Shake Your “InsertNounHere” Maker

maracas1

Shake your money maker.

Shake your bunny maker.

Shake your milk maker.

Shake your cookie maker.

Shake your sword maker.

(Warning: This post was concocted with rant dressing.)

*Stands up* My name is Syrana.  I am a female gamer, and I am not offended. (And I’m not alone!)

*Everyone in unison* Hello Syrana.

How many of the sentences above do you have an issue with? How many make you feel bad about yourself or offended? How many make you shake your head and snicker?

To be honest, I am surprised to see there is a controversy over the Bunny Maker achievement for NoblegardenSome claim it is sexist, offensive, and in poor taste of the developers.

Excuse me, any meaning or offensiveness attached to it is done by you.

Was it a tongue-in-cheek pop culture reference? Sure.  Did that mean the developers were intentionally trying to be offensive and objectify women in game? No.

The meaning that achievement has is attributed to the meaning you give to it.  If you find it offensive, you have made it offensive to yourself.  No one can make you be offended unless you allow yourself to be offended. Sometimes it is hard not to be, but it still comes down to how you perceive whatever the situation, phrase, word, image, etc. is.

Are there things that exist in this world that the majority of people allow themselves to be offended by? Yes.  But, that goes to widespread knowledge of the meaning attributed to such things.  Unfortunately, it is possible to be offended by everything if you look hard enough into it.

Let’s take a couple perspective angles on this achievement, shall we?

1 - The holiday is centered around rabbits, bunnies, and spring time. Collecting eggs can change you into a little rabbit.  A special branch can change you into a little rabbit.  A special bouquet of flowers can give you bunny ears if you shake it at yourself or someone else. Anyone that has the flowers (the bunny maker) shook at them can right click the buff to remove the ears.  You can shake your flowers at anyone to give them ears, how fun and silly!  For the achievement, there have been some restrictions placed upon it to make it more interesting and challenging.  Ooh, level requirement, well, that way someone can’t just create level 1′s.  And gee, it doesn’t take long to level to 10, so let’s make it a bit harder to create and level a character specifically to help friends find female Orcs.

2 – The holiday is pulling from traditional roots about spring and fertilityFlowers are new growth.  Use them to bestow gifts of fertility to women. This is an honor, not only to women seeking to bring forth new life, but as a way to honor the life bringers.180px-eastre_by_jacques_reich

3 - The achievement focuses on objectifying women by forcing bunny ears on them as if making them centerfolds for Playboy. This can only be done to female characters of at least the 18th level because then they are old enough to pose for Playboy.  It is allowing female characters, which are sometimes played by women, to feel harassed and stalked. Not everyone wants the bunny ears forcibly placed upon their head.

4 - The holiday and achievements use an interesting combination of modern day Easter religious and cultural celebrations, traditional pagan celebration, and pop culture references.  The holiday and achievements are meant to be fun and silly without pushing any thoughts or beliefs upon any of the players.  Levels of humor are similar to movies such as Shrek where there are jokes for children as well as adult jokes that only, well, adults would understand.

What about other achievements?

playboybunnyThe term “shake your money maker” has been around for a long time and has become part of the language.  Playboy has been around for a long time and is of a classier nature than most sexually orientated materials.  You must be 18 to show your moneymakers, but no one is forced into those photos.  Playboy has become known by it’s rabbit symbol, but rabbit ears on their own do not necessarily equate Playboy.

Other holiday achievements require bestowing (or ‘forcing’) something onto other players whether it is snowflakes, rose petals, bunny ears, or pumpkin heads. Each of these have certain criteria that must be met to accomplish them because it is not an achievement to simply put them on just any one.  Heck, I liked that I could actually use the flowers on myself!  One requires certain races, one requires certain race/class combinations, and now we’ve seen one that requires a race/sex/level requirement.  These requirements have to mix it up or the achievements are all the same.

oi-pumpkin-headsSome have referred to searching for female characters as harassing and stalking, especially if they are a rarer one to find. Well, then should I feel harassed and stalked during Winter Veil because I was constantly having snowflakes thrown at me due to being a Blood Elf Warlock?  Should Sideshow have felt harassed for getting them for being an Undead Rogue?   Should I have felt harassed because I’m a woman and Sideshow not because he’s a man?  What kind of stereotypes were those achievements playing off of?  Where do we draw the line?

If you did find Noblegarden and it’s achievements offensive, I am truly sorry to hear that.  I am not saying you shouldn’t feel that way.  That is you and your feelings are not wrong. What I don’t like is when someone feels offended and tries to tell others they should feel offended, or they accuse Blizzard of objectifying women and alienating their female players.  Why are you trying to assign intention?  How can you assign the intention?  We can all come up with what we think their intention was, and we’d come up with several different answers.  So, here is where I want to call bullcrap.  If that was the case, there would be much more and much worse going on in the game… and MORE women would have a problem with it, as would more men.

Now, with all this focus on women and sex and bunnies… who has an issue with the violence and fighting in the game?

Anyone?

Anyone?

Bueller?

*shrugs* Selective offensiveness? I don’t know.  I am just presenting my thoughts because Sideshow is sick of hearing me mumble and spout things at him when I read posts about this topic (no matter what their view is.)  But, I would love to hear your thoughts, if you want to share.  Did you have an issue with it? Do you know someone that did?  Or is it ‘sort of’ ok in your book?

Comments

  1. Stephanie says:

    As a female gamer myself, I have to agree with you. It’s only offensive if you let yourself be offended, and I personally thought the achievement was hilarious. It made me become even craftier than I’m used to, especially with those shape-shifting tauren druids. ;)

    Sometimes I think feminists have gotten so used to fighting true oppression that they’ve started to read too deep into everything else. If you get offended at the “sexualization” of women in-game, then perhaps World of Warcraft is not the game for you. The majority of players are men, afterall.

  2. Kay says:

    I am a female gamer and this event is offensive.

  3. Elleiras says:

    I wasn’t offended, either, and I’m the first person to call out the guys (and girls) in my guild who use the word “rape” metaphorcally — which does offend me. If anything, I’m offended by the people who are offended I’m not offended!

  4. Syrana
    Twitter: Syrana
    says:

    @Stephanie – Whether the majority of players are men or not, everyone has the choice to play or not… to participate in the event or not. I agree about looking too deeply into things. Are we losing sight? Are we perpetuating by finding it in just about every place we look?

    @Kay – Do you find the entire event offensive or just the achievement? I’m curious to know more if you are willing to share. If you are finding the entire event offensive, then there are a lot more areas and perspectives to look at. And I ask, not to rip your reasons down or to try to convince you otherwise, but to hear where you are coming from.

    @Elleiras – That is definitely a word that turns many, many heads and I can’t for the life of me think of a “good” use of that word. The achievement, I could find different angles. I guess that’s where things get fuzzy on the obscene/offensive scale. And I hear ya, it’s one thing to have an issue… and another to tell someone they should have an issue with it too.

  5. Female Troll says:

    I think the bigger problem was that female toons were not allowed to opt out of the achievement. You could actively not participate but that didnt stop others from using you for their achievement.

    I play a female troll and I couldnt visit dalaran without getting stalked by everyone in the city. I feel even worse for female dwarves.

    I personally was not offended. I got my achievements just like everyone else but I can definately see where some people could be annoyed by it. I think that goes for ANY achievement that people can not opt out of. Im sure there is a better way to go about it but its not my call.

    As far as the offensive angle, it never even dawned on me that it was offensive. I think that is the mindstate of most people playing the game. I do think people tend to be a little ultra sensitive to things like this. If it were male toons, how many female players would have thought about it being offensive to men?

  6. Syrana
    Twitter: Syrana
    says:

    @Female Troll – Yes, I think some of focused too much on the requirement of female characters and shifted that to mean female players. A lot of men play female characters too.

    Do men on female characters feel harassed by this achievement? Do women playing male characters feel harassed when other achievements require things to be targeted onto your character due to its race and/or class? These are the questions I wish those who are/were offended would answer for me.

    I know it’s hard to say people could opt out by not playing. But really, I think staying away from large cities during peak playing times would have kept ears off most female characters.

    I wonder how Loque’nahak feels…

    Thank you for your comment, it just triggered more questions I have regarding this topic.

  7. Jong says:

    great post syrana :D

  8. Syrana
    Twitter: Syrana
    says:

    @Jong – Thanks! :)

  9. Rosalyne says:

    I am a female gamer and I found the Noble Garden events NOT offensive.

    For Thrall’s sake for one it’s just a game.

    Secondly, I admit, the “18th” level through me off for a bit and made me wonder, but it’s no different that going to a bar and you have to be 21 or older to enter.

    Thirdly, people see the whole holiday event as a offensive joke. Why didn’t I see people throwing a fit when I see in general chat, “LF someone for my bunny to fling with.” Why didn’t I see guys flipping out when other guys or girls were kissing their wives or girlfriends toons for the “blushing bride” achievements?

    Last off, don’t state that the holiday even is offensive without listing a reason why it offended you otherwise you have offended us with your rather half assed comments and our wasted time reading them. :)

  10. Syrana
    Twitter: Syrana
    says:

    @Rosalyne – That’s certainly the question.. why just the one achievement being seen as offensive to women? And how is the whole holiday offensive? A lot to ponder sometimes… and why have some focused so much energy on finding the achievement offensive? Unfortunately, there are much worse (and important, perhaps) instances of objectification, sexism, and oppression IRL.

    As it is, I think Blizzard has done quite well in having strong female figures in positions of power and authority in the game and the lore. If they write women in as being equally capable of leading, being educated and fighting for their people… why would we think they were trying to be sexist and offensive?

    So many questions I have, but not answers.

    Thank you all for your comments and thoughts. I hope to see some more as well. Discussion is good, no matter what your view point is on this!

  11. Temitope says:

    Hi Syrana,

    This whole thing has kind of blown over by now, but I do feel the need to pick you up on a couple of points.

    Firstly: nobody is telling you that you should be offended. They are saying that they, personally are offended, or they are explaining why they or other people are offended. Nobody is saying you are wrong for not being offended.

    On the other hand, a lot of people really are saying that other people are wrong for being offended.

    To answer some of your specific questions (warning, long):

    1: Why is Nobody Objecting to the Violence

    Because the game is called World of WarCraft. It’s about violence. Violence is part of the buy-in. Everybody who plays the game, male or female, plays it specifically because they want to play a game where you kill a bunch of things and take their stuff.

    Sexism, on the other hand, is not a core part of the gameplay. It isn’t something you sign up for when you buy the game, it’s just something that comes pre-packaged with it.

    2: Why Have Some People Focused So Much Energy On This?

    I can’t help but notice from your links that you read a lot of WoW blogs.

    You must, therefore, realise that WoW players put a huge amount of time and effort into all things WoW-related. People have been crying for a week over the “School of Hard Knocks” achievement, and for six months over the state of end game raiding. People freak the hell out when somebody ninjas their loot.

    If I run a pickup group in which my fellow players behave like complete morons, I’ll blog about it. If I feel that the recent Death Strike nerf is unfair to my Blood DK, I’ll blog about it. If I think the Wrath Gate is an overrated pile of tat, I’ll blog about it. If something actually personally offends me then I’ll sure as hell blog about it.

    Why should sexism be held as less important than Ulduar tweaks?

    Blizzard Has Done Well In Presenting Strong Female Characters

    I dispute this, actually. I think Blizzard has done quite well in presenting hot female characters, some of whom also have superpowers. Their actual presentation of women is distinctly lacklustre. Only two out of the eight faction leaders are women, I’m pretty sure there’s never been a female end-game boss (Ragnaros, Illidian Stormrage, Kaelthas, Arthas – presumably at level 100 we’ll get to go after Sargeras – they’re all guys).

    Why Would We Think They Were Trying To be Sexist?

    They weren’t. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says “you know what, I think I’m going to be sexist today!”

    The whole problem with sexism is that it happens without you thinking about it. When Blizzard’s model designers make 90% of the female armour models resemble bikini tops they aren’t thinking “hey, I am totally going to sexually objectify women now!” they’re thinking, “you know what, it’d be totally hot if these chicks were wearing bikini tops” without stopping to wonder whether female characters might have *any other function* than to look hot.

    Sorry for the tl;dr, hope that answers some of your questions.

  12. Temitope says:

    I wrote a longer response to this, but it seemed to have been eaten by the internet. Either that or it’s sitting in a moderation queue in which case sorry for spamming you.

    Since you’ve asked some specific questions, I’ll try to answer them.

    That’s certainly the question.. why just the one achievement being seen as offensive to women?

    Because it encourages players to single out female characters and (to quote somebody from Robin Torre’s blog) “turn them into sex bunnies”. This is, arguably, a form of sanctioned, in-game sexual harassment. Not all women will be offended by it: not all women are offended by having guys shout comments about their tits when they walk down the street. Not all women were offended by the Open Source Boob Project.

    Nobody is saying you have to be offended by this, but lots of people are saying that other people are not allowed to be offended by this. It’s that, as much as anything else, that is making people angry.

    and why have some focused so much energy on finding the achievement offensive?

    That’s a very loaded question. Some people found the achievement offensive. Period. They have focused time and energy explaining why they are offended because it really does matter. People are not putting energy into finding this offensive, they are being offended and putting energy into defending their right to their opinions, something which a lot of people are trying to deny them.

    To put it another way: why is blogging about something that personally offends you somehow a waste of energy when blogging about – say – how pissed off you are that they nerfed Ulduar is fine? Why is this issue constantly being dismissed as trivial compared to other women’s rights issues, instead of being lauded as significant compared to other WoW issues?

    If they write women in as being equally capable of leading, being educated and fighting for their people… why would we think they were trying to be sexist and offensive?

    If the only people who were sexist and offensive were people who were actively trying to be sexist and offensive, we would live in a gender-equal, racially egalitarian society.

    People are sexist without meaning to be. People are sexist because they think that’s just how things are supposed to be.

    By a similar token, I’d dispute your suggestion that Blizzard writes women as being equally capable of leading, being educated, and fighting for their people. Of the eight faction leaders, two are women. A tiny fraction of lore characters are female, with the most notable female characters existing primarily as support for the male characters who the stories are actually *about*.

  13. Temitope says:

    (Ah, sorry, just saw that my last comment went through after all – my mistake, sorry for the repetition)

  14. Nassira says:

    Can’t believe I just now saw this, but very well written! And of course, you know I agree. <3

    Now shake that booty, baby, and tell me I’m da man!

  15. Syrana
    Twitter: Syrana
    says:

    @Tempitope – First, just letting you know, I approved all 3 to go through when I saw them (Shame on Sideshow for not checking the approval queue earlier! :P )

    Do not apologize for your long response, I appreciate the discussion and thought you put into my questions.

    Regarding no one telling me (or others) that they should be offended… there have been people that have posed the question “how are you not offended?” and I’ve read others saying that maybe they should be, but they aren’t. Why do they feel they should be if they aren’t? If you aren’t.. you aren’t. If you are.. you are. It certainly was less posed than “how can you be offended and you shouldn’t be.”

    I don’t agree that people should not be, because that is their thoughts/feelings/perspective and no one can take that away from them. I did want to try and pose some different ways of examining the achievement and reasons for it rather than say “it’s just a game.”

    Regarding the energy and focus put into it, you are right. It’s the same as anything else we blog about. (Yes, I read a lot of WoW blogs :P I don’t really list the non-WoW ones I read here) It was another rambling thought and question I had as I was responding to comments.

    Is the energy and focus put into it because it is something they are passionate about calling out for change IRL as well? Is it venting? I’m certainly not suggesting it was a waste of time or energy. Sort of goes to my ending questions of the post… are some seeing it as sort of ok, but upon further examination finding it more (or less) offensive than they initially thought and that is where the focus is coming from? Why do I babble so much? is an appropriate question I have about myself, for example. :)

    “People are not putting energy into finding this offensive, they are being offended “

    Maybe or maybe not. Although, with anything controversial, there are people in the world that specifically try to seek out issues with just about anything and everything.

    Regarding female leaders and characters in game and in lore… I guess I never thought about a support character not being on equal footing. That’s food for thought. I still believe that (in my opinion of course) there are good, strong female characters and I think that is a good thing. More would be wonderful.

    As for female end raid bosses, I can think of the Maiden of Virtue, Lady Vashj and Freya just off the top of my head. Again, few, but some. (Or maybe just Lady Vashj…)

    With regards the violence (I wish my response to you was better outlined and organized, my apologies) it was an overgeneralized question. I admit that. It’s something I’ve noticed IRL… people ok with violence but not sex related content or material. That goes beyond the scope of this achievement, sure, but I threw it out there anyway!

    What are your thoughts about the other achievements that require the “hunting down” of others to put something on them? If singling out the sex of a character can be seen as inappropriate, do the other ones seem inappropriate too? Is it more about the sex of the character itself or about the person behind the character?

    Again, thank you for your comments!

  16. Syrana
    Twitter: Syrana
    says:

    @Nassira – Thanks :) *shakes bag of money* Oh, wait, not that kind of booty, huh? :P

  17. Temitope says:

    Is the energy and focus put into it because it is something they are passionate about calling out for change IRL as well?

    Pretty much. I don’t want to speak for all feminists, and I certainly don’t want to speak for all women (since I am, in fact, not one – I just play one on teh intarwebs) but a lot of women feel that sexism is taken for granted as something they have to put up with. Once they turn around and say “hey, it is not okay for people to treat me like this” they tend to be passionate about it.

    Similarly, a lot of people get sick and tired of being told that small examples of sexism are “harmless” or “unimportant” because it’s all part of the same problem. Women have the right to want to live in a society that is not sexist at all, not just one where sexism is low key and less explicit.

    Although, with anything controversial, there are people in the world that specifically try to seek out issues with just about anything and everything.

    That’s a common misconception. It’s true that once you start looking into an issue you start to see how important it is, and how deep it goes, but that doesn’t mean you go around looking for things to be offended by. It just looks that way to outsiders because people are very good at ignoring things.

    To take an example from this conversation, let’s look at the representation of female characters in WoW.

    From a casual perspective, WoW does a pretty good job with its female characters – two of the capitals are run by women, there’s about as many female NPCs as male NPCs, and of course female PCs are basically the same as male PCs.

    The thing is, the casual perspective is based in the underlying assumption that the world is *supposed* to be male-dominated. When you say it out loud, it sounds mad, but that’s the assumption that 99% of Fantasy settings are based on. If you assume that the “natural” or “default” situation is for men to be in charge, then any female presence *at all* is a bonus.

    There are a lot of very interesting studies about this – in linguistics, for example, if you present a conversation where women speak *exactly as often* as men, people percieve that as women speaking “more than 90%” of the time. Similarly if you look at distributions of male to female characters in works of fiction (or people in the workplace, or whatever) studies show time and again that people view a “balanced” gender mix as being roughly two men to every woman, with anything even approaching the 50/50 distributiou we should expect being seen as unfairly female dominated.

    It’s interesting to note, in fact, that of the original three Alliance and three Horde factions both had exactly two male leaders and one female. I don’t think it was an accident: somebody obviously sat down and said “right, we want to have a good mix of men to women, so we should have at least one male faction leader and one female faction leder on each side” and then made the “gender-non-specified” faction leaders men by default.

    To put it another way, if I asked you to design “An Orcish Warchief” or “Somebody to rule over the Alliance” or “The Warlock who sold the Orcish people out to the Burning Legion” or “A ruler whose desire to protect their people led to madness and destruction” you’d come up with male characters every time (Thrall, Varian Wrynn, Gul’Dan, Arthas severally). The only time most people would design a female character is if they were specifically told “a woman who…”

    To put it yet another way: male characters can be described in a variety of ways “Fallen King” “Noble Shaman” “Bold Paladin”. Female characters are almost universally limited to concepts that take the form “Hot _____ Chick” (Hot Paladin Chick, Hot Zombie Chick, Hot Priestess Chick).

    The reason that feminists often look like they’re looking for things to be offended by is that one of the big things that offends them is the fact that so many things are considered inoffensive when they’re actually anything but. Once you stop reading “maleness” as the default, you start to see, for example, how poorly realized female characters are compared to males. People who just take for granted that most authority figures will be men don’t see what all the fuss is about, but the fuss is about the fact that it’s taken for granted.

    If singling out the sex of a character can be seen as inappropriate, do the other ones seem inappropriate too?

    The simple difference here is that gender exists in real life, whereas “race” (in the “Orc/Troll” sense) and “class” (in the “Fighter/Mage” sense) do not.

    To be a bit more specific, Shake Your Bunny Maker required you to single out characters based on the real-world-analogous property of gender, and to do something to them which was, itself, analogous to a form of real-world behaviour that would be considered unacceptable.

    To put it another way, how would you feel about achievements like these:

    Nice Rack!: /whisper “Nice Tits” to ten female characters.

    Lynching: Kill ten dark skinned humans.

    Felony Sexual Assault: Render a female character unconscious in PvP, then /kiss and /love them before they can release.

    Yes, they’re all significantly more *blatant* than SYBM, but they carry the same connotation of gender-based harassment.

  18. Syrana
    Twitter: Syrana
    says:

    First of all, I couldn’t help but notice the misuse of the word “gender” when it should be “sex.” It’s not about gender based achievements. Gender and sex are often misused and substituted for one another, but I will digress from that sociology course, as it is not the main point.

    Secondly, the example of ‘Felony Sexual Assault’ achievement is way over the top. Rape is not only a “woman’s” problem, men get raped too. To assume that such an achievement in game would be sexist and offensive as targeting women misses the mark a bit. An achievement like that would be offensive and inappropriate regardless of the target. That would be wholly offensive across the board, not just singling out females or just singling out males. Plus, the other examples have no innocent fun angle AT ALL. SYBM can be looked at in another light as I detailed in my original post. There is no way any of those other ones would be considered appropriate in the least. That’s the biggest difference.

    To compare placement of bunny ears upon a character to something like sexual assault is not an appropriate comparison. Bunny ears during an Easter event. Maybe if it was bunny ears during Love is in the Air. Easter. Bunnies. Virtual ears. And hell, you aren’t even really placing ears. You don’t have ears to be placed upon them. You have flowers that you SHAKE at them. It’s not about them shaking anything. It’s about YOU shaking your FLOWERS at them, which happens to cause bunny ears to sprout out of their head.

    As for the race/class combinations not being a reflection of something that is a problem in the real world, I would say that is a weak argument. Especially when people would say that it was offensive and uncomfortable to subject females to the stalking behavior to place the ears. So it’s ok to stalk other players for race/class combinations because you don’t see that as a valid oppressive/offensive comparison to real life? What about the perpetration of stereotypes?

    So are random buffs etc that were not consented to harassment? Anything that is “forced” upon your character? Would the lack of a level requirement (or at least something other than 18) have made SYBM non-offensive to those that found it offensive?

    As for unimportant, frivolous, unfortunately, I would have to say that this particular achievement falls into that category IMO. It’s called picking your battles. People found that offensive based on out of game ideology. So, attacking and addressing the ingame activity is not going to do much to influence the out of game ideology. Attack and address it on the outside, which will then work its way inward.

    Regarding the design of leaders and characters. Maybe it’s less about being sexist against women and more about being sexist against men… I mean, they’d be the ones foolish enough and thinking with their biceps to go to war over everything, right? As for fantasy games being almost always being dominated by men… yeah. That’s what I expect. Does that make it inherently sexist? No. It becomes sexist and offensive when YOU (or someone else) attaches that meaning to it.

    I still beg to differ that there aren’t people that seek offense in anything and everything. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on that. (Btw, I was not limiting that remark to sexism/feminism only)

    So the Blushing Bride achievement was not offensive? Why did it require one party to wear a tux (wear the “pants”) and the other party to wear a dress? No one was attacking that. As I SOUGHT to compare other achievements to SYBM, I DUG to find that Blushing Bride was potentially offensive based on sexual orientation. I know it did not matter the sex of the individuals, but the outfits say a lot, amirite? Or what about, other words used commonly in game and even in your blog title? Have I missed posts about people being upset about the offense to those who are mentally disabled? (An example of how one can dig to find offense) Again – where do we draw the line? It is a cruel, cruel world if we let it be. Are there real issues? Yes, of course, and there are things that need to be changed IRL.

    As I stated previously, I do appreciate the discussion, and I hope you do as well. And like your own post about this achievement stated, sexism is a complex issue. I agree. It very much is. The thing that is interesting about an example such as this achievement, is that really no matter what either of us say, we can both find more examples to suit our position.

    But, I do love playing Devil’s Advocate… asking questions, trying to get others to explore different thoughts/opinions, and at least have a respect for those differences. The more I understand your “why,” the better and vice versa, I think. I think one of the things that bothered me the most about the whole controversy was seeing a fellow woman gamer post “I should be mad, but I’m not.” If you are, you are. If you aren’t, you aren’t. But neither position should feel like they “should possibly be” of the other position.

  19. Nassira says:

    [comment edited by Syrana with Nassira's permission to clarify the selected text she was responding to]

    1. Is the energy and focus put into it because it is something they are passionate about calling out for change IRL as well?
    Pretty much. I don’t want to speak for all feminists, and I certainly don’t want to speak for all women (since I am, in fact, not one – I just play one on teh intarwebs) but a lot of women feel that sexism is taken for granted as something they have to put up with. Once they turn around and say “hey, it is not okay for people to treat me like this” they tend to be passionate about it.
    Similarly, a lot of people get sick and tired of being told that small examples of sexism are “harmless” or “unimportant” because it’s all part of the same problem. Women have the right to want to live in a society that is not sexist at all, not just one where sexism is low key and less explicit.

    You speak as though women are the sole inheritors of sexist behavior and harassment. If this were the case, I might side with you on your argument here. However, if you nitpick the behavior of the majority of women toward men, you would find similar nuances, instances in which the man is subjected to certain expectations, stereotypes, and other such things you would consider to be sexist if it were directed toward a woman. The difference is that men simply don’t voice these things. If we took away all sexual jokes and references, our sex lives would be pretty bland. “Tonight you’re on top, tomorrow I am, let’s make sure we keep this equal – okay now you thrust, now I thrust – good, but remember, if you smack my ass I have to smack yours”. Men and women have different roles, different instincts, and different desires. We reference those things, because they are truth. Because people can relate to them. Men and women will never be the same. Why try to make them that way? Why not embrace the differences and even better, JOKE about them? Calling a woman a “butterface” is the same as calling the man a “sewing machine” or a “jackhammer”. Think of the pressures men go through in the sexual world – penis size, length of sex, getting the woman to orgasm, being “manly”….it’s all equal and opposite to what a woman faces. Much pressure is put on a woman’s appearance, which is just as controllable if not moreso than the size of a man’s penis. I find that many feminists tend to lose their own feminity in their struggles to appear “equal” to men. That, in my opinion, is a damned shame.

    Although, with anything controversial, there are people in the world that specifically try to seek out issues with just about anything and everything.
    That’s a common misconception. It’s true that once you start looking into an issue you start to see how important it is, and how deep it goes, but that doesn’t mean you go around looking for things to be offended by. It just looks that way to outsiders because people are very good at ignoring things.

    It is not entirely a misconception. Your behavior changes to become more receptive to details, but the difference lies in how much weight they put into those details. The more weight you give to things which should have little or none, the more you put energies into lesser things that will detract from others coming to your main cause. There is a difference between SEEING the smaller issues and attempting to show them to everyone as though they are the same as many of the much larger issues out there. This hurts the cause of feminists, as it causes people to say, “Those feminists will say EVERYTHING is sexist”. And many will. It’s all a matter of perspective.

    To take an example from this conversation, let’s look at the representation of female characters in WoW.
    From a casual perspective, WoW does a pretty good job with its female characters – two of the capitals are run by women, there’s about as many female NPCs as male NPCs, and of course female PCs are basically the same as male PCs.
    The thing is, the casual perspective is based in the underlying assumption that the world is *supposed* to be male-dominated. When you say it out loud, it sounds mad, but that’s the assumption that 99% of Fantasy settings are based on. If you assume that the “natural” or “default” situation is for men to be in charge, then any female presence *at all* is a bonus.

    Not our world. The fantasy world. And why? Because the majority of it is based upon times of dragons and kings, of chivalry – based on an actual historical period during which chivalry was present, during which men DID rule, during which women WERE disrespected in so many ways we would consider barbaric. And the truth is, women had different rights then. Different roles in society, some of which have been idealized as much if not moreso than the male roles. If you think of it from a writer’s perspective, giving the women in WoW the power they have is crazy, and in many ways goes against the Fantasy grain for the very reason that it’s simply the wrong atmosphere. To take a fantasy novel and analyze it as though it were a non-fiction is folly. To say that the events in the book reflect the author’s own personal views of women is also folly. It is simply a setting, an atmosphere for the reader to immerse him or herself in. Who hasn’t been in love with the time of chivalry, both men AND women? It’s a very idealistic thing, and many female writers LOVE to get their hands on it and empower women while still staying within the guidelines of their time-period or overall setting. If you don’t like the setting of the majority of fantasy books and their chivalric/kingly atmosphere, simply try a different genre. There are plenty of books whose authors turn the tables and make men into their female characters’ slaves, mindless penises who are simply there to please them.

    There are a lot of very interesting studies about this – in linguistics, for example, if you present a conversation where women speak *exactly as often* as men, people percieve that as women speaking “more than 90%” of the time. Similarly if you look at distributions of male to female characters in works of fiction (or people in the workplace, or whatever) studies show time and again that people view a “balanced” gender mix as being roughly two men to every woman, with anything even approaching the 50/50 distributiou we should expect being seen as unfairly female dominated.

    I’d like to see where you get these statistics.

    It’s interesting to note, in fact, that of the original three Alliance and three Horde factions both had exactly two male leaders and one female. I don’t think it was an accident: somebody obviously sat down and said “right, we want to have a good mix of men to women, so we should have at least one male faction leader and one female faction leder on each side” and then made the “gender-non-specified” faction leaders men by default.

    Again, this is due to the chivalry/fantasy theme that the game is immersed in. The majority of rulers/leaders WAS men – very few females had the ability, opportunity, and scream and kick as you might, the DESIRE to be a ruler. Yes, many women simply thought the responsibility was not something they wanted, and with good reason. Those who did receive/desire the power were incredibly deadly. Look back into history. Then think of Sylvanas and tell me you don’t see any historical ties. She raised an entire army of Undead for her own very personal vendetta. Sound familiar?

    To put it another way, if I asked you to design “An Orcish Warchief” or “Somebody to rule over the Alliance” or “The Warlock who sold the Orcish people out to the Burning Legion” or “A ruler whose desire to protect their people led to madness and destruction” you’d come up with male characters every time (Thrall, Varian Wrynn, Gul’Dan, Arthas severally). The only time most people would design a female character is if they were specifically told “a woman who…”

    See above explanation. Add this – the majority of fighters in wars were which gender? Oh yes. Male. And who best understands the male gender and their desire to conquer, control, and dominate? Men. A man to stir the hearts of men, of his soldiers. It makes perfect logical sense and is not sexist at all. Just nature.

    To put it yet another way: male characters can be described in a variety of ways “Fallen King” “Noble Shaman” “Bold Paladin”. Female characters are almost universally limited to concepts that take the form “Hot _____ Chick” (Hot Paladin Chick, Hot Zombie Chick, Hot Priestess Chick).

    Uh…who says that? Where in the game have you seen “Hot ____ Chick” anywhere? Where in the game has it said that the only qualities the female NPCs or players have is attractiveness?? You pulled that out of nowhere. I’m Nassira, Champion of the Frozen Wastes, Champion of the Naaru, the Merrymaker and the Elder, and of course, the Noble.

    “The reason that feminists often look like they’re looking for things to be offended by is that one of the big things that offends them is the fact that so many things are considered inoffensive when they’re actually anything but. Once you stop reading “maleness” as the default, you start to see, for example, how poorly realized female characters are compared to males. People who just take for granted that most authority figures will be men don’t see what all the fuss is about, but the fuss is about the fact that it’s taken for granted.

    Either that, or after reviewing the topic, people genuinely feel as though those things have nothing to do with sexism – and maybe, JUST MAYBE – they’re right.

    If singling out the sex of a character can be seen as inappropriate, do the other ones seem inappropriate too?
    The simple difference here is that gender exists in real life, whereas “race” (in the “Orc/Troll” sense) and “class” (in the “Fighter/Mage” sense) do not.
    To be a bit more specific, Shake Your Bunny Maker required you to single out characters based on the real-world-analogous property of gender, and to do something to them which was, itself, analogous to a form of real-world behaviour that would be considered unacceptable.

    And what is this unacceptable real-world behavior? Placing bunny ears on women? If someone walked up to me in real life (not just men bunny-eared people during the event – it goes both ways) and shoved a pair of bunny ears on me, I wouldn’t call the cops on them. And that’s all the game did. “Hey, wear these ears!” If you didn’t want to, you could take them off with the click of a button, just like you could remove them from your head in real life.

    “To put it another way, how would you feel about achievements like these:
    Nice Rack!: /whisper “Nice Tits” to ten female characters.
    Lynching: Kill ten dark skinned humans.
    Felony Sexual Assault: Render a female character unconscious in PvP, then /kiss and /love them before they can release.
    Yes, they’re all significantly more *blatant* than SYBM, but they carry the same connotation of gender-based harassment.

    You really believe those all carry the same connotation as the bunny ears? I’d say these ones more closely reflect the connotation –
    Hodir, if you keep doing that…! : Find 10 male characters in Dun Nifflem and remind them they could go /blind!
    The Gentleman : Place a red rose in the mouth of any male human while he dances with you.
    Pregnancy : Get 10 male players to bring you any of the following-
    Chocolate cake
    Watermelon
    Baked Chicken
    Cantaloupe
    Chinese Take-out

    Innocent references to common things. Fact: Stereotypes exist for a reason, and you cannot quote statistics if you don’t believe it, because the statistics will show the origins of those stereotypes quite clearly.
    There’s nothing wrong with talking and laughing about stereotypes so long as they’re not slanderous or degrading in ways that the general public would perceive them. It is simply quantifying an event through categorizing. It’s a natural behavior that we all have, categorizing. It’s how our brains work. And someone will always get offended by something – we can’t go through life without offending someone somehow. Obviously, avoid those things which will offend massive amounts of people, but those who are offended by the little things, things no one ever would’ve even thought of as offensive…we can’t help that. It’s for the individual to decide how to deal with the supposed offense.
    Fact: You must be 18 to pose in Playboy, the Playboy symbol is a bunny, and only nude women are featured in it. Just the fact that they made it possible for you to bunny-ear men as well, even if it wasn’t part of the achievement, means there was no intended discrimination with the ears. Anyone can wear them or not wear them.

    If you don’t want to be rabbit-eared, tough luck. Just like if you’re in Org and someone uses their Piccolo on you – don’t want to dance? TOUGH LUCK. Someone turns you into a little white rabbit and you don’t want it? TOUGH LUCK. Someone turns you into a bat, a pirate, a ghost, a pumpkin, or an elf? TOUGH LUCK. Many things in the game are involuntary, and many more of those can in fact be dispelled quite easily, just like the bunny ears. Both males and females are forced to do things in this game by other players. This one just happened to be geared toward females this time. Next time, who knows?

  20. Nassira says:

    Sorry, it’s hard to distinguish my response from the other. I had it all figured out in MS Word! lol

  21. Syrana
    Twitter: Syrana
    says:

    @Nassira, If you want me to edit in some quotes or italics to distinguish better, I can do so with your permission. :)

  22. Nassira says:

    That would kick ass. Thanks!~

  23. Temitope says:

    Hi Syrana,

    I had quite a long reply to this, but it got a bit ranty, and I thought the second half of the reply was more important than the first, so I skip a lot of your points to get to the stuff that’s really important.

    Or what about, other words used commonly in game and even in your blog title? Have I missed posts about people being upset about the offense to those who are mentally disabled? (An example of how one can dig to find offense)

    Actually you’ve got me totally bang to rights on that one. My blog title *is* a little bit offensive. The difference, however, is that I am willing to admit that and, if somebody were to leave me a comment saying “Hi, I thought the title of your blog was offensive” I would apologize, inform them that wasn’t my intention, and seriously consider changing the name of my weblog.

    What I would not do is tell them that they should “pick their battles” or that they needed to “get a sense of humour” or that it was “only offensive because they chose to find it offensive”.

    Again – where do we draw the line? It is a cruel, cruel world if we let it be. Are there real issues? Yes, of course, and there are things that need to be changed IRL.

    Here’s the thing.

    Video games are real life.

    Real people spend real time playing them. In the case of WoW they pay real money to play them. If somebody encounters something in a video game that offends them, they have the right to complain about it, because it isn’t “just” a video game, it’s a part of somebody’s life.

    There are people, (one of whom posted on your weblog, and was promptly attacked for not explaining herself clearly enough) who were genuinely upset by this achievement. By dismissing or belittling those people’s discomfort, you are sending the message that you care more about your own fun than their wellbeing. It is not okay to make a person feel like that. Not anybody, not for any reason. Not ever.

    I think one of the things that bothered me the most about the whole controversy was seeing a fellow woman gamer post “I should be mad, but I’m not.” If you are, you are. If you aren’t, you aren’t. But neither position should feel like they “should possibly be” of the other position.

    I’ve just gone and read that post. The line that stands out for me is: “But no matter how I try I can’t work up any real rage. Probably I’m too used to it. This is how society looks like; it’s just how things are”.

    That, to me, is not the cry of a woman who feels pressured into feeling offended by something which she is perfectly okay with. Just the opposite.

    To me, it reads like a woman who thinks the objectification of women is wrong, and would prefer it to be absent from her games but who has resigned herself to not being able to do anything about it. She’s not saying “people keep telling me I should be upset, but I’m not and now I feel bad” she’s saying “I feel that this is not okay, but I have seen too much like it to think it’s worth complaining.”
    That, in fact, more than anything else, is what makes me think that this is a battle worth fighting.

  24. Syrana
    Twitter: Syrana
    says:

    Actually you’ve got me totally bang to rights on that one. My blog title *is* a little bit offensive. The difference, however, is that I am willing to admit that and, if somebody were to leave me a comment saying “Hi, I thought the title of your blog was offensive” I would apologize, inform them that wasn’t my intention, and seriously consider changing the name of my weblog.

    I wasn’t trying to “get you.” But your wording is interesting. “A little bit offensive.” How would you rate this achievement? I’ve mostly seen people say it is or isn’t. Goes to my very last question of the original post:”Or is it ’sort of’ ok in your book?”

    In regards to your blog title, would you change it based upon only one person saying they found it offensive? Or would it take more than one to actually facilitate the change? Would that have been acceptable from Blizzard… an apology that it wasn’t their intention to be offensive and they will look into adjusting the achievement?

    What I would not do is tell them that they should “pick their battles” or that they needed to “get a sense of humour” or that it was “only offensive because they chose to find it offensive”.

    And I am not telling anyone to do those things. I’m asking questions, asking for discussion, asking for everyone regardless of their opinion to open their mind to other opinions. I clearly stated in the original post that I’m not saying people should not be offended. I am saying I am not offended and others are not and why that might be. I did not leave it merely as “it’s just a game, loosen up.”

    Just as you stated in a previous comment that people who are offended have the right to express that and be heard, so do those who oppose their stance. It goes both ways. This is also why you don’t see flame comments or remarks in my post. My intention, again, was to generate discussion. Ask questions. Play Devil’s Advocate. Present other perspectives/reasons/meanings.

    I’m sure you, as well as anyone else that has spoken out against unjust in society, know that there are people out there that oppose those views and ask questions. If someone is unable to calmly discuss and present their opinion, it tends to be dismissed pretty quickly, no matter what the importance of the issue is at hand.

    Video games are real life.

    Real people spend real time playing them. In the case of WoW they pay real money to play them. If somebody encounters something in a video game that offends them, they have the right to complain about it, because it isn’t “just” a video game, it’s a part of somebody’s life.

    We are going to have to agree to disagree on this point. Unfortunately, I will never agree that video games are real life. Yes, they are real people and we bring ourselves into the game. But, that ends when I exit the game. I can choose not to play it. I can play something else. If it’s disliked by enough people, it will eventually go away. Issues in society and REAL LIFE… I cannot log out of.

    There are people, (one of whom posted on your weblog, and was promptly attacked for not explaining herself clearly enough) who were genuinely upset by this achievement.

    I, in no way, attacked that commenter. Again, I was looking for discussion. I wanted to know thoughts, feelings, reasons. One commenter said the found the entire event offensive, and I wanted to clarify if that was the ENTIRE Noblegarden event of JUST the achievement for SYBM. If someone finds the entire event offensive, that quite possibly includes more issues they see than JUST that achievement. Heck, that discussion may have even encompassed far and beyond sexism. Maybe it would have included religion. I don’t know, because my request for more information and discussion was not answered. And that’s alright. But if you read my response to that commenter, I made my intention of request clear and asked them to share if they were willing to do so.

    I was in no way implying or saying that I think my fun is more important. Those may have been issues in comments on other sites, but not here. Unfortunately though, it is extremely hard to please everyone. And no matter how hard we try to eliminate all offensiveness, there can still be something that is offensive to someone.

    -I think one of the things that bothered me the most about the whole controversy was seeing a fellow woman gamer post “I should be mad, but I’m not.” If you are, you are. If you aren’t, you aren’t. But neither position should feel like they “should possibly be” of the other position.-

    I’ve just gone and read that post. The line that stands out for me is: “But no matter how I try I can’t work up any real rage. Probably I’m too used to it. This is how society looks like; it’s just how things are”.

    That, to me, is not the cry of a woman who feels pressured into feeling offended by something which she is perfectly okay with. Just the opposite.

    To me, it reads like a woman who thinks the objectification of women is wrong, and would prefer it to be absent from her games but who has resigned herself to not being able to do anything about it. She’s not saying “people keep telling me I should be upset, but I’m not and now I feel bad” she’s saying “I feel that this is not okay, but I have seen too much like it to think it’s worth complaining.”
    That, in fact, more than anything else, is what makes me think that this is a battle worth fighting.

    Maybe I wasn’t clear enough on that part. I was not saying she was feeling pressured to feel offended, but was not. (Although she did speak about how darn cute they looked!) And actually you saying that you read a different “cry” from it actually strengthened my original point with that quote. I clearly said no one should feel pressured either way regardless of their opinion. No one should feel ambivalent about their opinion. I was not assigning any intent or trying to speak for her. Just reading those words for what they are bothered me.

    I don’t know, maybe you aren’t looking at some of this the same way I am. I’m not sitting here trying to be on my side of the fence and trying to make people climb over to join me. This is not about me vs. you. If it was about me vs. you, then I’d be looking to “win.” There is no way to “win” a discussion. I am not arguing or fighting with you. The best I can hope for is that we both take something away from it, right?

    Some of my favorite bloggers spoke out about this achievement with various opinions. I think no differently of them simply because their opinion doesn’t match mine. And I would hope they don’t think differently either. If my post was flamatory, degrading, and full of person attacks – then that would be a problem. That is not what I wanted to do and I have no hard feelings against anyone that was offended by this achievement or seeks to change it.

    What I would not do is tell them that they should “pick their battles” or that they needed to “get a sense of humour” or that it was “only offensive because they chose to find it offensive”

    I also don’t recall telling anyone to get a sense of humor… but with picking battles, I said that it was not considered important IMO. In my opinion. I did not say you or someone else needs to pick your battles to mean this should not be your battle. You can pick this one. You can pick something else and let this slide. You can pick this one next year or never or when something else has been addressed. In a year, either of us could potentially have a different view on the achievement. (Although, we do have to prioritize things and we do that generally by picking our battles or we’d never get anything done!)

    But that is how things are offensive. An object, word, activity are not inherently offensive. They are just things. They become offensive (or inoffensive) based upon the meaning we assign to them. As I said before, there are things that have been assigned widespread negative meaning, which we would consider blatantly offensive. Those are things the majority of people find offensive. There has to be meaning assigned to it or there wouldn’t be gray areas. Things are not just automatically one way or the other, if they were, it’d be pretty easy to eliminate everything that just IS offensive.

    There are things that lots of people find offensive, a chunk of people do, a few people do, a small smattering of people that do. Why? Because of the meanings that they assigned to it. And generally the people that agree it’s offensive have a common ground of their views, morals, culture, etc… but not always.

    I wish I could remember what class or training I had that spoke to that point. It was emphasized that no one is offended unless they allow themselves to be… I would like to share it if I could find it. And that’s not saying you should never be, just that it’s based upon you. I actually remember asking questions and thinking “Well that’s ridiculous because there are some things that are GOING to offend you and you can’t just decide it’s not going to.” It was a very interesting discussion. Bah. I shall have to continue searching for it.

  25. Temitope says:

    How would you rate this achievement? I’ve mostly seen people say it is or isn’t.

    As I observe in my post on the subject, I rate the achievement as mildly offensive, and mildly sexist. On the other hand I rate the community *reaction* to it as *grossly* offensive and *grossly* sexist.

    And even mild sexism is unacceptable.

    I clearly stated in the original post that I’m not saying people should not be offended

    Yes, you clearly stated that. You then provided several arguments which degraded, belittled, and dismissed the opinions of people who were genuinely offended.

    The basic problem here is that you’ve got a basic misconception about equality. You say:

    Just as you stated in a previous comment that people who are offended have the right to express that and be heard, so do those who oppose their stance. It goes both ways

    It does not “go both ways”.

    “This is not offensive” is the default position. People do not need to say when something *isn’t* offensive, they do not need to say when they are not offended by something. If your opinion is “I don’t think anything should be done or needs doing” then you can say absolutely nothing and what you want to happen will happen automatically.

    People who are offended by things have a right to be heard. People who are not offended by things don’t need to be heard, because they aren’t asking for anything to be done.

    I don’t know, maybe you aren’t looking at some of this the same way I am. I’m not sitting here trying to be on my side of the fence and trying to make people climb over to join me.

    That’s because you don’t *need* anybody to join you, because your side is already winning. It’s easy to treat this whole thing as an intellectual exercise if it didn’t upset you, but the fact that you put so much time and effort into explaining why this “isn’t offensive” does, directly and explicitly, dismiss the concerns of people who were offended by it.

    Your post, and posts like it, *do* make people feel under pressure. The more people say “I wasn’t offended by this and don’t see why other people were” the more you say “people are only offended because they choose to be” the more you put pressure on people to put up and shut up, instead of speaking out.

    You are *not* being neutral in this.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] by Syrana on May.08, 2009, under Entertainment, Humor This comic is all too true, for me at least.  Sideshow sent it to me after the time I put into looking for information to link within my post about the controversial Noblegarden achievement. [...]

  2. [...] ok to disagree, that makes discussions more interesting and enlightening. Although Temitope and I did not share the same views, he brought up some interesting points I hadn’t considered and [...]