Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sidenote, or "Playing a Stereotype"

I've been reading a WoW comic by a female player and this one made me think "Hey . . . what's wrong with wanting shinies? *sadface*"

After the sadface, though, I got to thinking. I quite often goof around and play a role on this blog -- I am honestly delighted by fun novelty items, but I also like to ham it up and play the stereotype. I tend to assume my readers will infer that I'm being silly.

When I was young, I didn't get into the girly side of life. I was a girl, but I was taught by culture or cartoons or whatever that strong women aren't feminine. I wanted to impress my brother with my knowledge of anime and awesome things, and he wasn't a girl so I didn't need to act girly. In fact, I didn't indulge in anything over-the-top girly until I got married. Somehow, husband unlocked the wacky, pink-loving, obsessed-with-Disney-princesses side of me.

Husband acted like it wasn't a big deal, like it was normal or even natural for me to be . . . a girl. He didn't respect me any less or think I was stupid for liking Disney princesses -- he even got me Disney princess stickers after our first fight.

I continue to like wacky girly pointless things along with respectable things. I love Sonny With A Chance, which is a ridiculously pointless Disney comedy show for preteens; and I also love Veronica Mars, which is a gritty mystery series that got cancelled by dumb people.

I write teen fluff that I'm trying to get published. But my reasons for writing fluff are that teen and preteen girls often live in hell, and they need somewhere to escape.

Lastly, I like vanity pets. But I also like feeling competent in raids.

The frivolous and the serious can coexist quite easily. I hope that, while I like to indulge my wacky girl side on this blog, I've also given my readers reason to believe that I have more depth than I often choose to display. I try to have fun and tell stories that people will be interested in, even though I sometimes dip a toe in more serious waters.

I guess what I'm trying to say is -- nobody is a complete stereotype. Everyone has layers, strengths, and weaknesses. I might be proliferating a view of girl gamers that all we're interested in is pets and mounts and cute things, but I promise that every female gamer is her own person and should be judged by who she is rather than the surface layer you see of her.

Examples of Female Gamers

J1 is a gorgeous woman and former calendar model. She loves to laugh and giggle and make jokes. She pretends to stalk husband's best friend for fun, but she's in a serious relationship with a mage. She loves kittens, puppies, and vanity pets.

She also gets very competitive in raid tanking, nudges her IMBA up constantly, and trash talks the boys like a veteran. She's serious about being as good as any other tank in the guild.

B is a rabid pet collector, has a great sense of humor, and is perfectly willing to spend an hour chatting about the girliest of subjects in whispers.

When raid time rolls around, her gameface would make a hardcore proud (possibly even frightened). She doesn't fool around.

J2 is a bubbly, outgoing young lady with a Cajun accent and wacky vivacity. She's crazy about pet and mount collecting, and she gets as silly as anyone when it's time to be a girly girl.

J2 seeks criticism in order to apply it -- she went from a less-than-mediocre raider when she started to one of the few dps consistently chosen to throw herself at Arthas. She constantly improves her gear and output. She's willing to go the extra mile for the sake of the guild and the pride of an Arthas kill.

K is a mother and wife whose priorities start with her kids.

Though she doesn't have much time to play, she'll throw herself into raids with gusto when she's needed.

L is sweet, bright, and reasonable. She didn't get into the pet and mount craze, and her characters tend to move between "blonde" cheerful periods and "dark hair" rebellious tomboy periods, but she lusts after the Zulian Tiger with the passion of a RL cat enthusiast and gives help to anyone willing to ask.

This female officer is the only one able to stand up to one of the raid officers when he's cantankerous. She may seem like a shy, sweetheart pushover at first glance, but this woman has a bluntly honest voice and often wields it in the officer forums.

In raids, she has natural instincts no matter what class she's playing.

Some women in WoW feel less free to be feminine in the presence of male gamers, often due to a serious guild atmosphere. In IVV, even if there may be some men who think we women are a bit ridiculous and thus unable to play as well as the men, they wouldn't dare say it. If they did, they'd be wrong, but for the most part the competent men know the strengths of IVV's women and appreciate us.

Another set of women in WoW use stereotypes and flirting to have their way with male-saturated guilds. In these cases, the women either do it for mercenary purposes or because they (and the guild) have problems setting appropriate boundaries. This type of flirting tends to result in perks or special treatment in the guild and is often inappropriate.

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