Sexism in Table-Top Gaming: My Thoughts On It, and What We Can Do About It


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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I await your answer. You are the one that equated something with murder that could be as innocuous as opening a door for someone.

I'm not equating them at all; perhaps I poorly explained my point but I'm afraid your sudden hostility has brought this conversation to an end. I've no idea what just happened there. It's a shame; I was enjoying the conversation.
 

Kursk

Banned
Banned
I'm not equating them at all;

YES, you did. Very clearly. You compared allowing murderers to run free without action against them to allowing people who commit "sexism" to run around without action against them. SO, please answer my question.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
YES, you did. Very clearly. You compared allowing murderers to run free without action against them to allowing people who commit "sexism" to run around without action against them. SO, please answer my question.

I was talking about the relevance of the statistics in this case, not the similarity of the two things being measured. I could have chosen anything. The answer to your question is: they're not similar; and their similarity or lack thereof has nothing whatsoever to do with what I was trying to say.
 

mythago

Adventurer
No, the meat of this discussion is you don't apparently want to hear that the whole hobby does not stand convicted and therefore need not pay contrite penitence for its sins.

Celebrim, you're ranting. Period. You're attacking things nobody has said, attributing things to other people's arguments ('women are delicate flowers', 'men are bestial') that they didn't actually say and then arguing as if they did (who, please, other than you, said anything about 'penance'?), falsely claiming that you are being shut down because you are a man, and arguing-while-saying-you're-not-arguing about ENworld's posting policies. You're correct that "red herring" is not the term for what you're doing, and I'm getting old so I don't remember the Latin names for the fallacies well anymore, but I think "strawmanning" is a pretty good fit. If you want to actually have an interactive, civil discussion, I'm all ears. If you just want to do the argument equivalent of looking for your glasses under the streetlight because the light is better there, well, you enjoy that.

Kursk, all the statistical methods in the world don't fix questionable data. "My own anecdotal experience" is informative; it's not scientific. Even assuming that you applied a proper statistical analysis and an accurate confidence interval, all you're saying is that you personally haven't encountered a thing. (Also, respectfully, your echoing Gygax's comment about lady gamers doesn't inspire me to perceive your observations as wholly unbiased.) If I were to count up the number of times that I'd been asked if I were the GM's girlfriend or told "the female GMs I've seen haven't been any good" and so on, and provided a "scientific" analysis showing this was a troublingly large number of incidents over time, I suspect you would not take that as objective proof that your own observations are not the full picture.
 

MJS

First Post
I've played in a few. As far as D&D type games, there is a scientific aspect often overlooked. Human males are more attracted to activities involving violence than are human females. It is genetic due to evolution of the species.
Adventuring is the draw, IMO, of D&D. Avoiding violence whenever possible is firmly at the root of the adventure RPG. (I just played Temple of the Frog - 2 men, 2 women players)
Personally, I think rules crunch, which is mostly combat, is off-putting to most people who might otherwise be inclined to an adventure game experience, and *perhaps* moreso women, but if true that would be in aggregate.)
I am hopeful that 5E will draw more new players/GMs -
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
on the grounds that women have charged the moderators with sexism for not allowing politically charge discussions of sexism. Would any other class of gamer be so privileged had they complained the moderators were being discriminatory? For example, if I had complained that shutting down threads about the role of religion in gaming were motivated by anti-religious bias, would this allowed me free reign to discuss religion?

Hi [MENTION=4937]Celebrim[/MENTION]; I'm not familiar with the complaints you're referring to - they certainly haven't been directed to me. Could you drop me an email at morrus@hotmail.com and let me know more so that I can deal with them (if necessary)? Thanks!
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Indeed so. The interesting question is why the GM or the source material chooses to set those particular boundaries, and whether it is in fact the case that those limitations are followed.

In regards to the former question ("why do they choose those") I actually don't find it all that interesting - how do you conclusively determine what someone else's motivations are? Even if they tell you, how do you know they're being honest?

In regards to the latter question, if the person(s) setting the limitations doesn't follow them, then that does smack of hypocrisy...but I prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt for at least a little while, in that maybe they have a reason for why they're violating their own rule. Of course, that degree of trust is presumed that the reason will (sooner, rather than later) be made clear.

If they're followed arbitrarily then the players are quite justified in asking whether "we have to do it this way" is in fact true.

I don't disagree, notwithstanding the above caveat about them giving a good reason for it.

For example, imagine that your GM, after telling everyone the game was going to be Gothic Horror, had slapstick comedy and jokey NPCs popping up regularly throughout the session. You might well have frowned at the guys playing luchadores, but then I think you'd probably also be asking why the GM wasn't bothering to stick to the Gothic Horror tone that was supposedly the theme of the campaign. Especially if the GM had banned luchadores and said no, you all have to make characters that fit the Gothic Horror milieu.

I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this example, simply because that's not at all what my GM would have done.

Simply put, I'll agree that establishing limitations that are arbitrary in their application (which, I'll note, is different than a question of their scope) tends to call into question their reason for existing in the first place. But then, I was raising my initial objection to the idea that limitations are bad without that particular point being applied. In other words, presuming that limitations on what you can play are enforced fairly (or, to use a less loaded term, are applied using a consistent methodology), there's nothing inherently wrong with them, to me.

Johnny3D3D said:
In general, I'm pro-luchadore.

You are so dead to me, now. :p
 


Kursk

Banned
Banned
I was talking about the relevance of the statistics in this case, not the similarity of the two things being measured.

Here is what you said. "Murderers are no doubt a very small percentage of the world population, but we don't allow it to happen. It's still addressed, dealt with by law and policy, and universally condemned -"


It says what it says. You WERE comparing it to murder. As if a possible act of "sexism" (WHOLLY undefined BTW) requires the urgency of handling as does an act of murder.

 
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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Here is what you said. "Murderers are no doubt a very small percentage of the world population, but we don't allow it to happen. It's still addressed, dealt with by law and policy, and universally condemned -"


It says what it says. You WERE comparing it to murder. As if a possible act of "sexism" (WHOLLY undefined BTW) requires the urgency of handling as does an act of murder.


OK, [MENTION=6750728]Kursk[/MENTION], I've tried to reason cordially with you a couple of times and to try to get you to drop the attitude. Since you clearly have no interest in doing so, please do not post in this thread again.

Additionally, since you're new here - red text is reserved for moderation posts; please avoid using it. If any of this is unclear, my email address is at the bottom of every page. In the meantime,
here's a copy of the rules you recently agreed to should you feel like refreshing yourself as to their content, and perhaps consider revising your posting style.
 

Kursk

Banned
Banned
OK, @Kursk , I've tried to reason cordially with you a couple of times and to try to get you to drop the attitude. Since you clearly have no interest in doing so, please do not post in this thread again.


No attitude. I just was curious why you equated "sexual harrasment" with murder.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
No attitude. I just was curious why you equated "sexual harrasment" with murder.

You were asked to stop posting in the thread. You had to anyway, huh? Well, I guess you'll now need to try refraining form posting on the boards for three days. I'm pretty sure now you're trolling, but If you decide to come back in three days, please do so with a different attitude.
 
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Crothian

First Post
If that WERE the case, it would be reflected in play. It is not.

It is in out games. In 1e the majority of the XP is gained through treasure not fighting so players try to avoid combat when possible and get the treasure. It also turns out to be a safer experience for the characters as the game can be quite deadly at times.
 

Elf Witch

First Post
So, it doesn't appear in Hackmaster but did in an early version of a game I've never heard of but does not now since you specified it was an early printing. I'm not seeing what the problem is then as it seems that people are speaking up about it and games are being changed because of it. Sounds like victory to me!

Actually it is not a victory, a victory would be never having to address this again. As a woman I see battles we thought we had one having to be fought over and over again.
 

Elf Witch

First Post
I hold doors for people, not just women I find pretty.
I think it is good to discuss gender equality - sexism hurts men as well, perhaps just as much, as women. It sucks for everybody. At a convention last weekend, I estimate it was around 20% female gamers. So, if we want the hobby to expand, we should be looking at this.
I don't think chain mail bikinis and such are a problem. You have to look at the overall image - is she empowered, and equal to the bare-chested Conan? Boobs are great. Muscles are great. Its the overall tone I care about. The fantasy characters shouldn't be empowered because of showing skin.
The 5E playtest I was in had a father and daughter, and the daughter was an MVP as far as deducing things about the mystery at hand. The GM ignored her sometimes, though, and I made it a point to at least affirm what she said - hey, good idea, maybe we should do that...

What I didn't see was a lot of women GM's. I wonder if that is a key in getting more women players. Originally, TSR built the hobby by focusing on GM material - GM's who want to run their games are what drives the hobby IMO.

Come to think of it - wow. I've never played in a woman's game. All my GM's, since 1987, have been guys. That's not good.

Boobs are not the issue I have absolutely no problem with a barbarian going topless as long as she is not living in the frozen wasteland. The issue with chain mail armor and other stripper armor is that it shown being worn on fighter/paladin types. The litmus test for this is simple would this kind of armor be appropriate for a male character to wear.

There was a reason national geographic which ad pictures of topless woman was allowed in schools and Playboy is not it is how the material is presented.
 

Libertad

Adventurer
So no, whether you are a woman or not (and I'm still not certain, because your profile says male), you don't get to speak for women. You aren't their appointed champion. You don't get to go around like a knight in shining armor defending them from the assaults of predatory males. Because there isn't one single way of looking at any of this, and not even among women, and you know - maybe they don't necessarily need your protection.


I didn't claim to speak for all women in my posts, but you're doing a lot of it by saying "they don't need your protection." My original post is an examination of a systemic issue which does negatively affect many gamers, and why they're negative. I'm not presenting my evidence as the end-all be-all, and you don't strengthen your argument by putting words in my mouth.

Isn't this an individual group issue though? I mean, even if sexual assault were to occur in my game, I would never be graphic about such a sensitive subject - not just because I'm worried that someone in the group has been sexual assaulted - but because dwelling on graphic anything can be prurient and voyeuristic and unhealthy. But I don't get to tell another group where to draw that line, because there is a point where I think dealing with mature issues is something important for a game to do and one of those very important issues is the very real problem of evil. And sometimes evil has to be portrayed, and how to do that correctly isn't a clear cut thing. And I'm not going to banish that from my game, because that itself would tend to make the fantasy exercise unhealthy. I disagree with claims that we aren't desensitized to murder. There are so many assumptions being made in this larger argument that I just think are flat out wrong.


No, it's not an issue at the individual level. Many rape victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and encountering rape scenes in fiction can trigger a flashback. This is the origin of the term "trigger warning," to help warn people suffering from PTSD from content which can harm them. Many depictions of rape in RPGs have no warning of the sort beyond the vague "Mature Audiences only." And given the huge amount of men and women who have been sexually assaulted and/or abused, it's not unreasonable for publishers, players, and DMs to take care when putting it into their games.

Nothing justifies that. I'm not ever going to try to excuse that. But this isn't a simple subject. I had friend go to DragonCon, and a cosplay vampire (a girl) had made one of those real denture pieces that features very real and sharp fangs, come over to him sexually grope him and then sink her very real fangs into his neck: a complete stranger completely without provocation. And she drew blood; a he did hit her, because well, assault and battery. I mean, I don't know how readily you're going to accept this claim, but there is a lot of sexuality assumed around the cosplay culture and some women - certainly not all of them - are very much attracted to it by its sexuality and very much desire to be the center of attention because of it. Some of that attention goes way beyond what they want, I'm sure, and again there is no excuse for that. But when you get into these complicated whose flirting with who situations, sometimes the boundaries between what is sexual harassment and what is welcome flirtation get really blurred. Now, I don't think that even needs to be part of a discussion of rape, but if you are going to start blurring the lines between 'rape bad' and 'this guy with pimples at dragon con was hitting on me badly', there we are. You went there already.


The lines between sexual harassment and good-hearted flirtation is when the attention becomes unwanted and the aggressor pursues efforts despite complaints otherwise. When it's unwanted and unprovoked, and the harasser continues is when it becomes a problem. It is related to rape in that it's not consensual, and a lot of rapists start off with ignoring their victim's protests. Sexual harassment makes victims feel unsafe and attacked, worrying that the harasser isn't going to take "no" for an answer.

Make up your mind. Is it about home games or not? Or is it about your desire to dictate to the gaming community what they should or should not publish based on your standards of what is moral or not?


Once again you're putting words in my mouth. My main point is not that "rape in fiction is bad, m'kay," rather that "rape in fiction, when unexpected and poorly handled, often causes more problems than good" and we should thus treat it with more care and sensitivity.

Would you like to go through them one at a time? Let's start with the Scythians. The actual essay you link to says: "There is ambiguous evidence as to the role of women among the Scythians." There is very little hard evidence for Scythian women warriors beyond the usual role of aristocratic women leading men into battle in their spouses place, or of defending their homes, lives, and children in the last extremity - the real truth of 'women have always fought'. To the extent that the evidence paints a picture of female warriors, we are talking a small minority, in one culture, during one period, using the horsebow - the one weapon of the ancient world that might equalize the genders somewhat in the way that say a rifle does - and that culture ultimately went extinct, conquered and assimilated by a culture without a female warrior tradition. Not exactly evidence of equality of the sexes if you are basing equality of the sexes or any other person on what they are capable of (because if it was that, then mentally retarded people would be subhuman), and certainly not definitive evidence that female warriors are realistic much less commonplace.
And that's your strongest link. You link repeatedly to the 'Women as Warriors Homepage', which is just filled with crap and garbage. Would you like me to explain?


A lot of historical evidence is present in writings and archeological data, as is the case of examination of most ancient civilizations.

I re-looked at the Scythian link, and it mentions the Sauromatians having warrior women, not the Scythians. On that I was wrong. But there is evidence that Sauromatians contained women trained in battle among their number:

However, there is both textual and archaeological evidence of women among the Scythians (albeit a minority) who enjoyed a fairly high status.The textual evidence consists of the famous Amazons, whose name is from the Greek a-mazos(without a breast), from their alleged custom of arresting the development of one breast to facilitate using the bow. Although the Amazons are featured in Greek myth, Herodotus, when he traveled in the Black Sea region, heard tales of actual women who had been warriors and war leaders.
A significant number of burials of warrior women have indeed been found, some with evidence of battle wounds. In the Scythian region west of the Don 40 such burials had been found by the late 1990s, some in conjunction with royal grave mounds, and in the region Herodotus called Sauromatia, east of the Don, some 20 percent of excavated warrior burials from the fifth and fourth centuries BCE were of women.

Herodotus connects the Amazons, whom the Scythians called Oiorpata, "man-slayers," with the Sauromatians, who he says were a mixture of Scythians and Amazons and spoke Scythian. Herodotus's Sauromatians seem to be distinct from the Sarmatians who later displaced the Scythians from the western steppe (and for whom there is no evidence of warrior women). Herodotus says that Sauromatian women had to kill three of their enemy before they were allowed to marry. The appearance of warrior women in Scythian society appears to be a late phenomenon, judging by the age of burials, and may have been a reaction of some sort to the great change in Scythian society brought about by contact with Greek civilization, or, on the other hand, by social changes set in motion among indigenous peoples in the Black Sea region by the arrival of the Scythians. Such a change would be unlikely for the "real" Scythians from the steppe, among whom male dominance was already great when they arrived in the Black Sea region. The Sauromatians, however, might have been indigenous people, among whom there was relative gender equality, which led some women to become warriors.


And the fact that the ancient world wasn't gender-egalitarian, or that the Sauromatians lost to a superior military force, or that there isn't concrete evidence that the women warriors fought down to the last woman, doesn't disprove the "woman have always fought" idea; it just means "women have always fought" throughout history, not "women have always fought and won," or "women have always fought down to the last of them."


 
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MJS

First Post
If that WERE the case, it would be reflected in play. It is not.
That is a matter of style. The style of D&D by Arneson and Gygax is more adventure game oriented - mapping, avoiding combat, maintaining your strength for when you need it. Violence occurs in most any adventure, but is not its focus.
[MENTION=80916]elf[/MENTION]witch: Paladins in scanty armor is indeed an immersion-killing oddity. I strive to have some internal consistency in my RPGs, though I'm not over-serious either...
 


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