They say don’t read the comments, and really, I should listen to whoever they are. But I often find myself on a sleepless night reading the comments on articles that I have written or articles that have been written about me, and I am often made sad by them. It is like watching myself in a car, approaching my own car crash. But sometimes the comments are inspirational. Amongst the bile, RPS has a great deal of commenters that are intelligent and passionate and good at argument, and it is only sometimes that I get to appreciate that. Often, it is in unfortunate circumstances that I get to admire that – such as when I am under intense scrutiny like on this article.
Whilst reading the comments I found this wonderful person, who articulated in so many ways how I feel whenever I write something in a male dominated field.
Do you think the blokes writing for RPS sit down and try to write androgynous-sounding copy? Is that what it sounds like when you read it? To me it often sounds like blokes have written the work. I suspect they write it in their own voices.
It’s not targeted at you. You just happen to like it/have gotten used to it/have been given little else.
In which case you’d seem to be asking for female writers to jump through hoops to pander to your expectation levels rather than express themselves freely.
I’d rather read what they want to write, rather than what you’d like them to write quite frankly.”
I just sat there and thought, yes. I do not sit there and try to stylise anything, I just write what I would like to read from someone else. You don’t think that part of my writing about identifying with Rhianna Pratchett was important to humanise her? Why do we have to appraise our developers coldly, and without feeling? Can’t I empathise with her? Bring her closer to us? Can’t I ask her about tea in between questions about the way she sees her work? Don’t you want to see my warmth towards her, and how that affects my questions? She is a person, and part of how she is formed might be important to someone else looking for inspiration, or to write for games. You don’t think my telling you a little about me contextualises why I ask questions, and why she answers my questions in the way she does? Perhaps even what she saw in the background of my Skype call influenced the way she answered me. Perhaps her cats gambolling around in her house distracted her. I don’t know. I just know what I experienced, and what my opinion was, and I tried to report that in an entertaining way. I wouldn’t have felt that I could have been so honest on any other site other than RPS. RPS values my honesty, and I write to that. RPS lets me retain integrity as a writer by supporting my voice. The me that brought you the cynicism at Crysis 3 could not exist without the me that brought you exactly how I felt about talking about Tomb Raider with Rhianna. I was honest in both of those situations about what I wanted to tell you.
I cannot androgynise my writing, and neither can Jim Rossignol or Nathan Grayson pretend that they are anything other than men when they write their prose. They cannot write like I can, and I cannot even approach writing like them. And I used to try and ignore, even remove the fact that I was a woman from much of my writing (isn’t that sad?), until I realised that it is censoring myself from what I really want to say – and until I realised no one will ever let me forget it anyway. No one will let me forget it anyway. No matter what anyone does I will always be ‘the girl on RPS’. To that end, I made a decision.
There’s a bit in the fine West Wing episode ‘Game On’, in which Sam and Will are talking about how President Bartlet just fared in a televised Presidential debate. The debate was with a Republican candidate resembling George W. Bush named Ritchie, who hates Bartlet’s ‘smug liberal elitism’. In the debate Bartlet went full whoop ass. He went entirely into “THIS IS WHO I AM” territory. Bartlet rammed what he believed in right down Ritchie’s throat – tax and spend, partisan politics, federal funding. He veered right away from the soft, nice liberal who is conciliatory, and he didn’t agree with anything Ritchie said to score a few points with floating voters. He just said what he thought with passion and charisma.
Sam and Will’s post-debate conversation goes like this:
WILL: I thought he was going to have to fall all over himself trying to be genial.
SAM: So did we. But then, we were convinced by polling that said he was going to be seen as arrogant no matter what performance he gave in the debate. And then, that morning at 3:10, my phone rings, and it’s Toby Ziegler. He says, “Don’t you get it? It’s a gift that they’re irreversibly convinced that he’s arrogant ’cause now he can be.” If your guy’s seen that way, you might as well knock some bodies down with it.
If your writer is seen as a woman, you might as well knock some bodies down with it.