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He Said/She Said: It's a man's WoW

Welcome to another edition of He Said/She Said where Amanda Dean and David Bowers take on some of the deepest gender issues in the World of Warcraft universe. This time we discuss the expectations of men and women in guilds and how WoW reflects the larger society.

I don't know how many times I've heard of women flirting their way into raids or excellent gear. Perhaps this happens in some cases, but these are the bad apples. I find myself growing kind of tired of the stereotype that girls can't play WoW. The truth is that many women play WoW, and many of us are very good at it.

Because of the stereotypes, A lady has to work considerably harder in a guild to earn respect. It's like being guilty of being a twit until proven otherwise.

There's lots of ways to look at this problem, I think. From one point of view you could see it in terms of the power women have over men, how in some situations men can be controlled through their attraction to women. Never mind that men give women this power freely without realizing it -- the myth of the siren that lures men into her control is a powerful one.

From another point of view, you notice how many cultures around the world see competence as a masculine quality, and assume that the only way women can come by true power is by controlling a man who has it with her feminine wiles. Of course "powerful women" obviously exist -- women who run companies and stuff like that -- but even in those cases they are seen as "women with masculine qualities," as if those women just copied men's natural competency rather than developing such competency out of their own talent and hard work. Masculine qualities in general are considered universally positive, while feminine qualities are for women only. I hear lots of women say that they are tomboys, or more masculine than most other women, while very very few men can admit to being more feminine than other men without feeling ashamed or fear being looked down upon by others around him.

I actually kind of take exception to that. I love muscle cars and nail polish, and I see nothing wrong with that. I'd really like to think that I stand on my own two feet. My in-game and out-of game accomplishments are all my own. I mean I've worked hard for a lot of things. True, I never would have even considered playing World of Warcraft if it weren't for my boyfriend, but more often than not I play alone these days. I'd like to think we've moved beyond this way of thinking.

If anyone doubts these attitudes are still alive and well in modern society, they just have to look to the experience you and many other women are having in the game. For every man who writes a comment on this post saying that he treats men and women with the same amount of respect (and I hope there are lots of these), there are who knows how many who spew all sorts of sexist nonsense in the game and on the official forums. These guys seem to think it's fun to "joke" with girls in WoW, and they haven't even thought for a moment as to whether maybe they should be more respectful. Respect itself as a virtue isn't even high on their list of important things most of the time -- not unless it means respecting people in positions of power and awe, like the other men who have Kil'Jaeden on farm status, or who topped the PvP charts three seasons in a row.

Having said that, let me reiterate this -- there are a number of guys out there who really do believe that men and women are equal and act based on that belief in every part of life. These guys really make me proud, because establishing equal respect of both sexes benefits men every bit as much as it does women, and we share equally in the responsibility to make it happen too.

It's clear that there are different standards for women and men, even in World of Warcraft. True, powerful women do exist, and in many walks of life they have to work extra hard in order to gain respect. I won't go into the American presidential race, but it would serve as a decent example. As a whole "feminine" characteristics such as compassion and caring are seen as weaknesses. Video games have largely been the province of boys and men, but it seems if there's a women who's willing to learn the game and play it well, they should be given a fair shake.

Hats off to the guys who can truly treat women as equals. Here's the real kicker. Not only do women have to work harder to gain respect from men, but women are often women's own worst enemies. I am guilty of this myself, when a lady joins my guild, I high set of expectations for her. Not only should she be able to hold her own in a group, but I also expect ladies to be, well, ladies. No whining, no flirting, no excuses. Since it is so hard to get respect in the game, I have very little patience with those who give us all a bad name.

Well, I expect guys to be gentlemanly too. I don't think it's unfair to expect the best of other people, whether they are male or female -- we always hope that those around us will act according to the highest standards we ourselves aspire to. The problem comes when people fail to measure up to those standards; for myself I try not to worry about those people so much. Maybe they think it's appropriate belittle people and whine in battlegrounds for example, It's my choice whether to let that really bother me or not. If I allow myself to be bothered, I'm the one who suffers more than they do.

There are fewer social repercussions for non-gentlemen than there are for ladies who misbehave. You're probably right, I may place unrealistic standards on the people around me. I have to disagree with you on measuring right and rude by if it bothers you or not.

In that sense, it's the people with prejudice and double standards against other people who suffer the most inwardly, in the sense that they suffer from ignorance. Here they have the same human mind, latent with limitless potential, that all the rest of us have, and yet they don't even think to rise above the basest of narrow-minded limitations. Pity them, I say, and wish for them that one day they may be freed from these ignoble and false presumptions of superiority over their fellow human beings.

He Said/She Said takes a look at gender issues in World of Warcraft from a polite masculine and feminine point of view. Like any other social milieu, wow is full of interpersonal dynamics to sort out. If you've got a dialog you'd like to open, drop us a line, we'd love to rap about it.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Guilds, He Said She Said

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