Welcome to the second installment of our new feature: Dear Gaming As Women! We invite our readers to asks us anything – and we’ll do our best to offer informative, thought-provoking, and entertaining answers. Without further ado, here’s today’s letter:
Dear Gaming As Women,
Does being a feminist ever get easier?
Right now it is very hard to be a feminist when I am constantly told that I shouldn’t be one, that I’m doing it wrong somehow, and that I’m ruining everyone’s fun. I can’t unsee misogyny or the kyriarchy anymore, and now I’m starting to hate myself for seeing problematic things all the time because no one I’m with ever sees it with me or even wants to. I work in the game industry so I’m immersed in sexism on daily basis, but some people aren’t and just simply can’t see why I am the way I am. How can I tell if I’m a bad feminist? Or is this just how it feels constantly? If so…does it ever get better?
Melody - Katherine, I’m really sorry to hear that. That is how I used to feel much of the time myself, and it wasn’t that people were trying to ignore these things. They just didn’t think they were as big as they were. I had friends who made statements that felt insulting to anyone who wanted to identify as a feminist. So I went looking for people who would understand, and that really has helped me. I mean it’s tough some days when things seem to be at their worst, but most? I don’t just have hope, I actually see things getting a little better every day. It’s frustratingly slow, but change is happening.
Elin – Look around the world, and look to history. It does get easier. If you could go back in time and someone from your grandmother’s or you mother’s generation should ask you if it gets easier, you would tell her “Yes, it gets easier.” and probably tell her about all the progress that has been made. Same thing if you look around the world. It someone from a more patriarchal society somewhere else around the world should ask you if it ever gets easier you would tell her “Yes, it gets easier.”, and tell her what was better it in you place of the world. I you turn to someone from a place in the world with more gender equality they would tell you; “Yes, it gets easier.” It does get easier to be a feminist, even if there are more injustices to fight.
Vivian – For a long time, in order to keep my sanity, I would get angry about things I saw around me in the media and in my culture for one day per month. That’s all I could handle. When I saw something that was horribly sexist or racist, I’d save it up for that day. Going around being angry and frustrated all the time, especially if there’s other stuff in your life you need to focus on, isn’t good for anyone. So give yourself permission to keep it compartmentalized! When you feel like you can handle it, on that one day, think about one small thing you can do to make it better. Not even for the whole world, but maybe just for you, or for a friend. It does get easier over time, and one thing that helps is to look back at things you have accomplished and say, hey, I took a stand against that, and it made a difference.
Jess – I still get angry, sometimes. I can get frustrated and upset, or I might feel hopeless and want to give up. What keeps me going is loving and supportive community – not the least of which is the community here at Gaming as Women. I don’t always agree with everything the other women here say, but I trust that we share the same basic values and that they will listen thoughtfully to my point of view. It’s amazing how much those two things help when I’m having a hard time. I also remind myself that I’m not a feminist for some abstract reason. My feminism comes from my most deeply-held values: knowledge, compassion, honesty, and love. Sometimes holding to your highest values can be really hard, but it’s also profoundly important to do so. Maybe you can’t change your community or your work environment right now, but you can discover what your own feminist values are, and you can try to live them every day in whatever way you can. In my book, that makes you a hero.
Dymphna – I am sexist. I am racist. I am homophobic. I am ableist.
I am a human being, and a product of my environment, which is — you guessed it — sexist, racist, homophobic, and ableist. I do what I can to be aware of my prejudice and privilege, and how fucked up society is, but I’m not perfect. I wasn’t always as aware as I am now, and even now I screw up sometimes, and sometimes I get angry and defensive when called on my screwups.
When I see someone else being sexist, I try to see them as a whole person. They have a good reason for acting the way they do; the way they act is a natural consequence of their life’s story. It doesn’t make it okay, and it certainly doesn’t make what they’re doing not hurtful, but it helps me to accept them as I accept myself.
Our mailbox is always open! To send your question to Gaming As Women, head over to the contact form and tell us what’s on your mind. For more info on this feature and the ground rules, check out the announcement post.