The chicken or the egg: whats really to blame for gender stereotyping in WoW

Two things really annoy me about attitudes towards females in WoW

1. When a woman gets upset, frustated or generally annoyed some bright spark always makes a PMT joke or throws about the word “Hysteria”. Yes we get that it comes from the Greek for “womb” but that has more to do with the outdated beliefs of Hippocrates who named the condition a very long time ago than any empirical proof that only people with vaginas suffer from it. In fact anyone who raids will have played with plenty of dramafic boys who have tantrums and hissyfits at the drop of a hat.

2. Women who blame their poor play on being female. No sweetie, the fact that you either didn’t spot that voidspawn or failed to move has nothing to do with whether you are sporting breasts or man boobs. It is either because you are a muppet or because you have the reaction times of a dead sloth, if its the former maybe raiding just isn’t for you regardless of the vent sex and naked pictures for the forums and if its the latter, paying more attention might help. Either way, your gender plays zero part it in. Most people have time to put down their can of coke (or w/e your poison is) and then move out of the fire/voidspot/spawn/fire wall/lava wave/dire annoying cloudlike thing, so surely you can manage too.

After some consideration I think its the second one that annoys me the most. Everyone stands in something fatal at some point whilst raiding, but the majority of people admit it and carry on. Its not an issue and it certainly has nothing to do with their sexual organs, which is great, after all gender shouldn’t really matter in an online game like WoW. So why do some people insist on making it one?

Now perhaps I’ve been lucky, but despite being an Officer in several successful raiding guilds, despite being an often bad tempered bitch, no one has ever thrown my femaleness at my head. No one has ever diminished my opinion or criticised my performance because of it. My GM is also female and hasn’t had any issues either which got me wondering.

If you ask some of the men who post/use sexist language on the forums/ingame why they behave they way they do, they all tend to reply with a similar answer. Interestingly enough it has nothing to do with where they grew up or any interaction with females outside gaming. Which brings me to my next point, is it possible that women themselves are responsible for the negative way in which they are often perceived in games like WoW?

Sure its not always primary sources, in fact it might be the same person being refered to in every tale, but everyone I’ve spoken to who puts women down has a story about some chick who wrecked a guild, who sent naked pictures of herself to fellow guildmembers, who cried on vent if she didn’t get whatever loot she wanted, childish, disruptive forces who bring nothing but negative energy. I’ve never met a man who blamed dying in a voidspot on being a bloke, yet I’ve met several women who expected to be left off making really stupid lazy mistakes because they have cute and perky breasts. Everytime I hear a woman being happy when someone tells her “she plays great for a girl”, I want to slap her. Trust me, that “girl” thrown on the end is an insult especially when you consider most females playing WoW that I have encountered are past their 18th birthday.

Sure if WoW required physical strength or speed, I could understand gender playing a part, but it doesn’t. I could never beat my boyfriend in a 100 metre race and he can carry me whilst I can’t lift him at all, yet I can beat him in a duel (his prot warrior owns my holy priest though… nerf prot dps).

So in conclusion are we really our own worst enemies? Are women responsible for the negativity surrounding women gamers? Its hard to say for sure, but I really don’t think all women help our cause. My reason two definately leads to reason one, but then it turns into some awful loop of excuses, naked pictures, more excuses, accusations of hysteria and then more excuses. Of course, men have to take some of the blame. Just because you heard some story from a friend of a friend of a friend’s nextdoor neighbour’s great uncle about some dreadful guildwrecking harpy who stole the guildbank doesn’t mean you have to judge every single female out there before you play with them. However I’ve seen first hand behaviour from women who really should know better that makes me cringe and then get angry. Please remember next time you blame something on being “a poor little female who can’t play”, its likely to be thrown at the head of the next woman who comes along as well.

To end, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotations:

Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed.  If I fail, no one will say, “She doesn’t have what it takes.”  They will say, “Women don’t have what it takes.”

Clare Boothe Luce

Unfortunately, the sentiment still rings true today.

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6 Responses

  1. Hang on though, women aren’t just men with different genitals.
    The female experience is different. Women have different relationship styles, emotional landscapes, priorities and interests.

    Women can do anything men can do but that doesn’t mean they should have to.

    In WoW just like RL we should value the whole human spectrum.
    (sheesh, I sound like a hippy)

  2. and equally men arn’t just men. They have the whole spectrum also, however that is not how it is perceived.

    Imo, 90% of WoW players play at a substandard level, and 90% of them are men.

    I don’t see how upbringing effects your ability to use a keyboard and mouse. These are not hard things to use.

    Technically the worlds fastest typist is female. Plenty of reaction time tests show woman are equal or better, depending on what you look at.

    As for…

    “Women can do anything men can do but that doesn’t mean they should have to.”

    Women in WoW are chosing to do the same thing, otherwise they wouldn’t be playing the game, so I don’t feel this applies. Yes you could argue that they just want to collect vanity pets, however their are plenty of males doing this. I really don’t think we live in a world anymore when boys just played with Action man, and Girls Barbie. Kids today, are basically exposed to the same things, i.e. the same TV, schooling etc.

    But what your sex is really shouldnt have any influence on your play ability in a computer game, especially one like WoW.

    “””In WoW just like RL we should value the whole human spectrum.”””

    I would say this is what the article is about, the perception that any female gamer is sub-standard. Which just isn’t true.

    i.e. Someone looking for an arena partner that plays a rogue, and they get 2 people offering, same gear etc. Except one is known to be female…I wonder who the average gamer would pick.

    Sure there are plenty of bad female gamers, but there are just as many proportionally bad male gamers.

  3. @Momenteye: no one’s life experiences are the same, sure we are formed by the discourses we experience whilst growing up but that varies from person to person, not sex to sex. For example I played with action men and toy guns just as much as I did barbie dolls due to where i grew up. I’m usually tolerant to the point of being horizontal most of the time, unless I perceive other peoples actions to be harmful to others. Someone being a less good player doesn’t bother me in the slightlest, someone saying that it is because they are female or that all females are bad is just wrong however.
    In conclusion, if you want to call Sally bad because she is, don’t call Laura bad because they are both female. Their life experiences, attitudes towards WoW, IQ, aggression, age, game experiences will be completely different.

  4. @harpysnest: I completely agree that nobody should be judged based on their gender or the behaviour of others of the same gender.
    I think your most interesting point is that people have different attitudes in WoW than in RL.
    The emancipation battles need to be fought all over again.

    @Tabs: Even though everyone is choosing to play WoW it is my (possible naive) hope that the game is varied enough to encompass all sorts of different approaches.

    What is the best WoW player?
    The highest DPS? The most money? The most popular guild member? The best team enabler?

    Gender bias makes less sense than arguing whether Tanks are better than Healers.

  5. “””@Tabs: Even though everyone is choosing to play WoW it is my (possible naive) hope that the game is varied enough to encompass all sorts of different approaches.”””

    Those approaches arn’t defined by gender. So I feel your first post is way off the mark.

  6. That’s probably me failing at clarity.
    The intended essence of my first post was that we shouldn’t all have to be the same in order to be treated with respect and dignity.

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