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Author Topic: Women at the forge  (Read 12711 times)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2003, 02:45:56 PM »

Hi Jeffrey,

While you're all fired-up about the issue, ready with your weapons and eager to join battle?

Yes, I would very much mind starting such a thread and I will not do it under these circumstances.

You're talking to someone raised in a feminist environment to a significant degree, as well as someone who's organized womens' conferences, participated in female-centered self-defense training, and who's been around the block on these issues in general. I am significantly suspicious of the attitude, be it held by male or female, that someone absolutely knows what is right and wrong about gender issues and interaction and can tell us allllll about it.

As content moderator, I absolutely require threads such as you describe to be venues for discourse and coming to a shared understanding, not stumps for people to wave around their little 3x5 card ideologies. My discourse standards for a sexism (etc) thread are extremely high.

Here are a couple of other points of view, held by me, that would serve as constraints on such a thread.

1) The term "offensive" is not defined and cannot serve as a basis for any sort of meaningful discussion. Actual harm can be identified and discussed - on-line, it ranges from emotional abuse, to marginalizing, to power-theft, and to instilling fear of losing status. Sexism and similar issues should be discussed in terms of observed, actual harm, which is real, and common enough that it deserves our attention far more than inferred and vague pseudo-events such as "offensiveness."

2) Deconstructing "how we talk" is one of the big red herrings. A real issue about gender interactions, sexism, and so on is always best addressed in terms of the work at hand, in terms of a shared agenda that itself is not about "getting along better" nor any other gender-activist thing.

There is only one shared agenda at the Forge. It was discussed in the The five percent thread, which I rank among the most important threads ever at this site.

If anyone would like to begin a thread properly centered on that agenda, and in line with my two points above, in regard to "women [or whoever or whatever] at the Forge," then please feel free.

Best,
Ron
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Jeffrey Miller
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Posts: 191


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« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2003, 06:48:13 PM »

Ron, I'm a little disappointed that you choose to start this conversation in this mode;  we had several messages back in forth in private that contained no trace of acrimony, anger, or passionate and righteous anger from my corner, and I had expected a thoughtful, engaging, and above all respectful response.

You seem to have what I can only see as willful misunderstanding of both what I'm saying and the manner in which I'm saying it.  In  neither my public postings nor my private messages with both you, 'greyorm', and other members of the Forge community have I proposed that I have any special license to insight, knowledge, or wisdom that I'm descending from on high to gift to the masses;  I would expect better than straw men from you, Ron.

In all of our correspondence, you've shown a decided hostility towards both this topic and myself, and I can only summise that you've bad experiences with people around this subject, a situation that I certainly dislike being made a whipping boy for.  If you can't be involved in a community discussion on this subject because it causes a negative reaction for you, I can certainly understand that, but as I hope I made clear in my private letters this afternoon, I will regret losing your insight and thoughts.

As for credentials, I firmly don't believe that we need to start bringing our CVs to the table.  Everyone who is both a participant in modern society and here at the Forge has a worthwhile perspective and experience to share.

Quote
As content moderator, I absolutely require threads such as you describe to be venues for discourse and coming to a shared understanding, not stumps for people to wave around their little 3x5 card ideologies. My discourse standards for a sexism (etc) thread are extremely high.


I agree!  Anyone who says otherwise is willfully misrepresenting me.

Whether or not I agree with the points that you propose as groundrules, and as much as I understand that for many intents and purposes, you can "take your ball and go home" I think its intellectually stifling to place straw-man constraints upon a supposed conversation that you're not willing to let happen in the first place.  Are you actually offering to start a thread on either the incident/post in question, or upon the nature/role/place of sexism and/or gender identity politics, or are your points as outline made, in the absence of any thread of rebuttal, as points in an argument? To be honest, its difficult for me to understand which.

Quote
1) The term "offensive" is not defined and cannot serve as a basis for any sort of meaningful discussion. Actual harm can be identified and discussed - on-line, it ranges from emotional abuse, to marginalizing, to power-theft, and to instilling fear of losing status. Sexism and similar issues should be discussed in terms of observed, actual harm, which is real, and common enough that it deserves our attention far more than inferred and vague pseudo-events such as "offensiveness."


While I agree with you to a certain extent that these are good ground rules for a constructive discussion, there does exists a standard for offensiveness, as defined by the community in which it exists.

In this medium we are limited only to the words at hand, so while deconstruction of those words is generally fruitless, it is useful to examine the way in which we choose to communicate, and come to a deeper understanding and comprehension in regards to the impact and implication of our word choices within a larger social context.

Quote
There is only one shared agenda at the Forge. It was discussed in the The five percent thread, which I rank among the most important threads ever at this site.


I'm a little bothered;  you seem to imply that I have an agenda that is outside the scope of the Forge.  First off, I don't have an agenda in this area - nor, do I think, is it good form to accuse or imply that someone who is speaking up against what they perceive as either sexism, racism, or some other -ism of having any agenda other than good social behavior within a community.

Secondly, this topic is being raised in the context of a discussion about the lack of women (or perceived lack thereof) here at the Forge.  I would like to think that a discussion of gender norms within the gaming community and gender behavior is not only germain, but is wholly appropriate, and can be conducted in a respectful, honest manner.

-jeffrey-
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greyorm
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Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


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« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2003, 07:24:53 PM »

Quote from: talysman
even if someone isn't "trying to get laid" (as Raven suggests,) it sounds a bit sexist to treat women differently when women don't ask to be treated differently. Thomas, I don't mean to suggest you are being sexist (and I'm sure Raven isn't suggesting you're looking for romance.)

John is correct: I am not suggesting Thomas (or anyone else) is looking for romance or sex through the desire for more women at the Forge.

Like Ron, I'm sure much this may be misunderstood, but I am asking those who desire such to examine the issue they're asking about more thoroughly: what is the particularly necessary reason to refer to the sex of someone else, given that gender distinction and ratio makes absolutely no difference to the activity?

Will conversing with someone who is "a woman" mean the conversation is better? More qualitative? Of greater depth? More interesting? Result in better design? Does it even matter? No, of course not.

As a man, defining a fellow person as a woman only needs to be done when there is some importance to that fact: and the only time "being a woman" is important is as a social-sexual factor -- else please describe to me why being a woman would have any bearing on discussion, design, or conversation?

The same goes for African Americans, Russians, Queers, Christians, Bhuddists, Men, etc. It doesn't matter what you are as it has no bearing.

To paraphrase Ron paraphrasing Julie, "Gender: So what?"
Does knowing that I am a woman or a man make any real difference that my gender needs to be known or that my posts need to be viewed as "coming from a woman" or "coming from a man," or is it more of a hindrance as we begin to alter our social interactions based on gender issues?

Gender is only of social-sexual concern. It serves no other purpose in our interactions with others.
Hence my cheeky statement -- gender/race/sexuality are only a factor in social(-sexual) venues, not in discussions, not in conversations, not in communities -- it's extraneous information that has no bearing without some sort of other problem behind it.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #18 on: April 22, 2003, 09:12:40 PM »

Hello,

Jeffrey, you see me as reasonable and then responding with anger. I see you as posting in anger and then becoming reasonable. You state that no acrimony, etc, was present in your messages/posts, and I strongly disagree. I could state there's none in mine, including the above, and you (I presume) disagree. You're disappointed with my response, and I'm disappointed in your posts. Clearly something is wrong.

So we're not getting anywhere with "who got mad." Neither of us sees ourselves as the mad one, and I doubt either is going to budge. I'll drop it if you will, he said, eyeing the other fellow warily. That's a joke. I do think we'd do well to drop it, and I'm not speaking as moderator in doing so (which would be unfair).

You wrote,

Quote
Are you actually offering to start a thread on either the incident/post in question, or upon the nature/role/place of sexism and/or gender identity politics, or are your points as outline made, in the absence of any thread of rebuttal, as points in an argument?


The former, although technically, not me starting such a thread but rather anyone who'd like to, yourself included. I've provided my criteria for it as moderator. The points are not, themselves, an argument.

I don't see them as straw men, by the way. I consider them absolutely necessary ground rules for any constructive gender-issue discussion. That's my moderator call, which I am pulling, in this case.

Here's another one. "Good social behavior" in terms of gender issues, offensiveness, sexism, and similar things remains terra incognita. No one knows what "good" means in this regard, not prescriptively. I consider surety about this to be, itself, an agenda, and highly suspect.

For instance, at work, I can hold and enforce certain standards about these issues in my classroom - to a great extent, people are paying in order to have someone do this, in a learning environment. But I can't do that at the Forge, not even as content moderator. That would be worse than suspect; it'd be arrantly wrong. It'd be wrong for anyone.

I'd like to take this post to the issue, then, of identifying what "the community" holds as its standard for good social behavior, which I maintain is a very dodgy subject, and not immediately identifiable. However, I'm both physically and emotionally exhausted and that will have to wait until tomorrow, a prospect which doesn't fill me with joy.

Best,
Ron
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jrs
Member

Posts: 373


« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2003, 06:19:36 AM »

Jeffrey, Ron, don't do this.  Do we truly need to see a conversation about community standards here?  At the moment it only seems to be the two of you arguing the point.  Watching the two of you starting to puff up over what's appropriate is not pretty.  If nothing else, throwing down the gauntlet, "You gonna start a topic on that?", is not the way to resolve this misunderstanding.

For the record, I am in agreement with everything that greyorm has posted in this thread.  And, I was not offended by his first post, on the contrary, I thought it was spot on.  I also had Belushi running through my head, "The little girls?  How much for the little girls?"  It made me laugh.  So if you want to label me a sexist, go for it, I don't mind.  

This has gone way off topic, and I suggest that everyone go back to talking about gaming.

Julie
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2003, 06:27:32 AM »

Hiya,

So it's been, since last posting, five hours of semi-stressful role-playing (new people), plus grading papers, plus a shutdown of public transportation on the way to work ...

The good news is that Jeffrey and I took it to private mail and did OK there. Julie gets the unsolicited-but-welcome moderator prize for the thread, I think.

Best,
Ron
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clehrich
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« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2003, 06:41:01 AM »

For what it's worth, I agree with Julie.  Here's a few points that might be worth discussion, IMO; otherwise this all seems pointless.

1. Is there any reason to think that women are actually avoiding the Forge, or avoiding posting at the Forge?  I don't know how you could find out, but certainly sheer numbers aren't useful absent exactly parallel data from other RPG fora and the statistics of the hobby in general, neither of which (I suspect) will be available.

2. Does anyone know why RPGs are perceived as a male thing?  Is there any way to analyze this intelligently (i.e. not just saying that D&D was all about killing, and women don't like that, which is sexist if perhaps generously-minded)?

3. It appears, from this thread and a few others, that some men are quite concerned that RPGs are perceived as predominantly male, and that there do seem to be fewer women players around.  Is there some way to attract more women to the hobby, and is this a worthwhile goal in itself?  Raven's point, that the only reason to do this is to increase chances of a liaison, made sense in that context but not this.  The argument made for affirmative action lately might fit: RPGs would be more fun and more rewarding if the players represented a wider spectrum of society at large.  Does this argument hold here, and is there an intelligent way to achieve such a goal?

Now I'm going back to thinking about RPGs specifically.
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Chris Lehrich
Thomas Tamblyn
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Posts: 105


« Reply #22 on: April 23, 2003, 07:19:25 AM »

Oops.

I think I'd better defend my motives for starting this thread since I don't want anybody thinking the worse of me for something I wasn't trying to do.  This wasn't supposed to be a big deal, I just saw (thought I saw) something unusual and wondered why.

It wasn't an issue of "are there enough women", I didn't want to propose any changes, I wasn't trying to be an activist for women's issues, I CERTAINLY wasn't advocating a 'woman of the forge' membership drive.  It was a perfectly selfish inquiry meant to benefit noone and nothing but me and my curiosity.

On the other hand, whether I was trying to or not, I stirred up a hornets nest and I apologise for any personal offense or disruption to the forge casued by my starting this thread.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #23 on: April 23, 2003, 08:04:05 AM »

The following thread discussed these issues in depth:

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=4433

Mike
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Jeffrey Miller
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« Reply #24 on: April 23, 2003, 10:57:22 AM »

Quote from: jrs
Jeffrey, Ron, don't do this.  Do we truly need to see a conversation about community standards here?  At the moment it only seems to be the two of you arguing the point.  Watching the two of you starting to puff up over what's appropriate is not pretty.  If nothing else, throwing down the gauntlet, "You gonna start a topic on that?", is not the way to resolve this misunderstanding.


But HE started it! ;)

Just kidding.  Seriously. Er.. I mean, I'm serious about just kidd- oh never mind :)

We should probably spawn a new thread or just shut up all together, but real quickly I just wanted to say a little something about why I think having more women involved in gaming, and specifically the Forge, is worthwhile and important.

'Greyorm' posted something to the effect that there isn't a difference between men and women that makes an impact in this forum.  While I agree that there isn't a functional difference in capability, talent, or any measurement of output, it seems self-evident to me that women and men have far different life experiences, perspectives, and sensibilities based on differing societal pressures and roles.  Leaving aside the fodder for stand-up comedians regarding whether or not these differences are bridgable, or if women should be from Pluto and men from the Great Loopy-Loop Hoo-Haw planet, men and women are going to bring these differences with them to the gaming table (a table inclusive of both play and game design.)

The perspective that female game designers can bring to the discussion is important, its a viewpoint and experience I'd like to hear more from, and its something that we should support.

..and that's all I'm gonna say about that.

-jeffrey-

(..and no, Ron and I aren't getting all puffed up at each other. He and I have very different modes of communication that lead to difficulties in getting ideas and emotions properly communicated to each other in this medium.  We'll buy each other a diet Coke at GenCon and say "Hey.. you agree with me!" :D )
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #25 on: April 23, 2003, 11:33:33 AM »

I'm a pragmatic guy, and while I only have a tangential interest in what's being debated, I gotta ask:

It sounds like you are very interested in bringing women to the Forge. Cool.

So how are you going to go about this? What can you do to bring more women into the Forge?
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The Story Games Community - It's like RPGNet for small press games and new play styles.
Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #26 on: April 23, 2003, 03:12:43 PM »

Before the thread is closed, the original post was posted mostly because of a curiousity on where the female Forge members are. The question can be extended, and rightly so, to other groups like gays, African-Americans, Asians, etc. I don't think there is an answer to the how-to handle this, except to point of Forge precident on a similar issue, the use of one's real name.

Not to reopen that whole issue again, but to point out that it eventually settled down into "we encourage you to use your real name here. You do not have to if you do not wish to, but we encourage it."

The point here is Forge member have the right to be identified or recognized as whomever they wish. I was "pblock" when I first joined the Forge, but I started using my real name based on my own choice. I believe this should extend to whether a Forge member wishes to be identified with or by their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, country of origin, or whatever may also be applicable. It should be the member's choice to mention such thing. If they wish to share such things, fine so long as it is conducive to the sort of discussion the Forge was made for. If they wish to not disclose such information, that is also their right. As far as the purpose of discussion on the Forge, these matter are a non-issue in most cases.

That said, I personally encourage members to make certain their own gender is clear if only to avoid "pronoun trouble."

-White American Male of Welsh descent.
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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #27 on: April 23, 2003, 04:01:51 PM »

Quote from: Jeffrey Miller
The perspective that female game designers can bring to the discussion is important, its a viewpoint and experience I'd like to hear more from, and its something that we should support.

I guessed that this train of thought as a response would pop its head up and chirp, so I came prepared! Yes, I agree, having a variety of different opinions and angles to come at an issue is important.

However, all you need is one woman to get the "female perspective," though that brings to light the question of whether the "female perspective" is so different from the "male perspective" that gender is an actual issue in regards to an individual's response.

For me, the differences between people are far more important than the differences between sexes. And I say that from a training background, where as a member of a group of instructors in a traditionally male field, we noted that our female students always had very interesting questions and approaches to issues in comparison to the usual provided by male students.

No, women have as diverse ideas among themselves as a group as do men -- in fact, the "male perspective"/"female perspective" is seriously flawed as anything except a general tendency in populations, and has no actual bearing on individuals.

The differences between two individuals (regardless of sex) are enough to satisfy a variety of different perspectives, unless the perspective of gender is of actual relevance to the discussion: such as the reasons women specifically are or might be marginalized among gamers (which I note is a subject already discussed).

So, does this idea of "female perspective" have anything to do with "recruiting" more female members or encouraging them to post more? And if we consider a group of members neither feel like posting more nor is there a problem, social or otherwise preventing them from doing so if they did wish to? No; this all hearkens back to the 1% and 99% statement Ron made.

Simply, I say, find an actual problem in regards to gender or in discussion that requires a gender-based distinction, or this is all very much a useless "fact" to consider or point out in this thread's context.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Jeffrey Miller
Member

Posts: 191


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« Reply #28 on: April 23, 2003, 04:10:19 PM »

Quote from: greyorm
However, all you need is one woman to get the "female perspective," though that brings to light the question of whether the "female perspective" is so different from the "male perspective" that gender is an actual issue in regards to an individual's response.


I don't think so at all.  An individual can in no way speak towards the experience of an entire class of people.

I'm not sure if I understand you correctly; you seem to say that there is no difference between what men and women experience within the society, or that there is indeed a difference, but that different experience has little impact on the person.  Am I reading you wrong?

Quote
For me, the differences between people are far more important than the differences between sexes. And I say that from a training background, where as a member of a group of instructors in a traditionally male field, we noted that our female students always had very interesting questions and approaches to issues in comparison to the usual provided by male students.


You say that individual difference are more important than gender differences, but then lump all your female students into a single group from which spawns questions and approaches which, when compared to those of your traditional male group of students, are "interesting."  Doesn't this sort of point to the idea that the lens of gender supplies a different view and approach to the world (whether that difference is inate or socialized, we'll leave on the shelf for now.)

You go on further to "prove" that the lack of women posting is by their own choice, and that there is no problem if we as a community are erecting barriers, actual or social, to their participation.  That's not a situation I'm comfortable with leaving alone - we should be encouraging all constructive forms of participation.

-jeffrey-
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jrs
Member

Posts: 373


« Reply #29 on: April 23, 2003, 04:56:48 PM »

Hi guys.  It's me again.  I'm just dropping by to let you know that I won't be contributing to the current discussion about the elusive "female perspective".  Honestly, I find the topic tedious and uninteresting.  And, unless Clinton devises a means to authenticate my or any other female posters xx chromosomes, there's no way to validate that a "female perspective" has come to light.

Have fun!

Julie
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