Monday, April 9, 2012
One trending topic on the web is the abuse that women get for simply expressing their opinions in public. Abi at Making Light has posted a rant about it.
If you don’t believe it happens, gentlemen, I dare you: choose a female name and log onto a gaming board, or a deep geek IRC channel, or a heated political discussion. Disagree with the common herd and see what you get back. Then do the same with a male name. And then remember that you’re being kicked on undamaged flesh; it’s much worse when there’s already a deep bruise there from all the charming things people do in meatspace, too.
Here's the thing. I have no problem playing any gender or sexuality in virtual space. I routinely gender-bend in tabletop and computer games. But what Abi is suggesting never even occurred to me. It blows my mind that it didn't.
As a feminist and LGBT ally, I sometimes worry that I don't fully understand people's struggles. It's the old adage about walking a mile in someone's shoes; you're trying to support people dealing with experiences you could never realistically have.
Except that Abi suggests a fairly obvious way someone could.1
I'm not saying it's a good idea. There's an air of voyeurism about it. The experience wouldn't really be the same, because I'd always know that I could simply log off and go back to being a tremendously privileged straight white dude. There's the question of whether "playing" at being a woman in a non-fictional space would be offensive to women or transgendered people, for whom this is their real, actual lives. And there's also the real, ever-present need for male allies to fight and shame those perpetrating sexism.2
But it would still be interesting as hell to try.
If I ever do, I'll be sure to post my experiences and findings here.
1 And yes, men have been gender-bending in MMOs for a long time. That's not the same as posting on a forum or in a comment thread. I could go into a ton of detail why but that's better saved for another post.
2 Not because women need saving or can't speak for themselves. Rather, because it's easier to convince misogynist idiots who are determined never to listen to a women to shut up and open their ears if you're confronting them as a dude.
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