Shit People Say, Internalized Sexism and the Responsibility of Satire

I’ve only been on the periphery of the “Shit People Say” meme phenomenon as I do not often go to Youtube unless someone directs me there. This time,  it was a guildmate of mine linking me Trade Chat’s video in the same vein, titled “Sh!t that Girl WoW Players Say.” The guildmate expressed her disappointment but wasn’t sure if she was wrong in feeling like the video mocked other female wow players or if Panzer was merely being satirical. I watched the video and I came to the conclusion that it just felt mocking.

Nothing against Panzer, because it is not an isolated problem, especially if we look at the larger meme to begin with. My guildmate felt that a lot of what were people’s attempts at humor did nothing but serve to undermine already marginalized groups and take away from really relevant videos like this one:

This is what satire is all about. Satire, without going into a lengthy dissertation, is best utilized by the people who feel the slings and arrows of the majority. In short, satire really cuts when you’re criticizing someone who has some measure of power over your world. While the video above is very hilarious, it also really underscores a legitimate problem that black women have with white women and the racist things they say.

My problem with the Shit People Say meme as well as the original WOW video I linked is that a lot of them do nothing to really undercut or inform, just mock from a privileged position. Now, is Panzer a lady? Yes she is. Is it okay to make fun of other women? Contextually I feel there’s a time and place. Criticism of other women for things that aren’t internalized sexist concepts tends to fare better than reinforcing that women who “act like this” in video games are dumb and to be made fun of. It makes me sad and disappointed to see someone so well-liked and recognizable making fun of the things women say in WOW. It’s problematic. Is it probably just for laughs? Maybe. But the crux of it is that when a woman stands up and starts picking on women, it gives men even more “justified” reinforcement that women are stupid and prime for mocking. A lot of the things that Panzer highlights in the video (like “baby aggro”, push-to-giggling, and “my voice is not sexy!”) are things that men (and other women) take ladies to task for because they feel they are stupid or shitty when they are really symptoms of larger sexist problems. Ones that we as women frequently swallow at face value and in turn, criticize other women for. It does nothing to elevate ourselves and it gives more power to keep us down.

Satire, especially in the World of Warcraft community, should serve to undercut the inherent problems at the same time they crack a smile. When women are already a fairly oppressed class in the gaming world, having a notable female celebrity in vlogging using tropes like the Angry Female and the Mom and the Giggly Sexpot does nothing for us. Those of us who are marginalized content creators, in my mind, should use our celebrity and our platform to entertain, but not without Making a Point. And that point shouldn’t serve as just more fodder for male gamers to laugh at women, when a lot of what they criticize is often the direct problem of sexist ideas or sexist opinions.

A good example of satire within the WoW community is this video by WoPairs and a gaggle of awesome lady machinima artists/voice actors:

By flipping the genders around, it is amusing but it does highlight the actual problems women deal with in raids and with gendered language. This is the kind of stuff I like to see. Humor definitely has its place our gaming community, but not at the expense of others who are already picked on on a regular basis in every area of their lives. Make the culture you want to be a part of, not the culture we already find ourselves stuck in. It just might make people think.

6 Responses

  1. I had a hard time understanding why the first video wasn’t satirical. But I understood immediately why the second and third ones were much better examples of satire. I saw the WoW Machinima last year and thought it was funny and spot on at that time.

    I think Panzer just missed the mark on how she dramatized it. Still, I understood she was making fun of the stereotype. Maybe that was the problem?

    • Well, the problem is that I don’t think those are stereotypes we -should- make fun of, because a lot of sexist tropes are like that to begin with.

    • For me the problem with the first video was that was more like “Shit guys THINK girls say in WoW” and I’ve never really heard any of those things from any of my hundreds of female guildies (or out of my own mouth) for years and I’ve heard most of them from males to be honest…it just seemed entirely off-base.

  2. This post is really spot on with what I was feeling when I first watched Panzer’s video. I’m glad to see that I wasn’t alone. Thanks for this great post.

  3. Pingback: Sexism! Not just for men! [ 6D ]

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