One of Those Things I Feel I Shouldn’t Need to Write About: Condescension Towards Women in Gaming

I was at GP Warsaw last weekend and saw this weird situation, where there was a woman (**gasp**) playing in the match next to ours.

Now, women in GPs aren’t unheard of. They are still – in terms Magic players will understand – Mythic Rares, but they are around. Based on the attitudes of the guy playing with the aforementioned woman, I do really get why many women want to stay out.

First, this isn’t a guide to anything. I’m basically just recounting something I saw and my immediate thoughts on the subject.

I didn’t see the whole match as seeing still small portion was quite enough. The situation was bad for the woman. She only had a Barrier of Bones, while the opponent had Nightveil Predator and some other creature on the table. She had to use Ritual of Soot to stay alive. She was two-for-onening herself here, but losing with cards in your hand is always worse than being able to use those cards to do anything.

He’s response (not in game terms) was to say something alont the lines “That’s actually a pretty good play”. What makes this worse, is that the way he said it was very patronizing. Like he was explaining the game to a child. She tried to laugh it off, but that was actually worse. He was conceited enough to take that as flirting and immediately brought his wife into the conversation in the most awkward way possible.

Now, obviously, Barrier of Bones isn’t a good card, so it is an indication that she might not be very experienced player, but the thing is, one shouldn’t make too much of it. I’ve seen Ben Stark play it, so she might have not have had enough playables, or the surveil on the card might have had enough synergies to the card worth playing, or she just really needed an early play against Boros decks. I don’t really know. She might have been inexperienced as well, but that doesn’t mean she deI serves that kind of condescension.

At least he wasn’t aggressive or disdainful. I guess that’s a good thing. However, she was visibly squirming. Not that he noticed. This doesn’t exactly encourage her to return. How would I react to similar behavior? Not well.

I doubt the guy thought about it this way. I bet he thought he was being courteous and affable. This got me thinking: Am I doing the same? I can’t possibly be as bad as he is (as I don’t have a wife to bring up and I don’t tell myself I’m interesting to women that I must dodge their advances in a situation like this), but that doesn’t mean I’m not doing it either.

On the other hand, simply being aware of this might also make me better at this. I mean, it’s weird that the presence of women has not been normalized yet. The guy did claim to be married, so he should have some experience in dealing with women (although there are situations where being married does make this worse, when the wife doesn’t want the guy to talk to other women).

All-in-all, this is not a fight I want to be in. I’m all for women being seen as equals, but at the same time I know women are very capable of doing this fight on their own. It might take time, but stepping in to fight for them is not what’s needed. Suppose I would have stepped in right then and there. I would have just made the whole thing even more awkward for her. It’s a weird situation.

Again, this is not a guide on anything. Just my thoughts. As a white guy in a white collar job in my forties, I can’t really say I understand all that’s going on here and what the experience must be for the woman in this situation, but I would hope I have enough sympathy to at least have an inkling.

2 thoughts on “One of Those Things I Feel I Shouldn’t Need to Write About: Condescension Towards Women in Gaming

  1. You just.. Should have stepped in. That’s one of the things us women need and wish people would do more. We have to fight these and bigger fights alone way too much and its just exhausting.

    • There is the problem of the tournament environment, which limits my ability to step in without causing problems to all parties.

      However, good to know that this is encouraged by at least one person. I might be making this more complicated than I should, but I do feel that there are situations where I should not intervene, because it would seem like a big man stepping up for a weak woman.

      But I’m taking this as a permission to do just that in situations where that is an option, so now it’s your fault.

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