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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: MK Snyder on December 01, 2002, 12:40:32 AM



Title: Re: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: MK Snyder on December 01, 2002, 12:40:32 AM
Quote from: M. J. Young

It seems to me that in the 80's, the overwhelming majority of role players were guys. I know that every girl who played at my table was either the significant other or the sister of some guy who did, save for one game in which a couple of people wanted to see what the game was like on rather the spur of the moment. People thought that role playing games just didn't appeal to girls.



As a girl of that era, I want to speak up, that it may well not have been that it didn't appeal to girls; but that it appealed to guys who would do everything they could legally get away with to keep girls out of it.

Bear in mind the primary form of transmittal for *all* games: personal instruction. Not just RPG's, but traditional games, such as chess, poker, bridge, etc.

Boys (and men) did not invite girls (and women) to play; treated us like freaks when we did; ignored us in stores; and recoiled from cooties.

When girls did play, they never got to graduate from "girlfriend" to "gamer"--unlike the male friends recruited by guys. Try that sentence out with "The only guys who came were friends and brothers of gamers." Well, duh.

So don't you cootie hounds be talking about what does or does not appeal to girls. Because you just don't know. Women now play blackjack and poker in equal numbers with men; this was unthinkable a generation ago. We poor dears just didn't have the mathematical inclinations, you see, and that was repeated as Golden Truth for years.

Notice also the incredible sexism of the last sentence: who are the "people"? Why, guys.

Guys are "people". Girls are "girlfriends" and "sisters".

Read some of the posts about
misanthropy (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4418) for some hilarious sexism.

This kind of unconscious, unthinking, thoroughly accepted and unquestioned prejudice makes *me* want to leave. Because it never blinkin' stops. When does the door to gaming get opened to me and my gender? What does it take to get you boys to grow up? How about pretending that some women might post here and read here?


Title: Re: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: thoth on December 01, 2002, 08:17:05 AM
Quote from: MK Snyder
Notice also the incredible sexism of the last sentence: who are the "people"? Why, guys.

Guys are "people". Girls are "girlfriends" and "sisters".


Not to excuse it, but in all fairness this is a problem with our culture as a whole.

I also wonder if the perception of rpgs->geeky->chicks-hate-geeks factors in to how geekguys respond to geekgals. I think it did, and probably still does, for me.

[Edited for topic split]


Title: Re: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on December 01, 2002, 09:13:05 AM
Quote from: MK Snyder
This kind of unconscious, unthinking, thoroughly accepted and unquestioned prejudice makes *me* want to leave. Because it never blinkin' stops. When does the door to gaming get opened to me and my gender? What does it take to get you boys to grow up? How about pretending that some women might post here and read here?


MK,

(Edit: I've split this into its own thread, since it's way off topic.)

I get your point, and understand what you're trying to do, but you might want to tone it down. I can pretty much guarantee you two things:

a) There's no real sexism here. I game with women, work with women, am in a singular relationship with my partner - all of whom are equals. Ron - well, I imagine Ron's ideas on sexism are mind-blowing, considering his field, and we probably don't want to know. He's quite progressive, though.

b) That I will take control of any situation involving sexism on The Forge. The thought of it is an insult to me, and I - as the administrator - will take serious action in that case.

To your point, though: do you still have a problem being excluded from game groups because of your sex?

There is an obvious sex imbalance in gaming - anyone can see that. I have problems not finding enough women for my game group. (Most of my best role-playing experiences have been when there was a female in the group, even when I wasn't interacting with her. Maybe there's some reverse sexism at work here.) My point: I'm shocked that you're not actually sought out and begged to play in groups.

I've often seen self-described "geeks" become very defensive about being discriminated against before any discrimination happens. Now, I'm not saying women - or you specifically, MK - aren't discriminated against. I am saying that I can see your reaction to MJ Young, and wonder if your anger at past discrimination pushes away others.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Uncle Dark on December 01, 2002, 09:43:57 AM
MK,

Just to put out a (possibly) minority expereince, most of my best gaming experiences in the 1980s involved mixed-gender gaming groups, none of which had "girlfriends of the players" or other "day-trippers" involved in them.

Mind you, this was mostly becase I was picky about who I gamed with.  I did know a handfull of female gamers who prefered to game in mostly- or all-female groups because of how they'd been treated by male gamers in the past.

The games involved were D&D (2nd ed. and a mutant variant of the original brownbooks) and Amber, for the demographically minded.

Lon


Title: Re: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: thoth on December 01, 2002, 10:50:50 AM
Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon


MK,

(Edit: I've split this into its own thread, since it's way off topic.)

I get your point, and understand what you're trying to do, but you might want to tone it down. I can pretty much guarantee you two things:

a) There's no real sexism here. I game with women, work with women, am in a singular relationship with my partner - all of whom are equals. Ron - well, I imagine Ron's ideas on sexism are mind-blowing, considering his field, and we probably don't want to know. He's quite progressive, though.


There might not be a lot of obvious and intentional sexism, but there is sexism. The issue I see is the sort of overriding assumption that girls RP with dolls and fashion websites, and boys RP with RPGs. And saying RPGs just "don't appeal to girls" unintentionally falls back on 'girls RP with Barbie dolls'. It seems like it'd be a constant but subtle pin prick.


Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon

b) That I will take control of any situation involving sexism on The Forge. The thought of it is an insult to me, and I - as the administrator - will take serious action in that case.

To your point, though: do you still have a problem being excluded from game groups because of your sex?

There is an obvious sex imbalance in gaming - anyone can see that. I have problems not finding enough women for my game group. (Most of my best role-playing experiences have been when there was a female in the group, even when I wasn't interacting with her. Maybe there's some reverse sexism at work here.) My point: I'm shocked that you're not actually sought out and begged to play in groups.

I've often seen self-described "geeks" become very defensive about being discriminated against before any discrimination happens. Now, I'm not saying women - or you specifically, MK - aren't discriminated against. I am saying that I can see your reaction to MJ Young, and wonder if your anger at past discrimination pushes away others.


And all of this seemed very patronizing, unintentional but still patronizing. I mean, that last paragraph really does feel a lot like the blame is being laid on MK Snyder, and that it's all 'in her head'. Which might very well be example of sexism of the subtle, and sub/unconscious, variety.

But I'm a guy...and may be WAY off in what I see in these regards.


Title: Re: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: talysman on December 01, 2002, 10:50:52 AM
Quote from: MK Snyder

Read some of the posts about
misanthropy (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4418) for some hilarious sexism.

This kind of unconscious, unthinking, thoroughly accepted and unquestioned prejudice makes *me* want to leave. Because it never blinkin' stops. When does the door to gaming get opened to me and my gender? What does it take to get you boys to grow up? How about pretending that some women might post here and read here?


I hate to say it, but I checked that thread again and could not find the sexism you are referring to. the only time gender was mentioned or suggested at all was when James West mentioned his wife swears she doesn't like roleplaying games but does like to play with the online paperdoll websites, which he considers to be a form of roleplaying.

we all know that there are women reading the Forge; there are even a couple other than yourself posting as well. observing that there was a gender imbalance in the '80s is not the same thing as being prejudiced against women -- if anything, it's questioning whether there is a prejudice lurking within the hobby. airing this prejudice, if it exists, and analyzing its roots is a good thing, because it implies the possibility of change. refusing to mention any prejudice for fear that a mere mention will offend someone, on the other hand, is an obstacle to change.

so, which do you want: a change in perception, or a pretense of fairness? I don't think they're the same thing.


Title: Re: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: talysman on December 01, 2002, 11:02:26 AM
Quote from: thoth

There might not be a lot of obvious and intentional sexism, but there is sexism. The issue I see is the sort of overriding assumption that girls RP with dolls and fashion websites, and boys RP with RPGs. And saying RPGs just "don't appeal to girls" unintentionally falls back on 'girls RP with Barbie dolls'. It seems like it'd be a constant but subtle pin prick.


I didn't see anyone say that. I saw one person mention that his wife rejects traditional RPGs but likes the paperdoll websites, even though he considers them the same thing. he also mentioned that he didn't like football or stock market fantasies. he mentions in a follow-up post that he likes the paperdoll websites himself. the point he was trying to make was not that women like paperdolls and boys like pretending to be barbarians, but rather that the RPG market tends to focus narrowly instead of diversifying. in fact, he came right out and said:

Quote from: James V. West

Its a great big world out there and the potential markets for rpgs is phenomenal when you consider that we're talking about a medium that has just as much potential for diversity as painting, music, or anything else.


I would have considered it sexism if he had said something about "women like fashion websites", but he was talking about a specific person who happened to be female. presumably, he knows her well enough to have figured out her preferences.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on December 01, 2002, 11:08:20 AM
OK.

Thoth,
I hate to do this, but I'm going to be upfront and say that you are wrong. I've been reading your posts, and they're full of jumped-to conclusions, including this one. If you want me to discuss this further, I don't mind.

You were right about my post being patronizing. It was intended to be, and asked a serious question. (It also was read by my female partner beforehand, so she could make sure it wasn't offensive.)

On the Forge being sexist, though, we're the most enlightened place around, bar none. There's no perception that "girls play with Barbies." If someone actually said something like that, they'd have me down their throat in a heartbeat. What James West said has already been explained; what MJ Young said is that there was a public perception in the 1980's that girls weren't interested in RPGs. He didn't say he felt that way - his wife plays, as I understand - and there was a public perception.

If anyone wants to discuss whether it still exists, then I think that would be a fine topic. I tried to start a topic earlier, and will again:

The perceived sexism in RPG's has led to a gender inbalance. Both Lon and I have mentioned that our best experiences RPGing were in mixed-gender groups. The imbalance in role-players has given us a problem: if playing RPGs (and socializing in general) is more enjoyable in a mixed-gender group, how does the (majority-male) RPG community reach out to females?

MK, your input would be awesome on this topic. What has attracted you to certain groups or games? Have you had to build your own group from scratch because of sexism in other groups?


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: talysman on December 01, 2002, 11:37:10 AM
Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon

what MJ Young said is that there was a public perception in the 1980's that girls weren't interested in RPGs. He didn't say he felt that way - his wife plays, as I understand - and there was a public perception.

If anyone wants to discuss whether it still exists, then I think that would be a fine topic. I tried to start a topic earlier, and will again:

The perceived sexism in RPG's has led to a gender inbalance. Both Lon and I have mentioned that our best experiences RPGing were in mixed-gender groups. The imbalance in role-players has given us a problem: if playing RPGs (and socializing in general) is more enjoyable in a mixed-gender group, how does the (majority-male) RPG community reach out to females?


I'll chime in and say that I did, in fact, have mixed-gender roleplaying groups even back in the '70s (and the only "girlfriends" involved were actual gamers who were dragging their boyfriends to gaming sessions; the boyfriends would have been happier sitting at home playing "dress-up" with their football player trading cards.) still, there was a definite imbalance: most groups I played in were mostly male.

why?

to a certain extent, I think it had nothing to do with RPGs but with gender itself. most gamers start to game in their teens. most teen groups play games or sports in groups defined by gender, no matter what the activity is. when teen groups mix genders in equal proportion, there's usually something else going on, like a dance or party.

the reason why it seems like it's sexism inherent in the RPG is because of gender role issues in society at large. during the '70s, there was still a lot of "men like action/adventure, women like soap opera" gender brainwashing going on. I'd say there's still a lot of it going on today, but the boundaries are getting fuzzier. the point is that in the early days of RPGs, if a girl liked swords-and-sorcery, she was under tremendous social pressure not to admit it, in the same way that guys were under pressure not to admit liking soap operas.

combine that with teen akwardness around other genders, and you wind up with guys playing so-called "guy games" who are afraid to ask girls to join, and girls who are afraid to show an interest in a supposedly-male interest. and once you get started playing "all-guy" games, you get used to it, so that making a change and allowing girls to play seems creepy and scary.

one other thing: teen boys have dirty minds. they tend to start making leering comments towards girls that join their group, thus making the girls feel like going elsewhere.

I think you really start seeing the truth behind this when you notice that mixed-gender RPG groups tend to be college-age or older, when (presumably) the players are more mature. there's one thing I haven't figured out yet: the teen boys who stop playing when they reach college age because they're "too old for that". I suspect that this latter group might actually be the same group making the dirtiest jokes or demanding that girls be excluded entirely, but I can't confirm this.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Jason Lee on December 01, 2002, 11:58:35 AM
Quote from: talysman
one other thing: teen boys have dirty minds. they tend to start making leering comments towards girls that join their group, thus making the girls feel like going elsewhere.


I always wonder if this is true.  Whenever you have an activity with a strong gender dominance (I can speak only for the male side), does sexual tension scare off new recruits?

In the martial arts I practice we'd love to have more women (for different body types, as well as simply adjusting the mix), yet they never seem to stay.  Is this because they don't want to practice? Or because they want to practice, but get sick of being 'babied' or their opponent looking at their sports bra instead of paying attention?


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Ziriel on December 01, 2002, 03:06:15 PM
I was waiting to post on this thread because I really wanted to see where it would go.  After much thought and hesitation I've decided to speak up.

First of all, I am a female gamer.  I admit this with a fair amount of anxiety due to the fact that I have not once gained anything from telling others this online, actually rather the opposite.  It has been my experience that when I have expressed strong opinions and people knew my gender I was being "too emotional".  Funny how no one has ever said that to me when they assumed I was a guy.  However, I digress.

I agree with talysman in that the reason most roleplayers are male has nothing to do with the games themselves but with gender issues in general.  When I started gaming (in the mid 80's) I was never invited to join a group unless my boyfriend was playing.  My presence was threatening and akward for "the guys".  No, I didn't, and still don't, think they are sexist in an offensive way.  It was just an akward age to be mixing genders in a social way like that.

I got very frustrated with not being able to play and I ended up forming my own group in high school with two of my good friends.  These good friends of mine were both girls and they had never heard of roleplaying before, aside from the odd media story.  We played D&D for awhile and they liked killing monsters and building sword wielding barbarian characters just as much as the guys.  So, on that note, I really must reiterate that I don't think that it's the style of game that's important to drawing in female gamers as much as the group.

Now I am playing with a group that has survived for over five years.  There are five other players in this group, all guys.  Other players that have come and gone in the past have also been guys.  We often puzzle over the fact that it seems near impossible to recruit any women.  I have come to the conclusion that women enjoy gaming as much as men.  

So where are they?

Lots of them don't know anything about gaming.  Some of them are afraid that no one plays but creepy, unbathed, teenage boys, so they avoid it.  Others are out there but they are hiding, even more tentative to admit they play than their male counterparts.  I'm not saying this iz always the case, but I've seen it hold true a fair amount of the time.  To admit to other girls that you roleplay, especially when you are younger, iz like saying: I enjoy hanging out with nerdy guys in their basements in my spare time.  It's certainly doesn't have to be true, but to those not in the know it reads like that all the same.

One final note:  You don't have to leer or make rude comments in order to make girls feel unwelcome in a group.  (I'm certain this iz true for you guys too.)  General atmosphere can convey "boys club" just as vividly as anything outright rude.  Sometimes it's the little things that people don't even realize they do.  Other times it's simply being the only one there who iz different.

I hope my ramblings shed at least a little light on things.  I love gaming.  I love gamers.  I truly do.  Sometimes it iz hard being the "token girl" though.  

Thank you for reading my really long post. *sheepish grin*


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Uncle Dark on December 01, 2002, 08:29:52 PM
Talysman, Ziriel,

I don't think it's all just gender issues in general.  Some of it is (was) marketing, on the same level that markets "dolls" to girls and "action figures" to boys.  Of course, I don't think that marketing rules all, but it does play a part.

For instance, if a book's illustrations featuring women are mostly some version of damsel in distress, with the only women wielding power being obviously evil, what does that say about the game the illustrations appear in?

Art imitates life imitates art.  When more game companies started to notice their women customers, their marketing started to shift to appeal to women more.  This attracted more women to gaming.  Which made companies pay more attention to them...

Again, marketing and illustrations are not the only factors, but you get the idea.

Ziriel, I'm curious as to what atmospheric elements you see would warn women off.  One I'm aware of is communications style.  I had the unfortunate experience of gaming with some new people, and my female partner was turned off before the game ever began.  The guy who was going to be GMing seemed to ignore her, as if she was not a potential gamer.  He didn't seem to listen to her when we talking gaming in general, even when she made an effort to be a part of the conversation.  Is this the sort of thing you meant?

Lon


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 01, 2002, 09:15:29 PM
Hello,

Oy. Is there any particular reason to continue the thread beyond these two points?

1) M.J., perhaps reviewing your phraseology and basic point is a good idea.

2) Maryanne, perhaps allowing M.J. a single "no blood no foul" opportunity for such a review is your best first step.

Plus a couple side points ...

- I see no merit to threatening to leave the Forge as part of an argued statement. Anyone is free to sign on; anyone is free to cease posting.

- Discussions of how sexist "all of role-playing" is are uniformly unfruitful. They suffer badly from lack of definition of terms, among other things.

As I see it, the floor is M.J. Young's to clarify his point (or not), amend his statement (or not), and so forth, as he sees fit.

Best,
Ron


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 01, 2002, 09:26:51 PM
Hi there again,

H'm, Clinton rightly pointed out that a general question had been raised that's worth pursuing:

"What behaviors attribute to the gender inbalance in gaming?"

With the addition of "if any" at the end of it, sure, let's do it. Regarding MK's initial objection to M.J., though, my previous point ("let M.J. talk") stands.

Best,
Ron


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: M. J. Young on December 01, 2002, 09:44:36 PM
Maryanne, I am sorry to have offended you; I meant nothing of the sort.

In 1978, having just graduated college, I moved with my wife of almost two years back to her home town, to be near her aging parents. That put us near her friends. Margaret, whose shins she had kicked back in second grade but who had always been a friend since, was dating a guy named Bob whom we had briefly met at the wedding; since we were now local, and they liked to play games (which we did), we started getting together. It quickly grew to weekly, and we played everything. Bob brought board games and war games, we picked up stuff that looked interesting when we were out, Margaret was incredible at cards and had the most amazing dice luck any of us ever saw. Bob also bought a pinball game, and was able to get the latest Atari chips in pirate copies through work, so we played lots of games, getting together more and more frequently for about two years.

Then in the fall of 1980 we stumbled on D&D, found a copy, and started playing. That meant two guys, two girls. I was the DM. My wife, Janet, scrounged a copy of Met Alpha and started running that; Bob dug up Gamma World at a farmer's market, so we started playing that; Jan didn't like MA and dumped it in favor of Star Frontiers. Margaret was never interested in running games, but played well with us, even if she wished we did more of the other games.

Michelle was the friend of a sister of a friend, and knew my wife that way. She was engaged to David. David heard that we played, and insisted on joining us. So the two of them created characters, and started playing--three girls, three guys. But David was the one who really got into it; Michelle just sort of played.

We had a lot of others come for a while and then leave; I can't remember them all. However, most were either couples or single guys. Maybe it was because the guys in the group talked about the games between play more; maybe we just had more exposure to people, I don't know.

Then David and Michelle got divorced, and both vanished from our social scene entirely; I didn't even know how to find them. Margaret broke up with Bob; and although Margaret had been our long-time friend, it was Bob who continued gaming with us. The three of us played into about 86, when I started Law School and life kind of went into major upheaval. So my experience always suggested that girls played (Janet was really into it, and Margaret didn't enjoy it as much but was very good) but that guys were more interested.

Then I got asked by a neighborhood kid to teach them how to play D&D; one thing led to another, and I started running a game for six fifteen-year-old boys and my eldest son (then in second grade, I believe) as their party leader. That burgeoned over the years to about thirty gamers, ranging from my second son when he reached second grade to then thirty-year-old E. R. Jones--and of all of these, I clearly remember one girl, the younger sister of two boys already playing. I never invited anyone; they invited each other. I still don't know who some of them were, and once confused a complete stranger with someone who had been there a few months earlier, handing him the other guy's character papers. There may have been a couple of other girls who sat in for one night here or there, but it was predominantly guys. We played on Friday evenings, when my wife was working, and wrapped up shortly after (sometimes before) she got home. I told them to bring girlfriends, sisters, anyone else; I would have liked that. They said the girls didn't want to come.

The kid who roped me into that was Jim Denaxas, now doing art for several games (including Multiverser, but also some of Dark Omen Games' projects and Little Fears). The girl he was dating then is now his wife, and served as Valdron's corporate secretary last year. But I don't think she's ever played a role playing game. She will; she's in med school right now, and hardly has time to say hi some days. But it never really caught her interest then, even though she probably could easily have convinced her mom to let her go up to Mr. Young's place and play in a game with Jimmy on Friday nights.

So I don't get it. Maybe that many guys in one place is intimidating. Maybe the guys really didn't want the girls around. Maybe the way I ran D&D appealed to guys better than girls. Or maybe there was already an idea prevalent in the neighborhood that this was a game guys played, like Pong and Tank (which in their day captured the male audience first--I was there).

I think men and women are different. I use to be able to cite rather credible authorities on that, although now all I remember specifically is Sociobiologist E. O. Wilson, and that there's some guy who styles himself a Darwinian Anthropologist, and someone who was very involved in the nursing community in New York City when I read about her. I don't think one is better than the other, or that they can't share interests; I do think that there are strong tendencies for some things to appeal more to boys than to girls, and the other way around.

If being sexist means you think that the sexes are different, well, viva la difference. If it means that you think one better than the other, I concede--I've always thought girls were better at most things that mattered in life; I just do my best to try to catch up.

--M. J. Young


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Ziriel on December 01, 2002, 11:13:51 PM
Quote
I don't think it's all just gender issues in general. Some of it is (was) marketing, on the same level that markets "dolls" to girls and "action figures" to boys. Of course, I don't think that marketing rules all, but it does play a part.


Lon (Uncle Dark):  You may be suprised but I agree with you.  Marketing does play a big part in presentation and occationally turn-off women when it comes to roleplaying games (and other things).  What I meant to convey in saying that gender issues were at the heart of the male/female split iz that many girls made up their minds about roleplaying in general long before they saw a book with cheesecake art on the cover.  You do bring up a valid point though.  It does certainly reinforce any bad misconceptions someone might have, male and female alike.

Quote
Ziriel, I'm curious as to what atmospheric elements you see would warn women off. One I'm aware of is communications style. I had the unfortunate experience of gaming with some new people, and my female partner was turned off before the game ever began. The guy who was going to be GMing seemed to ignore her, as if she was not a potential gamer. He didn't seem to listen to her when we talking gaming in general, even when she made an effort to be a part of the conversation. Is this the sort of thing you meant?


Yes, that's a good example.  Another example iz being too nice, believe it or not.  If everyone iz treating you as if you are made of glass it can really come off as condescending.  Something doesn't need to be done with malicious intent to make someone pull away.  You know what they say about the road to hell...  I wish I could vocalize specifics better, but alas that would be handing you the age old secret of how to understand women.  (This iz a secret that, oddly enough, I myself have yet to discover as well...)

I also really wanted to say that I in no way meant to accuse gamers of being sexist, and if I came off that way I apologize profusely.  I agree with M.J.: men and women are different.  I don't think that's a bad thing at all.  I think both sexes have their strengths and stummbling blocks and I celebrate them all.  I'm also not fond of gender casting people.  Heck, I just helped my buddy replace his car radiator this weekend.  

My only goal was to shed a little illumination on the subject with my own experiences.   The Forge seems to be a supportive environment and I'm glad to be a part of it.  
    Thank you for listening, err, reading.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: contracycle on December 02, 2002, 01:23:44 AM
Quote from: M. J. Young

I think men and women are different.


Totally irrelevant; nobody has denied men and women are different.  What has been challenged is that some of the differences we percieve are INHERENT or enculturated.  Frex... that Pong caputred tha male market was entirely accidental and normal.  Baloney; it didn't fit the manufacturers and marketters concepts of what would appeal to women.

The conflation of "people" with "a particular subset of people" is was indeed correctly highlighted.  All that statement did was affirm the tacit sexism; "people" didn't think that that girls played D&D because almost all the people making the decisions, marketting the products, were aiming at what they perceived to be a "male-type" activity and advertised it accoprdingly (cheesecake all the way).  And then we claim to be surprised that we find such a presently existing gender imbalance.

Quote
I don't think one is better than the other, or that they can't share interests; I do think that there are strong tendencies for some things to appeal more to boys than to girls, and the other way around.


I think that is utter baloney.  As has already been cityed above, an incredibly broad set of behaviours have made this sort of claim, that there is some inherent and natural inclination, and been utterly discredited.

And lastly, I just wanted to adrress something wehich Clinton said, namely:
Quote
The perceived sexism in RPG's has led to a gender inbalance.


Perceived?  May I ask, what the hell is PERCIEVED about it?  Does this not seek to imply that its all a horrible misperception on the part of the poor oversensitive dears rather than a real and actual phenomenon?  The situation cannot be addressed as long we make these attempts to sweep it under the carpet.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on December 02, 2002, 08:07:39 AM
Damn it.

When I go to bat, and MJ makes an excellent, honest post, someone's got to ruin it. I'm getting tired of sensitive topics being ruined by people here. This thread is now very, very closed, and my off-topic reply and reasoning is here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4442).


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: ethan_greer on December 02, 2002, 10:34:54 AM
test

So, if I can post to it, how is this thread closed?

I'm confused.

Edit --> Thanks to Ron for the explanation below.  Someone else PMed me on this also - pardon my ignorance, no offence intended, etc.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 02, 2002, 11:39:13 AM
Hi silkworm,

"Closed" is a social-contract here in the Forge. If a thread's closed, you don't post to it, as a courtesy to the community.

"Locked" is another issue entirely, which involves software. That's when Clinton or I put a little lock-symbol onto the thread which prevents anyone from adding to it.

In general, locking a thread is perceived (rightly or wrongly) as a punishment or at least an indication that things "went wrong." Both of us try to keep locking to a minimum.

That means that strictly enforcing the social standards becomes an issue, which we ask everyone to help with.

Best,
Ron


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on December 03, 2002, 11:35:45 PM
Quote from: contracycle

And lastly, I just wanted to adrress something wehich Clinton said, namely:
Quote
The perceived sexism in RPG's has led to a gender inbalance.


Perceived?  May I ask, what the hell is PERCIEVED about it?  Does this not seek to imply that its all a horrible misperception on the part of the poor oversensitive dears rather than a real and actual phenomenon?  The situation cannot be addressed as long we make these attempts to sweep it under the carpet.


After a few days to let this thread cool off, I declare it doubleplusunclosed, as Orwell might put it.

To address contracycle's question, I certainly did not intend to say that sexism in RPG's is a "horrible misperception." The idea of sexism is a tough one for us to address. Sexism isn't easily defined, and does rely on perception. (If the DMG has a naked women in it, and no one sees it, does it make a sound?) However, we can all agree that RPGs have have sexist influences before and that they have been perceived as sexist, which has led to a gender imbalance. The discussion over whether they are or not would be a bloody one, and wouldn't answer my question far above at all:

The perceived sexism in RPG's has led to a gender inbalance. Both Lon and I have mentioned that our best experiences RPGing were in mixed-gender groups. The imbalance in role-players has given us a problem: if playing RPGs (and socializing in general) is more enjoyable in a mixed-gender group, how does the (majority-male) RPG community reach out to females?

I'll restate that to eliminate any idea of bigotry on my part: given the perceived sexism in RPG's, and the gender imbalance that comes from that, how does the community reach out to females more effectively?


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: thoth on December 04, 2002, 12:55:25 AM
Can the RPGamer community actually do anything about it?
Obviously sexism isn't inherent in the hobby of RPGs itself, though it may be expressed in some actual games (not necessarily in an overt fashion). Where sexism does reside is in the larger society, members of which make up the RPGamer community and the game designers. And that is why I didn't like it when Clinton said "There's no real sexism here". And is also why I'm asking the question of if the RPGamer community can actually do anything about it. It seems to be a problem with the larger society, a problem that dealing within the RPGamer community ultimately means nothing.

Now i'm Not saying the community should do nothing at all, or pretend it doesn't exist. What I am saying is that maybe it would be more fruitful overall for individuals to deal with it from within the larger society, as well as doing something from within the RPGamer community. The larger society will always have an influence and as long as it has misogynist tendencies, the sub-societies within will have them too, at least to some degree.

None of that actually answers the direct question "how does the community reach out to females more effectively?" though. I don't have any specific thoughts on reaching out, but what about attempting to neutralize male gamer confusion/fear/discomfort? Heh, pass out little "facts about females" pamphlets at various cons, maybe including some Do's and Dont's (ie: treat them like people/gamers, not glass dolls).


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: contracycle on December 04, 2002, 03:58:59 AM
Yes, of course we can.  The only thing that changes anything anywhere is human action (caveat: context is society).  To declare that we are not responsible for our own back yard becuase there is a broader problem is to merely decline to do anything; to wait for someone else, someone unkown, to actually do something.  But, if everybody is waiting for someone else to do it, nothing gets done.  Yes we can look after our own patch, and the very fact that we do so will feed back into and impact on society at large.  That is how social change happens.


Title: Re: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: A.Neill on December 04, 2002, 06:23:08 AM
Quote


This kind of unconscious, unthinking, thoroughly accepted and unquestioned prejudice makes *me* want to leave. Because it never blinkin' stops. When does the door to gaming get opened to me and my gender? What does it take to get you boys to grow up? How about pretending that some women might post here and read here?



I can understand that a male dominated environment can be intimidating and I can’t deny that I have seen prejudice, both direct and indirect, aimed at women gamers. But surely the above statement is fighting fire with fire.

Sexism (from dictionary.com)   Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender.

To uniformly characterise all of the “boys” in the hobby or indeed at the forge is just that.

While I agree with Gareth (Contracycle) that we should be responsible for our own backyard, I’m uncomfortable with my hobby being used as an environment to analyse the social construction of gender, being a weapon if you like in the ongoing cultural debate.

I suspect that this issue has a lot to do with making role-playing accessible to mainstream culture.

Alan.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on December 04, 2002, 08:00:24 AM
I should have re-phrased my question, because people seem to keep getting caught on the word community. (Also, men keep answering, which is great, but not really an objective view into what makes women tick.)

(By the way, I'm 'hypothetical male gamer X' in this post.) I play role-playing games. I find that playing RPGs with women in the group is more fun, but look around and find not that many women playing RPGs. What can I do to make the idea of playing in my game more attractive to females; or, actually, just more attractive to a normally-gender-mixed group?


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: jrs on December 04, 2002, 08:43:04 AM
A good while back, I'm trying to figure out how to get back into role-playing after a few years of no gaming.  So I respond to a flyer.  After talking to the guy on the phone and getting a feel for each others interests, we decide to set-up a gaming group.  Since we didn't have many players to start, I invite one of my co-workers to our first session.  Her response to the invitation was interesting:  she said that she would accompany me so that I wouldn't be nervous going to a strange guy's apartment alone.  

I was really surprised by this reaction; it did not even occur to me that I was about to embark on a potentially threatening situation.  I wonder how much of the low women gamer count has to do with social constraints against lone women entering male dominated environs rather than any blatent sexism associated with rpg's.    

Julie


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on December 04, 2002, 08:50:41 AM
Julie,

Excellent point. I've found myself loathe to invite females that I didn't know well to one of my gaming sessions, solely because I was inviting a lone woman into a private home with two to three men present, which taken objectively sounds like an opportunity for trouble. Now, that's obviously overreaction on my part, but it's a valuable consideration.

(This ties into a thread I really want to start about sexual tension and its effects on role-playing.)


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: lumpley on December 04, 2002, 08:57:37 AM
Quote from: Clinton
What can I do to make the idea of playing in my game more attractive to females; or, actually, just more attractive to a normally-gender-mixed group?


I think Ron's given us the answer: Socialize First.  Be friends with women, then play games with them.

Not that that's a great answer, or easy, or look! I've solved it.  But I think that's the level we oughta be looking at, as individual male gamers.  I think the way to overcome the "buncha boys" stigma is one woman at a time, by direct human social contact.  Game design and environment and so on can help or hurt, but if we a. know and b. get along with and c. are up front with women who'd be interested in gaming, they play.

-Vincent


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Matt Wilson on December 04, 2002, 09:14:20 AM
I'd like to (hopefully) open the floor up to MK, who originally said that she felt that some content on the Forge was sexist.

What we fellas should be aware of in reading her - or any - response is that as the well-intentioned guys that we are, we hate the thought that we might say or do something that might actually be sexist - at least I do. There's a real danger in saying to oneself, "I know I could never think a sexist thought," but we do it, because we think of sexism as obvious and conscious, when really it's often subtle and unconscious. And dismissing the notion that the subtle might be in there lets it perpetuate.

So MK, if you're comfortable with it, I'd be interested in more about what you felt was sexism.

And hey Alan, I think that dictionary definition is missing something important: What makes sexism and racism a problem is the power, or the perception of power, connected to the relationship. "Reverse discrimination" doesn't really work so well in that light.

As for the "discomfort" thing, yeah, you're right, it is tough. And being aware of the discomfort is important too.

Thoth: Not sure I understand you. The greater community is the sum of its parts, and if the RPG community as a whole were more conscious of sexism, I think that'd rock.

And hopefully no one will misinterpret Clinton's recent post as a request for men not to post. More feedback from women would be great, but the last thing we need is for men not to talk about it. And thanks Mr. Prez for re-opening it.

Clinton, regarding your last post, my SO sometimes feels "excluded" by games. I'll see if she'll respond.

-Matt

-Matt


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on December 04, 2002, 09:16:05 AM
Quote from: lumpley

I think Ron's given us the answer: Socialize First.  Be friends with women, then play games with them.

Not that that's a great answer, or easy, or look! I've solved it.  But I think that's the level we oughta be looking at, as individual male gamers.  I think the way to overcome the "buncha boys" stigma is one woman at a time, by direct human social contact.


Vincent's on the mark here, me thinks.

A related story:
Two nights ago, I stayed out until about midnight playing Universalis (which kicked ass, by the way.) I came home, and my partner, Jenaya, was asleep on the couch with the TV on, but one of her friends was on her computer, typing away. I asked the friend (who we'll call 'A'), "What's going on?" Apparently she came over to hang out with Jenaya and Jenaya got a bit sleepy, but A's computer is broken, so she was checking her e-mail.

A is obviously female - a pastry chef, covered in tattoos from head to toe, very stylish in appearance and dress, and has an everyday attitude that scares the hell out of me, to be honest. She's always seemed like the type of women who would kick your ass in a heartbeat, even though she's all of 62 or so inches. We've become friends, though, through continued social interaction through Jenaya, and found out that we have the same tastes in literature.

So, the first thing she asks when I come in is, "I heard you were gaming tonight. Did you have fun?" As soon as I say yes, she turns into every convention-gamer stereotype you've ever seen. (She was a bit tipsy.) "You know, I used to play D&D all the time. We had our own game even that our GM created, DarkeEarth. My character never died; I was too good at rolling dice..." It was as if sexy-cook-badass metamorphed into raving-game-geek person in a second.

The cool part, though, is that she'd never even mentioned this to Jenaya, who she's extremely good friends with. She seemed to have been wanting to talk about it for a while, and finally felt comfortable. I told her about our game that evening, and she's expressed real interest in coming to one of our indie game nights.

The point of the story: the "socialize-first" boxes model works incredibly well in actual application.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Clay on December 04, 2002, 10:41:45 AM
This is going to sound crude to some of you, and I'm going to state up front that I'm more than a little "politically incorrect."

My own suggestion to help men make women feel more welcome in the group: get laid.  I notice that my interaction with all women is more relaxed when I'm getting some on at least a semi-regular basis. My gaming group (including one female member) has also noticed this (in fact they said that I was a whole lot more relaxed in general). This seems to eliminate any sexual tension within the group, which obviously can disrupt interactions.

This won't in itself get women into the group, but it will keep the women there from feeling uncomfortable.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 04, 2002, 10:45:29 AM
Hi there,

What Clay said.

Best,
Ron


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Ziriel on December 04, 2002, 10:51:02 AM
First of all, I'm glad this thread has been reopened.  Thanks Clinton.
I heard a call for female input so here's my dos pesos...

Quote
given the perceived sexism in RPG's, and the gender imbalance that comes from that, how does the community reach out to females more effectively?


This iz going to sound horribly pessimistic, but here it goes...  I'm not sure that this can be accomplished in any way other than the one on one socialization that has already been brought up.  I think the problem will dissolve in time, or at least lessen.  The root of the problem, if I may be so bold, does not stem from the actual RPGs or gamers.  In my opinion it stems from the way our society iz taught to think of women.  We are taught that women are made from sugar and spice and everything nice and men are made from snips and snails and puppy dog tails.  Well, it's no wonder that there will be difficulty getting the two to just mix naturally.  The question could be just as easily asked about something other than gaming, like for example car racing, and my response would be similar.  I believe thoth already hit on this idea rather well.

With that said, what's to be done then?  contracycle iz correct; doing nothing iz a shoddy answer.  I think most of us agree with that.  You guys say you like playing in mixed groups, and hey, us girls like to play!

You are on the right track with the socialize first idea.  Since it's unlikly that anything can be changed on a widespread scale, by anything short of time, it means we have to take care of the problem as individuals.  Talk to a girl you may want to game with, get to know her, invite her.  Who knows, then she may tell all her girlfriends about it hence bringing more girls into the hobby.  Eureka!  But you all already had this figured out.  :)

Quote
I've found myself loathe to invite females that I didn't know well to one of my gaming sessions, solely because I was inviting a lone woman into a private home with two to three men present, which taken objectively sounds like an opportunity for trouble.


Quote
I wonder how much of the low women gamer count has to do with social constraints against lone women entering male dominated environs rather than any blatent sexism associated with rpg's.


Now this iz a whole other animal, and one well worth addressing.  In my opinion it has a lot to do with why many women will refuse an invitation, dispite an interest or curiosity.  If you (as in a man) feel nervous about this, or are afraid that the girl you wish to invite may be, I have an excellent solution.  Meet somewhere neutral.  You could meet at a local game shop, or (my favorite) if you have a college campus in your town you can probably find space there in a student center or library.  

You could meet in a neutral space until everyone involved iz more comfortable with each other (a few sessions perhaps) then resume playing back in yer comfy abode.  If you are still nervous about it after a few sessions you can always talk to the girl about it.  Honesty goes a long way and you would probably both get a laugh about it and the tension may be broken as you had just addressed something that had probably been one of her concerns too.  

Personally, reading all the posts on here from you guys wanting to do something about this proves to me that the Forge itself iz a female friendly environment.  I know there are other girls on here that have expressed otherwise, and they are more than welcome to have that opinion, but I am not among them.  

Whew.  That was a long post...  Sorry 'bout that; it's the writer in me.  :)

EDIT: I just crossposted with Clay and Ron and my response iz...yuppers.  I have to agree.  Nothing kills sexual tension like a good lay.  (Iz it appropriate for me, a woman, to agree?  Now that iz a different social question entirely. *laff*)


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: thoth on December 04, 2002, 11:09:06 AM
Quote from: contracycle
Yes, of course we can.  The only thing that changes anything anywhere is human action (caveat: context is society).  To declare that we are not responsible for our own back yard becuase there is a broader problem is to merely decline to do anything; to wait for someone else, someone unkown, to actually do something.  But, if everybody is waiting for someone else to do it, nothing gets done.  Yes we can look after our own patch, and the very fact that we do so will feed back into and impact on society at large.  That is how social change happens.


The problem I see is that the gamer community might be concerned only with its own backyard. And I don't see a fairly small non-mainstream community having enough feedback into larger society to make any real impact on that larger society's problem. So my suggestion is not 'do nothing' or 'wait for someone else', instead i'm saying don't limit action to smaller community. I think it needs to be dealt with by taking action in both the larger society and gamer community to actually be dealt with in a truly meaningful fashion.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: thoth on December 04, 2002, 12:14:34 PM
So semi-regular nookie is a good way to deal with sexual tension between male and female gamers. And individual socialzing with a female is a good way to bust through preconceptions, and/or anxiety. But both of these require a female partner (social or significant), what of those who are not so fortunate as to have a female partner?


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on December 04, 2002, 12:38:36 PM
Quote from: thoth
So semi-regular nookie is a good way to deal with sexual tension between male and female gamers. And individual socialzing with a female is a good way to bust through preconceptions, and/or anxiety. But both of these require a female partner (social or significant), what of those who are not so fortunate as to have a female partner?

Hmm - I'll join in the blunt approach here and say "find one."  If you're not so fortunate as to have one, go out and find one.  Actually, find a bunch.  Meet 'em at work, at your Martial Arts class, through a friend of a friend . . .  whatever.  

I'm not saying it's easy, and I'm also not saying it's hard.  There are plenty of places to get advice about how to do it, and the Forge ain't one of 'em.

But you asked a question, and really, that's the only answer.  Change the situation.  It can be done.

Gordon


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on December 04, 2002, 12:45:58 PM
Quote from: thoth
what of those who are not so fortunate as to have a female partner?


Well, this is getting a little sticky (no pun intended...well, maybe a little) but I don't think that it's really the place of the Forge to offer advice at acquiring a significant other. I mean, we could give you dating advice, but I think we can just leave it at "well, get one" or, better yet, "at least be aware of the problem and try to keep it under control." You can't change what you don't acknowledge.  There is some advice for a temporary fix in There's Something About Mary, and I think we can leave it right there, don't you?

EDIT: Gordon> Jinx.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: thoth on December 04, 2002, 01:07:10 PM
Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
Hmm - I'll join in the blunt approach here and say "find one."  If you're not so fortunate as to have one, go out and find one.  Actually, find a bunch.  Meet 'em at work, at your Martial Arts class, through a friend of a friend . . .  whatever.  

I'm not saying it's easy, and I'm also not saying it's hard.  There are plenty of places to get advice about how to do it, and the Forge ain't one of 'em.

But you asked a question, and really, that's the only answer.  Change the situation.  It can be done.

Gordon


Hehe, yes that is the solution. But that assumes someone actually wants to find a female partner. And those people are not the problem with sexism in the gamer community. The problem are those who have sexist tendencies, who would not seek a female partner and who set up a block for females to join the gamer community. And those are the people that need to be dealt with inside the gamer community. And yes, I do think they can be dealt with because I believe most of them are not overtly and intentionally sexist, and would probably change when they realized its better then being a prick, adds diversity, etc.

The main point I see in this thread is the question of "how to break down the blocks between the gamer community and females". Direct and open communication has provided an answer for dealing with these blocks on an individual level, but not on a gamer community level. But they can only be truly dealt with on an individual level. But people are probably not going to deal with them on an individual level without some sort of impetus. So, what can the gamer community, or individuals within it, do to provide this impetus to other individual gamers to face the problem and tear down the wall? And thus deal with it on a gamer community level.

Does that make ANY sense at all?

NOTE: I was NOT asking asking for tips on how to pick up chicks and get laid :P
Nothing personal, but this is the last place I go unless I had a question about 'how-to-get-laid' game mechanics ;)


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: damion on December 04, 2002, 01:08:16 PM
Well, the last couple posts seem to provide solutions to the current problem. Perhaps a discussion of how the the situation developed in the first place and
if any remenats of it are around might be helpfull?


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on December 04, 2002, 01:45:07 PM
Quote from: thoth
So, what can the gamer community, or individuals within it, do to provide this impetus to other individual gamers to face the problem and tear down the wall? And thus deal with it on a gamer community level.

OK, now this is an interesting question. Obviously it will only happen on the individual level, but how to get that ball rolling? Plenty of lame half-assed attempts have been made over the years, like how the WoD books were written with the GM being referred to as a female-- pointless if a female doesn't read it--, but what's a real way to do this?

I'll be honest, I don't know except that whenever the topic comes up, everyone offers positive reinforcement that women make great gamers.

Picture it. Some gamer doodz are sitting around discussing gaming and the topic drifts to female gamers. One guy says "I don't play with skirts." and another offers a personal anecdote about a bad experience they had with one particular female. This is a good time to chime in with your own *positive* story about the females you have gamed with, to sow the seeds in these guys' minds that females do make great gamers. I think that's the best thing we can do. I'm sure we all have plenty of negative stories, because women are still people and there are jerks in every group, but do not share those. Emphasise the positive until this is no longer an issue. Eventually the positive will take hold.

And you ladies out there have a very simple responsibility to help this. Be yourself, but be the best you you can be.

Personally, I think it's unfair to put the weight of an entire population's image on a single person's shoulders like that, but that's just how it it. People make snap judgements and knee-jerk reactions. Telling them how wrong it is will not change it. We all just have to try to make sure they make a positive snap judgement. Not just females, here, but gamers in general.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on December 04, 2002, 03:11:16 PM
Amos,

Got you - I agree (and said so in my post), this is NOT the place for dating advice :-)  You're really asking about what we can do about folks for whom the "change it" advice just doesn't sink in.

But - the general advice is the same, I think - those in the gamer community (whatever that is) who won't/don't follow it just need  . . . whatever it is they need to start following it.  So you're really asking what we can do to *get* them to follow that advice.  If you're gaming with friends, then you can help out your friends with their personal issues to whatever degree you're comfortable with (and again, there are better places than here to get info on how to do that).

But there is a BIG issue, discussed in one of the Social Issues threads - the idea that we excuse certain types of behavior in our fellow gamers just 'cause they're fellow gamers.  One good principle might be that sexism (unlike, say, enjoying pretend-fights with realistic swords or even - gulp - males who dress as Sailor Scouts "for the fun of it") needs to be a behavior that other gamers DO NOT "let slide."  At all.

Hope that gets us on the same page - I obviously misinterpreted where you were going with the "what about those who don't?" thing at first.

Gordon


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: MK Snyder on December 04, 2002, 05:49:00 PM
Re: sexual tension.

Gentlemen, take the solution into your own hands. The belief that one must expend one's sexual tension with a female partner is part of the problem.

Watch out for AntiMotherhood advertising. For example, look at the description of this forum's (http://www.gamingoutpost.com/forums/index.cfm?fuseaction=main) "Critical Hit" section. What, fathers can't be fuddy duddies too?

The Issue of Artwork has been well covered. Or rather, the uncovered nature of issued artwork re:the female form.

Forget Not the Foremothers: women were playing and designing RPG's in the 80's. "I can't think of any at all." (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=6537&highlight=women+AND+design)

Be Aware That Women Can't Rest:

stupid sex stats (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=3456&highlight=women+AND+design)

Is it worth it to add art that targets women as players? (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2225&highlight=women+AND+design)

Can't even invite a friends' kids to a convention because of the cheesecake factor (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=131&highlight=girl+cheescake)

I want large breasted, well-armed women and nothing will change my mind! (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=355&start=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=girl)

I can find more, but my husband keeps interrupting me to discuss family schedule.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: C. Edwards on December 04, 2002, 07:43:54 PM
I don't see the problem being sexism so much as being a matter of impolite behavior. Now, I'm not saying that there is no such thing as sexism.  I've had about two dozen sexist thoughts in the last 15 minutes.  I'm a heterosexual male, and that fact alone guarantees at least a  somewhat sexist outlook.  Sexist thoughts, and actions, often stem from deeply rooted biological and psychological issues.  Yes, cultural issues are involved, but they are often rooted in those same biological and psychological issues.

I think men and women are both, by their very nature, sexist.  What is important is how they handle themselves when dealing with members of the opposite sex.  Being aware of what behavior might be construed as sexist might help, but that sounds too much like a blanket excuse for political correctness.  I think the only real thing to do is to be polite and considerate of those around you, something that we should all be doing anyway.  Of course there are a good deal of very rude and hopelessly misinformed people out there who are at a total loss when it comes to social aptitude.

One final, possibly contentious, thought.  I see nothing inherently wrong with the "I want large breasted, well-armed women and nothing will change my mind!" thread.  A woman, or homosexual male for that matter, could very well have posted the opposite and I would have no problem with it.  This is only my personal experience but I've found that the more comfortable someone is in their own skin the less likely it is that the expression of such thoughts will bother them.  Granted, not being able to take kids to a convention because of the cheesecake is a real bummer.  But I have to wonder, I've seen my share of real women in chain-mail bikinis, at conventions and ren-faires, and from what I've gathered they don't see any issues with their mode of dress or with children seeing them outfitted in such a manner.  Honestly, you can see more flesh at the beach or by a public pool than you can at a game convention.

I'm thinking of a few more points and questions, but I'll leave it there for now.

-Chris

p.s. I was considering going into the "Some people take things far too seriously" rant, but thought better of it. :)


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: thoth on December 04, 2002, 08:00:37 PM
Quote from: MK Snyder
Gentlemen, take the solution into your own hands. The belief that one must expend one's sexual tension with a female partner is part of the problem.


How many gamers do you think take the solution into their own hands? And still have sexual tension towards a female? I'd say it has less to do with the actual sexual release as it has to do with the woman.

Quote

Watch out for AntiMotherhood advertising. For example, look at the description of this forum's (http://www.gamingoutpost.com/forums/index.cfm?fuseaction=main) "Critical Hit" section. What, fathers can't be fuddy duddies too?


Maybe the implication is that mother's aren't easily embarrassed and that it'd take a 'no-holds-barred' forum to embarrass your mother.

Quote

Forget Not the Foremothers: women were playing and designing RPG's in the 80's. "I can't think of any at all." (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=6537&highlight=women+AND+design)


Hey, I can't of any blonde haired game designers. My ignorance, and his on the matter of women designers, speaks only to that ignorance.

And on a personal note, I know that Rallan guy from another place, he's just a self-righteous asstroll anyways :) (who used the whole 'roll-playing vs role-playing' crap too, and guess who the 'role-player' was).

In any case, so someone doesn't know about women designers. So what? That doesn't stop women from being a creative force.

And another personal note, I don't care about the gender of a designer. What I do and would care about is if a designer was not given a fair chance because of gender.

Quote

Be Aware That Women Can't Rest:

stupid sex stats (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=3456&highlight=women+AND+design)


Nothing wrong with gender based stats. Men and women are different. What is stupid is applying cultural expectations and doctrine as 'fact', such as 'women are less intelligent but more intuitive'.

Although, there also might not be anything wrong with apply cultural modifiers to stats, because some people actually buy crap. Meaning, if a culture put  an emphasis on females bulking up and males not, wouldn't the bulk of men and women in that culture reflect that to some degree? But cultural stat modifications would have to be clearly stated as such and presented as basically an option and question of whether the character follows the cultural expectations, or goes counter, etc.

Quote

Is it worth it to add art that targets women as players? (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2225&highlight=women+AND+design)

Can't even invite a friends' kids to a convention because of the
[url=http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=355&start=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=girl]I want large breasted, well-armed women and nothing will change my mind! (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=131&highlight=girl+cheescake)


Can you expand with some text? Citation shouldn't be the argument but be the support of the argument. I want to hear your argument, i'm sure others do too. I also think your argument needs to be heard.

Quote

I can find more, but my husband keeps interrupting me to discuss family schedule.


YOUR husband? Do you own him or something? ;)


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on December 04, 2002, 09:33:08 PM
Amos,

Let's not attack Maryanne's points. Her view is just as valid as anyone else's. Let's do examine them, though.

Maryanne,

I think you may have read Clay's 'get laid' point wrong. I think it's much less about the sexual release than about the mutual understanding that comes from sex.

(Before I continue, I am making one assumption that if you disagree with invalidates my statement. That assumption: men and women are different, and one can never completely comprehend the other because of these differences. Where these come from, I'm not saying.)

Sex isn't something that a man "does to" a woman just for sexual release. (Well, not always. It isn't in my case, at least.) I love sex with my partner - to be honest, it's my favorite thing in the world. I'm a pretty typical male in that I'm always trying to get in her pants. I have a good reason, though: sex is a mutual activity in which we both get more understanding about the other than perhaps any other way. During sex, I learn things about her behavior that apply in all other parts of our life. From this, I learn things about women that I wouldn't know otherwise.

Your links were great examples of how the RPG community can have sexist elements.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Bankuei on December 04, 2002, 11:43:17 PM
Let's not mix up cause and effect here.  I'm sure you can go to any place that has almost all males and hear "guy talk".  The same sort of stuff that wouldn't fly in mixed company comes out at golf clubs, poker nights, bars, pool halls, and anything that becomes, "just the guys".  This isn't an excuse, but the gender imbalance leads to it happening(although, to be honest, there's sexism underlying a lot of that too).

So what is roleplaying?  Well, its a different version of poker night for a lot of guys, and has been portrayed that way to most women as well.  The perception of, "It's for us and you're not welcome" is prevalent, and then because there's no women around, you get more of that behavior, which leads to women not wanting to be around, repeat, repeat, etc.

If you look at places where folks have a chance at having more balanced relations, its usually public, with the general social contract being the neutral ground on which folks can meet.  You can play tennis with someone you barely know, and not feel threatened or endangered.  You can't enter someone's house surrounded by their friends, and not feel a bit out of water(much less the one woman/many men threat).

The public social contract prevents a lot of bad behavior, by way of the unstated rule, "Do this, and you'll look like a jackass in front of everyone, and no one will want to be your friend"  Notice how rarely this rule gets enforced in the gaming hobby, and the unhappy groups and dysfunctional behavior you get from it.  The basic civlized concept of gaming is ok, and being an asshole is not, seems to miss many gamers.

So what are some possible means of fixing the issue?  One, public gaming will have an easier time, and many LARPS have borne this out as true.  Two, application of social contract, the same you would do in public, or at least in mixed gender company is necessary.  Three, women busting guys asses if they pull shit.  Now, the last point isn't to put the responsibility on women, but obviously the guys are doing a bad job policing themselves, and letting them know that  they're not living up to what's expected, and letting other folks know about it too, will start slapping some consequences on people.  

It's one thing if one person doesn't like you, but if you find that all women in your circle have heard about you...you either shape up or be very lonely.  It also sucks when you find some of your players leaving because of it(to paraphrase Ron, "Wherever goes the girl, so goes the guy").

Chris


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: contracycle on December 05, 2002, 02:40:41 AM
Quote from: C. Edwards
I'm a heterosexual male, and that fact alone guarantees at least a  somewhat sexist outlook.  Sexist thoughts, and actions, often stem from deeply rooted biological and psychological issues.  Yes, cultural issues are involved, but they are often rooted in those same biological and psychological issues.


Now, this I take extreme and vigorous exception to.  It may well be that I exhibit sexist thoughts and actions, despite my intent.  And yet, the assertion that this is BECAUSE I HAVE TESTICLES is utter rubbish.  There is nothing about your masculinity or your hormones or your morphology which mandates or justifies ANY form of discrimination whatsoever.

This is an absolutely classic case of the problem; this is 2002 and we are having essentially the same argument we had in the fifties.  So far I think that this thread has pretty much totally validated MK Snyders initial concern.  We've seen a lot of patronising pointing out that men and women are different, despite the fact that this is self evident to anybody with any sensory organs at all; we've had excuses about it being just casual, or arguments that somehow we would be conceding to that mythical beast, "political correctness"; or once again the claim that sexism is all in our heads and its just a matter of politeness.

And this is how we are failing to clean up our back yard.  We are making excuses and saying its someone elses problem, or that the shit piled around is fine where it is, or only needs to be artistically arranged to stop stinking.  It is, frankly, disgusting.

Quote

p.s. I was considering going into the "Some people take things far too seriously" rant, but thought better of it. :)


And a damn good idea that was.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on December 05, 2002, 07:58:35 AM
Everyone - please pardon me for the off-topic post. I asked a fellow poster to do something last night that actually worked, and so I'm going to ask contracycle now.

Gareth - could you post with a positive attitude? I know that sounds like an elementary school teacher, but I think it would work. Your last post attacked several people's points, but didn't answer anyone's questions, or posit alternative ideas. Be constructive, not destructive, and I promise that people will listen to your ideas more.

Best,
Clinton


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on December 05, 2002, 11:31:21 AM
Man, I hope this is useful clarification/interpretation . . .

Maryanne is saying "Sexism exists in the gaming community."  She's right.  No surprise, it exists in society at large, and there are some factors - the perception (contrary to my experience) that "girls don't like that", the  poker-night like clubishness that can exist, the over-tolerance that shared gamer-geekhood can sometimes promote - that aggravate it within the RPG community.

Gareth is saying that accepting those aggravating factors - using them as excuses/explanations to let the status quo remain - is disgusting.  He's right.  To rework what Mike Holmes said over  here  (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4336&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0), "Sexists are NOT my tribe."  More gamers should sign up for that.

Clinton is saying The Forge ain't all that sexist.  I think he's right, but I'll allow that it wouldn't hurt to be even more careful.

Other folks (or those same folks in different posts/parts of posts) are trying to clarify how the sexism exists, what works to minimze it, and etc.   But this is such a damn touchy subject that saying something entirely practical like "getting laid kinda-regular will make you more comfortable around folks of the opposite gender" can be seen as sexist.  I'm confident it wasn't meant that way.

I'm confident everyone posting here looks at all people, of every gender, as fully human equals.  With whatever (minor, I'd guess) clarifications based on personal preferences, religious/philosophical beliefs, acknowledgement of biology, and variation across individuals are required to make "fully human equals" correspond with a slighly messy real world.

So I guess I'm back to Ron's "What behaviors attribute to the gender inbalance in gaming?" as the useful bit to explore.  My earlier "aggravating factors" list is my thoughts on the matter - did I miss something obvious?

Gordon


Title: The Pig Speak Out
Post by: Clay on December 05, 2002, 11:54:03 AM
MK,

If you feel that masturbation and sex with a partner who enjoys the experience are the same, you've been doing it wrong.  Empathy with the other person is the key to making sex work. I don't think that it matters if the partner is a man or a woman. Getting laid and sharing the empathy is the important part.

And don't say I didn't warn you that I was a sexist pig.  I still like big breasted women with guns. I married one, so I'd better not fall out of that liking if I know what's good for me.

Clinton,

At least in my case, it wasn't some deeper understanding of females that improved my play. When I'm getting some at home, I'm not angling for a piece of ass in the gaming session. Said angling introduces tension that is destructive to play. Thanks for covering my tail though.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Enoch on December 05, 2002, 12:04:14 PM
Hrm...

Sexism in gaming?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My experiences (no points or arguments in this part):

I have two groups, one younger, and one older.  Both would love to have more female gamers, especially the younger ones.  

Younger Group: Have we asked them?  Yes.  None of them wanted too.  Some guys are afraid to bring over their female friends because we might frighten them away or scare them.  We are scary to the average person, we have thousands of in jokes, make sarcastic jokes, and beat the hell out of each other.  Getting females into this group would be up to the other players currently, because all of my female friends have left to college.

Most of the girls that we've asked to come over viewed it as dorky, scary, or they don't have time.

Older Group: We have one female gamer.  We've never had more than one girl at the table at the time (Playing games that is.  Last time we ran my friend's roomate's girlfriend sat down at the table drunk and drew things...).  We are unofficially called the asshole club.  Most girls (guys too)I know I would not invite to this group unless I knew they could handle themselves in a battle of wits and criticism.  The female gamer in this group is my friend's girlfriend, but she wasn't when she started.

Back in the Day:  When I was in 7th grade (keep that in mind!), I was somehow planning to run a Vampire game.  I'm not sure what the specifics were, but I do remember planning it.  I was in, what was called gifted.  In other words those with outstanding intellectual power (I was the dumbest in that class...).  
   Back then is in the middle of my massive crush phase.  Most of the girls in the gifted class I had a crush on.  I was planning my Vampire game (which was actually going to somehow be a LARP) with my fellow gamers (who were all guys, and two of which were in gifted).  
   A few days later (these things take time) I was approached by two of the girls I had massive crushes on, and I they asked if they could play... well... I said no, well not exactly.  I made up some excuse would be closer to the truth.  Why?  I don't know for sure.  Maybe I was just extremely uncomfortable having them in my game (stacked on top of my general uncomfortableness around girls at the time).  Maybe I didn't think the game was actually going to take off.  I look back at that moment and I just want to beat the hell out of myself (which is no small feat, since I was around 6' something back then).  Now, with all due respect, I'm not as old as most of you fogies on this site, so this all took place in the 90s.
   Is this considered sexism?  I was just as sensitive too sexism as I am now, so it wasn't really a conscious act of sexism.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What do I bring to the party?

I don't see blatant sexism in role-playing.  I just see very few girls already involved.  I haven't been able to bring many gamers into the fold lately because of my stable of players I already have (thus the two groups).

I don't know anyone who would have a problem with girls playing.  I don't know anyone who has stupid preconceptions on how they play.  The only problem I see is that there are not enough girls out there that don't need to be 'converted' into gamers.

As usual, I have little to contribute...

As usual(2), excuse the rambling nature of my post.
-Joshua


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: MK Snyder on December 05, 2002, 12:32:51 PM
I hope I have supplied enough rebuttal for the "perceived sexism" argument.

Now to the "justified sexism" argument.

The fact that men dominate (are the majority) in the hobby doesn't justify the men telling women what women should do, like, prefer, be comfortable with, accomodate, etc.

Let's try a counter example.

For all the straight guys here, you go to a gaming convention. The program cover is of a muscled, nude man with a terrific erection.

You open up the manual for your favorite game. It is full of pictures of large, muscled, fully armored men embracing slighter, near naked men in black leather bondage gear.

Nobody remembers the names of any straight men who've written and designed games.  It's always been that way. It's a homosexual art form, maybe straight guys don't have the mental skills for it. For one thing, no fashion sense.

All the gaming groups (except for yours) are gay men who stare at your butt.

When you walk into a store to buy games, you have to flag down the clerk to take your credit card, because as an obvious straight you couldn't have been in here to actually buy a game.

Strangely enough, you love role-playing. Sure, in the early days you had to adjust for the Bathhouse Stamina stats for characters, and the paragraphs about how all straight guys were really just closeted and latent and just needed a good lay to get over it.

Things got better. Some folks talked about bringing more straight guys into the hobby. Wouldn't it be nice that there were more straight guys and their breeder viewpoints. Straight guys are so cute, why, some are even my best friend!

You start posting on forums. Of course, for every post you make about how all of the above makes you feel uncomfortable or unwelcome, there's a gay guy posting about how he loves large, erect, uncut cocks in the art; it's fantasy and it's his fantasy; and you just have to adjust to it.

Or perhaps you are being too emotional, over-reacting to "perceived homosexism". After you provide enough examples of overt homosexism, well, maybe it's inevitable and justified homosexism, because you're in a homosexual dominated hobby.

A large portion of the hobby involves the fantasy of "awakening" a latent homosexual to his identity. There is much discussion of the psychology of straight guys and what they like and don't like; the gay designers and posters frequently post their stories of straight guy reactions and thoughts. This is considered an accurate representation of straight guys, their lives, their reactions.

You see very few posts by straight guys. After all, all of the gay posters have straight men in their lives. They know all they need to know about the straight man experience.

The moderators even congratulate themselves on how "diverse" their community is, in spite of the fact it has so few straight guys.

Games continue to be marketed primarily to gay men. At game industry conventions, attractive slim men in Speedos who know nothing about gaming hand out fliers at booths. RPG stores are dimly lit, the covers of many of the manuals feature naked men. A group of gay teens sniggers over the latest module that features the "Awakening" of an entire seminary.

The hobby itself is still about imagination, and the power of the individual player to create the game he wants. In your own group of only straight guys, all of whom are your friends, you run games about straight guys in armor beating up monsters and taking their stuff.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: MK Snyder on December 05, 2002, 12:43:22 PM
Enoch, read the post above yours for an example of someone having a problem with "girls playing".

Or at least, "a woman having an opinon".

It is a real shame that in your personal discomfort with girls that you turned away two fellow gamers from playing. Yes, that is sexism. Is racism any less hurtful if the perpetrator is acting out of sincere emotional distress? Consider how the girls remember that.

Besides, if the younger male players, who are too shy around girls for their own good, can be given the mission of overcoming their shyness to *let girls play*, it will be good for everybody all around.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on December 05, 2002, 12:43:29 PM
Maryanne,

That's an interesting (and horrific, to be honest) viewpoint. I hope by now I've shown in some way to you that I'm not this stereotypical male gamer you keep pointing at, because if I haven't, this is going to be painful.

The majority of the sexism I see in this thread comes directly from you. The portrayal you just made was an obvious metaphor for how you feel the RPG community is towards women today. I find it spurious, and based on a stereotypical image of males that is not what individual males are.

Oh, I grant you that each of the traits you mentioned exists in some males. I grant you that some might exist in me. (Hmm... let's see. I like breasts. That fits.) That does not mean that a blanket accessment of the entire community in that light is correct, or even appropriate.

You've had bad experiences, to be sure. Fuck, all of us have. You want to hear something humiliating and stereotypical? I once had a woman tell me, after seeing a role-playing session I was in, "You know, I quit playing with Barbies when I was ten." That doesn't mean I think all women (a) equate roleplaying with Barbies, (b) hate men, or (c) see males as juvenile. It does mean I think that particular woman had some serious problems relating to men, as well as understanding the idea of having fun and relaxing.

Maryanne - I want you to be able to express your ideas and help those of us that don't understand why there isn't an equal number of women in role-playing. The tropes you're describing don't exist in any normal proportion anymore, though, and the manner in which you're choosing to discuss them prohibits fruitful discussion.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: MK Snyder on December 05, 2002, 12:51:59 PM
Clay,

I assumed the advice to "get laid" was about releasing personal erotic tension.

I frankly could not imagine that "partner sex" was being posited as a prerequisite for dealing with gaming with women.

Perhaps I am assuming too much. For example, I am assuming that most gamers do deal with females in other spheres of life, such as co-workers, teachers, friends, bus drivers, parole officers, parents, etc.

Are you saying that until a male is sexually mature and has engaged in partner sex it is unrealistic to expect empathy, politeness, or the ability to play RPG's with females?

I respectfully submit also that the tone and tenor of your post somewhat undercuts any claims you may have to expertise on enhancing one's sense of empathy.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: MK Snyder on December 05, 2002, 01:09:14 PM
Clinton,

I am not you.

You are not female.

You are not the entire gaming industry, community, or world.

You do not have omniscient knowledge.

You have no discursive right to tell a woman (or any poster) what her experience has been, is, or will be.

You have no discursive right to disallow the expression of emotion, thought, or opinion; provided that opinion is appropriately expressed.

To do so is to enforce a single individual's experience over that of others.

You have the power to do that; but not the right. You have the right to do that if you so state it; but not if you value diversity of person or opinion.

The above post was to give straight male gamers a subjective experience--for those who could empathize--into what it is like to be female gamer. It is much how it is and has been.

Don't shoot the messenger.

To do so only reinforces my argument: Male gamers have no right to tell female gamers who female gamers are.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on December 05, 2002, 01:29:34 PM
Quote from: MK Snyder
=
You have no discursive right to tell a woman (or any poster) what her experience has been, is, or will be.

You have no discursive right to disallow the expression of emotion, thought, or opinion; provided that opinion is appropriately expressed.

To do so is to enforce a single individual's experience over that of others.


You're correct, and I've never dismissed any experience you've said you've had. You did not convey a single experience in your last post - you made a metaphor that smacks of every stereotype I've ever heard, and was wholly inappropriate. You've continually enforced your bad experiences over everyone here in this thread, and you haven't answered a single question asked of you. (Look back over this thread - I've asked you several questions, complimented you when you've provided concrete discussion, and warned others from saying inappropriate things to you.)

I believe you and many other women have had bad experiences in gaming. I've seen these bad experiences close up. Please, I ask of you, tell us one in particular, and tell us how it could have gone differently and been a positive experience. I literally beg you to do this - the dissonance in this thread is tearing apart the fabric of this place, and I crave something positive to come out of it.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: lumpley on December 05, 2002, 01:34:15 PM
As a former gamer geek adolescent boy, getting a girlfriend changed everything about my gaming with girls, and (later) getting laid changed everything again.  Nothing like a good, happy dose of reality to get you to leave (some of) your twerpiness behind.

(Many disclaimers: "getting" a girlfriend isn't what happened, of course, more like coming to be, by mutual agreement, a boyfriend.  Similarly "getting" laid.  Also, getting a girlfriend didn't change only my gaming with girls, but my every interaction with girls, and my every interaction with boys, and a bunch of things I did by myself, too.  Similarly getting laid.)

It's the happy dose of reality stuff that's important.  Relieving personal sexual tension is called for as far as it goes, but if you want any sort of nuanced understanding of any kind of person, interacting closely with them is absolutely necessary.  And PARTICULARLY for the gamer-geek boy demographic, which has a crude, simplistic, devoted, anxious, curious, and stunted understanding of women indeed.  At least it did when I was a kid.

And no, interacting closely doesn't necessarily mean sex and romance.  But the worship, dread, fascination and terror I felt toward girls interfered with every interaction I had with a girl, not just gaming.  Becoming a girl's boyfriend let me leave some of those feelings behind.

Hence, getting laid was important to my ability to roleplay with women.

Other than that, I pretty much agree with MK.

-Vincent


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Walt Freitag on December 05, 2002, 01:39:12 PM
I want to follow up on Chris (Banukei)'s mention of LARPs.

Some (though not all) of the LARPs I ran and played in had close to 50-50 gender ratios, and in a few instances the female players were a significant majority. Without any particular visible gender-specific marketing or outreach efforts on the organizers' part.

What does this mean? I dunno. Any of several things:

- Genre is important. Arabian Nights always seems to attract a higher proportion of female players than, say, a cyberpunk LARP.

- Crunchiness is important. LARPS usually have simpler mechanics than tabletop games. (Not the case for the outdoor boffer-combat LARPs like IFGS and NERO, though, where gender ratios appear to be skewed more male.)

- The perceived-geekiness factor may be less important in affecting the gender balance than it appears, since LARPs are usually considered even geekier than tabletop games (though I've used the higher female participation rate as evidence that's not really the case).

- The total effort required to play is apparently not an important effect on the gender balance, since these LARPs required a lot of time and effort for all participants.

- If there are prevalent problems with role players creating a hostile environment for potential female players, they either didn't carry over to LARP players (which would seem suspiciously miraculous -- except that our LARP audiences were generally older than high school age, which could be very significant) or didn't prevent equal numbers of women participating anyway.

My wife and I are sometimes called upon to design computer games specifically to appeal to young women or to have equal appeal to both genders, so we do maintain a theory of what sorts of game elements have relatively high appeal to young women and what sorts of game elements disproportionately put them off. This theory is not what I'd call scientifically tested, but it's not just pulled out of our asses either. It's based on looking at past products that have demonstrated, in the marketplace, appeal to female players, and examining them for common elements that distinguish them from other games (including many intended to be marketed to women) that haven't. (All games, not role playing games specifically.) In this effort we're motivated to be as unbiased as possible, since it determines how well we can do our jobs.

Our current working theory is that female players find the following (among others) more appealing relative to males:

- A wide range of effective strategic options for problem-solving, including retreat, evasion, subversion, seeking allies, bluff, and negotiation, rather than rewards only being gained for "attacking" the problem head-on.

- Gaining power or other rewards by means of building and using social networks.

- Rewards based on subjectively good situational decision-making rather than successful manipulation of systems of abstractions.

Equally important, we've seen no difference in degree of competitiveness, willingness to put time or effort into play, or ability to engage in any kind of play including those kinds that appear to be less preferred.

So, line up the three points above with typical entry level role playing experiences, as well as with the wide range of styles of play discussed here. Does it conform to observations about the general state of female participation in role playing gaming? Does it correlate with games and players you've observed in your own experience?

These are generalizations about statistical differences between the play preferences of males and females. As such, I suppose they are sexist by definition. But if they are real trends in the real world, that for me is sufficent reason to design and market along those lines if I want to reach that audience. I'm not at all concerned with the question of whether or not there should be differences in preferences between sexes or, if there shouldn't be (but are), whose fault that is or what should be done about it.

- Walt


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Valamir on December 05, 2002, 01:42:16 PM
Ok...I've read through all of this and quite frankly...for better or worse...I come to a big fat "so what".

MK's straight guy / gay guy left me decidedly underwhelmed.  If this was supposed to demonstrate how horrible it is to be a woman gamer it failed to accomplish that...at least for me.  If my biggest challenge as a gamer is being faced with some guys big hairy balls on the cover of my Origins program...I mean really...how does that even qualify as a problem.  Am I supposed to feel offended or slighted or diminished by that?  I don't...  It might seem odd to me.  It'd hardly be something I'd pin up on my gym locker door.  May, if it was particularly obnoxious exercise my right to rip the cover off and throw it out...but how is it a problem.  I suspect you'd get the same level of juvenile reaction to it as you would to a full frontal succubus...and likely from the same people, just 180d different.  Some people are just ignorant...so what.  

Don't see how that suddenly becomes some form of -ism that I should be offended about.


Plus I don't see this idea of sexism being supported in gaming.  Every year I go to Origins I see more female gamers.  I've gamed with more women in the past 5 years than I did in the previous 15.  Seems to me that the number of women involved in gaming is INCREASING...which means whatever sexism is supposedly running rampant through the hobby isn't serving as a complete barrier to entry.  The more women join...the less of a "boys club" the hobby becomes.  The more women control the money behind gaming budgets the smaller market there will be for tasteless cheesecake and it will dwindle on its own by simple market pressure.

And I don't believe for a second that women don't share and promote similiar sexist views about men amongst themselves.  There is as much beefcake out there as there is cheesecake.  Fabio doesn't make his money as an intellectual, and last I heard there were more bachlorette parties hiring male strippers than vice versa...again so what.

I see no evidence whatsoever of any systematic sexism in gaming that isn't present in society at large.  And sure there is sexism in society at large.  Not as much as there was 10 years ago, not as much as there was 100 years ago, not as much as there was a 1000 years ago...but it hasn't been entirely stamped out.  Its unfortuneate that 10,000 years of bigotry can't be turned off like a light switch, but it can't.

There are juvenile sexist pigs in gaming...same as there is in anything.  But if anything its diminished not increased.  Avalanche catches at least as much flak for its incredibly ridiculous game supplement covers as it does cheers from leering 8th graders sitting at home trying to unstick the pages.

I guess I'm not sure what the point, is.  Just to point out that the world isn't a perfect place and that some people's attitudes really suck?  Well, yeah...that's hardly news.  Is there a call to action of some kind that's being made...if so I missed it buried in all the extraneous back and forth.

I guess I'm just asking...is there a reason for this thread beyond being a opportunity to vent?


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Enoch on December 05, 2002, 01:52:28 PM
Quote
Enoch, read the post above yours for an example of someone having a problem with "girls playing".


Umm... the reason I said no was because I had a huge crush on them.  Not because they were girls.  In 7th grade my group did have female gamers, and I had no problem with them playing.  In fact I taught them to play.

Anyway...

I'm not saying that there isn't any sexism in gaming.  I'm just saying I haven't noticed any blatant sexism in my experience.

I'm not sure what more to say as of now, so I'll just stop at that.

-Joshua


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: MK Snyder on December 05, 2002, 02:00:59 PM
This one thread is tearing apart the entire forum?

Isn't that a bit of an overbroad metaphor? Sure, it's a hot topic, and an important one, but quelling discussion is not the solution to the problem; and quelling the discussion by shooting the messenger is doubly not the solution.

Especially if it is a problem that you feel deeply about and want to solve. Women feeling uncomfortable isn't going to going to be solved by making the women who feel uncomfortable shut up or go away.

Is the metaphor I used a 100% accurate portrayal of every male-female interaction in the RPG community? Of course not, nor was it meant to be. Is it a good representation of the suffiently significant number of negative interactions to which female players are exposed? I think so; I would, of course.

The defensive response to this is interesting and deserves some reflection, in my opinion; I do think it is counter productive to your stated goals and I found it very surprising.

Okay, one example:

I pointed out that using "embarrass your mother" as a phrase to describe "no holds barred discussion" is sexist. Actually, pretty annoying to me as a mother *and* a gamer who is capable of no-holds-barred discussion.

That was an example. In this thread. The thread that you say has no examples.

To tell me that the examples I have provided are not examples...is an example.

How could that have gone better? Well, there could have been one post about, "Yeah, I've seen a lot of that kind of thing myself." or "I see how that could be annoying."

As for the whole "getting laid" subtopic. My mind reels at the cluelessness.

 Definite "Same planet, different worlds." experience there. May I humbly submit that conversation with female gamers could also lead to greater empathy?

That said, I respect the honesty a lot, and I think that it is much better to have honest discussion than not.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: MK Snyder on December 05, 2002, 02:15:51 PM
What is the value of venting?

Well, if you are interested in designing games that will appeal to women, or in designing games that won't actively annoy them, it's worthwhile to read some venting.

If there is interest in making the Forge more appealing to women, or at least not actively turning them away, it's worthwhile to read some venting.

If those aren't of interest to you, feel free to not read the thread. Consider it an activity similar to ripping the cover off a gaming supplement.

It didn't occur to me that so many of the male members of the Forge would take this so personally. I have never thought nor accused Clinton, for example, of being a Neanderthal fart lighting frat boy geek gamer.  Clay can self-identify as one if he wants. I suspect he isn't one, though.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on December 05, 2002, 02:17:21 PM
Maryanne,

Thanks. I complimented your links when you posted them, but didn't back them up simply because they were on other forums. (That doesn't invalidate them, but trust me, me commenting on RPG.net or Gaming Outpost causes more flames than this ever could. Suffice it to say - yep, I've seen those links before, and yep, they are pretty bad. I did find it interesting that the two Forge links included one that derided cheesecake at conventions, and another that questioned the idea that attractive women depicted in RPG art is inherently bad.) I humbly disagree with you on the getting laid topic: I've already submitted that intimacy brings understanding, which we can discuss if you like, and I don't think the idea that less sexual tension might bring easier interaction is bad. I do think that we might want to be able to see through our sexual tension, or even use that in a positive way.

I apologize if you've thought I wanted to quell you specifically. Honestly, I want to quell anyone who posts attacking or negative posts on the Forge. I'm all about two things: concrete examples, and solutions.

I appreciate your honesty, as well. I do think the behavior exhibited by many people, to include both you and I, will tear apart the Forge if continued. That's not a topic for this thread, though.

Your point that just talking face-to-face with women roleplayers can help is an excellent one. I'd say that the majority of my understanding of the issue comes from interactions with women, both role-players and not. For example, my statement that mixed-gender groups can be more enjoyable comes from my long-time play with Lise Mendel, one of the best role-players I've met.

If I may, I'm going to restate some questions brought up in this thread (or just thought up by me), and I'd love it if you (or anyone) answered them:

 - Is the sexism in role-playing different than the sexism in society at large, and if so, how?
 - What can an individual role-playing group do to make themselves more appealing to women players?
 - I think it can be taken as a given that youths of both sexes are less sensitive than adults. Could part of the gender imbalance come from the fact that many role-players are introduced to the hobby in their youth? (I ask this because many female players I've met started in college or in their 20's, or even when they married a role-player.)
 - In your current group, what behaviors make you feel welcome, and what behaviors (if any) do not?
 - Why don't we see more all-female role-playing groups?

(Edit: also, I wanted to add one thing, because I don't think I've said it clearly yet. I apologize to Maryanne for overreacting earlier. I completely misread you. Understanding that you pointed out the extremes of behavior and not your opinion of the Forge's behavior, I realize my reaction was asinine.)


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Bankuei on December 05, 2002, 02:22:40 PM
Ok folks, let's stop and take a breather, and re-examine the situation.

Sexism exists in our society, it also exists in roleplaying(it being a social activity after all).  Lots of socially unacceptable behavior that wouldn't get tolerated in society, gets put up with and sometimes encouraged in the gaming hobby(sexism, racism, out and out being an asshole, and more).


We could sit here and argue to what degree, or vent.  Neither will solve the problem.  Here's some issues that folks might want to examine for productive discussion;

•Gamers introduce each other into the hobby.  Women gamers can form their own groups(can you get 2 friends to play?).  This isn't about making gender exclusivity, but if your game group is 4 guys, 1 girl, you can get a lot of crap.  When the 4 guys see that it's not 1, but 3 girls who are going to be together, the social dynamic changes.  If the guys are still pricks, then the women still play without them, go have fun.  I'd say introducing more women into gaming is the first priority, and the only way to avoid the issues is for women to initiate other women into it. Only a women would know best how to make a woman friendly environment.

•All women gamers got into the hobby somehow.  What positive experiences made you decide to stay in gaming?  What positive experiences could be reproduced for other women?

•Large groups of mixed gender folks creates its own social contract.  Someone is always trying to impress someone, and you can't be an asshole to the person you're trying to impress and get very far.  Aside from LARPS, is there any other public manner of gaming that might introduce women into the hobby?

Chris


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Valamir on December 05, 2002, 02:26:45 PM
Quote
I pointed out that using "embarrass your mother" as a phrase to describe "no holds barred discussion" is sexist. Actually, pretty annoying to me as a mother *and* a gamer who is capable of no-holds-barred discussion.



Yet I'm failing to see how comments like that are any different than comments about Italians and gangsters.  Should I, as an Italian American, be offended every time someone says something like "Hey, keep it up and I'll send Guido and Angelo out to pay you a visit".  Whats being implied by the statement could (were I so inclined) be interpreted even worse than what you're saying is being implied by your example.

Do you really want to live in such a sterile white washed world?  Damn I don't.

No offense...but if that's a big example of subtle sexism, I find it hard to get worked up about it.  In the grand scheme of global issues that one seems really pretty trivial to me.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Matt Wilson on December 05, 2002, 02:45:33 PM
Quote from: Valamir
Quote
I pointed out that using "embarrass your mother" as a phrase to describe "no holds barred discussion" is sexist. Actually, pretty annoying to me as a mother *and* a gamer who is capable of no-holds-barred discussion.



Yet I'm failing to see how comments like that are any different than comments about Italians and gangsters.  Should I, as an Italian American, be offended every time someone says something like "Hey, keep it up and I'll send Guido and Angelo out to pay you a visit".  Whats being implied by the statement could (were I so inclined) be interpreted even worse than what you're saying is being implied by your example.



Depends on whether your being an Italian American also weighs on your mind whenever you go on a job interview, or when you walk into a retail store, or when you join someone's game. Did you not get that job because of it? If you did get the job, are you worried that people in the company might assume it was because of affirmative action and not because of your merits? Prejudice is one thing, and it's not a good thing, but it's a lot worse when it's backed up by power and consequences.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Clay on December 05, 2002, 02:49:59 PM
Wow, I think I hit a nerve somewhere.  

Vincent, thank you for your post.  You described exactly what I was driving at.  Although intercourse with one woman does help gain empathy with others in general, empathy with the women I game with isn't really the issue that caused trouble for me. I haven't noticed that making the bed squeak with my wife does anything to increase my empathy with the women I game with.  Knowing that my wife and I will be making the bed squeak keeps me from introducing unwanted tension into the game.  Ron can probably provide solid scientific reasons why this is so, but I notice that he's steering clear of this discussion.

What I'm looking for definitely is erotic release. Slapping the bald headed step child isn't the answer because  our little monkey brains are geared to have sex with other hairless monkeys, not hairy palms.  Orgasm is only part of the solution.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: quozl on December 05, 2002, 02:59:05 PM
Quote from: wfreitag
Our current working theory is that female players find the following (among others) more appealing relative to males:

- A wide range of effective strategic options for problem-solving, including retreat, evasion, subversion, seeking allies, bluff, and negotiation, rather than rewards only being gained for "attacking" the problem head-on.

- Gaining power or other rewards by means of building and using social networks.

- Rewards based on subjectively good situational decision-making rather than successful manipulation of systems of abstractions.

- Walt


Heck, isn't that what all roleplayers want?  I sure find them to be the most appealing parts of RPGs.

MK,

I'm sorry you've been the victim of sexism.  I think most people here are also sorry but they're too busy being defensive to say so.  What are some things we can do to make things better?


Title: Hard to Get a Word in Edgewise
Post by: Le Joueur on December 05, 2002, 03:04:32 PM
Quote from: MK Snyder
Is the metaphor I used a 100% accurate portrayal of every male-female interaction in the RPG community? Of course not, nor was it meant to be. Is it a good representation of the suffiently significant number of negative interactions to which female players are exposed? I think so

...How could that have gone better? Well, there could have been one post about, "Yeah, I've seen a lot of that kind of thing myself." or "I see how that could be annoying."

Hey, I've been waiting for all of you to stop and take a breath.

Personally, I read the gay metaphor example as what I thought it was, a summation of every bad experience that could be had (gender issues turned on their head).  Not only do I applaud it as a basis for which one could compare their own treatment of others, but as well-written and concise.

I'm sad that it induced such a quick and firey response; definitely suggests this might be a little less coarse if people would wait at least an hour before posting a response (like swimming after eating).  I was somewhat surprised that the respondents seem to think it was some kind of map of how everything goes for every female gamer; I certainly didn't see it that way.

I saw a number of my friends (and myself; did you know that nobody ever talks about the views of the asexuals?  You got your heterosexuals, your homosexuals, and your bisexuals, but never anything about us asexuals; ever consider that?) in uncomfortable situations throughout the example and synthesized that it must be a laundry list of what can go wrong.

Not what does.

Not what will.

Simply what can.  That arms any who've read it with a 'short-list' to think about in terms of 'what is it like for the other person.'  Even better, it's formed on a metaphor, so you don't have to memorize the whole thing.

Is it useful?  I think so.  Was it needed?  Could be the 'a solution' sought.  Was it coarse?  Hard to imagine how not to be.  Was it a flame?  parts of the preamble were close.  But tone down the 'pitch' it was thrown with (not the shock of the specific examples), and it might make a good 'think about this' article.

Now could everyone step away from their keyboards for just a couple of hours and calm down?  There is plenty to discuss here, but the tones are not conducive to reaching any conclusions.  I believe all parties' have good points but the flames are obscuring the valuable content and interaction thereon.

And let's drop the 'you said I said' stuff right now; okay?

Fang Langford


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Le Joueur on December 05, 2002, 03:25:26 PM
Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon
I'd love it if you (or anyone) answered them:

 - Is the sexism in role-playing different than the sexism in society at large, and if so, how?

Whether I think so or not, I have a question.  How much sexism is desirable?  Sure, we can't be perfect, but can we at least be better?  Even a little better, than "society at large?"

Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon
- What can an individual role-playing group do to make themselves more appealing to women players?

I'm not sure that's the right approach.  Wouldn't targetting women be sexist?  Perhaps aiming for more diversity would be better.  Perhaps pulling down barriers such as exemplified in the gay metaphor (not that every group has all of them, but pulling down any your group has and drawing attention to those any other group displays.

I'm not suggesting a white washed world, just a little tiny bit more effort at understanding.  I don't condone or support the 'turn a blind eye to how you are oppressed' attitude; it doesn't do anything but purpetuate negative stereotypes.  Get to know people, learn to value them for their strengths and allow them any weaknesses.  This really isn't an all-or-nothing 'battle,' making it seem so will only cause others to 'blow you off.'

Let's just look at where each of us needs to improve and be willing to say 'I coulda done that a bit better.'  We only need a bit.

Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon
- I think it can be taken as a given that youths of both sexes are less sensitive than adults. Could part of the gender imbalance come from the fact that many role-players are introduced to the hobby in their youth? (I ask this because many female players I've met started in college or in their 20's, or even when they married a role-player.)

Of course, especially considering that most gamers are introduced to the hobby (and therefore the predjudices) by their peers.  Using the same approaches to increase diversity sensitivity amongst the youth should work just as well.  How about a little 'mentoring' attitude when you see someone making that mistake?

Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon
- In your current group, what behaviors make you feel welcome, and what behaviors (if any) do not?

I know this one was targetted at a female respondant, but I believe the gay metaphor pretty much listed all that could be a problem and therefore hints at what could be the welcoming behaviours.

Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon
- Why don't we see more all-female role-playing groups?

Perhaps because they don't 'advertise?'  My wife, over her carreer as a game master, has had three "all-female role-playing groups."  (If you want a taste of sexism in gaming, the first had to hide their Dungeons & Dragons books inside of Tunnels & Trolls covers because 'D & D is a boys game' according to one member's father.)  These groups have depended on very 'networking-based' methods for gaining new members.

As has been pointed out, putting gaming 'above' normal friendship is dysfunctional, yet that's how many groups do it.  My wife's groups got together for 'other reasons' and 'did a little gaming' as well.  This is also how they acquired new members (as I understand); they'd be together for any particular reason and, as these social situations do, gaming came up as a part of sharing experiences.  Intrigued, and supported by a network of friends, new 'recruits' were had.  You have to remember this was all during Pat Robertson's crusade against Dungeons & Dragons.  Heck one of their fathers, a lawyer, sounds like about the best gamemaster I've heard of (and few of his games had any combat).

My experience with most of my 'women gamer' friends is that it was either sibling or networking exposure.  I personally had to prompt someone to challenge me to a duel to the death to acquire my first player (we rolled up his character which promptly slaughtered mine); is that terribly functional or diverse?

I know these answers are likely to be taken widely out of context by the flames I see rising, but I thought it was worth adding a little 'cool air' to the conversation.

Fang Langford


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Irmo on December 05, 2002, 03:39:33 PM
Quote from: Le Joueur

I'm not sure that's the right approach.  Wouldn't targetting women be sexist?  Perhaps aiming for more diversity would be better.  Perhaps pulling down barriers such as exemplified in the gay metaphor (not that every group has all of them, but pulling down any your group has and drawing attention to those any other group displays.


Targeting women isn't necessarily sexist. Many male players have reported greatly enjoying mixed groups. As such, targeting women can be a win-win situation, thus discriminating against no one.


By the way, there's several, from my male viewpoint, very insightful articles on the www, e.g. "Saving Throw For Half Cooties" ( e.g. at  http://www.tasteslikephoenix.com/articles/women.html  ) though I'd be interested in hearing what Maryanne and other femal contributors to this thread think of it :)


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on December 05, 2002, 03:40:28 PM
Quote from: Le Joueur
I know these answers are likely to be taken widely out of context by the flames I see rising, but I thought it was worth adding a little 'cool air' to the conversation.


Fang,

Actually, your answers were great. I think the flames are cooled off. (Considering I inadvertently started most of them. When you spent several years building something, you get sensitive to attacks on it. I'll watch it in the future.)

One thing I liked about your answers are that they pointed out "targeting at women" that was in the questions themselves. I think the most important thing you may have said, paraphrased, is that targeting women won't work, but targeting people will.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Uncle Dark on December 05, 2002, 03:45:46 PM
Maryanne,

Personally, I found your example not only valid, but also funny as hell.  Honestly, you'd think some folk had never heard of hyperbole...


As to the "get laid" discussion, what underlies that is the fact that what turns many women off to gaming is being seen/treated as a potential sex partner first and a fellow gamer second.  Or so my female gamer friends have told me.  I think the theory here is that if a (het) gamer guy already has a girlfriend, he won't see female gamers that way.  Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't.

Note, though, that the core of the problem is being percieved/treated as a sex object more often than as a gamer.  More effective than getting laid regularly would be to simply police oneself for such behavior and just not do it.

A general observation:  I have played in one group that was 3:1 male to female, and another that was 3:1 female to male.  It was my experience that (when I was in the gender minority) I had to deal with much less crap than the women in the mostly male group did.

Now for the interesting bit: both groups had equal amounts of sexual innuendo and blue humor, in game and out.  But with the mostly-female group, it was usually very clear that it was all friendly, all in fun, usually satire of people who are jerks about such stuff in real life.

Which is not to say that the guys in the male-dominated group were jerks.  Rather, it was much harder to tell when a guy was serious-friendly, serious-antagonistic, or just joking.

One factor was that the female GM of the female-dominated group was much quicker to step in when things were begining to get out of hand, while the male GM in the other group usually let things go, sometimes even joining in.

Mind you, I'm not talking about abusive stuff here.  In both situations the minorities gave as good as they got, and nobody ever walked off hurt.  But the overal quality of the interactions were markedly different.

Anybody else ever encounter this?


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Walt Freitag on December 05, 2002, 03:55:49 PM
A fair enough request, Fang, to look more deeply into MK's metaphor.

Doing so, I find there's one element that I just don't understand:

Quote from: MK Snyder
Strangely enough, you love role-playing. Sure, in the early days you had to adjust for the Bathhouse Stamina stats for characters, and the paragraphs about how all straight guys were really just closeted and latent and just needed a good lay to get over it.

[snip]

A large portion of the hobby involves the fantasy of "awakening" a latent homosexual to his identity. There is much discussion of the psychology of straight guys and what they like and don't like; the gay designers and posters frequently post their stories of straight guy reactions and thoughts. This is considered an accurate representation of straight guys, their lives, their reactions.


(emphasis added)

In this metaphor gay men represent (real world) men, and straight men represent (real world) women. So the fantasy of turning a straight man into a homosexual represents... the fantasy of turning women into men??

MK, are you referring to rape taking place in RPGs? (But inside the metaphor, that would be rape too, and wouldn't "convert" anyone in any way. Rape has been depicted or implied in RPGs, which has occasioned much controversy, but I've never seen or heard of it depicted as converting the victim to the attacker's lifestyle. I can't say it's never been depicted, but you seem to be implying a prevalent theme and I just don't see it.) Or are you referring to fantasies of male characters making love consensually to female characters? (But that's hardly comparable, even in a loose metaphor, to forcing a change in someone else's sexual preferences. In fact it wouldn't appear to be objectionable at all.)

I'm just honestly confused about what you're getting at with the "awakening" issue.

- Walt


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: lumpley on December 05, 2002, 04:17:23 PM
Uh oh.  The person I mostly agree with thinks I'm mind-reelingly clueless.

Maryanne, I'm not offended, and I'm just offering my own experiences from when I was an adolescent hetboy geek.  I have no real idea if anybody shares my experience -- sounds like Clay might, or might know people who do -- but I'm just saying, having a romantic relationship changed me as a person.  Particularly, key in fact, it made me a more reasonable, well-rounded, empathic person.  Which no surprise, I'd say, and I'd say it's a good thing, too.

A trivial little side benefit was that it made me less twerpy when it came to roleplaying with girls (and then women, later).

I would recommend having romantic relationships to anybody for whom they're at all appropriate, because they're cool.  A bit hesitantly, I don't think I'm being clueless in doing so.

-Vincent


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: MK Snyder on December 05, 2002, 04:57:18 PM
Walt, I was just trying to get the "being viewed as potential sexual partner" phenomenon in; it would of necessity involve changing orientation so it's not a perfect fit.

I didn't even attempt to take on the aspects of roleplaying rape, having prostitutes as characters, actually being propositioned, repellent conversations, or attempting a homosexist version of Grand Theft Auto.

Good thing, too. It probably would have led to some real angry posts in response.

Personal favorite heterosexist klutzy RPG behavior experiences:

*Being invited back to a guy's apartment to look at UFO blueprints.
*Being told on a forum that I was lying about being a woman because my posts had been too rational and logically written for a woman to have done them.
*Salesman ignoring me and asking my eight-year old son what he was shopping for in crpg department of store.

It's really bad in the casino gaming industry, which is one of my areas of investment and expertise. There isn't enough money in the RPG industry to justify hiring female prostitutes as a marketing aid. There is in gambling and investment.

This works to my advantage as a blackjack player, however.

I would not be surprised if role-playing, like the computer industry, has a higher percentage of men with Asberger's Syndrome in the hobby than in the population at large.  Such individuals would have more problems interacting with females than they do males, and with people-as-strangers overall.

Lumpley, I have nothing against romantic or sexual relationships. I'd put it down as one "growing up" experience that would improve role-playing. Parenting is another. But it is a bit silly to put it forth as a solution to making women feel more welcome when one of the common complaints that women gamers have is being too often treated as potential sexual partners first, and gamers second!

I could just as well recommend to everyone here that they will be better players if they have children and raise them, volunteer to work with people with disabilities, get a job, travel, or join a sports team! All will add to one's knowledge of the human condition.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: C. Edwards on December 05, 2002, 05:07:53 PM
Gareth,

contracycle wrote:
Quote
Now, this I take extreme and vigorous exception to. It may well be that I exhibit sexist thoughts and actions, despite my intent. And yet, the assertion that this is BECAUSE I HAVE TESTICLES is utter rubbish. There is nothing about your masculinity or your hormones or your morphology which mandates or justifies ANY form of discrimination whatsoever.


In your rush to throw bile you seem to have overlooked the fact that I said this:

C. Edwards wrote:
Quote
I think men and women are both, by their very nature, sexist.


Therefore, you having testicles is not the primary qualifier. Also, if you re-read my post you might notice that I wasn’t justifying sexist behavior.  People are hard-wired towards discrimination.  I was simply saying that we need to be aware of this on an individual level and regulate our behavior appropriately.

I would appreciate not being quoted out of context in the future.

Thank you,

-Chris


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: MK Snyder on December 05, 2002, 05:13:46 PM
Valimar: many little slights can add up. Especially in something that is one's mental refuge. One of the joys of fandom (or religion, or any hobby) is the sense of being among "one's own kind".

It's jarring as a woman who games to be reminded, "No. You're one of the Scary Other."

I accept it in the X-rated bookstore; I put up with it in the boardroom (where I am the only female.); I give stockbrokers grief over it when they ask to speak to my husband; I had a great time being the only straight person at my job in college.

It's not just a problem for straight women, either; it's a problem for gays, lesbians, transgendered, polyamorous, bisexual and asexual individuals too.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on December 05, 2002, 05:29:02 PM
Maryanne -

In case it's not clear by now - *I* think having your input in this thread is GREAT.  I think many other people here think having your input on this thread, and the issue in general, is GREAT.   Doesn't mean I agree with it all, of course, but that's not an attack on you, it just gives us stuff to discuss.  Some things (a lot, by my guess) we could work through and come to total agreement on, a few others - maybe not.  But if you think folks aren't appreciating what you're bringing to the thread - well, not true for me, and not how I'm reading other people's posts.

Clinton -

I'm admirin' the way your posting here, sir.  

Folks -

Appologies if I'm lapsing into boring pedant mode here - this may come across as "wise elder speaking," and I'm sure not claiming that - or any - authority.  But IMO - you've always got to remember, serious discussions about touchy subjects in a 'net Forum environment are HARD.  Maryanne has excellent points in her discussion, but people choose to comment on ("attack?") the more questionable ones.  Plenty of folks (I claim including me, in at least one post) brought up specific areas where gaming-in-general kinda messes up on the sexism issue, perhaps even moreso than society as a whole - but those posts don't get any response.  In my experience, you HAVE to focus on the points of agreement AT LEAST as much as on the points of disagreement, or the discussion is doomed.  I see LOTS of points of agreement here, and no one focusing on them.  Even the disagreement isn't formed in such a way to get a helpful response.

Maybe that's because the only response that makes sense is "Don't be sexist, in life or in gaming."  (Where I define sexism as inappropriate behavior towards the opposite sex, and DON'T limit it to males alone).  But maybe there is more to say . . . until/unless we get cogent dialouge going, we won't know.

So - I've encountered very sexist game groups.  Contrary to the experience of some here, my early (junior high/high school) groups were far LESS sexist than the environment in general.  Depending on which configuration I consider, my current groups fit that bill too - though when the group is all-male, sometimes it slides a bit too close to the "inappropriate" for my liking.  In between . . . I ran into some of the worst that "gamer culture" has to offer, and sexism (along with many other downright nasty behaviors) almost drove me out of the hobby.

The most positive thing I can take from the thread at this point is some more determination to keep that inappropriate behavior out of our group(s).  Not as some PC, "oh-don't-say-that" knee-jerk, but as a sincere expression of my "don't forget that's another fully-human being you're talking about" beliefs.

Again, hoping this is seen as a positive contribution,

Gordon


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on December 05, 2002, 05:57:45 PM
A few quotes, for context:
Quote from: MK Snyder
Lumpley, I have nothing against romantic or sexual relationships. I'd put it down as one "growing up" experience that would improve role-playing. Parenting is another. But it is a bit silly to put it forth as a solution to making women feel more welcome when one of the common complaints that women gamers have is being too often treated as potential sexual partners first, and gamers second!

I'm not Lumpley, but I made essentially the same point, and I guess I wasn't clear - the point is, if you deal with your sexual partner issues seperate from gaming, it will become less of an issue in your gaming.  And it's only one strategy - I like the "just have the personal maturity to not let sexual partner issues interfere with your gaming" answer just as much.  But, having done just that successfully (I gamed with my girlfriend before she was my girlfriend, and when her then-current boyfriend was in the group, and when she was my girlfriend and an ex of hers was in the group),  I can say that the first solution is (for me, anyway) a better answer.
Quote from: MK Snyder
I could just as well recommend to everyone here that they will be better players if they have children and raise them, volunteer to work with people with disabilities, get a job, travel, or join a sports team! All will add to one's knowledge of the human condition.

In fact, that's part of what I was trying to recommend, too.  Of course, sexual partner issues can come up as problematic in all those situations as well.  But society does deem some settings as "appropriate" places to deal with sexual partner issues, and others as inappropriate, and . . . if someone were to claim that the gaming table was an entirely appropriate place to look at women as potential sexual partners AS WELL AS fellow gamers, I guess I wouln't argue.  Because that's how it seems to me.

But maybe I could be convinced otherwise.  What do you (or anyone else) think?  Do we need to declare the gaming table a prospecting-free zone to keep sexism out of gaming?  I know a number of women AND men who'd be disapointed if that were the case.  I guess that's a little flippant - people will fall in love (or whatever) in just about any circumstance - but it does seem valid to wonder how much tolerence the Social Context of RPGing could/should have for that.

That feels like a more meaty discussion to me,

Gordon


Title: It's Spelled Asperger's Syndrome
Post by: Le Joueur on December 05, 2002, 06:43:31 PM
Quote from: MK Snyder
I would not be surprised if role-playing, like the computer industry, has a higher percentage of men with Asberger's Syndrome in the hobby than in the population at large.  Such individuals would have more problems interacting with females than they do males, and with people-as-strangers overall.

First of all, it's spelled 'Asperger's Syndrome (http://www.aspergers.com).'  Second, no, we don't have any more problems interacting with females than males; it just shows more because of how males react to a male who has any problem interacting with females.

This stems from what I've had to characterize as 'not learning body language' like normal people.  I've learned (the hard way) to 'speak body language as a second language.'  An Asperger's Syndrome case doesn't pick up on all the subtle cues and nonverbal signals that people give off; sexual cues aren't any harder than normal threatening cues.  A main problem is sexism expects young boys 'to go for' girls; this sets the Asperger's Case up for a fall.  No difference from facing off with bullies.

Fang Langford


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: MK Snyder on December 05, 2002, 07:29:33 PM
Fang,

Do males who have Asperger's Syndrome not respond to females with physiological arousal symptoms similar to those of stress? i.e., a response to females qua females similar to that of a response to hostile males?

Keeping in mind that Asperger's Syndrome has degrees of severity.

I have some other friends who have been diganosed with Asperger's; their experience has been that while all non-familiar humans induce anxiety and the desire to retreat or disengage, it is easier to overcome with fellow males than with females, and that it is easier for them to have male friends than female friends.

They are gamers and computer professionals. It has been difficult and frustrating for them; they are very isolated from the all-pervasive heterosexual emphases in media, social activities, etc. Their games have few to none female characters, either from the male players or as NPC's. Emotions, family life, romance...all that guff is non-existent in their games.

We may find that the RPG's serve an important role for individuals with biological/cognitive/social deficits. There are "Gamer Geeks". Instead of being ashamed, or hiding them, or laughing with the rest of society, we may want to be more aware and inclusive of them, too.

So far, Asperger's has been found to be more prevalent in males than females. This would be a biologically based imbalance that has nothing to do with RPG content with respect to math skills, violence, or gender roles; but instead, impacts gender representation in the recruitment of new gamers.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Walt Freitag on December 05, 2002, 09:26:49 PM
Quote from: Jon (quozl)

Quote from: wfreitag

Our current working theory is that female players [tend, statistically, to] find the following (among others) more appealing relative to males:

- A wide range of effective strategic options for problem-solving, including retreat, evasion, subversion, seeking allies, bluff, and negotiation, rather than rewards only being gained for "attacking" the problem head-on.

- Gaining power or other rewards by means of building and using social networks.

- Rewards based on subjectively good situational decision-making rather than successful manipulation of systems of abstractions.


Heck, isn't that what all roleplayers want? I sure find them to be the most appealing parts of RPGs.


Not all. What is hack-and-slash gaming, if not preferring not to bother with the alternative approaches mentioned in the first item? What is powergaming, if not preferring the opposite of the third item?

However, from all that I've read here I gather that most Forge folk share at least some of these preferences. (Not too fond of social networking myself, especially since I suck at it, but sure, give me the other two any day.) And perhaps that's related to the apparent fact that most (male) Forge folk who've weighed in on the subject report mutually satisfactory (to say the least) play with female players.

Also there's more than just a preference-for involved here. I wanted to word things in a positive way, but at least half the equation is that as a trend, female players are more likely to dislike the reverse of the three items listed (head-on inflexible problem solving, gaining results through solitary heroics, and manipulating abstract systems for rewards). So, for example, my wife and I both like video games with a wide range of workable strategies, but I also like games that require successful execution of head-on solutions that may take many attempts to succeed, while my wife quickly loses interest in such games. (This is an illustration, not supporting data; a sample size of 1 is meaningless.) To a casual observer it might not be apparent that when she watches me play a video game and says, "how can you waste your time like that?" she doesn't mean playing video games is a waste of my time, she means trying thirty-seven times to time a jump just right to land on a little bitty platform is, she thinks, a waste of my precious video gaming time. If the reason I'm doing it is that the game offers no alternative, she's not likely to play that game herself.

- Walt


Title: From the Horse's Mouth (or the Other End)
Post by: Le Joueur on December 05, 2002, 09:56:15 PM
Hey Maryanne,

Quote from: MK Snyder
Do males who have Asperger's Syndrome not respond to females with physiological arousal symptoms similar to those of stress? i.e., a response to females qua females similar to that of a response to hostile males?

Depending upon the reciprocal amount of attention that sounds about right (hostile males may focus their attention upon the subject; disinterested females tend to eschew attention).  That's why I said there wasn't additional problems with females.

Quote from: MK Snyder
Keeping in mind that Asperger's Syndrome has degrees of severity.

I own it.  My case is further complicated by my intellect (rated around 150 IQ which is a poor measure of intellect, especially when dealing with Asperger's; I'll explain why shortly).

Quote from: MK Snyder
I have some other friends who have been diagnosed with Asperger's; their experience has been that while all non-familiar humans induce anxiety and the desire to retreat or disengage, it is easier to overcome with fellow males than with females, and that it is easier for them to have male friends than female friends.

Like you said, it varies by severity, but this hasn't been my experience.  Likewise, I'm not sure that "the desire to retreat or disengage" is a symptom or a learned behaviour.  There is a lack of interest in personal engagements, but nothing has been shown conclusively about social preferences that I know of.

Which means I don't know enough to say.

Quote from: MK Snyder
They are gamers and computer professionals. It has been difficult and frustrating for them; they are very isolated from the all-pervasive heterosexual emphases in media, social activities, etc. Their games have few to none female characters, either from the male players or as NPC's. Emotions, family life, romance...all that guff is non-existent in their games.

The reason I say that IQ tests may not be accurate for Asperger's cases has to do with one of the more central diagnostic criteria.  Asperger's cases tend to hold certain circumscribed areas of interest.  Most of the time these are meaningless to detrimental; however one of my early ones was reading.  Now I realize I have a phenomenal retention, but it doesn't border on photographic (I think it's called eidetic retention).  This means I had been exposed to, and had a chance to absorb more than my peers, which cannot have had a positive effect on measuring intellect by rote memory.

At some point around my adolescence I became fascinated by human behaviour.  During this period, I spent a lot of time observing people's behaviour.  This is when I learned 'body language' as a second language.  It also gave me something I refer to as 'the Zelig ability' per the classic Woody Allen film about a total social chameleon.  This was not immediately obvious until I finally left my hometown, and my eccentric reputation, behind.

Coincidentally, this means my games have fantastic non-player characters, that I emulate romance in a highly effective fashion.  I even discovered, even though I had relatively little interest in sexual attraction, either way, that I could be highly seductive.  I am also constantly finding myself in awkward situations where coworkers 'dish' about what rats men are, only to late realize that I am not one of their sex.  (I usually pull out a toy and explain that "it's alright, I'm not really a man; I'm a boy."  That's right I still play with toys; I do share them with my kids though.)  I have also found that my portrayal of serial murderers is said to be as chilling as Anthony Hopkins' Lector; Zelig is an interesting movie.

I like to think that anyone can learn this, but I realize I benefit both having fixed a circumscribed interest upon it and a 'genius' level intellect, so even amongst eccentrics I am an oddity.

Quote from: MK Snyder
We may find that the RPG's serve an important role for individuals with biological/cognitive/social deficits. There are "Gamer Geeks". Instead of being ashamed, or hiding them, or laughing with the rest of society, we may want to be more aware and inclusive of them, too.

I think it is possible that a range of causes of these deficits may attract males to the hobby; possibly a good approach would be to seek the balance amongst females.  Both sexes are subject to a wide range of social deficit causes.

Quote from: MK Snyder
So far, Asperger's has been found to be more prevalent in males than females. This would be a biologically based imbalance that has nothing to do with RPG content with respect to math skills, violence, or gender roles; but instead, impacts gender representation in the recruitment of new gamers.

Not only that but one of the major criteria for diagnosis has to do with language.  "Superficially perfect expressive language" and "formal pedantic language" are two criteria listed in Gillberg's Criteria for Asperger's diagnosis and gaming exists almost completely in a form communicated by language; that makes it seem more than just possible.  Another possibility has to do with a recent supposition that role-playing games require a great deal of 'work' upfront to learn; which could attract a circumscribed interest.  However, a circumscribed interest could just as well prevent acquisition of gaming knowledge; so that's inconclusive at this point.

I am very lucky to have found one of the rare females with Asperger's in my wife, we communicate in an usually verbal style and share many circumscribed interests; it makes for an incredibly close and fulfilling relationship.  I feel very, very lucky.

As you may have guessed, critical thought and role-playing game design are both among our circumscribed interests.

Fang Langford


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Evan Waters on December 05, 2002, 10:02:05 PM
Quote from: MK Snyder


I would not be surprised if role-playing, like the computer industry, has a higher percentage of men with Asberger's Syndrome in the hobby than in the population at large.  Such individuals would have more problems interacting with females than they do males, and with people-as-strangers overall.


Being an Asperger's sufferer myself I always bristle when these kinds of explanations are sought. Are we really that bad?

Personally I've always felt more comfortable interacting with women than men. Not quite sure why.


Title: ???
Post by: Le Joueur on December 05, 2002, 10:03:48 PM
Quote from: Evan Waters
Personally I've always felt more comfortable interacting with women than men. Not quite sure why.

'Cuz they're more verbal, duh ;)

Fang Langford


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: A.Neill on December 06, 2002, 01:08:18 AM
Quote from: MK Snyder


It's not just a problem for straight women, either; it's a problem for gays, lesbians, transgendered, polyamorous, bisexual and asexual individuals too.


Okay so we're at least as dicriminatory as the rest of Western Culture at large.

How can we be better at making sure everyone has an equal chance of enjoying gaming and gaming culture at large?

Maybe some do's as well as do nots?

Alan.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: contracycle on December 06, 2002, 01:33:27 AM
Quote from: C. Edwards

Therefore, you having testicles is not the primary qualifier. Also, if you re-read my post you might notice that I wasn’t justifying sexist behavior.  People are hard-wired towards discrimination.  I was simply saying that we need to be aware of this on an individual level and regulate our behavior appropriately.

I would appreciate not being quoted out of context in the future.


I am well aware of what you wrote, and you were not quoted out of context.  You are now asserting a postion I regard as absurd; please provide some evidence to support your claim that prejudice is inherent to the human condition, and specifically that this arises from hardwiring.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: contracycle on December 06, 2002, 01:58:39 AM
Quote from: wfreitag

In this metaphor gay men represent (real world) men, and straight men represent (real world) women. So the fantasy of turning a straight man into a homosexual represents... the fantasy of turning women into men??


That women will "come to their senses" if exposed to a Real Man.  Their petty and frivolous concerns can be replaced with concerns about real and serious topics, like the muzzle velocity of 9mmP or the appropriate sword to use when assaulted by Frost Giants.  

Quote
Rape has been depicted or implied in RPGs, which has occasioned much controversy, but I've never seen or heard of it depicted as converting the victim to the attacker's lifestyle.


How hard would this be to find in porn?  The sexual awakening brought by a man who Really Knows What Its All About to a women who is mis-informed; thus exposed to manly pleasure, by male will and against fatuous female resistance, the subject is converted to the joys of sex and the libidinous lifestyle.  IOW, realises throiugh thought and deed her primary role as a sexual object.

I think there's a lot of that running around in RPG, partly because geekdom has unprecedented access to porn and its extremely overt sexism.  

I provide this quote from the above linked attached article, which I thought was very good:

Quote
7. DO NOT RAPE THEIR CHARACTER.
    We hope this is the most blindingly obvious, what-the-hell-planet-are-you-on statement you have ever read, yet over and over we meet women with horror stories to tell. A friend of ours, now a successful gaming artist, was not three hours into her first AD&D session when one party member declared he was raping her. Rather than stopping him, all four other party members joined in. To this day, this woman will not play a female character. We only wonder that she ever played a second session.
    Another friend of ours describes a game that "I was lucky to get out of when I did." On the night after she left, the party got arrested by the city watch. After throwing the PCs into separate cells, the male gamemaster had the guards rape every female character. The women left in tears and never returned to roleplaying, while, as our friend described incredulously, "the GM never understood what he did wrong."
    In yet another game, a friend of ours ended up playing the self-described "town slut." Though this was not a role she wanted, she had felt so pressured that she "ended up giving it away before someone tried to take it."
    These three examples are from three different states (New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland) in three different decades (late '70s, mid-'80s and 1997), yet describe disturbingly similar situations. These women are not alone.


How hard would it be to find discussions on RPG bulletin boards (which will not be mentioned by name) in which men advance a "serious" argument that to FAIL to "accurately" portray rape would be a disservice to the game?  How hard would it be to find the Complete Slut or Total Bitch phenomenon outlined in the article?

There is a LOT of RP that cames across as a male sex/power fantasy of the particularly unhealthy variety.  And this is endorsed, IMO, by both text and artwork of RPG products.  If anyone here has been in the hobby for years and years, and really feels that they have never encountered anything which could be construed as a cause of concern, then I would have to opine that you simply have not been paying attention, or you feel that all of this is normal and legitimate.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Walt Freitag on December 06, 2002, 06:39:53 AM
I'm glad I asked the question, because I've now received three completely different interpretations: Gareth's immediately above; one in a PM regarding fantasized female homoeroticism; and MK's own answer (which I'll take as authoritative, since it was her metaphor to begin with), which was:

Quote
Walt, I was just trying to get the "being viewed as potential sexual partner" phenomenon in; it would of necessity involve changing orientation so it's not a perfect fit.

I didn't even attempt to take on the aspects of roleplaying rape, having prostitutes as characters, actually being propositioned, repellent conversations, or attempting a homosexist version of Grand Theft Auto.

Good thing, too. It probably would have led to some real angry posts in response.


I understand the point better now. I also understand and acknowledge that antisocial misbehavior of all sorts occurs. But I don't see evidence to support the implication that mistreatment of women in particular is a pervasive theme in role playing systems or source materials. In particular, I don't regard female NPCs who are potential consensual sex partners for male PCs or NPCs as out of line, even if they're depicted as "in distress" and awaiting rescue. I don't believe, for example, that encountering any imprisoned man is value-neutral while encountering any imprisoned woman is automatically a symbol of sexual subjugation. (Depiction of mistreatment of people in general is practically universal in RPGs, which is what makes this so difficult to sort out.)

Also, while I agree with and have always lived by "do not rape their characters" (running LARPs makes one very careful about such things), the idea that rape is worse than murder (murder and attempted murder being pervasive in role playing games with little complaint) disturbs me. It appears to carry the inescapable implication that a woman's sexual purity is of more value than her life. Certain societies dominated by primitive screwhead misogynist assholes who make a cruel mockery of Islam profess exactly that.

- Walt


Title: another dimension
Post by: Emily Care on December 06, 2002, 06:46:18 AM
Well, that water sure does look chilly, but I think I need to take a dip anyway....

Where to begin?  

As far as men and women being different:  this statement is true and helpful with respect to physiological differences and the different kinds of experiences men and women have (as has been noted, women may feel less safe going to a strange man's apartment to play, etc.). However, this statement implies things that are not true.  The corrolary: "Men and women are different and these difference can never be bridged or ever really understood," creates barriers between men and women.  

I am sure everyone here would be interested in hearing about the differences in men's and women's experiences, since this would enable us to understand eachother's viewpoint.   Am I wrong?

Difference among groups members are usually as widely varied as differences between groups when you really look at it.

However, two differences along male/female lines that have cropped up in this conversation that I've noted are 1) the kind of hostile environment many aspects of rpg and the broader gaming/comic/geek environment present to women, and 2) the issue of getting laid helping men be better able to offer a friendly gaming environment to women gamers.  

My thoughts:
OK, Forge men, here we are. This is it, you asked why there are not as many women gamers, MK's hyperbolic post about the industry treating straight men as the anomalous and sexualized Other is an excellent document to help you get a feel for what makes women uncomfortable.  You are role-players! Use your talents to get into that character, to empathize and understand the range of emotions from a kind of vague discomfort it could cause women to feel, all the way to having to face the threat of rape, and institutional discrimination and control that women have faced and continue to.  Take this as an opportunity, and ask questions about what you don't understand, rather than refuting it because you personally don't believe you would feel that way.  Thank you everyone who did understand and expressed support. Thank you MK for writing it. I thought it was dead on and helpful.

Getting laid:  What I heard said: When men are desperate or hungry for sex, it is much more likely to bleed over into how they treat female friends they game with (and presumably do anything else with socially), which will contribute to making the women feel uncomfortable.  So men are being encouraged to take responsibility for their own sexual needs and not impose that on women in their circle.  Forgot something folks! Most of the posts about this only mentioned the need for sex, the emotional aspects are just as critical.  Otherwise, masturbation would be all you need.  Men are looking for intimacy, too.

Not in every specific case, but overall in the US, culturally, men are disencouraged in almost everyway possible from engaging with their own emotions or to be intimate with others. I believe Vincent was getting at something along these lines and saying that his relationships allowed him to relate better to himself and others of all genders.  Women, on the other hand, are almost equally encouraged to do the opposite.  Interactions in sports, games and role-playing games have emotional components that are not acknowledged: from identification with character or team and vicarious thrills of success, to the frisson of conflict with another, physical or intellectual.  Feel about that for a minute.  Then think about the things that Walt outlined in his post about what women gamers look for. They are the same things as men, but more so--not limited to a competitive and emotionally distanced model.  

Women are encouraged to access much more of their own emotional experience so may look for less externalized and vicarious experiences to feel similar fulfillment.  Though there is a romantic fantasy model in much of media that is geared towards fulfilling these desires in women.  Well, our society raises us in alienation from one another and promises two goals for men and women (especially if white): emotional security to women, and financial security for men.  

Not a really clear analysis, but food for thought, perhaps.

--Emily Care


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Clay on December 06, 2002, 08:27:38 AM
Vincent: I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that I thought you were clueless.  You're right, we're in total agreement.

Gordon: thank you for expressing my point more clearly.  My "get laid" advice is saying "deal with it off the table." You're right that in some idealized world we could just correct the behavior.  I think we're fooling ourselves if we think we live in that world. Our little monkey brains are the only ones we've got, and the only one's we're going to get, and they're hard wired to be on the lookout for food, sex and a warm place to get out of the weather.

Emily: My own experience suggests that I don't particularly need to be in love with the person who's satisfying the sexual urge. Having sex with someone that I'm not in love with, but happen to enjoy shaking the bed with, has been sufficient to curb game problems. Even sex with someone I didn't like and didn't even enjoy having sex with also curbed the urge, although in unpleasant ways in that I'm not looking for sex at the table, but I'm also pissed off.

I do agree with you on one point though: intimacy with someone you love is the best solution. Since I met my wife I have had absolutely no uncomfortable moments of looking for love at the table.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: MK Snyder on December 06, 2002, 09:18:11 AM
The difference between rape and getting killed in RPGs:

In REAL LIFE it is extremely unlikely that I as an American female will be killed by a maniac, sword wielding or otherwise.

In REAL LIFE it is extremely likely that I will experience sexual assault, harrassment, domestic violence, or economic discrimination.

In REAL LIFE it is very likely that any female player will have *already* experienced sexual assault, harrassment, date rape, domestic violence, or economic discrimination.

There are also the differences in how the two forms of character damage are handled in-game. To die in battle is quite a bit different from being raped.

Interestingly enough, in RPG's male rape is probably underrepresented. Consider that.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Uncle Dark on December 06, 2002, 09:34:42 AM
Quote from: Nuredin


Maybe some do's as well as do nots?



Okay:

Do intervene when somethig is going on (in game or at the table) that makes another player uncomfortable.  Engaging in or allowing behavior that makes players not want to come back is detrimental to the gaming group.  Note that simply not saying anything comes across as tacit aproval.

Do encourage and reward the non-mechanical aspects of gaming.

Do allow for multiple ways of dealing with a problem, including social strategies.  Reward these just as you would killing critters.

Do encourage your fellow gamers to bathe, shave, and otherwise be presentable.  I'm not saying everybody should dress up and break out his or her best cologne, but you'd be surprised how many guys I've gamed with thought something like: "it's just gaming with they guys.  They won't mind if I haven't showered in two days..."

Do engage other players in non-game-related social activity before, after, and (if it's not disruptive) during the session.  This goes for new players as well as members of the opposite sex.

Do be aware of what things you wouldn't be offended/disturbed by that do offend/disturb the other players.  I'm not saying that one should never do or say anything disturbing, but do it with awareness.  If you're going to be pushing someone's emotional buttons, do it for a good reason, not just as an off-the-cuff remark.

Do assume that everyone who's gaming is just as interested in the game as you are, until they say otherwise.

Do be willing to listen to everyone's suggestions, even if you don't expect them to come up with something useful.  You might be surprised.

Do leave room in the table-talk for other people to get their say in.

Finally, Do take the concerns and complaints of others seriously.  Just because you didn't see it/feel it that way doesn't mean that someone wasn't hurt.

Lon


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: damion on December 06, 2002, 09:40:49 AM
I'll bring the Aspergers count to 3, but since my experiances seem to be almost the same as Fang, but with a slighly lower IQ, I'll leave it at that.

MK-Good job with the reversal post, I found it rather disturbing. I'm glad some hyperbole was involved (oh good, there's hope...).
 
Mk, Emily, or for that matter, anyone else:

Many of the good steps have been mentioned, such as not tolerating sexism among your group, inviting in more gamers, changing bad attitudes one might have toward female gamers, ect.  

My question is this:

Is there anything in the structure of RPG's that should be examined? I'm talking about things in the system or presentation of material. (Ignoring stuff we already know about, such as cheesecake(where did this term come from anyway?) art and ludicrous stuff like geneder based stat mods).

I know Walt mentioned that he persieved differences in the types of games females preferred. One could assume these differences are a consequence of enculturation, but that doesn't make them less real.
Should we take them into account, which might appeal more to women, but enforces the enculturation or should games ignore such things, (the idea being to not 'target' anyone, but just be a game)?

I like the second one, and a purpose of the Forge(IMHO) is to promote indie games, which tends to increase the diverstiy, but perhaps not enough.  What are peoples opinons of the designes that have been posted here on the forge?


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on December 06, 2002, 10:27:43 AM
First, a specific bit back at Clay:
Quote from: Clay
Gordon: thank you for expressing my point more clearly.  My "get laid" advice is saying "deal with it off the table." You're right that in some idealized world we could just correct the behavior.  I think we're fooling ourselves if we think we live in that world. Our little monkey brains are the only ones we've got, and the only one's we're going to get, and they're hard wired to be on the lookout for food, sex and a warm place to get out of the weather.


Well, I think we can keep that monkey brain in check, somewhat, or at the very least I don't want "monkey brain" to be an excuse for unacceptable conduct.  Still - I agree, we shouldn't fool ourselves, either.

But now a key pont for me -  I've tried to be very careful (though perhaps not explict enough) to word my statements such that this "get laid" advice  - more properly, "deal with your sexual partnership issues in general in your life, so that it ain't no big thing at the game table" - applies BOTH ways.  ALL ways, to bring the wide variety of individualy-varying human sexual attraction into it.  My experience is that females looking at males at the game table as sexual partners first, gamers second, is not uncommon.  Entirely different dynamic, given the nature of our society, but still, "get laid" (in the broad sense) remains advice for everone, not just to help males with females in gaming.  It's advice to help humans dealing with humans, period.

On the empathy thing - many appologies if it didn't come across in my other posts, but HELL YEAH, I feel for women that had to deal with some of the game groups I ran across in the eighties.  *I* felt degraded just being around some of 'em, I can only imagine what a woman in that situation would feel like.  And I'm sure such groups are still out there - SOME current RPG product almost seems to cater to 'em - and I'm just grateful I don't see 'em much anymore.

Gordon


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: C. Edwards on December 06, 2002, 01:40:08 PM
Gareth,

contracycle wrote:
Quote
I am well aware of what you wrote, and you were not quoted out of context. You are now asserting a postion I regard as absurd; please provide some evidence to support your claim that prejudice is inherent to the human condition, and specifically that this arises from hardwiring.


Well, due to your acidic approach to “discourse” and your insistence that you did not quote me out of context when the opposite is obviously true, I quite frankly don’t care what you find absurd.  There is plenty of scientific data on the subject if you wish to educate yourself on the matter but I will not waste my time with someone who seems to revel in their own hostility.  


Perplexed and saddened,

-Chris


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Clay on December 06, 2002, 02:00:39 PM
Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
Well, I think we can keep that monkey brain in check, somewhat, or at the very least I don't want "monkey brain" to be an excuse for unacceptable conduct.  Still - I agree, we shouldn't fool ourselves, either.


I should make it clear that the problem wasn't through verbal communication or overt action. My experience has been that communication about sexual interest is largely non-verbal.  No communication of sexual interest was ever verbal at the gaming table. There was nothing that could be perceived as sexual harrassment in any way. I wasn't sporting wood, or saying "nice ass, can I use it for a hat?"  It's hard to lie through non-verbal communication though, unless you study it very carefully, and have a lot more control over your body than I have.  So even if my words never said I was interested, everything else did.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Walt Freitag on December 06, 2002, 03:22:46 PM
Chris and Gareth,

Things are getting a little flamey looking here. In a thread that Clinton has said he fears could tear the Forge apart, that makes me very nervous.

Would it help if I were to point out that the exact point you're disagreeing on has been a source of bitter dispute for decades throughout the social sciences? It's nature versus nurture, and guess what: there's a huge amount of credible and complex evidence on both sides.

For one evolutionary psychologist's view, see "The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature" by Steven Pinker (Viking, 2002, ISBN 0-670-03151-8). He discusses not only the position he regards as moderate, which is that both genes and environment determine human behavior, but also the cultural struggle surrounding that issue which has resulted (for reasons he believes are outside of science) in that same position being regarded by many as extreme. If I recall his arguments correctly, chief among those reasons is the fear that acknowledging any amount of genetic influence on behavior would be seen as justifying undesirable behavior. Sounds to me a lot like what you guys (and also Clinton, in other threads) are arguing about.

Now, you're both smarter than the average bear, but nonetheless I doubt that you'll be able to resolve this question on a Forge thread. But if you can, I hope you have a few moments to spare to solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem, which should be a piece of cake by comparison. :-)

- Walt


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Ziriel on December 06, 2002, 04:13:24 PM
In the interest of not wanting to post anything nonconstructive I considered saying nothing about this, but it just bothered me too much...  

Begin rant:

What the hell?!  I've read MK's parody of women in gaming where she used homosexual men as the example.  Yes, I think it drove home the point fairly well.  Yes, I got the point; it was not missed on me I assure you.  However, am I the only one who found it an offensive representation of homosexual men?  

MK, this iz in no way an attack against you or your point, because I know that it was not meant to be taken that way.  I just feel I need to say that it really pissed me off.  This portrayal iz exactally the kind of stereotyping that homosexuals have to fight against all of the time.  And it bothers me that no one noticed it (or if they did they said nothing).  In my eyes it iz identical to the type of treatment that we are on here rallying against except that it has to do with sexual orientation instead of gender.

End rant.

I will write a more constructive post later once I've regained my equalibrium.  I just needed to get that out of my system and I don't require any apologies.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Jason Lee on December 06, 2002, 04:44:01 PM
I'd also like to add that I'm seeing a tendancy to link sexual assault to sexism.  No one has directly stated this, but I feel the implication and I'd like to warn against it.  Saying rape is a sexist behavior is like saying splitting someone's skull with a baseball bat is like not liking baseball.

As we all know, rape is a crime of both emotional and physical violence.

Physical violence is a 'soft' sort of violence, one we are desensitized to...in the confines of our little game universes a cracked skull is isolated from the player.

Emotional violence upon a character can have the direct impact of emotional violence on the player - just as me discussing the topic subjects you to a minor bit of emotional violence.  If you are subjecting your players to a level of emotional violence beyond their comfort level this is in no way discrimination - it is a lack of emotional sensitivity in relating to the individual (not the definition of that individual, which would be discrimination).  If a player has a nine month old son, and you murder his character's baby in a gruesome manner you will be inflicting him with emotional violence he as a player has to deal with.  Rape just happens to be the sort of emotional violence you can be pretty certain is going to make a woman uncomfortable.

We can all agree that the group must decide on the level of emotional violence they are willing to handle as players.  This I see as a completely seperate issue from sexism.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Uncle Dark on December 06, 2002, 09:55:33 PM
Ziriel-

Speaking as a queer man into leather, I wasn't particularly offended.  Mind you, I don't claim to speak for all of my tribe, but hey, I found it funny.

Cruciel-
Sexual assault and sexism are intimately linked.  Threat of sexual violence underlies a lot of the fear and frustration that many women feel in situations where men make them uncomfortable.  This threat is usually not overt, nor is it usually personal.  Most often it is implied by experience. This experience may be personal, or it may be indirect, from stories or warnings from other women and the culture in general.

It works something like this:  Every woman has heard the story of the woman who was raped at a party that "just got out of hand."  Jokes and rowdiness changed to sexual jokes and harassment, changed to inappropriate touching, to manhandling, to rape.

Note that sexual jokes and harrassment is step two of the path that leads to rape.  Once the (unwanted/inappropriate) sexual jokes start at the gaming table, alarm bells are already going off for most women.

Now, this is not to say that every woman faced with sexism is in mortal fear.  Most are just annoyed.  Most will write it off as bad behavior, and trust that the situation isn't really going that way.  But the thought, the alarm, is still there.

So while it could be argued that not all rape is sexist (although the fact that 1 man is raped for every 10 or so women implies that sexism plays some role), fear of rape and threat of rape plays a role in why sexist behavior is so offensive.

Lon


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: MK Snyder on December 06, 2002, 10:04:45 PM
Z, absolutely, it is a terrible portrayal of homosexuals. It is not an accurate portrayal of homosexual men and never was intended to be such.

It may be a fairly accurate portrayal of some heterosexual men's homophobia, though. During the debate some years ago about the status of Gays in the US Armed Forces, I was quite impressed with how worried defenders of the "straight only" policy were that homosexual men would make unwanted advances on fellow soldiers.

My interpretation, slanted as it is, was that many heterosexual men were projecting their own attitudes towards servicewomen in this anxiety.

As for rape as assault...well, the potential for rape as a threat is used differently in our society between men and women in general. As I have moved to more male-centered workplaces, I have been quite struck with how often anal rape metaphors are used in the workplace between straight men. Yet, statistically speaking, they face a much lower chance of actually being raped than does any woman; certainly as an element of domestic violence or dating gone bad.

Plus, one must consider the role of rape in fantasy, law, and storytelling. Rape is a common sexual fantasy of nonviolent nonpredatory individuals of both genders that has nothing in common with the motivations behind the actual psychology of active rapists. Especially when we are talking about adolescent males who may be introducing rape of females as a way to introduce sexuality, period.  

There is also the dimension of rape as damage to one's man property by another man; as a political/military statement of contempt; and as seizing another culture's reproductive assets.

In terms of gaming, the problem is not that rape is "more awful than death" or other forms of assault; the problem is that it is a specific form of assault that is disproportionally dealt to female characters over male characters *and* that it is also a form of assault female players must realistically cope with every day. Not only on their own behalf, but also in offering support to friends and family who have experienced sexual assaults.

Males have the mirror stress, as of yet unaddressed, of frequently being seen as potential predators. Men must censor their physical movements and statements concerning emotional intimacy so as not to be misinterpreted; this takes a toll on mental and physical health too. Men are not permitted to seek as easily the emotional support and connection that women are allowed to request of their friends.

Another thread beckons: how comfortable are male players with playing characters in emotions? Can they exhibit grief? Comeradery? Can your character hug his Dad?


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: MK Snyder on December 06, 2002, 10:11:25 PM
Quote from: cruciel
 If a player has a nine month old son, and you murder his character's baby in a gruesome manner you will be inflicting him with emotional violence he as a player has to deal with.  Rape just happens to be the sort of emotional violence you can be pretty certain is going to make a woman uncomfortable.

We can all agree that the group must decide on the level of emotional violence they are willing to handle as players.  This I see as a completely seperate issue from sexism.


Excellent point. I cannot stand "Kids in Jeopardy" plotting of any sort, in any medium. Vampire:The Masquerade impressed me quite a bit when it first came out, but I was forced to admit at the time, "No way could I play this!" when I considered that a parent-turned-vampire would most likely victimize her own children.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Jason Lee on December 07, 2002, 11:33:18 AM
Uncle Dark and MK make some excellent points about the seperation of motivation of action and rationalization of action (assuming I understand, and they agree with me).

I see a sexist rationalization for a violent action as completely seperate from the motivation of a violent action.  However, when dealing with social issues belief is more important than truth (no philosophy on truth, please).  I can see how it would be easy for either gender to believe the rationalization.

I can also see how people could mistake their fantasies for reality...though I've not met any man or woman who would air their rape fantasies in a public setting (my personal experiences may not be universal).

I like to make sure my borders, and where they grey, are clear when dealing with hate, discrimination, and violence so I can attack them at the source.

Quote from: MK Snyder
Another thread beckons: how comfortable are male players with playing characters in emotions? Can they exhibit grief? Comeradery? Can your character hug his Dad?


I don't think you'll need another thread for that...I'm fairly certain you'll simply get a lot of 'yes damnit!'...though you may find differences in gaming style and comfort level that regulate this.


As I haven't really spoken up about sexism in gaming...let me just say I have a tendancy to identify with my generation a lot (late gen-x).  So, I give a lot of 'yeah, whatever' to subtle sexism and other prejudice.  I think focusing on prejudice creates prejudice where it did not previously exist.

BEGIN anecdote
Once upon a time, Ziriel worked at a retail store.  A middle aged black woman handed her a credit card with the name "Edward" on it.  Ziriel ask for her ID.  The woman went into a raging fit about Ziriel being a racist, impling she was a thief only because she was black.  The woman was so blinded by her experiences she was looking for racism in every dark corner.  She had created racism, in her mind, where it simply did not exist.
END anecdote

I see this kind of behavior a lot, and I give it a resounding 'yeah, whatever'.

There is a point in here somewhere, I swear.  I've never had a big problem with cheesecake, beefcake, pornography, romance novels or any of that other fluff.  The cheesecake does not objectify women for me:  the cheesecake is an object that resembles a woman.  They don't even connect for me...I see no implication of a real woman in the cheesecake.  But, as I said I identify with my generation a lot, and the difference in mental process may be a generational thing...I'm not sure.

I can see how this would bug people who don't think like me, so axe the cheesecake...I won't miss it, I only see good that can come of its disappearance.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Ziriel on December 07, 2002, 12:40:47 PM
Quote
Speaking as a queer man into leather, I wasn't particularly offended. Mind you, I don't claim to speak for all of my tribe, but hey, I found it funny.


Uncle Dark: I'm glad you are comfortable enough in your own skin that it didn't ruffle your feathers.  :)

Quote
Z, absolutely, it is a terrible portrayal of homosexuals. It is not an accurate portrayal of homosexual men and never was intended to be such.

It may be a fairly accurate portrayal of some heterosexual men's homophobia, though.


MK: That was pretty much my point as well.  As long as we all understand that it represented an unflattering parody.  I just felt I needed to express my distress on the subject as I was not certain that we were all on the same page. I'm glad to see that we are.  No harm, no foul.

Oh yes, and one more thing:
Quote
BEGIN anecdote
Once upon a time, Ziriel worked at a retail store. A middle aged black woman handed her a credit card with the name "Edward" on it. Ziriel ask for her ID. The woman went into a raging fit about Ziriel being a racist, impling she was a thief only because she was black. The woman was so blinded by her experiences she was looking for racism in every dark corner. She had created racism, in her mind, where it simply did not exist.
END anecdote


This iz sadly very much a true tale.  When I worked in retail I was one of the few people that always checked signatures and names on credit cards.  It hadn't even occured to me that the woman was black.  It was something I noticed then shuffled away just like "blonde hair" or any other tidbit.  She was so enraged it took my store manager giving her our credit card policy and talking her down to get her to stop screaming at me.  The experience disturbed me deeply for weeks.  More on topic:  I think this iz why we have to be so careful when we imply that anyone may be sexist.  I like to be damn sure before I do.  Of course when I am sure...boy do I let them have it. ;)


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Uncle Dark on December 07, 2002, 01:26:40 PM
Cruciel, Ziriel,

Regarding your anecdote:
Yeah, there was no racisim in that situation.  Yeah, the woman saw something that wasn't there.  But why?

It's not like her reaction came out of the blue, with no basis.  How many times had someone accused her of being a thief because she was black?  Sure, Ziriel wasn't doing that, but the old lady had experienced enough racisim in her life that she interpreted that oen situation wrong.  Think about this: if she was old enough, she may remember a childhood where she'd been regularly and legally sent to the back of the bus or refused service because she was black.  Rosa Parks only made her stand in 1955.  Segregation did not end until, what, 1966?

Now imagine gaming with her.  Portraying racism, segregation, or slavery in-game would be touchy enough.  Joking about it out-of-game around the table would be a big mistake.

The point is, you can't isolate a person in one situation from the rest of his or her experience.  Saying, "I'm not being racist right now!" does nothing to ease the burden of pain that woman carried, and sounds like the all the denials she'd heard from bigots most of her life.  Saying "yeah, whatever" discounts that pain, as if it was of no consequence, as if her life and experience did not matter.

This isn't to say that Ziriel should have done something different.  It sounds like you did what you were supposed to do for someone in your position at that time.

What it is to say is that when dealing with people's emotional buttons, people you want to enjoy a liesure activity with and perhaps keep as friends, you can't just dismiss their previous experience.  It has to be taken into account.

Lon


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Irmo on December 07, 2002, 01:47:48 PM
Quote from: Ziriel


This iz sadly very much a true tale.  When I worked in retail I was one of the few people that always checked signatures and names on credit cards.  It hadn't even occured to me that the woman was black.  It was something I noticed then shuffled away just like "blonde hair" or any other tidbit.  She was so enraged it took my store manager giving her our credit card policy and talking her down to get her to stop screaming at me.  The experience disturbed me deeply for weeks.  More on topic:  I think this iz why we have to be so careful when we imply that anyone may be sexist.  I like to be damn sure before I do.  Of course when I am sure...boy do I let them have it. ;)


While your story suggests that one should be careful, I think one should be even more careful to declare "No one is less discriminatory than I/we." It's not always obvious to oneself when one acts in a discriminatory fashion, and sometimes one slaps oneself after the fact for not being more tactful. While in your example, there obviously was no discrimination given, I personally very much see the view on the receiving end as the relevant one. If someone feels discriminated, and there isn't a very solid reason why the other party acted that way, then it would probably have been better had the other party not acted that way. And in that, one should keep in mind that different people have different thresholds. While Ralph might feel that implications of organized crime in an italian american background are nothing to get worked up at, one needs only to look at the ruckus in New York City on the participation of "The Sopranos" actors in the Columbus day parade that some people like to eliminate any connotation whatsoever. And while one can personally feel its exaggerated, one isn't in their hide and doesn't know what other experiences they build their attitude on.

One need only remember the "separate but equal" doctrine to see how discrimination can be in the eye of the beholder.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Ziriel on December 07, 2002, 01:54:29 PM
Quote
Regarding your anecdote:
Yeah, there was no racisim in that situation. Yeah, the woman saw something that wasn't there. But why?


Lon - Yeah.  I thought a lot about that, and I think that iz why it bothered me for such a long time.  It really made me consider the whole thing more in depth.  It also scared me.  Are things really that bad?  Are people really that awful?  I know that there iz discrimination; I'm not that naive.  I myself have been the victim of it plenty of times.  (I've actually been spit on for goodness sake!)  I'm lucky enough to be able to surround myself with people who don't take stock in such rubbish.  I'm also lucky enough to be of a younger generation where such things seem to be much less common or accepted. (I'm 25.)  It seriously spooks me to think that someone had treated her the way she thought I was treating her.  Oh yes, and she wasn't that old.  I would peg her at an even 40, an age where I would hope things were getting better.  But we are way off thread here... (sorry 'bout that)

This may be very much at the root of why so many women are so deeply offended by questionable things like cheesecake art.  Maybe an artist didn't mean to be offensive and wanted to paint women as sexual and beautiful people.  (Although this certainly izn't true of more raunchy examples, but stay with me here.) Wouldn't it be awful to be that artist and then be assailed by angry women with your only defense being, "I didn't mean it that way, really!". Now, don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying we should go forth and embrace things like cheesecake art.  However, it iz some food for thought.  Past discrimination can really color the way you look at the world.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Ziriel on December 07, 2002, 01:59:26 PM
Quote
While your story suggests that one should be careful, I think one should be even more careful to declare "No one is less discriminatory than I/we." It's not always obvious to oneself when one acts in a discriminatory fashion, and sometimes one slaps oneself after the fact for not being more tactful. While in your example, there obviously was no discrimination given, I personally very much see the view on the receiving end as the relevant one. If someone feels discriminated, and there isn't a very solid reason why the other party acted that way, then it would probably have been better had the other party not acted that way. And in that, one should keep in mind that different people have different thresholds. ... And while one can personally feel its exaggerated, one isn't in their hide and doesn't know what other experiences they build their attitude on.


Irmo - I very much agree with you.  Really, I do.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Jason Lee on December 07, 2002, 02:20:01 PM
Quote from: Uncle Dark
The point is, you can't isolate a person in one situation from the rest of his or her experience.  Saying, "I'm not being racist right now!" does nothing to ease the burden of pain that woman carried, and sounds like the all the denials she'd heard from bigots most of her life.  Saying "yeah, whatever" discounts that pain, as if it was of no consequence, as if her life and experience did not matter.


What I'm saying here, is maybe for a second her experiences and pain don't matter...I'll deal with her as an individual, and she can deal with me in the same manner.  It's reverse discrimination, and as I said I tend to identify with my generation a lot.  I don't know how much reverse discrimination effects people of other age groups or cultures (even internal US cultures), but I consider the attitudes of my peers an indication it's an actual problem with younger generations (as perspective difference arise between generations).  It has been beat into us in public school all our lives that the white male is evil and has ruined the world.  You've got some options for dealing with this force fed guilt:  lovingly embrace it, be miserable, and walk on egg shells around every minority (and hence treat them like a different kind of person); or realize the 'evil white male' wasn't you and never will be you, treat everyone like a person and expect the same (and in my case develop that kind of 'yeah, whatever' cynicism to what I deem as overreaction).  I'm sure there are other options...maybe even more reasonable ones.

But, I drift off topic.

You are completely right about needing to take someone's personal experiences and situation into account before nailing them with a touchy issue in game.  I just think people projecting their experiences on people they don't know by being over sensitive pigeon hole's them even further into the classification of 'different'.

How this relates to sexism, in my mind, is that you simply need to weed out the overt and obvious sexism...never mind the little things that are only sexist if you seperate them from their intent.  As far as game design goes, I think this is actually pretty easy.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Uncle Dark on December 07, 2002, 04:40:39 PM
Quote from: cruciel
What I'm saying here, is maybe for a second her experiences and pain don't matter...I'll deal with her as an individual, and she can deal with me in the same manner.


How do you deal with an individual without dealing with their experiences, good and bad?  If you ignore their pain, aren't you dealing with a fragment of an individual, or a projection of who yo would rathe they were?

Quote from: cruciel
never mind the little things that are only sexist if you seperate them from their intent.


But how does someone not you determine your intent?  The only way they can is by interpreting your actions, or by asking you.  How else are they to interpret anything except in light of their own experiences?

Of course, how do you ask someone, "were you meaning to be a sexist just then?" without risking offense?  Obviously, it would be better to ask, but if your experience is that asking leads to more trouble...

Keep in mind that it is often not safe to assume that everyone intends well.  many people who have been swindled, scammed, or hurt started out assuming the best.

Also, there's the matter of harm caused whether you intended it or not.  I may not have intended to stomp on your foot, but your foot still hurts...

Lon


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Ziriel on December 07, 2002, 04:55:03 PM
Quote from: cruciel
What I'm saying here, is maybe for a second her experiences and pain don't matter...I'll deal with her as an individual, and she can deal with me in the same manner.


Pretty thought that.  Wouldn't it be nice if we could all just talk to each other as individuals and without preconceptions?  Unfortunatly that just izn't feasible.  Our experiences are what makes us whole, even if they do taint our world view.  If we all wandered about without taking our experiences into account we would be as children.  Which iz not to say that reverse discrimination doesn't bother me; it does quite a bit.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Jason Lee on December 07, 2002, 05:05:41 PM
Uncle Dark and Ziriel, you are of course both right.

I'm somewhat of an idealist...now that I've poked my head out of my little fantasy world and screamed 'why can't we all just get along' I can safely crawl back into my idealistic cave before sharp pointy rocks of reality rain from the sky and bury themselves in my skull.

And reverse discrimination is just one of my little buttons.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: damion on December 07, 2002, 05:09:26 PM
The problem is -ism's are all defined by nebulous social convention.  
The have to be defined in terms of the victim, and also in terms of a socially
accepted 'norm'.  Thus any accusation of sexual harrasment is taken seriously and examined by a higher power, frex jury. (Yeah, I know there are problems with this, they arn't relevent to this point).  The idea being the jury is compare against the 'social norm'. The end result is it's a combination of the victims feelings and the accuseds intentions, neither of which is readily available. (To take the Ziriel example, yes you had a reason to be suspicious, because the name on the card does not appear to match the person.)
(sorry for the ~rant)

I suppose for gaming it just comes down to social contract, what can people encounter in game and not have it cause severe emotional resonance with out-of-game emotions.  Also, these issues may not be obvious.(The soprano's thing was mentioned)


Title: sexism in game design?
Post by: Emily Care on December 07, 2002, 05:21:29 PM
Good handling of strong disagreements everyone.  

Damion had some constructive, on-topic questions:
Quote from: damion
Is there anything in the structure of RPG's that should be examined? I'm talking about things in the system or presentation of material. (Ignoring stuff we already know about, such as cheesecake(where did this term come from anyway?) art and ludicrous stuff like gender based stat mods).

I know Walt mentioned that he perceived differences in the types of games females preferred. One could assume these differences are a consequence of enculturation, but that doesn't make them less real.
Should we take them into account, which might appeal more to women, but enforces the enculturation or should games ignore such things, (the idea being to not 'target' anyone, but just be a game)?

I like the second one, and a purpose of the Forge(IMHO) is to promote indie games, which tends to increase the diverstiy, but perhaps not enough.  What are peoples opinons of the designes that have been posted here on the forge?


Is there anything in the structure of RPG's that should be examined?
The first thing I thought of is the Sarah syndrome from Knights of the Dinner Table, wherein the female gamer tries to interact with pc's while the male players attack it. Games that facilitate hack & slash gaming might be a turn off for many female gamers. So, more (ahem) sophisticated gaming that gives more options, as Walt's post suggested, would go over better.

Should we take them into account, which might appeal more to women, but enforces the enculturation or should games ignore such things, (the idea being to not 'target' anyone, but just be a game)?
Ron's gendered Sorcerer mechanics are an interesting approach.  If rpg hit the main stream, I am certain that there would be gendered rpg's just like there are gender targeted products of every stripe.  Gad, I shudder at the thought.  Barbie the Role-playing game.  <shiver> yes, I suppose that day will come. :) That's not whay you meant, Damion, sorry.  

I feel like we need more information about what women are looking for in games.  If it's what Walt said, then hell, who needs to gender approach it, all of those things would improve a game. :)

What are peoples opinons of the designes that have been posted here on the forge?
I can't think of any that strike me as sexist. Women can kill puppies, right? ;  )

--Emily Care


Title: Re: sexism in game design?
Post by: Irmo on December 07, 2002, 07:50:48 PM
Quote from: Emily Care

Should we take them into account, which might appeal more to women, but enforces the enculturation or should games ignore such things, (the idea being to not 'target' anyone, but just be a game)?
Ron's gendered Sorcerer mechanics are an interesting approach.  If rpg hit the main stream, I am certain that there would be gendered rpg's just like there are gender targeted products of every stripe.  Gad, I shudder at the thought.  Barbie the Role-playing game.  <shiver> yes, I suppose that day will come. :) That's not whay you meant, Damion, sorry.  


I don't think "targeted" RPGs necessarily have to look like that. The french RPG "Reve de Dragon" (as I mentioned elsewhere recently e-published in English) has at times been called feminine in its preference for (a) strange, enigmatic world(s) and sometimes bizarre situations. With the entire world being dreamed, there is literally nothing impossible as to what you could experience, and maybe this emphasis on fantasy with a captial F, on imaginativeness rather than predictability, schematics and archetypes could be seen as a means to target to female players. (Ironically, the game was written by a male, and has many male fans, but being a french game that might in part also have cultural reasons).

[Edited to add: The above is a deliberate exaggeration and polarization, and should by no means indicate that anyone's RPG is unimaginative (at least of the writers present ;) )]


I wonder what the female to male ratio of Skyrealms of Jorune groups are, since I think it shares at least some of those qualities. Anyone have any experience? (incidentally, judging by the available webpages, Jorune also seems to have been quite well-liked in France)


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: thoth on December 07, 2002, 08:44:07 PM
Possible tangent question, but i'm thinking still on-topic.

There has been a lot of talk about negative sexism towards females, but what about positive sexism?

The reason I ask is because i've always seen what seems like positive sexism when talking about females. Specifically, the notion that 'hack n slash' is not-so-good, females don't like 'hack n slash', so females are better role-players. It's not very heavy, I don't think, but its something I've always felt was present.

If someone was stereotyped (however lightly) with something that wasn't considered a bad thing (positive discrimination), but still stereotyped, does that somehow make it less wrong?

Which leads to me the question; is this whole thread about trying to get better treatment for women (possibly positive sexist), or for fair and equal treatment (egalitarian)?


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Ziriel on December 08, 2002, 04:21:44 AM
Quote from: thoth
If someone was stereotyped (however lightly) with something that wasn't considered a bad thing (positive discrimination), but still stereotyped, does that somehow make it less wrong?

Which leads to me the question; is this whole thread about trying to get better treatment for women (possibly positive sexist), or for fair and equal treatment (egalitarian)?


Ahh...I was sort of wondering if this would come up.  IMO, positive discrimination can lead to all sorts of sticky unpleasentness, so I'm against it.  If you are treating one group as if they are fabulous how then are you treating other groups?  And let us not forget that being treated to well can come off as condescending and may also frustrate someone who just wants to be treated normally.  Hmm.  See what I mean by sticky?

As far as my personal goal on this thread, I strive for understanding and education.  (I know it sounds cheezy but its true.)  Through this education I would personally hope for equal treatment.  Women who expect men to open doors for them and pay the bill at dinner, then go on rants about how they want equality irritate me.  But hey, that's just me.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Emily Care on December 08, 2002, 04:45:09 AM
Quote from: thoth

The reason I ask is because i've always seen what seems like positive sexism when talking about females. Specifically, the notion that 'hack n slash' is not-so-good, females don't like 'hack n slash', so females are better role-players. It's not very heavy, I don't think, but its something I've always felt was present....
If someone was stereotyped (however lightly) with something that wasn't considered a bad thing (positive discrimination), but still stereotyped, does that somehow make it less wrong?



Hi Amos,

Basically makes it inaccurate. Sorry for perpetuating that one.  Hack'n'Slash is a derogatory term, shouldn't have used it.  

--Emily Care


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: contracycle on December 08, 2002, 05:36:16 AM
Quote from: MK Snyder

It may be a fairly accurate portrayal of some heterosexual men's homophobia, though. During the debate some years ago about the status of Gays in the US Armed Forces, I was quite impressed with how worried defenders of the "straight only" policy were that homosexual men would make unwanted advances on fellow soldiers.


Yes, I feel thats quite right.  I think the fear/feigned fear response that straight men often show to gay men is precisely because they anticipate the gay men will have the attitude towards them that they have toward women.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Uncle Dark on December 08, 2002, 12:03:50 PM
Daimon,

There are technical definitons of many -isms.  Moslty, they're used in the academy.  One of the important factors is that it isn't an -ism unless it is backed by and/or supports the current power structure.

And as far as "any accusation" being taken seriously, often they aren't taken seriously.  Unless the victim raises holy hell.  And one of the problems with discrimination cases is that juries are actually not likely to find in favor of victims of sublte discrimination and abuse.

If it were so easy to get justice for the problem, it wouldn't be such a problem.

Thoth,

"Positive sexism" is something of an oxymoron, since sexism is by definition bad.  Any stereotype, whether it appears superficially positive or not, is a handicap because it prevents people from seeing the whole person.

Back to an old point about the effects of sexism on men:
My main beef is having to pay the karmic/social bills for the actions of assholes.  That's why I devote time to things like this discussion.  Every little bit of the problem I can erode away is less stuff the next guy has to deal with.

Lon


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: damion on December 08, 2002, 12:48:21 PM
Quote from: Uncle Dark
Daimon,

There are technical definitons of many -isms.  Moslty, they're used in the academy.  One of the important factors is that it isn't an -ism unless it is backed by and/or supports the current power structure.

And as far as "any accusation" being taken seriously, often they aren't taken seriously.  Unless the victim raises holy hell.  And one of the problems with discrimination cases is that juries are actually not likely to find in favor of victims of sublte discrimination and abuse.

If it were so easy to get justice for the problem, it wouldn't be such a problem.


Agreed.  I was speaking of theory rather than practice. Because, as you said an -ism is supported by the current power structure, an accusation must be taken seriously, because the tendency of the dominant power structure is to cover it up. This makes it difficult to to uphold both the rights of the victim and the accused, because it's hard to to tell the difference between subtle discrimination and false accusations.  You knew that though, so I'll give up.

Emily(et al):Do women actually want anything different in RPG's than men do?  (One of the strongest hack/slashers I ever met was female)
If they do, is it an actual difference or one imposed by society? (Yeah, that's probably not answerable. Nature vs Nurture, ect....)
Should the difference be taken into account? can it be taken into account?

Does it matter? The Sarah effect emily mentioned seems to be more of a GNS disfunction than a male-female thing. (Admittably the way it's protrayed could be considered sexist, the males hack and slash and sarah wants to negotiate, but anyway...)


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: MK Snyder on December 08, 2002, 01:35:05 PM
I don't care for "positive sexism" either; because there are women who enjoy a good hack'n'slash. Me, for example.

Expanding the range of RPG's beyond designs that facilitate hack'n'slash is a good goal in itself, getting more players (both male and female) and also allowing RPG's to be played throughout life/moods/PMS cycles of individuals. Sometimes, you just want to kill things.

Sometimes, you don't.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: M. J. Young on December 08, 2002, 07:54:17 PM
Quote from: thoth
There has been a lot of talk about negative sexism towards females, but what about positive sexism?

I guess I'm getting back into this discussion.

In one of the wonderful courses I had with Professor Robert Lipkin back in law school, he abruptly raised a question very much on point here. In college, he remembered, there was this tension about how to treat girls. If you held the door open for them, you were sexist; if you did not hold the door open for them, you were a heel. How could you navigate this treacherous situation, without ever giving offense either for holding or not holding doors?

I knew the answer immediately; it was the same answer I'd found when I was in college. (In fact, as soon as he asked the question he looked right at me and told me not to answer; he knew I knew.) But the answer seems rather obvious, if you step back from the question. I'll come back to it.

In regard to the question, whether there's positive sexism, I'd take a cue from libel law on this point. In its essence, a person has been libeled (or slandered if it is not in print) if a statement is made which is 1) false and 2) objectionable to the individual such that he regards it damaging to his reputation.


As an aside, it should be noted that there are higher standards for public persons; that is, if you have put yourself in the public eye, and someone makes a false and objectionable statement about you, you might have to prove that it was false, that it was damaging, and/or that the person making the statement knew it to be false or acted with wreckless disregard as to whether it was true. But for ordinary people, it is sufficient that the statement be false and objectionable.

This aspect of "objectionable" is extremely subjective, and is where the problem often lies. For example, someone might say of me that I was an Eagle Scout; in fact, I was not. Now, if I'm flattered that that mistake has been made, it's not a problem; but if I know a guy who became an Eagle Scout after urinating on a kid for no better reason than that nobody liked the kid (yeah, I do), and I don't want to be associated with that kind of person, I might feel that my reputation has been damaged. Similarly, the phrase "a good Christian" might be applied to someone who happens to be Jewish, and even though the writer meant it well it could be taken very badly. Those are cases in which what was meant as a compliment can wind up as a libel suit.

It becomes even more subjective than that, sometimes, as it can very much involve the identity of the speaker. In one of the Rush Hour movies, Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan enter a bar dominated by blacks. Tucker tells Chan "follow my lead, do what I do". He then starts talking to the patrons, saying "Hey, My Nigger," working his way through the crowd. No foul, no harm--they nod and accept the greeting. Chan then repeats the same greeting a few minutes later, and before he knows it, he's in a fight--because those same words in his mouth are offensive.

So there's really no such thing as "positive discrimination" except on an individual basis. A man telling a female coworker that she has beautiful eyes could be a compliment or grounds for a sexual harrassment suit, depending on how she thinks it was meant.

As to the doors problem, the answer is simpler than you thought: hold the door for everyone. That way you're neither being impolite to women nor treating them different. The solution to the problem is to treat everyone as equally special.

--M. J. Young


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: thoth on December 08, 2002, 10:59:47 PM
Quote from: M. J. Young
So there's really no such thing as "positive discrimination" except on an individual basis. A man telling a female coworker that she has beautiful eyes could be a compliment or grounds for a sexual harrassment suit, depending on how she thinks it was meant.

Positive discrimination is anything that benefits the discriminated, or is perceived as a good thing in general by the group the discriminated is in. Yes it's subjective. Yes it's still stereotyping. My intent wasn't to be bugged on the point of Positive Discrimination. My intent was to ask whether it's a less bad, or even good thing. Just needed to voice some irritation at that, but don't take it personally :)

I'm going to use a possibly crass  example. If someone said "All male RPG gamers have big penes". It's a stereotype, but how many males are going to be offended by it? I feel it would be positive discrimination because the general response would be more likely to be positive than negative.

Quote from: M. J. Young also
As to the doors problem, the answer is simpler than you thought: hold the door for everyone. That way you're neither being impolite to women nor treating them different. The solution to the problem is to treat everyone as equally special.

I've had women hold the door for me. Makes me wonder if the whole issue of holding the door and sex has become meaningless as it's gone from 'men should hold the door for women' to 'men should hold the door for everyone' to 'anyone should hold the door for everyone'. Although that may not be widespread, and is still going from B to C instead of 'gone'.

Which brings me to another question; how much, if any, discrimination do females take part in? Does it pale in comparison to male discrimination? Does it go hand in hand, maybe reinforcing each other?


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Uncle Dark on December 09, 2002, 12:50:09 AM
Amos,

Hurm.  I thought I'd been clear... what you're calling "positive sexism" may be less harmful, but I still think it's a bad thing.  No offense taken.

As far as women discriminating against men, yeah, it happens.  Sometimes it inspires men to discriminate back.  But the two discriminations are qualitatively different, because the way the past experiences of women (in general) bring them to feel it differently than (most) men would, given their pasts.

Think about it this way:
One person pokes another in the belly.  The other person pokes back.  Objectively, the same action.  But if one person has been repeatedly punched in the stomach, and still carries the bruises, then they'll react much differently than the one who hasn't been hit so hard or so often.  Are they unjustified in doing so?  Probably their friend did not mean to cause pain, but still did.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Emily Care on December 09, 2002, 06:57:24 AM
Quote from: damion
Do women actually want anything different in RPG's than men do?  (One of the strongest hack/slashers I ever met was female)


From the responses we've had here, looks like female gamers want a range of things, just as male gamers do.  

It's probably easier to say what might turn off female players, rather than to say "Women want X". It makes sense for game designers to be aware of sexism in their games, and avoid it. Let's see, we had a "do" list for gaming groups here, maybe a "do" or "don't" list for game design would be helpful as well.  "Do" include examples of male and female characters for different classes or types of characters, as appropriate for setting. And if at least provide female characters of substance to be played if there are limitations on what women can do in the setting. "Do" use both pronouns in examples of play when refering to players, gms and all game participants. (This one makes a difference for me when I read a game, at least.)  What else?

It seems to me that encouraging or at least giving examples of players playing characters of the opposite gender is another way to break down barriers, but I'm not sure if others would agree. A game that explicitly required all players to play an opposite gendered character might be an interesting exercise.  Roleplaying games actually represent an opportunity for folks to play with, explore and gain better insight about what gender differences mean or don't mean.

And most importantly, we should continue to design from the heart, or whatever--design games that we want to play, as folks have been talking about on other threads here.  Quality and variety are going to help bring in new gamers regardless of the gender.  

There's a Buffie the Vampire Slayer game out recently or soon. It will be interesting to see if this has a gender related response among consumers.

--Emily Care


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Clay on December 09, 2002, 08:34:59 AM
I'm not sure that requiring (or even encouraging) people to play characters of an opposite gender is a desirable thing. Watching males get in touch with their feminine side via roleplaying is more than a little uncomfortable. I've seen it, and I didn't like it.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Emily Care on December 09, 2002, 09:03:47 AM
Quote from: Clay
Watching males get in touch with their feminine side via roleplaying is more than a little uncomfortable. I've seen it, and I didn't like it.


What was it like?


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: damion on December 09, 2002, 09:09:55 AM
Quote from: Emily Care
Quote from: damion
A game that explicitly required all players to play an opposite gendered character might be an interesting exercise.  Roleplaying games actually represent an opportunity for folks to play with, explore and gain better insight about what gender differences mean or don't mean.


I'm just imagining each group playing it's stereotypes of the other. It would probably be pretty amusing, and educational.
I suppose this is the should RPG's be educational, or just fun, but that's a new thread. (I know, I know, learning should be fun. Not in the american school system though.)


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: contracycle on December 09, 2002, 10:55:59 AM
Quote from: Emily Care
Quote from: Clay
Watching males get in touch with their feminine side via roleplaying is more than a little uncomfortable. I've seen it, and I didn't like it.


What was it like?



Hmm... I seldom play female characters because I don't think I can really get the contextual experience; I don't think RP really works like that becuase there is nothing but your own expectations to work from, it all feels too recursive for me.  For this reason I am more comfortable with characters of my own gender.

But this does prompt a very specific DON'T on my part.  DON'T assume that female players should be prompted, encouraged, or expected of their own volition to choose healer/cleric/non-combatant characters.


Title: Sexism and gaming (split)
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 09, 2002, 11:04:30 AM
Hello,

It's time for everyone to take a full 12 hours, as of individually reading this message, to lay off. It's time to stop reacting and start reflecting.

I doubt many will comply with this next point, but I suggest that if you want to continue, print the current thread out in its entirety, read it over, and isolate any major points you think have been made.

This topic is not closed, although I'd prefer that this thread be closed. Feel free to address any single one of the points as a new thread topic.

Please honor this post regarding the 12-hour off period.

Best,
Ron