I feel like if I were a boy I would be less worried about my performance in a game than if I were a girl.
Let me explain.
I feel like when a woman puts herself out there, wherever it may be in the gaming world, she is automatically expected to either be completely bad at what she does, or is viewed with hesitation or apprehension. So when I do poorly at something, whether I didn’t show as high on the meters as I would have liked, or I didn’t win as many rounds in a tourney that I should have, I feel like I am living up to that expectation of me. I feel that I am proving that person right. I am just another terrible female gamer.
I feel like you not only have more wiggle room, in terms of your performance, but you are also given more leeway to try new things, or to be innovative. If I were to show up to Friday Night Magic and tell someone that I was playing a self mill Vampire deck, people would immediately look at me and think I had lost my mind. Nobody would give me the benefit of the doubt, or the chance to show them that maybe this deck idea might not be so bad, and maybe it would turn out to be something great.
But if I were a man and I showed up with that same deck idea, I think people would still be a little apprehensive of my idea, but they would at least let me see the idea through, and then poke fun at me if the whole thing crashed and burned. And if the deck did end up being a glorious failure, I think the focus would be more on how terrible the deck was, versus how terrible I was. More often than not, when a woman does perform poorly at something, more of an effort is made to establish that she is in fact a woman. The focus isn’t placed on how badly the strategy was, or the idea behind it, but the fact that a woman implemented it.
At the same time, you can’t just be a woman and be good at what you do. Someone let you win. You cheated. You got lucky. A man can take a defeat from another man much more easily. It involves swallowing so much more pride to say that you won, and that you did so without gaming the system, or using your feminine wiles, or anything of the sort. Even if they don’t make any initial snide comments, they will still wrap things up by saying “I lost to a girl.” You would never hear someone say “I lost to a guy.” It would be “I lost to this comp,” or “I lost to this type of deck.” Again, the focus is immediately placed on losing to someone who happened to be better than you, and who happened to be a woman. It isn’t enough to say that you were a better player, or that you had more skill. It has to be reiterated that you are a woman. Everything else will come a distant second to that.
At the end of the day, it’s not my perfectionist nature that makes me stay up an hour after the raid is over with to pore over the logs, and to see how I did, or what I can do better. It’s not the competitive side of me that gets angry when I lose badly in a Friday Night Magic tourney. These things tap directly into the side of me that feels like I have to do my gender proud, like I have to represent for all women, and that if I don’t that I have let any number of women like me down. It taps into the feeling that I have proven every short sighted, misogynistic asshole right by being bad at what I do. They must think women are bad because I was bad. I’m not helping. That’s how my mind interprets it.
I’m not really sure what can be done about this, or even where I’m going with this. These are things that I feel, and I can’t necessarily say that someone has directly made me feel this way. This is how I choose to interpret things that are said or things that I have experienced in the time that I have spent gaming. I feel like we have come a long way, but the pressure is still there. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, so maybe I felt like it would be a good idea to get this all off my chest, and to see if I’m not the only one who feels like I owe it to my gender to be good at what I do.
If you have felt this way, let me know how you cope with it, or how you deal with those feelings of inadequacy when you are feeling not good enough. If you haven’t, feel free to leave a comment about that, too.
Thanks for reading.