I've mentioned before that I had a really positive experience at PAX East 2011. I came away fulfilled, and happy, and feeling like collectively, we (gamer culture) are on the right path. I made some friends.
But what stands out for me in retrospect was that PAX was a girls' weekend for me. Aside from a few folks I gamed with, and one journalist I met (who's the husband of a friend I made), I was almost entirely in the company of women. I went to gender-themed panels, I sought out the company of the minority, and I was generally surrounded by affirming, positive examples of what gamer culture can be.
The world is not a safe space.
I thought I was past being intimidated solely on the basis of my gender. When I open my mouth about gaming, I'm generally certain I know what I'm talking about, or at least I feel like I can participate in the conversation. And if I don't, I keep my mouth shut. Simple. And in person, I feel like I'm on it.
But on the advice of many, I finally signed up at Bitmob this morning. I think the site is a worthwhile endeavor, but I'm always nervous dipping my toe into any unknown waters. And this morning I read some articles and thought about commenting... and on post after post, every name in the comments was clearly and obviously male.
I hide behind my initials because even in the non-anonymous age of the internet (having left my pseudonym behind me on a few sites I don't use much anymore), that "K" affords me shelter.
I'll pull myself together and get over it, soon enough. All journeys beginning with a single step, and so on. But it's hard being aware of that other level of judgement.
I miss the truly anonymous age of the Internet, when none of us had photos attached to our profiles or used our real names. I think it afforded a lot of people who might be marginalized in some way in their 3D lives the space to avoid judgement except for their words and deeds, which is the way we should all get to live.
Meanwhile, I'm KCoxDC there, too, just like everywhere else. Because that's who I am now, and that's the face for the world to see.