….Krista, and I’m an installation artist/gamer from the midwest. Many a snowy night has been spent in what I (affectionately) call “the land of corn,” questing and raiding in World of Warcraft. Only recently has my gaming life intersected with my art life, due largely in part to the inspiring work by everyone here at iRez, as well as Joseph DeLappe, Feminist Frequency, Anna Anthrope, Wendy Vanity, and my fabulous art students from Art 366: Cyberfeminism and Advanced New Media at Saint Mary’s College. I’ve spent a majority of my artistic life as an installation artist, so performative strategies are totally new to me. What I’ve realized in some of my feminist-WoW-culture-jamming-experiments is….I’m shy?!
Case in point, I read an article over at The Mary Sue last April about women and armor in WoW by Becky Chambers (“For Anyone Still Wondering, Yes, Women Can Wear Full Armor Too.”). In it, Chambers points out that despite the fact that the WoW Wiki entry for “Female Armor” is designated as silly, the argument against the design of heavy armor for women in WoW often utilizes the entry’s “silly” content…but in a serious light:
“Female armor tends to cover less than does male armor. Though there are many people who see this as mere fanservice, there are real, practical reasons behind it. First, females are statistically less muscular than males, and depend more on agility and cunning than raw strength in combat, thus lightweight armor makes more sense.”
Ohhhhh…this made me so mad! I saw this as an opportunity for a culture jam, and decided to change WoW wiki entry for Female Armor. You may recognize the text as appropriated from Ashley Judd’s response to criticism over her “puffy face” in The Daily Beast.
I posted the new content, my heart beating in excitement….only to take it down after 10 minutes!! Other WoW feministing projects have fared a little better, but not really without running away or teleporting from the scene of the performance or event as quickly as I can. Avatars don’t function as something to hide behind (which is opposite of popular thinking on avatars, right?)…at least for me.
So…help a sister out! Do you ever feel shy online…be it a MMOG -or- other social, virtual area/arena? Is shyness something a lot of performance-based artists grapple with? Culture jamming and critique can come with pretty hefty consequences and backlash . How do you deal with this in your performances, or other virtual exchanges?