This winner of this week’s #TCFBest is from The Border House Blog, All Skulls On: Teaching Intersectionality through Halo, by Samantha Allen (@CousinDangereux). Allen, a gender and sexuality studies Ph.D student at Emory University, writes about an experiment she used to teach her Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 100 class to explore forms of oppression and privilege centering on race, gender identity, ability, sex, class and sexual orientation. Allen used the popular video game, Halo as an engaging, interactive metaphor for her students to think about privilege, oppression and intersectionality. Allen explains why:
Let me just close the door so the other instructors don’t find out I’m letting you play Halo,” I joked to my Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 100 class. I knew I was taking a risk on this teaching activity. I was worried that it would come across as a shameless, gimmicky attempt to glam up the difficult topic of intersectional oppression.
My friend and fellow WGSS 100 instructor Lauran planted the seed of the idea for this activity when she, citing my proclivity for video games, recommended that I read John Scalzi’s blog post “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.” I liked it. The article was clear, accessible and completely on point. Scalzi’s argument is that being a straight white man is like playing a video game on easy mode: some challenges remain but the player is at an automatic advantage.
As I tried to think about how I would incorporate Scalzi’s article into a lesson on feminist theories of intersectionality, however, I realized that it couldn’t do as much work as I would need it to. Scalzi’s article is a fantastic thought experiment revolving around a brilliant metaphor. While I couldn’t fault it for its simplicity, then, I realized that I would need a more complex metaphor that could capture the way in which systems of oppression interlock and compound each other’s effects.
We highly recommend reading the rest of the piece to see how exactly Halo was demonstrated and what her students learned from the experience.
Thank you to Caroline (@dissident1L) for the nomination and pointing out a great and thought-provoking piece we probably would not have come across ourselves. TCF is now taking nominations for next week’s #TCFBest. As always, you can submit your nominations in the comments below, via the Twitter hashtag #TCFBest, on our Facebook page, or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.