Gamer Girl and Non-Feminist
Let me preface this post with the fact that against my better judgement, this post – written in that dark time period of it’s so late it’s early – was transferred to my blog nearly verbatim from my notebook. I figure a blog is like a journal and a journal is like a stream of conscious and this is more like a mind dump than anything.
This is no term paper. I have no thesis statement or points or conclusion – though I suppose that might make it easier to follow.
But anyway, very rarely do adamantly state an opinion, and though of opinions I have many, I am no debater. So take my opinions as you will.
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So in a very strange turn of events, I have discovered I am spending far more time reading about WoW (mostly via my ever-increasing Blogroll) then I am actually PLAYING WoW. Now, I am quite happy either way, and never have I shied from expanding my gamer knowledge, but the pendulum has swung so far from center and its normal place, that I find myself feeling slightly unbalanced by the change. But the plethora of information, and great information at that, in just the WoW Blogosphere is almost overwhelming. So much so, I find myself hesitant to add some really great blogs I have recently discovered, for fear I cannot give them all the attention they are due.
It makes me wonder how others manage all this information?
The reason this balance is currently plaguing me is some intriguing reading material I have apparently been missing out on has come to my attention. I spent a good portion of the wee hours of this morning trying to catch up on Google Reader and some of the various stories and poems and such inspired by Mr. Bear.
While doing so, I came across some posts that led to other posts and brought me from shortly past the end of raid (just before 11pm) up to about 2:30am. (My schedule is so horribly out of whack right now. I have almost convinced myself that an all-nighter is in order to make me sufficiently tired enough to get back on track.)
This reading material that captivated me well into the wee hours was a tangent of thought that spanned weeks it seems as well as multiple smaller topics, different but intermingled, and all leading to some of the same basic ideas – sexism, feminism, girls in games, and the ideas of social norms and how healthy they are or are not.
I, myself, will readily admit I feel an unconscious shiver of discomfort upon hearing or reading the words “feminism” and “feminist.”
I think I am disappointed with the fact that feminists feel the need to label themselves, when it seems the whole point is the create a utopia of less distinction and more focus on the person instead of names and labels and differences. Isn’t it working in the opposite direction to say “I am a woman and a feminist, therefore the rest of you are all on that side of the line over there”? Or am I somehow missing the point?
From many of the posts I read this morning, I dare say I usually sit more on the side of those “nice guys” who think feminists are all angry men-haters and are of the opinion, “Hey, now, not EVERYONE is a creep. So isn’t it a little unfair to lump ‘men’ into this huge ball of sleaze just as much as it is unfair for some to try and stereotype women?”
Now, add to this that I AM a woman and I read all of the posts I have listed at the end of this post and I do not care to be treated differently simply because of the body parts I happen to possess. Also add to this that I have spent most of my life not living within these socially defined stereotypes of “a woman’s place.”
I am a nerd and a tomboy.
I built my computer, I play video games, I spend the majority of my personal interactions via gaming and the internet. I also get along better with “nerds” than I do others. I talk better with guys, because I could care less about gossip and hair and shoes. In fact, it has only been within the last few years that I have begun to carry a purse (and do I ever despise that thing), I only own maybe four pairs of shoes, and my idea of getting dressed in every second I can get away with it is jeans, a t-shirt, and my flannel if it is chilly enough.
In my school years, I was more interested in G.I. Joes and Ninja Turtles than Barbies (in fact, I sold all my Barbies to my friend to buy G.I. Joes – boy, was my mom pissed); I spent my time catching frogs and getting dirty rather than in gymnastics or cheerleading; I took Auto Shop instead of Choir or Home Ec.
As I got older, I worked in auto parts stores, oil change places, full-range auto shops. Even after I finally moved into an office setting, I got along better with the IT people and my male co-workers than fellow my Admins and women. In fact, at my last job I was our unofficial “onsite” IT, because out two IT guys worked in different offices and I was the only one they trusted.
Never once have I been told I cannot do something. Actually, that is not entirely true. My mom admitted she did not think I could ever make a living writing, and I suppose in the sphere of fantasy and fiction writing, like the next Tolkien or Rowlings, she was probably right. But as far as cars and computers go… Sure, I have certainly earned my share of funny looks and incredulous glances.
Right or wrong, I take some amount of pride in shattering the preconceived notions of others. I think it pushes me forward.
My very first office job, I started out as a phone customer service rep. I still do not entirely understand how things progressed from Point A to Point C (and yah, I am pretty sure I skipped at least one step there), but a few weeks later, I was interviewing for the position of the company president’s personal assistant. I think it had something to do with one of those silly personality tests.
He was a very particular man, but an outstanding salesman and a great business mind, and once I learned those particulars and how best to assist him, we became a very good team.
I remember a Saturday morning (usually the one day of the week he was in town and available enough for us to have a one on one to discuss the prior week and how best to conquer the coming one), we somehow got onto a more personal note and he happened to ask me about my previous position before coming to work for him. I am nothing if not honest, and had no reservations telling him that I had previously been an assistant manager at an oil change shop.
I will never forget the look on his face – it was almost cartoonish how much his jaw dropped.
And honestly, that kind of sums up how people tend to perceive me and then are forced to change that thinking when they discover the “real” me.
Now, I am not so conceded as to say I am an awesome auto mechanic or a stellar computer tech – I am not. :) But it is just the plain fact that I feel I should be competent enough to change my own tire, change my own oil, or diagnose my car at least enough so that I seldom worry of being taken advantage of. (I still hate the damn dealership – I think those guys are out to screw everyone, male or female, because they feel they can.) <grumble> At the same time, I feel I should be competent enough to clear a printer paper jam or change a freaking toner cartridge or even walk through more serious diagnoses over the phone with someone more knowledgeable.
And I admit, I get giddy over small compliments in regards to these things.
Now, perhaps in an ideal world and an ideal society, I would not take such pride in my knowledge and being recognized for it. But then again, recognition is usually the difference between doing your job and enjoying your job. We all want some kind of recognition, even if we do not admit it. Otherwise, why bother doing anything if no one is going to appreciate it?
BUT consider this…
Every other girl I went to high school with had the same choices of what classes to take as me. They could just as easily taken Auto Shop or a computer class over something else. Just as I could have taken Band or Choir or Theatre or Home Ec or whatever. I made the choice to expand my knowledge in the way I did.
Similarly, every woman I know could just as easily get a job at an auto parts store. Over my course there, I knew several. Anyone has the opportunity to pick that form of retail over something else like JC Penny. I have worked in clothing stores, and they did not suit me. <shrug>
I do not fault anyone for doing what they enjoy and making choices based on that.
Heck, men work in clothing stores and take Home Ec over something auto or computer related. I have met guys who know far more than me – and I watch, I listen, I learn. On the other hand, I have met guys with absolutely no computer or automotive knowledge, and if they have any interest in learning something I have the ability to give – I do.
Now, admittedly, whereas women are more likely to have knowledge of certain things over others, out of preference and individual decision, I might add… so are men!
How often do we assume a man can change a tire? How often do we assume a man can fix an electrical outlet? How often do we assume a man knows football or basketball or baseball?
How can we as women justify ourselves in saying we do not want to be stereotyped, when we are often guilty of the same?
Now, on the flip side, I like to cook, but I am awful at sewing!
On that note, time for another story!
The only thing I have ever trusted myself to sew was my dog’s stuffed cow.
She is historically brutal on stuffed animals, especially those containing squeakers. She is quite systematic about ripping the throat out of them and finding said squeakers and rendering them plastic confetti.
For a long time (in puppy-time, that is) Ender had a stuffed cow that she acquired through nefarious means but was allowed to keep after sufficiently “marking her territory” with her drool. Over time, a leg or horn or such became torn, but mildly enough that some “skillful” intervention on my part prolonged the life of the poor thing. My feeble sewing skills and my even more feeble “emergency” sewing kit came to the rescue many times, so many in fact, I eventually named him Frank (short for Frankenstein), because each time I fixed him I had to use a different color string, since my sewing kit only contained a tiny spool of each color, which was enough to enact the appropriate first aid once.
Poor Frank. I wish his story had a happier ending, but alas, eventually Frank lost all his innards across my living room and kitchen and bedroom and Frank went to stuffed animal heaven.
All I am saying, is it is not a matter of “I am a girl, so I need to learn girly things.” I have every opportunity to do whatever the hell I damn well please. I could go become a circus cowboy.
Whether I am any good at it or decide to make my future of it, is another story.
I can read books and webpages, I can take classes, I can practice my skills – and in the end it is up to ME to decide whether I am any good at it or not. Or whether or not it is what I want to do with my life. Cars? I love cars, and I like knowing that if something goes wrong with mine, I can usually tell my repair shop what it is, but I have made the conscious decision that it is not what I want to do with my life. Computers? I love computers! I love gaming, I love researching online, I love the internet, I love my blog, I love my online friends. And there are definitely certain aspects of computers that I enjoy enough to consider it as a career.
The only thing stopping me – is ME! I have not taken the time or effort to properly expand my knowledge to a point of comfort in doing it as a job. A side job? An unofficial duty? Sure!
I am far more limited by own insecurities and plain laziness than anything else.
I know this because I have seen more dedicated women prove stereotypes wrong. Women are astronauts and scientists and wrestlers and any number of other things that they just did NOT do before that first woman stepped up and said, “Why not?”
We are not where we were 50 or 100 years ago. When I hear feminists talk about stereotypes and discrimination, I feel like they think we are.
If you want to be a girl gamer – go do it. If you want to be bull-rider – rock on. If you want to be a grease monkey – have at it. But just remember, if you are the minority in that profession, there WILL be people who will question. There WILL be people who will look at you funny – male and female. There WILL be people who will use you as a basis for their judgements.
If you were black or Hispanic or Asian and in the same position, it would be very similar.
I am not saying it is right, I am just saying it is fact. If the Draenei landed on Earth today, they would go through the same horrible process of proving themselves. Like the TV show Alien Nation. (Yay! Nerd reference!) They were accepted into human culture, but they were always treated different.
That is human nature, boys and girls.
Okie, so it is now 4am, and my brain is finally shutting down. I will determine later what my whole moral in telling these fragmented stories of myself have to do with anything.
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So the moral and point of all this? Stereotypes suck. Discrimination sucks. Perceived gender-roles suck. The essence of humanity sucks. Anyone who thinks otherwise has not read enough sci fi. Because science fiction is based largely on science FACT. When was the last time you saw a sci fi movie where aliens showed up and all the humans were cheering in the streets. Never? Correct, those humans were either terrified or ready to fight, or dissect the aliens… Same thing with fantasy. When the Elves or the Dwarves or the Orcs first show up – it is fight or flight mode for humans. Suppress them because they are DIFFERENT.
Call this an invalid argument if you want. It is an illustration, and largely the best one I can come up with.
Like I said, the facts do not make it right. They are just the facts.
Human nature is shitty.
Humans as a whole are intolerant and scared of change. OMG, that guy said the world is not flat, it is really round? What a nutball! Screw him! OMG, that guy thinks that there is this gravity thing that keeps us all on the ground? Absurd! Laugh him out of here! Humans flying? Surely you jest! Other planets? As if! Life on other planets? Please!
I mean, think about it – how many times in history has someone been laughed at and labeled crazy for going against the norm? We fight wars over that shit.
Hitting publish before I can stop myself! Muahahahaha!
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For lack of wanting to try and figure out how best to insert these links amongst my early morning gibberish, I figure I will instead list them here at the end. These are some of the posts that inspired this train of thought:
And finally, please leave your thoughts and ideas. I do not bite, I swear, even if I am a bit crazy and opinionated. :)