This week I'm not doing all the writing. Why am I not doing all the writing? In part because I decided to paint, and if you know how my brain works you know that because I started painting I had to buy a new dresser, and a new light fixture...and probably some new sheets...
And you see where this is going, right?
Also, last week's conversation about the sexism I witnessed at Alliance Open House resulted in some stories, so today, I'm sharing stories.
Read quietly, and then promise that when you witness behavior like this you won't sit quietly anymore.
I have to say, I have not experienced much sexism whilst gaming. Maybe it’s being around the right group of people, or maybe I’m too naïve to notice that sexist behavior is actually occurring. Either way, there are only a handful of times where I have been called out or mistreated solely because of my gender.
When seated around the gaming table, you should only have to worry about is how you are going to run away with the victory—not another player blurting out some rude or offensive comment that leaves you feeling disparaged and them looking like a total ass. I have read about a fair share of sexist behavior around the gaming table, but have not experienced a ton myself. There have been comments shared that I admittedly have brushed off as innocent. However, looking back, I was only contributing to the problem.
Here’s an example: During a casual game of X-wing, a friend of mine and I found ourselves in a bind. The next move we made had to be perfect or else the Empire would take the win. I had the strategy laid out, it was unpredictable and crazy enough to work. I shared my plan with my teammate and prepared to set our ships for their next move. As I reached for the dials my teammate shared these fine words: “I’m going with the man’s decision,” and proceeded to execute his strategy. I couldn’t believe the doltish thought that escaped his mouth. Naturally, we were defeated after that big play.
(Shared with us anonymously.)
At a distributor show last year, the announcement rang out that the exhibit hall was closing and all of the weary publishers began organizing components back into boxes, rolling up banners, folding tablecloths, and gathering promotional materials. The smell of cardboard and adhesive from the packing tape began to fill the room. I stood over our new game, bagging the parts and pieces, when a retailer I’d never met came over to ask me about the game. It seemed a little unusual to wait that long, but I straightened up and spoke what I hoped was enthusiastically about the game play. I noticed he was watching only my face and not the game I was gesturing to as I explained the theme and mechanics. When I finished, he touched my arm and complimented my appearance. I thanked him, handed him a catalog, made some closing statements about the game, and stepped away to resume packing up the booth.
He slowly looked through the catalog and when we were leaving the hall asked if his store could be added to the store locator on our website. I said sure, if he had a business card, I would add his information after the show. At this point, we were walking down the corridor. He patted his pockets, said that he had left his cards in his car, and asked if I wouldn’t mind waiting for him to get one. I said I wouldn’t mind and stopped near the restrooms while he jogged toward the entrance of the hotel and out into the parking lot. Minutes went by, and friends were passing by, joking about me waiting by the restroom when there was no line, inviting me to the bar. I laughed and said I would be right there.
He finally returned and apologized for taking so long. He said he couldn’t find his business cards but that he had his contact information in his phone, if I wouldn’t mind adding it to my phone. I said sure, and we both pulled out our phones and swiped to unlock them. My home screen popped up innocuously. But on his screen was the unmistakable photo of an erect penis.
His reaction seemed to be swift embarrassment. He pulled the phone away, apologizing profusely, holding his hand over his mouth, and stepping away. I didn’t care. I was tired, unsuspicious, and goal-oriented. I just wanted to get his store information for the store locator and get to the bar. “It’s OK,” I said, trying to get him to stop reacting emotionally, “Mistakes happen.” He finally calmed down enough for me to get the store address and phone number entered into my phone. He apologized again and asked if he could get my business contact information, which for me is also my personal cell number. I was a little uncomfortable with that given his odd behavior up to that point, but I decided to go ahead because it’s what I would give any other retailer wanting to conduct business. We shook hands and parted ways.
About 30 minutes later, I was in the bar, relaxing, joking, and drinking with friends when I felt someone watching me from across the room. He was sitting at a table by himself, and when I looked over, he waved for me to join him. I shook my head no but smiled a little so as not to seem too rude. The rest of the night, I avoided looking in that direction but could hear text messages pinging away on my phone. I didn’t read them until I was in my room. He had been trying to get me to drink with him.
At the warehouse the next day, he slid up behind me and whispered something in my ear as he walked by. I have no idea what it was, but I spent the re