Was yesterday even real?
I have been in a constant state of shock and awe over how events unfolded.
The day I wrote it, I had a lot of my judge friends share it and congratulate me on a job well done. It warmed my heart and helped stoke the fire to keep writing. I even had a friend explain in no uncertain terms that I am not allowed to quit.
I woke up yesterday and was excited that my post had been shared about 200 times on Facebook from the site. I mean, how cool was that? People enjoyed what I wrote enough for it to part of their personal lives. At its core, that is the point of this blog; to take my words and have them affect lives in positive way.
Then at around 11 or so I logged into my blog to check my stats and had my first (of many) shocks that day. I had almost three thousand views on my blog now. That was crazy! A GP sized number of people had found their way onto my site and read my stuff. I even had some comments, most of which were super supportive. I checked where the views coming from and the number one list was Reddit.
I don’t know who put my post out there, but if you’re reading this, thank you so much.
I started reading through the comments when my phone started blowing up. Some players in my local area had seen the article and tagged me in our Facebook group. It was getting enough attention that it was the top post in the MTG Reddit and was even trending to the front page. I was floored; the comments and views started rolling in and I felt a little off put from the attention.
At 3pm I got a message from my good friend Roger. “You made the Magic the Gathering Website!!” and he sent a screenshot of my post being featured on the Daily Magic Update for June 8th. It was featured with heavy hitters like Seth Manfield, Marshall Sutcliffe, and Eric Froehlich.
Y’all, I actually fell out of my chair.
This is why your teachers tell you to not lean back too far.
It was an indescribable feeling. I posted my freak out on Facebook, along with the screenshot of the page, and the support from my friends was amazing. (My favorite comment was the request to sign a baby. I’m pretty sure he was kidding, but with Magic folk you never really know for sure.)
Even this morning as I’m writing about the whirlwind that was yesterday, I still can’t believe it happened.
But this post isn’t just so I can gush.
I’ve read the comments, both good and bad, on my blog, on Reddit, on the posts that I can see on Facebook and I want to address some of the responses.
But it doesn’t happen at my store
I feel like a lot of what I posted on Tuesday was the negative and I also feel like, after a friend reinforced this feeling through his constructive criticism (Thanks Zach!), I could’ve ended my point better.
One of the most common comments I have seen boils down to this: I’ve never seen this. I doubt it’s as bad as she is portraying it to be.
If you have the privilege to go to store where they make sure to combat this behavior, that’s wonderful and I am happy for you. These are the kinds of places that we should be building in our community! And if you’re doing your part to make your local game store a welcoming place I salute you for that because that’s the way it should be.
However that is not everyone’s reality, especially in the competitive Magic scene. There has been at least two times that I have been to SCG States in Richmond that I have been the only woman playing, in a field of at least 70 other players. As a woman, or any other minority for that matter, being the only one is incredibly intimidating. It didn’t matter that at this particular event the TOs were fantastic (seriously the Richmond, VA stores are amazing; if you have time you should read this about how they schedule events each season) and welcoming there was still that air of not exactly belonging.
‘But how do I fix a problem I don’t see?’ you might say. Change your language, even in casual conversations with friends. You could be using words and phrases that are sexist, racist, homophobic, without realizing it. Or maybe you have friends that say some questionable things sometimes but you shrug it off because they’re a friend and you don’t want to shake things up. Confront them even if it makes you uncomfortable. A person who says certain things in private is more likely to say these things in public too.
Let your friends, family, colleagues know that you don’t stand for the comments and the attitudes. I know that this can be so hard; it’s a problem I personally have. I have a group of friends that use the verb ‘rape’ like you would use any other verb, especially when describing a victory (‘Man, this card just raped your face!’ etc., etc.). It makes me cringe every time; as a rape and sexual assault survivor, the casual use of the word upsets me but these are very close friends and I worry about upsetting them.
It’s time to get over that so I can make things better for the next person.
You should be flattered that someone is asking you to coffee
Women don’t go to big Magic events or game stores to find a date. That’s not the expectation or the reality. They’re there to play Magic, or board games, or storming the castle in a roleplaying game. They have a set agenda in mind for their time; you hitting on them is not part of the plan.
The coffee question was my experiences rolled into one blanket statement. It covers the several times I’ve been hit on or asked to dinner or coffee while participating in a hobby I love. This is not the scenario where it’s thirty minutes after our match and we’re still sitting at our match table exchanging battle stories and getting to know each other better. This being asked to coffee while declaring my attackers; it’s the fear of retribution that can come from refusing to accept or give a number (and we live in a world where refusing male advances can have deadly repercussions). It’s the awkward exchanges which make you feel so uncomfortable you’d rather scoop up your cards and leave than stick around.
If you really like someone, take the time to actually get to know them before pushing them for date. And realize that they still may refuse you; it doesn’t make them uptight, or rude, or a ‘bitch.’ No person is obligated for any action involving someone else.
Why are you complaining in a blog post when you could just speak up when it happens
So speaking up is hard. When these things happen, you’re filled with emotions and saying anything is difficult it that situation. I personally bottle up anger; I don’t like being angry and I respect my local game stores so much that I don’t want to cause a scene. This may be the wrong way to handle it but it’s what happens.
When you’re in a venue far from home you don’t know what could happen when you speak up as a minority. The judge program is amazing and it’s full of awesome individuals who do everything in their power to make a player’s experience the best it can be. But there’s always the threat of ‘he said, she said’ and I’ve experienced the frustration when someone (not a judge in this case) did not believe me about a negative interaction with a male player. I’ve not been back to that store since.
I made the decision to pen my words in a post rather than speak them out loud. That doesn’t change their impact. I’ve seen so many women share stories similar to mine which have both angered me and warmed my heart. The testimonies alone should be proof that this is a problem that still needs to be addressed in both the casual and competitive Magic scene. Take the frustration you may be feeling at me for writing this and use to do some good in the world.
I still can’t believe what happened yesterday, but I am so happy that so many players and judges agree with my sentiments. I can only hope that this will change the minds of others.
Thank you all for giving my words a chance and together let’s make Magic better for everyone.