Vexation

After I started my new job at ArenaNet a few months ago, I was going to respond immediately to the bigoted, ignorant, and narrow-minded views of several people in various gaming communities. Since then I’ve been busy at work and at home, and frankly I haven’t been in much of a mood to blog, nor have I been able to gather the mental focus to sit down and organise my thoughts on this topic until now.

When I introduced myself to the Guild Wars community, I did not discuss my personal life or my personal worldviews at all. However, after some Google searching, some people decided to take it upon themselves to bring up issues related to my personal life and ideological beliefs.  Hearsay being what it is, a few even accused me of starting these discussions about my personal life in the first place.

It made me angry that people, who know nothing about be apart from what they found through Google, targeted me with sexist, misogynistic, anti-feminist, racist, and homophobic comments.

It made me angry that people made sexist and objectifying comments about my appearance. Apparently I am supposed to welcome comments from people (I assume they are males) saying that they’d “hit it” or “tap that” because they found me attractive. Comments that reduce me to an object without agency or will are compliments, right?

It also made me angry that people made racist comments. Oh wait, fetishising me because of my race is supposed to be a positive thing as well? Get a clue, people — it’s not acceptable. It’s racist and ignorant.

It made me angry that people who don’t have any clue about feminism believe that feminists are a threat to their “fun”. Following that line of logic, apparently sexism is fun? Eh, not so much. I find it depressing that the most basic tenet of feminism — equality between the sexes — should be viewed as a threat to the existing (un)acceptable behaviours in gaming communities.

While I am on the subject of feminism — I am a feminist. So what? There are games industry women, more famous, more high-profile, and with more widespread influence, than I who identify as feminist. Feminists are out there.

It’s irritating to read comments from people who mindlessly swallow all the stereotypes they’ve heard about feminism. Moreover, the idea that all feminists are ideologically identical is both stupid and ignorant. The main belief that all feminists hold is simply equality between the sexes. That’s it. Anything beyond that depends upon the individual.

It made me angry that at least one person did not welcome the fact that I am female. It’s a surprising attitude to find in 2008, but it exists. What was almost as surprising as this attitude is the fact that before and after I joined the game, the ratio of female and male Community Managers was identical. Why one would oppose maintaining the same female/male ratio is beyond me; god forbid the ratio ever be equalised at some point in the future.

It made me angry to have people speculate on and make assumptions about my sexual orientation, too. It was not acceptable for people to make the assumption that I am a lesbian, assume that I am out to everyone in my life (including work), and parade these assumptions around as fact — publicly to the internet. News flash: being a feminist does not mean that one is a lesbian and interviewing a founder of LesbianGamers.com for an online magazine doesn’t necessarily mean that one is a lesbian either. One a sidenote, it irritates me that people continue to cling so desperately to their narrow, black and white views of sexuality and sexual orientation, assuming that if someone isn’t heterosexual, they must surely be homosexual because nuances in the human condition apparently do not exist.

Furthermore, the homophobia that some people showed, after they assumed that I was a lesbian, was absolutely repulsive and apalling. There was even a comment from a homophobic “concerned parent” who was convinced that I was personally responsible for corrupting their child because some random members of the Guild Wars community decided to speculate on and discuss my sexual orientation.

Another thing that these people didn’t think about or probably even care about is: what if I was a lesbian and wasn’t out to everyone at work and at home? Did they even care that their comments and discussions could have an impact on my career and personal life? Not everyone in the world is equally tolerant, as evidenced by the “concerned parent” above, and unfortunately gay people often have to choose the terms under which they come out. To rob someone of that choice, regardless of the correctness of the facts, is wrong and thoughtless.

To make things perfectly clear: I am not a lesbian, but I am not not a lesbian. My sexual orientation, whatever it is, isn’t something that I’d even consider discussing with the Guild Wars community at large, much less any other random gaming community.

I did know that people would do Google searches on me. I knew they would find articles I’d written, interviews I’d participted in, and so on. My blog is public, and it’s not hard to link my handle to my real name. However, just because I expected some of these responses doesn’t mean that sexism, homophobia, racism, or all the rest of that shit are remotely acceptable.

Some gamers really need to grow up.

P.S. — Before someone tells me that I’m being too sensitive or that I’m too uptight and just need to get laid… News flash: I am sexed quite regularly, and yet sexism, racism, homophobia, and all the other bigoted and ignorant attitudes that fester in gaming culture still piss me off.

EDIT: 31 July 2008: Some kindly person has linked this on some fansite forums, and I’m receiving a new influx of comments. I don’t know why people feel the need to resurrect discussion on a post that I wrote well over a month ago, about stuff that happened nearly four months ago. I have moved on. You should probably do the same.

Fear not. The response that I received from the bigoted members of the community has decidedly not affected the way that I approach my job. I practice the fine art of keeping my personal life separate from my professional life. This may explain why, you know, I haven’t expressed my displeasure about these bigoted members of the community in Guild Wars fansite forums.