There has been a great deal of discussion lately about feminism in WoW and the prevelant sexism and prejudice, which then shifted onto the Men. About all that was come up with in the ongoing discussion was the fact that the human male avatars in WoW seem a tad unrealistic, (as in they are all muscly and their head is smaller than their neck and who ever heard of a muscle-bound mage or priest?). At the end of the day though I find that a discussion on why there is sexism in WoW is like having a discussion on why there happen to be fish in the sea.
I am going to try and cast my mind back to when I was in high school. This is a long cast-back by the way. I am now going to attempt to imagine my group of male friends and peers at the time. So far so good. Now I am going to try and imagine what it would have been like if we had had access to WoW and a social communication network with actual females where they didn’t know who we were and we could say whatever we liked without fear of repercussion …
It wouldn’t have been pretty, and there would have been a lot of gossiping and joking in the school-yard the following day. I also fail to see how we would have got any homework done at all. The point is that this game is full of teenage boys with no social repercussions for their in-game behavior. What is there to work out here? It’s going to be a free for all. It is a free for all. This doesn’t excuse it, but you are trying to swim against the tide if you think that you are going to change this.
There is one interesting point here though. When I was at school, video-games, (as well as RPG games like Dungeons & Dragons), were this young adolescent male’s only escape from the horrible realisation that I was a social leper and that I sucked around girls. Looking back, I don’t even think that I would have wanted girls to be included in this activity. It was the only place where I could really relax and be myself without having to worry about whether or not I was saying or doing the wrong thing.
As far as looking in-game for healthy representations of maleness or femaleness, I really don’t know what to say. If you’re looking for this sort of stuff in your life in a fantasy role-playing game then you’re pretty fucking deluded. I mean, have you ever watched Conan the Barbarian? This is what it’s all based on. The caveman dragging the female back to his cave by her hair. This is escapism, pure and simple. The fact that it is so far from reality should indicate that it is not in any way a representation of reality, nor is it meant to be. It is what a fantasy video game has always been as well as the whole fantasy genre; big guys with swords killing each other at an alarming rate with semi-naked females scattered around for your viewing pleasure. That is the demographic, right there. If you are a girl, and you choose to play in it, then great. I’m very happy for you and I hope you have fun. But don’t start crowing about femisnism and sexism and any other ism that gets your knickers in a knot. When I was at school I was openly made fun of by the girls for playing these games. Now twenty years later girls are getting worked up about the fact that those same games don’t have enough female representation in them? Give me a fucking break.