Team Valkyrie is dedicated to taking a socially critical perspective of gaming, comics, scifi, fantasy, and geek culture in general. I like addressing a broad audience, considering diverse backgrounds and perspectives, inclusiveness, and getting rid of all the dumb bullshit so we can have some fun already.
Originally posted at my personal site, this is the event that spawned the whole Valkyrie thing and why I now have this blog. So, you know, context.
August 26, Day One of PAX 2011, I hopped in line for the Q&A five minutes before the creators start hustlin’, because I have to know the swear word. (Clitrascal, for the curious. We also discussed the classics, like cumsquat and twatvomit. It may come as no surprise but I have an affection for profanity.)
There was a dude ahead of me in line. And in this case “dude” is a very-carefully selected word. He opens with “I came here all the way from Dubai.” Applause. That’s a far way to travel, which is awesome. We like that kind of passion here.
“I was wondering… where are the single gamer chicks?”
Cue awkward laughter.
“I hear about these single gamer chicks,” he continues, “but I haven’t met them. Where do I find them?”
One of the creators stares at him. “Dude. Are you really using us for a dating service right now?”
“If there are any single girls who want to have lunch, I would like to take you out.” There’s uncomfortable laughter from most, with a few scattered sincere cheers from the kind of neanderthals who often wonder where da wimin at, as if they simply haven’t found the right aisle in the grocery store.
Finally he steps down and I’m faced with a dilemma: to start shit or not to start shit.
If I start shit, I think, fretting, I will get booed and I do not want that.
But no, I think, squaring my shoulders, I need to say something because that’s just not okay.
Doubt returns. But the shit-starting and the booing…
So when I get to the mic, I ask permission. “I got in line with a question, but now I have both a question and a comment, and the comment is directed at another attendee. Is that okay?” They gave me their blessing.
“To the gentleman who was asking where the single gamer chicks are at…” I pause, for effect. “Maybe call us women? You know, just, step one. Try showing us some respect. See how that works out for you.”
And then the crowd started cheering. I was so relieved.
“Let’s take it a step up,” one of the creators says. “How about Valkyrie?”
I think about that. “Yeah, I can totally go with Valkyrie.”
Walking back to my seat, I got a series of high fives from audience members and people in line — predominantly men. Leaving the theatre, I was thanked by several people for what I said, again, predominantly men. And throughout the con, I was stopped by people saying, “Hey! You’re the Valkyrie!” Again, predominantly men.
You know what this tells me? This tells me there are many men are wanting to stand up for women but perhaps are not knowing how. They are perhaps worried about how they might seem in front of other men, that they too might be ostracized for daring to stand against a fellow man for the sake of a woman.
Well, gentlemen, the number of people who stopped me who were very clearly male should hearten you. Feel free to step up when you see some wrong-doing, when you see women being mistreated or singled out or objectified or degraded for the simple act of being a woman. And all you need to do is a simple thing:
“That’s not cool. Knock it off.”
Just say that when you see shit going down. It’s a simple thing, but it will help women feel more comfortable in gaming, knowing that they have someone who would rather defend them than stand silent. Silence is often read as acceptance, and that’s why I had to say something to that one asshole, and say it on a large screen in front of several thousand people.
So thanks to everyone who cheered and high-fived and thanked me. Thanks to the women who showed me appreciation for calling that misogyny out. Thanks to the men who thanked me for calling out that douchebag on his doucheyness. You all made me a lot more optimistic about gaming culture.