I have a lot of sympathy with Effraeti, who waxes lyrical on why she isn’t a feminist. She reminds me a lot of myself a few years ago when I was straight out of college. I was getting on with things, working as an engineer, and maybe wincing at women who pull the “I’m a girl! I’m so bad at maths” shtick a bit for encouraging the general public to think that people like me didn’t exist. And of course, I was always a gamer. I don’t much care for the label ‘female gamer’ , it isn’t meaningful to me.
One difference is that I did take Home Econ at school instead of Woodwork/ Metalwork because I’m pragmatic and figured cooking would be a more useful skill in my future independent life, to which I was counting down the hours. It is however true that none of the boys in my class seemed to see this. Another difference is that I never felt strongly about feminism. I could see it had been useful, equal pay and anti-sexism at work and all. But that was all done.
It’s only recently that I see how badly feminism has failed so many women who actually are putting themselves out there, trying roles that used to be seen as exclusively male, and not accepting gendered stereotypes. This is because it has become the preserve of social science academics who sit around talking about media studies and privilege. So of course everyone else is out of the loop.
Anyhow, the short form here is that I think Effraeti is wrong to keep that door closed. And it’s because although there will always be some women (like her, like me even) who see social structures saying “girls can’t do X” and think “I’ll show them!” and who happen to have lots of male friends and don’t see themselves as particularly girly. And maybe you’ll never really see the way in which society discriminates against women (and this is different from racism, et al because women are not a minority group), or wonder why even though you think you are one of the guys, they don’t always seem to act like you are when it would count. (If you think it’s bad now, imagine if you had kids; mothers are deeply discriminated against in the workplace.)
But equality, social justice, recognising societal power imbalances and finding room for everyone to have their voice, are important for girly girls (or boys) just as much as for engineers. You shouldn’t have to act ‘like a man’ to get people to take you seriously.
In gaming that means that female gamers might be good, might be bad, might be roleplayers, might be pet collectors, might be … anything that male players are. But you’d have to be blind not to see how games tend to pander to a male audience right now. You can claim you don’t care, that you like military shooters and want your female characters to be wearing bikinis and high heels — and if you do then you are well catered for. It could be different. There could be a wider variety of games to suit different players, both male and female. More romance, more social play, less killing, more cooperation, more exploring. But when you say that you’re a female gamer and not a feminist you’re effectively saying that you don’t even want to have that discussion. Heaven forfend you ever comment on character boob size or sexist smack talk. Maybe you don’t want to, maybe you like those things or feel you can easily ignore them. But wouldn’t it be nice to have more options for those people who do want them, wouldn’t it be nice if those women — so unlike us — who do experience sexism online didn’t have to?
You don’t like to call yourself a feminist, I don’t like to call myself a female gamer. But we’re still sisters, under the skin.