Dealing With Intolerance

Trigger warnings: Homophobic/sexist language, anxiety

As much as I hate for one of my errant posts while the festivities of work and holidays keep me out of blogging to be relentlessly negative, I feel like this is something I should post. I feel that often the hardest part of being a woman in a sexist world, especially as a feminist, is putting your values ahead of you. It’s very hard to navigate what is still an openly hostile world and still stick your neck out for what you believe in. I had a situation last night that I dealt with, and while I don’t feel that I was the assertive, unabashed feminist I could have been, I feel like the appropriate people got taken to task and I got out of the situation as fast as my gnomish legs would carry me.

A recap:

Since 4.3 came out, I’ve pretty much quit progression raiding. I recently completed my legendary staff, killed Deathwing via LFR. I’m not left wanting for excitement or content at all right now. I’ve really relished the free time I have, that I’m no longer part of a 25man that actively dislikes the game and can focus on my friends, blogging, and having fun.

That being said, I happened to pick up a casual 10man group made mostly of alts/socials from a top 10man guild on my server. Interested by the prospect of low-stress normals raiding with a decent team of people, I started going along with them. First it was one night, one-shotting most of Siege and then adding a second day for working on Madness bosses. Most of the raid (if not all) is dudes, of the decently nice sort but a couple of them are a little “rough around the edges.” Not surprising, but not terrible. 

However, here and there sometimes they would slip up and say something a little rude or use a slur – mostly things like calling someone “fag” or n-words. Just every so once in a while, and I reported it to the raid leader who said he’d handle it.

Well, we got into the raid tonight and it was just one weird convo on Ventrilo after another; one talking about what cereal looked like vaginas, and how someone in the raid was a whore. I just felt really embarassed and weird. I kept making weird emoticons because despite all of my crowing about how amazingly strong and feminist I am, I’m still cowed by a large group of men online apparently. 

Then right before we pulled Zon’ozz, one of the louder guys said, “If you f*****s don’t all one-shot this boss tonight, I’m going to yell!” and started laughing. I had enough and told him not to call me that, and he shot back like, “See, I don’t understand why a woman would get offended by that.” I whispered the raid leader, told him I was sorry but I couldn’t handle it, apologized for leaving before a boss and peaced out of the raid.  I whispered the other mage later on since he’s always been super nice and said he could talk to me for magely wisdom That’s the only contact I think I’ll have from now on.

My hands were shaking and I got off Ventrilo in a hurry. I have legit anxiety/panic problems with confrontation and this was just piquing it all over the place. I feel not the slightest bit aggrieved that I won’t see normal content or loot, but that’s what LFR is for. I’m just sad that I forgot momentarily that the world outside of my awesome guild is still shitty in the World of Warcraft. I’m also sad that I’m still kinda a scaredy cat when it comes to socially dealing with people who are being offensive.

I feel that sometimes in our rush to uphold the ideals that we want to see in the world, that we forget that we’re all still human beings and things like anxiety, aggression and consequences still exist for those who speak up. While there’s no imminent threat of physical violence for telling some dudebros on Ventrilo to stop calling people fags, it can still be hard to stand up. But I’m glad I did. I still urge everyone who can to do it, and to feel proud about it. You’re definitely not alone. Even though I was scared, I still did it anyways. I feel like I might not always have the power to change the world overnight, but I still have the power to change the world in my immediate grasp. I do this by speaking up when I feel things are going wrong, and building a really amazing guild that’s full of people that respect eachother. It might be small, but I feel it’s a good first step.

13 Responses

    • I think it’s worth it to say something, even if it does nothing, but I never expect people to stick around in an abusive or offensive situation. And don’t get me started on something like Trade Chat.

      • It’s definitely always worth it to make your voice heard, even just so that you never lose sight of the notion that your voice is worth hearing. The longer you stay silent, the harder it is to speak up– your voice needs to be exercised, like a muscle, lest you trick yourself into thinking that the reason you never say anything is that you have nothing important to say.

  1. Good fer you.

    Is often dang little we can do fer ta stops dimwitted poopheads from spewin’ they’s filth, but we can always control what we sez, when we sez it, and who we done chooses ta associate with. And ya never know – sometimes speakin’ up gives other folks a shot of courage or sense too.

  2. Hey there,

    don’t remember how I got here but would like to comment on this. From a raidleader pov it is often hard enough to keep folks focused on the job, dealing with jerky comments doesn’t make it easier. In fact, as you did, every one has to step up for him/herself. A really cool reaction would have been for example, yelling back at him that he should shut the fuck up, or even better calmly noting what a dickhead behavior this is accompanied by the option you leaving the raid immediately if we would continue.

    Normal guys behave like that in groups and do such things when feeling insecure for whatsoever reason. Sometimes out of anger you forget your manners, might have happened to you once or twice in your life as well…

    Telling the raid leader about something like that isn’t really helpful, I am not sure what I would have done in the same situation. Maybe cause I would never intentionally raid with folks that might have such cerebral meltdowns and thus would be too baffled^^
    Besides not everything has to be political correct and you use words like “fags” seldom doesn’t make you intolerant per se. It just shows a poor choice of words with no real meaning behind it.

    regards,
    Jinx

    • I’d argue that it is a raid leader’s job to make sure that your personnel in a raid keep decorum, especially in a raid where social boundaries are not all firmly in place. That is what leaders do. They lead. Especially by example. I’ve been a raid officer for a 25man for most of my WoW career prior to my quitting. You have to smack people on the nose and tell them to cut stuff out or else it becomes a long-term, deeply ingrained problem. It sows dischord, it creates bad blood.

      Meeting slurs with aggression wouldn’t have done much for me. I just stuck with being assertive and when that failed to get the reaction I had wanted, I went straight to the RL to apologize and bow out of the raid. That’s just the polite and mature thing to do. You don’t throw a fit and threaten to quit; the person being offensive will just tell you to leave anyways.

      But on your last point? Yes, using slurs means you are intolerant. You are kidding yourself if you think otherwise. I hate this movement of people pretending that using a slur that’s reserved for disrespecting gay people just means “stupid” now and has nothing to do with homosexuality. The whole reason it is a slur in the first place is because of how it marginalizes gay people.

      Language informs thought. Think about that one for awhile.

      • Absolutely right. The RL needs to keep the raid in line and set expectations of behavior before hand. That’s nigh impossible to do in PUGs of course, but RLs are too afraid to kick a disruptive member for fear of the group falling apart.

        I’ve left PUG raids before due to behavior like this, when the RL refused to do anything. Anyone brought into our raids or guild is informed beforehand that we won’t tolerate any racial, homophobic or sexist comments.

        I don’t think I can expect people to behave a certain way when there is no pre-existing social contract (however nice that would be, the WoW PUG community swings between quite nice and friendly to horrifically offensive and genuinely creepy), but I can certainly leave situations that I find offensive.

      • Happy new year, haven’t had the time to check on this while I was on leave, so, sorry for the late reply.
        As suggested I thought about that “language informs thought” thing but I still don’t think it’s just black and white. I might have hit a soft spot when I generally sorted such slurs to stupidity and not homophobia and such but nevertheless I believe that your view is that of a better world which has only slight resemblance with reality. In reality even nice folks use words they know they shouldn’t have used in the first place. That doesn’t make them intolerant per se, imho.
        If one is very sensitive about behavior and has low tolerance for bad manners I would suggest one should avoid PUGs and/or MMOs altogether. I prefer to run only with folks I know just to avoid such drama.

        regards,
        Jinx

        • Isn’t reality shaped when we dream of something and make it happen?
          I don’t understand how using hateful language isn’t intolerance. People like to trick themselves into thinking they don’t have a problem with gay people when they call people “fags” except for the fact that the reason that is a SLUR at all is because it was used to harm gay people. It makes them feel better to think that they are using to call people stupid except…it’s still used to undermine a gay person at the same time. It’s folly to think you’re pure-hearted and give a shit about gay people when you use language like that.

          Reality is where nice people use words like. Reality -should be- that people feel that they can express themselves without using that kind of language, especially in mixed company. Because it hurts people. And it is offensive. And it denigrates people.

          If I had a low tolerance for shittiness, I’d have to commit suicide. The world of full of it. I’m not quite ready to go, so I will do my hardest to try and make my thoughts know and enact change. Suggesting someone avoid MMOs all together instead of wanting to see a better culture emerge is apathetic and puts the onus of fault on the person who is upset. That’s crap. I will constantly speak up.

      • At least we can agree on that the world is full of crap that annoys us ;)

        And before I become part of this crap for you, let’s just say I have a slightly different view. Besides, imho it’s not about whose fault it is, but what consequences you choose for yourself.

        Thanks for the answer
        Jinx

  3. /quote Language informs thought. Think about that one for awhile. /end quote

    Abosolutely.

    /quote casual 10man group made mostly of alts/socials from a top 10man guild /end quote

    So why are you contributing to the perpetuation of the myth that gaming is a male passtime?

  4. I love your posts, AppleCider. Even though I stopped playing WoW over a year ago, I still follow your blog because your insights into the gender / sexuality issues of WoW are valid and insightful.

    I have been railing against the homophobia and sexism in WoW for a long time now. When male taurens /silly emote, one of the things they say pretty much likens gay men to dairy products. (I think the exact quote is “Homogenized? No way! I like the ladies!”) This reflects a fundamental homophobic quality to Blizzard’s corporate culture. (For those not in the know, such comparisons are fundamentally dehumanizing: people are people, not dairy products or other, lesser things. Always must human beings remain in the category “humanity.”)

    Please keep up the good fight, Apple Cider. Your blog is truly insightful!

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