In Reply…

A recent news blog mentioned a ‘typically geeky’ hobby – that of war gaming and Warhammer in particular. No linkage, because he doesn’t need any more publicity. Also, I am on my phone and don’t have it to hand. So ner.

Anyhoo, the author of the piece asserted, confidently, that this was an exclusively male domain. That there was no place for women. A short-lived but ultimately satisfying Twitter request to my numerous female war gaming friends ensured that his perception was duly corrected by a brief deluge of Tweets. Despite saying he was happy to be corrected, he didn’t acknowledge this fact, of course. He did point out that he considers himself something of a geek anyway. It’s OK! He’s a guy! He’s allowed to be a bit geeky.

But to be fair, the whole thing runs deeper than a personal need to point out that he was wrong. It’s the perpetuation of an unfair stereotype – regardless of the fact it was by a self-professed member of that group. It’s just more ammunition for the playground and workplace bullies who delight in the endless ridicule of people who don’t conform to the presumed norm. They don’t need any more. Just… stop it. Because yes. Stereotypes exist. But people who enjoy geeky pursuits are not all mid-teen/twenty something boys whose glasses fog up at the mere mention of Megan Fox’s name. By the same token, I don’t automatically presume that all football fans are mindless thugs. But more specifically, let’s look at this point. Girls Who Game.

It’s a well documented fact that girls, more than boys, have image thrust down their necks at every possible opportunity.

Image! Be thin! Be fabulous! Be another sheep in the flock!

If you are a girl you must like – in varying proportions – handbags, shoes, jewellery, The Only Way is Essex, 50 Shades of Grey and small, pointless dogs. This is what society shouts at us. The right thing to be, we’re told from our earliest days, is girly girls. These creatures exist in vast numbers, spread across the highways and byways of our green shores. And you know what? Good luck to them. If that’s what they’re like, and if that’s what they like, then may their Jimmy Choo shoes carry them tottering down life’s rich highway.

There are lots of us who eschew All Things Girly. Those of us who see the purpose of shoes only as things to keep our feet dry. Those of us who see only the practical implications of handbags – a device used for carting around objects too big to go in pockets. We lurk in dark shadows, unable to contribute to office discussions on ‘what happened in Big Bother last night’ due to our curse. We don’t dare answer the ‘what did you do at the weekend’ question for fear of causing confusion. And so help us if we’re not up-to-date on the latest Kardashian news. (Personally, I still confuse them with the Cardassians, an alien race from Star Trek. Although a brief glimpse on Google Image search of ‘Kardashian’ makes me suspect they may be connected).

We are that ever-growing societal group. We are Girls Who Game. We’re just as tired of the old ‘pick-on-geeks’ mentality as our male counterparts. And here’s why.

Girls Who Game often get short shrift from non-gaming members of society – male and female alike. Disdainful sneers or phrases such as ‘get a life’ and the like are commonplace. (Incidentally, as a MMORPG player, I have more than one life already, so thanks – I’ll pass). Yet within their own demographic, once it’s determined that Girls Who Game are actually real and not some kind of hallucination, they are treated with politeness, courtesy and total acceptance. In fact, most of the people I’ve met who are involved in so-called ‘geeky’ pastimes tend to be more polite, warm and utterly without malice than amongst any other sector of society with which I’ve interacted.

My son took place recently in the Warhammer national school’s tournament. One of the awards at the end of the day was for ‘Most Sporting Player’. The nominations were made by the kids for the kids. That was a nice touch, I thought. Every single kid I spoke to that day was bright, pleasant, friendly and startlingly witty. They said ‘please’ and they said ‘thank you’. And yes – there were girls mixed into their number.

If good manners, mutual respect and sociable, friendly people is part of what being a Girl Who Games is all about, then I’m both glad and proud to be in that group. Amongst like minds and not being afraid of sharp tongues who criticise you for not having a small dog hanging off your carrying items.

In the meantime, I would like to offer sincere congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for defeating the level boss and progressing to the next stage.


Yes, you can be a Girly Girl and a Girl Who Games. Don’t pre-empt future blog entries. Patience, Grasshoppers!

4 thoughts on “In Reply…

  1. Phil says:

    Reblogged this on The Shell Case and commented:
    Sarah Cawkwell is one of my heroes. And this is just one of the many reasons why.

  2. tykensrift says:

    Reblogged this on Tykens Rift and commented:
    Take a bow, Sarah. Brilliant response.

  3. Saw your reply on Tim Stanley’s article. Nice job, Sarah.

    I dropped in on a friend earlier today to find his teenage daughter painting a classic metal Eldar dreadnought. Huzzah!

  4. lostonfenris says:

    As a girl gamer (just 40K I’m afraid, I don’t have the hand eye coordination for the computer sort) and a complete geek I’d like to say “Hear Hear”.

    I’m a scientist and I’ve never liked pink (or cheesy romances or trashy mags) but I’ve had a love for things mechanical since childhood and finding 40K has given me an outlet for my competitive and creative sides and the community has largely been friendly and welcoming.

    Congratulations and thank you for taking a stand.

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