Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Painting All Gamers With A Sexist Brush
I'm a gamer. I'm not a particularly good one and definitely not a hardcore gamer, but the I still wear the label. I play a little bit of everything from board games to RPGs to console games. I've even become momentarily addicted to little iPhone games. I've been gaming since I started dating my husband who definitely is a hardcore gamer. That was many years ago and in that time if there's one thing that I've learned about gamers it's that they are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet.
Now, this isn't to say that some of them aren't complete idiots. There are people who cheat. There are people who are bad sports. There are people who are completely antisocial and won't utter two words more than required in order to play a game. But those people, the ones you wish would go away, are the minority just like they are in every walk of life.
So, when I read a recent post on Chickhammer by a woman who games and accused the gaming community, specifically tabletop wargamers, of being mostly a sexist bunch of louts, it bothered me. A lot. It blamed the lack of women players on the nasty attitudes of the men and suggested the ways men could be more sensitive, clean up their acts, and make the environment more friendly for women. I'm sorry, what now?
I have no doubt that women have faced issues playing guys and don't dispute that at all, but to take the entire community of wargamers and paint them with a sexist brush is unfair and untrue. I have talked to hundreds and hundreds of these guys. I've had drinks with them. I've played games with them. I've had arguments with them. I can only think of one person, one, that gave me a truly sexist attitude and it was a guy who worked for a gaming company, not even a fellow player.
The reason there aren't more women in miniature wargaming is the same reason there aren't more guys who scrapbook. Men and women are not the same and have different interests and attitudes so certain hobbies will skew more one way than the other. It doesn't mean a woman can't play games, nor does it mean a man can't scrapbook. It simple means more men like wargaming and more women like scrapbooking. Why does this have to be turned into sexism?
Ashley, the author of the post, goes on to write at length about the prevalence of rape jokes in wargaming. Once again, what now? I've found this no more likely in the wargaming community, than in the world at large. Those guys exist everywhere and when they are out of line I've found that other men are quick to call them out on it. Those kinds of jokes are tasteless, insensitive and inappropriate, but wargamers are no more or less guilty of this than the any other group.
I was also frustrated by the reverse sexism in this post. She doesn't want to be treated differently or given extra notice for being a woman, yet calls her site Chickhammer. She doesn't want to be called a girl because she sees that as disrespectful, and says she'd never call guys boys, yet the tagline for her site is "Warhammer isn't just a boys club anymore." Isn't that doing to men precisely what she's accusing them of doing to women?
The one photograph in the post is captioned "My Daemon Prince, with his sword of equality, smites sexism" yet, couldn't one call that sexist? Why a prince, not a princess? Should I be offended that she chose a male model to represent her sexism smiting ways rather than a female model? Is she implying that Sisters of Battle are not capable of smiting on their own and therefore I'm not capable of it either? Isn't she being sexist? Is she being insensitive to her fellow women?
I don't actually have a problem with the picture. It's a cool model. She probably chose it because it was a cool model and for no other reason, but it could easily be twisted into a "women don't need to be saved by men, how dare you" rant. I find that no less ridiculous than saying the wargaming community is short on women due to the overwhelming amount of sexism in the very male ranks.
I think it's great that Ashley is blogging about her wargaming experiences, and I'm sorry to hear that she's had some negative ones. I'm not negating her experiences, more the idea that the wargaming community is closed-off and unaccepting of women players as a rule. I have found the exact reverse to be true. I'd hate to think that women decided not to play because they thought the guys were all jerks. They're not. They're great. I love you guys! (wipes tear, looks for hug)
I'd love to hear your thoughts, men and women, on your experiences.