Who is the Drama Queen?

The feminist subject “in the room” hence “brings others down” not only by talking about unhappy topics such as sexism but by exposing how happiness is sustained by erasing the signs of not getting along. […]

My point here would be that feminists are read as being unhappy, such that situations of conflict, violence, and power are read as about the unhappiness of feminists, rather than being what feminists are unhappy about.

Feminist Killjoys (And Other Willful Subjects) by Sara Ahmed

“Drama” (at least in gaming communities) has come to mean any situation of conflict. Since gaming is supposed to be fun, there is supposed to be no conflict. Which rarely means there is no conflict. Mostly it means any conflicts are covered up. Sometimes one gets lucky and finds a group where the members are willing to put in the interpersonal work to resolve conflicts by working out the issues, rather than by trying to shush them up.

A person who is seen as starting drama, male or female, is a drama queen. But as the gendered nature of the insult shows, women are more likely to be accused of being drama queens than men. Women are particularly likely to be seen as starting interpersonal trouble with men, simply by being present and being female. Rather than blaming the poor behavior of sexist men towards women, folks blame the women for being present and thus somehow leading the men into temptation with our sexy voices on Vent asking for the tank to stay in range.

Women in games are the recipients of a lot of sexual advances, which sometimes start out friendly and turn hostile as they are turned down, and other times are pretty hostile from the start. Since a lot of this happens in private channels, it’s not seen by the men not involved in it in the early phases. In this way it’s quite similar to street harassment which is incredibly prevalent, but often unseen by men. All the women gamers I’ve talked to about the issue, which is to say the ones I’m close enough to talk to about some pretty sensitive topics, have some methods for turning down advances without upsetting the interlocutor too much. If you’re a woman, and you game, you have to have some plan for how you’ll deal with unwanted sexual advances, because eventually you’ll get them.

Women try for the most part to deal with this shit privately for a variety of reasons. Partly not to start drama, partly because it’s embarrassing to even talk about this stuff, and partly because we know from bitter past experience it’s our character and behavior that will be put to scrutiny and not the harasser’s.

When women finally bring up the harassment they’ve been dealing with to others in their group, it’s usually in a phase far past the mild and now well into — there’s that word again — drama. The woman mentions the problem when it becomes too much for her to handle any more, when the risk of mentioning is outweighed by risk of putting up with it any longer.

This is where shit gets weird. The woman who mentions the problem is seen as the cause of the problem. It is as though if only she kept quiet and took the harassment in silence, there would be no problem. Rather than confront the possibility that some men are assholes in specific ways towards women, folks would rather shoot the messenger. Or, as we feminists sometimes say, blame the victim.