A medical update. First shot today. To be truthful, it did not hurt, but it did make me feel “oogy” and uncomfortable and odd…nothing freakin’ natural about that dang spinal epidural process, let me tell ya. Still feel oogy and off from it. In theory, in a few days my back should feel a bit better, and doc figures I will need one, maybe two more of these things…small price to pay for a fixed back though. I go back to see him in about a month for an x-ray and perhaps round 2.
Archive for May, 2011
I remember once upon a time I was sitting in a college dorm room with the rest of the crew that constituted my D&D group (2 women, myself and my roomie, 4 men) and one of the fellows was thumbing through a Dragon Magazine and started laughing hysterically. Of course, we all inquired about the cause of the laughter, and he passed us the magazine which featured a cartoon. The cartoon depicted a “woman warrior”, a babe in a chainmail bikini and Wonder Woman style bracers. She had various arrows stuck in the “protective armor” over her boobs and on her bracers and the caption was “Good thing I was wearing my armor!”
And it was funny, but eye roll worthy as well. It also very well illustrates what I am about to talk about now: Sexism as Part of the Gaming Industry. You see, part of the problem with sexism in the world of gaming? It’s right there in the products. It seems that fantasy games tend to be guiltier of this than other types of games….but yep, all of them have a least a little. But the biggest offender of them all is also the granddaddy of them all: Dungeons & Dragons and every other wanna be D&D game that has come on down the line.
Now, I will admit it, I have just about every D&D book there is from second edition on down the line, even some of the earlier ones, and while I like some of the art, by in large, it is all pretty sexist stuff. Women warriors are often drawn in silly armor period, in and out of D&D…hell Lisa has complained before about the stupid armor they give women characters in WoW, but let’s leave the armor out of it for moment. There are a lot, and I mean a lot, of half naked women in D&D…be they clerics, monsters, elves, wizards, whatever. Lots of T&A in the very core rule books themselves, and lots of women as weak and in need of saving there too. Also, consider the ONE matriarchal society in the world of D&D. The Drow (aka dark elves)…evil as HELL (and black skinned, but that’s a whole different story). Are they powerful and advanced and feared and all that good stuff, yes, they certainly are…but they are flat out pure evil…and the women are usually shown…not wearing much. And while other games and even D&D itself has moved away from this attitude & art somewhat…it was the forerunner of them all, and it did set the tone…hey, I have seen how those female elves dance in WoW, and they really should be getting money stuffed in their…armor?
But you see, there is and was baseline sexism in D&D, and every other game or gaming book, from Magic The Gathering to Cyberpunk, since then has at least to some extent grabbed on to the idea that hot fantasy women in almost nothing sells. Heck, I draw a lot of fantasy art myself, I do. And I have submitted some to these kinds of games, but I tend to draw women in actual armor…now, it could be they just think my art sucks and I would accept that, but sometimes I wonder if it’s because the women I draw are wearing the same sorta gear you’d put a male character of the same class in. Now, I will discuss in my next post, “Fantasy vs. Reality” how this is such a drag for women gamers, but the basic fact is…
This is what the gaming industry and fantasy genre think of women and what they should be in fantasy gaming:
So we’re starting off at a point of disadvantage from the get go due to the very source materials themselves. Yes, some games have come a long way in options and versatility for female characters as well as players. For instance, in City of Heroes, one can make a female character in full armor or tactical gear….but the option is still there to make her wearing almost nothing- but you can do that to the men too. The basis, basics, and baseline however is that there is inherent sexism in the very gaming products themselves, both in the way women are depicted visually and as characters, and those sorts of depictions have set a tone for gaming and gamers period. I have walked into D&D games and had some snarky asshole male gamer ask me where my chainmail bikini was, or give me shit for wanting to play a fighter rather than a cleric or a mage, but that sort of thing will be discussed more in “Fantasy vs. Reality” , but the simple fact is, the world of gaming is set against us from the get go due to the way fictional women are depicted in it.
*For the record, I do not now nor have I ever actually owned a chainmail bikini!
Before we get any further into our Quest to Discuss Sexism in Gaming (N00Bs welcome), there are two basic fundamentals that must be looked and evaluated before we continue on: One is the sexist attitude and sexist products put out by the gaming industry itself, and the other is nature of gamers themselves. I will be doing the nature of gamers themselves first. One, because I want to, and two, the Gaming Industry is made up of both gamers and people who wish to sell products to gamers, and thus keep them in mind when making those products.
So yes, gamers then. There is the stereotype of course: The geeky, often over weight and poorly groomed, perhaps unhygienic fellow who was always a social outcast, had no luck with girls, was usually picked on by everyone from those girls, to jocks, to everybody else who was reasonably normal. He may or may not also be a nerd, but being an actual nerd is not required. Physically inept, socially stunted, and all around mess of a human being.
Now, that is the stereotype. But, sadly enough, the stereotype exists for a reason. Yes, there are plenty of gamers who are not that guy, but there are plenty who flat out are, or have enough of his less than enduring qualities that it warrants mentioning. Women gamers may also have a similar traits, and I may very well get to women gamers at some point, but right now, we are talking about the men…and see, people say the men never get discussed!
But yes, so there it is…sure enough, on one or more levels, a great many male gamers, both boys and adult ones, are socially and physically awkward in various ways and on various levels. Often they are outcasts, or mocked, or even tormented (or have been). Part of the draw for many people who spend time gaming in fantasy worlds is to, for whatever reason, get out of the real one for awhile and be something that in real life you just aren’t. And in these worlds, well, these guys can be whatever they want in whatever genre of game it is they are playing: a brilliant general, a dashing pirate, a Machiavellian schemer, all kinds of things, but almost universally, these characters they play are powerful, successful, and often needed, wanted or popular- things gamers many not be in any way in real life. They also via gaming meet “their own kind”, other people, often male (for while there are women gamers, overall, the activity is still definitely male dominated), who share many of their own problems and traits…and it is there that they get their socialization, that pecking orders are established, friendships made, acceptable behavior defined, and bonds made.
Often, for the first time in their lives, these fellows have bonds with a peer group, and one with common goals, interests, and sense of identity. Just like in any group, a code of conduct is- if not defined- somewhat formulated at least in the minds of the group’s members. Its own method of ranking via popularity and skill develops. Routine is established, and it functions like other groups of people, but in this case, the group is often made up of outcasts and the somewhat to very socially inept or mistreated.
This is problematic for women gamers in a few ways:
One: their presence can be seen as a threat or disruption to the overall sense of (male) community.
Two: they-while they may be socially awkward themselves- are often now dealing with socially awkward men who have been germinating with their own kind for quite some time.
Three, they are treading on and infringing upon territory which these men can be quite territorial about and often their investment in and status amid the group is a huge part of their ego…for instance, if an “alpha male” gamer is bested in some manner by a woman…his reaction will probably not be all that different from a High School Star Quarterback who has a woman walk out onto the field and throw for a touchdown better than he does. Yes, sure enough, the activities are entirely different, but they are both male dominated, and loosing to a girl is still loosing to a girl- be it on a football field or a having some woman come along and yank a Princedom out from underneath him in a Vampire game. In fact, the male gamers reaction or out lash can be even worse, because often he lacks success and status in other areas.
Four: Many male gamers have not always had the best luck with- or even treatment by- women, and thusly, they may not be inclinded to treat women nicely in return.
Five: Overall, the presence of women- a fair amount of them- in gaming- at all- is still fairly new. Yes, there have always been women gamers, but not at the numbers there are now, and while gaming is still over all dominated by men, the influx of women is, to various extents, changing it- and the decorum that is to be expected- and just like any time an old boys club gets busted up by those pesky women, there will be people who resent it and will try to drive them out using the most cruel, sleazy and vulgar of tactics. The world of gaming is no different.
Heck, I am sure I even missed some, but yes, there are but a few reasons!
And I do think in part to the very nature of gamers themselves, many male ones in this case, does in fact contribute mightily to the overall problem of sexism in gaming. It is true indeed that sexism exists everywhere, but I think due in part to the over-all “geekiness” of gamers, it can be far more blatant, juvenile, crass, encouraged and even flat out cheered as the norm and women who dare to tread in gamer land are just expected to put up with it and get shouted down or harassed when they don’t because well, Geeks Will Be Geeks and Who Invited Those Bitches Anyway? A simple truth is poorly socialized men and sexism makes for a volatile mix- and In Gaming, it is often far more the norm and the reality than merely a stereotype or a joke…
So yes, one of the huge problems when it comes to Sexism in Gaming is the Gamers Themselves.*
After all, sometimes the Stereotypes exist for a very good reason.
*Ah yes, there are women gamers who do not help with this problem at all, but that will end up being a later post in the series!
Once upon a time there existed a mythical wondrous and dangerous land, a place filled with brave, handsome heroes and deadly, blood thirsty villains; noble knights, fearless fighters, dashing rogues, devout clerics and wizened wizards, a place where good fought evil, and evil fought good, and the lines between the two were as simple as the alignment one chose at the beginning of the character creation session and such things were almost as important as a high dex score and good stats on your sword or finding those cool tomes that gave you an extra level! And for a long time this was a Mans Land…a place where virgins were sacrificed and villages pillaged and some Great Lord’s daughter was always in peril (and if you were a bad guy, well, she ended up in even more peril, but if you were a good guy, heck, you sooo had a chance at Thank You Sex with the fair maiden)! It was no place for women! It was an ugly world, filled with bloodshed and monsters, rape and destruction, and while there was the occasional unicorn, by in large this mythical realm was designed for and belonged to men and men alone. And they liked it that way. And when you consider often the social standing of the men who came to occupy this mythical world, one can almost understand why they would want a place of their own; a place free from daily real world life and stress and social pressures…a place where they could be mighty knights or feared monsters. You can almost understand why they would not want to share it with anyone who was not like them- in all ways…except for perhaps the very, very occasional unicorn…who maybe, just maybe, might date them.
But then across this mythical land rolled a black and dreadful blight. It settled into the hills and valleys like a mustard gas cloud, it rolled across the battlefields of legend and lore like the Pale Rider and his associates unleashed! It swept through the villages and forever changed the landscape of this once mighty and mystical land. It had many names and faces: White Wolf. Magic the Gathering. CyberPunk. Shadow Run. Consol Games and MMORPG’s…and with it, came…women. And seeing this the unicorns tossed aside their horns and joined with the new-comers, and the new-comers saw the wonder of this mythical land and wished to test it out for themselves. They too became noble knights and fearless fighters, dashing rogues and devout clerics and wizened wizards…or blood thirsty emissaries of death and ruthless tyrants. And while often these foreigner females were social outcasts or vastly different from the norm or the majority like their male counterparts, they were still different, alien, foreign, and often…unwanted in the land. And that was made evident. Even if the characters being played by these bold women were strong and noble, or vicious and deadly, as players, they were forever reminded of the fact that they were different. Told women could not game, or that they were only allowed in because maybe, just maybe, they’d put out. They were mocked or endlessly hit on, subject to crude sexual comments both as players and as the characters they were playing. This forced some from the realm. Others learned to ignore it. Others learned to turn it to their advantage. Others swore it would not drive them out, for they had just as much of a right to explore, play in, and conquer this realm, be it fantasy, gothic, futuristic, designed at a table or pixilated on a screen, as anyone else.
Yet still, the deep-seeded hatred of the intruder exists. You can see it whenever a woman enters the realm. When she sits at the table, her D&D character sheet in hand. When she walks into the Vampire Clan Meeting, game face on. When she strolls into the Magic Tournament like a gunslinger, her proven and well worn deck as familiar in her hand as a lawman’s six shooter. When she sets up her War Hammer Army and glares across the fabricated battlefield at her enemy. When she sits at her PC or Consol, mouse or controller in hand and headset on, knowing her mere voice will mark her as other. You can see it then. She may be good, she may be the best, actually, but she is other, and will be reminded of that in a myriad of ways. She is, after all…a girl…and this is not her world, and all too often, she will be reminded in countless ways of just how much she is not wanted there.
I know this world. I have been roaming its vast lands and high halls for close to 20 years now. I have seen its people, those who founded it and their heirs, the unicorns, and these hated invaders…I am one of them after all. From that first table top D&D game to Cons, Larps, Tournaments, Raids and Strike Forces, I have wandered, as a Knight, a mercenary, a mage…as cleric, a vampire, a werewolf, a Magic Player, a cyberpunk, a medic, a hero, a villain…and as a woman. I know this place well. I have seen it all…and this place? This place I have come to? It is sexist as hell and there is no doubt in my mind a great deal of the men who are also here hate the fact that not only have women dared to tread upon this land, but cannot stand the fact that some of them not only tread, but do so with great authority and skill, and would, by their own hand, be Lords, Kings, and Combatants Most Skilled within the Realm. And they will not let anyone or anything take that from them. Not the unwanted advances. Not the mocking of their skill. Not the rape jokes. Not the undermining of their work. Not the harassment or hate. None of it. They will not give up and go home. They will not be beaten- and that is all the more infuriating. I have seen this first hand as I have wandered and chronicled the goings on of this place, The Realm of the Gamers….and over the next few posts, I am going to share what I have learned. Sexism in Gaming is alive, well, and rampant, and the time has come to expose it all…
*Sidebar: Before anyone says it, why yes, there are plenty of male gamers who are nothing like what I will be discussing here. Plenty. I have had the pleasure of gaming with numerous fellows who were not sexist and just enjoyed playing with whomever, regardless of their biological sex or gender. So these posts, they do not apply to those fellows…but there are enough sexist douchebags in the realm of gaming that it absolutely warrants mentioning and so I am.
Okay, so, I was up late last night reading out there in blog land, and I found myself reading this old post by Hugo about sociopaths/serial killers and some of his students that are seemingly so fascinated with them, and well, as it seems to be Hugo’s cross to carry in life, this post, like so many of his, was marked by the typical asshat douchebag MRA idiot comment that those nice girls are just chasing after the bad boy alpha male penis…
I nearly fell outta my chair. One, for both Hugo and his commentor, there is a huge error people make in thinking One, that all sociopaths are male, and Two, violent. Fact is, most sociopaths are really not typically all Ted Bundy, and why yes, while it has been a long time in coming, psychologists are now actually figuring out, why yes Martha, there are female sociopaths and actually, one biological sex in no more predisposed to being one than the other. Simple truth of it is in a great many ways, scocipaths are the ultimate opportunists who will exploit people and methods in whatever way that works best for them in order to get what it is they want- and often, they can be very charming and slick….so yes, why would females who ARE sociopaths result to violence as often as their male counterparts when other things or methods are far more likely to get them what they want or what amuses them? A sociopath lacks empathy and remorse…violence is not their actual hallmark….
But, I digress…. dumb MRA commentor amused me because most sociopaths? They aren’t really gonna come across as bad-boy “alpha male” types. Jeffery Dahmer? BTK? Danny Rolling? Henry Lee Lucas and David Berkowitz? All serial killers. Would a single damn one of ‘em count as the vaunted MRA Alpha Male Uber Alles Dude? No way in any of the numerous Chinese Hells. I mean shit, what do people always say about these types of guys? “He was so quiet, meek, seemed intimidated by…polite, kept to himself” blah blah blah blah. In short, not the MRA Alpha, and not the Legendary Bad- Boy….in fact, often they are the exact opposite. Now, sure enough, disproving stupid MRA wisdom on Hugo’s blog is a lot like shooting fish in a barrel…with no water in it and the fish are already dead, but…
You know what? I am like the damn queen of True Crime. I took classes on abnormal psychology and all that stuff too….because flat out it is fascinating…and nah, I am never gonna rank up there as one of Hugo’s super empathetic overly emotion-filled and tender students, but I do find that shit fascinating cause it is interesting to see what makes people tick. I also think that sometimes, in understanding human monsters, we better learn to understand ourselves and learn just where on a scale of human capacity, both for great empathy and great atrocity, we all personally fall. And sometimes (shrug) that is good, other times it is scary….but personally, I think humans are always fascinated by the things that should scare the fuck out of them in the daylight as well as the dark.
(okay, so I totally just had a Mortal Kombat moment…forgive me!)
Tonite is Full Metal Fest with Vlad, then come Tuesday, I have a consult and then-with any luck- a same day shot in my spine. It may take more than one to work, may only take one- I am sooo hoping for one! But yeah, at least, at long last, the Back Shot Thingy will be Underway!!!
I still plan to do my Epic Sexism in Gaming Post….it’s just because I say its gonna be EPIC that I want to make sure it is, in fact, epic!! I’ve been thinking about this whole topic a WHOLE lot here lately, and yep, as a card-carrying Female Gamer Geek I do in fact have some experience with this shit. Heh.
Well, I hope y’all have a good holiday weekend!
It’s a gaming post…deal. I for one find the psychology of gamers and their Avatars full of interesting. I mean, think about it…there is a stereotype about gamers: the fat 40 year old dude living in his mom’s basement covered in cheeto dust, so on, so forth….which while there are gamers out there like that who exist, well, gaming and gamers have come a long way…more women gamers, more what a lot of folk would consider “normal” people…hell, a couple years ago, when the new rule book for D&D came out, the forward to it was written by admitted D&D geek…Vin Diesel. But yeah, avatars are an interesting thing…I mean, here you are in a world, in whatever game you play, be it WoW, or City of, or Star Wars, or countless others, where you can look and be however you want. You, and not nature and genetics, have utter control over what you look like- from gender to hair color to build- I have always found it fascinating what people do with that. Do they make those representations look like them, or are they the exact opposite? Do they show themselves in a digital setting, or go for a mask? Well, apparently, I am not the only person who finds this interesting. Someone actually wrote a book about it, and included photos of both gamers avatars and their real selves…here…
Take A Look! There is some game vs reality for you…
Me personally? I tend to mix it up. I will play toons of both sexes- I have everything from a 6’6″ very Nordic looking man (the very antithesis of what I actually look like) to a 4’11″ inch woman with grey skin in black leather. I have, in short a LOT of avatars in my chosen game. Women and men, heroes and villains, some I love to play a whole lot- like Rictor and Darwina (who do, well, dress like me), and some I play way less, Like Shiny and Sunday….but I was thinking on this whole Avatar thing, and then I looked at the character I have been playing the most here lately, one I love to play and when I can put her on a team, I will….a toon that has truly become on of my absolute favorites…and well…
I guess see for yourself….
So, because I found it amusing to do so, I went ahead and took a look at the IP addresses for some of my more recent inane commentors, and shock of all shocks, SlutPryde, Amelicious, Duh4Brains, UrethraJones & MizBiebs are ALL the same person…now sure enough, this sad little desperate attention seeking creature did bother to make up yahoo accounts for each different name, but yeah…the IP’s tell the story plain enough…all of ‘em are the same douchebag.
I am sure you are all stunned.
Go away now, pathetic little one, it is past your bed time, and really, if you GOT the time to go to all that trouble…the different names and email addresses, you apparently are not nearly the hot sexy in demand sought after sexy sexy cat on the prowl socialite you apparently dream of being.
Okay, two posts of interest that I have stumbled across in the last few days; one by Gin, and one by Hugo…both worth reading, really….and both got me with the thinking of course. Both even have much to do with the idiocy that is “the short skirt” theory…
You know the one that suggests that how a woman is dressed somehow makes it if not okay, less bad for a guy to rape her? Yeah, THAT idiocy!
First I am gonna pretty much repeat what I left in a comment at Gin’s about the matter. The mere idea that clothes of any kind: tight, low cut, short, revealing, whatever have the power to make men rape is so stupid it just stuns me. A short skirt never made anyone do anything, and if revealing attire on women made men rape…just, you know, caused them all to lose any sense of self control and suddenly become mindless animals bent on penetrating a woman dressed oh so shamelessly, why is it that we do not see droves of men losing it and raping women at the community swimming pool where bikinis and tight one pieces are everywhere, or in crowded gyms where- especially in summer- things such as this are not at all an uncommon view? Or hell, for that matter, how come it is we don’t see men humping mannequins in the mall who happen to be wearing short skirts? The answer to that is pretty simple: because raping someone is a choice, men do possess the ability to control themselves, and clothing does not make anyone do anything. Scare tactics like telling women a certain kind of dress makes men mindless ravaging beasts might scare women into more modest dress (which hey, plenty of modestly dressed women get raped too), but it also brings up a very valid point that a lot of the “you shouldnta worn a short skirt” crowd forgets: If short skirts, ect., have that kind of power over men (which they don’t, but), then men are non-evolved beasts who need to be put out of their own and everyone else’s misery. Would you bring a rabid dog into your home? Well, if not, why then would you not put down another equally capable of violence creature that simply cannot control itself? Frankly, I think we should get to shoot any rapist who claims a short skirt made them do it….one, they obviously need the high velocity cerebral cortex lead therapy, and two….we can then say their stupidity made us do it!
Hugo had a letter over at his place, about young women, men, and clothing…and you know, it’s pretty good. Way more enlightened than the advice I got as a teenage girl regarding that kinda thing. But in the comments, the question was asked why aren’t people trying to educate, reach, so on, young men in this same way on these same matters….and well, I thought it might be interesting to give that a shot myself. I mean, I am not a guy, I can’t necessarily speak to them in the same way another male could, and heck, if they are the type to just disrespect women period, well, then nothing I can or will say will ever change their minds…but hell, I thought it might be an interesting exercise at least…so, here we go:
An Open Letter to Young Men:
I cannot say what it is like to be you, to truly know the pressures you face while growing up or how you have to work and strive to find your own sense of self and your place in the world. But I do know what it was like to grow up with and around you, how it felt to be seen or noticed by you in a good way, how it felt to be seen or noticed by you in a bad way, how it felt to be seen and noticed by you not at all or way too much. I also know that growing up and finding oneself and ones place is not always easy, regardless of if you are a boy or a girl. It can be rough, no question, all around. But I do have something to say to you, and I do hope maybe you will listen.
No one likes to be picked on, slandered, bullied, hurt, made fun of or taken advantage of. I am sure it is something you do not like to be on the receiving end of, and simple truth is, no one else likes it either. And when growing up, things are difficult for everyone. So just as you would not liked to be judged, or accused by, or treated badly by people, it is important to know that no one else likes that either. Sure enough, as you get older, you are going to most likely be interested in the opposite sex, drawn to them, find them pretty or interesting or yep, even attracted and turned on by them- but something that is important to remember is this:
You and those girls? Take away the few different things and basically, those girls are made up of the same components that you are: flesh, bones, hormones, feelings, brains, guts, joints, and all the same sort of chemical and biological compounds that make a human just that: a human. She is a person just like you are, often with the same things going on in her head and life that you have, and she deserves to be treated with the same level of respect and humanity that you yourself would wish to be treated with. How she looks or what she wears does not change that. Under whatever clothes she is wearing, she is a human, made up of the same human things you are made up of, and just as hateful names or jeers or ugly stares or rumors and lies make you upset…they will do the same thing to her. Girls do not relish being made fun of, or tormented, or treated badly and disrespected any more than you do…so perhaps, when you are tempted to do that to a girl, or see your friends doing it to one, you need to stop and think about her for a moment.
How do you think it makes her feel? How would you feel if it was happening to you? How would you feel if it was your mother, or sister, or female friend being treated in that manner? What must it be like to be her? And if you were her, or when you yourself are being treated poorly, how much would it mean if someone would just stop doing it, or made it stop, or said to their friends “Hey, you know, this really isn’t that fair or cool?”
Little things like that can make a world of difference, and not just for her, but for you, and every other human you have around you- boy or girl. Under it all you are pretty much the same: human, with all that human commonality and awareness and likeness- and when you disrespect a girl- no matter how “okay” or “cool” or “fun” anyone else might say it is…you are not merely disrespecting her; you are disrespecting yourself and every other person on the planet as well.
And respect? Having it and showing it does not make you weak, or uncool, or whiny, or any other such thing. In fact, it makes you quite the opposite. It is far stronger and braver to stand up to, stop, and defend people from harm than it is to cause it, join in on it, or ignore it. And respect given also often respect then earned.
You may not be able to control others, but you can control yourself, and being a decent person to others, male or female, will not only make them feel better, it will probably make you feel better too…and the world could use better people…so try being one, even when it is not always the popular or easy thing to do.
So yeah, there is my attempt at reason and humanity for the day…
Okay, so, sigh, no love for FullMetal, I see how it is…so, back to fun with medical professionals. I have now called both the hospital and my back dock about a zillion times trying to solve the referral problem, and have been told a billion times that it will get straightened out and “someone will get back to me” and as of yet…after several days…my phone ain’t ringing, even though I sure as heck have not stopped calling them.
I think it is time to send in Vinny Jones. Okay, not necessarily Vinny, but maybe one of his characters, like Bullet Tooth Tony or The Surgeon. I have come to the conclusion my weekend plans now include driving to the hospital with the referral I have IN my hand and not leaving until this shit gets settled. Should that not work, I will either call Vinny Jones or go Vinny Jones on these people.
And they wonder why people hate both doctors and insurance companies so much. Real mystery, eh?