Delia Ann Derbyshire (5 May 1937 – 3 July 2001) was an English musician and composer of electronic music and musique concrète. She is best known for her electronic realisation of Ron Grainer’s theme music to the British science fiction television series Doctor Who and for her work with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
Last week, The Mary Sue, ostensibly some kind of portal for women gamers and geeks, wrote a shallow article about being a woman on voice chat. I was going to write a response, but Perculia beat me to it and said almost all the things I was going to say.
Purely by coincidence, I came across The Mary Sue, a self-proclaimed “guide to girl geek culture.” The goals are the site are: “highlighting women in the geek world, and providing a prominent place for the voices of geek women.” However, it’s come across some recent criticism on my twitter feeds for mashing up feminism with victim-blaming.
The one point left for me to address from The Mary Sue article about being a woman on vent is this:
And that’s when it clicked. In looking at a fight for equity in sports that still lingers after forty years, it dawned on me that I’d been missing the forest for the trees. See, what I wanted to write for you was something exploratory and sociologically intriguing. I wanted correlations and theories and a rough idea for why this sort of thing happens in the first place. But if I’d figured that out, I wouldn’t be writing this article at all. I’d be writing my Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech for solving the problem of good ol’ fashioned sexism. Because really, that’s all it is. It has nothing to do with the game, or the age group, or the type of guild. It just has to do with being human.
No, corporate shill The Mary Sue, the problem isn’t just being human, the problem is the systemic oppression of women, by men in our dominant cultural paradigm, for short called the Patriarchy. Since this system of oppression is nigh well universal, it’s no surprise that we’d find it manifesting itself in videogames, since, as gamers sometimes like to point out, playing videogame is part of real life. Corporate shill The Mary Sue then puts their hands up in the air and says, oh well, since it’s a bigger problem, you can’t really fight it so suck it up, ladies.
I say the opposite. Since it’s a bigger problem, and game space is one of the many places where it shows up, that’s one of the places where it must be fought. Precisely because sexist oppression of women is universal it must be fought universally, and that includes in games. It does kind of take away from the fun part of gaming when you have to pause in your bear ass collecting to deal with some sexist bullshit, but being fun isn’t one of the operative qualities of oppression.
Of course it sucks and it’s exhausting. That’s why we want to be rid of it, but that’s not going to happen by vaguely hoping that things get better. If this gets you down (as it sometimes gets me down) please press play on the Dr Who theme above. It is guaranteed to soothe the troubled geek soul.