One of the neat features of a model is that it allows you to strip down the gloss and inessential features that can sometimes clutter arguments and details about a particular topic; in the case of this post the prevalence of the Patriarchy. I am certainly not part of the Blamatariat yet, but I feel that I am moving across the spectrum toward a more informed, knowledgeable state of affiars.
There has been a furour on the Intertoobz as of late over the decision (now repealed) by Blizzard, the makers of World of War Craft, to attach players real names to their characters in game and while posting in the game related forum. The frantic typing and posting resounded across the Net, there are threads about this topic everywhere from Pharyngula to Shakesville.
The questions and concerns raised range from harassment on forums to IRL stalking and worse. A jumping off point in one of the threads took me here to a brilliant post by Nattie on a thread from MetaFilter. I suggest you go read the entire post with the idea in mind that this could be viewed as a primer for understanding Patriarchy 101. To the uninitiated the patriarchy can seem a little bit of a fuzzy concept due to the implicit and ingrained nature of how the P functions. In light of potential learning from this piece I have added hyperlinks to the Shakesville Feminism 101 section for those seeking more illumination than the limited scope provided here.
Nattie says [italics, underlining and links, mine]:
“* If you do post a picture (I never did) people either go nuts over how hot you are and won’t leave you alone –– and the guys that perv on you treat you in a condescending way because hot=stupid; having to hear that shit addressed to other girls on Vent was really infuriating and uncomfortable — OR they make a point of constantly telling you how ugly you are and won’t leave you alone. There is no middle ground. They either want to fuck you or deride you. And it actually doesn’t matter how hot or how ugly you are, either; the hottest girls will get called ugly (and FAT, ALWAYS FAT), and the ugliest girls still have to deal with lonely guys who aren’t superficial. Any time the girl posts something thereafter, people will comment on her appearance, even though it has nothing to do with whatever is being discussed.”
The italicized statements are nothing new to the advanced Blamer, but to the uninitiated parsing them out can be
very illuminating. For instance, the options faced in the the statement A)”oh I you’re sooo hot I want to frak you” or B)”oh you’re so ugly, you are not soooo not”frakkable”. Both “choices” revolve around the idea that the primary feature of a female is her beauty as viewed by how attractive she is to the male gaze. Not the content of her character, not her opinions, not her factual claims, but just how she looks. So female worth is judged by how good of a sexual object they appear to be.
This ugly fact has a one to one correspondence to the real meatspace world. Women deal with this 24/7,all the time, on all stations full on assault on their identity as human beings.
“* If you ask someone to leave you alone, you’re a stuck up bitch. That means you always have to be nice to everyone. This was both unfair and character-building, because now I’m really good at talking to and disengaging from socially ill-adjusted people without hurting their feelings.”
Again, the social expectations of women are quite explicit and when you go against them you get flayed to the bone because you are not properly performing your sanctioned role. Since when should a person have to ‘be nice’ or be anything all the time or be labelled a ‘stuck up bitch’ (insert your gendered insult here)? As a woman you get to deal with this as well, just because you happen to possess a double X chromosome. There are severe repercussions when Patriarchally sanctioned behaviour expectations are not followed.
* Some people think anything you do or say is attention-whoring, even if you never wanted the attention. If a guy makes a joke in a forum post, he’s a funny guy. If a girl makes a joke in a forum post, she’s an attention whore. If a guy makes a good argument in a forum post, he’s a smart guy. If a girl makes a good argument in a forum post, she’s doing it for attention. She’s ESPECIALLY an attention whore if people like her or agree with her.
* Similarly, people assume that the only reason anyone likes you is because they’re one of your fanboys. So people don’t genuinely think women or funny or make good arguments, they’re just fanboys. If other girls like you, then it’s because women form cliques — even if in the previous breath they were saying that women are all catty and hate each other.
Do you notice the pattern of choices that is become prevalent? Women are presented with two choices both equally shitty that do nothing to further her own autonomy or identity. You can choose either one patriarchally approved stereotype or the other, both damage you as a person.
“A sizable portion of [the population in general]gamers are racist. (Sexism, racism, and homophobia are what make me most uncomfortable about the gaming community; in a serious way I feel more connection to gamers than any other group, so this pains me. Plenty of gamers are none of these things and I love them to death, but I think those same gamers realize what a huge problem it is in the community in general.) An even bigger portion of gamers are just not very racially sensitive — they’ll use “nigger” or “Jew” a lot, for example, even if they don’t think they actively feel anything against those groups, because they think it’s funny. In the same way that saying stuff is “gay” is especially pronounced in the gamer community, even the people that say slurs ironically or by force of habit inadvertently make actual bigots in the gaming community feel empowered because they don’t realize other people don’t mean those things like they do. It is much more common and acceptable to express racist opinions in the gaming community than society at large.”
The quote really speak for itself, but the tacit acceptance of gendered insults and racist putdowns only reinforces the negative stereotypes that have such corrosive effects in our culture.
I have barely scratched the surface of all the issues that could be covered, just with the quoted materials. Frighteningly there is almost a 1:1 correspondence to what happens in the gaming world vs. what goes on in the real world, it is just a little easier to see in the gaming world because people are less constrained by social norms and morality in the mostly anonymous world of gaming. (or shorter the vile sexism and batshite crazy stupidity is easily observed)
A big thank you to Shakesville for having such a comprehensive FAQ for dealing with the multitudinous issues that this particular world of warcraft blip brought up.