I'm a girl and a GM – so what?

I’m going to start with disclaimers.

I know there’s a lot of talk and interest right now regarding feminism and WoW.

I know I’m on a list of female GM’s over at Bossy Pally.

I know that this is an interesting and important topic to many people and I am truly not trying to downplay that or imply that it shouldn’t be.

Yet, I see all this discussion going on and I see me being held up (by Zel anyway) as an example of female leadership. To all this, my reaction is honestly this:

So what?

So what if I’m a girl and I happen to be in charge of my guild?

So what if we have a female main tank?

So what if we have several females in our raiding core?

In a game where a player can choose to hide their real life identity and do it well enough that no one ever really knows for sure whether that character is played by a man or a woman, why does it matter which roles women choose to take on in that game?

Even without hiding my gender in the game, I have never felt like I couldn’t do anything I wanted to do. Sure, there are always going to be jerks who will discriminate against women, or homosexuals, or Jewish people. But that’s because there are people like that in real life and it’s a reflection of the overall population of the world, not a slice of gamers or game designers.

I just don’t see anyone out there forcing the gender issue in a way that prevents women from doing whatever it is they want to do in the game. Frankly, if you’re a female and want to be a main tank or a GM or a raid leader or a PvP champion, your skill and ability are going to be the only things that can make or break that dream.

But Alas, you might be thinking. This doesn’t capture any of the essence of what this feminism discussion is all about!

That’s probably so. To be brutally honest, gender discussions bore me. I simply don’t care about the question of equality beyond a certain point. That point is one of mental ability. I won’t ever believe that a man is automatically smarter than I could ever be just because of his gender. At the same time, I’m totally willing to admit that there are many men and women out there who are smarter than me.

I suppose for me, the question of equality doesn’t come down to a line drawn between men and women. We all, as individuals, have our own blends of strengths and weaknesses. You might be a super freaky math genius. I might be apt at memorizing whole chapters of information. Your math smarts don’t make you better than me, just as my ability to retain a lot of information doesn’t make me better than you.

Again, I may be missing the whole point. You can tell me if I am and attempt to educate me if so. But to me, we’re all just people doing what we want to do – at least as far as gaming is concerned – so what’s the big deal?

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34 Responses to I'm a girl and a GM – so what?

  1. Ralod says:

    I really do think, that the stigma in wow of female gamers came from the old top end raid guilds. The stories and crap from them. They are the people that used to set the tone for the game, and the community as a whole.

    As WoW has moved away from that boys club, leetest of leet pov, I think gamers of all types have been more accepted. Me personally, my entire wow career our guild has always had a good number of female gamers, We have a Female tank, and female officers and raid leaders.

    In the end, a gamer is a gamer. As long as you know your stuff you will have a place. It does not matter if you are man, women, martian, or talking anthropomorphic animal. And that is the way it should be.

  2. Elfindale says:

    You're a girl? Ewww….

  3. Psynister says:

    Would a standing ovation be out of order here?

  4. battlechicken says:

    I am so relieved to know that math is not a requirement for being better than other people. >.>

    Good post. :-)

  5. Saresa says:

    I heartily agree with everything you have said. I won't deny that I do have some concerns about the way gender is dealt with in game, but those all revolve around the game design, not fellow players. I don't much understand why it's a huge deal for a woman to do some roles – it immediately makes me consider the opposite: does that mean there are roles that it's 'boring' or 'expected' for women to do? I haven't seen any role in the game dominated by either gender.

    At a point I think some of the discussion actually ends up being more harmful than good. Of course, I could be totally wrong on that ;-)

    • KissMyAlas says:

      I know women are supposed to gravitate towards healing roles, but I haven't seen that be the case in any of my experience. I know just as many guys that heal full time as I know women who primarily tank.

      I think you're right about some of the discussion about this getting to be harmful. I think too much focus on any one thing that can be so polarizing is potentially a bad idea. Which is why I'll be back to surprise buttsecks tomorrow. :P

  6. @valkyrierisen says:

    Actually, I think you should roll alts on other servers, or a secret alt and join other guilds. I'm in the same boat, really. I take a lot of it for granted. Then I pug in a raid on my home server. Or slowly get to know other servers where I have alts. And I realize not all women are as lucky as I, or you, are. That crud in trade chat where women don't play wow, at least half of them BELIEVE that garbage. That's why I'm all for talking about this. I want to ram it down the throat of every warcraft player, really. Every girl gamer deserves the environment I've been blessed enough to find and love, and the fact that the majority of girl warcraft players don't get that makes me very sad. They think sexual harassment is normal and the only way to go in the game. Breaks my heart.

  7. Ambrosine says:

    I'm going to stand over here and nod and smile, agreeing with you.

    -yet another female GM

  8. Rilgon Arcsinh says:

    why does it matter which roles women choose to take on in that game?

    It doesn't. Or, rather, in an ideal, it shouldn't.

    I've had terrible male tanks and wonderful female male tanks. I've had level-headed female officers and some of the most malicious, catty, backstabbing-pieces-of-crap male officers. Every "female stereotype" I can think of probably has a male counterpart.

    Hell, I'm a guy that fixes my own clothes, does my own laundry, and cooks my own dinner – and I learned it all from my dad, who stayed at home with me while my mom made the family income.

    I guess that skews my perspective, but I honestly don't care what gender you are, so long as you're an enjoyable person to be around and do the role you've stepped up to do well and fairly (if it's a subjective position like GM/officer/loot councilor/etc).

    We're all people. Game on. :P

  9. sed/female male tanks/female main tanks

    My kingdom for an edit function. :(

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  11. Zelmaru says:

    Alas is a total bear at "that time of the month" /hide

  12. Rilgon Arcsinh says:

    Wait… it's not?!

    OH GOD WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING WITH THESE SPREADSHEETS MY ENTIRE LIFE

  13. Lara says:

    "A woman has to work twice as hard as a man to be thought half as good. Fortunately, this is not difficult." ;)

  14. Jasyla says:

    Excellent post.

  15. KissMyAlas says:

    What are you talking about? I never play my druid.

  16. KissMyAlas says:

    Well said. There's always someone in the comments who will get to what I was trying to say in a far more concise fashion. :P

  17. KissMyAlas says:

    I have played on other servers and done my share of pugging. In all that time, the most reference to my gender that has ever come up was one or two instances where someone said something like: "Oh, you're a girl!" I agree that I am and we keep doing whatever we're doing. I don't think my server can really be freakishly different than other servers or that if there was a rampant problem I could have been in the game for as many years as I have without encountering it on a semi-frequent basis.

  18. KissMyAlas says:

    I has cooties. Let me hug you.

  19. KissMyAlas says:

    No joke, right? I fail at math. And thanks!

  20. Angelya says:

    Thankyou, you said everything I would have said if I had bothered to write about this. Perhaps we are lucky in our situations, but I personally have never been left out of anything or (as far as I know) put down for being a girl in game. Of the three guilds I have been a part of, the previous two had female GMs and the first one was a guy until I took over :P Call me blind or naive, but I get the feeling that this is another one of those issues that has been made bigger than it should be.

  21. Ophelie says:

    I added you to that list (and bothered to make a list in the first place) kind of as a way to say "sure, women can be GMs, here are some to prove it". I also like that all the female GMs/RLs I know of have different approaches to their leadership.

    My latest post had been brewing in my head since the RealID fiasco, where suddenly it seemed like every blogger, even the men, was using "but the WoW community is so hostile towards women! Women can't even talk on vent out of fear of being harassed/treated unfairly/mocked!" as an excuse to say RealID was bad. I mean, yeah, it's totally an necessary risk, but since when is the WoW community as bad as it's being made out to be? And why wasn't I aware that talking on vent was dangerous?

    I do talk a lot about gender on my blog, but it's because I find it interesting. I'm such a people watcher, I love everything that has to do with social behaviour. To each our own. Some people like sports. I like people.

  22. Saga says:

    I think you're right in that gender shouldn't matter – and in a lot of people's opinions it doesn't. I guess the problem is the people for which it does matter – and they ruin it for the rest of us.

    I can't say I've had any particular problems due to my gender, not more than the odd person who might have been a little bit too friendly. (I once had someone who talked to me for two evneings and then wanted me to go on a date with him… It hadn't even been a flirty -in my world at least- converstion!) In general though, I'm not having any problems and I am an officer and a main tank.

    I did have some issues back when I was a GM in TBC – but I think that was the age and maturity of a bunch of people we made the mistake of merging guilds with rather than anything else, since my old guild members never made an issue out of my gender.

  23. KissMyAlas says:

    First off, I hope I didn't come across to you as though I were somehow condemning you for writing about something on your own blog that you find interesting. Far from it! As you said, to each their own.

    Most of my own personal consternation about this comes from my ending up anywhere adjacent to the feminism discussion. (Which, no, I don't mind it at all, I'm not angry or offended myself.) As I said, gender discussions tend to bore me so I haven't really talked much about the topic. I really don't see it as mattering one way or the other what my gender is. I just had the flash of, yes, I'm a girl. So?

    (If anything, I find it fascinating that I am one of the youngest people in my guild and all the older folks don't ever seem to mind that they're taking orders from someone 10 to 15 years younger than they are.)

    Anyhow, getting back to something like the main point, I see where you are coming from especially as it pertains to the RealID thing. And there was actually quite a bit in your post with which I found myself nodding along and agreeing.

    But there's still that part of me that says: "So what?" I had to try to articulate that. Hope you don't feel it was at your expense. :/

  24. Ophelie says:

    Oh, not at all! I did want to make sure I didn't rub you the wrong by adding you to a list, but that's it.

    After answering all the comments on my own blog, my brain is fried so I'm coming off as really mechanical. I don't mean to sound angry.

    I find it age to be really interesting too! In my current guild, most of us are close in age, but when I was in an older guild, I used to wonder what these people were thinking of this 20somethings kid telling them what to do and how to be better players.

  25. Zelmaru says:

    Well OK, I do think a girl GM is important because…

    If you know the GM is a girl, there's less chance that there's a culture of sexism in the guild. Sure, male-run guilds aren't necessarily sexist, but the presence of a female GM (or females high up in the leadership) is like an advertising banner that females are welcome.

  26. Rhii says:

    My experience is 100% the opposite of yours.

    When I was GM of my (now defunct) guild, if I asked anything of anyone, even something as patently obvious as "show up for raid if you say you're going to" or even "hop on your main so we can start" it was met with comments about how I loved to play mommy, how I was on a power trip, and how I was a constant nag.

    When my boyfriend, who was essentially my assistant, would show up with the same exact request, he received immediate respect and nearly always compliance. This could happen sometimes within five minutes of when I had asked it. I even got a comment once on how mine and my boyfriend's roles should be reversed, because I was basically just the guild secretary.

    It was maddening – simply maddening – to do all the work to keep the guild going and our raids running and everything pulled together, only to have the members treat my boyfriend like he was the king and I was his scullery maid.

  27. Chastity says:

    I simply don’t care about the question of equality beyond a certain point. That point is one of mental ability. I won’t ever believe that a man is automatically smarter than I could ever be just because of his gender.

    I think you might be underestimating the extent to which people *do* assume that a man is automatically smarter than you could ever be.

    People do it without realizing it. Hell *I* do it. I'm far more likely to ask a man for advice than a woman (unless it's something I need a "female perspective" on), I'm far more likely to try to explain something to a woman than to a man. If I want hard factual information about something in WoW, I'm more likely to read a blog written by a man than one written by a woman (unless it's something about healing).

    Do I consciously hold the opinion that men are always smarter than women? Of course not, but if you asked me to write down a list of people who were smarter than me I can't think of a single woman I'd put on it.

  28. KissMyAlas says:

    Wow. I don't even know what to say to that. It sounds like a terrible situation. There's all manner of questions I want to ask to understand more of it, but you might not welcome those. In fact, feel free to not answer but I wonder whether you ever kicked someone out of the guild or the raid for something like that? Or if you had rules in place to back up your requests so you could have made an example of them without anyone being able to say you were just on a power trip.

    I know Captain Obvious is obvious, but I find that having raiding rules that everyone must agree to in order to raid with us has provided most of the backbone and teeth so I don't very often have to fight the crap people will try to pull.

  29. KissMyAlas says:

    Oh, I'm not sure I underestimate how many people have that mindset. I've been confronted with it several times and I usually have a great deal to say to the person who wants to believe I couldn't possibly be capable of rational thought because I don't have penis.

    I think a lot of this comes from the fact that women do tend to be more emotional and pay a lot of attention to what they feel. Men do tend to be more logical and pay more attention to facts. That's all fine, and I strongly believe that many stereotypes exist for a reason. I'd even say that the examples you gave are fairly natural prejudices and I'm far from being on a campaign to eradicate that.

    As far as lists and whether or not you can think of a woman who is smarter than you, I'd like to know the criteria. It all goes back to that strengths and weaknesses thing, I think. Do you not know a woman who is smarter than you are in ALL areas in which you consider yourself an expert? Not surprising. Can you think of a woman who might outstrip your knowledge or ability in something specific? I hope so. And I hope it's not something frivolous like fashion or design. :P

  30. Chastity says:

    I think a lot of this comes from the fact that women do tend to be more emotional and pay a lot of attention to what they feel. Men do tend to be more logical and pay more attention to facts

    Except that isn't in fact true, it's just that when men behave emotionally people ignore it, and when women behave emotionally people fixate on it. I'd also suggest that a lot of "rational" male behaviour is actually based on a purely emotional desire to distance themselves from things which seem feminine.

    I'm also not entirely sure how you can reconcile being upset at people thinking you're irrational because you're a woman while also believing that women *really are* less rational than men.

    As far as lists and whether or not you can think of a woman who is smarter than you, I'd like to know the criteria

    Oh I don't *have* criteria. That's the point, Whether I think somebody is smarter than me is based on purely irrational factors because the truth is that things like that can't be measured. Stereotypes aside, I *don't* base my beliefs on serious rigorous analysis of the facts any more than anybody else does. I can think of a lot of women who know more than me about *specific* things, but the point is that I don't take that as evidence that they're smarter than me *in general* whereas if they were men I probably would.

    Look at it this way. On the face of the actual evidence, presented rationally, Larisa is a better WoW player than me. She's got more experience, she's in a more hardcore guild, I'm pretty sure she's downed the Lich King when I'm nowhere near. Despite all of this, I wouldn't classify Larisa as being a better player than me *even though I know that she probably is*. Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, I *instinctively* (emotionally, irrationally) think of Larisa as a casual player, chiefly because she's a girl and plays a gnome with pink hair.

    The point is that prejudice is a far subtler beast than people seem to believe. People who are *overtly* misogynistic, who will tell you to your face that you can't play WoW, or think rationally, or understand maths, or whatever, just because you're a woman are a tiny minority, but people who have *unconscious* double standards are everywhere. That's why women still get paid twenty percent less than men on average, even though there isn't an HR manager alive who believes that they consider gender when they're setting people's pay scales.

  31. KissMyAlas says:

    You'll have to tell me if I am misunderstanding here, but this is what I am seeing:

    You are making a distinction that I think is different than the one I was trying to make in saying that women tend to focus more on their feelings and men tend to focus more on logic. Your reply that men get ignored when they are emotional and women get focused on when they are emotional doesn't really speak to the decision making process I was referencing. In other words, I know a lot of women (self included) who will take how they feel about something into consideration when making a decision. Some women seem to act mostly on how they feel and less on what cold logic dictates. For most of the men I've spoken to, while they might feel a certain way about something, most of them seem to come down on the side of what is logical and feelings factor less. Again, these things aren't true for everyone, but that is what I have personally observed and what the stereotypes tend to be.

    Secondly, it looks as though you are using emotional and irrational as synonyms, which I don't understand. Emotional, as I am using it, tends more to a consideration of feelings, not being ruled by them. I would agree that someone who made all their decisions based solely on emotions would be pretty irrational, but someone who might give them as much weight as logic but can temper it both ways (logic with feeling and feeling with logic) is very far from being irrational.

    As to the rest, I understand that everyone out there is walking around with their own beliefs and ways of looking at the world and that a great deal of people never self-examine enough to even realize their double standards exist. I shudder to think how many I must be embracing without realizing it.

    To my way of thinking, there isn't anything inherently wrong with that – unless a person, having realized the double-standard exists, chooses to do nothing to try to change themselves.

  32. Chastity says:

    You'll have to tell me if I am misunderstanding here,

    I think we're talking slightly at cross purposes. I get that it is a stereotype that women make decisions more on the basis of emotion, while men make decisions more on the basis of logic, and I understand that you believe that stereotype to have a basis in fact, but I personally don't believe that.

    When I say men get ignored when they behave emotionally, what I mean is that men *ignore and downplay* the effect their feelings have on their decision-making (because culturally men aren't supposed to let their feelings affect them much) while women *focus on and exaggerate* the effect their feelings have on their decision making.

    I'm absolutely not trying to undermine your personal experience here, I'm just pointing out that the fact that people *self-describe* as being more or less driven by their emotions is not evidence that they in fact are.

    And yes, you're right that I probably shouldn't be using "irrational" as a synonym for "emotional" – I think it's because I tend to use "rational" as a synonym for "logical".