Foot in Mouth

I read a lot of posts about the topic of inclusiveness, and the commentary made by Blizzard.

I made a response post.

I hastily commented and had some heated discussion on J3w3l’s post.

I then read a bunch of other posts about the experiences of female gamers, along with all of the comments that picked apart everything I said, on both my blog and over on J3w3l’s.  Some of the commentary made by men (when they find out a player is a girl) is downright ridiculous, and I can’t believe the nerve of some guys. I have made the mistake of idolizing a “hot gamer girl” like the rest of em, but I would never dream of saying some of the things they come up with. I don’t even say this kind of stuff to other dudes.

I started to think about how I might not outright deny those experiences, but I am actually contributing to the problem with the attitudes expressed in my post/comments, because I am ignorant or dismissive of the world’s problems. In typical man fashion, I was raised to not bitch about my problems. I don’t usually bitch about my problems on a public forum, and as such I was attacking those that do, in essence belittling their experiences. That was not my intention.

My narrow world view comes from a variety of sources, mainly from the examples I’ve seen in my life. My own experiences are all I have to compare with, and I wasn’t actively looking into these topics until now. I have a sister. She too enjoyed playing back then and plays video games to this day. She has never expressed any sort of discrimination via gaming (maybe she just never revealed she was a girl, and I know she doesn’t ever use a headset). It’s true, when we played competitively I was usually better than her, but that didn’t cause me to believe that no women play video games or they all suck. However, in my experience with romantic partners, I have yet to date a woman that games. A couple tried briefly (or to humor me maybe) but weren’t ever gamers from the get go. As such, I would love to meet a gamer that could be a long term partner.

I also feel like the men I associate with and I aren’t the types of guys who abuse women. We’ve had our fights with significant others sure, but none of us are violent or degrading, or sexually abusive overall. I also have never had a woman tell me she was raped or assaulted, but that’s also not something most people would want to talk about. These things contribute to my worldview.

I guess what I am saying is that I came across the wrong way because I haven’t been looking at the big picture. I’ve been looking at things from my own life experience, and I’ve experienced a rosy version of the truth when these subjects are concerned. I play games with other women (family included), I enjoy a strong female character in my media, I haven’t been abusive and don’t associate with those types of people. I do enjoy the female form, but I understand that a bikini really doesn’t offer any protection in combat or from the elements. I also know that not everyone has a perfect body, myself included. I may be an opinionated dickhead sometimes, but I understand what everyone has been trying to make me see. I just needed some time to reflect.

My pride makes me want to say “fuck that, my worldview is correct.” But I always think of myself as someone who can come to see other points of view, to admit when I was wrong, even if I see it as more of a misunderstanding. I was wrong to not give a shit. I hope this post can convey my apologies to anyone I’ve offended. I can’t promise I’ll boycott every sexist thing I come across, but I can agree that this is a problem that needs a solution, and I’ll try to stop being so moderate about it.

23 thoughts on “Foot in Mouth

  1. You’re a standup guy, Izzy. It’s very hard for any of us to admit a wrong especially when we’ve been wrong for a very long time – I say that from personal experience. And there’s no shame in admitting an error and simply moving forward. You have no idea how difficult it is to get anyone to do what you just did: simply say “hey, my bad, I’ll do better” and keep on moving. So this is a breath of fresh air for me and to that I say: YOU DA MAN. Thank you.

    Social issues are thorny and tangled and to top that all off, we’ve all been guilty of being dismissive at some time or another. They are difficult to navigate. But if more of us just put down our shields and listened, it wouldn’t be nearly as controversial. Keep talking about the issues. That’s the only way any of us gets to understand and learn how to be supportive of one another.

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    • I don’t want to offend anyone else by saying this, but your commentary gets through to me more than others, probably because you seem to do it in a way that I can understand and there’s no sense of hostility. When people come at me a certain way (with hostility) I tend to not see their point, and focus on their attack towards me. That derails everything and I end up saying things I regret later.

      I was going to post this last night but I didn’t want to come across as simply trying to appease everyone. I figured that if I did it so quickly then no one would believe that I did some research and changed my stance.

      Really, I do get sick of hearing it, I think everyone does at some point or another. But therein lies the problem, it will never change unless we hear about it.

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      • That’sdefinitely the part where think guys in the discussion can be an avenue of change.

        For me, and I know others it’s such a close issue and so emotional that you can help but think, and say fuck you. We do need some more detached opinions and voices that while, aren’t heated over it I first and the concerns.
        Thank you and nice post

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      • Well to be fair, you weren’t offensive or hostile sounding towards me, but you have also interacted with me enough to understand that I’m not a complete asshole. I took offense to comments made by some of the others on your thread, and in the heat of the moment said things I should have just thought to myself. I tried to clear some of it up in my post yesterday, but after re-reading, it seems that it didn’t help at all. Hence this new post. Thanks for getting the community riled up about something positive though J3w3lz.

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  2. This is pretty neat. I know I can get hot under the collar sometimes and to take a slow look at things is always a good thing. Hats off.

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    • I’ve developed more of a temper the older I get. I don’t know why exactly. I’m usually pretty easy going. The problem is that I never spoke up before, and let myself get frustrated then just said stupid things.

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  3. It takes a lot to own up to mistakes and misunderstandings. Just want to say that it shows admirable character that you learned more and modified your worldview when you encountered new information. My hat off to you sir.

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  4. I come down closer to your first post, but this isn’t at all binary. One bit that I haven’t yet seem injected into this conversation is any real discussion of class and economic inequality. We’re having quite the conversation about how to help segments of the population who are middle class and above, but none about the crippling inequality that creates a far more prominent and immediate problem with society (especially in the States).

    I have a distrust for status-quo, institutional “activism” because at that point it becomes nothing more than another money-based special interest group. It can certainly do well and engage in very good works, but at the end of the day any institutional movement will be bound by the necessity of maintaining that same status quo (of which they are a part) which means an erasure of any issue aside from those that buffer and assist the wealthy. Nothing is zero-sum, but the sheer act of ensuring a living wage would go a long way toward the economic freedom that governs all of our lives regardless of our perception.

    OWS fizzled and institutional Feminism stepped in because there was a void and groups like NOW had the ability to take up the reins of leftist activism. Think about it: the state and capital spent a good deal of energy destroying the camps and actual person-to-person organization only to watch the leftist movement get subsumed by organizations and concepts which are supportive and protective of the very capitalist status-quo that both hurts everyone and contributes greatly to all sorts of ignorance at the lower end of the economic spectrum (and here we’re talking about the tragedies of both the poor white folks in ignored and forgotten rural areas and the sort of horrific minority ghettos which wall off economic advancement and create insane levels of competition for literal table scraps.

    Everything here in the last few years has the effect of taking all the focus away from people starving, CEOs who receive exponentially more money for picking their nose than I do for getting a $0.5mil grant approved after hours and hours of careful work. Let’s not even begin to compare the relative apathy for striking fast-food workers when there’s a woman being called names on the internet.

    So yeah, I have a personally deep distrust for the direction and methods of the current torchbearers of the “leftist” movement. What’s the end goal here? Making sure that everyone can dedicate their life to a nameless company that will toss you on the curb as soon as they can go without you while all the while refusing cost-of-living raises and eliminating the idea that we have lives outside of the needs of our bosses? Where’s the movement advocating for the seriously necessary economic readjustment where a single income could care for a family? There’s barely an option out there being discussed that doesn’t assume that the goal is to work 50 hours a week and climb a thankless ladder of advancement.

    This isn’t about the good of people, exactly. As long as we’re being directed and molded by professional organizations which are integral parts of the machine that keep us in constant cycles of spending. Just now we have a veneer of “greater good” to slip over the fundraising and lobbying and slow-burn progress.

    Mario is still relevant beyond belief: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhFvZRT7Ds0

    “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

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    • Well I think I might have been one of the only people to bring up social class-disparity, but Doone is also a weapon in that movement. I really don’t want to go down the road into Right and Left wing politics, so I’ll just say that being poor sucks, and it must be nice to be part of the 1%.

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    • The reason you haven’t seen class and economic inequality injected into this conversation is because this conversation is not about that! That conversation is related, but an entirely separate one to what we’ve been having on this treatment of women in everyday life. The way women are treated transcends class and economic status. Black women are treated worse than black men. Poor women are treated worse than poor men. Powerful, successful, celebrated women are treated worse than powerful, successful, celebrated men.

      What you are asking for here is to turn the conversation away from the topic of women and how they are treated. That is a classic tactic of those who are trying to silence women, and although you may not mean to, you are helping to make women’s rights more of a struggle than it needs to be. You could reframe those examples above to put race or economic status at the centre (Black people are treated worse than white people, or poor people are treated worse than rich people), but if you want to do that, then you need to start or join that conversation. Please don’t try to change the frame of reference of *this* conversation.

      All social justice issues are interconnected, and it’s a huge, huge mess of stuff to consider all at once. The only way we can deal with them without going insane is to discuss one focus at a time, and change what we can. Comparing them, and claiming one is more important than another, is unhelpful and actually self-defeating. People will fight for things that are important to them – telling them that they should stop putting all their energy into that issue because this issue is more important is just going to piss everyone off.

      I happen to agree with you, in that I believe that proper economic equality where (almost) everyone is financially comfortable without having to work slavish hours will do a lot to improve the way women are treated in society. But those are two separate fights. I can support the radical readjustment of our economic model on the one hand, while also supporting women in their fight to be treated more fairly in media, in the workplace, on the internet, in games (multiplayer, I mean), in society at large on the other.

      In this particular conversation, though, I am supporting women, and one of the only skills I have that are useful to them in this conversation is to help prevent derailing.

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      • What a bingo card. Even when you agree, you have to cut off your nose to spite your face or you’ll become an “enemy”.

        The reason no one is talking about class and economics is that it isn’t in the interest of those who are making money and prestige from this discourse which has been artificially limited to women.

        When it comes down to it, Feminism gets a lot of well-deserved flak for being a “white, middle-class women’s movement” and that isn’t going to change unless those who control that discourse and actually call the shorts cease to be white, middle-class women who are integrally complicit in maintaining the status-quo that gives them funding. In short, it gets tainted and derailed (to use your own worthless buzzword) before it ever even gets to us.

        Because our culture is schizophrenic. On one side we, as communities and societies, attempt to instill morals and ethics into the population while simultaneously doubling-down on the actual frameworks and systems which operate as vicious, zero-sum motivators for unethical and immoral behavior.

        We say that rape and harassment are about power. But power isn’t innate; power is external. Power is directly proportional to the amount of wealth one holds. This is the cornerstone of Capitalism and nothing will ever change it aside from a shift away from Oligarchical Capitalism itself.

        I understand that you think I’m being unhelpful, but you have to understand how absolutely painful it is to watch power and wealth continue to trickle upward when we have, perhaps, the largest activist community since the heyday of the 1960’s.

        That’s because the topic of class and economics are off-topic and pretty much banned from the larger discourse. Can’t you see that you’re complicit in the sort of self-oppression that rules our lives? you’re censoring topics not because they’re bad or unhelpful, but because the top-down command is not to speak of them.

        If you agree, I hope you can see how we’re all getting screwed here. I sincerely doubt we’ll see much actual progress from a movement that is so infatuated with the Capitalism that takes care of them. I can’t blame anyone, really, since we’re all forced to run this stupid death race where we spend sixty years of our lives enriching others materially while we’re told that “happiness comes from within”. Happiness, safety and respect certainly don’t well up in a world where we’re always trying to get one up on our neighbor. That goes double in communities where the normal status-quo is not ever having enough of anything to live with base comfort.

        I’m dead serious because I’m advocating for something that is Capitalist as a stopgap: focus on economic equality for all and you’re going to see a social shift in how we treat each other. Our culture is toxic all around, but not because of gender– it’s because our culture (when it comes down to it) rewards aggression, ruthlessness and “taking what’s mine”. That’s the same for women as well as for men.

        Give everyone a living wage and watch how quickly our culture shifts from constant fear to a more relaxed, less divided culture. When you no longer resent your neighbor for having more, or no longer have to choose between working your 4th shift in a row and potentially being out for rent, the levels of respect and admiration we have for each other will go through the roof.

        We’re complaining about the symptoms while doing absolutely nothing (in fact, we’re all actively blocking this conversation) about the underlying condition. Antagonistic domestic politics are in the interest of the status-quo. It keeps us fighting amongst ourselves over the scraps because we give the most evil and most awful of all a full pass.

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  5. Part of the “fun” of being a blogger is that sometimes we get to make our mistakes in public. (Been there, done that. A lot.) The tricky part is what we do next. This is a stand-up post, Izzy, and you’re a stand-up guy for writing it.

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    • Thanks Liore. You were actually the one person whom I felt I wronged the most, and I was really upset by that the whole rest of that first night. I was surprised how much I was affected by people I don’t even really “know.” I’m going to do my best to never make myself feel that way, or make anyone else feel that way ever again.

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  6. Reblogged this on Healing the masses and commented:
    Well I love this post in so many ways.
    Now I’ve been talking to izzy for a bit now and become sort of impromptu gaming buddies over the course of the year. A friendship there indeed but during the other post and further responses I couldn’t help but cringe, the were extremely common responses but I couldn’t help once again feeling a little dissapointed by them. Not angry, not enough to think worse of someone… just disappointed. Then, there was another follow up post, made from a moment of reflection and it gives me hope… hope that even in small communities we can enact change

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    • Well I wasn’t really trying to be opposed to it, I was merely pointing out other ways to look at things, but I did a lot of reading the day of that original post, and I felt that I needed to take the new information and change my stance. I still think sometimes people whine about things that aren’t really that big of a deal, we’ve all done it. But denying the existence of sexism is like denying the existence of the holocaust (though some people still try to do that!). Thanks for the respect.

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  7. I wasn’t following the original debate (been a busy week) but I caught up on the summary and links from J3w3l’s post. Respect for taking time to think it through and double respect for coming back to discuss how your position had changed as a result.

    It’s a much, much bigger issue than gaming blogs can hope to affect but here’s where we are so here’s where we have to try and this is a great example.

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    • I don’t think it was supposed to be a topic for debate. I think j3w3l was just trying to put her two cents out there. The anonymity of the internet combined with the fact that humans can’t see eye to eye on anything turns simple statements into debates. I think we turned this into a productive discussion though, and that’s not something that’s very easy to do on the web. Thanks for the respect!

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