GenCon has some programing for non-gamers who might be attending the con with their spouse. Sounds like a good idea, for those who want to travel together but don’t all want to attend the con. The problem is that they’re represented by this icon:
I noticed the category of events at GenCon for the “Better Half” shortly after they began running several years ago. As Vanir points out, their icon is woefully not ok. When I first saw it I went to the Con Staff and said so. They looked at me like I was some kind of giant purple ostrich with two head and they had no idea what words were coming out of my mouth(s).
But Vanir’s open letter got more response. The official response from GenCon can be summed up something like this: “I’m a woman and I thought it was funny” as well as “but the events are fun!” (which never seemed to be in dispute). Valleyviolet points out that this really isn’t a very good response:
Women can be sexist. Saying “my company has women in it” is like saying “I have a black friend”. It’s tangential and unrealistic to expect that every woman (or person who works with a woman) has a full understanding of the gender related issues that upset other people.
I don’t know if you are a gamer. I don’t care other than to ask if you fully understand how sexism still affects the women at your con. Have you enjoyed the stereotype of the non-gamer wife every time you walk into the exhibit hall and have exhibitors address your husband and ignore you? Have you sat down to games and enjoyed being asked if you date the GM (who you’ve never met) because you got a ruling or a character that someone else at the table thinks you didn’t deserve?
Being a gamer is part of my identity and that icon says that you do not understand or respect how others have hurt me and continue to hurt me by disregarding my identity and feelings. “Oh haha it was a joke” is no more an appropriate excuse here than when it’s used to excuse any other disregard for the feelings of others.