I had a very interesting day, Thursday the 13th of August. First I met two girlfriends in the industry and had lunch with them, and then I attended a gender equality workshop, sort of.
Anyway, one of the things that stayed with me during the lunch and the workshop after, is how hard it becomes to be just a working person, and not a representation of feminist views and ideals if those views are held by one.
Even if I have no desire to be seen as anything else than someone who works with games while I’m at work, the constant reminder – by other people – of my private convictions tend to make me a representative even when I don’t want to be. Even when I have no intention to be. Even when I’m not.
A co-worker told me that he felt intimidated by me and my expertise in gender equality. He said that it was a good thing that I told him not to be ashamed of the culture he consumed, but that it’s okay to like stuff that we also might find problematic. In other words, just the perception of me as a champion for equality influenced his views and relationship to me as a co-worker.
To me, this is problematic. Being a feminist taints me, in particular in the eyes of those who have preconceived notions about what feminism is, and what it stands for.
To always be present as a representative for political and humanistic opinions is detrimental not only to my work, but also to my opportunities within the gaming industry. If others view me as my co-worker viewed me, I am being judged not on my competency but on my political views.
To be honest, my political views can be regarded as scary at times, perhaps because they can be interpreted as an implication or a judgement. “You’re not good enough because you’re not as enlightened as me.” This is of course about as far from the truth as you can get, but it’s very hard to avoid that sense of judgement, because it doesn’t come from me, it comes internally from those I talk to. Truth be told, I don’t actively look for issues. I don’t have to, because the gaming industry is full of them.
In retrospect, I should never have started speaking up about these things. I’m pretty sure that had I kept my mouth shut, I would have had a very different career to the one I’m having right now, not in the least because I have actual proof that shutting up and ignoring problems will improve performance reviews.
Shutting up will however not change things.
That’s not quite true. Shutting up will improve my immediate situation, but it will do nothing Long term.
I suppose the industry won, though. I’ve learned – through repeated experience at multiple companies – that speaking up will get me in trouble. Heck, even this blog post, vague as it is, may get me in trouble.
To me, that is a clear sign of fear. The inability to act because of the possible repercussions the actions may have on my work life.