It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s Azeroth

7 Aug

Feminism seemed to be a popular topic on two blogs that I have recently begun to enjoy, at Righteous Orbs and at the Mental Shaman.  Being a female gamer myself, I felt extremely compelled to speak up on some of the things that were being brought up, more so on the Mental Shaman blog.  I spent a good while really pondering what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it.  Feminism is such a broad topic and such a gray area topic, that could be taken in so many contexts and could be debated to quite an extent.  To me, that’s one of the joys of it.  My idea of being a woman and a feminist may be different than someone else’s.  It’s our right and our choice to interpret things how we will and to base our own decisions and feelings off of those interpretations.  I would never attempt to deny anyone the right to feel a certain way about something they read or experience, nor would I hope they do not deny me that privelege, too.

Now, I’ve been around – I’m not even going to lie.  I have been on six realms during this expansion and they have run the gamut from PVE to RPPVP.  I have been in everything from casual leveling Alliance guilds (alts, I swear) to hardcore realm first Horde guilds.  I have been an Initiate, with having to pay for my own repairs and knowing nobody on a realm to being a Recruitment Assistant and being the sole voice of recruitment and making sure my applicants all had something to do.  

I have occassionally formed bonds with those that I game with – friends, lovers and serious meaningful relationships.  I have been the quiet girl on Vent, who does her job and says nothing and only logs on to raid and I have been the loudmouth girl who will cut you into pieces if you cross me.  I have seen my share of drama, both that I have caused and that I have been the target of, unintentionally.  I have learned a lot in my years of playing this game and I have seen a lot of things.  I acknowledge the things I have done wrong or could have done better and I am proud of the positive things I have taken away from this game and I try my best to be a better player and a better person, everytime I log in.

I feel there are a number of things that are being critiqued or read into and I wanted to give my opinion on each of them. 

No female soldier in the victory statue.

From my understanding, when a server experiences their realm first kill of the Lich King, there is a fountain in Dalaran that becomes a Victory statue.  The statue is comprised of five figures, who all happen to be male.  These figures are comprised of Tirion Fordring, two Orcish males and two Human males.  One player decided to take their grievance about this to Blizzard and received an apathetic and sadly typical response from them, stating they were limited in their abilities to deal with this via e-mail.  The original poster took their complaint to the realm forums and was subsequently berated and bashed by their peers, for their feelings.

First off, I agree that the responses were harsh.  I don’t think the original poster voiced their concern in an uneducated or negative light.  They had a concern and wanted to know if anyone else shared their concern and they didn’t deserve to be talked to the way that they were.  That was absolutely out of line.

But I do think the focus was in the wrong place here.  I don’t need women to be in the Victory statue – because I’m in my own Victory statue.  I was there for the Lich King kill – I’m a Kingslayer.  I was there for the screenshots of my guild killing the bosses in ICC to get there.  I don’t need a statue to tell me that I’m victorious – I have the titles, the loot and the achievements (and soon Val’anyr) to speak for me.  That should be fulfilling enough.  Why do we need an NPC, not even with a player behind the character to validate what we do?  I don’t need a statue in a city to look up to.  I look up to myself.  I look up to female gamers in more successful guilds than I am in, who are attempting and even slaying Lich King on hard modes.  Those are the women I should be looking up to – not an inanimate statue in Dalaran.

And if we really wanted to take it further, notice the lack of other races represented in the statue.  It contains just Humans and Orcs.  Weren’t other races important in the defeat of the Lich King?  The Tauren, Blood Elves, Gnomes, Night Elves, etc.  Why aren’t they featured in the statue?  Why isn’t anyone complaining about that? 

Next, we have the two major female characters being excised from the Lich King defeat story.

There were a LOT of people excised from the Lich King defeat story.  Seriously, who didn’t want to be there?  I can think of a number of NPCs or well known characters from the lore that could have been there, should have been there, etc.  Instead of focusing on what Jaina, Sylvanas and a few other NPCs were not able to be a part of, let’s focus on what they WERE chosen to be a part of – the Icecrown Citadel heroics.  Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron and the Halls of Reflection were three extremely well done instances.  Visually, they were well done, they were thematically outstanding and who was chosen to lead us through this exciting new quest line and these vivid new instances for us to enjoy –  Jaina and Sylvanas.  Two female NPCs.  That had never been done before and they didn’t just walk us through one instance – they were there for all three of them.  That’s pretty big. 

Not to mention the noteworthy presence of the female bosses in ICC.  Lady Deathwhisper is the Supreme Overseer of the Cult of the Damned, Blood Queen Lana’thel is the head of the San’layn and Sindragosa was the most fearsome servant of Arthas.  I feel those three represent women fairly well.  You have the Twin Val’kyr in Trial of the Champion, the modestly dressed Auriaya and Freya from Ulduar and Grand Widow Faerlina from Naxxramas.  They even let a woman into the Four Horsemen.  Horse-men.  Sounds like a pretty exclusive group, but we managed to get one of us in there and she put up just as much of a fight as the guys did.  Why isn’t that celebrated?  Why are we focusing on where we didn’t make it and instead praising where we did?

Numerous ‘jokes’ in the beta that play off gendered insults and stereotypes

“I’m a free spirit. I don’t like to be tied down.  What?  You mean literally?  Oh no… totally into that.”  &  “She told me to tie her up and do whatever I wanted to her… so I took her stereo!”

In both instances, the Goblin jokes appear to indicate that the act of bondage is consensual and that the female participants are willing and would enjoy the process.  What – women aren’t supposed to like bondage?  Are we really opening up that can of worms?  I could see if the male Goblin in question was indicating that there was no consent there or there was the use of force or intoxicants or something like that.  But what happens between two willing parties is something that I don’t feel should be deemed offensive.  Going through the listing of currently released jokes and flirts from the game and the Beta files, I also happened upon these statements, by the Dwarven and Gnome males, respectively, that seem to indicate that they’re all for a healthier shape of woman than what other races may be into:

“I like large posteriors and I cannot prevaricate.”  &  “I like my beer like I like my women – stout and bitter.”

In terms of the Worgen joke in question (“Being bitchy is in my blood.  Don’t pretend you don’t like it.”), they are female werewolves or dogs.  A bitch is a female dog.  I don’t feel that drawing the parallels between the two is so out there or strange.  If that statement came from a Night Elf or a Tauren, I could maybe see where some of the concern was coming from.  Speaking of Tauren, I find it interesting that women have not spoke up about the consistent “cow” references that are used, when discussing Tauren females or the numerous ways in which Orc females are seen as butch or unattractive, compared to their possibly more feminine counterparts.  Orc females are also the lowest represented class of female toons in the game.  You could delve into that quite deeply and discuss the fact that a subsection of women in the game are referred to as large bovine animals (complete with milking jokes) and another race of women are considered to be not very ladylike or physically attractive and that could possibly account for their low representation in the game – regardless of the fact that their racials are some of the more desired on the Horde side.

A questline in the Goblin starter zone where the player character has to murder their cheating ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, and rip out their still-beating hearts

You mean, like that quest line in Hellfire Peninsula that ends with you punishing the dead Blood Elf’s mistress by turning her into a mouse and feeding her to a cat?  Where you ally with his vengeful wife to right the unacceptable wrong that was done to her?  Where you beat up the man’s friend, as he mindlessly wanders on his hawkstrider, for information that leads to you identifying the mistress in question?  Yeah – that one.  What did doing that solve, exactly? 

Or that questline where you get turned into a Vrykul female and you’re asked to go through a questline that involves caning disobedient male slaves and then chasing down your sisters, who dared stray from the pack and went out into the world to try new things.  Not to mention that a quest in the middle of this expansive quest chain is called “Going Bearback” a pop-culture reference to “barebacking,” or having sex without a condom – a quest which involves you, still morphed into a big, blue Vrykul woman and riding atop a massive white polar bear.  No hidden meanings there!  We could take it one step further and ask, why not a brown bear or a black bear?  Why did it have to be a white bear?

Many women in the geek industries will adopt the mainstream geek culture in order to fit in – just as in mainstream society we accept that showing cellulite is inappropriate, and that women should wear bras because otherwise men might be distracted by nipples.

This is an argument or a statement that I feel isn’t really helping.  If women are choosing to remain silent and choosing to fall in line – how does that help us?  Or more importantly, why are women doing things they really don’t want to do?  Yes, there is peer pressure to do things that could allow you to fit in well or better “with the boys” and there is pressure from our media and our culture to “cover up” if you’re not of a certain body type (but then you get chastised for showing too much skin or not being covered enough – even if you have the form for it).  The choice is still there to reject those influences and do what you, as a woman in the geek industry or just as a female gamer geek, want to do.  You choose to give in to those pressures and that need to conform or “behave.”  You can make the choice to say “I look good and I’m gonna wear what I want and I don’t think this is okay and I’m going to let you know that and you’re going to listen to me.”  Fitting in isn’t helping. 

I can honestly say that in my years of playing this game, I have never felt “less than” or like I would have had an easier time if I were a male gamer.  I feel that I have been given just as much privelege and right and have shown that I can perform as well as or better than my male counteparts and that has never been a factor in my not being chosen for raids or my decision to part ways with a guild.  I work hard, sometimes harder than others, because that is something ingrained into who I am.  I am an overachiever and I am never satisfied with my performance and I want to be better than myself and better than others.  I never want to settle.  Sure, I have had disagreements in this game and I have encountered situations that I just couldn’t win.  But I can’t say that me being female caused those things to happen or that they would have turned out any differently.  I see male players that have just as difficult a time with certain things (i.e. their performance, their social interactions, etc.) and on a case by case basis, they have been through worse than I have. 

I enjoy being a girl in this game and I don’t stick around in circles where I am told to shut up or I have to feel like I can’t be myself or speak my opinions.  I choose to take myself out of those equations and be in situations where I can prosper and where my voice can be heard.  Are there guilds where women are second class and the harsh terms we get uncomfortable hearing run rampant?  Absolutely.  But I choose not to be part of them.  I choose not to run with those people.  I ask those questions when I am about to join a guild.  I do not support people that feel that way about myself or other woman or homosexuals or anything like that.  If they want to succeed in this game, they will do so without me.  That is how I voice my discontent with people who keep those stereotypes or those hurtful activities going.  I fight the good fight in my own way – just as other female gamers chip away at things on their terms.  We’re all right, here.  There is no wrong way to represent.  We’re in this together.

Which brings me to my last point – women who oppress other women.  I find this to be outright sad and disappointing.  Chris Rock once said “Women could run the world – if only they didn’t hate each other.”  I don’t want to say I expect to receive judgment or to be looked down upon from men, but I find it much more surprising and dare I say hurtful, when I see women standing in the way of other women in this game.  Because a girl likes to have a good time and likes to flirt does not mean she is a drama magnet and that you have to lock up your husband in the closet during raids.  Because a girl applies to your guild and her gem choices may not be what you would expect, it does not give you the right to make her feel less than or for you to take an opportunity to one up her.  Show her the way – ride to the top with her.  Don’t feel like she’s bringing down our gender – show her how to better represent us.  Don’t take the obvious road and go all “Mean Girls,”  just because you think it might make you feel more secure in what you’re doing or because you feel you can gain something, from stepping on another girl’s hands, on the rise to the top.

In closing, I found this amazing post from Wolfshead Online, that could be seen as a TL:DR of what I just typed.  Love it! 

I’m a feminist. I’m a gamer. And I’m offended …

…offended by people who are claiming to be offended on my behalf. I never gave them the right to speak for me, and they don’t.

To anyone who was offended by the bunny ears: When you’ve been told you can’t even apply for a job you’re highly qualified for because you’re female, get offended. When you’ve been told you have to have a man co-sign to open a bank account, get offended. When your college academic adviser tells you that women shouldn’t be in college, and especially not in the sciences, get offended. When you’re denied housing because you’re a single woman, get offended. When you’ve been told you have to clean a filthy bathroom because you’re the only woman working there, get offended. When someone at your new employer’s home office demands that you put the real manager on the phone or you’ll be fired, get offended. And especially, when you’ve been told that your chances of getting a promotion from your boss are directly related to your boss’s chances of getting a blow job from you, get offended.

If the WORST thing that ever happens to you because you’re female is that someone zaps your game character with silly bunny ears, thank your deity of choice every day that you were not born into my generation, that you did grow up in the world we we grew up in, and that you did not have to fight the struggle we fought to have the opportunities that you take for granted. The women of my generation, and the generations who came before us, fought for the right to equal and fair treatment under the law. We fought for the chance to prove we could do a job, and do it. We fought for the opportunity to be everything we could be, do everything we could do. We did not fight for the right to never be offended. Anyone who thinks that such a right exists is trivializing every woman’s struggle to be treated as a human being, as an adult, as an equal.

Go ride your pink pony to the land of nicey-nice, you weak sisters. Find yourself some politically correct game where nobody is allowed to say any words, think any thoughts, that you personally do not like. You might want to get yourself a fainting couch while you’re at it, and make sure you have a man standing by to open doors for you and help you into cars. Or woman up, deal with it, and stop looking for things to get offended by, because you’re giving all the real feminists of the world a bad name.


28 Responses to “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s Azeroth”

  1. Pewter August 7, 2010 at 9:41 pm #

    Honestly that comment from Wolfshead’s blog completely missed the point of what women tend to be upset about when it comes to WoW, and the individual complaints.

    – Goblin emotes – there is still, afaik, some disagreement over whether the male goblin joke implies the consensual or not (I really cannot hear ‘she’ and am taking it that other people hear ‘she’ in good faith’.)

    – Wolf/worgen/bitch jokes – It’s only a funny ‘dog’ joke, because bitch is also a way for men to dismiss assertive women. If the design/writer team was dominated by women and decided to put a joke like this in, or an individual woman choses to use ‘bitch’ in their vernacular, then that is one thing, but these jokes come from men and for men, and that is why many of the jokes add up to make a problematic presentation.

    I completely agree with your point about oppressing other women – you will note that I mentioned slutshaming and vicitim blaming in my post, and internalised sexism (the oppression you refer to) is something that many women will go through.

    I didn’t engage with a lot of topics on an indepth level in this post, because my point was all the little things added up together, rather than exploring conventions about dress (and nipples, a rather flippant turn of phrase) in IRL.

    All those individual problems can be explained away (as you did), but it’s standing back and looking at the whole, and seeing how relatively reduced the female plotlines are, and the fan service, and so on, that is the problem. I’m not going to stop playing WoW by a long shot, but saying ‘Go ride your pink pony to the land of nicey-nice, you weak sister. Find yourself some politically correct game..” is not helpful or constructive either.

    Anyways, good post!

    • Oestrus August 7, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

      Wow – you reply fast!

      I really liked the post from Wolfshead because I felt empowered reading it and I feel that it does get very comfortable to think of the things we don’t have or could use more of and not the things we already do have and things we should be proud of.

      I agreed with a LOT of your original post and I meant no negative connotations between what you thought and what I thought. I have always felt extremely liberated as a girl in this game and have never allowed myself to read into things that are there (I’m not denying they’re not), but that I don’t allow to weigh me down or distract me from things I can change or that I have an immediate say in. I think the fact that we are two women who can have differing, but respectful opinions and still hopefully support each other is big and I love that.

      It’s not that I was trying to explain things away, necessarily – I was just trying to derive some form of power or positive response from them. I think women can be tempted to wallow in something happening to them and allowing it to distract them from the joys that they do have. I feel we have a lot to be grateful for and glad about, as women and we could stand to celebrate that more. That’s what I was trying to do.

      But I am extremely pleased that you stopped by and I look forward to reading your work more in the future! 🙂

      • Pewter August 7, 2010 at 10:10 pm #

        See, I read it and I mainly absorbed that he had a lot of male privilege (e.g. ‘if you engage in wow an experience sexism you have only yourself to blame.’) And to be honest his post felt very silencing – as if, if I was a real, sensible, rational person I should just accept such things as a fact of life and give up on critiquing them.

        And yes – we can’t allow things to weigh us down (and I certainly don’t feel weakened by these things) but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t call out privilege when we see it.

        I’ve personally had my privilege called out very strongly (not personally, but feminism has some historical issues with transphobia and a lack of ability to be an ally to intersectional causes that I am working through as a straight, cisgendered woman) so it’s…hard, it’s very easy to be defensive and want to stand up for something that is also a good thing. And WoW is a good thing – it enables an awful lot of people to game without their real identity or gender to impact on their game play, it allows us to explore identity and gender, and Blizzard HAVE listened to the female player base (e.g. alpha female trolls were changed to current ones at the cries of female players.) Hell, I get to play woman with a wobbly belly – and that’s still way ahead of many other games 😉

        That particular comment you quoted had me cringing because it is exactly the sort of internalised sexism I was referring to – because it’s just a game ‘it doesn’t matter’ (a particular bug bear for geek feminist because mainstream feminists will tell us the things we care about ‘do not matter’ compared to more important things’.) I mean, that quote is calling me a bad feminist because I’m choosing to critique popculture in a feminist slant, is upset because I’m offended on ‘her’ behalf – but maybe I’m just offended on my own behalf – she’s proscribing my feminism even more than I’m prescribing hers. (Well, not personally – Wolfshead’s article was written long before mine.)

        Aaaand I should go to bed now. I was up late playing beta, and your trackback popped up before I headed off >>

        • Oestrus August 7, 2010 at 10:16 pm #

          LOL – I completely understand about the “getting to bed, but distracted” thing.

          And again, we took different things from the post from Wolfshead. You are well within your rights to have your interpretation of it and I of course have mine. I don’t think either of us is “wrong” and I think it’s healthy to take different things away from it.

          Ditto on the wobbly belly, I’m enjoying my Dwarf hunter quite a bit (except for the urgent need she seems to have for a good bra – but then I’m an A cup in real life, so I’m enjoying being busty for once).

  2. Pewter August 7, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    And also sorry if I get kind of raaawr about things. I certainly do NOT want to shut down your perspective on things, especially if you are feeling more empowered by things (like your example on the statue)

    • Oestrus August 7, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

      No, you’re totally fine – I never read you as such!

      I have seen your blog and I enjoyed your post thoroughly and would like to continue enjoying your blog. It was never meant to be read as a scolding or a vast disagreement. I wouldn’t have been this inspired, if it weren’t for you bringing this up. We’re both very passionate people and that’s a great thing.

      I think by “fighting the good fight” in our own ways, we’re still branching out and getting the message out there. That’s what important.

      I will also be adding you to my blogroll, if you don’t mind! I have an ele shaman alt that I’m toying with going resto on. 🙂

  3. Jasyla August 9, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

    I’ve been reading all the posts on women in games lately and have been feeling like a terrible feminist since I’m not offended by any of the examples of ‘discrimination’.

    I’ve been playing video games since I was a kid, been playing WoW for 5 years and even worked in the (admittedly male-dominated) game industry for a couple years. I’ve never felt discriminated against for being a woman. You run into the occasional person in games who exclaims “wow! you’re a girl!” in surprise, but it doesn’t happen often.

    As far as female representation in games goes, it’s come a long way and WoW isn’t doing too badly. There are a number of female characters in WoW, and they come in a range of personalities (just like real girls!). Sure, Jaina is a bit of a crybaby, but Sylvanas, Alexstrasza, along with many of the female raid bosses you mention seem pretty strong to me. I think people are reading too much into things when they interpret these female characters in such a negative light. I’m sure I could put a negative spin on most of the male characters too if I tried.

    I’m also not bothered by poking fun at gender stereotypes. The things to remember is it can go both ways. Having a sense of humour about it and being able to dish it out as much as you take it seems like much more fun than being offended.

    Perhaps I’m oblivious or really difficult to offend, but I just can’t get myself worked up about any of the examples of sexism I’ve seen discussed in the last few months.

    • Oestrus August 9, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

      I’m inclined to agree with a lot of what you’re saying, Jasyla.

      The things that Pewter mentioned and that other bloggers have mentioned do happen and they do exist. I really enjoyed her post – but I felt it would have been really easy for me to build off of it and add more things to the fire, until we got so disillusioned with things that it became too depressing or like we were wallowing in what we don’t have. That’s also not in my nature to do that.

      Instead – I chose to take things that people felt were happening and to gain empowerment from them. My level of offense with things discussed is pretty low and I’m pretty hard to offend, anyway. But I figured if anyone was going to talk about them and do it differently than others were – it would be me and I’d try to turn some negatives into positives. I agree with you – that we have come a long way and we have much to be proud of. That’s where I wanted the focus to shine.

  4. Codi August 9, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

    I really have to disagree with you, hon. Things are very easy to dismiss when looked at individually, but when you look at the game as a whole, you can really see what Pewter was talking about. The “white, heterosexual man” privilege is really easy to see.

    The fountain issue is one of poor management, in my opinion. Blizzard is a -business,- meaning they make decisions based on marketability. Not having a female in the reward fountain does not yield any sort of gain to them, but it does draw negative attention to them. A good development manager should have caught the oversight and had it fixed. Skippy outfits for female characters is very much a choice that Blizzard has made to appeal to young men. It is like having a sexy woman on the cover of Maxim; they are appealing to a specific audience to make money.

    What really needs to happen is for women to absolutely make their opinions known about how the game should change to be more marketable to them. The quote from Wolfshead misses the point. This isn’t about equal rights. It is about letting Blizzard know that they need to be more aware of the other markets they are trying to make money from. Because they do -not- want to alienate a potential demographic that can yield real capital. Which is what female gamers are becoming. Just look at Bioware and the steps they’ve taken to be inclusive to that growing demographic. Shutting down the discussion the way Wolfshead tries to in your quote is not productive; changing businesses is not the same as changing governments.

    • Oestrus August 9, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

      Look what happened the last time someone tried to make a game that was “marketable to women.”

      “Final Fantasy X-2” anyone?

      That would be assuming that Blizzard knows “what women want.”

      So… what do we want? 🙂

      EDIT: Codi – I knew you were going to bring money and profit into this! I can almost hear you saying your whole reply in my head – lol

  5. Gingershnaps August 9, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

    I can’t really add anything to the conversation but I do want to say this: thank you O, Pewter, Jasyla and Codi for sharing your thoughts; it makes for fascinating and thought provoking reading.

    • Oestrus August 12, 2010 at 8:26 am #

      Good morning, Ginga!

      It’s been a hectic couple of days, so I apologize for not replying sooner.

      Thank you for the comment and I enjoy reading your blog, quite a bit. I’ve been toying with throwing together an off-spec for fun and I can’t decide if I should go back to my roots (no pun intended) and go boomkin again or give feral a whilrl.

      I will also add you to my blogroll, in case others are going thru the same dilemma and want a feral spin on things.

      Catch ya later. 🙂

  6. Cassandri August 13, 2010 at 12:11 am #

    I tend not to offend easily, but am often surprised but what occurs around me (in game) that preys on my mind the next day.

    99.9% of the time I don’t feel that my gender disadvantages me in any way as a gamer playing World of Warcraft. I feel that my ability says more about me and it’s usually the first impression that people get before even finding out that I’m a gamer.

    All the examples (goblin jokes etc) you cite in your article don’t particularly offend me. They don’t bother me.

    But occasionally a guild member will slip up and imply that such and such shouldn’t be welcomed into the guild because he was out-performed by a warlock in his last guild who was a girl… or that our guild’s officer in charge of recruitment got the job *because* she was a girl and was enticing players to leave their current guild…

    I still think Azeroth is a man’s world. But not because the game designers are unintentionally representing women poorly. I think it’s a man’s world because it’s occupied by people who also live in the real world and we haven’t really earned equal status in the minds of every single person (men and women) just yet.

    The only thing I would really want to see changed by Blizzard is how they deal with Jaina’s character. Yikes. Crying about Arthas. Crying to Varian. There’s more to her than that surely.

    • Oestrus August 13, 2010 at 11:59 am #

      Hey there, Cass! I’m a big fan of your site (except it takes a long time to load at my office, so I can only read it at home) and I’m glad you stopped by!

      I started gaming with collectible card games and that mindset of “You can’t just be a girl and be good” always permeates through games that I play, at different levels of intensity and I love when guys try to play the promiscuity angle. I’m not going to say I haven’t enjoyed being a single girl in this game, but if I were banging everything with a codpiece all this time, I would have had a legendary much sooner than I do now! Or it wouldn’t have taken me this long to see hard modes, etc. Especially with how I think just about anything can be tracked in this game. You can very easily view a World of Logs or WWS and see a woman’s numbers and even with the data in their favor, there is still always a “catch” or a loophole that allowed her to perform that well.

      I think it’s really easy for people to throw those types of accusations around that we are not performing or seducing our way to the top, but where is the proof? Show us that we didn’t out DPS/heal you. Show us that I rode my way to prominence on some poor sap’s male merits. Exactly – they can’t. So it’s a comfort thing for them, really and it’s something I’ve gotten used to shrugging off in the past.

      I don’t play Alliance, except for my level 40-something hunter alt. But from what I see of Jaina, in the glimpses the Horde see of her, she doesn’t seem that terrible. Maybe I’ll change my opinion once I start doing more things if my hunter hits 80 and I see things from the other perspective. I’m still jealous you guys have a shorter Saurfang exchange than we do!

  7. Chastity August 14, 2010 at 12:29 pm #


    You seem, once again, to be taking the line that if a person is offended by something, it is their fault for “choosing” to be offended. This is, I’m afraid, both factually incorrect, and a silencing tactic.

    And before you say anything, yes I get that you’re a woman. Yes women can use silencing tactics against other women. Yes, they can do it without intending to. Yes, it’s still a silencing tactic.

    You’re not upset by the fact that there are no female characters in the victory statue? Good for you, but the fact that you aren’t offended by it doesn’t make you more reasonable, or more rational or more liberated or more “empowered” than the people who are offended by it.

    You, personally, do not feel that people treat you differently in the game because you are a woman. This means you have been either (a) lucky or (b) imperceptive. Neither of these are reasons to dismiss other people’s real experiences, neither of them make your choices inherently more valid than those of people who *do* “choose” to be offended by things. Often the strategy you seem to be espousing – one of interpreting sexist or otherwise offensive material in a “positive” or “empowering” light amounts to little more than making excuses for what is, ultimately, inexcusable. Nobody is saying you have to be offended by anything, but in that case all you have to say is “I’m not particularly offended by this”. Optionally, if you want to be friendly, you could add “but I understand why some people are”.

    A lot of what you’ve got here comes across as telling people that your way of reacting is *better* than theirs. Furthermore, this is an attitude which feminists (particularly feminist women) have to put up with all the time – “you’re just creating problems, you’re just looking for ways to be offended.” Nobody is telling you that you have to be offended, but quite a lot of people are telling (say) Pewter that she can’t be.

    The Wolfhead post you quote is another good example of these kinds of nasty silencing behaviours being directed at feminist women (often by other women who self-define as feminist). What I found particularly ludicrous and insulting about the post was that – without seeming to be able to tell the difference – it mixed examples of obsolete sexual discrimination which no longer exist (like women being unable to open bank accounts) with varieties of sexual discrimination which are not only alive and kicking, but are alive, kicking, and actually supported by *the very social structures that people are complaining about*.

    Wolfshead says, and you quote: “when you’re told that your chance of getting a promotion depends on your bosses chance of getting a blow job off you, get offended”. You know what, women are still told that, or things like that, every day. Women get told that because we *still* live in a world that believes that sex is what women are for.

    And some of the women who get told that then go home, log into WoW, and find that their female avatar, the awesome warrior they’ve created to act out their personal power fantasies, has had a pair of bunny ears stuck on them because somebody is chasing an achievement based around the *exact same assumptions*.

    And *that’s* why some people get so upset about this kind of thing. It’s not because they’ve got nothing left to be upset about, and so are reduced to getting upset about trivial things, it’s because the trivial things *remind them* of the other things. Because when you *have* been told that you have no business being at college, or studying the sciences, or working in the video games industry, or had any of the other experiences which Wolfshead gives you permission to be offended by, finding that the things you do for escapism *reinforce all the things you’ve just been told* can make you as mad as hell, and that’s not an unreasonable reaction.

  8. Jen August 17, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    I really enjoyed your post and I have to say I agree with you (and Jasyle, and Cassandri, and so on). I can’t get offended by these things… I either don’t care either way, or find them funny (i.e. the jokes). I don’t think that’s silencing women in any way. On the contrary – whenever someone *doesn’t* feel offended, other women (or men) tell her that her actions are harmful and she should stop saying those things. How is that not also silencing? I see a double standard here.

    The bottom line is well-expressed in something Wolfshead wrote (thanks for the link, by the way): “No matter what Blizzard does you’re going to find one person among 12 million that is waiting to be offended by the content or tone of the thousands quests and achievements.” (I’d phase that as “might get offended”.) Seriously, if they spent energy into trying not to offend ANYONE in the world, do you honestly think they could even launch an expansion? I think it’s impossible. Someone, somewhere went through a traumatic experience and is reminded by that in a quest or a name or an encounter… Some things could be better… but I doubt it’s the things expressed in this post. (Well, maybe except for the violent quests. Nothing to do with genders there, but they’re a bit too much for my taste.)

    (Hm. Maybe I should start a campaign for including night elves in the statue? I fought as hard as anyone, so did my boyfriend, and we’re not recognized as such.)

    • Oestrus August 17, 2010 at 10:12 am #

      Didn’t you know? Night Elf unions are only recognized as valid in certain regions, like Un’Goro, the Burning Steppes and Stranglethorn Vale. If you want rights in other parts, you’re out of luck – lol

      Sorry, I got a chuckle out of the last part of your comment and felt the need to capitalize on it.

      I’ve seen you around and I’m glad you enjoyed the discussion that we all posed and that you chimed in on it, as well.

      • Jen August 17, 2010 at 10:45 am #

        Help help I’m being repressed!
        (Monty Python love <3)

        • Oestrus August 17, 2010 at 10:52 am #

          Hey, what you guys do in the privacy of your own Shadowmeld is your business – lol

    • Codi August 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

      The trouble is we’re not talking about 1 person in 12 million being bothered by the lack of gender representation in the fountain. By having open discussions about what we find offensive, feminists are able to find others of like minds that feel likewise. So it instead becomes a -group- of people that find the content offensive. Even if it is a small one, any business worth its salt is absolutely spending energy (and money!) trying not to offend groups of people, if those people are in the business’ target market. To bring it back around, Blizzard should absolutely be listening to what its feminist players are finding offensive, as doing so is good business, even if only to say “we understand and we disagree for x, y, z reasons.”

      • Jen August 18, 2010 at 3:17 am #

        I agree, they should pay attention to groups. But if they pay attention to feminists, Christians, Pagans, disabled, draenei fetishists, people with arachnophobia, single moms etc etc etc… do you think the game would exist anymore? I don’t think it’s possible by any means to be non-offensive to *anyone*, and I think the offenses discussed in O’s post are trivial. No women in the statues – no night elves in the statue – none of the other characters who were central to defeating LK in the statue. It would cover the whole Dalaran if they tried to include everyone.

        Also, I don’t know if it’s been mentioned. WoW is not the real world of the 21st century, it’s more of a medieval fantasy realm… where I doubt sexism and feminism are known. Do you think an ancient king would even allow girls in his army? WoW is already going beyond that and I really, really, really doubt not including females in the statues was meant as “you’re not important”. If you asked me what a statue dedicated to heroes should look like, I’d also put men in it. Why? Because men have been the soldiers in most cultures since forever. It’s supposed to be a symbol, not an exact representation (“10% were nelf females, let’s put 1 in the statues; 20% were nelf males, let’s put 2”, and so on).

  9. Tomaj November 16, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    I’m not reading through the comments. >.> Just a lot there, ha.

    At any rate, I think part of the core of the issue with the ICC thing is this. Jaina and Sylvanas were huge – HUGE – parts of Arthas’ storyline. Yes, they were there for PoS/FoS/HoR, but they didn’t make it into ICC itself. That part I’ve always been confused about, because going through the quests and everything through the three 5-mans (at least, Horde-side – I never finished them Alliance-side), the storyline drops off at a dead end. One of the few times that females take the lead, and they’re pushed to the side for Tirion (and to a lesser degree, Saurfang, Hellscream, Muradin and Varian).

    On the note of the bosses, while I agree with you, keep in mind they were all servants. Moreover, the other female bosses had little to nothing involving them outside of the instances/raids themselves. The best that can be said is that LDW and BQL were leaders of factions, but they were still subordinates even so.

    With Cataclysm, we see some sort of reconciliation, especially with Ysera. Alexstrasza had her whole shabang in Wrath, but even that was short-lived, and pretty much ended with Wrathgate and Eye of Eternity. I suppose maybe something could be said for Ruby Sanctum, but even that was so… minimal in comparison to the larger story arc of WotLK as a whole.

    To add on about the statue. I think the point here is that there were female NPCs – both in the Argent Crusade, as well as the Knights of the Ebon Blade – that took part in the demise of Icecrown Citadel. Yet, they were not represented. The same holds true of the various other races. (Trust me, I was exceedingly happy to see trolls and gnomes, the most underrepresented races in WoW cinematics, featured in the Halls of Reflection scene.) The race choices for the statue make sense – orcs are the larger representation of the Horde (in terms of NPCs, if not PCs), while humans are the representatives of the Alliance. Plus, hi, limited space for the thing. I never noticed the races, or genders, of the statue before, because I spent a whole 3 seconds looking at it trying to find the thing to click on, and never looked at it again.

    Still, I don’t see any reason why there shouldn’t be female NPC involvement. As I said, though, there is some reconciliation with this via Ysera in this expansion. It saddens me a bit that Tyrande doesn’t have as much involvement in the current Firelands arc as Malfurion and Hamuul, but Tyrande isn’t a druid or a shaman – the two bigger parts of the Firelands arc are the Earthen Ring and the Cenarion Circle.

    Another thing that gets a lot of people is that many women are seen as “arm candy” – see, Aggra or Vereesa Windrunner – rather than their own individual roles. Sylvanas has come into her own (not being tied to Arthas anymore), and come MoP, Jaina will (not being tied to Arthas, Varian or Thrall anymore). Many people feel that Tyrande comes off as Malfurion’s arm candy, though this has definitely been refuted by a lot of people, Blues included. The only major exceptions to all this have been Lady Liadrin and whats-her-face that leads the Aldor.

    My opinion on this? I question why the diversity that’s obviously there in the game isn’t celebrated more. I don’t really care one way or the other, though. It is, after all, a game.

    As an aside, your comment about the white bears kind of struck me as rather silly. They’re white because it’s geographically tundra. It’s a biological thing, which is why we see white bears in Storm Peaks and Dragonblight, but brown bears in the forest region of Grizzly Hills.

  10. Dreavon December 30, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Very late tag on this that may be ignored, but in reference to Sylvanas and Jaina not being the ICC raid, if you remember the 5 man instances, I beleive they take place storyline wise at the SAME time the raid is happening. Sylvanaas mentiones it being a diversion while the others assault the citidal.

    If this is the case (my memory may fail me here), then this is why tehy are not in the raid proper..they are setting breathing room for the main assault force.

    The rest of it, i am unsure how a person can defend or attack feminism, when feminism seems to have different definitions based on which feminist you talk to.

    Personally I get along with the ladies in my guild, which are really the only ones I talk to in game anyhow, as the rest are strangers and I dont talk to strange men or women.

    Make sme wonder though is it a question of equality, or equal representation? They are different. True equality would mean that teh fact they are black, white, purple with pink polka dots , male or female would NEVER even be asked. Its not important becasue all are equal. Not many ppl really want true equality.

    They want to be able to yell out that they are proud of thier difference and to show the others that are different from themselves that they they are proud of it. which saldy in turn comes across to others as rubbing it in your face at times…because they dont want true equality either.

    I have strayed from the topic of feminism and what may or may not be percieved as possible feminism….depending on which feminist is looking at it…

    With this all said, and I am sure ppl will be mad. I am married to a wonderful women who puts up with my sorry ass and loves me in spite of my many defaults, and I in turn lover her the in the sameway. She is my partner, my friend and my lover…she is my equal in every way ( I am taller though!!)

    Have fun all. Happy New Year.

    • Oestrus January 3, 2012 at 9:29 am #

      Not many ppl really want true equality.

      I agree. I think too often feminism turns into “us against them,” or it seeks to put a lot of things squarely on the shoulders of men or tries to reject men as our allies. I think we need each other and it’s silly to isolate ourselves from them or make it seem like we as women don’t antagonize each other from time to time or stand in our own way. I think if we looked at it from a “we’re all in this together” kind of mindset, we might make more strides and we might make “the cause” more attractive and all inclusive.

      I was very happy to read about your current situation and your wife sounds like a positively lovely woman. You two sound incredibly happy. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your opinions and your story.

      Have a good one!


  1. Sexism & WoW: Responses and Relevant Reading | The 'mental Shaman - August 8, 2010

    […] Why do we need an NPC, not even with a player behind the character to validate what we do? – It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s Azeroth @Stories of […]

  2. Feminism In WoW: Considerations From Oestrus | MMO Melting Pot - August 12, 2010

    […] over at The Stories of O is first up with It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s Azeroth. Her post is a response to recent discussions about female representation in WoW, where some of the […]

  3. Refuting Accusations Made Towards My Feminist Side « The Bossy Pally and the Giant Spoon - August 17, 2010

    […] feminism posts The ‘mental Shaman Empowered Fire Stories of O Explore posts in the same categories: General […]

  4. I’m Not a “Gaymer” | Holy Troll - November 16, 2011

    […] of opinion going around about feminism in gaming, specifically in World of Warcraft. For example, Oestrus’ post or Pewter’s post on the same subject. I’m not going to go into that. However, there is […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: