15 September 2018

Problems with inclusivity

Not terribly long ago, somebody commented on my entry Inclusive NPCs Volume 4: Chadra. The comment read as follows:
It's great that you mention her not being a damsel in distress, but even just the backstory you gave for her sounds like you're unintentionally making an allusion to stereotypes of Islam. Maybe try a bit harder next time.
Of course, this comment was left anonymously, indicating that it was apparently someone who wasn't interested in discussing the issue, but simply felt the need to feel superior by making an accusation of something that I did wrong.

I responded to this comment, asking:
I'm not sure what stereotypes you're referring to. If I've made a mistake somewhere, I'd very much like to fix it. Please let me know what I did wrong. I reread the backstory, and I'm not sure where I made the error. But I'd love to hear your input. How can I make it better?
That was over three months ago. There has been no response. This supports my hypothesis that the person had no actual desire to remedy a problem, or to improve inclusiveness, but to make accusations and walk away feeling proud of themselves for being 'better at inclusivity' than someone else.

This is especially likely given the tone of the final sentence in the comment: 'Maybe try a bit harder next time.' This seems very condescending. It's dripping with the implied notion of 'you aren't inclusive enough. Thus, you don't matter. You aren't worthy, and your attempts at inclusion are not sufficient. You aren't good enough to be part of the elite group of accepting to which I belong.'
I'll admit that being inclusive is difficult. There are a great many aspects of human existence that are often taken for granted, or socially expected, and it can be very difficult to overcome our ingrained modes of thinking.

I'll also admit that I, personally, can find inclusion to be difficult sometimes. For example, as a stickler for grammar, I sometimes find it difficult to use pronouns other than he or she. Additionally, I do not live in an area that is known for diversity. I don't often get to experience other cultures, other lifestyles, other modes of existence. And it doesn't help that I am extremely introverted with a serious case of social incompetence. Thus, there are often social conventions of which I am astoundingly ignorant.

In other words, I will grant that it is entirely possible that I may have done what this anonymous commenter suggested that I had done, and unintentionally made allusions to stereotypes of Islam.

Which brings us back to my response to the commenter: What mistake did I make? I honestly don't know. I did re-read the backstory, and I don't see where I went wrong. If I did, I want to fix it. But I can't fix it if I don't know what the error was!

Progressives often accuse non-progressive individuals of being closed-minded, of having an unwavering opinion on a topic and being unwilling to discuss the issue with a readiness to change their mind if sufficient evidence is presented. But I often see people who claim to be progressive suffering the same problem. And this is just such a case.

The anonymous commenter clearly wasn't trying to improve anything. They were simply trying to score points in their own mind for how much better they are than I am.

Which brings me to the point of inclusive games. How can we ever expect the gaming hobby to be inclusive when we are so divisive even in our attempts to be unifying?

Inclusion and tolerance should encompass helping and welcoming of everyone. It's no wonder that gaming (be it video games, board games, or roleplaying games) have such a bad reputation with non-participants. Even when we try to welcome others, we still have such a haughty attitude; 'You're not inclusive enough for our group, so we will not include you.'

It's backwards, and it needs to stop.

And even if the commenter's intent was to make things more inclusive, they went about it in a completely unacceptable way. We don't need drive-by comments that serve only to harm the reader's self-worth. We need to open a dialogue, be forgiving and helpful, and be willing to come back and continue the discussion instead of just leaving a cruel belittling comment and walking away, never to return.

So maybe we can all learn a lesson from this person's mistake. Don't be a dick. If you're going to help, actually help. And that's all I have to say about that.

Game on!

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