An argument that gets made a lot when talking about women in gaming goes something like this: “I have a girlfriend/wife/friend who is female, and she likes chainmail bikinis/pin-up girls/etc., so therefor you cannot say that those things are anti-women or turn women off of gaming.” The logical fallacy is that all women gamers are the same, so if you have heard the opinions of one of them, you have heard them all.
There’s another argument that goes: “I asked women about this picture/rulebook/game system and I got different answers, so it isn’t a feminist issue, it’s just a matter of personal preference.” The logical fallacy here is that all feminists agree on everything that has to do with gender issues.
There’s a host of other, related fallacies, and I can understand that it can be confusing to someone who has not talked to a lot of people that self-identify as feminists. So, I thought it might be easier to put things in a gaming perspective.
Feminism Is Not a Character Class
A character class means that you focus on an area of specialty, like magic, or hacking, or sword-fighting. Gamers who are feminists do not always focus on feminism when they game. They may not talk about feminism all the time. They may not bring it up at all. There are some feminists who are vocal and some who are not, and that doesn’t invalidate the opinions of either. It’s not a good idea to assume that your female gaming friend is not a feminist or doesn’t have strong opinions about women in gaming just because she doesn’t talk about it with your group.
Feminism Is Not a Character Race
Race, in gaming terms, indicates a group that are all born the same way and generally look the same. Not all feminists look the same. They do not all share the same gender or the same (real world) racial heritage. They do not all share the same sexual orientation. They aren’t all from the same country or social class. You can’t look at a person and say, “yep, that’s a feminist.” So any preconceptions you may have about who you are talking to, throw them out the window.
Feminism Is Not an Alignment
There is no one true path of feminism. You do not lose your magical feminism powers if you fail to adhere to its strictures. Feminism is not detectable by a first level spell. So there are a lot of people out there who some people think are feminists and others say, no way! Just because a magazine article quotes someone as a feminist does not make them one.
Feminism Is Not a Compel
If a feminist is confronted with something that they find problematic and wrong, they are not compelled to comment, argue, rant, or rage every single time they encounter the problem. Sometimes they have better things to do with their time. Sometimes they have had a rough day. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have an opinion just because this time they decided to choose their battles.
Feminism Is Not a Disadvantage (although it can feel like that sometimes!)
Feminists do not need to be martyrs to their cause. They can be fans of “problematic things.” You don’t lose experience points for enjoying something that is sexist, just because you are a feminist. So yeah, there are many women who like chainmail bikinis. It doesn’t make them feminists, and it doesn’t make them not feminists.
Female gamers, and feminists, are people, and because we are people, we have many different opinions. But one opinion that we share is that we want to be treated as people. We don’t want to be hidden behind a label that takes away that essential aspect of our personhood.