Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Line. I is Walking It.

A decent amount of the blogosphere is experiencing renewed interest in gender commentary. Gender issues always seem to be kind of a touchy subject and people either want to drive right in and dissect behaviors and stereotypes or they want to dance around the issue.

Forewarning: I'm one of those second types. I prefer to avoid stating strong opinions until I have enough to back myself up and if I think I'm likely to offend someone I prefer to say nothing at all. So if you want to really get into the issues with some people who seem to know what they're talking about and who are much more articulate than I, posts from Righteous Orbs, Bossy Pally, and 'Mental Shaman will all see you in the right direction.

I'm just going to talk about me. Because, you know, that's really what OP is here for. For me to talk about my experiences with that game we all love. WoW has it share of problems, like any other game/community/lifestyle (depending on which discussion you're currently involved in). But sometimes we let these problems distract us from our purpose in interacting with WoW; namely defeating fictional enemies through methods that provide us personal satisfaction. (Die INTERNET DRAGONS!)

I certainly don't say this to demean the gender discussions that others are currently having and that we may kinda-sorta touch on here. Maybe. I have always found gender discussions intriguing. Fascinating. It's something I like to read about or listen to but tend to feel vaguely distanced from.

I followed the discussions on RealID being forced on the forums avidly. When I first read the blue post the idea made me fairly uncomfortable but I didn't let it bother me overmuch. Everything they said sounded reasonable and I am all for getting rid of trolls on the forums. Of course, I wouldn't want my RealID posted for just anyone to see. But, I can also tell you that I've posted on the WoW forums exactly twice.

Then I started reading the replies to the Blue who so foolishly told everyone that publishing his real name was no big deal. Internet savvy posters had his home phone number, address, you name it in minutes. It was like a light clicking on, as I began to understand. I know there are people who can pull a picture your house with no more information than just your last name. I've watched them do it.

I know RealID is a bit tangential to the current topic and that the kind of people who would be interested in doing this sort of thing (apart from proving a point) don't usually need a reason to seek you out. However, a great number of replies to this issue centered around not wanting to share a real name because it would identify them as a woman. To be fair, a number of people also do not want to share their names because it identifies them as belonging to a certain ethnicity, but those discussions seem to be strangely absent.

I don't care if people know I'm a girl. I would care that they knew my real name. I would be perfectly happy to use a singular "alias" for posting on the forums and I don't doubt that the name I would pick would be noticeably feminine.

When I first started playing wow, I didn't hesitate to pick a character that looked like me. Marariel was, and is, my avatar for the WoW universe. She's a human female with dark hair and no bangs because I need to SEE what I'm shadow bolting thank you very much.

Since then I have added 8 other female characters on my home realm. One male character. Chas, over at Righteous Orbs, got into the interesting subject of how unrealistic the male character models tend to be. This is what started me to thinking about my lone male character on Hydraxis. Mathias is a Blood Elf Hunter. He is intended to be a combination of strong and graceful. Despite his tendency to stand away from things and shoot them full of arrows, I've always liked the fact that he looked strong. And I believe that's because I built him as an older brother and protector to Shinai.

They look like siblings, right?

I don't want to get into issues about why I might feel Shinai needs a protector and that sort of gender-based conundrum. I can tell you the answer is simple. I created and played Shinai first and she felt like she needed protection. A mage at low levels seems particularly squishy and I got tired of dying but I still wanted to do the then-new-to-me Blood Elf starting zones.

Chas' discussion of character models led down an interesting path of guys playing girl characters and the guys who sometimes catch grief about it. Memento is not a very big guild and two of our main raiders are guys with at least one female raiding toon. And apart from a few minor inquiries ("Why are you playing a girl character?" "I dunno. I like it." "K. Cool.") most of us think nothing of it.

In our happy-meal-sized guild there are also two females in the raider core. We usually run with a female friend from another guild. And we have strong rules against discrimination of any sort.

I think the place that I'm trying to end up at is this: to an extent I think stereotypes affect you as much as you let them. That isn't to say there aren't sexist and racist people out there. There are. You take steps to protect yourself from them in game as you would outside of game by surrounding yourself with people you trust and not taking outlandish risks. At least, I hope you do.

The following, completely unrelated entertainment is for Ann. Sorry your day is long.

Shawty had them Apple Bottom Jeans
Boots with the fur
The whole club was lookin at her

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