Sunday, 29 July 2012

Comment: Our hobby is still a boy's club, and that has to change

Every now and again Twitter flares up in a passionate flurry of argument. Last week, entrepreneur Felicia Day was at the epicentre of the debate, a storm that erupted around her being labelled a 'fake geek girl'. Day seems to get this flak because she is both successful as a businessperson and she is becoming more prevalent in the public eye as a direct result of this. Ex-Destructoid journalist, Ryan Perez recently accused her of being a "glorified booth babe" adding, "You don’t seem to add anything creative to the medium." This gender elitism that creates a hierarchy of who and who can't be considered a "geek" is misguided at best and flat-out sexist at worst.

"It's a massive shocker, but women don't need a knight in shining armour"

The term has entered a new era where, rightly so, it's worn with pride as a reflection of one's intellect and dedication to a subject. The slew of superhero movies like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises that would have once been just the dream of comic-book fans now have the whole world enthralled and as a result the genre is now getting used to breaking box-office records. But when a once incredibly small and misunderstood subculture blows up like it has, there is the unfortunate side effect of elitism. The roleplaying hobby itself was historically a male-dominated world. Chainmail bikinis and helpless maidens were unfortunately the norm, but as the hobby grows and more females join, this mentality needs to change.

This shouldn't be restricted to the tabletop, either. There have recently been reports on Twitter about women running convention stands who have felt awkward and even violated when some men hung around them and crossed personal boundaries. It pains me to think that these guys belong to the same subculture as all the decent folk I'm friends with, and it's this attitude that's going to make women feel more alienated. The same goes for the misguided chivalry that's etched on the other side of the coin. If you're going out of your way to 'look after' a female player during a game then you're being condescending and probably ruining the game for her. I know it's a massive shocker, but women don't need a knight in shining armour, especially when they're playing a bad-ass paladin.

"It's obvious that sexism still hasn't been eradicated from the hobby"

Most of the guys I know are upstanding gents who don't act like huge jerks around women, but when I hear the type of things that have recently been tweeted, it's obvious that stereotypes and sexism still hasn't been eradicated from the hobby. Yes, Felicia Day is an attractive woman, but far, far more importantly she is an intelligent businessperson and a huge geek, just like you and me.