Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dear Matty: Domestic Bliss Edition

Dear Matty,

I am experiencing some major drama, and it's not because of a guild! Of all the blogs I read, I have yet to find someone in this same position. There are so many posts on simply playing as a girl (or woman, as the case may be) I can't seem to find any that address some basic issues: when your family hates that you play. Now, the situation in my case is my husband and children have been playing for years. Though we have a great marriage and balance, when it came to their game time, I did my own thing, whether it was reading, or my other hobby, cleaning. I kid, of course. The bulk of the domestic chores and organization of the house has always fallen on my shoulders. And here's the thing, in today's world, though women are "liberated" and both bring home salaries, it tends to be the woman's place to even bring up the conversation about domestic duties. But now I play, too, and love it! This game has so much to offer me--much more fun that reading Facebook posts. I went on strike a few weeks ago and said flat out, "No more trips to the grocery store, you all figure it out. I'm done." I ended up with a weeks' worth of hot dogs, white bread, and Mike & Ikes. And the look on their faces! You would have thought I sold my children to gypsies. I never hear about men who say, "Okay, honey, on Tuesdays and Thursday nights I'll make sure the kids are fed, washed, laundry put away, homework's checked, bills are paid, so you can go kill a virtual flame-vomitting monster." The negotiations begin and end with the woman saying "Can we talk?" which tends to leave most men feeling the urge to run off in the wilderness and eat berries and raw bear meat. It's minimally a visceral reaction. I know there are plenty of wives out there who are golf widows, and probably WoW widows, but somehow the double-standard is more painful when the husband is a WoW widower. I really enjoy my friends in Azeroth, and work very hard to maintain my real life responsibilities, but I can't take the hypocrisy anymore. Well, really, I can't stand the guilt anymore. My family has actually been okay and adapted, but the guilt is still there. Am I less of a woman because I play WoW and don't want to empty the dishwasher?

Wash-And-Dry Warlock

Dear Wash,
Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear. Why didn't you include a 40-foot pole in your letter? I do not have an answer for you, but here is what I do know: women tend to judge their worth based on the men in their lives. Virginia Wolfe said it, Margaret Atwood has said it, and hell, even my hairdresser said it. This does not mean it's right,  but it happens. And perhaps it is this gender-specific demon that we women are truly fighting after all. We want to be valued, and no one likes to be taken for granted, male or female.

The thing about how we has a society judge women is most assuredly the unspoken rules of what makes a woman a "good" woman: responsible, organized, nurturing, caring, creative, gracious and intelligent. Look at the predominance of women in certain fields, such as teaching and nursing. Much of this predominance has to do with unfortunate societal constrictions on meaningful and well-paid work, and inherent sexism and classism. But in a new world where most women can do what they want to do, these careers still tend to be dominated by women. And even with a high divorce rate, men and women still get married, though their odds are not good. With the hope of marriage becoming what it should be, a contract between two consenting adults, no matter what sexual preference, we as a water-cooler conversational society often wonder what this means in terms of division of labor, because in the past, if you had these bits, you did "x," and if you had those bits, you did "y." Yes, and when you think about it, it's just as ridiculous. I know plenty of couples who are deeply in love and the same gender, and yes, guess what? They too must negotiate and compromise all the time. For those who are single, yes, guess what? They have to negotiate their own responsibilities and priorities all the time. Where it gets muddy for moms is perhaps the guilt of "this is what a mom is supposed to be." You may love or hate the novel, Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman,   Talk about your polemic polearm.

Here is the thing: guilt is a horrible but useful emotion. Steer it and use it. Use it to get the things done that must be done, and it will dissipate like smoke off of an Illidan smoke-bomb in Well of Eternity. I cannot tell you how to negotiate for your play time, versus your domestic responsibilities. But do remember this: time in Azeroth, as joyful as it is, is not the same as what you signed up for as a wife and mother. Azeroth will be there, but babies grow up. But also, it is important to carve out time for yourself, and if you need to do this and take a stand, take it, by all means. This is what keeps mommies happy, because as everyone knows, if momma ain't happy, no one is happy. And yes, it will probably be you who has to bring it up. That's in the fine print somewhere.


Postscript: And for all you husbands and boyfriends who wish your wives and girlfriends would play, first, be careful what you wish for, and second, what will you do to help them? And I don't mean run them through Scarlet Monastery, I'm talking dishes and laundry and things that require soap.


  1. Okay, the other made me cry but this one left me laughing, I can't help it. It was the punchline.

    I'm glad you clarified that cause I think many would have thought running them through Scarlet Monastery would have been all the help needed!

    Now if only someone had a solution to my problem, I'm not sure how men get women to play but I sure haven't found out how to get a reluctant man to play. But on second thought maybe I'd better leave well enough alone!

    1. You have been warned, young padawan. Heed!

    2. Be careful what you wish for Tome :) I enjoy my game time partly as it's my time :).

      I'm sure there are days he wishes he'd not introduced me to the game either.

      A most enjoyable read. A point well made.


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