So, I’m a gamer, have been since I was six. NES, my dad telling bedtime stories that were basically diceless rpgs, DnD, White Wolf, next-gen gaming systems, I’ve done it all. I like gaming and it likes me.
I’ve always been a thinker, more than a doer. I pass my shifts doing dishes at work by thinking of story ideas, characters, philosophy, politics, all that wonderful brainy stuff that got me called geek and nerd. Lately, I’ve been thinking about feminism and rape culture, particularly due to a lovely blog called Go Make Me a Sandwich.
So this blog is going to be about my thoughts on this issue, yes from a male perspective. Feminism is not a one-sided issue. How men respond to it, take its lessons to heart, and what we do and don’t take from it are important.
With that in mind, let’s talk honestly about an incident in my past.
Short version – during one of my gaming adventures with the Woodbridge, VA group I was a part of for two years, my female friends C and K pointed out that they were having some trouble. They had to get their stuff out of a storage unit and to their new home within a week, or they would be charged for the storage unit and/or for their moving truck they were renting. They were not of highly wealthy means, so this was causing them a lot of concern.
MALE ACTION GO! I talked to the other guys round the table, we whipped up enough money to rent the truck for another couple, two three days, and we scheduled time off work that week to go down and get their shit. This was not the problem – friends help friends, right? Right.
But then C got upset. She started saying something, then dramatically sighed and said “nevermind.” Full disclosure, C and I didn’t get along much. She liked attention and had a hard time cooperating when the attention of the group wasn’t on her. Yadda yadda, just background.
I lost my temper. I tried to push, to ask her what was wrong. She basically said “you aren’t including me in your plans.”
Well, that was just UNKOSHER. I slammed my fist into the wall and shouted her down. Doesn’t matter why, doesn’t matter what she did, or that we didn’t get along. I, myself, chose a violent path. I didn’t hit her, and she wasn’t worried I was about to rape her, but that does not matter. I used violence and fear to intimidate her into behaving the way I felt she should, and told her to stop being “such a goddamn girl.”
There isn’t much more to say about that incident. I cop to being wrong. I acknowledge that my behavior wasn’t thought through – it was pure reflexive response to how I saw her behaving. And that is WRONG. That should not be the reflex. Death threats and hateful invective should not be the reflex. Banging your hands on the table like an unthinking ape (which is what I was) is not an appropriate response to irritation. I would never have done that to my male colleagues at the table. I might have shouted, but I’m not a big guy. I don’t respond to other guys with violence, because they can kick my ass. But this woman disagreed with me, and my response was physical intimidation?
There’s something wrong there. There’s something vicious there. I tried to terrify a member of my gaming group, because she was a girl.
And that is why I as a gamer need to discuss, and most importantly learn about, the role of rape culture, the culture of violence, male privilege, and much more, as it touches on gaming. Because I almost hurt a gaming friend.