Want more Women to play: Need more Women to lead.

There has been a lot more about in the media about gamer girls in the recent weeks, so much that at least our local mainstream media has picked up on the tendency for women to be harassed online while playing games, and there are more opinion pieces which brush over the Lara debate.   ( I include console online and pc gaming online in this )

Sites like Fat, Ugly, or Slutty which I check out occasionally,  or the link mentioned in the SMH article Not in the Kitchen anymore make me feel like I have been rather lucky in the years I have been playing. I don’t get regularly harassed, or requests made to see my boobs, make them a sandwich.

Sure a lot more documented abuse seems to be from Xbox gaming, and first person shooters seem to cop the worst of it,  but F, U and S also includes wow screen shots.

Sure I have my own experiences, which  include me being  muted in vent for telling an immature player to quit repeating P*enis in vent and sat in forced silence while another female player was told to “Shut up you W*ore.” Been asked to be someones dishwasher  which had nothing to do with washing dishes.  Had someone try and sell a lap dance in trade chat on my behalf and a female player from another guild had a special chat channel named after her. I’ve also talked about Principled playing, and way back in 2008 the use of the R word

When I used to do GDKP’s in ICC days I played with more pugs, and even random groups, but in places like the QQ  premades I would see people kicked off vent and the premade for the way they treated female raid leads.  I have come across good and bad experiences with other players, but mostly good. Yes most of them were male,  most of them really just wanted to play Wow, some wanted to test waters and flirt and some have become friends.

” I feel so much the hypocrite though for staying in a group that can turn my stomach with their language and behavior”

I said that in “I’m not a prude”

I stayed in the GDKP where I was muted, and another female player was called a W*ore.  I’ve stayed in raid groups, guild and pug groups where I have felt uncomfortable in the way I have been treated, where they used language I wasn’t comfortable with, and where “why am I the only girl in this guild? question is answered by experience. I have also been silent when someone uses the R word,  and there have been times where I have not. Why?

The end goal was important enough to take the shit. The kill, the boss, the loot, the gold.   It was more important than anything else you could throw at me.

A guild member once felt the need to suggest I might really like to bite him sweetly and seductively in the middle of a H LK attempt, and even when the vent was silent until it exploded in response to his comment  – and the guild was called to order to refocus. I felt ashamed that I had been the cause of such a distraction when we were trying to be serious. If I wasn’t a girl it wouldn’t have happened like that.

Defense mechanisms mean I have been quieter in unfamiliar groups.  I’ve lied when asked random questions by other players – are you the girl?  Are you a girl?

“No mate” I’ve whisper back.

So in trying to find a different angle to the ongoing experiences and debate I realize,  that the places I have felt the safest.  The guilds I have not felt threatened in, the guilds I have felt most at home, and happy in have been led by a female.

I killed Heroic Deathwing with a female GM and Raid leader.  My Ulduar guild was female led.  I count these as the better guilds in my raiding career, not just for successes. This doesn’t mean that they were better GM’s or better raiders, or better leaders than a male GM,  but the type of environment that a female GM is more likely to foster is one that is more female friendly, and one you don’t have to stay silent in.

This means that when a raider keeps harassing the female players, he is kicked. His behavior is not encouraged or laughed over, and the desire for someone to play in a place where they feel safe and not harassed is respected. Where girls are encouraged, and confident enough to reveal their gender and talk on vent, or contribute to the guild and raid, and they are more likely to do that when there are other females in the guild.

I’m not suggesting we recreate Wonder Womens Paradise Island where there are only women – or even that we need to rule the world to fix all the problems, or even that female players aren’t prone to hysterics or childish behavior.  I have also raided with female players who offered special time on vent for favors, or encouraged sexualized behavior. Both genders have all sorts of people.

But I think with more female leaders we could encourage better environments where harassment  is not tolerated.

I am  not suggesting that a male led guild can’t provide a similar ‘safe’ environment. As a GM no matter the gender, you set the atmosphere of your guild, by what behavior you allow, the players you choose to allow in your guilds. I’m sure most female gamers have some negative experiences specifically related to their gender, and I don’t think girls only guilds are the answer to providing safer places to play. ( I’ll be the first to say 25 Women in a raid could get verrrry interesting ) but GM’s or leaders are more public figures in a guild.  Their gender and that they are leading is a powerful statement.

You can be a GM. You can be a raid leader.  You too can have minions guild members follow your direction and kill stuff. You can be successful, and you can also be a girl gamer.

11 Responses to “Want more Women to play: Need more Women to lead.”

  1. 1 Chatmay July 2, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    I really can’t even relate to some of your experiences currently anyways. I am a female GM (and raid-leader) running a large 18+ guild with around 40% of our members being female…we just don’t have these problems lol.

  2. 3 Meliika July 3, 2012 at 12:27 am

    I am a female heroic raider and have been playing for oh… I don’t know… maybe 6 years now. While I have seen boys treat females with contempt and disdain in wow, I’ve never had a problem myself. I don’t associate with teenagers in game, because they tend to be immature. It sounds like you’re running with teenagers a lot. I certainly would not stick around in a run where someone mutes me on vent – they can find another healer (haha… good luck with that). I don’t take that sort of crap 🙂

    The guild I’m in raids at a high level and are all over 20 years old, which means by and large they’re all mature enough to just enjoy the game and the “social” aspect, and they value their position in a good guild so they’re not going to screw it up by acting like an idiot. The guild has rules around conduct, and they do enforce them. I find the higher up you get in progression raiding guilds, the less crap there is and the more organised the guild is. In social guilds, there are generally a lot of immature teenagers and so a lot of nonsense like mentioned above.

    • 4 ironyca July 3, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      I’ve been in a hostile guild, everyone was above 20, and they were still not being nice people (on top of that, the GM was female).

      The teenager fallacy is a myth and I wish people would stop blaming teenagers, they can be decent players too, I have personally met a lot of them. I have -never- seen any evidence suggesting that this is the -sole- reason, but everyone keeps saying it, I guess it makes the world seem simpler and more manageable, than it really is.

      Because what if it isn’t just teens who are immature, who will grow out of it, what if there actually is a serious problem here, and that it’s far more complicated than “It’s teens, and you should stop playing with teens – There, I fixed your problem for you”.

      Implicitly blaming the author of being treated this way because she is “running with teens” would have insulted me, if this was my personal story.

      Also, you make it sound like females can only really expect respect in high end guilds, and for us to solve the problem, we should just raid heroic, because no teens do that? Or what was the point of that last statement?

      • 5 Anonymous July 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm

        Nah you are right, it’s not only teens, but there’s a much higher likelihood of immaturity in teenagers because well, they are not yet adults (I’m talking under 18).

        It would probably be more accurate if I added in level of intelligence, because that is a huge contributing factor too. Yes there are very intelligent people that don’t raid at a high level, and yes there are teenagers who aren’t immature, and adults who are immature.

        But the point of my comment is that I don’t think there is a major problem with sexism in wow, I just think there are a lot of immature or stupid people in it, and if you are in a guild where it is mandatory to be mature and not stupid, then you minimise your contact with such people.

  3. 6 Coreus July 3, 2012 at 2:07 am

    I think Meliika has the right idea. You choose the people you play with. I don’t ever tolerate playing with people I can’t abide just for the sake of playing. The game experience is worth more than that to me.

  4. 7 ironyca July 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    I’ve stayed silent too in many occasions just to get it over with quickly so I could get out. I’ve written the most ambiguous guild applications you can imagine in order to conceal my real gender, but also without directly lying about it.

    The only hostile guild I’ve been in had several female players and a female GM and all of these facts did not make it all perfect. There is a chance that females in lead with power can have an effect, but a lot of female players (see comments above) seem to think that this is something that we should learn to avoid, rather than fight.

    Some female players even think it’s harmless and “grow thicker skin”, or “a pair of balls” (ironically) – that this is the current state of online gaming or that *shrug*, it’s the internet in general, learn to live with it. Some even attempt to get a “one of the boys” status by engaging in it themselves.

    Of course my case could be one deviation from the norm, but I am skeptical that females can solve this themselves. I think the overall culture needs to change to be less misogynist, and that involves -everyone- getting that acting like the examples you gave from your own experiences, is just not okay.

  5. 8 Bear July 3, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    We need to get past the idea that putting up with bad behavior is the only way to get what we want. We can’t prevent people from saying stupid/hurtful things but we can stand up and call them out when they do. Being talented or having great gear doesn’t make it OK to treat people badly. Misogyny isn’t a female issue but something everybody needs to oppose.

    I was in a pug raid a while ago where it was a woman on vent who was being abusive. I confronted her at one point, said it wasn’t cool and was basically told to shut up. So I dropped group and hearthed. That kind of behavior is unacceptable full stop. From the whispers afterwards, my leaving was somehow unexpected by more than a few people. huh.

  6. 9 Dawn July 4, 2012 at 5:08 am

    I’ve always wanted to make an all-girl competitive raiding guild but it’s hard to find girls that are both nice and want to play at a very competitive level. Yes they exist but they’re few and far between. I’d say for every nice girl I meet who I can be friends with, there must be four or five other girls who are catty and overly aggressive with me and other women. It’s really only in higher ranked guilds though… When I used to raid in more casual guilds it was the opposite, for every girl I had issues with there were 4 or 5 that were great friends. It’s such frustrating experience really. I’d like to have more female friends but a lot of the times the girls are the ones leading the charge on harassment.

  7. 10 kurnmogh July 4, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Great post. I’ve lied about my gender, telling people I was a guy. My first-ever toon (and main for years) was a male night elf because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself as a female night elf.

    It wasn’t until I was in a guild that had a female as an officer where certain things weren’t acceptable (people casually using the r-word) that I really felt comfortable being a female player.

    I’ve since been an officer in just about every guild I’ve been in since then and have always advocated against overly sexist behaviour. I’m the current guild master of my guild. The biggest thing for us is that players show each other respect. That means that we don’t see/hear “make me a sammich” jokes, it means that we don’t allow anything bashing minorities of any kind (ethnic, racial, religious, LGBT, etc). I’ve tried hard to cultivate a culture where people think before they speak or type. I like to think it’s helped. 🙂

    We current have 8 women on our raiding roster, but had more than that (closer to 12, I think) when we started raiding in Cataclysm and I think we’re all treated as part of the team rather than as “that girl”.

    I’d hope that, eventually, more men will understand the difference in cultures between guilds typically run by men and run by women, but it just doesn’t seem to naturally be something they think too much about, in my experience. Maybe more female GMs will help that out a bit. 🙂

    Excellent post. Thanks for writing it!

  8. 11 Navimie July 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    I think everyone has said what I wanted to say. A great post PP! Being female hasn’t really been a problem for me but I think perhaps I don’t mix with those kinds…

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