Not Particularly Good at This

I’m never going to be particularly good at writing about games. I’ve been re-reading Stephen King’s On Writing, and there’s something I’ve learned about myself recently… I’m not very good at writing about games. Look, I’m good at playing WoW, mostly. I enjoy playing it. I have my complaints as well as those things I tend to gush about. But I am absolutely terrible at talking about specifics when it comes to games.

I have 3 drafts sitting in my post-box. All of them are about what I do to level so quickly. I actually have a method. I do practically the same things every time I level a new toon. I get asked how I level so quickly often enough that I considered writing a post about it.

Except my thoughts are all terribly disjointed. I jump around from one point to the next and there is absolutely NO cohesion to the writing. I look back at the draft and try to figure out how to re-piece it together to be more coherent. Eventually I say “Fuck it!” and start again. Same shit, new post.

Then I get really frustrated with my inability to write coherent sentences about gaming. So I don’t write anything. At all.

I was chatting with The Boy (and he’s not The Boy anymore, and as of a few days ago never will be… but his identity will remain a secret) about some pretty emotional and personal stuff. He said he wasn’t particularly good at expressing himself. Or phrasing things correctly about what he was thinking. Or feeling. At least not in a way where he felt satisfied. He’s a good writer. He’s a pretty popular writer. But he’s a business/technical writer. And I’m an emotional writer. Therein lies the problem with my writing style.

I’m told I write amazing love letters. That they’re flattering and anyone who gets one should feel special. I excel at expressing myself. But I suck at writing about my leveling process. Or about anything game related, for that matter.

Which leaves me with one question… Why have a WoW/Gaming based blog if I suck at writing about games?

I honestly don’t know.

I don’t theory-craft. Or number crunch. Or even care. So now I’m unsure what I’m going to do going forward.

There are plenty of gaming bloggers who write about games really well. I’m just not one of them. I can do research-related writing (which is emotionally unattached and dry) or emotion-driven writing (which inevitably is more personal that I planned on being on a gaming blog).

So I guess I’ll close my eyes and see where the pendulum falls. I’m never going to talk much about druid-ing, or healing, or leveling. What else is there then??

Feminism and You: How to Participate in Open Discussions

Note: I would like to note here and now that comments will be moderated. I am the sole person to approve them. Why?? The simplest answer is because many people can’t talk civilly to each other.*

Around the twitter-verse there has been a lot of buzz surrounding feminism… and other -isms. Today I’m going to address some of the problems surrounding the types of conversations being had on twitter, despite listening to my gut which says to stay the hell out of the dialogue. While I’m not going to single any particular person out some of the referenced conversations might sound really familiar. If you’re feeling as though I’m pointing a finger at you specifically, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the way you’ve been treating others, and how you’ve been handling having discussions about feminism among your peers. Feminism is one of those really touchy subjects in which people feel very strongly one way or the other, including ambivalence and apathy. In order to have a productive and constructive conversation about feminism, people need to understand the history of feminism and how we’ve gotten to where we are today.

Feminism, an Intro

Feminism at the core is a desire for equality between men and women. It’s a “movement aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women.” Historically, women have been oppressed for far longer than it’s been recorded in history books. Women are still oppressed in many countries outside of the United States, but for today’s history and civil rights lesson, I’m going to stick to U.S. History only.

In 1868 African American slaves were granted citizenship equal to those of whites (though we all know that it didn’t necessary play out that way, but this is a discussion for another post on a different blog… I digress). In 1870, the 15th amendment was enacted, prohibiting “the denial of suffrage based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude.Note that it says nothing about gender. Fast-forward 50 years (50 fuckin’ years people… wrap your head around this shit!! That’s a lifetime!) and women are granted suffrage with the 19th amendment, lawfully ending women being viewed as the property of men in the United States.

Take a moment and process that. No really. Just think about it. African American men were property one day, and in two years are granted full rights (again, in law only. I realize shit went on for years after this point). But oh no! We lowly women were still the property of men for another 50-fuckin’-years!

Please understand that I am angry. This shit makes me damn angry. Women still make less money for the same work and education when you look at specific power-positions (things like CEO, CFO and directors). Then there are those archaic politicians like Rick Santorum running around spouting bullshit about how he, as a white man, has the right to put into law what is and isn’t okay for a woman to do to her own body.

“One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country…. Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” – Rick Santorum (Speaking with CaffeinatedThoughts.com, Oct. 18, 2011)

Couple that with the ignorance of men like Rush Limbaugh who, as evidenced by what he says, clearly doesn’t actually understand how birth control or women’s bodies work.

“She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.” – Rush Limbaugh

So here is all of us, in current times. Women are still often treated as second-class citizens. Women are still coddled and treated like children. They are still the highest demographic to be sexually assaulted and raped. Many feminists have been fighting the good fight for so long; I feel like many of them have forgotten what it was like before they were feminists. In the experiences I’ve had on twitter, as well as what I’ve seen passively, it seems that many people have forgotten some of the basics of feminism. So here I go… and I’m going to school you, dear reader, in the early learnings of feminism.

THINGS TO REMEMBER

Many women want to believe that they have always been a feminist, but the fact is, most people don’t even realize there’s a difference in the way men and women are treated until well into adulthood. Feminists are created, taught, and made. There is no collective feminist mind in which some people tap in, and others do not. There is no special initiation, either, much to the chagrin of many self-declaring feminists. You don’t pay dues. There is no membership card. And there are no special parking spaces anywhere. Does it seem as though I’m making light of the feminist cause? I am, in a way. Like so many other things, the extremists make it easy to poke fun of important issues. Feminism is not exempt from this. Feminism is still pretty srs bzns. Even for me.

Men can also be feminists, but they cannot actually know what it’s like to deal with mistreatment based on gender (except for a small population of transgendered individuals).

So, most important rule to remember: People are not born feminists.

No one is born knowing all there is to know about feminism. At your conception, your parents did not have some survey to fill out in which they chose whether or not you would be a feminist, or a misogynist. It’s a sliding scale. I’ll have graphics for this later.

ISSUES I SEE ON TWITTER THUS FAR

Many people are extremely quick to label others. They also seem to feel as though they can think for others, tell others what to do, and flame them if they don’t agree. There is little room for open discussion among this particular group. If someone is curious about feminism they are met with derision and blame for not being cultured on all things feminist. There is also little room for opinion. If you have a differing opinion, you are flamed, chided, and eventually shunned. This is coming from both sides of the feminism scale, where feminism is on the extreme right and misogyny is on the extreme left (and the red dots are where various different people will fall on the scale).

The best thing is that people can fall somewhere, anywhere on that spectrum of feminism and misogyny. There are an infinite number of points there. Remember that too. Infinite. Unending. There will be a quiz at the end.**

Now here I’m going to toss some math your way. Statistics. I know. I hated this stuff when I was in school, but I’m glad to have learned it. It’s going to help me out right now. Statistics, in my own definition, is theoretical math. It’s often used to help postulate or find relationships between two or more variables. Right now, we’re talking about two extremes: Feminism and Misogyny.

Now, if I was so inclined I could create a questionnaire that might measure a person’s feminism (or subsequently their misogyny). Scientifically, I might give this questionnaire out and ask people to anonymously answer and submit their responses. As a scientist, I am trying to be as objective as possible. No matter what the sample size is (meaning whether 100 or 1000 people responded), their scores would fall into this distribution table. All samples are meant to be representative of the population, but realistically, it’s impossible to get a full population of subjects. So I’d have to make inferences. The bigger the sample size, the more likely it is to see this bell curve of where people will fall on the scale between feminism and misogyny.

What you’re seeing is that the largest portion of the population will fall in the center, just to the left and right of the middle, by one SD (standard deviation)***. 68% of the population will fall in this middle section. When you go 2 SD out, you end up capturing more people within this middle area totaling about 95.4% of the population. What this means, in the end, is that I can reasonably guess that if I gave a new person the questionnaire, there is a 95.4% chance they will fall somewhere within 2 SD of the mean (middle).

Why is this important? This is important to remember when you’re talking to people about feminism because such a tiny portion of the population falls at the extremes. I can, subjectively, only give questionnaires out to a feminist population, skewing my results. I can do the same the other direction as well. Objectively, this is pretty standard when measuring human behavior and other non-mathematically measurable attributes. In science you can make inferences based on these standards.

HOW DO WE MAKE THIS BETTER FOR EVERYONE

In many of my efforts to discuss feminism on twitter, the extremists are quick to twist my words around on me. I’ve been calm when trying to discuss things, but in the same vein as talking with a misogynist, it seems that people are quick to jump to irrationalities and generalities that don’t hold their own out of context. I’ve watched people go from perfectly reasonable to arm-flailing, finger-pointing, screaming-the-top-of-their-lungs type nonsense. I’ve watched people get singled out, name-called, and shunned by others in the community. I’ve had those same fingers pointed at me.

My point, often times, has been to educate with resolved calm. To which I’ve been accused of telling feminists and victims to “be the bigger person” and equally pointing fingers telling them they’re not allowed to be angry. Quite the contrary. Be angry. Be damn angry. Fuck! I’m effing angry!! But I choose to focus my anger and energies toward social change, not just to make myself more comfortable. I want the change for future daughters and transgendered children. I want the change to happen, but I understand that humans cannot and will not listen to you when you’re jumping around like a banshee, spitting fire and pointing fingers in their face. The up-in-your-face method isn’t working. The anger is often channeled in the wrong direction. Remember, 95.4% of the population. That’s a lot of fuckin’ people who may not have been a victim of a sexual crime. That’s a lot of people who have never been objectified. That’s a lot of people who don’t know a feminist. That’s a lot of people who I might be able to educate and talk to and maybe, just maybe, I can get them closer to that 2nd standard deviation of feminism. Closer to the outliers.

What’s actually happening is people are being chided for not having experienced something and thus not currently a feminist. They’re being accused of being ableist and victim-blaming. When what’s really happening is the extreme feminists are arm-flailing, spitting accusations, and finger-pointing, forcing people to pick whether they want to be associated with the extreme feminists or none at all. There are a whole helluva lot of feminists out there who can have a civil conversation with without blaming the people who aren’t involved. Not everyone is a feminist. Feminists are created out of circumstance and education. Being calm while educating others is not taking the high road and letting the misogynists run rampant. It’s having a discussion and taking the opportunity to teach people. Let the misogynists be the arm-flailers. Let them be the haters. Let them push people away so that feminists, as civil, adult, educated individuals, can teach those who fall in that middle 95.4%.

Focus the rage at the ones who deserve it. Please stop talking for all feminists. Speak as you, for you, and not for the rest of us. No one elected you as the spokesperson for feminism, so please stop. And remember, that on the other side of every all-caps tweet, on the other side of the computer screen, is a breathing, living person who has feelings. Surprisingly, there are people reaching out asking questions not to mock and demean you, but to learn and understand. Civility, people. It goes a long way in the quest for equality for women in all areas of life, not just in video games.

* Plus I pay the bill, so I can do what I want.
** No actual quiz.
*** I wish I could explain standard deviation better, but it’s used in statistics and probability theory.

Blogging for the Masses (Day 2)

The actual title of Day 2 asks why I decided to start blogging. But really the story goes back even further than just blogging about WoW. In the earlier days of the internet, way back when (and some of you may be too young to even know when this was!), there wasn’t actually a lot of interaction outside of forums, and BBS‘, and making really bad geocities webpages that you updated manually to share pictures of your college campus and tell people what you did (usually with dancing gif background). It was a different kind of internet. I remember being bored one day, so I thought I would try to see if bored.com (which was, then, nothing compared to what it is today). On the site was a link to a place called opendiary.com and so, my curiosity piqued, I clicked the link.

Blogging then was a very different beast than it is today. I wrote vague entries of my life and feelings. I was angsty and childish, but introspective and reflective. I wrote about the things that I felt were important in my life, but also those things that were trivial and dumb. It was about me, then. I treated it as though it were actually a diary for me to reflect on one day. I met my Bestie through the site. I also found myself a boyfriend and many other friends. Most of whom I don’t speak to, but thankfully, my Bestie stuck it out and we’re amazing friends today, despite the many miles between us.

Over the years, there was this transition in the types of things people wrote about. The internet changed. Blogging changed. What people wrote about changed. It became scary to tell people who you were, but once the information was out there, that was it, it was out there. I was actually let go from a job because of the things I was writing on the internet. So many years ago… so many.

When I started playing WoW, blogging was a different world. People wrote about boss strats, how to handle different dungeons, where to walk or run, the fastest way to level professions, and theorycrafting. I always felt that I could be funny, in a way that I feel Aldous is funny. I wanted to write about my adventures in Azeroth, but I knew that I may never be a huge name, and at the time I was okay with that. Then the ranks of Apotheosis started to fill more and more with bloggers. And this isn’t even considering the current bloggers that were already there (like Kurn and O). I suddenly felt that I needed to discuss and talk about similar things. That my ridiculous Lol-dragons were suddenly childish and stupid.

It’s difficult to bring yourself back from a place where you think you need to provide a certain level of content in order to not affect the readership of others. I felt like it was my responsibility to write better entries because it might reflect poorly against the others if I wrote stupid things and captioned dragons like an idiot.

The realization that what I write isn’t about how it reflects on others, but how it reflects on me was a long road I’m glad I traveled down. I had to do a lot of self-reflection in order to reach that point. I also needed to learn how to manage my time better in all areas of my life. It’s not about always writing amazing things as much as it is about writing things that I like and care about. There is likely to be someone somewhere that will like what I have to say. And I’ve accepted that for everyone one person who likes what I write, there will be a troupe of people who don’t. I needed to deal with the emotional attachment involved with writing to just… let go.

So why am I writing now? Because I feel like there’s something worth sharing. I feel like there are stories I want to remember. I want to let people know that WoW isn’t always filled with the assholes and douche bags we see so prevalent out there. But there are people who are totally worth playing the game with. Blizzard finally made it possible for me to be able to play the game with people I like, who’s company I enjoy, and who’s personalities don’t clash with my own… and I want to tell those stories.

So here I am… and this is my story.