Recently, Pewter realized that while her feminism post may have opened the floodgates for numerous other posts on the topic, such as the ones found at MoarHPS and the Bossy Pally, it also opened the floodgates for another matter at hand to be hotly debated – the presence of male privelege in the game or the lack thereof. Obviously seeing an opportunity to discuss things from the male perspective, Pewter brought up the subject with a new post, in a novel way that was a bit different than her previous one. Instead of writing an actual post and then letting people comment on it afterwards, she simply threw the topic out there and let the comments provide the discussion. She was determined to keep the thread on topic and would interject at points where she wanted to add something to the discussion. As expected, it turned into another success and inspired similiarly themed posts from the guys at Righteous Orbs (or as I lovingly refer to them as Self-Righteous Orbs) and a new blogger I just became acquainted with known as The Noisy Rogue.
Again, I felt inspired by my blogging peers and I felt the urge to add something, but in my own way and by perhaps covering things that were not already mentioned. As I stated in my feminism post, anything that I write or that I’m inspired to write is really not meant to be seen as a retort, as in a defensive response or a calling out of sorts, based on previous posts by other bloggers. I feel topics like this, pertaining to equality or other sensitive topics should be discussed from a variety of angles and I respect the opinions of everyone who has commented on things like this, so far. I would not attempt to deny anyone their right to feel a certain way or have an opinion and I would again hope that nobody would try and do the same to me. I think that having a difference in opinion is a positive thing and can then lead to the problem being attacked from a variety of angles, rather than having everyone crusade at it in the same manner.
One aspect of male privelege that could be called into question is the aspect of male body image. There have been many discussions that have called into question the choices that men have to choose from, when they are attempting to make a character at the character selection screen. One interesting thing of note is that some races didn’t always start out as the way we seem them today – such as the Blood Elves. Prior to the release of “Burning Crusade,” Blizzard made the decision to bulk up the Blood Elf males, to appear more menacing and more powerful, compared to those of other factions and also because of a common graphics issue that led to “skeletal tearing” or instances where the skeletal frame of the character could be seen coming out of their skin. This was achieved by making them stand taller and by enhancing their muscles. Needless to say, players reacted negatively to the change and have consistently pushed for the older model of male Blood Elf to be reinstated, stating that the new models are a result of negative stereotyping. Though fans agreed with the potential need to make them more masculine, they felt this could easily and perhaps be better achieved by changing the sounds of their voices or the things they said in emotes.
It’s clear that too much muscle or menace can be seen as a bad thing, as evidenced by some who feel that male humans could make poor or not believable casters, because of their body type. To me, this sounds like a distant form of reverse sexism. I can understand the feeling of men not being able to relate to a body type that they can create in game. I can relate to the body types and shapes being startlingly unrealistic and that choosing the most slender race in the game (though technically second only to the Forsaken – but they’re dead), which happens to have some questionable emotes and positioning can lead to some feelings of being “less masculine.” But what I don’t understand is the insinuation that someone with an extremely athletic build or a well defined body can’t be intelligent or astute enough to fall into a caster type role, such as that of a mage, warlock or priest. Do intelligent men have to resort to being meek, naturally thin or just average? I think it’s sort of subversive to assume that every guy who works out or takes extremely good care of himself has to be pigeonholed into being less intelligent or meant solely for extreme physical activity – just like assuming a guy of less physical stature should be someone who should stick to being an intellectual, in favor of more athletic pursuits.
Then, on the more extreme end of the body image discussion, we have the ever present stereotype of the socially awkward male gamer – who more often than not is portrayed as someone who is overweight, has acne, is most likely a virgin and surrounds themselves with a constant supply of energy drinks and fast food. The creators of the show “South Park” took note of this and used it as the basis for the griefer character, in their Emmy award winning, WoW-themed episode, “Make Love, Not Warcraft.” Not only was he personified as fitting this mold precisely, but even Cartman, Kenny, Kyle and Stan found that they too had to become that which they fear the most, in order to defeat that “which has no life” – even going to the extremes of refusing to get up to use the restroom and playing the game for 21 hours a day. So, just as female gamers have to fend off the inevitable questions about what we may look like, when we speak on Vent or apply to a guild or mention our first names – male gamers have to deal with the inevitable, enduring stereotype that they don’t have any friends, rarely leave the house, are unkempt and/or unlucky in love and this can possibly lead to them becoming defensive about having a hobby that they truly enjoy or can make them more sensitive to perceived threats to their masculinity. This can cause them to overcompensate, by lashing out at or being tougher on female gamers (who they may perceive as treading on “their” turf ), homosexuals or others, who they may see as being “less than” or “beneath them.”
Now, if you ask the average man about they feel about body issues or things of that nature, a good number of them would probably just shrug their shoulders and say they don’t care or it doesn’t matter what they look like, because at least they’re still smarter than women – right? Not anymore! According to recent studies conducted mostly in Spain, Denmark and the United States, men were found to have a higher IQ, by about 3 to 5 points, on average. This has nothing to do with one gender being more intelligent than the other, but rather because people who are taller have been consistently shown to be more intelligent than people who are shorter – and men have, as a whole, always been taller than women. So the theory is that men are smarter, not because they are men, but simply because they are taller. If you were to take a man and a woman of the same height, the woman would probably be more intelligent than the man. However, the taller of the two genders would be seen as significantly more intelligent than the shorter party.
Other examples in which male intelligence has been questioned can be found in the game, under peculiar circumstances. One of the basic mechanics of the Instructor Razuvius encounter in Naxxramas is that you are required to have two people from your raid mind control two initiates and use those to tank Razuvius. Notice that the initiates are always male. We know from various examples in the game, like NPCs belonging to the Knights of the Ebon Blade to other initiates you encounter during the beginning Death Knight questlines that there are females, who are just as formidable as their male counterparts. But yet you can only mind control the males. Could that be seen as a subtle hint that a man’s mind is more susceptible to being controlled and thus makes them more attractive candidates to be placed in that encounter?
I know, I know – it’s a bit of a reach and I’m probably grasping at straws, here. But have you ever noticed in the Lady Deathwhisper encounter that all of the followers she summons into the fight are entirely male? All the followers – the devout, brainwashed and manipulated followers of the female Supreme Overseer of the Cult of the Damned appear to be male. Not to mention that weekly quest in ICC, where you have to rescue the male spy that was captured and is now under Deathwhisper’s control. You know – the one that attacks you and that you have to be careful not to kill, while trying to juggle all of the adds and if you end up killing him, you fail the quest. And let’s not forget that other weekly with the guy who bungled the mission and managed to get himself captured by Blood Queen Lan’athel and that you also have to rescue from yet another evil female’s cluthes, before she executes him. It doesn’t exactly make men feel as intelligent as women or moreso, when the two examples of intelligence agents that we have in ICC are both male and now in dire need of being rescued – from villainous women, no less.
Men dying is definitely not a good thing and neither is the thought of the male gender going extinct. Yep. The way of the dodo. Down like the dinosaurs. Ex-tinct. Or as one scientist called it, “Adam’s Curse.” In 2003, a genetics professor from Oxford University wrote a book, theorizing that within the next 125,000 years, the males of the human species would be extinct. His reasoning for this was that the Y chromosome is now comprised of fewer than a hundred genes – much less than when it originally started (which alone is considered a genetic abberation). With each child born that the genes are passed on to, the Y chromosome loses more and more of itself and doesn’t have duplicates of itself (like other genes do) that it can repair with or regain that missing material from. Eventually, the Y chromosome will degrade to a point where it can no longer be passed on and thus the theory is at that point, the gene would cease to exist and with that, no new males could be born.
Because women are born from two X chromosomes that do not show signs of degrading like the Y chromosome, that can take elements from each other to repair themselves and that also are less prone to genetic mutations – it is believed that women may not be subject to the same dreary outcome as men might be.
In closing, I would like to reference this short, but brilliant paragraph from Miss Medicina’s take on the gender discussion, that I feel sums up everything we as bloggers have been trying to accomplish in this discussion and that I hope will motivate others to pick up the mantle and maybe inspire others to look at things a bit differently than they may have before.
What feminism has truly brought to us, whether you like it or not, is the ability to challenge those long-held beliefs. And it is continually evolving and expanding as we look at new things we never thought about. Before I began studying feminism, it never occurred to me how internalized these concepts are of what makes a man a man, and what makes a woman a woman. You don’t have to have children to be a woman. And you don’t have to be the breadwinner to be a man.