There are two game reviewers who I consider among my favourites at the moment – I connect with their intellectual and artistically aware approach to analysing and describing the gaming experience. And it turns out one is openly gay and the other is transgender. I didn’t know or realise at first (yes, I thought one had an unusual voice; should I have had any reason to read further into it than that?) I don’t know that knowing has changed my opinion of either of them or, more importantly, their reviews, but the exposure to “something different,” plus that #YesAllWomen thing, plus a bunch of other stuff lately rippling through my circles, has made me much more acutely aware of my own thoughts and actions.

Before I go on, I want to stress that I don’t want this to be a “poor me for being privileged” post. I know I’m privileged (and I’m extremely grateful, in a selfish way.) What I don’t know is whether or not I’m ignorantly misogynist. If I am, the first step has to be curing the ignorance – so please, call me out.

That said, my recent awareness has made me... not afraid, definitely not that, but nervous. It’s a tired old metaphor, but I feel like I’m walking on eggshells. Traditionally I’d have been conditioned to completely ignore those shells, that the occasional (or frequent, or ubiquitous) crunching sound was an expected part of walking around. Maybe even something to be celebrated. It would have been ludicrous to consider that someone might be upset by, let alone complain about, them breaking. But it turns out that, to push the metaphor further, I like these eggshells. I believe that they have a value in and of themselves, and that it improves the world to have them around. Maybe the complaining was what made me look down in the first place and notice them, but having done so, I find that I like them. I don’t want to tread lightly just to quiet the complaints; I genuinely don’t want to crack the shells.


But I don’t know about these shells. I don’t know when to step around them, or when it’s safe to walk over, and then I don’t know how lightly to tread. Worse, I may not realise some are even eggs until I’ve already crushed them – and I’m afraid there could be some that I don’t realise even then.

As I said before, I don’t want anyone’s pity. That would be absurd. After all, it’s a self-imposed condition. It would be so easy to say, “Screw the eggshells” and grind them all into the ground. Sure, it would give me pangs – but hell, I’ve got centuries of precedent to back me up, and I certainly wouldn’t feel nervous about them any more. I realise that sounds like a threat, and I wish it didn’t, but honestly, it’s there, and it’s a real factor that has to be taken into account in the whole issue. Fortunately I’m just one little man, so my backsliding wouldn’t account for much (at least, not for those who don’t know me personally) – I’d still prefer to avoid it, though. So no, I don’t want any pity, but I do want people to know how I feel, and to appreciate that I’m making an effort; but, more importantly, I want people to help me learn about the eggshells: show me how to recognise and avoid them, and definitely call me out when I break them. It might turn out that I don’t actually care about all of the shells, and go on breaking some, but I’d like not to be counted among the worst.

Update 2019-09-08: a part at the end of this post has bugged me for five years. I never managed to make it say what I wanted it to, so I've deleted it.

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Matthew Kerwin

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There‘s an obligation on the privileged to use their privilege to help those without. But privilege makes us blind to it.

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