The drama llama, as I like to call it, has been very active these past few weeks. Main thing, for me, is that I’m speaking up ’cause really? There are a ton of people in the industry who are new and feel very threatened by the current state of trollish affairs. It’s not about hating on anybody, really, it’s about saying a vocal minority of assholes does not speak for the majority. Do I hate white men? Ah, no. I have very simple rules about people. Are you an asshole? If the answer to that question is “Yes!” then buh-bye. If folks don’t get that? Not my problem. Opening a door and saying “You are welcome! Join us!” does not mean that people who already feel welcome can’t join in. I’ve worked with conservatives and liberals and everybody in between. Assholes, though? Those tend to be the people I don’t work with (if I can help it) or I find ways to avoid dealing with long term. No time for them.
I really don’t give a crap about the fact that I’m a woman making art (stories, games, comics, etc.). That [the female experience] isn’t my area of focus and it doesn’t really show up in my game design. It does for other designers, though, and I am behind them 100% because the gaming industry is big enough to include these types of games. Good for them! Inclusivity is a thing for me, however, and it’s usually because most, if not all, companies share an industry-wise goal that I also happen to believe in: everybody has the right to see themselves as the hero and, when they do, they will have more fun. That is why we are all here: make games so all different kinds of people can have fun. This is especially true for highly visible games I’ve worked on, like when I was developing the Firefly RPG and contributed to Unknown Armies 3rd Edition RPG, and it will be true for the Hunter: the Vigil 2nd Edition RPG and the Cortex Plus Action corebook, too. Among others, which will be announced shortly!
Other people, however, do seem to care quite a bit about the fact I’m a woman. People in positions of power, people who could buy my stuff, people who could review my stuff and don’t ’cause I’m not a dude. Even I get tired every once in a while, because there are a lot of misogynists who, in point of fact, care so much about their own image they don’t believe they’re actually being misogynistic. Point. Missed. Especially when they attack women for um… what again? Oh right, hating them. Look, I don’t talk about what it’s like, I don’t talk about how frustrated I get seeing folks in one breath say “Yes, women!” and then only recommend books/games by men, or how desperately I wish I didn’t have to be reminded of the fact that I have teh boobies every day, or how infuriating it is when I do speak up and folks are like “Well, it didn’t happen to me.” “Prove it.” “You’re so sensitive.” Right now I’m saying it because there’s this belief that if you don’t hear about a thing it doesn’t exist. Um, not true. Sexism exists. I just choose to deal with it in my way.
I wish I didn’t have to worry about this shit–ever, really–and just make art. I do. However, I make art when I am feeling positive and happy, and sometimes it’s a fight to do that because there are idiots in the world who actively work against my space. This means, I gotta push back so there’s room for me and for other folks to come in after me. So yes, I will rant on occasion, and then I will get on with my day, and I will keep fighting. But, and I say this with the greatest amount of gravitas, it is 1,000 times worse for other minorities, because they don’t get the chance to “forget about it.” I talk to a lot of people (you’ll see this in my list of coping mechanisms to follow shortly), and it is incredibly obscene and unforgivable what’s being tossed my peers’ way. Those people? Made of iron. If your immediate reaction is: “Well, white male designers get it, too!” Yeah, they do, but this latest eye roll-inducing behavior isn’t about that. This is about sharing some thoughts to broaden perspectives, to include the fact that there’s an additional layer (or layers) of fuckery that everybody else has to deal with, too, to varying degrees.
I’m sure other folks have more (and better) tips to share than I would, but if it helps? Here’s a list of things I do to help increase my resilience. I do believe that resilience is both a skill that can be cultivated and a natural inclination. Thus, your mileage will vary and, as always, I know you’ll take what you want and leave the rest. I’m a big proponent of doing what’s healthy, as opposed to focusing on getting in the last word or trying to get closure or attempting to speak with someone who doesn’t understand the definition of rational thought, but you might feel very differently. (And, that’s totally okay by me!) The thing about learning how to be resilient, is that some folks are more naturally resilient to begin with and others learn it over time. There’s never “one true way” for anything, in my mind, and I feel this is especially true when it comes to your mental health. You do you.
1.) A to Z Gratitude – Take a sheet of paper and, starting with “A”, write down what you’re grateful for.
2.) Fan Letter – If there is somebody you admire, send them a letter telling them how awesome they are. Never too late to do that!
3.) Go for a Walk – The obvious answer, step away from the internet, doesn’t always work because you’re so emotionally charged up. Disconnect, even if it’s for five or ten minutes, and go for a walk.
4.) Free Write – Notebook. Pen. Fresh screen. 30 minute timer. Get it all out as fast as you can, then rip it up, burn it, delete it? Whatever. Discharge that angst!
5.) Assess – Have a little handy guide you can refer to when you’re dealing with the bullshit. Write down five questions that help you rationally solve your problem. For me, they’d be: Who am I dealing with? Is this person’s opinions valuable to me? What is the effect that this person’s opinions have on my life? My career?
6.) Rant – Look, characters aren’t static. Right? Neither are you. I totally believe that ranting every once in a while is healthy, and it’s a very human thing to do. It’s my choice not to spend time ranting, ’cause I have outlets for that angst.
7.) Make Art – Oh, gods… I have so many options here. Origami,
8.) Clean – Sometimes, I definitely clean house as a way to physically have an impact on my head space.
9.) Spoil Yourself – Favorite recipe? Make that! Favorite shirt? Wear that!
10.) Calming Rituals – As a musician, I associate a lot of memories with music. Star Wars, by far, is my favorite comfort food along with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
11.) Support Network – Whether you talk to friends online or off, I do feel sometimes people need the ability to understand what’s normal for them. What’s normal to experience? How do they cope? Are the problems you’re having unique to you or much bigger than that?
12.) Positivity – I could post about the trolls who attack me, but I don’t. Meh. I’d much rather talk about what I’m doing, what makes me happy, how I can positively contribute to the future. So I force myself to be positive, to draw those smiley faces, and to keep on, keepin’ on.
Of course, these are short-term solutions to dealing with the bullshit. I find dealing with the immediate issues helps prepare me for the long-term, really, because regardless of where I go or what I do? There will always be varying degrees of bullshit, and I know enough about myself to know how/when/where to deal with it if it gets “that” bad. I feel that’s really the key to all this: a sense of scale to know how common the problem is, how serious it is, and if it can be resolved.
Anyway, hopefully that helps. You do you, and I gotta get back to writing. Huge announcement in a couple of weeks!