[Trigger Warning for mentions of sexual assault, anti-feminist anything.]
Now, more than ever, Feminism is important.
In the WoW blogosphere, a lot of people have had some pretty terrible opinions about women in gaming and the Feminist movement. I will not be linking to those terrible opinions here because I do not feel that they deserve the extra bandwidth, and I am quite happy to report that one of those dangerous (yes, dangerous) voices apparently decided to stop blogging because of the backlash that she received.
In the past one-hundred or so years, women in North America have gained the right to vote, own property, and not be treated as chattel by the men in their lives. We are not out of the woods yet, and we may not be for some time.
I have been told before that I should stay silent, that there is nothing that I can do and that obviously means that I shouldn’t speak up or attempt to do anything at all. The problem with this viewpoint is that if we remain silent, if we don’t say, “this is not appropriate” and “this is not true”, nothing will happen at all. A little bit of progress is better than none, and the angrier we are about it, the more likely our voices will be heard.
Before the internet, before WoW and the WoW blogosphere and a certain livejournal community, I thought “Feminism” was a four-letter word. I wasn’t a feminist! I thought men and women were equal! I knew that women were not treated equally to men, deep down, and didn’t start to understand that until high school.
You see, there were debates in one of my high school English classes and one of the subjects that was brought up was, “Are women better off now than in the past?” I stood for the “No, not outside North America” camp where I wound up with two males defending that viewpoint – the other side was all women – and I did much of the research on the subject. I learned about the situation women in the Middle East were in, the plight of women in Africa that are dying from AIDs because they can’t get access to condoms that would save their lives (it’s not their place), and on, and on.
I did most of the debating for my side. I think the males were hoping for an easy mark, but I didn’t care because I had this knowledge and I wanted everyone in class to understand.
I didn’t really start to “get it” until after starting into WoW and discovering WoW communities on Livejournal, which then lead to me finding various social justice communities and bloggers that made me understand that the opinions I had were shitty and dismissive of other people. In the past three years, I have changed a lot — for the better. I have a lot more growing to do, a lot of myself to learn to understand and accept. I still have a ton of baggage from growing up in a society that says that women must fit in this one box and they are not allowed in other boxes, that women are at fault for their own assault if they don’t follow a certain set of rules, and many other troubling things that eat away at you and cause you to lash out at other women because that is what society has trained you to do.
In some ways, I guess I understood that this idea of women only doing certain things was Wrong. I wanted to be a Paleontologist (until I learned they only made $35,000 per year, and at that time I was made to believe that I had to make $100,000 per year to be able to survive — bullshit), I played with “boy toys” (I was derided constantly as a kid for wanting to play in the sandbox and play with toy cars, Transformers and Ninja Turtles “like a boy”) and constantly tried to tell other kids that there was no such thing. I only wanted children ’til I was 14 because I didn’t understand what was involved and I thought that was what I was supposed to do. Once I went through sex education (thank goodness) I realized it was not something I actually wanted, no way, no how, and developed a very strong “DO NOT WANT” feeling in regard to child-rearing, pregnancy and childbirth. I also understood, vaguely, that sexual assault isn’t the victim’s fault – but it still took me over twenty years to realize that I had been assaulted, myself, regardless of the age of the person that touched me.
Perhaps the groundwork for those changes in view had been laid long ago, subconsciously, and I just didn’t realize it.
The Feminist movement isn’t perfect. In its current form, its erasure of women of colour is extremely troubling, extremely problematic, extremely wrong; its treatment of trans* individuals as not one of us is extremely wrong. White women talk over black women when we should be stepping back and letting them talk, because they go through shit we can’t possibly understand because we are white and our capacity for understanding the plight of women of colour is not… quite there, so we have to learn to listen, too.
Even with its imperfections, it is important.
By the way? A trans woman is a woman. There are no exceptions. If you identify as a woman, you are a woman, that’s it, case closed.
Apple Cider posted a very important article on the subject of Feminism in light of discussions this week (I use the term “discussion” loosely) that I implore everyone to read. Do it. Read it.
Decoding Dragons has a post on Sexism & WoW that’s collected interesting, pro-feminist articles in one spot for easy reading. Check that out, too, and add Decoding Dragons to your blog roll.