy, but it serves the purpose well enough especially since it illustrates, I hope, the fact that you can’t take part of a thing and make a hard and fast rule about the whole thing. That way lies sophistry. More to the point, why is it bad when women display stereotypical behaviour  but not when men do? Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.

In gaming or anywhere else, it’s wise to examine one’s assumptions. Stereotypes are nothing but assumptions and while they have their uses, they’re extremely limited as tools for predicting (or even meaningfully illustrating) human — or gamer — behaviour.

Related reading, thanks to Unwize: The Science of Gender and Science (Debate)

EDIT 2 — in real life, I translate project documents and other such stuff for various humanitarian agencies working in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Many of the projects there have a Gender component. It’s sobering — and in some ways heartening — to realise that I can sit here and rant about debate gender issues in the comfort of my own home and with very little risk of being summarily raped and beaten by some passing soldier (or civilian) next time I set foot out of my house. Everything is relative.

33 thoughts on “She’s not a feminist, but…

  1. Well stereotypes, and generalizations have to come from somewhere though.

    I’m going to be that guy today, play the devil’s advocate, and say sure there are some real compentent women gamers, but not many can ever hold a candle to most of the guys I know.

    Now prove me wrong? Is there a woman out there that can link me, oh say their armory with a top ranked team. Any women out there taking the Starcraft tourney money.

    Even poker, always guys winning the world series of poker.

    1. Perhaps women aren’t wearing the best armor or participating in the best arena teams BECAUSE these stereotypes exist and are used to limit their experiences? Maybe women aren’t often winning the world series of poker because it’s a male-dominated field in which women who play are ridiculed, over-evaluated, and considered inferior? I mentioned this in my comment to the post, but my favorite quote from the article sums up my entire frustration with these stereotypes:

      “For this reason, the female gamer has to earn the grudging respect of her fellow players, while a male gamer may start out with a measure of respect and either keep it or lose it by his behavior.”

      1. Not true with alot of guys, respect is not given to anyone. It must be earned. Alot, and I mean ALOT of male players when I first met them, I went…what a douchebag.

        It’s like the chicken and the egg question, which came first? How can their even be a stereotype if there wasn’t a kernal of truth. How can this stereotype even persist if women let it persist.

        Truth albiet sometimes bad, is still Truth is it not?

      2. Stereotypes are lazy. They allow people to categorize others so they can easily understand them. Unfortunately most everyone is guilty of using stereotypes. In my neck of the woods, they’re particularly popular with people who are trying to make sense of the influx of Mexican immigrants.

        Stereotypes may stem from truth in some cases, but they aren’t trustworthy because they often don’t accurately represent the entirety of the group they characterize. The fact that some women exhibit characteristics of these stereotypes doesn’t mean we should support them. Sarah Haskins just did a great video about the stereotype of the doofus husband and why it’s so ludicrous.

    2. I think that you’ll find that “guys [are always] winning the world series of poker”, or in the top-ranking arena teams, for the same reasons that guys are more likely to be in the highest paid jobs, at the biggest companies, running empires from the boardrooms…

      …they statistically outnumber women. I work in the legal profession. It is an industry where gender inequality is severely acute. In Australia, only politics is more gender unequal. There is one female High Court judge. She was sworn in last year, and was Australia’s first female High Court judge, in over 100 years of its existence.

      Today, despite women comprising slightly more than half of Australia’s population, and around 65% of Australia’s legal graduates, more than 80% of legal clerks here are male.

      For women to be under-represented in certain field is not through their lack of trying, but because of the still-present glass ceiling.

      When 9 out of 10 company directors are male, is it really any surprise that women earn less than their male counterparts?

      Without gender equity, gender equality is a vain hope.

  2. This is going to sound insensitive (are you surprised?), but… who cares?

    People are getting a little too sensitive. If someone was creating stereotypes about Druid specs ( we laugh… but heaven forbid someone make gender specific jokes or observations.

    Most of what was said ( wasn’t directed at women specifically, it was mostly talking about people playing as women (he said some guys do this too) or women who use the fact that they are women to their advantage.

    If you’re telling me some women don’t use their gender and looks to get ahead, you’re deluding yourself.

    If anything, it’s more of a crack at guys being weak willed and dominated by their penis than anything bad about women.

    Or did I read the wrong article?

    1. “If you’re telling me some women don’t use their gender and looks to get ahead, you’re deluding yourself.

      I’m not saying that at all, and neither is the rebuttal article. However, what we *are* taking issue with is saying: “Some women do this, therefore all women are bitches.” More to the point, if the original article’s author was really writing about men being led by their dicks, he would have written exactly that. Instead, he writes the equivalent of “all women are dangerous, watch out, they’ll get you. Some of you guys are weaker than others so they’ll get you sooner, but they’re all out to get you regardless.” That’s not a comment on male weakness, it’s a comment on female treachery. Mostly, it’s a comment about how scared homogenous groups can be when anyone tries to join in from outside. It’s not solely a gender issue, but it’s a very large issue in terms of the gender debate.

      Seriously, can you not see this? Then again, maybe you can’t. You’re male.

      See, that ^ is a stereotypical assumption that because you’re male, you’re insensitive, happy with your gender privileges, and extremely hostile to the idea of them ever being challenged. Furthermore you’re oversexed and if a woman wants something from you, all she has to do is press the penis button and she’ll get whatever she wants.

      Is that any more accurate than saying all women are bitches who trade on their vaginas to get their own way?

      There’s truth to every stereotype, but saying the kernel is the whole is facile.

      1. “See, that ^ is a stereotypical assumption that because you’re male, you’re insensitive, happy with your gender privileges, and extremely hostile to the idea of them ever being challenged. Furthermore you’re oversexed and if a woman wants something from you, all she has to do is press the penis button and she’ll get whatever she wants.”- Ysharros

        Jesus it’s like you know me.

      2. Yeah, just not in the Biblical sense.

        It ain’t gonna work, Rivs!

        Now I need to stop cackling and actually get some work done. You male social butterflies are way distracting!

      3. “That’s not a comment on male weakness, it’s a comment on female treachery. Mostly, it’s a comment about how scared homogenous groups can be when anyone tries to join in from outside. It’s not solely a gender issue, but it’s a very large issue in terms of the gender debate.”

        It’s a comment on treachery, you choose to see ‘females’ in the spotlight for what ever reasons you have.

        It’s only part of the gender debate because people get emotional/sensitive/defensive (pick one) about their gender and choose to see the article that way. The author clearly stated, right at the beginning, that it can come from both sides.

        “Seriously, can you not see this? Then again, maybe you can’t. You’re male.

        See, that ^ is a stereotypical assumption that because you’re male, you’re insensitive, happy with your gender privileges, and extremely hostile to the idea of them ever being challenged.”

        Umm. I’m a white male, I’m the one color and gender you’re encouraged to pass up, all things being equal, if a woman or non-white person applies for the same job (at least in Canada).


        “Is that any more accurate than saying all women are bitches who trade on their vaginas to get their own way?”

        That’s not what the original article said at all. It said there are types of trouble members that do x, y and z. They are usually A but could be B too.

        People are reading too much into this.

        If we’re going to read things into this article, you could (more rightly so) infer that WoW players are social rejects that dwell in their basement (dammit, I have to move my PC out of the basement!) who have yet to kiss a girl so they are easy prey for the wiles of women adept at the ways of the internet.

        I’d say that was as fair an interpretation as “women are treacherous bitches!”.

        I wouldn’t agree with it either, but hey… it’s someone’s interpretation skewed by their own bias. You have to wonder WHY the ‘rebuttal’ author is so defensive about it.


    1. Dude, I’m not pressing your penis button no matter how much you beg.

      (Let’s inject a little humour into this debate. 😉 )

  3. There was too much screeching, but in general I felt the author was overreacting. Also, I think it is lame she didn’t link to Lodur’s article. I found it disrespectful to talk about someone’s article and not even link to it.

    I felt his archetypes were dead on. He specifically said the archetypes tended to be a female avatar, but could be played by male or female.

    People need to lighten up. Sex, gender, etc. very often play a serious role in social relationships and communities. There are positive and negative things related to certain genders, and pointing out some of the negative ones (the fact that many female or pretend female gamers use their gender/faux gender for manipulation) is fair game.

    1. It sure is, just as long as male gamer stereotypes are also fair game. 😉

      Like the all-knowing “here’s how you should play” type (and the “especially because you, poor girl, are female, so *someone* has to take you in hand” subtype), or the type that obsessively links every last item they ever loot, or the one who can’t stop talking about his beer/TV/conquests, or the one who is nasty to anyone apparently female because women just can’t be trusted. Or, indeed (and poor bastard) the one who treats women like they’re made out of spun glass and will break if shaken too hard.

      None of us like to be treated like a statistic — in other words, none of us like to be profiled. However, when women complain about it they tend to get a lot of flak for the mere act of pointing it out, which in itself says a fair bit about our cultural context.

      I’m very interested by the fact that when sub-groups complain of unjust treatment, they’re often dismissed for being screechy, preachy and/or hysterical. All the same, a few hundred years ago the earth WAS flat and anyone not white WAS subordinate (and possibly sub-human). Challenging accepted notions of rightness and normality is why we have telescopes and don’t have slaves anymore. (Yes, this is highly generalised but dammit Jim, we’re gaming bloggers, not cultural pundits. :D)

      The fact that some stereotypes are pervasive and that all of them are at least somewhat true doesn’t make them any less pernicious — or indeed wrong when applied with too broad a brush.

      What a lot of female bloggers “screech” about isn’t so much the truth or lack thereof of the stereotypes — it’s just as much about the fact that every time we try to point out that their use is negative in social settings, we get told to shut the hell up because a) nobody (read: men) wants to hear it, b) everybody does it and c) we’re not talking about YOU, we’re talking about that blonde probably-male vixen over there.

      Speaking of whom, I could kick her over-heeled ass anytime.

      1. “or the one who can’t stop talking about his beer/TV/conquests,”
        Hey now, you don’t need to start making personal attacks! 🙁

    2. I’m not really sure how you read the article as “screeching,” considering it was one of the most articulate and thoughtfully reasoned blog posts I’ve seen.

      I’d guess the reason the author didn’t feel the need to link to the original post is because both posts were featured on the same site. I assume that she figured most readers would have already read Lodur’s post. I agree that it is unusual for her not to link back, but I wouldn’t say it’s disrespectful.

  4. The sad things about this is while I have seen some female-inspired drama in my gaming, almost every bad episode I’ve experienced comes from another man. But it’s the women we all talk about.

    I’m sorry to see that this comment section devolved so quickly. Since I’m a guy, I know it is not easy to understand that women really do have to appoach the world differently than men. That most men dismiss that perspective so out of hand (and I admit I’ve been guilty of this in the past, but I’m learning) is depressing.

    1. Eh, it’s not devolved, Muckbeast and Smaken are just sexist pigs, and Rivs is just a plain ole pig! 😀

      (And hopefully they all know that if I really thought that, I would never say it — or I’d say it a lot more politely!)

      Disagreeing on stuff is the core of any good debate.

      On topic though, interesting what you say in your first para, I said the same about an hour ago. I think that’s largely because there are still many more men in games than women. We’re ALL capable of being drama-llamas, that’s the real problem rather than whether the llama has literal cojones or only metaphorical ones.

      1. More like a man-bear-pig, but that’s ok…Press the button and all is forgiven.

      2. I’m not a sexist pig. Okay, I’m totally against men so I guess I’m sexist. I’d rather have a woman wash my clothes, cook my dinner, take care of my offspring, etc.


        Most of the guys I’ve had drama issues with could easily have been females. One the the people that did in one of the other guilds was actually a guy holding a grudge and being petty about it – a guy, not a gurl.

        Like I said, people are being too sensitive about it.

  5. I consider myself to be a feminist male. I believe that women are perfectly capable of doing anything they set their mind to, deserve equal pay and equal respect, if not more. I’m married, and my wife works just as hard as I do at her job, then works much harder than I do at home as a mother of three boys.

    I also study personality styles as a hobby. It’s interesting to me how a similar personality style reveals itself through a male or female. This is where the stereotypes come from. Some personality theories claim there are 16 or so (meaning a relatively low number) personality styles. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, for example. Each personality type has distinct behaviors that can be observed. However, this does not mean that every person of that personality style acts exactly the same way in each situation.

    I think stereotypes are useful because they give us a reference point to start from when describing other people, but they have to be used intelligently. We categorize things in our lives every day. Stereotype names just give a general description of something. If you were to call someone athiest what do you think of? How about nerd? Blonde? Redhead? Sexist? Racist?

    They are simply a starting point. Every person within those groups is going to be different in some way that doesn’t fit the stereotype.

    Sedgewick over at /officerchat recently posted about guild troublemakers in a non gender specific manner, if anyone is interested in reading it.

  6. Hee! This is so… timely!

    Just this morning, talking to me friends (some boys, one girl!), I was just remarking that, the most offensive question anyone could ask a nugget in an online game, if that someone is a stranger or casual acquaintance is:

    Hi, r u a girl.


    My personal immediate thought response is, ‘ZOMG! Moron! Why does it matter. What about the numbers! What about the skill? What about the game!’

    Especially since in the context of that annoying question, at least half of those asking (I don’t care, personally, if they’re male or female or something in between), have never seen me PLAY. Have never played with me. That’s just the first thing they ask… and that question ‘tells’ me a world about them. Or so I think anyway.


    1. Being a gay male gamer (and doesn’t that screw around with the demographics), I love to reply to that “r u a girl?” question with “well, let’s just say that if I didn’t have all the right bits in all the right places, my boyfriend would be most upset” and let them go wandering down their own little country lane of preconceptions.

      But then having read “r u…” I’ve already switched off as l33t-sp34k tells me everything I need to know about the person behind the keyboard.

      1. Speaking of keyboards, why are you not on Twitter? (I tried to write y r u but I heard the skreeing chitter of the Great Old Ones starting to take over the world, and corrected myself).

        And if you are, why am I not harassing you there? If you are, you know what my handle will be, send me a twit. (Upper-class, please.)

      2. I’m Twitter-negative at the moment. As can easily be seen, I’m a commenter rather than a poster on LJ, so I’d end up with Tweets saying rubbish like: “Eric has gone to the toilet”, “Eric has opened a tin of tuna”, “Eric has deleted the file… all the files… the hard drive… the Internet?”

      3. Trying to get Twitter to work with Firefox seems to be a non-starter. I can sign up and work it via IE but I dislike that browser as I can’t block all the nasties the way I can with FF.

      4. Yeah… Firefox just doesn’t get on with a whole load of sites, or the other way around. I used to be a big fan, but after trying out Chrome for a while I’ve switched over — Chrome is lighter, doesn’t have that irritating memory leak FF has had for years now, and is relatively secure. Downside is I don’t have my #)*@)(* flash and ad-blocker here (but some would say that’s a good thing). 😛

        Anyway, most twitititerrers would tell you to get a client. I have twhirl, but I almost never use it. Every few hours I’ll check the web version of twitter and that’s good enough for me. Having it constantly running just ends up distracting me.

      5. I confess *hangs head* I do actually type leetspeek for fun.

        It has a horribly, horribly addictive quality once you start. O.o

        Start using Zs instead of Ss, and then, start putting Zs behind wordZ evenZ wordZ that don’tZ needZ demZ! … and you may find yourself falling down a terrible black rabbit hole of doomy fun. *eek*

        I’m an imposter though. 🙁 I learned leetspeek on Kingdom of Loathing and lolcats. XD

        Pr0n cocktails forever! *run away*

      6. Aiiieeeee! Full sentences and proper spelling, if you please – or I shall have to have you soundly thrashed with a birch! 🙂

        Having said that, pr0n cocktail is genius 🙂 🙂

  7. It was an excellent article; both well-written, and, I think, correct in addressing some pervasive bigotry in online gaming.

    I have to admit I’m deeply amused by people who attack those who speak out against bigotry, saying (essentially), “It’s not that big of an issue… why don’t you just shut up and take it”, or better yet, “They’re not really bigoted, it’s just that negative stereotypes already exist; we’re just repeating what everyone else says.”

    News flash: it IS our fault, individually and collectively, when we encourage the use of these stupid, shallow stereotypes. And, though I’d like for it to be otherwise, there IS a lot of misogyny around the world now, and it remains pervasive, and it’s all fundamentally ignorant rubbish. Women are not treated as well as men, overall, in any country in the world that I’m aware of, even our modern Western ones that we think so highly of. And given that an imbalance exists (and it does – you’re a fool if you gainsay this), it’s our ethical and moral duty to seek to eliminate this imbalance. One good place to start is to eliminate sexist terminology and stereotypes.

    “But they’re just words,” you might say, “and half the time they’re used jokingly!” Well, I admit that I expected that kind of ignorant drivel from a monkeyfucking asshat like you. 😀

    (N.B. That wasn’t addressed at any real people, but was only intended as a reductio ad absurdam to illuminate the very real effect that language has on us; moreover, “I was just joking” is a feeble excuse if one engages regularly in any sort of bigotry).

    And yes, I’m a while male, and nonetheless I abhor all bigotry with the burning passion of a thousand supernovae (imagine that, when in theory most bigotry HELPS me socioeconomically). Bigotry represents a lot that is most repugnant in humanity – it’s a willingness to hurt others to secure one’s own station, a fear of the unknown, and a distilled childish cruelty all wrapped up in one big bow tie. Worst of all, it’s insidious, and many people who act and speak in bigoted ways don’t even realize it, and will deny it if pressed.

  8. It’s true though, I mean his original article, a lot of MMO players have war stories about how a woman acts in those specific ways to cause guild drama, while men act in different ones. There are prima donna’s, usually the raid leader’s girlfriend acts as one, and I have heard many drama problems from when the GF comes in and the raid leader gives her preferential treatment over established shell members and it splits the shell up. With women it exists, but the type of woman that leads a shell seems not to attract the kind of guy who would boss her around and cause drama.

    The vixen, well, it may not be PC, but a guy will give a woman a lot more leeway in an MMO, maybe the vestiges of chivalry. Some women do take advantage of that, and a guy that would kick a male player out of a shell for being an idiot during a raid may be more lenient towards a woman.

    The wolf in sheeps clothing exists, and is male. They aren’t really relevant to the points, if anything its these that tend to give players describing themselves as female a bad rep, just out of safety’s sake. It’s very easy for one of them to lead a guy on, or even a girl: i played female toons and found that just by looking female people will assume you are one and put a spin on your words as such.

    You could spin a few for men, actually. Men are more likely to ninja loot, and you often get the Lout-the shell member who may pull his weight, but people can’t stand because he rants in shell about racists or boorish things.

    I don’t see how you can spin a description of common drama-dealing types into bashing an entire gender. Guys know that women like this can exist, but we also aren’t dumb enough to believe that every woman is one, and the big problem is the wolf-half of the stuff that a female toon does may actually be from a male, and a lot of us guys don’t even trust a player now when she says she is female-we have had too many experiences ourselves with the wolf otherwise.

    1. “I don’t see how you can spin a description of common drama-dealing types into bashing an entire gender.”

      Then, forgive me, but it seems you really didn’t read the article that closely.

      If you speak about negative stereotypes in gaming, and 100% of your terminology relates to things that are negative about female players (or male players who act or pretend to be female), that’s quite obviously sexist.

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