"But sexism is normal in RPGs!"

From “But sexism is normal in RPGs!” on The Heroine Next Door:

huh, funny how all the settings have sexually-harrassing women and treating women as second-class citizens as the norm. I haven’t played in an rpg yet in which women weren’t as a default considered lesser than men in the society in the setting (that’s not to say there aren’t any out there, but that the big, popular ones all have a little bit of sexism in them). I’ll bet if I wrote an rpg in which men were abused and treated like objects I’d be called a “man hater”, no one would read it (much less buy it), and everyone would tell me the setting had too much of an agenda. oh, so if I do something sexist towards men, it’s bad, but being sexist towards women is just normal? Yikes.

Via Jade Reporting.

Technical Difficulties

Due to some technical difficulties involving me not upgrading WP as fast as I should have, Shrub was down for an undetermined amount of time (I was sleeping) and is now operating under the default theme.

When I get a chance I will get everything working again, but the important stuff is back and I’m late for school.

ETA: Okay, the theme seems to be mostly working. The major changes to the database that came with the upgrade seriously broke my layout. Which I knew it would, which is why I put off upgrading. Anyway, the links are currently ugly, but they work so I’m going to leave off until the weekend before I start digging through WP code on how to fix that. If you find any problems in the meantime, drop me a note here.

Off to WisCon!

I’m off to WisCon for the week! I’ll be back May 29, but until then moderation will probably be much delayed, especially for borderline cases. Sorry, but, the conference calls!

For those of you going, I’m presenting on idealized bodies in World of Warcraft, so be sure to look me up. I’ll let everyone know how it went when I get back.


Today I Called Someone's Actions Racist

Note: I don’t want to write about this on my blog because I want to hear from race-discussing people, my blog is so quiet you can hear the crickets chirping. I don’t want to write about it on the Daily Kos, even though I’d get traffic, because I’d get hostility and dismissal of white responsibility for reversing racism as a serious issue. Thank you, Andrea, for letting me guest post on Shrub–I’m using the privilege to write a rather “newbie” essay in this safe space.

Today I thought I was accusing “the city,” or some other general system, of having a racist blind eye. Turns out I was accusing my conversation partner of having a racist blind eye. I know from Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting In The Cafeteria?, Maxjulian’s blog, and Shrub that this is as important for me to do as, say, for men to point out each other’s sexism, but when I did it rudely, did I do more harm or more good in the world?
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The impossibility of dialogue

[Happy one two year birthday to the Official Shrub.com Blog! I’m very grateful that Andrea gave me the opportunity to join her site, and I’m glad she’s here doing all the work that she does. Here’s to many more years.]

As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently took a class on racism and white privilege. My professor was unflinching in his recognition that some things about anti-oppression work are “impossible.” And while this sounds like a pessimistic view of things, I think it was very important that he acknowledged this concept and repeatedly brought it to our attention.

I chose to write about this subject for the one two-year anniversary of the Official Shrub.com Blog because of that importance, despite the fact that it also sounds pretty dreary. I mean, it is a bit disheartening to commemorate the birth of an anti-oppression blog by talking about everything it can’t do.

But recognizing difficulties can always do two different things: it can bring you down, and it can also help you clarify your path to better accomplish your goals. As you can guess, I hope to do the latter.

One of the “impossibilities” that my professor discussed was about the process of dialogue. Our classroom was multiracial – both white students and people of color, and within the latter group there were black, Asian, Latino, and Native students. And while a multiracial demographic can be very beneficial, it also raises a fundamental question: what was this class for?

I’ll explain what I mean with an example. One of the early and enduring issues raised in the class was the idea of safety. And by “safety,” I mean the safety of the white students – whether they felt like they could safely enter the discussion without being judged, and make mistakes without being punished.

This is an important issue for white people talking about anti-racism, and the perceived absence of safety can be a deal breaker for discussion. I expect that most if not all white people who begin anti-racist work feel a strong concern for this kind of safety.

However, this is not a new issue for people of color. On the one hand, those of us who have spent any amount of time trying to talk to white people about racism have run into this issue time and time again. On the other hand, a lack of “safety” isn’t news to us. It’s a given. People of color go around their entire lives without the assumption of safety – from racism. Whether the threat is immediate and physical, or long-term and mental or emotional, we already know that we can’t expect safety from this world. There are ways of feeling safer – being around certain people we can trust, for instance – but there is never a point at which we can say, Okay, no threat from racism here. Being constrained by white people’s fear about losing the safety they never have to question can undermine our own feeling of safety.

This is the kind of “impossibility” that my professor identified in the class. There was simply no way for him, or us, to address the needs of both groups of students at the same time. If we were to make the white students feel safe, we would have had to hold back on criticisms and make sure to keep at the level of Racism 101. If we were to concern ourselves with the students of color, we would have had to leave many of the white students behind, because they would have felt ignored or insulted.

This is specific example of a wider problem that Shrub, as well as other anti-oppression blogs, run into all the time – the question of Who is this dialogue for?

Addressed with this question, my professor would have called it impossible. There is no good answer to this. As stated above, choosing one party compromises the interests of the other in some way. At the same time, it is vitally necessary that both parties be present. If people of color are the only ones talking about racism, it will result in a lot of knowledge – but the work will be hindered if no white people join in the effort. If white people talk on their own, it spares the people of color from enduring further privileged ignorance – but there is the risk that no one will be there to hold the white people accountable, and keep their learning grounded in the real experiences of people of color.

This blog is for anti-oppression, but not necessarily only for the oppressed. (For one thing, there are hardly any people who only fall into one of the “oppressed” or “oppressor” classifications when all aspects of their social situation are taken into account.) We provide support to those who bear the weight of sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression. Still, we hope to teach and reach out to people on the other side of the privilege divide in the hopes of gaining more allies.

One solution (of the many that are necessary) is simply to have multiple sites for dialogue. Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog and Feminist Allies are two sites that are geared more towards men and/or non-feminists, whereas I Blame The Patriarchy is intended for, in Twisty’s own words, “advanced patriarchy-blamers.” Yet even if both groups of sites did their intended work perfectly, there would still be the problems mentioned above. A blog dedicated to “Feminism 101” would, obviously, not graduate towards more rigorous analyses as it focused on educating the (endless supply of) ignorant people. The “advanced” blogs would make entrance into feminism difficult for those with little knowledge or experience.

One of the reasons that I enjoy blogging here so much is that Andrea’s work occurs in a sort of middle ground, engaging in outreach with those who are respectful and willing to learn, yet not sacrificing the needs of those in the non-privileged groups. This middle ground, however, is constantly in flux, and must be re-negotiated to stay on target.

Sites like Shrub are best aided, not by being told what to do or how to do it better, but by those who are willing to join in the work. That doesn’t mean that these combined efforts will fix the impossibility of dialogue between privileged and non-privileged groups, but they will help the multiple attempts at dialogue be sustained.

New Blog: First Woman

Ragnell has created a new group blog: First Woman.

In her own words:

Saturday morning, Hillary Rodham Clinton officially announced her candidacy for President.


So, I’m finally starting a political blog, so I can follow the media coverage and the public reaction to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and examine the sexist attitudes that surface during the Democratic primaries (and beyond, should she get the nomination). I’ll also probably blog about how people regard other women in American Politics.

If no sexist attitudes surface, this should be the last post of the blog.

More likely, though, there will be way too much sexism for one person or one blog to analyze.

If you want to help out with the blog, she’s requested that you get in touch with her. More details here.

Suggestions for a New Spam Blocker?

I’ve had it with Spam Karma. Because it bypasses the indigenous moderation settings, it’s causing certain comments to bypass moderation. The plugin I downloaded for it just doesn’t work properly, and because I’m no longer going to be around every day to catch these things that’s just simply not acceptable.

So, does anyone know of any other decent spam blockers that don’t interfere with WP’s moderation setting? I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know.

Also, if people are still having problems with their comments being marked as spam, please let me know. I think the cause is Akismet, but I need to know all the details I can so I can troubleshoot things.

Site Notice

[12.13 Please Note: Comments are not “being deleted” as many people are claiming. This blog is moderated and that means that all comments must go through the moderation queue first. Because of an issue with Spam Karma, sometimes comments get approved without going through first. When I see that, I automatically put them back into the queue without reading them first. That doesn’t mean they’re deleted, it just means that they haven’t been reviewed by a moderator yet. The bloggers here do not live online so be patient!]

Apparently a lot of people are having trouble getting comments through. I’m not sure if this is another Akismet problem (it was freaking out about a month ago) or a Spam Karma problem. If you try to comment, please save your text in another file before you submit it so you don’t lose anything if it screws up. Also, if you have any idea what plugin is giving the error, I would much appreciate being informed.

Half the time I’m not even being mailed the comments, and the other half I’m getting mailed comments but then they aren’t in the queue to approve. I’ll try to fix this as soon as possible, but since I don’t know what’s freaking out and why I don’t know how long it’ll take.