I don't normally get on my soapbox, but I have a personal pet-peeve that's triggered by nit-picky things-- in this case one particular phrase that bothered me. I am sensitive to the implication that women can't, or won't, appreciate and/or understand gaming. Now, I will preface this with stating that these are my own opinions. Please take from this what you will, and know my intent is to express my own frustration at this perceived bias.
Today I downloaded the future events at GenCon 2014. I'm interested in attending this particular convention in Indianapolis, Indiana which claims to be the "original, longest-running, best-attended, gaming convention in the world". As I scrolled down on the downloaded Excel spreadsheet list of events searching for something related to painting, I came across a listing of Event Types called "Spouse Activities". It peaked my confused curiosity and when I dug deeper, I was bothered by what I found.
From what I gathered, I can only assume that "Spouse Activities" are for non-gaming women brought along by their male gamer counterparts. Now I realize a spouse is a partner-- man, woman, whomever. However, when I thought, "No, surely they wouldn't be label 'Spouse Activities' as activities that are unrelated to gaming built to appeal mostly to women. That's insulting". As of Wednesday, June 11th, let me share with you the first several listings of GenCon's "Spouse Activities":
- Enroute Spa/Shala Wellness
- Intro to Yoga
- Intro to Neck and Shoulder Massage
- Intro to Raw Foods Living and Juicing
- Vision Board + Power of Intention
- Ballroom Dance for Beginners: Waltz
- Ballroom Dance for Beginners: Tango
- Ballroom Dance for Beginners: Peabody
- Ballroom Dance for Beginners: Swing
- Ballroom Dance for Beginners: Foxtrot
- Ballroom Dance for Beginners: Viennese Waltz
Now I understand that these classes are taught by knowledgeable and valuable teachers & professionals who are there to share their expertise. I do not look down on these classes or those who would and will enjoy them. However, I can't help but feel that there exists the implication that women married to convention-goers will need non-gaming events to attend since they can't bring themselves to enjoy the same activities of their partners for a short four-day period. Sure, people exist (not just women) who travel to conventions only to complain at their partners having fun and to them I say, "shame on you! If you're not going to at least try, don't go."
Many spouses enjoy conventions together. Many spouses enjoy gaming together. I have attended a tabletop/miniature convention myself even though my husband was unable to attend. I enjoy gaming activities and I daresay I paint miniatures better than my husband, though he picks up new game concepts quicker than I do and he's a much better DM/Game Master than I could ever hope to be. He's also a fitness buff and would take a workout class during a Con as a break from classes & events "especially if the hotel gym sucked". That being said, I feel that "Alternative Classes", "Specialty Activities" or even "Wellness Classes" would be more appropriate.
I understand I may be the minority in this regard. However, I hope that moving forward, I can find examples that acknowledge and encourage the idea that many women are indeed gaming enthusiasts themselves-- without or without a spouse. We should not be relegated to attending "Spouse Activities". All activities at the convention are Spouse Activities. If you're attending with your spouse (or frankly, anyone, spouse or not), you should do your best to enjoy the experience and, at the very least, watch, learn, and take time to understand the hobby & community that identifies closely with someone you care about. Strike a compromise-- take a yoga class together in the morning and then go roll some dice in the evening tabletop event. After all, four days at a con go by fast and supporting your significant other in their pursuits is worth much more than you know!