Please Read First Post Before Replying: history of silencing people of color and women

edited June 2011 in Forum Discussion
This is a very sensitive topic, please help us keep things civil and don't reply till you've read this entire post and the 6 rules below (don't reply to people's posts, don't post here if you feel people haven't been silenced, stay on topic, whisper me questions, and so on). Don't just react to the subject.


Someone I respect, but will remain anonymous (I won't name names, please don't ask), recently wrote, "SG has a pretty good history of silencing people of color or women."


I've always taken Story Games as a place that's friendly towards people of color and women. But I'm not a woman or a person of color (by American standards). Given my perspective and biases, I'm probably not seeing something. Help me understand.

Story Games sometimes has a reputation for being anti-traditional games, pro-liberal, and a little passive aggressive (thread derailments, nitpicking, dueling thread topics). That said, Story Games has over 3,000 members… but it unfortunately only takes the action of a small number of people to paint a reputation for an entire community. Recently a person who is relatively new to Story Games with a small number posts made an anti-traditional game comment that was in my opinion, unfairly taken as representative of the community at large. But you can't control how people perceive you. And sometimes there is a seed of truth driving those opinions. Or sometimes it is completely true but we are too close to see it. I want to know if there is truth to Story Games being a place that has silenced people of color or women.


Before replying to this post, please READ THE FOLLOWING RULES. Failure to follow these rules when posting may lead to your post being edited or deleted. Let me stress... we don't want to have to edit or delete anyone's post... so please follow these 6 simple rules.

1. If you do feel that Story Games has a pretty good history of silencing people of color or women, please let us know. Either post here or if you want to remain anonymous, whisper me or email me at jenskot @ gmail DOT com so I can post your thoughts for you while keeping your identity and specific names hidden.

Feel free to post as little or as much as you want. It's cool to just say, "I've seen Story Games silence people of color or women" or "I've felt silenced here." Feel free to explain why you feel this way and include links to specific threads if you want. Whatever you're comfortable with.

2. If you're not sure but suspect that Story Games might have a history of silencing people of color or women, see #1 above.

3. Don't respond to other people's posts. Consider this more a poll than a discussion thread. If you want to say something that may not be appropriate in this thread, please send a whisper or start a new thread.

4. If you DO NOT feel that Story Games silences people of color or women, that's totally cool but please don't post to this thread. This is mainly a poll of people who DO feel Story Games silences people of color or women.

5. Stay on topic.

6. If you have questions about this thread or comments about the rules, whisper me.


I realize that asking Story Games about Story Games is problematic. But at the moment, it's all I have.

Thanks,
John

Comments

  • I've seen lots of things silenced, marginalized, misrepresented, or discounted here, to one degree or another. Communities do that, inevitably, or they wouldn't be communities with a definable identity. Since this - like most internet fora, and most RPG fora in particular - is a very, very white privileged male environment, yeah, those who don't fit that description come in for more of it.

    On the other hand, compared to just about any other place on the internet for discussing roleplaying, this is about the LEAST exclusionary I have ever encountered. Even compared to some that expressly try to be inclusive. All too often, the overt attempt to create safe space succeeds only at the cost of diversity (which is very much NOT to say that it isn't a good thing to do).

    SG seems to do very well at including a broad spectrum of people and experiences most of the time. But we could do better.
  • edited June 2011
    I find the term "people of color" horrendous!
    I want to slap the first person who used it, and the subsequent people who continue to use it.
    What am I, colorless?
    It's short-sighted and lazy, at best.
  • edited June 2011
    -Edited after re-reading the posting rules (oops, pre-coffee)-

    I have not participated in threads because some of the comments made me feel that my input would generate flack/hostility/not be heard. So in that sense, sure.
    When replying in threads though.... not as much. I don't know how someone would tell just from my screen name that I even was a woman without me self identifying as such. So, there's that.

    But, overall:
    Posted By: Mark WOn the other hand, compared to just about any other place on the internet for discussing roleplaying, this is about the LEAST exclusionary I have ever encountered.
    Yup. x10.
  • Posted By: Nathan H.I find the term "people of color" horrendous!
    I want to slap the first person who used it, and the subsequent people who continue to use it.
    What am I, colorless?
    It's short-handed and lazy at best.
    Nathan, please take this to another thread.

    Thanks,
    John
  • edited June 2011
    SG peeps: please pay careful attention to posting rule number 4 above.

    I have seen women silenced here. It was happening again very recently, and it has happened many times in the past. It's shameful, and it's bullshit, and fuck I'm getting angry just typing this.
  • edited June 2011
    I've received a few thoughtful whispers and emails of people who would prefer to remain anonymous. Already this thread has been worth it.

    It may be a bit of a bumpy ride getting used to the 5 rules (see the first post) but that's to be expected as often we don't have threads like this on Story Games. That said, Andy has given me the ok to run this thread in this manner, would like everyone to follow the rules in the first post, and I will do my best to moderate as needed.

    I'll wait to receive a few more whispers and emails before I post the feedback anonymously.

    Thanks for the replies so far!

    Best,
    John
  • Just a quick note, folks: This thread is under the Embassy of Jenskot (John). I'm giving him full admin rights to edit and delete comments here, and otherwise staying out. So if you see your comment suddenly disappear or get edited (something which doesn't usually happen here save on highly charged subjects), it might be because you didn't carefully read the rules of the first post above. I'm leaving this entirely to Jenskot's purview. Please do read carefully before posting. Thx.
  • edited June 2011
    I've seen small groups of individual people on Story Games shout down a person of color or a woman, until he or she shuts up.

    As a forum, Story Games' standards of behavior don't prevent it from happening, there are enough people here who are willing to do it, and nothing changes afterward, so it can keep happening. This means that effectively, yes, I've seen Story Games silence people of color or women.
  • I've seen people of color and women being shut down on SG.

    I've been shut down on SG.

    I cannot say that I have seen one group or another shut down more or less than any other on SG.
  • Posted By: AndyJust a quick note, folks: This thread is under theEmbassy of Jenskot(John). I'm giving him full admin rights to edit and delete comments here, and otherwise staying out. So if you see your comment suddenly disappear or get edited (something which doesn't usually happen here save on highly charged subjects), it might be because you didn't carefully read the rules of the first post above. I'm leaving this entirely to Jenskot's purview. Please do read carefully before posting. Thx.
    Thanks Andy.

    Everyone, I'm not going to enforce rules retroactively. From this point on, please read the first post carefully and make sure to follow the 5 rules before posting.

    This is a very sensitive topic and I want to do my best to make sure people feel comfortable sharing their true feelings.

    Thanks so much for your cooperation and if you have any questions, please feel free to whisper me.

    Best,
    John
  • I'm not sure. I don't know that I've witnessed it such that I can recall a particular thread or whatever but I don't read most of the threads that get posted here.

    What I can say is that often I notice that the style of thinking and rhetoric that see here is indicative of structural oppression of difference and of Otherness. Moreover, a readiness to ascribe perceived qualities of groups to individuals with little or no evidence and a strong reliance on pre-judgement and speculation on social phenomena. While SG strikes me as a typically liberal haunt, full of 'tolerance' I rarely see any genuine critical reflection on these kinds of social issues.

    I half-seriously noted in another thread on 'Nerds vs Hipsters' that the nature of the discussion was isomorphic in structure and tone, if not in content, to more obvious kinds of oppression (e.g race and gender.) Replace the terms and you'll see what I mean.
  • Story Games exists within a patriarchal and white-supremacist society. That society silences women and people of colour.

    There aren't any particular features of this forum's sub culture that make it less patriarchal or white supremacist, and no rules of conduct or moderation that substantially alter the dominant paradigm's way of operating. So yes, Story Games silences women and people of colour.
  • edited June 2011
    Quick note, it may take me a while to respond to whispers. The number of responses have been considerable. Thanks for participating!
  • edited June 2011
    It's been pointed out that my previous comment wasn't exactly in the spirit of the thread and could be seen as dismissive. I am not an asshole, so instead I'll just say this.

    I don't know. I sure hope that this isn't the case.
  • edited June 2011
    Posted By: skinnyghostA forum environment is for public discussion, right?
    There are exceptions: Stickies, "Announcements", Sunk threads, "no inter-forum wars", etc. This thread will stay as one of those exceptions for its duration.
  • If anyone has questions about this thread or comments about the rules, whisper me.

    Thanks so much,
    John
  • When SG was started, there were a lot more women regularly participating than there are now.

    Over the course of its history, at different times, SG has had more people of color regularly participating than there are now.

    When SG was started AND over its history, at different times, SG has had a broader diversity of opinions and voices about a broader diversity of games and styles of play than are currently present on a regular basis.

    These three things are closely connected, in my mind.

    SG is very "tolerant" in terms of not having much moderation and letting anybody post about whatever they want, yes, but that also means tolerating loud people and people who -- sometimes unintentionally, sometimes not -- talk over or talk down other people in the course of having a "discussion" or insist upon sticking to certain ways of viewing things or specific jargon or terminology in talking about games.

    I, at times, have also probably been one of those people and definitely do not let myself off the hook for being part of the problem.
  • Yes, which is why I've basically written off SG and no longer participate here.

    Except, of course, when I am called out for silencing the patriarchy somewhere else entirely. Hilarious!

    It is anecdotal, but perhaps telling, that whenever I say "So on Story Games..." to most of the female designers and gamers I know, the response is to cut me off and say "I don't care what they have to say there any more," or "God, you still go there?"
  • Yes in general.
  • From time to time, I have seen this happening, though SG has been far more friendly than some other game forums I can mention.
    Sometimes, it gets to the point where I will just step away from a thread, and never go back to it, even if the original topic was something I was interested in, because there'll be two or three people who just want to drown out anything genuine or valuable. And I've seen it not just about women and cultural groups, but also people with disabilities as well. Sometimes, I just want to stop people and tell them to go back to the "Rules and Purpose of Story Games" sticky at the very top of the threads, and point out this:

    The rules for joining:
    * Strive to treat other participants with respect.
    * Strive to talk constructively, even on fun and fluff.
    * Criticism and Discussion of ideas is kosher.
    * If you are bitter about something, do not express that bitterness here. Find another venue for bitterness.
    I've tried to live by these rules, even before seeing them printed on SG. Sometimes I will stray, but I keep trying to keep myself in check. I don't know why some people ignore it and want to be disruptive instead. I WANT there to be more constructive discussion on women and gaming. I WANT there to be more innovations with gaming involving other cultures and cultural viewpoints. And I would LIKE people to avoid using dismissive superlatives and railing against people or ideas that don't particularly fit into their world-view.
  • edited June 2011
    I've seen women and people of color get shut down. Not in a "your opinion is not welcome here" sort of way, but in a "badger and argue until they give up" sort of way.

    I've seen it mainly in topics that are sensitive and related to the shut-down person's experience of oppression, marginalization, etc. Like a person of color in a thread on racial stereotypes, or a woman in a thread on sexist art, for instance. It may happen in other, less charged topics as well, I don't know, but the above topics are where it stands out.

    It stands out even when I disagree with particular opinions of the shut-down person. It stands out because the person doesn't seem to be heard, thus their voice is marginalized, thus it doesn't matter if they're "right" or not*, because that person's perspective, good or ill, is absent when the person removes themselves from the forum environment.

    I sometimes feel resentful that a person, however justified, has chosen to remove themselves from S-G discussion. I want their voice to be here, and I want them to be OK with Story-Games and willing to engage. EDIT: This about my feelings, not their actions. The person in question has done nothing "wrong"* and doesn't owe me anything. The person in question is most likely doing the healthiest thing they can for themselves in that circumstance. And I mainly am resentful and frustrated with the people who drove them away. But it's hard for me to deal with my disappointment sometimes, as I want to benefit from their voice and perspective.

    Whenever I see a woman or person of color post here (mostly women, because it's harder to tell if someone's a PoC unless they self-identify), I feel a desperate hope spring up that maybe, just maybe, they won't get scared off, and maybe just maybe we can be an inclusive and diverse community again.

    Peace,
    -Joel

    EDIT: I forgot to include the footnote for the above asterisks:

    *actually, it never matters who's "right" or not. "Right" and "wrong" aren't useful concepts for me. Healthy/unhealthy, inclusive/exclusive, validated/invalidated and so on are far more useful.
  • edited June 2011
    John actually encouraged me to edit this post to not be a reply and re-post it, but I haven't had time due to a busy first week at work. I don't feel silenced by John, and he is about the furthest from "the problem" a person can get. Here's the revised post.

    I get frustrated by a community who sees me and people like me as pokemon and not peers: people who want to point at me to win some argument about how this community isn't sexist because it deigns to tolerate my existence.

    You want my girly bits but not my voice, and frankly, I got enough of that from dudes in college thanks.

    It's not my job, as a woman, to hang out here so you can congratulate other white dudes on how Story Games is so awesome and inclusive and diverse. I am not here so you can feel good about yourself, and that goes double when the community is making me feel like shit. Don't resent the people who leave: resent the assholes who make staying here an exercise in useless frustration. I repeat: you are resenting the wrong people.

    If your house is a disgusting landfill that smells like cat piss, you can resent me and be frustrated by the fact that I don't want to hang out there, but your only actual recourse is to fucking clean house.

    The same is true of any social space. And SG might not be an episode of Hoarders like every other forum, but is not being as bad as the RPGSite something you want to pat yourselves on the back for? Are your standards seriously that low?
  • I have seen women and people of color get silenced here. It is not the least of the reasons my participation here has gone down. I recognize that as a kind of middle class privilege (avoidance of conflict), but I'm not hopeful for the stand-and-fight strategy when it comes to web forums as a medium.
  • Posted By: jenskot3. Don't respond to other people's posts.Consider this more a poll than a discussion thread. If you want to say something that may not be appropriate in this thread, please send a whisper or start a new thread.
    I note that this is fraying badly.

    On topic: "silencing", in any form, is a hard thing for a community to combat. Particularly an ephemeral one like a web forum. It really only takes a few bad actors - or bad moves by generally good ones, for that matter - to do damage and create an unwelcoming atmosphere.

    I have never. I mean never, in 18 years on the internet. Seen any open forum that could truly be considered broadly and universally welcoming. I'm not sure such a thing is possible. Communities exist because of shared norms. Norms exclude. Inclusion destroys norms.

    I don't expect something like SG to be a safe and welcoming environment. I am happy when it is, and I try to contribute to the good stuff and step away from the bad stuff, but it's not my place to decide what the norms are here. Only Andy can do that, really. The rest of us can talk all we like, but it's LISTENING that's really key, and as long as even a few of us don't want to do that, it's not going to work very well.

    I feel sad when we lose voices here at SG, and I feel sad that MY voice has grown quieter over time as well, as the "center of gravity" of the site has shifted away from my interests and concerns, but it was never the mission of this place to be all things to everyone. It doesn't really HAVE a mission, as far as I can tell, other than to be a slightly genteel drawing-room.

    Which I suppose is part and parcel of the general atmosphere of privilege and half-assed liberalism, but pretty much the whole internet is either that,or a wretched hive of scum and villainy, or a walled garden with guards at the gates. There aren't any utopias in cyberspace, any more than realspace. Just people, being people.
  • I signed up as a member around the beginning of the year, so pretty recently. Overall I haven't had many bad experiences, but I was recently in a discussion where I even-handedly stated the experience I had with roleplaying a certain game and I was told (and I'm not even paraphrasing here) that my experience was wrong. And I've got to say, there was definitely a moment where I said to myself, "Are these the kind of people that hang around here? Do I even want to associate with them?" I worked past it (obviously, since I'm posting right now), and the discussion had nothing to do with my ethnicity (I'm Asian) but I guarantee you if someone called me out on my race in a thread and there was no action taken on the part of the mods it would take me all of a second and a half to say "fuck all y'all" and leave without looking back.
  • I've seen people on Story Games silence people of color or women, and I've felt silenced here, and I've gotten too annoyed and frustrated too many times to enjoy the discussion here.

    I don't post much here anymore. I don't post about race and gender and how it collides with gaming much on the internet in general anymore. I'm not interested in teaching people about what some aspect of gaming feels like as a woman and a person of color, and maybe some people find that ironic, but there you go. I would hate for anyone to consider my views on things to be the Views of All Women of Color, and I've seen that happen all too often on and offline.

    I don't want to justify ad nauseum my experiences as a woman of color in roleplaying games, and I've felt that way here. So I don't post about that stuff anymore. Anywhere.

    I do like to read the threads, though, especially the ones that have nothing to do with race or gender. I just don't respond, and I enjoy Story Games much more that way. I do like to hear about the hot controversial threads from people I see in person, and then I don't get tempted to post. Because I do get tempted to post, but I've been burned enough that posting leads to anxiety even when there is no silencing.

    I wish this place were more moderated, and gently so. I don't really trust people to suppress their inner assholes on the internet, and I think you get a better quality discussion when there's someone out there to nudge common sense and civility back into a discussion.
  • edited June 2011
    I don't consider this a safe forum to discuss politics, including race and gender.
    A couple of bad experiences with folks who can be difficult have made it clear it's easier to just take the discussion elsewhere.
    Christ, and I do NOT try to talk about rape/sexual violence here. Noooo way.
  • Thank you everyone for participating so far. And especially thank you for being patient and honest with me. It's very helpful!

    Just a quick reminder:
    Posted By: jenskot3. Don't respond to other people's posts. Consider this more a poll than a discussion thread. If you want to say something that may not be appropriate in this thread, please send a whisper or start a new thread.
    For the sake of creating a safe atmosphere where people feel comfortable being honest, it's helpful to refrain from replying to other people's posts. I've received a significant number of whispers saying they would have posted publicly except they were discouraged by people breaking the rules in this thread (most of the posts that have broken this rule have been since turned into whispers).

    Thanks so much,
    John
  • I didn't necessarily want to call out the thread I was talking about directly, but something's happened since that I think bears mentioning. The thread in question was a discussion about THAC0 wherein I said it was needlessly complicated and it got in my way of my pure enjoyment of 2E. That got countered with "But it's easy." And I said, "That wasn't my experience." Which was countered with "Well, your experience is wrong." At that point I asked, "Even assuming that it was easy for you, what about for people with learning disabilities? Yours isn't the only experience."

    Well, I just got whispered at by a person who has dyslexia and had a REALLY hard time with THAC0. They wanted to contribute to the thread but were concerned that if they did post it would just turn into a flame war. Here's the quote that really kicks my ass, though:

    "I always had a crappy time with that old system because of my dyslexia (hell, even nowadays I sometimes hide that I'm totaling numbers up on my fingers under the table because of it), and those "you're doing it wrong" comments were like daggers."

    I feel literally queasy with rage at the moment.
  • I once saw a woman get shouted down by a bunch of men as being sexist. That was a real treat.
  • Uh, yes.

    I used to make a game about it with a friend of mine. He'd post something, I'd post an exact paraphrase, and we'd see who got attention and who got dismissed.

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • edited June 2011
    Hi all,

    I've received over 35 whispers and several emails (some of them off topic). I'm going to be away from my computer for most of the rest of the day but when I can, I will compile some of the thoughts from these whispers and emails and present them in a way that maintains anonymity.

    Additionally, a few women and people of color requested that we start a new similar thread for women and PoC who want to talk about their positive experiences with the Story Games community.

    Thanks so much for your patience.

    Best,
    John
  • edited June 2011
    The purpose of a system is what it does.

    Update: John asked that I elaborate on this. I typed it originally in the spirit of "feel free to post as little as you want," but I'd like to honor his request.

    The phrase originates in cybernetics, but I've found it useful in many areas, both as a definition of a tricky term and as a personal reminder.

    I'm not much of a regular on SG anymore, but there aren't any particular incidents that spring to mind when I try to recall people of color [inclusive or] women being silenced. Part of that is because when I was more of a regular, I didn't know what to look for. Part of it is because I habitually check out of threads when they turn toward strong statements of opinion. That said, when other people write that they have witnessed or been the subject of such incidents, I do not doubt them. I've certainly seen plenty of such behavior on the Internet, and there's nothing about SG's constitution that would make it different.

    Therefore, it's safe to conclude that Story Games has a history of silencing women and people of color.

    Now, when I type that, certain reflexive and contrarian parts of my brain immediately try to rationalize away the conclusion, like so:
    1. "If you've seen it in other places on the Internet too, that suggests it's an Internet problem rather than a Story Games problem, right?"
    2. "If you extend good faith to the people who testify to incidents of silencing, shouldn't you extend good faith to all the people who (if not for the rules of this thread) would say that they have never tried to silence anyone? Yourself included?"
    3. "Isn't Story Games a good place because Andy is a good guy and lots of people you like post here?"
    There's one answer that works for each of those questions: the purpose of a system is what it does.
  • Posted By: jenskotI've received a significant number of whispers saying they would have posted publicly except they were discouraged by people breaking the rules in this thread
    I originally was leery of posting, and considered doing it anonymously. But I decided it was valuable for people to see public voices raised on this issue. I'm not sure if I regret that decision. Expressing any opinion at all on such a charged topic is fraught with landmines.

    In light of some feedback I received, I made an edit to my original post clarifying what I was trying to express. Hopefully that helps folks see where I was coming from. If anyone wants to talk about it, feel free to whisper me.

    Peace,
    -Joel
  • Quick note:

    If you see any posts disappear, note… they are NOT being deleted. I don't want to delete anyone's posts and in general prefer to moderate as little as possible (I would love if no moderation was required). Instead posts that break the rules of this thread (like replying to other people's posts) are being turned into whispers. Why?

    1. Deletion is permanent, turning posts into whispers is not.

    2. Many of the posts that break the rules tend to be awesome posts. So I turn them into whispers, contact the poster, and in some cases… kindly ask the poster to edit their post. They can then un-whisper their post.

    3. Some off topic posts may make for wonderful new threads. I don't want anything deleted because I don't want someone to lose the work they have put into writing their posts. As a whisper, they can take that content and make something new with it.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to whisper me.

    Thanks so much,
    John
  • edited June 2011
    I wanted to clarify complaints I've received from multiple people.

    In this thread, moderation has been used as evenly as possible. I'm doing my best not to make any exceptions. This means that posts by women and people of color have been and may still be moderated. It would undermine the safety of this thread if women and people of color were exempt from the rules. But I have received complaints that women and people of color should be exempt.

    There were 2 concerns that by moderating women's posts, I'm silencing them. As specified in the post above, no posts are being deleted. Additionally, the women who have specifically had their posts moderated do not feel that moderation in this thread is a negative thing:
    Posted By: Elizabeth John actually encouraged me to edit this post to not be a reply and re-post it, but I haven't had time due to a busy first week at work. I don't feel silenced by John, and he is about the furthest from "the problem" a person can get. Here's the revised post.
    Posted By: rian_beanI think that Elizabeth's post, like many other posts, were removed because it veered off the alotted thread conditions. I want this thread to serve the intended purpose for John (edit- I don't want to see this thread derailed)

    If Elizabeth, or anyone, has thoughts that spring from this thread and wants to post off-condition, thats rad, but that should be a whole other thread with a whole other intent.

    (And this post veers off thread too, so feel free to delete John)
    -Tori
    If you have any questions, please feel free to whisper me.

    Thanks so much,
    John
  • edited June 2011

    So here's another was-a-reply thing that John asked me to reword:

    I have in my time here observed a clear pattern: SG is, much more than other forums I attend, dominated by groupthink behaviors. Posters often express shock at others who disagree with the most popular local opinions, or alternatively simply ignore the posts where outlying opinions appear.

    There are some exceptions to this pattern. Ben Lehman, for instance, gets away with non-groupthink pretty regularly. I don't think it's a coincidence that Ben's a white dude.

    You can see positive effects of the groupthink as well, so don't think that I'm entirely condemning it: while I personally found the frenzied outpouring of hurriedly-composed Oracles for IAWA variants tedious, I'm sure that they were useful for many people, and the Names Project would have never happened if it weren't for groupthink.

    But it's got its dark side, and I think the dark side comes mostly from our failing to think about where other posters are coming from. Our backgrounds shape our thoughts, tastes, and opinions deeply, and it's not always obvious that you think differently than I because you're enculturated as a white woman and I'm a brown man and that other guy's a white man, but that's one clear element that divides us, and because this is a forum where the vast majority of posters are white men, it is they who will most often find their thoughts and opinions supported by others with similar backgrounds.

    But if you stop and think about your fellow posters, you might understand them better and maybe not interact with them so clumsily. As subalterns, we (and by this I mean: poor people, old people, young people, people of color, women, GLBT people, (for this forum also trad gamers, fantasy gamers, hardcore scifi gamers) probably others I haven't thought of) deal with you guys and have to understand you all the time to survive, but you've got no such survival pressure, so if you want to make this a friendly place, there's no easy answer*. It takes work.

    *: And for this reason I don't expect this place to change. It's a place on the Internet, after all, and no one here who needs to change his/her behavior is actually suffering anything other than mild inconvenience due to the status quo. You could just go to a more open and diverse place like RPG.net. There's no profit in it for you!

  • As a white male I haven't felt any silencing based on that, I don't think I've advertised it either, but it's a safe assumption that most people on an RPG forum would be white males. I do remember one discussion on a feminist topic in which I said something relating to it and got a brief negative reaction. It wouldn't entirely surprise me if there were such a history, but I'd wonder if it might be misconstrued - I've commented a couple times that S-G seems a bit insular, and someone used to being excluded due to gender or race might perceive a more general exclusion as based on that. Could also be based on the fact that there is already a circle, there's a good chance that it's mostly white males posting on S-G, and that if you're not white or not a male you might not as easily fit in with the "in crowd".
  • edited June 2011
    Hi all,

    Below are quotes from people who've whispered and emailed me. PLEASE NOTE: this is not the end of the thread! Please keep sharing in any way you feel comfortable. If there are any questions, please whisper or email me.

    When reading, please keep the following in mind:

    1. All names have been removed and I've done my best to maintain anonymity and keep things focused on the thread's topic. If there are any issues or if you are the person I'm quoting and you want me to change or remove anything, please whisper or email me.

    2. Places where it says "[snip]" are places where I've removed text for the purpose of anonymity and focus. If you are the person whose post I have snipped and would like to me to change anything, please whisper or email me.

    3. Some of the quotes are from the same person.

    4. I've been asked to specify the percentage of white males whispering and emailing me comments (that are on topic). It's roughly 70%. With 30% being from women and people of color. I may be off slightly and this doesn't take into account public posts which everyone can read.

    5. An issue that has been raised is that some of the women and people of color who may have been affected no longer post here and thus aren't represented in this thread. If you know them and feel comfortable (and think it is a good idea), please mention this thread to them. No pressure. If they feel comfortable, I personally would like to hear their thoughts. If you have suggestions, please whisper or email me.

    6. Women and people of color who feel welcomed by Story Games have mentioned that they are not represented in this thread but understand why. That said, they would like their own thread. This will be coming soon but it should be noted that a positive experience doesn't invalidate a negative one.

    7. This is not a statistical study. I've been a part of studies with budgets of hundreds of thousands of dollars and experienced professional behind them. I know what’s involved in putting together a real study and this isn't one of them. But that's ok, this isn't about gathering evidence to prove or disprove anything nor is it about blame. What this is about is safety, honest feelings, and listening.

    8. If you have any questions, issues, or suggestions, please feel free to whisper or email me.

    Quotes:
    There's a lot of White Knighting that goes on here. It's something that causes me to step out of threads, because watching white men muse about the plight of non-whites & non-men as though they are champions for them is a lot of bull. [snip] So, if you're a white dude, it doesn't look like it silences anyone because there's talk about it. But if you're not, it's a bunch of white dudes "speaking for you."
    There have been occasions when I have felt that vague resentful posts on SG were actually aimed at some of the women designers here.
    My experience is, I'm a brown person [snip] I can say for sure that we both have felt silenced, most often by people [snip] don't even realize they're doing it.- Often it's a case of someone being like, "Well, you don't toe the party line but you must be a random outlier," rather than thinking that their party line might rest on premises that are objectionable to PoC or women.
    [snip] I have no specific incidents to point to, because I honestly don't track user names/personal details closely enough to have noticed any specific incidents. That probably makes me part of the problem: the net result of me not caring enough to look at the name above the post and think about who that person might be means I'm reading their words in my internal generic-white-guy voice instead of in whatever gender/culture voice they were meant for. If the post itself doesn't refer directly to the author's sex or ethnicity, odds are I won't even know I'm doing it; and that's a shitty thing to do, and I feel bad about it (even though I also don't know whether anyone notices or cares when I do it).
    Sometimes I feel like this although overall this SG is waaay more welcoming than most places. Have you read Youtube comments?
    Yes, I feel like this.
    I've felt it but I'm not sure if it is specific to being a women or a minority. I think it has to do with general bullying and aggressiveness. Maybe it is a forum thing. Most women I know just go to Facebook.
    I'm worried that this thread may cause too much light to be shed on the negative aspects of gender and race on here. For all the negative that's considered to be societally normative and I think people don't even realize they're doing, I see so much positive on here and encouraging people to learn and accept different POV's. I hope you're following up with a "women and minorities, do you feel you've had a positive experience here" thread, because I have been helped and supported so much on here it's ridiculous. If you want change, it's good to focus on the positive and the educational aspects of these difficult topics.
    It's subtle. It has to be. Anyone being overtly sexist or racist gets jumped on. So it's moved to covert sexism and racism. For example, women get questioned more than men. Men start arguments with men, ignoring points made by women (probably because they're not made in that argumentative style).
    A large part of the issue is that people who participate on Story Games see themselves as being more inclusive, more worldly, more accepting of other viewpoints than the mouth breathers who play D&D. But the people here aren't that different than the people at RPGnet or elsewhere. The significant difference is that this color and gender-blindness is such a large part of Story Games' self-identity that when the blindness is questioned, people are genuinely furious at the implication: inclusiveness is the story gamer's opposable thumb, the thing that makes him a higher being than the animals elsewhere. Or so they tell themselves.
    Maybe it's a fallback from the Forge or just how forums are. There is this aggressive style of communication -- this idea of survival of the fittest in normal discussions -- where bullying is seen as acceptable and if you end up being silenced, it's because you chose to be, which means I guess, you deserve to be? Basically this attitude that whatever it takes to win an argument, no matter who gets hurt is ok as long as you win. I don't think that is specifically an anti-women thing -- most people don't know who is female -- although it's a masculine way of debating. SGames is not as bad as the Forge. I like it here. I don't know what to do about it and in general, don't worry about it. If it sucks, I will just leave.
    It's most noticeable in threads about feminism, which are invariably dominated by white men. And, when that happens, you've got to step back and say: something's gone wrong there.
    As a white man, I've seen women and people of color effectively silenced here, and probably even participated in such. I think this has something to do with the "Hey, 'sall cool, right?" approach to moderation. Except, there are some things that really aren't cool. [snip]

    I think there's something about the culture of nerdy white "liberal" guys which creates a nasty blind spot about race and gender privilege. It's as though we hear the sermon about these things, and decide something like, "Oh, you can't possibly be talking about ME. You must be talking about those nasty jock mouthbreather Fox News watching guys over there. Hey yeah, I think those guys suck too!"
    People post pictures with their girlfriends and you see comments like "does that game come with that girl" or "does that convention come with lots of women" and it just feels like this is a boy space.
    I don't have a problem overall but it seems like my posts may get more nitpicked than male posts. I'll post, "I think this game rule is weird" and get lots of people questioning me. A guy in a different thread will make a similar statement and people leave them be. Maybe it's not silencing. Maybe it's extra attention? And that can be both bad and good? It does seem people ask me to provide more evidence for my opinions than they are willing to give themselves or ask from other people.
    For all I know, I am probably guilty of "silencing people of color or women" on this forum. I am also probably guilty of silencing white men.

    But here is the thing: I do not pay attention to (and usually don't even know) the race or gender of the person to whom I am responding.

    In order to stop "silencing people of color or women", I need to start paying attention to gender and race and then explicitly treat people of color or women differently than I treat white males. I can do so, if that is the way it is supposed to work. Seems sexist and racist to me, but I can do it.
    It happens everywhere; SG isn't immune although I like the people here. It's not bad but it's easier to filter this stuff on my blog or facebook
    It happens but is it because people are female or non-white or because people just act like jerks to everyone and that happens to bully and push away a lot more females and non-whites (including, maybe less, but still including white males?
    On SG I've seen women and people of color overwhelmed with hostile response and more or less driven to silence. I've seen the same thing happen to openly homosexual people and openly transgender people. I've seen the same thing happen to people expressing an opinion that happens to not be popular on that particular day. I've seen the silencing with varying frequency and in multiple forms.

    Short of silencing the silencers, with strict and timely moderation, Story Games will never be a "safe" place. I do not envy the person that would have that moderating responsibility. Not at all. I also agree with Helen Keller that security is a superstition, an outright lie most of the time, and that firm moderation will come with its own marginalizations and other pitfalls.
    I've felt intimidated to speak about my opinions of games, personal politics, or even how i perceive interaction between people should be. I've been trying to post more, without being frightened, and it's had mixed results.

    In short, i'm afraid to speak openly on these forums, i'm afraid to contribute. I also agree that it's safer here by far than the rest of the internet. But it's not strictly 'safe.' And moreover, i'm not entirely certain why i get that feeling. I just know i feel like talking outloud could certainly garner judgment, or exclusion.
    I noticed this frustrating prelude, too, especially in the case of some women. They would be given this weird, kind of offputting (to me, at least) worshipful treatment by some (not all!) which created this toxic backlash from people who felt more righteous for taking the woman down a peg because she was being 'falsely' idealized. Fuck, what is up with that? I have seen it happen with some men who have some reputation in the design community, but never so acridly as it has happened with women.
  • edited June 2011
    More email quotes:
    [snip] I'm a woman and sort of a person of color I estimate. I don't write much here but I devote an awful lot of time lurking these places. I have a great deal to share however before getting into it, thank you for fostering these dialogues. Mainly thank you for constructing them in this manner. With the amount of people who broke the rules, I can only guess what this would have been otherwise.

    I've witnessed folks pressured, singled out, and silenced if you want to call it that on this message board. Not just us women. Men as well but maybe women more although it is hard to know whos a girl or a dude and many of my friends don't label themselves man or woman so jeeze, who knows. What I do know and I hope this still abides by the rules, I don't think it is SGames as a group of members that is silencing anyone. It is greater than this here forum. This forum does not stop it but it isn't causing it.

    Most silence others and don't even know it happens. Message Boards share the blame. I am on facebook more than here cause I can filter and block and sort and focus on my relationships and communicate in ways message boards suck at. But people at work, person to person, silence each other in the same way and they don't even know it. If I shared my feelings and you respond in ways that make me withdraw, before you blame me, check this site out: http://www.derailingfordummies.com/#educate Read the list and ask yourseld--do you do these things? It's so textbook, it's so obvious but most don't see they are a slave to this BS. Look at it the list, for real.

    [snip]

    SGames does not cause it but it does not stop it. Administration will not help stop what happens every other place. RPG.Net is a admin catastrophe and the I Would Knife Fight A Man administration was not good but good intentioned and Indie-RPGs.com is so---- I don't want to get started with the glitches seizing that joint. Make reading http://www.derailingfordummies.com/#educate mandatory for those wanting to contribute on this message board. Hell--make people have to read it every month. And give me the way to block people that is easy. That monkey script thing discriminates against those who don't understand IT for something that is so basic now, my mom can do it on FB.

    Apologies for the rambling. Hope you get something out of it and I'll keep reading.
  • More:
    First off, I'm a man but with multiple types of non-white in me. I feel silenced as a "person of color" but not in the way you think.

    People don't treat me differently because I'm part Asian part Latino. Buuut, people make comments, like, "this thread is all white people talking ". And I'm like, how do you know I'm white? I'm not. I don't know if these other folks are white. It's a forum. That's fucked up. It really feels people want to say what they want to say and will ignore shit that contradicts their soap box. Same thing with American and non-Americans. Lot of you talk as if we are all American.

    I already deal with assholes discriminating me at work because I'm not white. Some of those people are obviously racist—there've been lawsuits—but I see lots of kids here who try their best to not be racist and end up saying stupid shit including whites, non-whites, and women. Now you aint all bad, believe me, if you think this is bad you have no fucking clue and need to get out and see the world. But you don't know who I am. Stop picturing me as a white dude that lives in your neighborhood that is the same age as you.
  • Posted By: jenskot6.Women and people of color who feel welcomed by Story Games have mentioned that they are not represented in this thread but understand why. That said, they would like their own thread. This will be coming soon but it should be noted that a positive experience doesn't invalidate a negative one.
    Thread is live:

    Women & people of color, positive experiences on SG [Please Read Rules Before Posting]
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