Oh, look! The skeptic blogosphere ain’t the only place where being a woman is in and of itself a novelty! Leigh Alexander at Kotaku discusses how she’s treated as a gaming journalist, by virtue of her sex:
It’s just that I’m shocked that grade-school concepts like “diversity is constructive” and “treat human beings equitably” are concepts that somehow still need championing, still need arguing for. I mean, really? I have to explain many times that the convergence of varied perspectives makes creating things-–like video games-–more fruitful? Or more simply: You think boys’ clubs are better than spaces where everyone gets equal respect regardless of their gender? What’re you, five?
Now why does THAT sound familiar?
And yet on a regular basis I hear–-even from you guys who write to me and describe yourselves as my “fans” (sidenote: be fans of the people I write about who actually make things instead of people who just talk about them)… I hear myself described as “one of the most prominent female gaming journalists”, or as a “feminist writer.” When you guys come up to me at events you want to tell me about things you’ve read or games you designed that I might be interested in because they deal with gender stuff.
Which, I mean, okay, is fine. Obviously I’m concerned about gender inequity and prejudice in the gaming space or I wouldn’t have spent words to get us here. I’ve written a lot about sex stuff, too. But again, you guys: I work all day every day and have done so for years. I write about business models, gaming and art culture, gamified apps (just in the past couple weeks!)-–and so many of you still think my gender is my most important adjective.
I suspect it’s partly because she is the vanguard of a new era in the video game world where it has reached a critical mass, such that video games are by and large considered a medium for everyone, rather than for teenaged boys. It’s a touch unsettling that she’s approached for her opinions “as a woman”, where her opinion is valued because of certain parts of her body rather than on her body of previous experience. It sucks. It’s horrible. And it’s valuable all the same.
I’ve personally spent a lot of words about “normalizing” outgroups, suggesting that the best way to go about doing so is simply by making one’s self visible. Not everyone actually sets out to do that kind of thing, though. Personally, when I started blogging, I didn’t have any idea I’d start fighting with theists or woo-peddlers on a daily basis, attempting to normalize skepticism and atheism alike; nor did I ever expect I’d have to expound on the virtues of treating women like human beings, normalizing being a feminist male. And though I’ve made it to Freethought Blogs, it still occurs to me that now and again, I’m not really sure of my actual reach. I see hit counts and repeat visits and comments, but often don’t have the first clue as to whether my words make a real difference to my readers. In that respect, I guess I’m a bit jealous of Leigh — she has empirical evidence that she’s having an impact, it’s just not how she expected.
At the same time, not everyone has the stomach for that sort of thing. Just by being a woman in a field dominated by men, she’s engaging in a revolutionary act, and we ought to respect her right not to have others force her to make her gender the focus of her work. Just because an aspect of someone’s identity is fascinating to you, doesn’t mean it’s particularly fascinating to them. Her being a woman and coming at video games from a woman’s perspective should be evident in the body of her work, or not, depending on her own choices. Don’t pressgang her into fighting the fights she may not want to engage in herself.
Listen to your fellow gamers, men and women alike, with empathy. Discuss with respect. You aren’t ever entitled to discriminate against anybody for any reason. If you ever find yourself arguing that you are, instead of hearing out your peers, just get lost. Go back to arguing on your gamer forum about whether this or that game should have gotten an 8 or a 9 and let us move on without you.
Every word applies to our own schisms, people. I’m just saying. Don’t know if I’ll actually reach any of you with this, but still. I have to try.