I have Starcraft II.
I want to put it in my pants.
Rather than go there, however, I want to go somewhere else. I want to talk about the B-word, which I have now heard from Blizzard twice in one week.
I’m capitalizing Bitch in this post to denote it as an entity and not just a word. Bitch is a whole slew of things and it’s not just an insult, like calling someone a jerk. Capital-B Bitch is an entire universe of gendered insults and pejoratives that have a life well past the linguistic sphere. In case you were wondering, is all.
I’m not picking on Blizzard, they have just kept me very busy lately with my thought process about the world and about feminism. Also, some of this might be spoilery if you are avoiding Cataclysm data like it’s contagious. I’m not going to be giving away anything that isn’t already well and thoroughly out there, so you are pretty safe. I also feel the need to mention that I do believe in reclamation, so if you’re here looking for me to say WORDS ARE WRONG with no nuanced thought behind it, your back button is located at the top of your screen.
Here’s the deal. Blizzard has male characters calling troublesome female characters “bitches.”
Very early on in Starcraft, Tychus refers to Kerrigan as “that bitch.” In fact, that’s his designation the very first time she wanders on screen and she’s part of the story for less than a minute of screen time before she gets the term used. There was a tado about a week ago when some fraps from the WoW: Cataclysm beta were released that featured Garrosh leveling, if I recall correctly, the exact same words at Sylvanas. That. Bitch.
First of all, I find it interesting that the term is applied to two nearly identical female characters, both military geniuses who were fucked with badly and went a little sideways, reaping vicious, ruthless revenge wherever they put their fantastic little feet.
Have I mentioned that I happen to really like Sylvanas and Kerrigan? Because I do adore them, deeply, as a woman who also likes to make trouble. They aren’t what I’d call fully formed and nuanced female characters but there’s an element of understanding in terms of my relationship to them. More on that later.
Technically, both women are villains, but they are written as understandable villains and their psychology, while basic, isn’t left out of the story entirely. Both of them, it is interesting to note, suffered severe violations of their bodily integrity (Kerrigan was left for dead and was infested by the Zerg, Sylvanas was captured and raised as the undead rather than being killed) and have decided they will not suffer this injustice quietly. Kerrigan leads an army of the sentient, destructive alien beings who infested her and Sylvanas basically becomes Queen of the Zombies (where do I sign up for Zombie Queen?). They are both hell bent and marked for metal on getting to the man who violated them and ripping out his toenails.
I feel like this is a pretty familiar feeling to quite a few real women, though scorched earth is generally not one of our options. Still, anger, vengeance – these aren’t alien feelings. It’s just that most of us don’t act on them and, to be honest, probably shouldn’t. Though you have to recall that you’re reading and opinion by someone who thinks the Nibelungenlied is a cautionary tale, I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t been so angry at something done to her she could raise an army of the undead and declare herself Queen.
Another thing that should be quite familiar to real women is having the accusation of being a Bitch leveled at them.
There’s been some feminist argument about the use in regards to Sylvanas; some argue that the word should never be used and that it being put into a game by the overwhelming male devs is offensive and wrong. I see and honor that point, and I suspect I’d feel a lot differently if the word was put into a game made by a company that was staffed, overwhelmingly, by women (p.s. hire me). Some argue that having Garrosh say it is a “feminist” (though I use it lightly) use of the term. No one likes Garrosh. The Alliance doesn’t like him. The Horde doesn’t like him, though we are stuck with him. Garrosh is a hotheaded, backwards, warmongering jackass and his use of the term serves to further set him up as The Biggest Asshole on Azeroth. Of course he would use the term, he’s a jerk, and Blizzard is commenting on the type of people who like to level gendered insults specifically by having him use it. Again, a point I see, though I admit I’m still highly uncomfortable with male devs deciding who gets to use the term and why.
As for Tychus, I’m not far enough into the game to comment definitively, but I can tell you he’s presented as an antiquated dinosaur of a man who tends to believe that Men are Men and Women are Cooking. Clearly Kerrigan is a Bitch. She’s annoying him.
Here’s my take.
Frankly, I’m surprised it took this long for the word to get used in regards to these women. Bitch is something we get leveled at us. Bitch is something we get leveled at us for almost any behavioral infraction, be it swarming the universe with an army of murderous aliens or refusing to smile when a man tells us to. I think it’s a way more interesting discussion (and possibly more offensive) that the term is being used for two women who are reacting to grievous bodily harm and, so far, no one else.
That the term is being used only for the two women who will not go gentle in that good night and who have instead decided to wander around as living reminders of what was done to them and how horrible the after effects are. You can’t even look at either of them and not know what’s happened to them. Kerrigan and Sylvanas have had their physical selves twisted in such a way that everything done to them, every torture, is obvious. You cannot escape their display of injustice, of cruelty, of sheer horror inflicted on them. You can’t escape what was done to their bodies, and this is another reality for women; we are always quite aware of the fact that people can do things to our bodies in a way that most men are not. I wonder if the term isn’t some comment, not about their behavior, but about their images calling to the forefront a reality that most people don’t like to acknowledge. Neither here nor there, but an honest analysis, I suppose.
While I support and participate in any discussion about why Bitch and why now and why them and who is really saying this thing, the fact of the matter is that Bitch Just Is. Whether or not that should be true doesn’t really change the fact that it is true. Bitch is a term that patriarchy has given men for women who aggravate the shit out of them in any way. Of course women use the term, too, I’m not saying they don’t, but Bitch is a term that’s meant as a slight in regards to someone’s personality with a direct address to their gender thrown in for good measure. Women internalize patriarchy and that’s fine, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that Bitch isn’t a term that originally belonged to men. Women use it and some of us have stolen Bitch and put new clothes on it. I’m one of those people who uses the term, actually, as a reclamation and a general address. This is a word that has been used to try and hurt me and I snatched it up and ran with it. I opted to take back my own identity. Your millage may vary.
I think we need to take a second and back up here, because I think we’re not even at the discussion of who is using the term and who made that decision. I think we skipped right over The Facts of Bitch. These discussions are centered around the understanding that everyone knows why Bitch is a nasty and hurtful term and I’m sorry to have to release this memo, but there’s a very large contingent of people who don’t understand that Bitch is a gendered term. There’s an even larger contingent who don’t understand why using gendered or racial or sexual slurs is even a bad thing. This whole Capital-B thing to denote an entity…lots of people will think I’ve lost my bloody mind.
But people are starting halfway through the race with this. Male devs and nasty characters are pretty much secondary to the fact that Bitch is an institution and we need to start talking about it like an institution and not just a word.
Also, I wanted an excuse to use this.
So, as it’s no surprise to anyone at all, I play WoW. I have been a gamer since I was five and I will continue to play games until I drop dead.
Which might happen faster than I expected, given what Blizzard wants to do with their new RealID system.
Let me back this up. About two weeks ago, RealID was a system of convenience. People who actually knew you could plug you into RealID and you could talk across server, factions and characters. In game chat client. Truly outstanding idea for people who have close friends or family who play on another server and don’t want to reroll or transfer just to chat with Uncle Dick, Troll Shaman.
I refused to use RealID, mainly because when I want to be left alone, I want to be left alone. The last thing I need is people bugging me when I’m using another server as the world’s most expensive AIM window to speak to a single person.
What Blizzard proposed today, and you can find all this via googling it, it came right out of the mouth of a dev, was that any and all forum posts will be made under you REAL name, first and last. You can also tie them to a character. You don’t HAVE to tie them to a character, but more on that later.
They have said that this is to promote personal accountability and limit trolling.
Have they lost their ever-loving minds?
Okay, on one side, the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory is true in millions of ways and I imagine people would be less likely to threaten rape and bodily harm, sling racial slurs and hiss and scream when that level on anonymity is removed. I see the point, but someone didn’t think this through for…well, anyone.
First of all, as a woman, a vocal woman who does happen to live in a Rape Culture I am so uncomfortable with the idea of my real name being tied to my online gaming habits, it makes me practically break out into hives. I will no longer use the forums if this goes live. It is not because I want to, you know, go slur someone for being queer. It’s because when assault is a norm (and exacting vengeance over something that doesn’t actually matter isn’t uncommon) I will do everything humanly possible to protect myself.
If a man was stabbed over counterstrike, who is to say a woman will not be raped because someone didn’t like how she ran her raid? If you are lucky enough to be named John Doe, I congratulate you. However, most minorities are not, and we are shockingly easy to find over google. If a black man takes a piece of loot from a person who happens to have very scary racist tendencies, how fast until his facebook comes up on a google search, with a name gotten from a post looking for pugs for old world raids? How fast until that escalated to a hate crime? How long do we wait until a single person who doesn’t like queers finds a gay man’s name on the forums and we’ve got yet. another. murder on our hands? How long until someone who is transitioning but has yet to change their legal name is found by an employer and fired or worse? Military personnel with sensitive jobs? Just lost one of the things that keeps them sane (my guild alone has…five people in the service. My dinky guild).
I am not saying there is a trove of people waiting around to rape every woman who does more DPS than they do. In fact, I have the opposite problem. I believe that as a whole, people are generally good. I have hope for humanity, I believe they will protect others if they can. I have to believe this or I will go mad.
But a SINGLE incident is too fucking many. I’ve had it. Had it! With people deciding that, you know, putting queers, or minorities, or women at risk is just fine if it limits internet trolling. Do you really think exposing a group of people who are already targeted by a craptastic society rife with institutional and open hate is worth, like, Bob not being able to call your new talent trees pieces of shit? Because that is precisely what Blizzard is saying. And they have my money and I am NOT happy. One person hurt is not worth it and I have no idea why on earth Blizzard didn’t think of that first, but I’m ridiculously mad about this right now.
Here’s a clue. We’re not disposable people. Stop it.
Solanum (since you already know my first and last name)
As a side note, because people will find this information and have questions. You do NOT have to tie your name to a character. You also do NOT have to use the forums.
Which is sort of like having an apartment but never using the bathroom or the dining room. The forums are used for a lot of things. I personally use them to manage my guild, which means I’d have to give a character name or no one would ever be able to contact me (Hi, I’m looking for a healer for my progression group. I’d have you message me in game, but I don’t want to get stalked, so you’re just going to have to guess who this is). This also goes for those who use the forums to Role Play, which is not how I pass the time, but many do. The forums are also used for all bug reports and some technical issues. I also used to be very active on a forum used primarily to help people, so that’s out the window. Sorry, guys!
And this is here because one of the women in a female gamers community said it and I loved it. Posted with permission.
Aislinanais: it a bad thing that I want to be more internet famous so my opinion means more than other people’s