Put Down That Pedestal Please!

Have you, perchance, heard the term “fake gamer girl” recently? I imagine you have, since it’s all over the interbutts at large. It’s especially prevalent in WoW where the stereotype of bloodsucking lady widow spiders joining guilds for the sole purpose of loots and breaking the officers apart is a favorite topic on the forums.

At this point I am going to explain something and it may make some folks mad, it may change some people’s opinion of me, and it may make others uncomfortable. But I have to do this for myself as both a woman and a gamer. I cannot expect things to get better unless I actually do stand up and point this out.

There is a concept in feminism and psychology called the Madonna-whore complex. To sum it up in non-Freudian terms, it basically means that women are seen one of two ways: Wholesome Madonnas who are to be worshiped and valued; Or whores that are to be used and looked down upon. As a society we have made great strides to move away from this complex. In gaming circles, however, we are woefully behind the times as it’s still ALL over the place.

The gaming community is one that prides itself on supposed inclusiveness. How many of us were bullied in school and claim that has made us stronger? More inclusive? Less apt to judge? Ask yourself – is that really true? IS the gaming community more inclusive?

Gaming culture tends to fall into a trapping cycle when it comes to dealing with lady gamers. Men get tingly in their pants when they see an attractive woman that happens to enjoy killing demons on the PC. Why wouldn’t they? The very nature of sexual attraction is attractiveness + personality = I want to bump uglies with you.

Meanwhile, the women who are not attractive or who may not flaunt their appearance get filed away in the “seldom thought about” folder. They’re just a gamer like everybody else. Gosh, doesn’t this sound just like high school? But I thought we’d moved away from that!

Here it is – the much storied “pedestal” I refer to in my title. Though I have mainly been addressing the situation with lady gamers in this article, the pedestal applies to both genders. So men, I am not attacking you. This issue goes both ways it’s just more prone to happening with ladies.

So these people that may not do much besides look nice and sometimes pick up a video game controller get turned into the Madonnas and set very high atop this nerd pedestal where they can no longer be reached by the regular mortal! People clamor for attention from these Gods/Goddesses! And when they don’t get it – that love and admiration turns sour. To bitterness and resentment.

Suddenly these pedestal deities are assholes! They know nothing about their fanbase! Also, they actually hardly play video games or contribute to the gaming community at all! Those..those..FAKE GAMERS! How dare they!

But whose fault is that? They haven’t changed anything about themselves. I’ll tell you who is at fault – the people that put them on that pedestal. If you create unrealistic expectations for someone and they fail to meet them, why are you surprised?

If you are worshiping someone purely for their looks and the fact that maybe one time they streamed a world of warcraft arena match, why are you surprised when there is no other substance deeper below the surface? You, as a player, may visit numerous WoW related blogs and sites daily. WoWhead, WoWinsider, MMO Champion, etc. And you check those sites for information and strategies without considering who may be behind the screen putting them up.

You check someone else’s livestream for pure eyecandy. And you’re surprised if they’re not getting into the finer points of rogue PVP theorycrafting? Why are you surprised? Why are you ANGRY?

Now let’s bring this vicious cycle back around to how it effects lady gamers. You have two ladies in your guild at the moment, okay? For the purposes of this anecdote. One is a girl who has maybe talked a few times on mumble but otherwise keeps to herself. The other is a boisterous woman who loves showing pictures of herself and flirting. Both of these women play on about the same level.

WAIT. You think you know where I’m going with this? Do you assume I’m going to say, “Yeah the one who flaunts pics is a bitch/whore who is probably going to trade nudes to the officers for loot amirite?”

That right there? That’s sexism. That’s the trap. Did you fall for it? Which one of those women would you assume was being treated like the Madonna while the other was treated like the whore? In this case the Madonna aspect can be roughly translated to being “one of the guys.” as some folks like to put it.

Neither one of these women are doing anything wrong because they do not exist in the guild for the pleasure of the male guildmates. They exist solely as people with their own personalities and whether or not their personalities effect anything has to do with the OTHER people around them. One is quiet, one is more social. Who gives a rat’s ass if the important thing is whether or not they play well and you enjoy their company.

Shitty, manipulative people exist. This is a fact. But it has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with that person. The reason stories about thieving ladies ripping off guild banks are popular is because they’re scandalous. They allow people to have something to commiserate over.

Now here comes the pedestal again. Do you see it? We’re coming full circle. Women who get caught in these scandals get so much focus because of the magical pedestal. “Wow that girl was so attractive and sneaky I’m not surprised this happened!” Why are you not surprised? Because she was a shitty person or because she was a WoW player with ladyparts you wanted to touch and as such you placed her in high regard for no other reason besides that and when that backfired and the pedestal came crumbling down you were UPSET?! *inhales deep breath after run on sentence*

This is a constant cycle in the gaming world. It’s absolutely everywhere. It’s the reason the fake gamer girl meme exists, it’s the reason so many HAWHAW GET IN THE KITCHEN memes exist. This is the root of the issue. Let’s all start trying to identify it and stop putting people on pedestals and maybe, JUST MAYBE things will start to get better for everyone.

At the very least as WoW players can we please start trying to move away from this? There is no reason to go gaga over someone because they are generally attractive and play a video game. These are superficial reasons, at best, and if you start looking deeper at people you will start to build deeper connections. This means that your connections will be better placed and you’ll be less likely to feel that sting of disappointment when someone doesn’t turn out to be what you expected them to be.

Whew. Okay. That felt good to get out. Sorry it’s so off topic from what I usually post but hey.

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2 thoughts on “Put Down That Pedestal Please!

  1. I always imagine that the types of people that target women like this are also the same ones that cry about being put in the so-called “Friend zone”. It’s just sooooo much easier to blame other people than it is to look at your own behaviour and attitudes towards others. It makes me a sad panda.

    Great post, thank you for sharing :)

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