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 ween, trolls, Kathy Sierra, and a sense of community
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Chef Micha
 Thursday, October 16 2014 @ 03:49 AM UTC (Read 15840 times)  
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I would like to preface this by saying I love our Island community as a place where the main ToS is Be Nice. I love the active movement towards making ourselves, our community, and our wider outreach as humans better. Where "Don't Be A Dick" is actually meant.

And so I'd like to invite discussion over the salient points of this article: http://www.wired.com/2014/10/trolls-will-always-win/

The points that matter to me, as far as our community and a wider discourse, are basically these:

The Island, as created by CMJ's ethos and the past/present mod team, is, to me, at its core a feminist space. We can nerd out, regardless of actual gender, in a safe place where - and this is key - women are welcome.

The kind of nastiness I see distilled in Ms Sierra's account, of a predominately educated, passionate group of internet users - mostly male, but including feminists - leveling this kind of hatred, whether directly or indirectly towards an individual who emphatically did not Feed The Trolls - and still was a victim of high-level doxxing and personal safety threats is what I avoid in internet spaces whenever I can. But it exists. Oh, does it exist.

When we wrestle with our community questions on how to behave in Banter, or how to have fun with others in our imagination, in our safe space of the Island, are we really acting as a microcosm of internet evolution? On how to avoid being the hate and the lulz trolling? Am I reading too much into this?

I think the whole vilification of Ms Sierra, the redemption of ween, and the tacit endorsement of "don't speak out against the status quo or you'll be next" that we're seeing in #gamergate right now is worth discussion. I'm not sure where else to take it but here, since I don't frequent many other forums, especially not one that's as, well, safe as this one.


 
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Harris
 Friday, October 17 2014 @ 03:15 PM UTC  
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I quite agree with your asessment of the Island but for the one point you lost me on- "at its core a feminist space."? That point in the context of the article you've brought sounds like you're saying we put women first, before everyone else.

I am not a woman, and have always felt welcome by the community (and admin/creator). Going by experience and observation, I feel like our community is actually pretty damn equal footing for all who come in.

As for abuse of our fellow man, there's people across the world who are willing to do this whether it's behind a monitor or literally in your face. Just look at the news, and the road, and your workplace any day. So I'm going to leave the internet aspect alone for now, and just address people needlessly hurting each other.

Do we have the sort of community here that is working against the 'look out for number one' mentality, and actually a good place to go for community, for working together? Yes. Look through the Enquirer alone, and you'll see a lot of people trying to find a way to find peace with everyone else here. Trying over and over. That's a community- folk working together for their own AND each other's benefit.

Is it still depressingly tragic, what happened to Kathy? Yes. But for each vile group like was showcased there, there's a unified, good one, like here. Actually, better than that: I'll give you three to one odds right now: https://www.youtube.com/user/markiplierGAME, www.themightypen.net, and superfogeys.com. Check out each fan/userbase AND admin/creator.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and hell yes are we part of the opposite, I am happy to say.


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Hairy Mary
 Friday, October 17 2014 @ 10:52 PM UTC  
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I've been thinking about this quite a lot. I haven't got my thoughts completely in order yet. This may be a bit tentative in places.

Quote by: Chef+Micha


When we wrestle with our community questions on how to behave in Banter, or how to have fun with others in our imagination, in our safe space of the Island, are we really acting as a microcosm of internet evolution? On how to avoid being the hate and the lulz trolling? Am I reading too much into this?



No, I think you're on to something there. The internet, and the human world at large, is at root, made up of millions of people. As such it is a reflection of us all, and so yes! the Island here really is a microcosm of out there. Hence Ghandi's dictum about "Be the change you wish to see." I hope that this doesn't sound to pretentious

Harris, the line "at core a feminist space" confused me a little as well. I think that Micha considers it so because, well, saying of a site that "Here men aren't picked on for being men." is about as remarkable as saying of a physical town that "Here there is air that you can breath." It would be nice to think that the same could be said about women, but sadly this is not always the case. Hence "feminist" here means "having respect for women" (as well as men). I suspect that if you looked at all the people who have had internet abuse, then you'd find quite a large disparity between the genders. Micha, please let me know if that's not how you see it. I'm putting words into your mouth here, which is a bit naughty.

The word "feminist", like "Christian" or several others, has a broad spectrum of meanings. This is probably inevitable. Some people use these terms as a guide to how to live your life. Some as an ideal of how we as society should be. Sadly, a few people call themselves these names (either feminist or Christian) as a badge for themselves and as a club to hit other people with. For what it's worth, my personal favourite definition of feminism is "The radical idea that women are humans too."

Micha, on that note, that phrase in the middle of your fifth paragraph, "mostly male, but including feminists" would seem to imply that you categorise the world as male or feminist, which seems a little odd to me, surely the two aren't mutually exclusive? Is that what you meant?

A comment on the trolls themselves. I don't know these people, or why they behave the way they do. Probably for a whole range of different reasons. Here's one possibility. I have occasionally in my life met people who are permanently aggressive. Now when somebody starts attacking you, it's natural to attack back. That's how we're made. Since these people attack pretty much everybody, pretty much everybody attacks them back. As a result, in their world, everybody attacks everybody. They know this from personal experience. They're no worse than anybody else, they're just better at it. With people like this, if you can let the abuse go over your head and just keep talking to them in a friendly fashion then you'd be surprised at how fast they change, especially if they're young. It gets harder when they get older, past about mid-twenties somewhere it seems to me. When they're fifteen, sixteen or so though, they can change in a heartbeat. Problem then is that they have a tendency to try to "protect" you from everybody else who's "just taking advantage of you", which can be annoying. But that's another problem.

Why these people are the way they are I don't know. Bullying at school or an abusive home life is my best guess. I suspect that a lot of people are finding a tribe to join and getting a sense of empowerment out of it.

This response to these people is an ideal of course, and not all of us can manage such superhuman levels of patience and tolerance. (The Dali Lama - The Batman of tolerance.) We're made to attack back. Watch out for this, if somebody has been unfairly treated and suffered more then we think they should, then that's bad and regrettable. If somebody's gone unpunished and is suffering less than we think they should, then that's when people start getting really angry. It's how we are.

Quote by: Harris

Is it still depressingly tragic, what happened to Kathy? Yes. But for each vile group like was showcased there, there's a unified, good one, like here. Actually, better than that: I'll give you three to one odds right now: https://www.youtube.com/user/markiplierGAME, www.themightypen.net, and superfogeys.com. Check out each fan/userbase AND admin/creator.



This. How common is this sort of thing that we hear about? I don't get out into webworld very much, so I don't see this much. What happened to Kathy Sierra is an extreme case. So, how prevalent is 1)Abusive comments; 2)Sustained attacks within a website, and 3)Cases like this where it spills out beyond? It might be useful to compare this to car accidents. They definitely happen, and they can be pretty dreadful when they do. It's sensible to take care with cars. It's not sensible to get so paranoid that you refuse to go within fifty yards of a car. So how likely is this to happen? If we had some numbers comparisons it might help gauge what a good personal reaction to this might be.


 
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CavemanJoe
 Saturday, October 18 2014 @ 03:47 AM UTC  
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People seem to be blinking at the "the Island is a feminist space" concept. I think that comes from some baggage that the term "Feminist" has picked up over the years.

Well, I'm not so dumb as to try to define feminism in less than a million words, but for the purposes of this discussion HEY LET'S TRY TO DEFINE FEMINISM IN LESS THAN A MILLION WORDS, and maybe people won't be so surprised when I say "Yeah, totes feminist."

The definition at the core of feminism, or at least the one I learned and the one I use, is that one treats women like humans, as Hairy Mary said. And then you can add on a load of auxiliary bullshit from misogynists and misandrists (but mostly misogynists) until the very word itself means a bajillion different things. This is how the very idea of feminism gets distorted for some people - there are an awful lot of people out there who walk like a feminist and quack like a feminist, but who don't think of themselves in terms of being a feminist. Long definition short: you (yes you) are probably a feminist, but I completely understand if you say "Um... how d'you mean?" when someone asks if you're a feminist.

Now, with that definition in mind, is the Island a feminist place? Absolutely. Our player base is, at a rough guess, about 60% female (this is not judging by any character genders, but going off the real names of people who donate). When it comes to mods, we skew more than 60% female. I won't say by how much - my moderators' real genders are their own business, and I don't want people guessing - but here's an interesting thing about mod choosing. I don't know any real-life demographic information about moderators until after I choose to make them moderators. So yeah, we're a feminist space, in that we treat women as equals, and neither put them on a pedestal above men nor belittle them. If that seems inherently contradictory, then you're going off a definition of feminism that you could argue is either a product of cultural baggage attached to the word like candy floss on a stick, or the inevitable result of a poor naming choice (yeah, the word "feminist" does seem, linguistically, to imply that one favours women over men, rather than treating them equally - but we've got lots of words that don't make linguistic sense, don't even get me started on the American use of "Inflammable" to mean "Totally Flammable, Guys").

(speaking of poor naming choices, an anecdote for you. There was once a man, a feminist man, who wanted to talk about the side of feminism that affects men. Things like, men should have paid paternity leave, men should be able to stay at home with the kids while the wife goes out and earns money without the man's mates taking the piss for him being "the woman" in the relationship, men should be able to watch films about women being awesome if they damn well want to, men should be able, in this amazing atomic space-age 21st-century world, to take on whatever roles they please, without having to conform to the gender roles of our grandparents, because misogyny and inequality hurts men too. Anyway, our guy wanted a space to discuss this stuff, and he thought about a name, and in the end he decided on r/MEN'S RIGHTS. FUCKING WHOOPS. Very soon afterwards, he looked at what he had done, and left the community that he had created, that was nothing at all like he had intended - I don't know what he did after that, but I suspect he's spent much of the intervening hours slapping his forehead until it's raw and bloody)

We've also got the "Don't be a dick" rule, which makes it hard to be an unwelcoming environment towards women. Or men. Or anyone in between or outside of the binary gender whatsit. Or anyone at all, really, as long as they're not a dick.

Anyway, Island defined and so on and so forth, and on to the actual subject - any public Internet space that doesn't moderate its user input devolves very rapidly into a cesspit, where the biggest dicks float to the top by virtue of them shouting the loudest and nice people not wanting to stick around a place that puts up with a load of dicks. Obviously, as a professional game designer and developer, hardcore British gamer since the mid 1980's (I'd fucking like to see all y'all Call Of Duty types try Jet Set Willy on a rubber keyboard sometime, and then come back and tell me what hardcore really means), and a man, I condemn the despicable actions of the gamergate crowd. Perhaps not-as-obviously, I also hold a great deal of contempt for the incompetence/laziness/complicity of anyone who hosts or enables their bullshit. I believe that providing a server and allowing, upon that server, hate speech, threats, doxxing, or dickish or illegal behaviour, is at best incompetence, and at worst, an endorsement of such behaviour, which is why we come down hard on any hate speech, stalking, harassment or other creepy dickery. This is my house, and I like it to not stink of cat piss and sexual frustration, so I don't allow PUA's, misogynists, misandrists or fedoraheads in here.

Some would disagree, perhaps citing censorship or free speech issues, to which I would respond, hell, it's still a free Internet, and ISP's and large hosting providers don't give a shit what they host, so go pay the two bucks a month for some of your own webspace, take the half-hour it takes to learn enough basic HTML to slap up a website, and shout yer bullshit as loud as you like to whatever audience of dickheads you can round up through advertising or word-of-mouth. In my experience, people who cry FREE SPEECH are, 99% of the time, actually crying FREE HOSTING AND CONVENIENT AUDIENCE ACQUISITION CHANNELS. Nobody is obligated, legally or morally, to host any input from users who are not paying cold hard cash for the privilege.

Anyway. What the hell was I talking about. Oh, yeah, gamersgate. Well, the only positive thing I can think of to say on the matter is that all awful things scream louder when they're dying.

Also if you support the gamers of gamersgate, then that's probably why you can't get laid.


 
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CavemanJoe
 Saturday, October 18 2014 @ 04:35 AM UTC  
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Also it is somewhat telling that "not actively hostile to women" can pass so easily for "woman-friendly."


 
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Docenspiel
 Saturday, October 18 2014 @ 05:23 AM UTC  
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Thanks for insulting me because I don't just see the negatives among a group of people.


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CavemanJoe
 Saturday, October 18 2014 @ 02:12 PM UTC  
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If you can't see the negative among the intersection of the Venn diagram of "Gamers," "Virgins," and "Sociopaths," then you're not looking very hard, dude.


 
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Matthew
 Saturday, October 18 2014 @ 02:44 PM UTC  
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Quote by: CavemanJoe

I think that comes from some baggage that the term "Feminist" has picked up over the years.



I was pretty much going to post about this, but without nearly so many words and not nearly so well. Being a 'feminist' isn't much harder than 'being a decent person'.

The whole #gamersgate thing is just so incomprehensible and just so fuckin' stupid that my eyes roll into my head so hard that they burst out of my skull and pierce the stratosphere whenever I hear about it. Whenever I see a new article about that stupid shit on my phone (I use Google Newsstand at work), all I can think is, 'are people still talking about this? Have we not, as a human race, all decided to just collectively ignore these people yet?'

Here's a couple of interesting articles on the subject.

Good quote from one of them:
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When you use "wants equality" as an insult, you're the bad guy. Look around: are you conforming to a movement with a large group of other people? Do you wait for a target and then pile on hoping that sheer numbers will wear them down? Are you wearing some kind of helmet which interferes with your ability to aim lasers at rebels?



I love the Island for being a place on the internet with generally good, intelligent people. I'd like to thank CMJ for making the kind of place that just naturally draws that kind of person to the point where you only need one rule. Most of the time.


 
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Harris
 Saturday, October 18 2014 @ 04:06 PM UTC  
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Quote by: CavemanJoe

If you can't see the negative among the intersection of the Venn diagram of "Gamers," "Virgins," and "Sociopaths," then you're not looking very hard, dude.



His reply reads like Doc meant that he sees the negative, but doesn't solely see the negative.


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Harris
 Saturday, October 18 2014 @ 04:33 PM UTC  
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Quote by: Hairy+Mary

How common is this sort of thing that we hear about? I don't get out into webworld very much, so I don't see this much.



Distressingly so. If you're ever feeling like studying spite for spite's sake, read YouTube comments. Damn near every other video (on ANY topic) will highlight people running complete strangers down for being women, for being men, for spelling, for not liking a game, for being fat, for being skinny, I will stop there...

This LEVEL of abuse? Uncommon. But the spite and hate is very, very so. Because much like the U.S.A. and Japan, the culture (read: the culture of the internet) is fragmented, and has no solid base. This is not to say there's nothing good in both countries, or the internet- far from it! I'll give you a dozen beautiful people from either country or any corner of the internet for your one ugly one. I mean it. Feel free to ask me.

Main point, though: Cultures that have no base to work off of have no consistency. The U.S.? All we have in common is that we wanted/want to be free. The rest of this shit we're making up as we go along. Quite literally. Japan? They've been a nation that's ruling themselves for less than two generations now. Imperial rule ended less than eighty years ago. Their grandparents can still sit down with them and tell them what it was like! They're a nation that's still figuring out how to be free. And the internet has nocultural history. The ONLY thing that community has done together is grow, and be free from the beginning. So it's... well, it's true anarchy, really.

None of the above are good ways to run a company, a government, a town, etc. Ever seen or read Lord of the Flies? The bad and the good cooexist in all of the above examples (most definitely NOT to the exclusion of each other), but any group of people that desires to stay together needs an agreed-on code of conduct and societal function, or eventually Piggy ain't using the conch ever again.

(For anyone who doesn't know Lord of the Flies, that was another reference to it. And yes, it was supposed to be dire.)


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Denealus
 Saturday, October 18 2014 @ 06:06 PM UTC  
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I'm coming into this off of a couple hours sleep and was going to post this morning and saw the forum exploded from the couple of points to a whole string of text! So forgive me if I'm missing something someone else said.

I'll come in saying I don't really know much on the #gamersgate scale, even after reading the article. So I can't really comment much on that end of things. I'm talking to a few friends about that so may have time to comment on that later.

But really, I am curious about the thoughts of the feminist space in Island:

Quote by: Chef+Micha

When we wrestle with our community questions on how to behave in Banter, or how to have fun with others in our imagination, in our safe space of the Island, are we really acting as a microcosm of internet evolution? On how to avoid being the hate and the lulz trolling? Am I reading too much into this



I am curious to hear more of what you meant by this. If it's lauding the Island for being that microcosm or encouraging us more to be? The thing about the internet that a lot of people miss is, well, there's people on the other end. People don't stop being people just because there's a box inbetween them. It just ends up making the world smaller. So in a lot of ways, the internet is a part of the world and I think that separating the two and identifying the internet outside of terms of general cultural shifts is going to gradually disappear...

Cough. Mini-rant there.

Anyhow, back to the Island. And feminism. Feminism does come with a lot of baggage (and I'm sure there's a good portion of the internet who wouldn't even know what I mean when I mention second-wave feminism vs. third-wave feminism. What? Feminism has waves?) and it all boils down to equality of choice. That people are people no matter what kind of people they define themselves to be. And should be treated as such. Not just women. Not just men. Not just cisgender. Not just people of a certain sexual orientation.

The other complication is I think (correct me if I'm wrong, Micha) that the original post was meaning "The Island, as canon envisioned by CMJ." I think in canon, CMJ does put a lot into the game to make it a feminist place. Statements in the game don't assume a particular sexual preference. Paprika doesn't look differently on people for sexchanges, other than if you do it too much, your junk becomes junk. The Watcher, head honcho herself, never admits to her actual sexual preference. There is an entire storyline where a crossdressing loudmouth female falls in love with an adorable bookworm. Robot sex. And none of it is played for laughs (any more than anything else in the Island is). It's all very open to anyone to make their own preference.

Now the question is: Is Island as a community that way? Sometimes. I've still heard stories of people trying to cross boundaries in distracts. People creeping on others if they think the person behind the screen is female. People becoming distraught if their "character's partner" starts being friendly with someone else (This is why, as much as I spoke about the emote reminder in banter, I still advocate for treating a thin IC/OOC boundary as unhealthy. This kind of behavior anywhere else would be seen as very controlling.) I don't think this is a CMJ or mod problem at all, and I think we're blessed with a wonderful community to call it out when it happens but it does still happen.

So tl;dr, in intent, I fully agree that Island is meant to be a feminist space. For any group. In practice, it's still a work in progress. And I appreciate the people who are trying to make it that way.

~Dene's narrator

P.S. Docenspiel, I really have no idea what you're going on about. Just saying.


 
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Docenspiel
 Saturday, October 18 2014 @ 10:52 PM UTC  
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Quote by: CavemanJoe

If you can't see the negative among the intersection of the Venn diagram of "Gamers," "Virgins," and "Sociopaths," then you're not looking very hard, dude.



Sociopaths aren't a thing. They're just people being dicks because they can. And any overlap of "Dicks" with anything else is obviously going to be negative; the whole of "Dicks" is a negative. But your example is the humorous diagram of neckbeards. There's obviously overlap between them and gamergate, just as there's overlap with the opponents to gamergate, but neither is comprised solely of neckbeards or dicks of other varieties. My opinions favor those in gamergate who aren't dicks, as I'd assume your opinions on the matter favor those who also aren't dicks.


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Chef Micha
 Saturday, October 18 2014 @ 11:40 PM UTC  
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Quote by: Harris

I quite agree with your asessment of the Island but for the one point you lost me on- "at its core a feminist space."? That point in the context of the article you've brought sounds like you're saying we put women first, before everyone else.

I am not a woman, and have always felt welcome by the community (and admin/creator). Going by experience and observation, I feel like our community is actually pretty damn equal footing for all who come in.



Okay, addressing this first, which will probably also address other issues I should clarify along the line.

Harris, I stand by my point that the Island is a feminist space. Because, as CMJ said, we as a community, visibly ascribe to the radical idea of treating women as humans too. That goes hand in hand with helping our fellow humans regardless of the community we find ourselves most present in. It's a lot easier to feel safe and welcome in a place that really does, honestly and truly, self-correct when the basic rule is broken. The "Don't Be A Dick" rule.

We see this in the banter-fear/mod-fear threads, which have been common lately - we're all TRYING to do better, and in some cases, we need explanation and firm rules on how to Not Be A Dick Here, In This Space. Fine, explain and have examples as needed. But I think CMJ and the Mod team and the people who have come here and then stuck around because they're free to explore ideas and imagination, without fear of being attacked for a lack of whatever status quo of nerd-cred, or hotness-cred, or even the good ol' ladder theory - because that's not what we as a group find to be important. So you have 160 DKs. So you have 2. That doesn't matter here, and oh also, you don't have to say what gender or species you're even playing as when you DO hit the game markers.

As a long time console gamer (lol back in like 1997 my email was gamergirl@hotmail ) I've seen WAY too many times that being a woman in a gamer space is Not Fun. As a comic books fan, I have been shown the girly manga section in the comic stores because this is what "girls like". As a tabletop war gamer, I've been ostracized by the all-male groups because it's assumed women can't do strategy. Hell, I'm a professional chef, and I've had threats of being "raped to death" leveled at me by people who should have been my colleagues. I've had property vandalized because of my feminist beliefs. Guess what?

I love the Island because that shit don't fly here. Nuh-uh. Not at all.
I love that we can be gender neutral as a character option. I love that so much. I love that the friends I've made through my years here are some of the most lovely, supportive, kind, shirt-off-their-backs kinda people one could ever hope to meet.

How can we make this happen in other spaces?


 
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Chef Micha
 Saturday, October 18 2014 @ 11:45 PM UTC  
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Micha, on that note, that phrase in the middle of your fifth paragraph, "mostly male, but including feminists" would seem to imply that you categorise the world as male or feminist, which seems a little odd to me, surely the two aren't mutually exclusive? Is that what you meant?


Hairy Mary, I now address this question. You're absolutely right. I wasn't clear, I did not proof read for derp, and I do not categorize the world as male or feminist. I categorize it as "humans who are fighting for equality for everyone" and "dumb-dumbs". Feminist is a gender-neutral title to me.

And yes, CMJ, it's telling that having a community that's not actively hostile to women is seen as a feminist space.


 
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Chef Micha
 Saturday, October 18 2014 @ 11:50 PM UTC  
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Main point, though: Cultures that have no base to work off of have no consistency. The U.S.? All we have in common is that we wanted/want to be free. The rest of this shit we're making up as we go along. Quite literally. Japan? They've been a nation that's ruling themselves for less than two generations now. Imperial rule ended less than eighty years ago. Their grandparents can still sit down with them and tell them what it was like! They're a nation that's still figuring out how to be free. And the internet has nocultural history. The ONLY thing that community has done together is grow, and be free from the beginning. So it's... well, it's true anarchy, really.


Harris. Please read a history book or two. Because I'm laughing so hard right now, and I'm trying to understand where you're coming from.


 
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Denealus
 Sunday, October 19 2014 @ 01:30 AM UTC  
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Quote by: Chef+Micha

As a long time console gamer (lol back in like 1997 my email was gamergirl@hotmail ) I've seen WAY too many times that being a woman in a gamer space is Not Fun. As a comic books fan, I have been shown the girly manga section in the comic stores because this is what "girls like". As a tabletop war gamer, I've been ostracized by the all-male groups because it's assumed women can't do strategy. Hell, I'm a professional chef, and I've had threats of being "raped to death" leveled at me by people who should have been my colleagues. I've had property vandalized because of my feminist beliefs. Guess what?



...will not derail thread by asking what kinds of war gaming you're into. Will not derail thread...

....

-writes this on a chalkboard 100 times-


 
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Harris
 Sunday, October 19 2014 @ 06:29 PM UTC  
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Quote by: Chef+Micha


Harris. Please read a history book or two. Because I'm laughing so hard right now, and I'm trying to understand where you're coming from.



I'll be back later(-ish...?) but for now, I'll turn it back on you and ask for clarification. "Please read a history book or two" gives me no real point to go on for what you'd like me to explain. 'Cos I can get into more detail, no problem- but what specifically are you saying? You lost me there.

(I do beg anyone's pardon since this is a discussion about rather grim matters- I try to hyperbolize, idiomize, etc. in any deadly serious discussion in an effort to help keep tensions at an even tone through silly melodrama. Please DO ask me questions if this ever makes my point unclear!)


"Ain't nothin' left to do but smile, smile, smile." -The Grateful Dead
 
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Buddleia
 Sunday, October 19 2014 @ 10:08 PM UTC  
Forum Improbable Badass
Improbable Badass

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Registered: 04/23/10
Posts: 343

I apologise for this post. It's long, it's ranty, it's rude, and I really hope no feelings will be hurt by it. I've spent a long time revising it and trying to make it less bad, but here goes.

I'd like to say something about why the Island can be called "feminist" not just for being egalitarian, but also simply for being "not actively hostile to women".

One of the things I really like about here is that you (player and character) can be whatever gender, sex, orientation, etc you like ... and nobody objects. In fact, to some extent, nobody cares. It's wonderfully liberating.

Buddleia, for instance. She defaults to asexual. Oh, she's a woman, sure. I use female pronouns, she has a female body, all of that. But it's not an important part of her identity. She is and she is treated as what she does, what she's interested in, what she's good at. She is mapper, statistician, maker of jam, drinker of tea, grower of vegetables, collector of cards, etc. She is also female, and it is just one of many things about her, like the colour of her hair or what size shoes she wears: a fact, and not all that relevant to much else. Not very interesting. Nothing to get excited about. This despite romance, relationships, attractions, affairs etc being incredibly popular themes in roleplay. Ones that I haven't stayed clear of, either; it's a hell of a lot of fun, when you're in the mood for it.

Here on the Island, I've never felt threatened for having the audacity to go around not being a man. I've never felt that I am at a disadvantage, that the whole system is designed for not-me, that everyone looks down on, ignores, excludes and belittles me, and assumes I'm not as good as a real person - ie, a man. Also, here, I've never had to deal with men coming onto me, following me, yelling at me, trying to grab me or grope me, demanding I smile at and be nice to them and give them my phone number, scolding or sneering at me for the clothes I wear and what I do or don't do to alter my appearance and behaviour to suit their tastes. Seriously, Oronte is the harmless end of the scale, and also something that happens really, really often.

And elsewhere on the internet, and all too depressingly commonly in real life, having to deal with this sort of crap is the norm. It's the world I live in, the air that I breathe. It's #everydaysexism, it's #yesallwomen, it's #allmencan. It's rape jokes and internet harassment. It's "tits or GTFO" if I ask a question. It's casual "oh, you'd be so pretty if you'd just X" intended as a compliment, it's fatherly "you should get yourself a boyfriend/husband, you know, nice young thing like you" advice from friends and strangers. It's 14-year-old me not feeling it would be allowed to take the workshop course, having to do graphic design instead; it's my sister losing interest in sports after our dad jokingly yelled "birds can't play football!" after a missed goal at one of her school matches. It's being given makeup or jewellery as gifts instead of books or gadgets, it's clothes being either ridiculously revealing or designed for concealment, it's pockets that you can barely fit a single coin into and handbags that cost hundreds. It's mansplaining and being assumed to be incompetent and ignorant, it's people being surprised that I'm doing a maths/physics degree, it's "get in the kitchen/make me a sandwich" when I mention that I like cooking.

And fuck all of that. I am a person. I have interests and ideas, not just physical attributes. I am neither more nor less worthy of anything, including any type of attention, because of my gender or identity.

So, thank you to CMJ, thank you to the mods, thank you to the whole glorious Island community for being a safe and welcoming place where I can be female without it being important.

Is that feminist? That I am celebrating having found a place where I can be primarily a person, without having to live in fear? What a sad state of affairs.

So, that's what it's like from my point of view. I am a woman. I am a feminist. I am not some man-hating feminazi roaring around looking for innocent men to yell at for smiling at me or holding doors open for me, or plotting to enforce unfair child maintenance or custody, or laugh at and stomp on the feelings of those poor guys who have built up their courage to nervously come over and say hello. Honestly, I am not. I spend most of my time keeping my head down, speaking softly, dressing modestly, avoiding eye contact, not going out after dark, staying in safe areas, always being aware of my surroundings and avoiding risky behaviour. Trying to avoid being noticed, avoid conflict, avoid being hassled and harassed. Hoping to be treated fairly. Wishing that the world was a nicer place, where people - that everyone - could be whoever they wanted, do what they want to do, like what they want to like, and nobody else would hassle them for it. That is what feminism is about, in trying to define it in less than a million words. It's not about special treatment for women; it's about helping everyone.

This comic says it well (9 panels long, click for full Imgur album):





TLDR: Women get a lot of shit for being women. Feminism is not about giving shit to men for being men, but partly about helping stop that shit.


Improbable Reference Links - goo.gl/MRBnb -------------- Land Registry (map of Places) ---- goo.gl/bpkRR
 
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Hairy Mary
 Monday, October 20 2014 @ 12:48 AM UTC  
Forum Improbable Badass
Improbable Badass

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Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 1083

First CMJ: Could I just in passing call you out on using "virgin" as an insult? It can be a bit galling for some who are perfectly decent people but a bit shy or have some problem or other.

Now. Blokes. Read Buddleia's post. Read it again. This is shit that everywoman faces, all the time. If you're sitting there and thinking "Yes, but I've had a lot of that thrown at me as well." Then maybe. I've certainly had people criticise my choice in dress for example. But you and I get it once or twice a month maybe. Woman get it twenty times a day. That makes a big difference. That can grind you down.

Back to Micha's question. "How can we make this happen in other spaces?" No easy answers to that. With a great deal of patience. Any given space is going to depend on who's in charge of it, so unless you run your own site then there's not a great deal that you can directly do. Set a good example, as the Island does. Take care of your own corner. Sorry that I don't have anything more productive to contribute. I was bringing this up again more so that it doesn't get lost than because I had any great ideas. Anybody else?

Oh. And read this.

DoC: I'm still not with you. Are you trying to say that hounding somebody from their home doesn't make you a dick?


 
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Anonymous: Escemfer
 Monday, October 20 2014 @ 02:27 AM UTC  


I think Improbable Island is a very safe and welcoming place, and that's the most important thing for me. That's what's kept me coming back. The way everyone in the community, and on the site staff, care about each other just on principle of being human sets this place apart from any other site I've been on. When someone feels unsafe, no matter who (or what gender) they are, they can come to the mods and get it fixed, or even just speak up in Banter or have a friend do it for them. Harassment of any kind, toward anyone, isn't welcome here.

Like Buddleia said, the reason feminism is a necessary thing is because women are treated like "women," not like humans. I don't think of myself as a woman, I think of myself as a person: sometimes I like to dress up, sometimes I like to slum around in my pajamas, sometimes I like to eat ungodly amounts of food, and sometimes I like to roleplay as a ditzy cat on the internet. I'm just some person, and being treated like a person, like my interests are interesting, like my sense of humor is funny, like I'm fun and worthwhile means the world to me. And that's what I get here. Nobody cares about shallow crap like what I look like or how well I do or don't take care of my body. That's the same attitude I try to dish out, as well, here and on other sites. Treat people like people. Keep personal comments to yourself. Fucking be nice. Being a decent person is a lot less stressful than being an asshole.

If more people would do that in more places, I think the internet would be a much nicer place to socialize.


P.S. Harris: Hyperbole and melodrama inserted into a serious conversation tends to [i]muddy[/i] the discussion, rather than lighten it; I can believe you meant to be light, but it certainly didn't read that way to me. Also, dubious political comments about different countries' social structure don't seem... [i]relevant[/i] to the subject at hand. That kind of political commentary might be better suited to a different forum?


 
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