One of the major topics that has been on my mind for the past few years is that of sexism in gaming. Ever since DAoC, I’ve come across guilds that explicitly deny women the right to apply. WoW is no different. Vanquish is particularly well-known for its sexist policies, complete with an official statement and “witty” graphic:
Due to our history and experience we’ve had with female gamers, we currently do not recruit players that lack a penis. This can be taken another way but in this case, we mean literally lack thereof. Some of you may think this is sexist, but you have to understand, when you put a female in an organization with a bunch of sex deprived World of Warcraft nerds, their hormones get the best of them. Women in World of Warcraft guilds cause more drama than ‘TNT’ and this is a no-drama organization.
Perhaps the argument that sexual tension and tendencies have potential for drama has merit. However, I don’t see how it’s any different than non-sexual tension. In every guild I’ve been in, I’ve seen people quit or take “prolonged absences” more over disagreements in philosophy and policies than anything else. And I’ve seen situations where having women in raids is beneficial.
In our guild, we’ve had two women on the opposite ends of the spectrum and one perhaps in the middle in terms of drama (as in, she merely got caught up in other people’s problems by taking sides). On the one end, we have a member who is married to another member of ours. Nothing negative has ever come about from her presence. On the other, we had a woman who had relationships with two of our members, both ending poorly. But you could say we’ve had male members falling onto a spectrum of general drama in the same sort of ratio. So the only difference I see is the possibility of nude pictures flying around in the background (from both sexes). But I say that tongue-in-cheek. Has it become reality for some guilds? You bet. But, really, what do I care if people want to have relationships? Is it really any different than a male member causing the ire of other male members for simply being overly bitter and sarcastic? In my mind, no. Drama is drama, whether it wears male or female genitalia.
Don’t get me wrong, however. When a woman joins, inevitably many of the guys start making sexual jokes. Often our female members have been the target of jokes like, “My character’s tits are bigger than yours!” But they typically have some witty retort to bring like, “I’ll turn on my webcam so you can compare.” Or, in the case of our married member, she typically asks her husband to back her up. But even when women are not present, jokes are sexual in nature. So I don’t understand why people see women specifically as distractions. People are distractions.
In my previous guild, during vanilla WoW, we had a woman join us who was a cornerstone of our healing crew. And while I had ceased to raid frequently with them (due to time differences), I was still there to see the dynamics of her membership with the guild (of which she is still a member). While many jokes became sexual in nature, she showed herself to be a strong-willed and independent woman. And, thus, she became a major asset to their guild on a functional level. And this is one example of many in my life that has proven to me that women are as much of an asset to society as men. So why should guilds be any different? As long as they can play well and contribute, I don’t really care what sex they are.
Now, normally, I wouldn’t bring up this topic. It has been discussed before on many occasions amongst many gaming circles. But I recently had a member of my guild express concern over recruiting a woman. Of curious note, this is a member who had a relationship and subsequent issues with a former member of the guild who happened to be female. That’s not to say I absolutely know his motivations in regards to this “situation,” but I heavily suspect the root is sexism. Luckily, my co-GM stepped in with a very blunt opinion ringing with extreme truth.
I’m not going to turn down someone on the basis of gender. If it really would prove distracting for someone, then they really need to grow up or something, I dunno. Getting over gender distraction is a requirement for being successful in life, the workplace, etc – I see no reason why wow should be different.
And if you don’t think women can be successful raiders, much less guild leaders, maybe you should start reading Chick GM.