I've thought about writing this blog quite a bit this week. You see in respect of the subject matter those who need to read it and take notice won't. Those who don't need to will read it and it will make no difference to them. Then again, as Edmund Burke said "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".
Whilst I wouldn't claim to be a particularly good man I hope I am not evil, and so I think I'll have my say.
Just under a week ago a long term wargaming ex-serviceman friend of mine shared a link to a Tumblr blog posting, entitled "Tabletop Wargaming has a White Male Terrorism Problem". And there, I've just lost all those who need to read further. For those of you who haven't read it the posting documents the relentless sexual harassment that a female games shop employee and game hobbyist in Canada has suffered in over a decade of being part of the hobby. In Canada. Home of nice people.
Okay, get this straight. This wasn't just about sexism but about sexual harassment as well. Sexual harassment that involved the physical assault on a fellow human being. If you don't think that's wrong you need to crawl back into your cave and never come out in polite society again.
Being in the 50+ bracket I realise that I'm part of the problem to some extent. Things that were acceptable when I was growing up are now recognised as being completely unacceptable. Attitudes change as we become better people. If you want another example in the way attitudes change don't forget that in the 18th century it was a status symbol to own slaves, now we realise that it isn't.
HOWEVER I've spent 30+ years working in the financial services business and I have had my fair share of diversity training. I know it is traditional to poke fun at these courses and waffle on about "political correctness gone mad" but if you could just hear what some people say during them you know there are people who have a problem. Political Correctness is about respecting people who are different and not discriminating against them because they are different. Most "isms" are about the exercise of power over those who don't have it. Bear that in mind when some Daily Mail reader, who has never faced real discrimination in his life, goes off on one.
The reaction to the original blog has been varied, but there are two aspects of it I want to address here. These can be summed up as follows:
1) It's happening in RPGs/Board Gaming. I do xyz gaming, it's not happening there.
2) I've never seen it, so it's not happening.
So, point 1. I'd regard myself as a historical wargamer who occasionally dabbles in RPGs and board games. I know people who only do historical games and there are people who only do RPGs or board games. The hobby isn't homogeneous but there's a lot of crossover. We all go to the same shows/conventions and we mostly frequent the same shops. Hobby magazines mostly cover all aspects of the hobby. If there's a problem in one area of the hobby, it's quite likely (if not a racing certainty) that its in all the other areas too. Why? Because generally speaking all aspects of the non-computer wargaming hobby are patronised overwhelmingly by the same demographic. Yes, there are women who game, but they are not, in wargaming terms "the other half of the sky". Not by a long, long, way. If there's a problem with those who play RPGs, there's a problem with those who do miniatures gaming. Taking extremes into account a lot of people dress the same and shower with the same degree of regularity. It's not a great stretch to assume that they share the same set of social mores or attitudes towards women.
The second point is just facile. A lot of people have called the woman concerned a liar or a fantasist based on this position. Right, let's try to put this into words the hard of thinking might get their heads round. Just because I haven't seen it doesn't mean it isn't happening. When I got bullied at school the perpetrators made sure no one else saw it, - or at least no one else who'd be brave enough to stand up and do something about it. Many, many, years ago I worked in a team where we had a problem. We knew we had a problem but you just couldn't nail down the evidence. People moved on for other reasons, the problem went away. I deeply regret now I didn't do more at the time.
This is happening, - believe it. If it happens in the work place where it is a manager's job to stamp it out, be sure it's happening in the hobby arena as well. So, instead of saying "I haven't seen it, it isn't happening", say "When I see it, I will challenge this type of behaviour". Do not blend in with the crowd and snigger along with the rest of them.
Of course it might be that the people concerned think the behaviour is acceptable. Well it isn't. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
The original post that kicked this off is here: White Male Terrorism Post. If you haven't read it, you should.