Of Ogre Gender And Inappropriate Suggestions

Whilst the MMO world has been pleasantly silent as far as massive inequality FAILs go recently, the ongoing fascinating discussion of sexism and gender politics continues.

Today we’ve got a couple of interesting posts on the subject, as The Godmother ponders the gender of WoW creatures and Redbeard relates a particularly, erm, surprising recent encounter…

  • The Godmother looks at the portrayal of female creatures in WoW, asking such questions as “where are the female ogres?” and “really? Bikinis on Mogu?”.

    Read “Female of the Species” »

  • And Redbeard relates a recent encounter in a PvP battleground, where, ignoring the mayhem, a fellow player asked him to do something there definitely isn’t an emote for – and then delves into just why that happened.

    Read “Where’s the Shower?” »

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Could we stop calling it “Slut Plate”?

“Slut Plate”.

I’ve not heard the term before today, but apparently it’s become quite the thing amongst the transmogrification community in WoW. It refers, of course, to the many and varied semi-unclothed options for female characters’ armour.

It’s a neat, immediately-visualisable phrase. It’s catchy. It’s already getting widespread adoption.

And Apple Cider of Apple Cider Mage writes an impassioned and intelligent article today explaining why it’s also potentially really harmful

“I’m not here to talk about abolishing the many, many sets of evocative armor in World of Warcraft. I’m here to talk about getting rid of the disgusting language and thoughts that surround them! As I’ve discussed before, I’m a big proponent of the idea that the words we choose to express ideas with inform many of our feelings. A word that encompasses an entire disgusting ideology: slut. Sluttiness is both a term used to denigrate female sexuality as well as denote when it occurs in a way that extends beyond what the judgemental person feels is “respectable” “healthy” or “acceptable.”

You can be a slut if you do X, Y, or Z. You can be a slut if you do something X number of times or have X number of partners. In that vein, I feel the landslide useage of “slut plate” in the WoW community puts that same unhealthy/sexist perception around even something as fun and aesthetic as transmogrification/roleplaying gear. The very term itself makes my mouth pucker up in my characteristic sour sneer. It makes me legitimately angry.”

Apple Cider makes an excellent point, and unlike many writers in this field, she takes great pains not to use jargon or assume her readers are already familiar with similar discussions in the past. Her argument’s also a powerful one – “slut” is one hell of a loaded term, and one with very ugly, very sexist, and very sex-negative implications. And Apple Cider nails the virtual-world aspect of all this – “Choosing to wear something skimpy in real life or World of Warcraft should be because someone wants to, because it makes them happy, and should not indicate anything other about a person’s personality or sexuality other than what they wish it to indicate.”.

Unfortunately, I can’t see her alternative suggestion, “Sassy Plate”, catching on, although I wish it every success – which is a pity. And much as writers like Dossie Easton have been trying to reclaim the word ‘slut for years, it hasn’t worked yet. Anyone have any other ideas for a better term than “slut plate” that describes without condemning?

Will you be using the phrase “Slut Plate” any time soon?

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