“It’s Mine and You Can’t Have It!” – Paralleles on Gender in Video Games and Roller Derby

There’s yet another post going around the internet about how men don’t belong in derby. I’d post it here, but it’s more of the same and more of what we’ll see again. And as I read through the arguments put forth, I realized I’d heard them all before, except they had been directed at me. They’re the same arguments I hear about why women don’t belong in gaming culture.

Now, to be clear, the arguments I’m laying out below aren’t from just the post I saw earlier this week. But more of a collective I’ve noticed from posts, comments, and discussion threads around the internet.

It’s a Safe Place for My Gender.

When the discussion comes to online gaming, and the horrible slurs that go along with that, they say they’re just “being men.” That they have to watch their language in “real life” all the time and this is the only place they can go to cuss and blow-up things. That they can get out aggression and not have to conform to what society says.

When women talk about men in derby, they say it’s a safe place for women. That they can be who they truly are. That free from men, women can be who they really are. They can play an aggressive sport and not be judged for it.  That they do not have to conform to what society says.

Just Take a Support Role.

“You want to play video games, fine. We need a healer anyway.” Oh boy gamers, what with your perceived notions of gender. Girls don’t want to fight, they want to heal. Right.

“You can be in derby! We need refs, NSOs, coaches, volunteers…” Derby girls, you’re no better. Every post I’ve seen about boys in derby ignores that they’ve always been there in a support role. I realize good, reliable volunteers are hard to find; but if someone wants to play they should do so without judgement.

Do Your Gender Defined Task.

“Get back in the kitchen.” Oh you’re so clever stranger on the other end of the game. Why yes let me go “make you a sandwich. After all, I have plenty of time as I wait for your to respawn…again.

“Go play hockey/football/basketball.” I know you like this sport and all, but you have all the other sports go play one of them. Because after all,  those are “for boys.” As far as derby goes, this one gets me more than any other. Because in a blanket statement you say girls can’t play those sports, and diminish derby in the same breath.

Video games are a fantasy world. Derby is a sport that at it’s core fights gender expectations. But by all means, return to the status quo.

It’s Mine and You Can’t Have It.

All these arguments are based around a simple theme. “It’s mine and you can’t have it.” The argument a child would make. As video games try to get respect as a legitimate hobby for all age groups and as an art form; certain factions are screaming and crying like children. As derby is trying to rise up become a legitimate sport, certain factions are acting like a kid who has had their ball taken away. It takes away from our credibility.

The Vocal Minority

All these arguments, on both sides, come from the vocal minority. Most boy gamers don’t care who’s playing and in what role, as long as that person will watch their 6. Most derby girls don’t care if boys play, they may not want to play with boys, but sure let them have fun. Derby is derby after all.

And here we are again at the point I always make at the end of this kind of post, the silent majority needs to not let this go. Tell those acting like something (anything) is only for their gender that their behavior is not cool.


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