I had a bunch of thoughts sparked by the first comment on this CSTM post on the topic of being a female gamer/MMO player* and have decided to break them down into individual posts to create my Gamer Girl's Survival Guide.
The first survival tool for being a female in what still seems to be a "man's world" -- although LoTRO has more female players than any other MMORPG I've ever played -- is: grow a thicker skin. If we can't handle a bit of discomfort caused by other humans online, we shouldn't be playing an MMO and should probably go back to playing The Sims where we can create every aspect of our world and occupy it entirely alone.
I'm not saying that women should condone really inappropriate or harmful behavior or anything that is worthy of "reporting," rather (like in real life) we have to learn to tolerate certain things in order to play with other people. We need to choose our battles carefully and weigh the consequences. Example: There is a particular seasoned member of my kinship who makes blatantly sexist, vulgar and misogynistic comments in kin and raid chat on a regular basis, which is inevitably followed by a string of typed lololols and laughter in Ventrilo. Is this potentially upsetting and annoying? Yes. Is it worth taking it up with my officers, causing drama, and potentially upsetting what is otherwise an amazingly functional, drama-free and happy kinship? Not to me, it isn't. At least, not yet. Everyone has their "line" that can be crossed. In the real world, we have to draw that line further out to protect ourselves, but online -- etiquette lacking the way it does -- we have to make some concessions for peoples' misbehavior or we will either be very unhappy gamers or find ourselves paying a monthly fee to play all alone.
There isn't any way to completely stop the barrage of stinging darts -- that is sometimes aimed at us and sometimes friendly fire -- but we have the ability to choose to shrug off what we can, and the responsibility to deal with whatever we can't shrug off in a way that leaves us as blameless as possible.
None of this is as compromising as it might sound, nor as difficult. Chances are if you are already a female MMO player, you've achieved this by now. And if you're a new girl to online gaming: Don't be disheartened! Even with the annoyances, sexism, and trolls, it's still well worth putting points into your real life "resistance rating" and "ass-hat mitigation" so that you can be part of the adventure!
*I realize that this topic is going to be touchy. I'm going to have women angry that I make concessions to men (and use the term "girl" and other non-empowering titles); and I am going to have men who are angry because they feel that I am stereotyping and generalizing them. I get it. Feel free to comment. I actually do care how you feel, although in this place -- my blog -- I care more about my own feelings, staying true to myself, and my self-expression.