Warning: I don’t know how long this post is going to get. One of the things that inevitably pops up in feminist discussions in general is ‘what about the men’. Either it is a criticism cast at the whole idea of male privilege, or it is a criticism at the feminist tactic of shutting down male commentators, or it’s pointing out that men are hurt by the Kyriarchy too, and are also the recipients of sexism and prejudice. Generally my posts are about the marginalised perspective, so while posts from people outside the marginalised group are welcome, they often make what I would call beginner mistakes.
In this case, it’s my fault because I’ve gone straight from neutral Elemental Shaman Space to Feminist Space and never really laid out the groundwork for discussion. I presume concepts and knowledge that I have are common for my readers. I shouldn’t expect commentators who come to this blog to agree with everything I say, but at the same time if I try to help every one through the concept of privilege, or spend my time debating every feminist critique I’m not going to have time to actually write any more posts (and there are a lot of criticisms. Feminism isn’t the one true way to ‘enlightenment’, and it is entrenched in the language of women who are straight, white, western and academic, and that is a big problem for the movement.)
So, in the mean time here are some quick resources for readers who come to this blog and want to know more about feminism (or about how they can interact with feminism.) Also good if you don’t want to wait for me to answer. Feminist discussions can get very heated, and critiques of feminism are very hostile and constant as well, and both extremes are unwelcoming to the other end of the spectrum.
- Geek Feminism Wiki: Resources for Men
- Especially this great post from the F word
- If you have critiques, then Feminist Critics is a good space for you, although a lot of the comments make assertions that I am not happy with.
- And then there is Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog (let me know if you’re having trouble finding something in particular)
- Geek Feminism vs Mainstream Feminism
Weren’t we talking about men?
Yes. I got sidetracked. The above is just an addendeum/information. This post prompted by an excellent discussion over at The Bossy Pally. I’m hoping we will get some male bloggers to talk about male specific issues within World of Warcraft, because in terms of the way Kyriarchy hurts men, and men’s rights I am an ally.
So how do my male readers feel hurt (if at all) by the sexism and prejudice they encounter in WoW, and how the game depicts men, both on the small ‘quest’ level and the overall narrative? What issues do you think the game (or gaming) gets wrong, what could it do better?
(While this is an open discussion, I will not be approving comments that choose to bash women or spend time critiquing what feminism gets wrong about men. Let’s keep the conversation on men and by men, without it becoming at the expense of women. Please keep in mind that some commenters may not be cisgendered or heterosexual.)
Also if you decide to blog about this, that’s even better than commenting, and I’ll list the responses here.
Blog Responses (oldest first)
Our society then becomes a little more complex. Instead of having a situation where men are the dominant group over women we can see other statuses used to stratify society. Do all men relate to women the same? Do all men relate to men the same? Is the dominant group internally stratified or are all men on the same playing field?
- Man Cards @ 2fps
In most cases, the game treats male and female players just the same. There’s a brief hint of difference in the way Sergra Darkthorn treats male and female characters, where she is supportive of female ones and warns male ones not to underestimate her, but that doesn’t seem to me to be a bad thing – it’s realistic. She operates in a very macho environment and she’s fighting fire with fire.
- So let’s talk about men in World of Warcraft @ Fail PUG!
Even if you take out the “not evil” clause, which opens things out a lot the biggest male figures in Lore are still warriors or warrior-themed hybrids, the most obvious example of this being the Lich King himself. Despite the fact that his entire army is built around the work of mages, priests and scientists, Arthas himself remains a resolutely martial figure. None of this nancy-boy necromancy, nerdy plage-crafting or girly book learning for Arthas, no sir – like an undead Chuck Norris he delivers a roundhouse kick to the frozen wastes of Northrend and bam, a legion of Frost Dragons rises up out of the ice. Kapow.
- What about the MENZ? @ Righteous Orbs
Maybe it’s simply because I am a female, and I prefer to study things that are foreign or novel to me (which is why I get such a kick out of British TV), but I was much more interested in the way sexism negatively affects men. Because it does, and to say it doesn’t is to be just as blind as someone who says that all women who complain about sexism are making mountains out of molehills.
- Masculinism is not a word @ MissMedicina (note, this is in response to Chas’ post above, not to this post)
Not only are the peons in the Valley of Trials portrayed as stupid, low-lives, they are abused for sleeping on the job, a label that describes them as lazy. Let’s not forget what seems to be everyone’s favorite quote from the peon “Me not that kind of orc!” Said after being clicked with the hand (read: touched) by the player multiple times. The way the peon proclaims it is almost as in self-defense, as if worried that they will be labeled as homosexual if someone sees the player “touching” them.
- World of Warcraft and the Traditional “Man” @ Pheshamanal
A Trend I’ve noticed in the comments is the notion that discrimination against women and discrimination against some sorts of men somehow “cancel out” – that the fact that I feel unrepresented by male avatars and NPCs somehow balances the fact that many women feel unrepresented by female avatars and NPCs. That was very much not my intent, and I thought I would look at this in more detail and explain why I think it’s very important not to go from “patriarchy hurts men too” to “there is no patriarchy”.
- Menz Again: A follow up post @ Righteous Orbs
I also believe that the childish nature of male gnomes also contributes to their infantilism as well, despite the fact that most of them have beards that make them look otherwise. The race as a whole suffers from this due to misinterpretation of their eccentricity, that they treat their inventions like childish toys, or that their pursuit of knowledge is based on childish curiosity, rather than for more mature selfish gain like the other races.
- Gnomes, Nerds and Kyriarchy @ Frost is the New Black
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.
- Snips and Snails and Worgen Pup Tails @ Stories of O
In most role-playing games, the character you play uses the same basic model regardless of what class it is, and as Chas noted, they’re invariably well-build musclemen if male, or “sexy” if female. Naturally there are exceptions: I don’t think female orcs, trolls or tauren (or even dorfs) in WoW are supposed to be “sexy”, and apparently Blizzard’s artists consulted real actual women when designing the Horde females.
- Class Body @ Ostensibly WoW