Women and WarlordsPosted: November 16, 2013
Friday evening, 11/15
I haven’t posted anything about Warlords of Draenor yet. The reasons for that are fodder for another post; suffice to know that I’ve been both very busy with work and otherwise distracted regarding the game.
I have, however, had a chance to check out the updates on MMO-C, as well as several blog posts and discussions on the changes, the new content, and so on. I haven’t been as active as usual around here lately, but I’ve also not been living under a rock, in that respect.
One of the recurring subjects of some of these posts has been women – or rather, a lack of women – in the presentation of the new expansion. The reveal video featured a female Frostwolf encountering a male Dreanei hunter, a tribal-dancing Orc female, and a female Draenei protagonist… and a bunch of brutish Orc males from Draenor-past. In giving us a whiff of what we will encounter – obviously, an orcstosterone-driven, warring society, where Orc-men waged war and everything else, including Orc-women, were of lesser importance (and worse: read Unbroken for a picture of the devastating shit that went on) – Blizzard introduced us to the warped and primitive Orcish society in WoD.
The “Story, Heroes, Villains” page at Battle.net shows us seven male Orc leaders from old Draenor, as well as Vindicator Maraad and Prophet Velen – both powerful male Draenei – and Khadgar, the Human male wizard. We also find out that Thrall will be going to Draenor, but Aggra, his wife will not. And so on.
There’s a lot about this expansion’s story – which will be told throughout the expansion – that we don’t know. But what was presented to us was that we’ll be fighting quite a bit against a literal horde of male Orc entities.
The lack of strong women portrayed in the general introduction to WoD has sparked the aforementioned discussion about women in the new expansion. I’ve read a small handful of posts over the past week that discuss it to some degree or another, and I’ll point out a few of those posts now:
- First Impressions – Alternative Chat, November 9th
- First Thoughts on Warlords of Draenor – Harpy’s Nest, November 10th
- Lords of Draenor: Where are the girls at? – Restokin, November 14th
And I know I’ve read others that I am failing to remember at this point – please forgive me if I didn’t include yours! I haven’t really been on Twitter or listened to any podcasts in a while, but I’m sure that there have been many interesting discussions in those formats as well.
At any rate, I read the above posts over the past week. I found them to be interesting, and their points logical. Reading them again tonight, I didn’t find any of them to be ranty or ravey. Lissanna’s article – the only one I’ve linked above that is a complete post on the subject – does a great job describing several points of concern about the lack of women in the presentation. Lissanna has never, in my memory, written a post that is less than extremely well-written, or failed to make her points in a compelling manner, and this post is no different…
…which is why I was struck by a succession of reactions – surprise, disbelief, revulsion, and so on – this morning, when I read this over breakfast: Massive Offensive Rant: The Story Belongs to Blizzard by Big Bear Butt. I was so strongly moved that I desperately wanted to stay home to write a response. I had to go to work, so that didn’t happen. But the topic stuck with me all day, and the more I thought about it, I was glad that I had been forced to think about it for a shift before writing this.
In his post, BBB comes flaming out of the gate with the following:
I’m seeing a lot of bitching, pissing and moaning among the community of active players about the story and characters revealed at BlizzCon.
Hmm.. Let’s see what happens. Well, he repeats the “bitching, pissing and moaning” part again – his quotes, by the way. OK, so that’s been hammered home. We now know that something has struck him as pretty offensive. If I hadn’t already had a bad feeling about where this could be going because of the feminist nature of some of the discussion I’d seen lately, I might have been thinking that this could be good. But instead, I was thinking “uh oh…” – and “uh oh…” is what I got.
“Oh no, I don’t see any strong female leads to base my existence off of and to inspire my daughter to be a whole person!”
“Oh my, all the characters in the story are male, it’s a big boys club, I feel so excluded!”
“Oh, there’s a token female Draenei they mentioned, but she’s described as being like Joan of Arc, and nobody knows what that really means so I’ll make tons of assumptions about Blizzard, the other players, the story, the characters who will be in it and everything ever based on my worldview and prejudices.”
“And then I’ll go rant about it and tell Blizzard how they’re doing it wrong, and need to change things to be more like what I want.”
So at this point, we know exactly what this is about.
His major issue, as he tells it, is that Blizzard are the creators, and we are the consumers, and if we don’t like what Blizzard is feeding us, we can fuck off.
However, there are telltale statements in his post that indicate other motives. The fact that he chooses to “bitch, piss and moan” specifically about the feedback from community members regarding the apparent lack of strong females in the story, and to characterize them so – as opposed to, say, people who complain about no flying until 6.1, the timey-wimey concerns, ‘do I have to do Garrisons?’, how PvP has been broken, no new class or race, etc. – tells me that his real concern is that he is tired of hearing people complain about the issue. And by people, I mean women.
And you know what? I’m tired of hearing about the issue, too… but that’s because I’m tired of it being as much of an issue as it is. Look around, read up, listen to some podcasts on the subject, and you can find all kinds of problems with the presentation of women in the game: past, present and future. It’s a troubling subject. It’s a subject so very worth all of the discussion that it has gotten lately – and more – that I’m surprised that Blizzard doesn’t seem to have processed the message very well, yet.
So I do get tired of reading or hearing something Apple Cider Mage or Erinys or Anne Stickney or Tzufit or someone else brings up from time to time… but when that happens, it’s not because they brought up the subject, or because they brought the subject up, but because they bring to light /SMH examples of what-the-fuck in the game. Because it’s 2013, and a very important part of the community (and that includes males and females, of course) is continually disappointed with how the game depicts women in various situations.
And hey, I’m as male as a male can be, but that doesn’t mean that I have to vomit out some angry, offensive piece in order to get my point across.
What I find somewhat hilarious about this post is that while he spends it “bitching, pissing and moaning” about people who are “bitching, pissing and moaning” about feminist topics relative to the expansion – somewhat ironic in itself, as the sensational nature of his outburst makes his post hard to read and weakens his point – I can’t say that anything I’ve read on the subject by any of these other bloggers even approaches B,P&M. They’re not even in the same time zone as B,P&M. But the posts I’ve seen, which I found to be thought provoking, he finds “sickening.” He says that “people I normally respect and admire . . . (are) ranting and raving about it in public.”
It seems like there is a disconnect there. The most ranting/raving blog post I’ve read since Blizzcon was his post. Maybe I’m missing something in those other community members’ text, but I don’t think so.
Many of us are critics of the game. I’ve criticized aspects of the game in the past. And so has almost every every blogger that I’ve ever followed, to some degree – even BBB himself. So the idea that criticizing and presenting feedback to the devs is wrong falls flat. We’re all intelligent people, and we all have points to make and things to say, and constructive criticism is a part of that. And the vast majority of the discussion that I’ve seen on the feminism topic has been constructive indeed – far from ranty and ravey, in fact.
And – to top it all off – the devs want this type of feedback! They’re always interested in hearing constructive criticism, presented fairly and respectfully:
Any editorials you liked covering #Warlords features that were critical/negative? Trying to dig through all the pure fact-based reports.—
Zarhym (@CM_Zarhym) November 15, 2013
So, I don’t know. I was taken aback by BBB’s post. I didn’t expect it from him, first of all, and, as I thought about it throughout the day, I became more concerned about the mixed messages that the post conveys, that it’s ok to rant and rave about people who present critical feedback to the devs of World of Warcraft – and to dismiss an entire set of perspectives themselves as “rants” and “raves” – because that problem seems intended to be trumped in his post by the over-arching premise that you don’t demand This or That from the creators, which is a fallacy in multiple ways in this case.
It’s really unfortunate that his “respect the purity of the creator’s intent” argument was so particularly-targeted, belittling, and disrespectful. I hate seeing people I respect and admire thrown in the mud, and I also hate seeing it done, with so little maturity, by someone that I have long respected and admired.
Thanks for reading this post.