I play games like Dungeons & Dragons, and I cannot cast spells or summon demons. I don't sacrifice my friends for the greater good. Nor have I ever been so depressed about a character death, I wanted to die. Characters are just numbers on paper that I make up voices for. Everyone knows that.
Since the early 80s, I have loved video games - all kinds of video games, including the violent ones. I also have a psychotic disorder, and play these violent video games. These things combined have never caused me to even think about shooting anyone. I don't even like guns, they scare me. I don't like swords or knives either. But we do have a lightsaber in the house.
Oh, and my favorite music is really angry. The kind fueled by rage or love of Vikings, two things I am not. I do not go on rampages or burn villages to the ground. I do not trash hotel rooms and/or carry a battle axe. I can normally be found cracking jokes and making puns in my stompy boots, not looking for someone to punch. PS: I've never punched anyone. I don't think I have the stomach for it.
I love James Bond, and I am a feminist.
Did you see that? How liking things and loving things does not make you any less of who you are or what you believe? It does not change any part of your core being, it does not tear down your morality and make you less of a societal pillar.
You can love James Bond and still crusade for women's rights. You can stomp to :Wumpscut: and cuddle puppies. You can play your Tiefling Necromancer in Dungeons & Dragons and go to church the next morning. You can play Call of Duty for hours and go out for a fancy dinner in a crowded restaurant.
Allowing yourself to enjoy the things you enjoy while still holding onto your core values is part of what makes us human. And we have to remain ourselves and human in a society that constantly shifts, holding onto who we are adapting into our better selves. And society shifting and adapting is not new, it's been doing this for a while. Anyone remember Martin Luther? No, not "I have a dream," more like "95 Theses."
If you call out people for being less of themselves for liking this or that thing makes you no better than anyone who's attacked pop culture in the past. Some acceptable music in 1984 got a "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics" label on it in 1985. But no one's behavior changed. Violence didn't decrease, there was no sharp increase in moral behavior. The labels had little to no effect on the public. It only created backlash from the music industry, like giving Jello Biafra spoken word material for over a decade.
People are resilient, and belief is one of the strongest things a human being has - it is sustainable by ideas, observations, conversations, and experiences. The way someone perceives the world is broken down by their belief structure not only in their higher power (if they have one), but also their political beliefs, their social beliefs, their beliefs on how to be a good friend, or good parenting, or which Star Wars movie is the best, or console vs PC ... You get the picture.
Opinions are borne partially of belief, and everyone is entitled to theirs. But opinions can be wrong, proven so by personal experience or fact - so if you believe liking James Bond makes me a bad feminist, you can go ahead and believe that. It's your opinion, you can have that. I just know something different.
We have to do ourselves a service and not become what we hate. If we don't like the idea of calling roleplayers Satanists, if we don't like thinking of every single gamer as dangerous, if we like to give the mentally ill the benefit of the doubt, if we don't judge people by the music coming from their headphones -- we can't turn the tables when it's convenient for us.
By doing that, you only borrow the mask from those you're rallying against and try it on for size.
Believe that people have the capacity to think and carry on beyond what they see and enjoy. That they can remain good people despite what's on television or in their hands. I grew up watching James Bond and other misogynist films; I grew up playing violent video games; I grew up reading books with little to zero female representation, and I still became a feminist.
It doesn't mean I can't work to change some of that, but it also doesn't make me less of a person, feminist, woman, or compassionate person. Because that's who I am, and have always been. I see everything through that lens of compassion, want for equality, and empathy. But I also understand the need for release, entertainment, and change. I know loving James Bond won't make me terrible, but I also understand why people may think so. That's what they believe, and maybe that's who they are.
And that's okay, too.
ASIDE FOR WRITERS AND READERS, UNRELATED TO BLOG POST:
Sometimes we need severely flawed heroes. People who make decisions and have habits so vile it causes conflict within us and makes us uncomfortable. That can be a mark of good storytelling - a character trait that takes you out of your comfort zone and makes you think critically about a hero or villain's ultimate motives and actions.