I honestly can't remember how it started, but I think it was when I made some innocuous comment about my raid team, The Battle Babes, and was met with a questioning, “The Battle Babes?” In the spirit of enlightenment I elaborated, “It’s a 10 woman raid team on Sundays,” which, surprisingly, was replied to with a, “I'm surprised they allow that.” This led to quite a lot of chatter, and unfortunately, rather than have an honest debate, the conversation eventually devolved into retorts of “I didn't know SoO had a kitchen,” and the like. Now, I have a thick skin and a raunchy sense of humor, so I can handle that, however; several ladies in guild chat that day were offended. And when their concern was voiced in guild, that they were offended, their own guild mates started making fun of them saying, “I'm offended that you’re offended,” “I'm offended that you’re offended that I'm offended,” “You’re just offensive,” and so on.
I apologized to a few people, the chatter died down, and we went along with the business of killing bosses and grinding seals. However, the earlier discussion stuck in my mind and it stewed. I felt like I missed a genuine opportunity to inform my fellow guild mates about the purpose of the Battle Babes and why it is not based, on our part, by any sexist motivation. After all, we have many male friends in game, and most of us are on other raid teams that are a mixture of the sexes.
So today, I want to try and take a moment to clarify, for anyone that should need it, that the stance of our team is not one as belligerent feminists or men haters. Please understand that not only are we mothers, grandmothers, wives, and daughters, we are also gamers. We are women that enjoy a game that, statistically speaking, has a lot more male players than female players. Some of us have a history of hard-core raiding while others have almost no history of raiding at all. This is who the women of the Battle Babes are. But I understand that the question remains, if we don't hate men, then why form this team? Sit down awhile and listen.
About a month after joining my guild, I decided to pug into a HoF raid that upon initial inspection seemed like a good group. The raid leader was fairly charismatic and kept the team moving. That was until I spoke aloud right before the Zor'lok fight, and upon hearing my voice, I got to listen to the raid leader calling me “hun” and “babe” for the rest of the raid. At first it was just mildly annoying, I could handle the attention, but after a bit, it got much worse. I was subjected to an endless stream of the kinds of rapey, sexual comments I would only expect to hear in a bar after a night of far, far too much drinking. Things I would blush at if I heard it out of my husband.
I was offered apologies from the other disgusted members of the raid, but, do you know what I did?
I sat there and took it as I just wanted to finish the run. Logically, I knew he couldn't actually hurt me and that if faced with a real woman he'd probably be terrified, so I let that image drive me through. I finished the run and silently vowed never, ever to run with that person again. Luckily he didn't last long in the guild, but I've always felt bad that I didn't say something.
The issue here is that my story is not unique. You can ask almost any woman that plays WoW and something like this has happened to them at one time or another. And that is why the Battle Babes exist, not to be sexist or vindictively exclusive, but to create a safe environment for women raiders without the fear of being subjected to the kind of ridicule and lasciviousness that we have come to know. We are simply in a place where we are comfortable, where we won't be objectified, where we know we can talk on mumble without worrying that our voice will set someone off.
Btw... women do play WoW.