Tanking Misogyny

I’ve been accused more than once of not having my own mind. Anyone who knows me knows how ridiculous that statement is. But since I’m a Stay at Home Wife and Mother and since I often defer to my husband in public, the accusation comes about.

We’ve been called backwards because of how we handle our marriage… because I address any issues in private rather than make a fuss in front of friends. Even because we made the choice that I stay at home with any children – something I was told that I’d never be satisfied or fulfilled by doing [boy were they wrong]. I mean, my husband is also my best friend – I should have his back and he should have mine and we do. Bringing that kind of teamwork and attitude to raid is a blessing.

And yet, despite being called backwards and such, we keep running into these strange creatures in WoW… these strange creatures that seem to believe that woman’s place is behind the controls of a healer – or caster dps and has no business being in the tanking business… that’s for the menfolk don’t you know?! Which one is actually backward there?

I see the topic come around occasionally in the blogosphere as it has recently on Blessing of Kings and Hypercriticism.

Back on our old server in our first guild, my husband actually tried to get me interested in tanking… kept saying I should give it a go because I might like it. I never gave it a second thought until I stopped enjoying my warlock and my husband couldn’t keep a reliable or sober offtank. That part you’ve heard before, I know. I got a few reactions of what amounted to “Look at the cute little girl trying out tanking” but my husband was determined that if tanking was what I wanted to do, he’d help me learn how… just as he always has with every dream I’ve pursued or goal I’ve had.

I was the offtank for my husband in our ten man and the alternate tank in the 25 man… meaning most of the time I was paying my dues by going dps back then. I wasn’t great at it then either but it was a casual guild so it was alright. Our main tank at the time was our GM who played a paladin. Our main offtank was another DK who was blood. Ven was the third tank in the 25s. I wasn’t given much thought for a few weeks until our normal DK couldn’t show up for one. Ven moved up to the secondary tank position and I consequently got the third position. I was psyched. And then our GM lost a piece of tanking gear to me. And suddenly I was a threat. It was all fair and by the book – we used a straight SK system for 25 man and he’d lost pieces to OS tanks [both of the tanks for the third raid were MS dps] before and it had not been an issue… but I was a woman. This, somehow, made a big difference.

I didn’t really understand what was going on… I was feeling pressure but I was having the most fun I’d ever had in game. I’d discovered my true role… and yet somehow I was being treated as a threat. One of the officers finally pulled me to the side one day and explained that our GM believed that women didn’t belong in tanking or in the officer corps. That’s “just the way he is”. Basically that I was going to have to fight for every scrap I got. I was going to have to work twice as hard to be thought half as good. Whatever. In truth, I was really upset. I mean I’d looked up to our GM and he’d been right good to me, until I started tanking.

I didn’t give up – obviously. But I did have to fight every step along the way. Worst of all were mornings – especially if the GM and I were the only ones online. I’d finally made officer at some point in this mess. Ven had gotten promoted probably 7-9 months before based on raids that we organized together. Anyway, I started logging into an unguilded alt to see if any officer besides the GM were on because if it was just him and I, Officer chat was pure nastiness. A Vault of Archavon pug we both happened into one day sealed that deal. They made me the main tank and he gave me nothing but grief in officer chat. Oh how bad I sucked… oh how I couldn’t keep threat off him going full bore… despite pretty badly outgearing me. The group lit into him for refusing to tank swap and I was ready to throw up my hands and leave… but the taunting in officer clinched that I was absolutely going to stay this time.

Why didn’t I ignore him? One of the rules of the guild was that you were not permitted to ignore any guildies – it was literally grounds for a gkick. Most of the other officers supported me… we needed the tanks around and our GM was being simply ridiculous. A couple of them taught Ven and I how to raid lead and organize raids – sometimes by showing us the best way and sometimes by showing us what not to do. And then our GM took a hiatus.

By ToC our other DK had dropped out… he was apparently upset that I had managed to match him. He came back later on a resto druid until one of our druids outhealed him. At this point I did what every tank was supposed to do – when you find someone of your class interested in your spec, you mentor them and help them. We had a caster who was interested in going to his blood dk and he came to me for advice. I was thrilled beyond belief. Until I started getting reports from his raidmates that he was infatuated with me… and he was friends with Ven, knew we were married and started hitting on me in a creepy way anyway. It was a very weird situation that ended with him leaving guild to my relief.

Our GM came back during this period and was with us into ICC. Tanking with him in ICC was an exercise in frustration. Imagine the stereotypical LFR pug tank. Any mob I was assigned, he’d taunt off me – even with his own still up. Not many people would dare give him what for over vent but Ven had had enough by this point and told him off. It still kept happening periodically when he thought Ven wasn’t watching. Ultimately he ragequit his own guild, leaving a friend of ours in charge. Lots of animosity ensued.

I still run across the same breed of person now and again. You know the “get back in the healing/caster dps and make us mana cakes” type? They still exist and it’s a sad thing because you should be able to do what you love in a game [how does this bode for these people in the real world?]. Some of the best healers and caster dps I’ve ever known have been men. And some of the best melee types – whether dps or tank have been women.

Just because Jaina is a mage doesn’t mean I need to be. if I want to be a tank, I can be a tank. Β I am a tank and I am a woman. Β I am proud to be both.

Author: Askevar

Raid leader and Tank. Also is an altoholic

23 thoughts on “Tanking Misogyny”

  1. The effort and determination it takes to keep playing a role you enjoy while under heavy criticism is downplayed far too often, I think. Maybe some of the more dismissive people might read this and finally get a sense of what it’s like. Even if they don’t, it’s always bolstering to know other people have worked through this kind of crap successfully. Props to you and Ven both for keeping at it.

    1. A tank is pretty much always under some criticism… and that’s not a bad thing, It’s helped to make me a better tank, but there have been some very trying moments along the way like what I wrote about in the post with that GM.

      I’ve always felt like I had it “easy” compared to some who go into tanking. I have Ven and I have some very good friends who have been very supportive.

      The very first raid as a dk tank, I had just def capped just in case Ven’s offtank was not there/drunk that night and I didn’t know what rune strike was… so I couldn’t keep threat. I suppose the raid didn’t have much of an option, but they were very good to me πŸ™‚ That is why I remember that guild more positively than anything. I’m still in guild with a number of them today in fact πŸ™‚

  2. Okay, I linked this to a friend of mine before I’d even started typing out my last comment. I’m a woman and a tank myself, with a long track record of demanding change or walking out of guilds that’ve turfed sexism in my direction. I hoped he might get a sense of the slog involved in dealing with that rubbish if he read such a detailed account.

    His response: “I guess you got pretty lucky, playing this long without running into any of that!”

    Luck is nothing compared to stubbornness and a great supporting cast…

  3. Some day I may want to give tanking a go on my DK, but for now it seems like I am going back to me (stereotypical!) healing roots. Luckily it’s something I enjoy and am good at, just like tanking for you, but I can’t imagine having the same behaviour against me like you experienced. The GM should have been happy someone could step up and fill the spot otherwise the raid would not have happened. As for the loot – he was the one who had that loot system in place, and it was your preferred main spec. You were entitled to winning the loot just as much as he was, it’s not like you schemed to take it from him, and that’s probably more the case than you being a woman… or I’d like to think anyway! I would hope people would not be that backwards (because from where I stand, there is nothing backwards about you and your relationship!) in thinking that a woman shall not play games, and shall not win phat lootz. I mean come on, it is 2013.
    As for the behaviour making you upset, I totally sympathise. For a game, WoW sure does make me upset more than some other things do, I am not a total ball of emotion but at points in raiding and just general WoW I can get angry, frustrated, and even sad to the point of balling my eyes out to my boyfriend. Darn emotional influences, get out of my games!
    By the way, your relationship is the same way that my parents are like, and how my relationship is – except mine just isn’t as far progressed! You have your own opinions, and can make your own decisions, but when it comes down to big things we always consult with our partners, because you’re in a partnership after all. If someone told me what to do, I’d be hell shitty about it, but asking their opinion or them discussing the idea with me first is what it’s about and I’d likely choose their views of something (and if I was dead against it, then they’d know!!). Backwards, nope I don’t think so πŸ™‚

    1. You play what you enjoy πŸ™‚ The situation with the GM is years old and another server ago – hence why I feel comfortable talking about it now. I’m very self-censoring in discussing issues in game. I feel like a blog and words are powerful and should be used with care. I just know that looking back I could have so easily given up and not had what I have and love today. The discussions in those other blogs had me thinking about back when and I just felt like sharing πŸ™‚

      Thanks for coming by and commenting πŸ˜€

  4. Yeah, I’m with you. Male healer, here, and most of the tanks I know (including the best tanks from my last two raiding guilds) were women. You either play well or you don’t. Gender doesn’t enter into it.

    1. Currently, all three of the healers in our ten man are guys. And they are spectacular healers! [As are you good sir!]. Gender has absolutely nothing to do with that.

  5. I like ranged classes, but it’s not specifically because I’m female – it’s more because I’m lazy, and melee have to move way too damn often/are in too damn much stuff for my tastes! Tank moves the boss like, two inches away? Congrats, you’re outta range! ANNOYING. Boss spins for some unknown reason and suddenly you’re facing it? Congrats, you’re dead and/or your DPS now sucks and/or some skills can’t be used until you’re behind it again! ANNOYING. I’d rather be on my hunter and be like, EL OH EL JUST GOING TO KEEP SHOOTING PLZKTHX.

    I’ve been taking up healing much more this year, which is both good and weird. I like healing because I wind up paying more attention, but at the same time, I feel kinda GUILTY because I’m aware of the “healers are women” stereotype, and I feel like I’m playing right into it.

    But the queue! It’s faster as a healer! And like, I make people not die, which means *I* don’t die! And I don’t feel continually concerned about my DPS! But am I contributing to a perceived status quo about class and gender roles, which I hate?

  6. Preach on Askevar! Two of my favorite co-tanks are women. I don’t think I’ve ever played as well with anyone as I did with my co-tank in ICC.

  7. I’m sorry you had to go through that crap. I have never come across stereotypes like this while playing WoW, and it makes me sad its going on. We have a husband/wife healer/tank pair in our guild, and as far as I know no one has ever said anything to them. They do an awesome job.
    I’ll just be happy that I’ve found a friendly guild full of really great people, and can play the way I want with nothing but help from the folks around me.

  8. heh, I R MAN I be good tank Rawr. You woman you heal. Yeah right. Give me a tank that can juggle 9 different things at once. Hat’s off to you for finding a role you enjoy.

    1. Despite my blog title, I’m actually a rather generous tank when it comes to taunting things off other people [not an issue anyway unless others pull]. I’m a downright mean healer.

  9. Hmmm I’m struggling what to make of you. I came across this blog bored at work last evening and I’m beginning to wonder weather you are just to stubborn and bring alot of these issues in pugs upon yourself or you just take this game to seriously and need to take a break WoW is not a be all or end all its supposed to be fun and the amount of whining and stubbornness i see in your posts I question weather you play for enjoyment or as a chore. Your “hubby” seems to carry you and I question weather you would be this stubborn annoying if your “hubby” wasn’t in game “protecting” you from the wrath of others. Time to get a life I think and stop taking WoW so seriously

      1. Judging by all this blogging and “alt army” I think ash is the one who is in a basement maybe not her mom’s but definitely a basement. To much time on her hands

    1. I actually thought about your note today while I was living the life you claim I don’t have – how I should respond and if I should. I won’t deny that back when a lot of these events discussed occurred, I was far too invested in the game.

      But I take your words as something else – that I’m doing something right. Your response seemed to involve more rage than my original post, which frankly, I felt none when writing or posting it. If this is “just a game”, why the rage yourself? Why do you even CARE what I do?

      Perhaps you’re new to a blog but everyone chooses to use theirs differently. Mine is there to discuss problems and achievements of me and mine. What people see here or on my twitter is what I choose to allow people to see. And this isn’t about my real life. I choose to separate the two for several reasons – including that I’ve been stalked in the past. Compartmentalization works yo.

      The only thing I can really surmise is you’re here to cause trouble [though the hit bump is appreciated]. Whether you’re someone random or a former raider here to attempt to cause trouble… I honestly don’t know nor does it even matter.

      This is my blog and my space, so do keep it civil. But thanks once again for proving my point.

      1. Sorry ive reread my post it came across wrong had a bad day at work. My point was enjoy the game and relax. Didn’t mean to come across so harsh

  10. I don’t get associations of gender with roles in games either.

    Yes, fewer women enjoy tanking than enjoy healing or dps. But guess what? Fewer men enjoy tanking than healing or dps too.

    Some of my best co-tanks have been women, some of the best healers I’ve played with have been men.

    One of my arena partners who is a badass resilient as all hell warlock who just won’t quit no matter how many losses we take in a row happens to be a woman, and I know some guys who won’t queue into a BG no matter what the incentives.

    Gender is irrelevant, everyone should just be able to play what they want to.

  11. I am for real indeed. I guess by your “mom” comment you are over in the states then you are probably morbidly obese no wonder you guys take WoW so seriously. if anyone is the “elitist” its you.

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