It would be way easier to enthuse about my subcultures if they weren’t so busy pissing me off.
So, Wizards of the Coast (who in fairness pulled the article really quickly once the complaints started rolling in) allowed Uri Kurlianchik to write an article about girls and gaming and how girls game. Thanks to magic of screen caps and cache-ing, we have access to his article. I wouldn’t recommend trying to pull them all down, WotC, by now there are dozens. It would be futile.
So, Mr. Kurlianchik begins his article with an “(un)Disclaimer,” part of which I will quote here:
“Despite living a rich and fulfilling life, one thing I never got to be is a woman. Therefore, some readers are likely to ask, “What gives you the right, as a man, to talk about women?”
First of all, this article is not about women, but about children of the female persuasion. Children rarely write pedagogic articles (and thank goodness for that!) and so this ungrateful task falls upon my hairy adult shoulders. So while I may not be female, you, my hypothetical accuser, are not a child, hence we’re both in equal violation of authenticity.”
What Mr. Kurlianchik is missing however, is that we women, for the most part, WERE “children of the female persuasion.” Many of us were girls who wanted to game and were denied. Who felt ignored or discounted by books full of warrior babes in chainmail bikinis. So, no, we aren’t in “equal violation of authenticity.” Nice try, though.
Also his idea that girls aren’t interested in winning is complete and utter bullshit. Speaking as an exceptionally competitive (to the point of kind of being an asshole about it sometimes) woman, who was a highly competitive girl, screw you. Just because we like to have story surrounding our winning, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t interested in winning. And if he hasn’t been able to see that, I think perhaps he is not so observant as he seems to think he is, there from the outside where he admits he is.
The rest of the article is primarily a rehashing of “girl gamer” cliches, enough to make any actual girl gamer throw up in her dicebag, so I’m just going to hit a couple highlights.
I love how he ascribes the long description of what their character is wearing to girls, because I know I’VE certainly NEVER known any male players that do that sort of thing. NEVER. Did that sarcasm come through? Sometimes I feel limited by print.
I am certain neither Mr. Kurlianchik nor WotC intended to be offensive. But I just have to say this: I know you have women working for you. Hell, as much as I dislike Part-Time Sorceress, last I heard Shelly Mazzanoble still worked for you. There are, in fact, several women working for WotC, right now, as we speak. But perhaps the fact that only about 10% of the kids that take part in Mr. Kurlianchik’s D&D programs in schools are girls, is due more to them picking up on his unconscious sexism. I know I was less likely to want to deal with adults who displayed the tendency to take me less seriously because of my gender presentation.
I’d like to cover two things I’ve talked about before. The first is that the fact that the offense wasn’t intended is somewhat worse than when it is. Because when people mean to offend, you can write them off as assholes and get it over with. It’s the subconscious sexism that’s harder to combat, because generally they aren’t even aware that’s what they’re doing. They’re just parroting cliches and stereotypes they’ve heard all their lives and blindly accept as true because “everybody knows that.”
The second is that if you want to encourage girls to game, ask them. Give them games. Give them space to game and to encourage them to branch out into more “stereotypically” male characters and situations. When a friend’s 9 year old boy wanted to start gaming, his Dad called up his gaming buddies and said, “How do you feel about being an NPC in a 9 year old’s adventure?” We’re currently encouraging another friend to do that for his 9 year old daughter, and since I’m one of the gaming buddies, he’s really gung ho about the idea.
So, next time you want an article about girls and gaming, WotC, get a woman to write it, ok? There’s tons of us out there.