Yesterday there was an article in the Mary Sue discussing Women-Only eSports events. The crux of the issue seems to be that if we offer women-only events then should we also offer men-only events. The other view is that for sports / games where there is not the worry of a physical gender difference then there should not be separate events. I can see the arguments both way and I don’t know which way is actually better. On one hand we are trying to create a safe space for women and girls to be able to participate in these sports and games without feeling like they need to have their guard up all the time. The other side is that by separating them out are we just perpetuating the idea that we do not belong or that we need special privileges. I do not think the second one is the case, but it makes me wonder if it is helping more than hurting.
Creating a Safe Space
One explanation for why we need to have women only events is because they do not get the opportunity to compete on a non-professional level as men do. Due to the scrutiny that women face, particularly in video games, it can be hard to really compete. When you have people telling you that you either do not belong or, almost worse, not willing to acknowledge you at all because you are not worth acknowledging. There is something interesting about creating a space where women can come together and encourage each other when they might feel like outcasts in other arenas. At the same time is separating them out helping them deal with the struggles that they might have to go through.
Not Addressing the Issue
The argument that I think can be best made for why having a separate event for women is problematic is the fact that it does not actually address the problem. We separate the women out, but do not call out the men for their behavior. I just wonder if this sends a message that we cannot handle the pressures or some other crap like that, but does it just feed into the idea that women do not belong. At the same time if we have both women and men and hold people to a higher standard what might happen. If we wanted to have some recognized for their ability to play the game instead of what gender they are. It is not fun to have to deal with rude people, but maybe what we need to ask for is more stringent rules. That no one should be called out based on any quality except their true ability to play.
It is a difficult question because it is a difficult situation. I think for young kids it might be important to have some separate spaces because we do not want our kids to have to be fighting for things all the time. At the same time as they get older maybe they should move into just having competition and not separate by gender. That way we can encourage them when they might not know how to stand up for themselves, but then push them to stand on their own two feet.