NOTE: As I reread this, I realize it could come across as my being an apologist for Jim. His mindset, no matter how much I disagree with it, is a thing that exists. I feel like having it be out in the open, no matter how harmful it may be at first glance, also opens up an opportunity for some real good to be done, the chance for real dialogue. But I know that there are others who agree more with my last paragraph – having it on a site like SCG is an implicit endorsement, which may ultimately make a chance at enacting real change as a result nearly impossible. I hope this is not the case, and I welcome dialogue in any event – that’s the best way for me or anyone to learn, after all. -Vi
I’m sure most of you have gotten wind of the controversy that got stirred up over the past few days in response to an article by Jim Davis where he presents his view on women in Magic.
Just for sake of completeness, here are a few useful links:
As for my own viewpoint, here goes:
I’m actually glad Jim Davis wrote the article. Why? Because it puts into writing a viewpoint that is very pervasive among a lot of Magic players – and, more importantly, it gives us a chance to voice why that viewpoint is harmful and counterproductive.
I know Davis meant well, that he genuinely was trying to help. In fact, there was a time when I myself may have made similar statements. But I’ve grown a lot since then, learned a lot about how privilege and systemic bias works, and have, myself, moved into a position where suddenly I’m on the other side of the equation.
The fact is, we can post articles and links where we discuss how to make Magic a more diverse place, but for people to actually internalize it, they need to put it into their own context. Context matters, especially since someone might think that they have the right idea, and therefore never actually think to challenge their own opinions. And Jim’s article puts into concrete words the feelings that may be simmering, diffuse and unformed, in the minds of a lot of Magic players.
Jim’s article gives us a concrete set of arguments to present counterpoints to, rather than a vague sentiment that remains unvocalized. And, as a result, gives us an opportunity to present a context to discuss these problems that are still pervasive in Magic, in a way that makes sense to a lot more people than merely repeating how important representation and inclusion is – after all, what Magic player doesn’t want equality for all. It’s just that they may misunderstand how to achieve it.
I want to talk a little bit about representation, and about my own experiences. I’ve always been shy, I’ve always been a bit unsure in my own abilities as a Magic player. I had – and still have, in some cases – a huge amount of anxiety about going to tournaments. I was always afraid that I would be so bad that I would ruin other people’s enjoyment just by playing against them. This was what kept me from going to FNMs for the longest time.
And then, when I started to be more open about my gender, that anxiety compounded itself with the fear that I would be ostracized or discriminated against based on my gender presentation. And this wasn’t even necessarily an unfounded fear. I’d seen it at Magic events I’d been to – I’m ashamed to say, I even recognized that I’d seen it in myself. So, even as I started to play more and get better at the game, I still stayed away.
What made me feel safe going to Magic events again? Well, the new USC rules were a part of it, as were the Judge community, who were super supportive during my coming out and subsequent transition. But one part I haven’t talked about a lot are the women in Magic who showed me that you could be a woman, that you could be trans, and still feel accepted and welcomed by the community.
It was thanks to people like Feline Longmore, Melissa DeTora, and Erin Campbell that I felt that there was a place for me in the community. If Jim had his way, though, those people would have never been made visible enough for me to ever have encountered them, and Magic would have had at least one fewer active player.
Jim’s article was ultimately misguided and potentially harmful, but it didn’t come from a place of malice. And I respect him for giving voice to his point of view, as any time someone does that they open themselves up to attack. I hope that he has learned a lot about feminism and representation as a result of the reaction to his article, and that people who read it and also read the rebuttals can understand a bit better the struggles women in Magic go through, put in a context that is a bit closer to home for them. After all, the first step in enacting real change is by opening up people’s minds to other points of view, and I hope that was accomplished here over the past few days.
At the same time, however, I do worry about the fact that it was published on a site as prominent as Star City Games. That kind of implicit endorsement of these viewpoints is almost more harmful than the article itself. The response and apology were good steps, but I hope they will have the courage over the next few days to publish a measured and reasoned rebuttal to the original article.
If not, then the only way any good can actually come from this whole affair is if the rebuttals get as much attention as the original article, so be sure to share the responses as widely as you can!