Sunday, 1 July 2012

Sunday Sermon: Is our hobby misogynistic?

Botticelli's masterpiece - The Birth of Venus

I'll be honest I started this article months and months and months ago now. I actually started writing it back when I first started writing this Blog, so it's almost a year in the making. Yes that means it didn't start out as a Sunday Sermon originally, and has morphed from being a series of articles dissecting various aspects of the hobby into a single article, and then back and forth again multiple times. In fact so many I've lost count. So why the hell has it taken this long to finish, and what finally prompted me to get it done? Well it's taken so long because it's such a mammoth and emotive subject to cover, and a very difficult one to broach. It also doesn't help that I'm a man writing from a male's perspective on issue that is about how the hobby effects and indeed portrays females. Lets be clear here, if I'm not careful this could come across as patronizing, condescending, tripe masquerading as feminism. It probably does, and no doubt somebody will point that out to me, but my intentions are I hope at least in the right place, even if 'ownership' of the issues contained within it are difficult. I simply want to start a sensible and hopefully rational debate about some of the issues I'm going to raise here, if I do that, even if I get shot down in flames it'll be mission accomplished for me. So what got me back to writing the article. Well it was that knucklehead SinSynn and this article, and me reviewing the Gilded Saint Dragon Hunter.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau - The Birth of Venus, clearly a popular subject with artists I've been asked if these sorts of painting are any different to depictions of women in our hobby.

As I say it's not a very easy topic to write about, and if you wade in with your size 10 boots with your tact module set to zero you are liable to stand on a landmine, and get blown to pieces. But, it is a subject that I feel needs broaching, if for no other reason than the very simple fact that our hobby is systematically ignoring 50% of the population, and in some respects actively putting them off of the hobby. Now I'm no capitalist, and I'm certainly not about to make an argument for the better treatment of women purely based on wealth generation and capitalism... but come on! Ignoring women / girls / females / chicks / hotties is just bad business surely? So OK I'm probably not the best persona to tackle the issues, but I'm willing to give it a go. Besides, I'm often told I have a girls name (Jody) so I figure that must give me some credentials right? Yeah, I thought not. I didn't however seek to produce an article purely from my own perspective originally, although ultimately that is what I have done, as I've got to say I felt it was the safest way to proceed in the end. So yeah this is purely my opinion, even though over the last 10 months or so I have spoken to many 'girl gamers' (even that tag could be considered condescending and sexist) about their experiences and more importantly what they think.

Specifically I was asked how the Venus Di Milo differed from...

The one thing that has struck me, and continues to strike me is that many women find the fact that this topic has to be broached at all annoying, insulting and condescending in and of itself. But, most did feel it needed tackling, for a myriad of personal and broader social reasons. I actually really wanted to try and get a guest female author in to write this article initially, but none were forthcoming, or ultimately willing to help me out on this score and I can respect their reasons... even if it does annoy me slightly that I don't get a Sunday off writing! That's part of the reason why it's taken me so long to write it, I was genuinely hoping to pass the buck I guess, and abdicate a bit of responsibility over the 'ownership' of the issue. Yeah, ultimately I was being a big cowardly cry baby, for not wanting to tackle the issue of patriachy and sexism, not just in the hobby, but wider society. I'm not normally a chicken, so I rolled my sleeves up and finally got on with it. Often when us males stand up and say 'hey I'm a feminist and I think it's shitty society treats 50% of the population this way' we get it in the neck from both sides. We're either trying to get into some chicks knickers, or we can't possibly understand the crushing oppression and soul destroying objectification women are put through daily. We're apologists or clueless, but perhaps I'm not the only one, for my part I just didn't want to come off as yet another guy trying to defend the poor helpless 'girl gamers' out their...

...this miniature from Kabuki. I was specifically asked because both have their breasts on show and both have items of clothing slipped loosely around their waists. I know what I think, I'd be interested to hear what others think.

Because guess what? They don't need defending, and most of them are perfectly capable of kicking ass and taking names for themselves. That doesn't mean I get to wash my hands of the topic and walk away though (no matter how appealing that might seem right now).  I'm going to talk about me though for a while, and why it is that this topic is actually so important to me personally. I've been on a bit of a one man mission throughout my entire hobby career to try and recruit as many people as I can into the wonderful world of wargaming, and board gaming. This has always been an inclusive drive on my part and regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender or any other way of pigeon holing our complex individual identities. I have forced friends, partners, family members, work colleagues and complete strangers to have demo games. Regardless of whether they liked it or not! I'm actually one of those people who generally (yes I mean generally not genuinely) believes the world is a much better place because of its diversity, and I think our hobby could be made a much better place, and a far stronger past time if it were more diverse, but particularly if there was more female involvement at all levels. You see, wargaming is stubbornly clinging on to its role as the 'last bastion of male geekery' while in other geeky pursuits women are storming the gates. Certainly here in the UK that is true, it's also a predominantly white male geeky pursuit. Now I'm not saying that all white males are racist misogynists, or that even all white male hobbyists are racist misogynists. In my experience it's the opposite, actually most gamers I bump into are well adjusted liberals who are generally more open minded than the general population are... although that could just be the circles I move in.

Morpheus and Iris - Baron Pierre-Narcisse Guérin. You see in the world of art they study the male nude as well, while in our hobby... not so much. It seems to me this justification used for female objectification within all walks of life actually is a weak one. While any nude figure has a sexual side to it, sometimes that isn't the prime motivation for such pieces. Can we say the same about certain miniatures?

So there's the discord that I've found hard to reconcile. I meet many gamers from all over the country, many I'd describe as well educated, middle-class white males, and many hold liberal beliefs and will quite often stand up for those liberal beliefs. True there are also the odd whack job Nazi sympathisers too, but on the whole the people I see, meet and game with generally seem well adjusted and decent. So what's going on? What's wrong? Why in the UK at least, are there so few female gamers? Why so few gamers from different ethnic backgrounds? Why isn't our hobby more inclusive? Now I'm going to be honest here and say that this is something that has always baffled and indeed concerned me. I'm not going to tackle ethnicity issues right now, as that's just another huge topic in and of itself, but I will tackle our hobbies perceived and potentially misogynistic image, because it matters to me. You see I have a younger sister who I think its fair to say loved the hobby as much as I did when we were growing up. She had a thing for painting River Trolls, and any big beasties she could get her hands on actually. She loved her Night Goblin army too, and had a soft spot for Doom Divers and fanatics. I could also probably think of a few of her friends who'd actually sit and play board games with us 'males', and thought the miniatures were really 'cool'. However, at some point that all changed and suddenly they weren't really interested anymore.

Michelangelo's David is possibly one of the most famous 'nudes' in the world.

I'd always assumed that they'd just grown up, and decided toy soldiers weren't for them, maybe they'd discovered boys (or girls, I'm in inclusive mode today), ponies and teen magazines... turns out I couldn't have been more wrong. Looking back I realised my sisters love of the hobby started to wane when I started taking my armies to the local Games Workshop in Birmingham, and our local hobby club. This only occurred to me recently and looking back with all I've learned now as a grown man (if not exactly a grown up), I can see why. I'd kind of hoped it was because we were playing different sorts of game as opposed to the board games we mainly played as kids. Or that she had found other things and hobbies she was more into, after all she did do other things with her spare time. This it turns out was mere wishful thinking. No my sister told me some time ago she stopped playing Warhammer and other games because she didn't like going to the clubs and being the only 'girl' there, amongst teenage boys and socially awkward nerds who hit on her and were sexist towards her. Honestly when she said that too me many years ago now I was upset and a bit ashamed. Mainly because I was obviously not observant enough when I was younger to have noticed it, and secondly because my sister stopped doing something she loved and I was unable to stick up for her. If you're an older brother you'll understand how much that hurts.

But many of those people she has spoken about grew up to be really decent blokes, I know this because many of them I counted as my friends. One even went on to work at the Equalities Commission, and has turned out to be gay, so perhaps he was over compensating for something. I'm sure if I raised there behaviour with them now they'd be massively ashamed and embarrassed. Some of the others though, yeah, they were complete ass hats, and to the best of my knowledge have always remained ass hats. But, now I'm going to stick up for socially awkward teenage boys here a bit. Puberty isn't a great time for anyone. It's difficult and it's embarrassing for us all at times, I'm sure many of the males in these places meant no offence to my sister. Many I know were the butt of jokes and bullying at school themselves, it's often the reason why many males end up in such hobbies. Most teenagers aren't really aware of what is and isn't appropriate, and studies have genuinely shown that for some reason teenagers have all the empathy, tact and social understanding of a brick to the face. Both males and females during this period push their boundaries to find where the limits are. But imagine going through that period of your life surrounded by members of the opposite sex pointing your awkwardness out to you? Pushing your boundaries?

Flipping away from my personal experience for a short while I was contacted by a 15 / 16 year old girl on a message board back when I first started writing this article, and was asking for input. I shall call her 'Hit Girl' as that's what she asked me to call her. Good choice! She recounted a tale of walking into a local Games Workshop somewhere here in the UK. She described it in quite humorous tones, how it was like walking into a wild west cantina and the music stopping, how she nobody talked to her, and all the awkward shuffling that went on. She seemed confident and comfortable with it. I laughed as she described stereotypically socially awkward behaviour we've all seen... then she hit me with this bombshell... 'now imagine you're a 13 / 14 year old girl'. Here's exactly what she sent me word for word:

'Imagine you are walking into a Games Workshop for the first time. Imagine the shop is full of teenage males and young adult males wearing geeky T-shirts. A lot of them awkward teenage boys, some of them have grim levels of personal hygene that would fell an ox at 10 yards. Imagine them all turning round to stare at you as you set you figure case down carefully, as the room goes silent, like a wild west film. There's some whispering at the back of the room, some pointing and then some giggling. Most of the room turns their back on you and continues to go about their business, but some continue to stare at you intently, looking you up and down, like you've got an extra head or something. Now imagine you're a teenage girl in a room full of males in that situation... *censored by FLG* intimidating isn't it?'

I can't of course get anywhere close to understanding how she, or anyone for that matter would feel walking into that environment. She's lucky insofar that she got into the hobby through her dad who is really active in wargaimg, so she knew not all gamers were jerks. What if her dad wasn't a gamer though? It certainly doesn't sound all that welcoming, and it sounds positively inhospitable to me. Sadly I think that's arguably how most clubs and shops would appear to an outsider. Not just females. She described sexist comments and jokes, inappropriate behaviour, that went unchecked by older gamers for months, and the ago old classic of people talking to her breasts. Cringe worthy stuff, that genuinely made me feel uncomfortable hearing about and certainly not the way I'd like to hear our hobby portrayed. She described what I'd term typical laddish 'group-think' behaviour. No that doesn't excuse it.

Positive female role model or just a really bad excuse for scantily clad miniature?

This crap doesn't just go on in our hobby of course, males have been well recorded and documented jackasses for well over three millennia now. It's a wider societal problem and happens in all walks of life. But, that doesn't make it OK, or excuse it in any way shape or form. I also think the fact that in the words of the Flight of the Concords, the fact our hobby has 'too many dicks on the dance floor' only exacerbates the problem for the hobby. Now Hit Girl has told me not everyone she met that day in the shop turned out to be a dickhead or asshat, but that the asshats and dickheads were just allowed to get away with being sexist pricks. While at the Maelstrom Games once during a tournament I too witnessed similar male 'group-think' behaviour, there were a few women gamers about. One in particular who I'd spoken to months before about Malifaux and her Malifaux Battlefoam bag, as I was considering getting one. She walked passed a table I was standing at and just as she got out of earshot some twat said words to this effect, 'I bet her boobs get in the way and they knock scenery over when she plays',  his friend laughed. But, I could sense every other male in earshot cringe, but no one chimed up... except me, I've never been a shrinking violet and I said something like this 'my good man grow up. How old are you dear boy'. Probably with more gesticulation and swearing. As soon as I said it two others chipped in and he looked suitably chastised... after he tried making me out to be the bad guy because he was just 'having a laugh'.

At Warhammer World I once bumped into a female gamer I sort of knew, and had a brief chat with her about how the tournament was going. She rolled her eyes and said she wished people would stop asking her who her boyfriend was, the assumption being she couldn't possibly be there to game. Now I'm going to be honest here, I've made a similar 'boo boo' when working behind the tills at Games Workshop, I once told a women I'd seen in the shop multiple times with her boyfriend that it was really nice of her buying her boyfriend some mini's. Obviously I looked like a complete dick, because she told me they were for her. So I understand given how male orientated our hobby is that people would make that silly mistake, even though one shouldn't assume. What surprised me more though was the response she got when people found out she was playing with Dark Elves. The assumption was she was playing them because of Witch Elves and scantily clad sorceresses... the truth was she was playing them because this was 7th Ed fantasy and they were 'bent' as she put it. She was taking them because of cheap crossbows and hydras, like everyone else. I was a bit surprised that according to her many male gamers (not all) had assumed her reasons for playing would be different to theirs. She said that this wasn't common on at all Tournaments, but that at Throne of Skulls type events because it was a different crowd it did happen sometimes. There was also an article written last year of BoLS about a womens experience at Adepticon 2011 (sorry I can't find the link) that spoke of some pretty piss poor behaviour. These could be rare incidents, clearly they're not one offs as there are more than one of them, but I am told by other females in the hobby that such occurrences are rare, but when they happen they have a huge impact. Recently Toatl Fan Girl wrote an article in response to this Chickhammer article.

The least we can do is hear her out.

So while it's not all bad, lets not try and pretend it's all good. I've read the Chickhammer article multiple times now, and while I think Total Fan Girl makes some really good points and looks at it in a more level headed manner, I'm not quick so ready to dismiss Chickhammer's experiences. Perhaps it's the psychologist in me, but when someone says they have a problem I'm inclined to hear them out. I'm not going to comment on every point she makes, I'd urge you all to go read it for yourselves if you haven't already, and also read Total Fan Girls response to it, but what I will say is Chckhammer has a point about a sort of all pervasive 'vibe' or general air about the hobby not being welcoming of women. There is a trend of posting imagines of semi-nude women all over Blogs, like we're all little boys still at school... no doubt some of us are. There's also a general trend toward sexist remarks and ill-advised humour, jokes about rape... yeah, I still shake my head at that... unless it's wallet rape, because of new shines, not cool. I understand that many guys say it's guys just doing what guys do, but guess what, men used to think it was perfectly OK not that long ago to rape their wives, it was their married right and the law was on their side. In fact in some countries that still goes on, and the law backs men up. I'd like to think that progress has taught the vast majority of men that such behaviour is totally abhorrent, so men 'just being men' isn't an acceptable excuse for being a bit of a dick, is it?

All too often this sort of behaviour in groups of males is allowed to slide, or even worse positively encouraged and reinforced. Who can say the most derogatory or sexist thing about an attractive female often becomes a game... and it's childish and it's puerile... and it goes on an awful lot more than many men would like to admit. Most men will have been out on the town with the 'lads' and got a little too drunk, on Bacardi Breezers and Baileys... I mean larger and Bourbon... phew don't worry my penis is still intact.. and no doubt the testosterone might have been allowed to replace common sense and decency where the control of our mouths and verbalisation of what should remain internal thoughts are concerned. But it isn't acceptable, even if I find it understandable that such behaviour happens, and yes I have been guilty of such behaviour in the past. I've been a dick in my younger days I'm sure, and I hope I've grown up enough to the point that I'm not a male chauvinist pig at any point in my life. We all make mistakes as we're growing up, be it ill-advised advances, or lewd behaviour unbecoming a gentlemen. You get put down, you get embarrassed, you dust yourself off and you learn nobody really falls for the line 'you're invited to a party in my pants'... trust me it doesn't work, not even when being ironic. But does our hobby make such sexist and loutish male behaviour more likely, or does it just give the impression that it is?

This just looks silly to me.
Well I think that it does a bit of both. I'm going to tackle the thorny issue of sexy or maybe more accurately sexist miniatures now, although the thin line between these two categories is blurry and subjective at best. Although somebody over at Tentakel Games gave it a pretty good go. It's something that is cropping up more and more in our hobby as more companies pump these sorts of miniatures out. There must be a market for them. Be it Kingdom Deaths Pin-up range, Ax Faction's two miniatures, or indeed any number of scantily clad females with unfeasibly large bosoms and curvacious figures on display for the titillation and pleasure of the heterosexual male viewer. Now I'm going to be brutally honest here, I like the female form as much as the next guy. I like looking at it, and every now and then when given the chance I like 'interacting' with it! And I think there is nothing wrong with me appreciating an attractive women, I'm lucky enough to have found one who is willing to put up with me and live with me, and I admire her on a daily basis. So yes, I like a buxom, sexy women to look at, and yes I have brought sexy looking female miniatures because I like them too. Am I wrong to do so though? That's a very difficult question to answer. I don't believe in censorship, I hope and believe that people are for the most part able to discern fantasy from reality and to be able to pick and choose when things are appropriate and when things are not. I'm not a moral guardian, and I'm not here to tell you to stop looking at pornography, or to not buy the Kernsa, the Sword-Melusine, because she's got her boobs out, her ridiculous cartoonish boobs, and indeed her lady bits on show. I won't for any number of reasons do that...

But mainly it's because it's not my place to decide what can and can't be viewed by others. I would normally argue that freedom of expression and speech should trump such concerns miniatures raise, but freedom from harm could trump even that, but define harm. Miniatures like this do have a wider impact than on just those individuals who like them and buy them. I also think we should be honest about what these miniatures represent, apart from a scary possibility that some male sculptors have never see a naked women before. They're softcore pornography. I always ask myself the question would I be happy showing this miniature off to my mom, my partner who I love or indeed my imaginary daughter? Would I be happy with it on my display shelf? If the answer is no to any of those then I have to ask why am I buying it and is it right? Sorry to harp on about the Gilded Saint but it illicited a fairly awkward and negative response from me, one I'd not really had from a miniature in my possession before. It is because I feel that it is overly and aggressively sexualised expression of the female form, that was only there to be appreciated for its body in effect. It was sexist not sexy. She was a sex object, and many other miniatures before her and I'm sure many after her will fall into this category. I was asked would I feel differently if the concept art or sculpt were produced by women, my answer is no because it's designed for men. That's the difference for me, it doesn't matter who produces miniatures like this, it doesn't matter if they themselves aren't sexists or misogynists, the product as it is produced is designed to fulfill a certain 'niche' in a certain way.

Sure the sexism or misogyny exists in the viewer to a certain extent, as it does in the mind of any creators, but the object helps fire those thoughts and isn't helping any. I often hear the hackneyed and well worn counter argument that gets so lazily trotted out at times like this, that the muscle bound male barbarian and other heroic stereotypes bandied around are just as sexy and exploitative. Sexy? Maybe. Exploitative? I'm not so sure, but OK lets say possibly. But are they as objectified and sexist? Hell no. Is a powerful barbarian trotting around in his loin cloth sexy? Yeah to some women it is, as is the gruff cowboy, or the long haired knight in shining armour. These stereotypes are portrayals of sexy men in the hobby, and indeed within wider society. I'm not denying that women might find certain musclebound male miniatures attractive. What I'm saying is that there is a difference between the archetypical Achilles or Adonis type hero being sexually attractive because they're strong powerful and in charge and own 'it' whatever 'it' is. It's that, which really makes them sexy, there wider role and how they are portrayed, they're sexy as a byproduct of what they are. Now compare that to some female warrior in a chain mail bikini bending over to show her ass and contorting her spine to give you a glimpse of cleavage or boob. The images aren't the same and they aren't equal. She exists to be sexy, and that can put some women off when they see these types of miniatures, I've witnessed it with partners of friends. These inequities between the portrayal of genders exist in wider society, and the imbalance is there, but just because it exists in other places that doesn't mean we should accept it in our hobby. I also feel it's actually magnified in our hobby too.

Is this comparable to...

It just seems to me, like in wider society, that the objectification and sexualisation of the female form is just far more widely accepted and promoted than I personally think it should be. In fact it's wrapped up and marketed far more readily as a commodity. Do you know what though, not every women has a problem with it. I've been contacted by plenty of women who aren't at all offended by Kingom Death pin-up miniatures, or indeed by the general portrayal of women within the hobby. So I'm not going to tell anyone what is right or what is wrong, because it's all down to personal taste at the end of the day. However I truly believe there is a general difference between the portrayal of males and females in miniatures form in our hobby, and that in and of itself could be institutionally misogynistic. I use the phrase 'institutionally' because I think there could be an important distinction to make here. I have spoken to many of the people who have produced miniatures that could be fairly described as being sexist, not a single one of them strikes me as a sexist or a misogynist, quite the opposite in fact, and many seem very clued up on gender politics. So what am I getting at? Well we believe here in the UK that institutions can take on characteristics, or even traits that aren't necessarily held by the individual actors in them. The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry taught us a valuable lesson that many of our public institution could be institutionally racist. So why can't our hobby be institutionally misogynistic?

...this? The stereotypical twisted spine giving us tits and ass.

You see I mentioned that blurry line earlier on between sexy and sexist. Well that line also exist between sexist and pornographic, because we just don't label things correctly in our hobby. This allows people to think that such miniatures are 'normal' and indeed acceptable. I once did a second year research project at university where I asked men and women to look at a picture of a naked man and a naked women. Group A were told the pictures were art shots, while group B were told they were pornography... they actually were pornography. Group A reported far more positive feeling towards the pictures. True it's not a published article, and I probably had a really bad research design and my sample was too narrow, BUT to me it confirms that language and framing is really important in such debates. Or that maybe it just clouds things, I can see the counter argument. So just because a bunch of women are OK with sexy miniatures therefore doesn't mean there isn't an issue that needs addressing, and a potential problem to discuss. Because, it has put women off of the hobby, as I've been told by countless women I know, and it's just an unhealthy situation in general. I've had so many women ask me where the male daemonettes are, with their 'todgers' hanging out. Where's the beefcake miniature range, with male miniatures wearing leather chaps bending over with their 'members' on show, a ball and chain gag in their mouths and a dog lead round their necks? My answer to that is they don't exist, because the hobby doesn't sexualise the male form in the same way it sexualises the female form. OK so maybe some of Taban Miniatures Matriarchy range might fall into that category, but even then the way they treat the females of that faction is more sexualised than the majority of the males, despite the women supposedly being in charge.

This is actually a sexualised image of a man in miniature form.

I think it's fairly obvious why this happens. It's because from the top down our hobby is a massively male dominated arena. Sure there are some outstanding female painters like Ali McVey, Jen Haley, Natasha Melnik and Marike Reimer to name but a few exceptional candidates, who more than hold their own in their chosen profession within the industry. But, now name me the female game designers, or sculptors or even concept artists? Genuinely I'm sure there must be some, or at least I really, really hope there are some... but I'm ashamed to admit it, if there are I can't name many of them, except Trish Morrison and maybe Jen Ikuta. If the creative forces behind our hobby remain predominately male, it is almost certainly inevitable that the worlds, characters, images and games they create will generally be male centric and focused, thus perpetuating the current status quo. They'll be magnified and exaggerated macrocosms of the patriarchy that exists in wider society, and as I say probably even more extreme in their misogyny. These worlds with their scantily clad female sexual objects and their male Emperors won't necessarily attract more females into the hobby, because they're not aimed at them. They remain, admittedly like most western media, aimed squarely at male viewers. We're the target market and we're the demographies these companies are after, even if they think otherwise and claim otherwise, their products don't bear it out such protestations.

Kate Moss - Lucien Freud 2002

It's at this point I have to talk about something a British female gamer I know said to me when we chatted about all this "Jody" she started "your problem is you think too much about this stuff. You over analyse it all, besides, the hobby isn't going to change the world now is it?" This made me take a step back from this article when I was writing it first time round, and have a good long think about what she said. Over thinking is a curse I suffer from. Was she right? Well yes and no, you see I think our hobby actually isn't a fair representation of how wider society is now, the debate in wider society and other media is way in advance of us. Plus just because it's not the solution, it doesn't mean it's not part of the problem. Do you think it'd be OK to have a TV program before the watershed where most of the female characters were periphery sex objects? Before anyone says Mad Men, that's a program that passes social commentary on the behaviour of its protagonists. There's none of that subtle questioning or critical judgement in our hobby over it's portrayal of men and women and their roles within the worlds. It's just accepted that females on the whole are there to show us males some tits and ass... oh and to smile while they're doing it. So I believe our hobby does need to change this current trend, and get a bit more with the program. A feminist friend of mine at university once referred to many female characters in fantasy novels as 'penis repositories' she made me laugh when she said that, as was her intention, but it was laced with a biting truth. The females existed to please the males of those worlds, it was their purpose. That's kind of how I feel about the way the hobby portrays females in the main, with their stupidly oversized meat pillows perfectly formed peachy asses, and their scant disregard for their own personal safety... PUT SOME PLATE MAIL ON WOMEN!!! 

Mad Man is laced with social commentary about their protagonists behaviour

Getting away from the purely physical representations of females as miniatures within the hobby and looking at the female characters in the back stories to our games, sorry but there's a lot of sexism and misogyny there too. We hardly ever hear a female hero described as over weight, unattractive but awesome with an axe do we? Male characters can be ugly and brutish, but still be the hero, that's not so for females. Or how about women being described as totally in control, intelligent or savvy? Should a Black Library novel create such a character then authors quite often do a Lars Von Trier on us and totally destroy that female character, show her as vulnerable to the warp or whatever, as in Ben Counter's 'Grey Knights' novel I believe. Have her tortured and stripped down, in need of saving by a heroic masculine Space Marine. I'm sure the authors of such female characters were trying to create strong female leads, and in some case they do succeed, but ultimately our hobby will fall back into it's sexist ways because men are the number one consumers of it, and this is what producers think men want. Obviously not all Black Library books treat women awfully, but I do find it odd given how badly some write and treat women that many think they have positive female role models. Surely all of 'this', the miniatures, the fluff, the male dominated gaming scene is likely to have an impact at some level on how young impressionable males view the opposite sex, and indeed how women who engage with the hobby feel about themselves, and I can't see it being an overly positive experience for either to have to go through. It's not a healthy position for the hobby to be in as far as I'm concerned.

I think all of this crap chips away at our moral decency, slowly eroding the level of discourse and morality, until we've lost much of what we've fought for and gained in society. Knocking us back a decade or three, to a point where people feel it's acceptable to create dioramas like this Eldar Rape Scene. Whether people know it or not, or accept their part in it, our hobby has created an air of sexism that empowers people to create such tastelessly lurid and sordid scenes. Is there any empathy in this piece for the female victim? Nope. It's a very male centric pornography industry view of the act of a gang rape. Because that's what this is, a portrayal of males forcing themselves on a female. It glorifies violence against women. It's done in a lascivious way too, which makes it all the more galling. It doesn't make for nice viewing and it horrified me when I first saw it... and it still does now. That somebody would put so much thought, energy, effort and undeniable skill into producing something so horrid and sordid upset me. It doesn't treat the subject matter with maturity, tact or sensitivity, it exists for male titillation and is yet another horrid example of the brutal sexism and demeaning of women that emanates from our hobby. Probably the worst example I've seen... and I know most of the males reading this, if not all of them will feel the same way I do. We don't like it and it makes us feel uncomfortable, and we should say so. It's not enough to be offended by such trash, we have to stand up and be counted as being against it if we are to change things, but we must do so tactfully so as to not give people the opportunity to retract and blame us for being prudes, or pious. It's not being pious, it;s being a decent civilised human being.

If you want to see the brutal realities of wartime rape read up on the rape of Nanking. It should never be forgotten

Now I'm not suggesting all sculptors, hobby novelists, game designers or indeed gamers are sexist pigs, I'm honestly not. I would say on weight of evidence I think those sorts of people are actually in the very, very small minority. However, I think it's fair to say that much of our hobby does create a certain 'air' and 'vibe' and I don't think for the main it's welcoming of women, and some of the places we congregate to play our hobby can be fairly described as 'hostile' places to newcomers of all types, not just females. It takes only a few rotten apples unfortunately and we're all tarred, unfairly, with the same brush. I'm not going to take the tired old excuse that "the hobby isn't for everyone" either anymore, it's a cheap cop out. Why? Because we aren't trying to make it for everyone are we? We aren't trying to be inclusive. I put it to you all that our hobby is indeed, maybe unknowingly, but potentially maybe knowingly institutionally misogynistic and sexist, and that this very institutionalisation of these characteristics and traits is what acts as a barrier for many women trying to get into gaming. It's also this institutionalisation of these traits that gives rise to the wider public perception of this being a hobby for maladjusted weirdo male geeks who have unhealthy attitudes towards women. It's up to those of us who aren't maladjusted to put that right. When we see reprehensible behaviour at clubs, shops and conventions speak out, don't stay quiet. Let people know it's not acceptable.

Say no more...

It just isn't true that we're all weirdo geeks with unhealthy gender stereotyping problems, and it pisses me off that we're viewed like that. Hell no, I say, it's not at all like that, and it angers me that I get lumped in with a small, but nevertheless visible bunch of maladjusted freaks. But, you have to admit given the rise in scantily clad female sculpts, in legs akimbo gynecological examination poses doesn't help the cause of the hobby any. It's just that generally it all contributes a little at the time to the unhealthy way the hobby portrays it's females, and even if these miniatures and issues aren't adding to the problem openly, they aren't helping breakdown those stereotypes down either now are they? I'm not saying there aren't positive strong female role models either within the hobby, or indeed portrayed by stories the hobby produces, here read this article it's an actual women saying something positive about the hobbies portrayal of women. So I don't want to give the impression it as all doom and gloom, because it's not. The hobby does bring people together, it is, despite its slightly sexist and misogynistic overtones a pretty healthy way to spend your spare time. We're not all wife beating monsters who think a women's place is in the kitchen or the bedroom, most of us are utterly awesome and if our hobby was just a little bit more mature and respectful of the way it treats the depiction of females, and indeed real world females, it'd be a better place in my opinion.

A kickass female without bikini armour and high heels.

All I'm saying is that perhaps we should all think a little bit more about the barriers we have knowingly and unknowingly created for women trying to engage with our hobby, and ask how we can help break them down. Right from my initial thoughts and conversations with women of many ages, one of the things that has repeatedly cropped up is this male dominated Local Game Store or club as the biggest and worst hurdle to cross. I've heard how women have had to put up with leering, lewd behaviour and outright sexism, and it embarrasses me deeply that the hobby I love is viewed in this way, as a misogynists haven if you will. I want to be clear though and say that I know the vast majority of gamers just aren't like that, or I really, really hope they aren't. However it does just take one guy to make a stupid comment and the rest of us to let them get away with it to create a hostile environment for a female. True the overtly sexist miniatures and portrayal of women doesn't help, and for the most part there is little we can do about that, other than as consumers let it be known that sort of stuff isn't for us. But, we can change our behaviour at shops at gaming clubs, and we can demand better standards of behaviour from those we game with. It all starts with setting a good example and being a role model for others around us and giving them a guiding hand, we often say we're a community, well lets start acting like a community anyone would be proud to be part of. If we all make small changes eventually it'll add up to one big change. Peace out!


  1. This is a really well thought-out piece that tackles several issues, well beyond what I addressed in my post. There are really two issues here. First, guys acting like jerks towards women. Second, the people in the industry who make models and art with women who are less than appropriately dressed. It's two very different issues.

    As long as enough gamers like the models/art as it is, then it will continue to be that way. As it stands, enough gamers do like the sexy, scantily clad art so it continues to be there. As a gamer, it's not for me, but if there's a guy that wants a bunch of women in bikinis fighting his battles, that's his choice and I'm okay with it.

    If guys are being jerks, making a woman feel uncomfortable for being a woman, it's absolutely uncalled for, but I just can't point a finger at this hobby more or less than any other. Guys are jerks everywhere. Guys are decent everywhere. It's not wargaming, it's life. It should be addressed when it happens, but in my experience it's just not rampant in wargaming.

    1. I'll be honest here Nicole, this was originally going to be a series of 3 articles tackling different issues as I saw them in the industry with a summing up piece.

      In the end I felt actually they weren't as separate as I thought they were. It is all interlinked and intertwined. The more I looked at it the more I started to feel the hobby is institutionally misogynistic, and that in many ways many males end up unwittingly contributing to this phenomenon without even realising. Because we simply don't think about it. I'm holding my hands up here and saying I am guilty of it too.

      As to whether our hobby is more or lees bad than others? Well that's a matter of opinion. On the whole I don't think it is, and many of the people I know and met at gaming event are really decent people. But enough people have spoken to me about an 'air' or 'vibe' around the hobby, and I've begun to see it myself about 2 to 3 years ago that I do think needs tackling. How I really don't know. I guess the suggestion of calling jerks on jerkish behaviour is as good a start as any.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. Wall of Text Warning (tl;dr - there's a huge problem, it must be addressed, it can only be addressed by self-regulation).

    This topic just keeps coming up, and that's a good thing, because MY GOD does nerdom have a problem with sexism at the moment. Be it the male-dominated wargaming and video gaming hobbies or be it "Bro-grammer" culture, there's a major issue here and it isn't going away. At least we're talking about it.

    Couple of video links that are important, especially on the "Conan" issue and that horrific diorama up there (40k is "Grimdark" for a reason - it's kid-friendly dark, not actual trauma dark):

    Tropes vs Movie Bob -

    This tackles the whole "but there are objectifications of men too!" thing.

    Rape vs Murder -

    No, rape isn't acceptable as drama, not in this context.


    Men around men breeds horrible. I don't think I know any female who has been into a GW and not felt immediately alienated (shout-out for Adam of ex-GW Walsall as running a store that didn't display this issue).

    There's an issue in that 40k (sorry, but it's the primary wargame...) has two types of females - powerful through sexy (Deamonettes, Wyches, etc) or powerful and sexless (Sisters). We have no powerful AND female characters (see: Infinity).

    Like I said before though, this is a minor facet of the fact that ALL of nerdom has this problem, and wargaming is so buried in tropes from comics, sci-fi movies, etc that it's just showing the symptoms of a deeper disease. It's also one of the hardest to turn around - there just aren't many female wargamers compared to even female video gamers.

    I personally hate "cheesecake" miniatures in an otherwise serious setting. I like my pinup model from Kingdom Death, but so does my fiancée, and it's been made clear it's not the way the normal models will look.

    As for what you've said about changing behaviour in clubs/stores, this couldn't be more apt, and I'm going to call out something I've been calling out a fair bit recently via the following article:

    It's amazing what even adjusting the gaming vocabulary can do, but we all know "that guy" who makes sexist or lewd comments, and it's about time we pulled them up on it.

    1. I can hardly complain at you Ant for posting a wall of text after I've just dumped that on your screen now can I?

      Like you Ant I too have had similar concerns about nerdy, geeky culture for a little while now. Maybe I'm just becoming more attuned to it, but it feels to me that over the past 10 years or so we've actually been slowly slipping backwards not going forwards. I can't quite put my finger on one thing as it's all just a slow erosion and you don't really notice it until something like that rape diorama crops up and you go WTF!!!

      I mention the use of the R word in my article and it does get banded about in our hobby and wider culture now far too much. It has diminished it's impact and meaning, and that also diminishes the strength of the actual act as well from a linguistic standpoint. I'm not going to go off into a whole debate about how the use of emotive language to describe everyday things diminishing he impact of that word or language because far smarter people than I have done that far more eloquently than I could ever hope to... but it worries me.

  3. A really well written post. While there are a couple of female gamers at my local club, they are very much in the minority. I've known a few female gamers in my time, mostly roleplayers to tell the truth, and several times have had the story of them being hit upon by sweaty male nerds. It's the kind of thing that when I decided to broach the subject to my future wife that I was a gamer had me geniunely nervous as to how this would affect my image in her eyes. Thankfully I got the reply of "What like Warhammer".

    I think in many ways the continual cranking out of women in little to no clothing indoctrinates the idea that women are just objects, and while I like yourself have no great desire for censorship, I feel that some of the figures, such as that Kernsa by Bane Legions is just a bit over the top (on top of being a pretty ugly sculpt IMHO). The fact that somebody felt it was okay to model a scene of an Eldar female about to be gang-raped by Imperial soldiers really does terrify me, that it's become okay. Part of me would be intrigued to see the responses on CMoN as to whether it was lauded or what I would hope scorned in general. It's part of what puts me off ever playing Hell Dorado, as I heard rumours that one of the main pieces of art in the original french rulebook had a rape scene portrayed. Whether it's true or not I've never entirely found out, but it's enough to put me off.

    Hopefully this can be tackled. As you have said though, it's something that extends beyond our hobby. Men have been acting this way forever, but it doesn't mean it shouldn't be tackled in our hobby.

    1. I too have had the "I've got something to tell you speech" with partners. Isn't it odd that we feel like that about our hobby. I'm not even entirely sure why. I'm pretty open about being a geek. I'm just am one, couldn't hide it even if I tried.

      This problem is so much wider than wargaming, computer gaming and many other things. It's just that gaming in general is a particularly bad exponent of bad behaviour I guess. Part of me wanders whether the fact that ostensibly its a compentive environment and competition tend to bring out the jackass in all of us like no other. It's a possibility.

    2. I think it stems from the fact that it's seen as something as not cool. A stereotype that is reinforced by the image that is generally portrayed of it in the media. When you say "I play with little toy soldiers" or "I collect comic books and action figures" or anything like that, the first image is generally that of the nerd, down in his mums basement, surrounded by figures, posters of every conceivable heavy metal band and with only a vague notion as to what personal hygiene or outside social contact are. I am now of the opinion of I'm a nerd, if you don't like it, tough.

      I think as has been touched upon, perhaps the fact that it's a generally all male environment kinda amps it up. I know for a fact that things are said at gaming clubs that probably wouldn't be said infront of female company. I don't even know if it's the competitive environment, as I see the same stuff when I walk on a building site, again a predominantly male dominated area.

    3. What, you mean my really old collection of Ral Partha miniatures isn't cool? What about my Blood Bowl teams and Man o' War fleets, those don't make me hip and trendy?

      You sir have shattered my self belief and crushed me. I swear I cool. :(


      No you're right, it's not cool and probably never will be, but there are plenty of uncool females out there too. I touched upon laddish behaviour in the article and I know it's not just at gaming clubs. Blokes in a group are horrendous at times and we all know it. I too have worked in all male environments, macho male environments at that, and I was horrified when that behaviour continued when two females joined the team. The males were just far too set in their ways to change initially. A few written warnings and trips to HR changed that, but the weird thing was outside work they just weren't like that. I don't get it. Not sure if women are similar in groups, because I'm not one, but I'd assume when men aren't around the conversation is different.

    4. I've been lucky enough to never have to have had "the conversation" with a partner. It's probably so ingrained in me that anyone who wouldn't accept it was scared off long before it would have mattered.

      I've known people who hide it religiously though, and some that have (albeit temporarily) given up such hobbies because they felt it damaged their chances of finding a partner.

    5. Well I've had that conversation with a number of girls over the years, because I used to fool them into thinking I was cool with my S:AaB T-shirt!!! :P

      I supose been a guitarist in a band and sometime lead singer helped some as well. So when they saw the toy soldiers I think a few thought I was guilty of false advertising. I even had one tell me dramatically I'd have to ditch the comic and "little men" if I wanted to be with her. She seemed surprised when I told her my little men were more important.

      I'm really lucky to have found Holly, as you know she's ageek and a perfect match for me. I honestly don't believe in fate, but honestly I can't believe how fracking lucky I got there.

  4. I think it depends greatly on the type of wargaming and also on where you game. It may well be the case that the bad attitudes to women are more prevalent in the fantasy/SF (as in WH40K etc) gaming world. I wouldn't know as those aren't the games I'm into.

    As a historical gamer (mostly ancients/medievals and rennaissance) there is no point in me going to a FLGS, not that there are any really in London, which leaves me with clubs. I've only been to one club, Central London Wargames Club so can't speak about others. I'm not the only female there - the boardgaming group has 2 or 3 - but I am the only female miniatures gamer. I haven't encountered any sexism from the boys. My only issue is that some of them seem to be stuck in a "only men play wargames" mindset and accidentally refer to me using male pronouns - admittedly I am somewhat of a "butch" and they quickly realise their mistake when I give them a withering glare. It doesn't happen so often now as it did at first (even then it wasn't that frequent) and I reckon in another year they will all have been "educated".

    Why the difference? I think it may be largely down to the age/maturity profiles of historical gamers vs GW-type gamers. The historical gamers tend to be older and to have had some sense, manners and respect smacked into them, errmm, to have been politely but firmly educated by their female partners/relatives whereas the GW-type gamers tend to be teenage/young adults who we of the stronger sex haven't yet had the opportunity to develop to maturity.

    As for "sexy" female figurines, I have no problem with those that are artistically sexy (you may have noticed I described myself as somewhat butch - I am a lady-who-loves-ladies) but I do have issues with the overly-sexualised figures that seem to be commonplace. Why on earth would a female warrior wear a chainmail bikini? It kind of defeats the whole point of wearing armour. Not to mention the physique of most of them....

    I think there are a number of factors that keep women away from gaming - (perceived) behaviour/attitude of males being just one of them. However, if that does put off a potential gamer, whether male or female, then it is something that should be addressed. The big question is how to tackle it.

    To add a slightly different angle to this issue, I should point out that on two occasions I have actually benefited from being female - both times when entering games shows where they refused to charge me the entrance fee.

    1. Aa with all things Tamsin "it depends" should always come into it somewhere. I think you are right, historic wargaming does tend to attract an older crowd... although with some of the historic wargames I know I hesitate to call them more mature!!! :P

      I also think there is another important difference though that I annoyingly forgot to include in my mammoth brain dump and that is that historical wargames are an attempt at recreating actual war. So you're unlike to find a sexy female pin-up version of Napoleon riding a unicorn in a miniskirt. Good Go what an image!!! Whereas sci-fi and Fantasy are all make believe and the creative freedom means that as opposed to making sure a hussars buttons are all in the right place, you can let your imagination run wild.

      I'd don't know about you but when I do that I tend to wander onto thoughts of my partner naked. I can't help it. She's the most important thin in my life and I quite like sex. So I can see how in an adult male that might be where ones fantasies might often drift. So perhaps that's why its more endemic in these fantasy worlds.

      As to you using your feminine wiles to get free tickets I'm sure the sisterhood would disaprove young lady... but me... good on you. I wished flashing a bit of ankle would get me into places free, sadly I think itd just get me arrested. :)

      Thanks for commenting, Really interesting to hear your thoughts.

    2. Regarding "using my feminine wiles", I should point out that I did argue the point with them and they still refused to take my money!

      Good call on historical gamers not necessarily being "mature" (even if older), but I tend to put that down to gamers being naturally more in touch with their "inner child". However, whilst maybe not being more mature, they have generally had time to learn what is appropriate banter/behaviour.

      I should also point out that I am into SF gaming, but more the future-historical variety (Tomorrow's War etc) rather than fantasy-SF type.

      Regarding female figures, I am thinking about doing an all-or-mostly female warband for Saga. Looking at the minis available, the only ones which aren't overly sexualised are the ones from Shadowforge.

    3. Depending on how it scales, for Viking/dark age style figures Red Box make a few good ones for characters (though a bit more fantasy than historical - Tre Manour also did a couple of sculpts for Reaper), and Foundry Minis have some shield maidens in their ranges.

    4. @Tamsin, I was pulling your leg :P

      My dad who was a historical wargamer is anything but mature. He's a bigger kid than me sometimes. But he does have manners and I don't think he'd stand for any sexist shennanigans, in fact I know he wouldn't and all of those gamers of that era and age are the same. Perhaps it's because it was there generations that helped with the feminist agenda in the swinging 60's but they all seem so much more clued up and sadly forward thinking than my generation and younger generations it seems to me... was the 80's really that damaging?

      Also Gotthammers suggestions aren't bad, but some of the Redbox stuff is at a strange scale to everything else it seems to me. It's a bit bigger than most. But lovely stuff a lot of it.

    5. It Is not practical that a male barbarian runs around in a loin cloth either. I bet he would get killed pretty quick. Being male I do buy some of those figures. It is fantasy after all.

      Here is a article that may show a female Gladiator topless.

      Not every game has be tailored to both men and women.

      If someone was smoking around you. Would ask them to put it away? If you have a problem with nude miniatures. Ask them to put it away.

    6. Face palm.

      Way to miss the point. The issue isn't if there are boobs on show. Or even if there is full on nudity. The issue is how that's done. I might find a female model like Hassel frees Artemis far more acceptible than say something like the new Wrath of Kings miniature, which you can find here:

      She's wearing pants. But I bet you could still tell what she had for breakfast. Its context, it's place and it's purpose. It has nothing to do with whether a Barbarians loincloth is sensible or practical. Jeez. Have we become so debased that we can't even tell the differences now?

  5. A good article. As I've come to expect from you it goes way beyond 'misogyny is bad!' and doesn't start throwing around absolutes.

    Thank you for the articles you add and thanks to Ant for the same reason. Food for thought.

    1. I'm a male Aeria and it'd be hypocritical of me not to ackowledge that I haven't A) been a dick and B) Not express a males perspective on all this.

      Ant Holloway is actually a friend of mine who I know in real life. He's a top bloke and although we don't see eye to eye on everything (mainly because I'm taller than him :P ) I always respect what he has to say and on the important things we usually concur. For instance we both like Space Above and Beyond and Firefly... they're both cool right? Does that make me cool now?

    2. It would be, yes. But it's much easier throwing around absolutes and 'certainties', we both know that. So thanks again.

      Yup, that makes you cool. Albeit in my very warped understanding of cool!

      Sorry I'm not contributing much to the overall discussion here.. I'm still trying to diggest everything from all the articles and got me thinking on stuff like comedy and such as well.

    3. If you're thinking about what Frontline has said, then you're already doing enough to not have to apologise for not contributing.

      Also - S:AaB is cool, end of story. Liking S:AaB gets you invited to all (read: none) of the cool parties at school.

    4. Ant do you think it was my S:AaB T-shirt that stopped me getting invited to all the cool parties?

    5. That's the only logical conclusion :D

    6. Damn it and I thought I was cool for owning it... curse you cruel world!!!

  6. Speaking as an almost 40 year old male, I have never liked walking in to games shops (especially GW) primarily because of the body oder issues. I cannot understand why gamers cannot wash themselves or their clothes. I cannot imagine what that it would be like for a teenage girl.

    As a father with a daughter, I am concerned about how my hobby is perceived by women-kind (I don't like the term 'girl' I feel it is belittling, I wouldn't want to be called 'boy')... I would like her to experience and enjoy / share my hobby when she is older (she is only 2 right now). I don't want her to feel intimidated, exploited or belittled by anything, but certainly not because of her gender.

    My local games club is kinda nice in that we have no stinkers... but we are down to 1 female gamer (we did have 2 at one point), but she will be leaving for university this year.

    1. A lot of hobby shops aren't that welcoming, I often think it is genuinely because many of the people are just shy, and socially awkward because of it. I've seen similar things with rooms fully of bullying victims they talk happily and freely amongst themselves, until you introduce somebody new to the mix. It's a similar thing with shops and clubs I think. Many of the people in those places get ridiculed for what they do and are naturally wary of new people.

      I think having daughters must change most fathers. I've always felt protective of my little sister, but I truly can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to be a parent of a young girl in what is a horribly sexist world. That's why it baffles me that the world is still so sexist, because it is.

      As always Angus thanks for commenting.

  7. "When we see reprehensible behaviour at clubs, shops and conventions speak out, don't stay quiet. Let people know it's not acceptable."

    The most important part of this article, IMO. I hate when staff don't say anything about, or even encourage, such behaviour in stores. Sometimes part of it is not wanting to offend the regulars, but how many customers do they lose because of allowing it?

    1. That question I'm afraid can never be answered properly or fully. When I worked at the B'ham GW I tried to challenge sexist and racist behaviour where I could. Sadly at the time the worst culprit was the stores manager. He told me once not to bother talking to some Asian lads who had walked into the store as they were all time wasters. He said this clearly in earshot of them, and a regular who happened to be an Asian into death metal called Sunni I believe. Honestly I wanted to punch the ignorant twat at the time. I believe he's now a senior manager at Lenton Lane. Go figure. We were never destined to get on when he told me his favourite hobby wasn't toy soldiers but watching the hotties go by. I have no idea whether he was trying to 'bond' with me and thought that was what males do, but the fact I turned my back on him and walked away probably sent the signal I was not impressed. Not all GW's are like that though tnakfully and in the case of B'ham the customers were generally better behaved than the staff.

    2. My local GW is somewhat the reverse, where the minions are generally more problematic (going along with 'the guys') but the manager doesn't brook any of it.

      One thing I've noticed from experience is that people with broader gaming/modelling interests seem to be... I won't say more tollerant, but at least less full of crap. For instance I started with scale models and RPG stuff as well as wargaming.
      The people I know who have a wider range of nerdish pursuits seem, again from my experience, to be less likely to be objectionably human beings, or at least keep it to themselves.

      Don't know if it's something to do with it being less of a closed environment and having a broader range of influences (much like how many people look to be saying clubs are better than stores), or if people like that are more drawn to more things. Probably overthinking this one a bit :)

    3. Just to be clear what I was talking about happened over decade ago now. The current store is run by a staff member from that time... who happens not to be a douche about such things. So it is very different now.

  8. As a bit of an art history nerd, I really appreciate the artistic nudes you threw into this article. All of the ones done by artists for the sake of art are amazing, and none of them come across to me as sexist or sexy, even the fairly graphic one by Lucien Freud(one of my favorite painters of nudes).

    The use of the nudes from gaming artwork was an even better choice, as it shows just how much of a difference there is between art and pure cheesecake.I think the main difference between the two types of nudes in the article is a result of one thing: money.The straight-up art is done too explore the human figure in its many forms, or in the case of the "birth of Venus" to tell a story and impart an idea. Granted, some nudes, especially modern nudes, can be uncomfortably graphic: have ever seen the work of Egon Schiele, or Gustav Klimt's pencil sketches of female nudes? However, in almost all the very graphic artistic nudes, there is some subliminal message behind the sexuality.
    Not so with the gaming artwork. This is artwork made to sell, artwork for purely commercial value. To use a worn out saying, "sex sells", especially to socially awkward/shy geeks. I look at, say, the Banelegion Sword Melusine, and I can discern no message behind it other than that "this is a stripper with a sword". I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. As you said, wargaming is largely a male-dominated scene, and when too many horny men are in one room together, things get rank fast.

    Also, being an older brother myself, I understand the pain you felt with your sister and wargaming.

    In the end, I think that as more women come into the hobby, we should start seeing much classier depictions of women in wargaming art. And I think more women are coming into the hobby, though mostly through games Warmachine and Hordes, which generally do a good job with their female figures. Some of the best painters I know are women, including my commission service freelance painter/web designer.


    Euen @ BlackDog

    1. I wandered what people would make of the Lucien Freud painting. Like you I find Freud's paintings interesting, if not sometimes a little unsettling. He examined the relationship between model and painter in ways thers simply hadn't before hand, and he had a way of making people feel ever so slightly uncomfortable about viewing what should have been quite sexy images. Very influential. I too like you love my art history and my sermons tend to get littered with works I have a personal affinity or affection for. No doubt that just makes me a cultured geek or nerd... and still uncool. :P

      I hope as more women join the hobby the tone of much of it's products and indeed its community changes. It's been a very slow process thus far. Here's hoping though.

    2. PS I was going to include a picture of Mark Quinn's Allison Lappard sculptor... but I felt if I did so I'd have been possibly doing s for all the wrong reasons. It is an amazing piece though and the way it enraged people here in the UK at the time on both sides of the debate were fascinating.

    3. "This is artwork made to sell, artwork for purely commercial value. To use a worn out saying, "sex sells", especially to socially awkward/shy geeks."

      The sex sells-attitude is what irks me the most. It's so incredibly cheap. It's the least amount of effort being put into character design and marketing, and it's so incredibly common in minigaming. It's one thing with Kabuki or Kingdom Death - that's erotica and it's not billed as anything else. At least they're honest.

      But marketing a _game_ with sexy women? Come on. What does that say about you and your company? It's the reason I disliked Rackham so much.

      Here's an enlightening link to an article by Dungeon & Dragon's art director, from a company that's doing it wrong:

      And Monica Speca's excellent rebuttal:

      Thank you, Frontline Gamer, for this post. It's an important one, and may it be remembered as the turning point a few years from now!

    4. As I ssid in my review of the Ax Faction mini, I'm OK with something being sold as what it is, Pin-up, pornography, nude study whatever. As long as there's no pretending its something else, like edgy art... you mean naked chick. I had read that Monica Speca's article and I've read a few of hers, I actually link to one of her articles. I quite like her as a blogger, and I like the way she tackles issues.I doubt very much that this post will change much David, but that's OK, as long as it's read by some people (and boy has it been) I'm more than happy. If it's made a few people think about a few issues then it has done its job.

  9. I think you make a strong case about the inappropriately sexualised depictions of women in many wargaming contexts. Sometimes it can be difficult to judge artistic validity. I had that trouble with the Kabuki vs Venus question. You mentioned that Kabuki miniature and how someone asked how it differed from the famous Venus. My first thought on seeing the Kabuki thing was that the model was pointlessly bare-chested: if you're the goddess of sex and love, there's arguably a reason in your very nature for being half-undressed (beyond pervy sculptors). If you're shooting alien nasties, you probably could do with a spot of clothing, not to say armour. Then I looked more closely at the figure, and took in what it was doing. I still regard the sexualisation of it as overt, but it is more artistically justifiable when one realises the background is deliberately evocative of Giger's Xenomorphs, which are sexually-charged nightmares overflowing with penile and vaginal imagery.

    This sort of thing isn't contained solely in the 'gaming world, of course. Lingerie and even car adverts and so on deliberately exude sexuality in order to court controversy, potentially winning them free advertising in the media. Sexualisation is often hand in glove with exploitation, but it isn't always. A friend of mine has several times pointed out Western hypocrisy in regard to dress as regards Islam. It is often claimed that the more voluminous coverings are a way of oppressing women, yet in many instances they are as socially normal as wearing a suit to the office would be. Whereas in the west, one is expected to wear skimpy outfits when one goes out, and to totter about on impractical high heels.

    I have seldom been minded to collect female wargames models, as they are often simply cartoonish. I enjoy the female form, but I find Red Sonja-style get-ups too risible for words, as do these folks: A friend of mine used to play some Streetfighter-style game on his console, and I'd mock it every time I was there. The female characters were either dressed in figure-hugging or skimpy outfits, all in high heels, and when they were knocked down in a fight there would invariably be a gratuitous panty-shot. Stupidest damned thing I've ever seen. It made me laugh, as it was so patent and gratuitous in its attempt to use pixellated breasts to sell a product. Oddly, he is himself a perfect gentleman, and would be the first to leap to a lady's defence were some lout to accost her. There's a significant difference between the impact of such sexualisation of women on a grown man, who knows how to behave, and the potentially dangerous impact on younger people, children or young teenagers, who are still forming their view of the world. It's rather disquieting.

    Anyway, I'm rambling! Thank you for another informative, well-considered, intelligent article, dear boy!

    1. I think the Kabuki miniature is interestingly different for a number of reasons and some of which you point out. Most notably though the Kabuki miniature exists for the sexual titillation / gratification of its viewer. She isn't topless, her top has been torn off. she is leaning backwards and is 'reclined' rather than standing tall and proud. It's her posture that is the most problematic for me. That and the fact that it's not just her combat trousers low slung on her hips, it's the fact that some skimpy pants are seem above them. That too leads to suggestion. the biggest difference though is in the representations of the face for me.

      But you are right about it going further than just our little hobby. It is in all walks of life, and its not always so blatant. In fact some of the more insidious stuff is potentially more damaging and harming.

      I really don't wish to touch on the role of Islam and women here in this debate. That's a can o' worms I'm not willing to open. All I'll say is that regardless of what religion it is there are always issues of indoctrination, control and coersion that are very difficult to tease out of issues of individual autonomy. In western society much of this function s performed by our median. SO on the one hand while I agree with your Muslim friend over the hypocrisy over choice and the fallacy of freedom, no body comes out looking rosy on such discussions I'm afraid.

      Thanks for the cmment and the compliment.

    2. I may suffer from a bit of trouble here, as I might not note all the aspects of the miniature. Added to that is the fact that, while I agree its underwear is visible, and that it's explicitly sexual, the Giger-Aliens context justifies that to a certain extent.

      I agree that discussing Islam is probably a bad idea. I've been fortunate of late to be in such company that it hasn't led to screaming rows, but I quite agree that it usually does on t'internet! I must correct you as to my friend's religion, mind. He is an atheist, albeit one raised Catholic and with many maternal family members Islamic. I suspect he has an inclination in one direction as his Catholic relations have been sadly lacking in Christian charity as regards his sexual orientation - but that's just my understanding of the situation.

  10. Have to say? One thing we could all consider is that if you purchase female mini's that are exploitative you are feeding the machine. If you feel a mini is exploitative and wrong. Don't buy it. It doesn't matter if you appreciate the female form or not. The power of our pocket book is the only vote we get in the marketplace.

    I don't pay for porno. Not saying I don't look at it. I'm saying I don't pay it. I don't want my money going to that. I try not to buy junk food either. Less successful in that one but the point is the same. Both feel good but are in fact negative things in general. And a little bit of both in balance aren't the end of the world.

    1. I was reading an article about the demise of pornography the other day. It's now so widely available online for no money that wages for the performers have dropped precipitously. The article suggested the porn industry would be pretty much dead in the water in not terribly long. Of course, that doubtless only applies to DVDs and whatnot. I can't imagine that telephone sex lines and their contemporary offspring, live web-cam shows, will go the way of the dodo, since their immediacy is a different kettle of fish than recordings.

    2. @Zen Paladin, if somebody buys something that somebody thinks is offensive in any way and thinks it's OK then I'd suggest they have bigger problems than exercising their power as a consumer. :P

      But yeah... I take your point.

      @Peter Bell, yep I watched a program on TV about this very thing. So much amateur pornography out there for free it's killing the professional studios. One actress said she was supplementing her career by working an office job. When asked how much she made turned out the office job was her main source of income, and that was a huge comedown from what she would have been earning at the peak of the porn industry. Seems we want our sexual exploitation for free now... is that even more exploitation?

    3. On the one hand, it does eliminate a great deal of the call for young ladies (and I assume it is overwhelmingly young ladies) to strip themselves of their defences online. On the other hand, this severely limits the opportunities of those who wish to earn a living thereby. So it seems inevitable that some people will lose out. However, on realising that this course is not financially beneficial in the long term, they may now bow out sooner than they would have done formerly. That can only be to their benefit.

  11. Wow.
    I am rarely speechless. I've more or less always got sumpthin' to say, about virtually anything.
    Granted, what I've got to say does not normally align with what others might have to say, but whatevs...I'll say it regardless.

    But that Eldar rape scene has disturbed me very, very much.
    I just...don't know how I feel about it.
    Is it because sex kinda doesn't exist in the grimdark? It's hinted at, suggested, one really 'gets busy' in 40k.
    But this went RIGHT PAST 'getting busy' and went....there.
    Someplace bad. Someplace dark and disturbing. Someplace...dare I say it?

    Still, these things happen in war. War is a terrible, awful thing. Most 'art' related to the subject focuses on the heroic and the brave, not rape.
    But rapes do occur during wartime...entirely too frequently.
    So does this diorama have any merit?

    Sigh...I dunno. If I had anything to do with that piece, I would have put a Commissar walking onto the scene, pistol pointed at the guardsmen in preparation for a bunch of summary executions.
    But the last bullet would've gone in the Eldar, wouldn't it?

    Does the fact that that piece provoked such a reaction from me prove it's worth?
    I don't know. I think it's fucked up, quite frankly (excuse my French).
    I can see the effort that went into creating it, and I'm not sure it should exist.
    But it does.

    What a world we make for ourselves.

    I have been accused of making 'jokes' about rape, and yet I've never actually done so. Tentacle jokes aplenty, but not actual rape.
    Rape is anything but amusing, in any sense, and that diorama is unpleasant to look at.

    1. Everything in life has value SinSynn, because everything we do will mean something to someone, not always positive, and quite often trash like that diorama may have value and worth because of the negative reaction it generates reaffirms a little bit of our own humanity, but that was not its intention. As such I feel it is without merit, if not without worth if you see what I mean.

      I think this is what I've being trying and failing to communicate with you SinSynn. We are a community and no matter what we say or do, our actions do have consequences, and slowly they will chip away until something like this is created. In effect I feel the hobby is culpable in the creation of that diorama... it all leads to Rome in one way or another. And when a community has somebody who so erroneously steps out of line I think it is beholden on that community to ask why.

      I'm not trying to sound superior to anyone. Because I'm patently not. I've messed up, but I m willing to hold my hands up and apologise for screwing up and I'm willing to try and put things in order in my own house. If we all did taht and actually acted like a community this sort of shit might still happen, but it'd start to happen less and less I think.

      As always thanks for stopping by and reading and commenting.


    2. that diorama came up once on my blog as well for those that are interested.

      Back then,it took me a while to process a reaction to the piece that I could actually articulate. There's two parts to it:

      1) The piece evokes an emotional reaction. As far as I can tell from the comments and so forth on cmon, the intent was to make the viewer intentionally uncomfortable. I think we can all agree that that happened. So in that sense it's wildly successful.

      2) But the piece's composition really lets the subject down. It's far, far too easy to look at it and miss the artist's point. Which has happened quite a lot.

      In broad strokes, the the overall piece is way to big and way to busy to really drive things home. It's expansive and super detailed - which is great as far as technique goes, but it creates a lot of distraction and allows too much opportunity for the viewer to get away from it. If you really want to confront people with horrible shit, you can't give them so many easy outs. The thing could be a third of the size and it would make it more intimate and would give the viewer far less to spend their time looking at that isn't rape.

      The victim herself is also an issue for me - First off, she's not human and, therefor, easier to distance oneself from. Another out for the viewer. A minor problem, all things considered. Second, she's painted and posed in such a way that she almost looks like a pin up. Except for a little mud, she's pristine - clean white armor, no blood - a face that could conceivably be described as pouty. She's beautiful. Further ruining the effect is the way her armor has been torn. It makes her breasts a focus of attention. When everything else has been cropped out and it's just the victem, it's real easy to miss the fact that this is an actual rape scene. Wothout context, it's pretty much just some more cheesecake. And for me, that's why this piece fails.

    3. Lauby I read the comments of the producer who said it was there intention... and it sounded like an after the event justification to me after what was a pretty sharp and angry reaction. I think they misjudged how it would be viewed massively and then tried repositioning it.

      If they actually intended that response then in some respects they succeeded... but on the other hand they clearly had neither the compositional skill or empathy with the subject matter attempt such a charged piece and they made a hideous pigs ear of it. Still gets my anger reflex going and the red mist descending when I think about it... GRRRRRRR!!!

      Thanks for the link too, well worth reading peeps.

    4. I was giving him the benefit of the doubt. But, long story short he fucked up.

    5. Somehow that rape scene bothers me more than the old Genestealer raping a guardsman one I saw a few years back despite the lack of anal prolapse (yes, really...) and even with the "not human" distance there. I guess alien wing-wong just isn't the same as human.

      If you break "gaming" down into sub groups you can see varying levels of mysogeny spread through them. Wargaming seems to be on the more serious end, whereas RPGs don't necessarily seem to care what colour, religion or sex you are while you pretend to be an Elf. Board games are just board games, everyone loves board games right?

      Otherwise, I could post a wall of text but it's so much effort to articulate these things....

    6. As an aside, the best female model GW have ever managed is the "Bretonnian Damsel with Staff, Foot" that comes packaged with the same but mounted. She's got her sword, her staff, her dress with minimal cleavage and then a big warm cloak. The power comes not from the sexualisation of the subject matter but from the fact that she can turn you inside out with a thought. She's in charge.

    7. @Lauby, too right he fucked up... BIG time.

      @Arquinsiel, posting walls of text is all the rage round here... all the cool kids are doing it... and me. Apparently my S:AaB T-shirt means I'm not as cool as I thought I was. I'm totally gutted about it.

      While I think the Bretonnian Damsels actually weren't bad, I actually think the female Waywatchers were better. Why? Because you hardly noticed they were female, it was only on very close inspection while painting I noticed that they were, ditto the female wardancers. They're just part of the unit and dressed to fit in with the rest of there units. It's actually one of the reasons I used to love my Wood Elves so much.

    8. Very true. It's one of the reasons I really like Elhiem's dog handlers in Osprey body armour. You really can't tell apart from the one with her helmet off.

      I rate the Damsel above the Wood Elf stuff because the Damsel is distincly and stereotypically "feminine" while not being blatant exploitation. She can make your head explode, if she wanted to be wearing pants she'd be wearing pants. She just LIKES the dress.

      My wall of text would be an odd digression into the mechanics of my gaming group, which is moderated in the same way 4chan is. It only makes sense if you see it in action.

  12. Well put. I feel that I should read all the comments too, but I just can't do it after wading through that text, so apologies if I point out something that has already been written.

    I'm a bit on Nicole's page here; that men are jerks everywhere, and that not all men are jerks. Problem is that jerkdom spawns and thrives in male-dominated areas, simply because a lot of the jerks don't realise that they are jerks, in abscense of anyone telling them. They don't realise their gawking at the first female gamer they meet is rude and degrading, simply because they haven't encountered a female gamer before. And even if they do notice her reaction, they don't know how to interpret it and don't realise they are they cause of it.

    So the problem isn't unique to gaming, but is ever so present in the gaming hobby just as it is in the society. I think miniatures games are perhaps 20 years behind roleplaying games in the aspect, when I started roleplaying there were very few female roleplayers and the ones that did roleplay where very often the girlfriends or sisters of male members of the gaming club. While male gamers could (and often did) play female characters, the female roleplayers where more or less expected to play female characters.

    As for the eldar rape scene, I was very disturbed by it. I know war is ugly and rape is a brutal part of war, even as a weapon. I think that what disturbed me about it is not the action happening, or the grim expressions of the men. It's the depiction of the eldar warrior. Basically she has a very tintillating pose as if she was in a men's magazine; Her legs are spread, which is a classic in men's magazines. Although she attempts to cover her naked breasts she only manages to cover half of her left breast, leaving the whole right breast nipple and all visible. Furthermore the breasts in my opinion look too much like the classic anime boobies, too large to fit in the armour plate the men has removed.

    Had the modeller depicted her as covering, hiding and not displaying her fantasy chest, the scene had been equally strong, but morally better, reminding us of the horrors of war. Which he (I'm assuming it's a male modeller) clearly could have done judging by the skill he displays in the diorama.

    1. the problem certainly isn't unique to gaming and nor have I claimed that it is in the article. I pointed out the very things you are saying. For instance that in male dominated circles 'jerkosity' as a friend calls it, is more rampant, and there aren't any bigger sausage fests than our hobby.

      As for the rape scene... enough said. It's just poor all round. They clearly had the skill as you point out, but chose to go the lascivious route and it was disingenuous of them to claim otherwise after the event with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.

      Thanks for the comment Leif, always good to hear what you think.

    2. Yeah, sorry for saying the obvious which you had already said. Was trying to get my 2 cents in, without just writing "me too".

      Well, me too :-)

    3. lol. No there was more info and more weight added. I've had a few emails from clearly newly set up accounts abusing me for what I've said... which hey I used to... but thankfuly it seems I'm not totally wrong in thinking the vast majority of gamers are decent people and that's restored a bit of my faith.

  13. I'm glad you braved this issue. These kinds of issues do need to be brought up for discussion more often. I'm also of the opinion that everything we do say and experience has an effect on ourselves & others, and the fact that we might not pay attention to or acknowledge that doesn't make it any less real. So a bit of self-reflection is a good thing.

    Unfortunately such a detailed and lengthy analysis warrants a thought out lengthy reply, so sorry if I'm not able to be as brief as I could be.

    The blurred area between 'sexy because capable' and 'sexy for the sake of sexy' is an interesting one. I'm not into sports, but I think there is a comparison to sports that is appropriate: female athletes like gymnasts or those who do track events often have tight or a minimum amount of clothing, because it is appropriate for what they do. Women who play 'lingerie football' are not in the same situation. Very clear there what might be sexy by nature as opposed to sexploitation. Lingerie football isn't any different than mudwrestling. The misogyny comes into it because of the purpose and presentation.

    For miniatures there are a lot that are in the sexploitation vein. I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing in the same way that I don't have a problem with pornography and pin-up art,or fantasy art such as Frank Frazetta. But there is an appropriate time and place for everything. Philosophically I don't have a problem with pornography, but that doesn't mean I'd think over the mantle is the right place for a Penthouse centerfold. Time & Place. Having a cheesecake babe in next to nothing leading an army shows the person has no concept of appropriate use or presentation for such things and is more likely thinking 'here's a chance to show some boobies' and so yes, that is misogynistic because it shows a lack respect and realization that a female can be more than a sex symbol. I do say 'more than' because yes, females can be sex symbols, and ask any woman you know, she does want to be found sexy and appreciated in a sexual way- all humans do- but only when it is appropriate and not have it forced upon her or in an unwanted way. Having a bikini babe leading troops is just as inappropriate and misogynistic as lingerie football or being a sexist pig toward a woman.

    Time & Place is important. I can say something teasingly sexy to my girlfriend, and that's appropriate. If I say the same thing to a random woman, then that isn't appropriate. If I say it to my girlfriend in the middle of an intellectual conversation than likely that isn't appropriate either. The fact this issue comes up in gaming shows a lack of emotional development, that will hopefully improve with age, but getting older isn't a magic cure- it only works if experiences and analysis of those experiences takes place.

    In Western Culture we've grown so accustomed to overly sexualized imagery of women that it's not easy for a lot of people to see anymore. But reverse the genders and it becomes a lot more obvious. Replace Patton with Fabio in a mankini leading troops in WWII and there will be no doubt remaining. Such a miniature just for the sake of display might be of questionable taste, but as a piece of pin up art or pornography isn't by itself inappropriate any more than pin up art or pornography is. The misogyny comes in when the purposes get crossed. Having a woman pose for a pin up in a bikini might be fine, telling her to go to court in her job as a lawyer while wearing a bikini would not be. Same would be true for a man. Time & Place and perceived purpose are important factors,even in miniatures games, and I think a lot of people don't consider it.

    1. Oh yes, forgot to mention: regarding Flight of the Conchords, some of the descriptions of how guys behave around women at gaming events reminded me of another great bit from Flight of the Conchords, when Bret says "she's so hot she's making me sexist"

    2. Sorry Laughing Ferret, for some reason I seem to have completely missed your original comment. Let me address the FotC first... man will they ever do a third season? I really hope so. I love that programme so much.

      As for your main comment I like you don't think there is a problem with either pornography or pin-ups in general. All I've been saying this week is can we have a grown up honest debate about what it is? I think by and large we've sort of had that hopefully. Or I personally think the comments I've received have been grown up and have at least addressed issues. As you say time and place is vitally important and I also accept context is as well.

      Your point about Western Culture putting out overly sexualised images is a point that has been made time and time again, yet it continues unabated. Western Media and culture does have a desensitising effect on us all, and nobody can say they haven't grown up with that as an influence and it is insidious. People are right to point out that it is a far wider problem than just our hobby. However, I think there is a tendency with this debate and many like it to make it 'too huge' and try and drag more and more stuff into it. That then gives people the excuse to say 'hey this is a massive topic we can't possibly tackle'

      Crock of crap I say!!! :P

      I think we can separate out issues and problems and try to tackle them one at a time. By breaking them off into manageable chunks and remaining focused on that little part of the picture I think we can sort things out. I accept this sort of stuff goes on elsewhere, it's nieve to not think so. But as you say there's a time and place for everything, and I'd like this to be the time and place I at least started looking at my hobby and how it impacts on others. If other people do the same, awesome, if not at least t was worth a try... right? Again thanks for such a thoughtful response...

      Oh, and the image of Fabio in a Mankini storming the beaches of Normandy will stay with me forever!!! Classic. I'm still not sure me and my better half have stopped laughing over that.


  14. A well articulated and thoughtful piece. You touched on so many things that I didn't even begin to broach in my Chickhammer post. The "sexist not sexy" models is something I've been frustrated with myself without being able to find a way to discuss it eloquently or effectively. You achieved both.

    Thanks for the reply to my email. Cheers!

    1. Thanks Ashley, much appreciated. I hope it gets some people somehwere thinking about a few things differently.

  15. A somewhat prolific female sculpter that immediately springs to mind is Sandra Garrity, just to throw an answer to that early question. That said, aside from Trish, I can't think of any others off the top of my head.

    "many males end up unwittingly contributing to this phenomenon without even realising. Because we simply don't think about it. I'm holding my hands up here and saying I am guilty of it too."

    So am I. While I have thought about it before and discussed it with others, it's not something I consider most of the time. I've been at clubs or tournaments where someone has made a comment along the lines you mention and I'd be one of those guys cringing at it but just shaking my head and carry on. You know what? That changes from now on. I'm at a Warmachine tournament at Maelstrom next weekend, although I'm not at clubs that often these days, if I hear something, I'll say something in future.

    That's a very well written and thought provoking article. Thank you for writing it. I've been a wargamer for a stupid number of years and have done work for a few of the better known companies, I'm also a father with a daughter. I have little doubt she'll take an interest in gaming etc as she's a complete daddy's girl. The idea of her being in the situation described by HitGirl horrifies me. At 16 or older I can see a lot of girls finding that funny, at 13...

    That Eldar rape scene just makes me angry.

    Out of curiosity, what's your feelings on the female Dwarf bloodbowl team from Warlord?

    1. Sandra Garrity!!!

      How did I forget her? D'oh!!!

      The thing with comments is that often it's just easier to let them slide 'when it's just the boys' than tackle the issue. Despite what people think humans in general actually don't like conflict. So speaking up about such things is often stepping outside of our comfort zone. Honestly the incident at Maelstrom embarrassed me, and also heartened me in a sense because once I pipped up so did pretty much everyone else. That's heartening, I just hope to God that if the women in question did hear the comment she didn't think it was me.

      As to the Dwarf team, I'd not seen it before and I can't really get any good pictures. To be honest apart from being a bit puerile again I don't see anything majorly wrong with them. Not to my tastes, but I think the clearly comedic and comic vbalue of them possibly saves them... just.

    2. That was my thoughts as well, they're obviously an attempt at humour. That said, I then wondered if I was letting them off because they weren't human.

    3. Hmmm...

      that hadn't occurred to me, and the fact that they are in effect fat short dumpy women could mean we are not attracted to them in the same way as perhaps we would be tall slender buxom elves!!! I think this just confirms we're both two utterly horrible and reprehensible males and we should go and self flagellate ourselves for our transgression.

      On a more serious note though, none of that had initially occurred to me before you pointed it out.

  16. Quite frankly the depiction of women in contemporary Western society is hyper-sexualized. Look at your average beer advertisement, American Appeal Ad, or turn on MTV. The cover of every women's magazine every month promises tips to help the reader loose weight and please men sexually. So, the question isn't 'do wargames depict women as sex objects' rather it's 'do wargames depict women as sex object more than other comparable aspects of popular culture.' I argue that while, like video games, the sexualization of women in sci-fi/fantasy wargames is more overt than in mainstream pop culture it's still well within the bounds of current cultural norms.

    Battle bikinis are absurd, but women in the context of a pseudo-medieval society strapping on armor and swinging swords is equally absurd. Speculative fiction is a mirror for our own culture, we look into that mirror and seek barbie dolls in pasties and g-strings fighting dragons, which speaks volumes about the unspoken perceptions of our own society.

    I like cheesecake as much as the next man, maybe even a little more than the next man, and I'll admit that any day of the week. However, there is much in the depiction of women in wargaming and society at large that I object to. There is a time and a place for eroticism, but when it's become so engrained in the culture that we are asked to take women fighting in mini skirts and high heels seriously, there is a deep problem. But, woman-as-sex-object is everywhere; hell, even the silhouette in the chickhammer banner has a figure one is unlikely to find anywhere outside of a lingerie catalog.

    Misogyny is a difficult thing to pin down, and anyone can create his own definition to advance his own point of view. It makes sense to saw that the sexualization of women is bad, yet much ink has been spilled by third wave feminists arguing that far from exploitative, sexualization is empowering. You can say that the image of a fully clad lady-warrior is positive depiction of a woman, and many would agree. Yet, she is engaged in the physical domination of her environment and society through violence, which is amongst mammals a generally male activity. So, is the masculinization of a woman less demeaning than the sexualization of a woman?

    You're touching on an issue that goes far beyond wargaming and has been a source of contention in Western Civilization for the last hundred and fifty years. I don't pretend to have any answers, so I'm going to go paint some toy soldiers.

    1. Y'know, I've heard a very compelling argument that "empowerment" is a terrible word, precisely because it's something different from "power". It's a feeling, without a force. And the woman who said that is a former stripper, and an artistic powerhouse... someone who I'm inclined to take seriously. I sometimes wonder if any given thing's demeaning if it's done to, and powerful if it's done by...

    2. @Spiffy, Misogyny isn't that difficult to pin down in my experience. What's difficult is defining whether something is misogynistic.

      I'll also leave you with this thought to ponder. While western culture does over sexualise everything, from adverts for washing up liquid to beer, that says more about those selling the goods in many respects than those buying them. In the case of some miniatures and toy soldiers these are actually things we buy to represent us on the table. Does that mean that they say more about us than the people who created them? I think that it does and that means this is an issue for our hobby and arguably a unique one as we're all so attached to the armies we build and paint. There's a relationship there.

      Also just because it has been going on for a very long time, and it's difficult to come to any answer doesn't mean we should all stop trying.

      @Von... well said Sir. And that sound like one very wise friend you have there.

    3. I'm reminded of Gloria Steinem - 'power can be taken but not given, the process of the taking is empowerment in itself'.

      Also, as far as pop culture rebuttals go, Caitlin Moran did a great take down of some of the media nonsense about empowerment.

    4. Von,

      You make a good point about agency, as dark as it is, humans gauge power by one metric alone: the capacity to compel others to do what you want. It could be through force, charisma, bribery, etc., but it's still the ability to assert your will over another person or group of people. I think you are correct, what's demeaning and what's powerful all boils down to who is in control in a given situation. The simple reason we, as a species, perceive women as somehow inferior or submissive is because reproduction requires the female to surrender a certain amount of physical control to the male.

      Of course, somehow I always end up doing whatever my wife tells me.

    5. Frontline,

      I not convinced of a deeper relationship. It strikes me that society's depiction of women is over sexualized; thus the depiction of women in the games (video, war, etc.) of that society are equally over sexualized. However, you're right, we do spend a lot of time with our toys. And even if it is just a manifestation of a larger social phenomenon how the hobby as a collective depicts women does say something about how we as individuals perceive them.

      Misogyny aside, our hobby chooses to inject female characters into wargames. With the exception of ultra-moderns, the first few months of the Spanish Civil War, and maybe a few Iron Age tribes, women have never participated in warfare on any large scale. Sci-fi games get a pass because you can imagine the future to be whatever you want, but for pseudo-historical fantasy (be it medieval, steam-punk, etc.) it makes a lot more sense in these settings for women to be strictly non-combatants. I think the fact that we want to put women into our armies says at least as much as us wanting to put them into our armies in thongs.

      To come full circle I submit that as men of the 21st century we feel that women ought to be able to aspire to the same positions as men, even in fiction. So, we seek to add tiny tin women to our armies. Also as men of the 21st century we are used to seeing any woman of fantasy or fiction presented in some state of relative undress; so we give our female fighters armored undergarments.

      Regardless of anything else, we do get to chose how women are presented in our hobby. We as gamers are, generally speaking, intelligent, intellectual people who should insist that lady warriors receive garments suitable for her culture and station. Because, at the end of the day, exposing your midriff in battle is dumb.

    6. Thanks for the reply Spiffy, and thanks for taking the time to exress your thoughts. However, on the issue of a deeper relationship with our armies, I'm sorry I disagree. Just look at the passion many put into assembling and painting their forces. They're proud of what they display and the effort they represent. When army books or new rule sets clip their wings listen to the anguish and rage people feel because 'their army' has been mistreated. That shows there is a strong bond, and there is a representation issue. People say they don't want to put unpainted armies on the table because of what it says about them. Some people build back stories and their own colour schemes and personalise things. That IS for me evidence that for many there is a stronger relationship with their armies and that they do indeed intend their armies to be a expression of who they are. So on that point we do disagree.

      As for the rest I sort of concur. Except for why perhaps in some games the females are there in the first place. If they are there as eye candy are we really trying to empower (yuck don't like that word) women? Or are we really coming up with a weak justification for why they're there and using faux feminism as a smoke to justify the same crappy behaviour we've always been guilty of in society by saying its feminism? You know a bit like third wave feminism? You do know there was a fourth wave right? :P I'm joking with you by the way, although apparently sometimes my jokes don't always come across that well.

    7. If you draw a comparison to video games (dangerous, I know, but bear with me)heroines have become a lot more common over the last twenty years, but nearly all of them exist to add T&A to the game. The same thing could well be said for wargaming. Maybe I was giving people too much credit to thing that the increase in female models was due to a desire to impose 21st century values on the past, and its just the desire to have some cheesecake on the table.

      Certainly, for stuff like Witch Elves its purely the desire to have figures of half-naked women on the table (one could write reams about the sexual creepiness of GW dark elves/eldar). The pin-up stuff is irrelevant because to doesn't claim to be at all serious, good or bad its doing what it set out to do. Its the murky middle I'm just not sure about. I can say that I'm grown so sick of battle bikinis that I've virtually stopped buying video games. So, maybe wider greekdom will reach overload too.

    8. Well amen to that Spiffy. I too have stopped buying computer games, actually partly because of the same issues. I'd also like to point out I don't have an issue you with pin-ups / porn in the right setting. I might not go in for much of that myself but I see no reason to stop others as long as it doesn't creep over the line. As I've mentioned now a few times it's that grey are that troubles me. Normally I'm against labels for labels sake, but sometimes they are needed. Because when we have grey areas like we do right now we get Eldar rape scenes.

    9. To me context is the heart of the issue. Kingdom Death, Shadowforge, Soda Pop, et alia are essentially producing 3D pin-ups. They're provocative (maybe), silly, kitsch, and the designers' tongues are firmly in their cheeks. The problem is that females in what purports to be drama (be it a comic, RPG, wargame, videogame) are presented first and foremost as sex objects regardless of setting or tone. It does seem that a lot of our current crop of character designers, if called upon to do Shakespeare would want to put Lady Macbeth in a swimsuit. And I suppose that's the part that's worrying the initial impulse always seems to be female character = sexy.

  17. Props on a very thought-provoking and educating sermon. As I can't seem to get my thoughts on the subject set out correctly in this comment (I've been trying and trying for 2 hours now!) I can easily imagine how difficult this would have been to write, and I admire you for throwing down on such a touchy subject.

    1. Thanks, it's a difficult issue, not just in terms of our hobby, but also wider society. Simply put the worlds a bit fucked right now in my humble opinion. When I see female friends and loved ones systatically treated differently and to there detriment it offends me. What offends me more is that it's got to the stage where the debate is actually so fucked up that men and indeed women feel it's actually OK to refer to a women who raise such concerns as a 'whinging bitch' or 'feminazi'... that means sometimes it actually takes a man to say 'actually no they're right this is shitty' and I think that in itself is shitty. I just feel that society in general now just dismisses female concerns far too easily and readily as the ramblings of a few crazy women. We have equality right? Wrong.

    2. Agreed.
      And the whole issue is only exacerbated when you bring a lady with any sense of self into a store/gamer group/etc. that is populated by a majority of 12-21 yr old guys.
      It then moves from a real-world issue pushed under the rug to an "In-your-face" problem.. which of course only leads to knee-jerk reactions, often on both sides, instead of what the issue truly need: A thought-through discussion and active work to fix the problems.
      But it all boils down to getting people to act right in their surroundings and then working to expand the good will outwards.
      We cant change society, but we can change ourselves, and all the jazz :P

    3. As I said, and pretty much everyone on here has said, even the ones who have disagreed with some of what I've said, or hell maybe even all of it in MxConnell's case, that it should start at home first. That I agree with. No one person can ever truly change the world, you just have to add to it incrementally and hp others do the same.

  18. Part 1

    Oh Wow.

    First, let me say that I am in favor of women’s rights and their fair and equitable treatment. I have a mother, a wife, and my only child is a 12 year old girl. I spend a large amount of time worrying about how she will survive in the world today. I am also a project manager in product development responsible for, at various times, six to a dozen engineers. I am responsible for their technical achievements as well as their day to day behavior. It is a male dominated profession and I have spent no small portion of my work day managing relationships and the fair treatment of female employees.

    That said, I’m going to buck the crowd here and say that I found this post appalling on so many levels. I had to read it twice, then print it out and read it again making notes.

    First, it was long winded and muddled by how many topics you tried to handle at one time. The post was 7,192 words long (really, I had to know and pasted it into Word for a count). In this post you:
    - Waffled about your qualifications to even speak
    - Bemoaned other gamers behaviors
    - Bemoaned other gamers not censuring the previously mentioned gamers
    - Made universal assumptions about what is and is not pornography (something even the courts have a hard time with) and bemoaned sculptors and figure makers for not applying your standards.
    - Bemoaned game makers for not making all inclusive games
    - Oh, but wait, sisters are doin’ it for themselves
    - Patted yourself on the back for the time you stood up
    - Confessed your previous sins when you fell short

    And this list is just scratching the surface. Look at the list, Man! You are all over the map! You are smarter, more reasonable, and better organized than this. I really expect better from you.

    I found particularly disturbing.

    “Ignoring women / girls /chicks / hotties is just bad for business?”
    Well thank you for exhibiting the bad behavior you are chastising right up front. “chicks / hotties”? As a mother’s son, as a husband, a man with a sister, and the father of a daughter I ask you to stop this poor characterization of women. Even as a possible joke, it’s in poor taste considering your stance in the rest of the posting.

    And let’s look at –
    “These inequities between the portrayal of genders exist in wider society, and the imbalance is there, but just because it exists in other places that doesn't mean we should accept it in our hobby.”
    “Well that line also exist between sexist and pornographic, because we just don't label things correctly in our hobby.”
    “So I believe our hobby does need to change this current trend, and get a bit more with the program.”

    Look at those three quotes. Totalitarianism. Big Brother (as in Orwellian – just to be clear). Where is Frontline Gamer the proponent of free speech? The blogger against censorship? You don’t seem to be in favor of them when they say something you find “incorrect”. Shame on you!

    (concluded in part 2)

  19. Part 2

    Your measure of what is acceptable interesting: “I always ask myself the question would I be happy showing this miniature off to my mom, my partner who I love or indeed my imaginary daughter?”
    Didn’t you like being part of the House of Paincakes network because cursing was ok and you felt you should be able to curse in your blog. Would you want your mom to see you using the vulgar language you use in your blog? In this posting? Would you want your imaginary daughter? This sets you up as, at minimum, inconsistent, and at the extreme a hypocrite.

    I’d also like to point out in your reviews of Dust you posted some of the game related cheesecake. And this was AFTER you first started on this article. Shame on you! You didn’t need to include it. In fact, why didn’t you have a warning in your review that images offensive to women were in the game?

    And the most appalling is that you had an opportunity for thoughtful, intelligent discourse but end up with a rambling, inflammatory article that lacks much real insight. You really come across like a rabid apologist rather than a thoughtful reformer.

    And your repeated use of misogyny. Really? Misogyny?!? I looked in three dictionaries and they all pretty much say “hatred of women”. You professed that at one time you were a part of the awkward teens that are, if not the biggest issue, certainly where it all starts. Did you hate women? How about some INSIGHT?!?

    So into this vacuum, let me throw a little personal insight. Probably not anything new, but new to this thread barring someone beating me to the punch while I’ve been typing. And a warning – this may be “Too Much Information” for some readers.

    OK, guys, by and large, are surging with a metric ton of hormones and genetic instructions tens of thousands of years old. It’s at its worst when you are a teen. And you’re crazy about women but haven’t the skills, knowledge or control to do anything about it. You can only really imagine women in your fantasies. Oh, wait, what was that? Fantasy. What are you playing? Oh, a fantasy game where you act out fantasies. One is going to bleed into the other because it’s one of the things you’re thinking about ALL-THE-TIME. So please, these people aren’t the anti-Christ, just a little wound up. Gently GUIDE them, not brand them with the God-damn Scarlet Letter. It really wasn’t until in my fifties that it wasn’t a daily struggle to think about women as people without the chick and hottie component. Interesting coincidence that not too long after, I was diagnosed deficiency of testosterone. I’m reluctant to have it treated as I am just so at peace now.

    So let’s stop throwing around the misogyny, ok? This isn’t about HATING women.

    And let’s also not forget that women have a metric ton of hormone and genetic programming going on as well. There are plenty of times I have tried to participate in female dominant organizations and was not welcomed with peace, love, and understanding. So it is not, as this post suggests, a one way street.

    So I think the key points are (as we old timers say) “Think globally, act locally”. DO BE concerned about how women are treated in society, and DO try and guide the misguided. But DON’T make sweeping assumptions about what’s going on in your neighbor’s house.

    There’s lots more I could comment on, but I think I’ll cut myself off at 1206 words.

    Truly, Peace Out.


    1. I to looked up misogyny. I then looked up hatred.

    2. Firstly I'll reply to Spifferson because your comment at least allows e to define parameters. For me Misogyny is pretty easy to define.

      Misogyny: The hate, mistrust, dislike of women. I believe it can genuinely manifest in multiple way, saying it's "hating women" is lame and quite frankly too limiting. Sexual discrimination, sexual objectification and denigration are all forms of misogyny in my eye's. They might not be in your, or indeed MxConnell's, but that's where I'm coming from.

      Hatred: Is a strong word, and it's actually one of the few in our language that gets bandied around too much, which in this day an age seems strange. For me though hatred is manifests in anger or hostility towards 'something'. That's how I view it at 8:00 in the morning without my dictionary and coffee not having been drunk.

      Now if you look at say the sexual objectification in some miniatures within our hobby and then ask yourself is that potentially hostile towards women. Sorry, I think the answer is yes in a lot of cases.

      Do I think that's often the intent of such piece from those who create them? No I don't but I genuinely do think that isn't the point. Hence me talking about potential Institutional misogyny.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Apologies. I should have made my post somewhat clearer or possibly not posted.
      My issue was with the almost grammar-naziism in response to FLG's use of "Misogyny" and the implication that misogyny was only tied to the deepest feeling of hatred.
      Misogyny does indeed have a very ridged definition where as hatred is much more objective.
      You summed up my feelings well with the use of Institutional Misogyny.

    5. No problem, and bnever not post. Even if your brain is dribbling out of your ear after a long day of work. Get engaged in the debate, even if it comes across as a strange mix of Klingon and interpretive dance we'll get there in the end. :P

      I've had some big wig types contact me today about the phrase 'Institutional Misogyny' apparently after they'd stopped spitting coffee over their computer screens and thought about it... they think I might have a point. So the way I look at it if I've got some people inside the industry going hmm maybe, then job done. I'll continue the discourse with them. Ultimately they might decide I'm talking bollocks...

      The thing is I do things in the hobby unknowingly and without thought because well that's what you do in the hobby, and you think nothing of it. I've used the phrases "Go I'm getting raped here" or "I'm totally raping you" without thought. Crass, stupid, dumb and part of gaming's lexicon I'm afraid. To an outside observer that's threatening and possibly deeply offensive. So why in Gods name do I say it? Because within the hobby it's normalized and institutionalised. I certainly wouldn't call myself a sexist or a misogynist bit when I don my gaming cap clearly I can become one and not even realise. Just wanted to flag that I think that might be the issue we're witnessing in the hobby.

  20. @MxConnell

    Apologies if this comes across as "all over the place" as my article but its very early in the morning for me and I have other things I need to do. However, I felt given that you have taken the time to write such a thorough response and give the article that much thought I think you at least deserve a response. I might come back and respond more fully latter.

    Firstly thanks for reading, and secondly for bucking the crowd. It's always good to have your thoughts tested as it makes you have to think about them and crystallise them. Right onto you bullet points:

    The length yep guilty as charged, but I do that sometimes. I'm not going to apologise about writing big articles. If people don't like it don't read them. That is a legitimate choice you know.

    As for being all over the place, again guilty as charged, but I feel with good reason. I tried writing this as a series of distinct articles on distinct categories, but I kept getting the sense that none of them were really getting at the issues, or the core issue and I couldn't put my finger on it at all at first. However, I think there is a golden thread between all of the various topics within the hobby, and that is that it gives rise to something that we can all potentially miss because we're not directly responsible but indirectly responsible, hence the phrase 'institutional misogyny'. I do think that potentially the hobby does give rise to something that not only objectifies and at time denigrates women, but is also hostile to them... is that not misogyny? Because that's what I think misogyny is.

    Waffling about my qualification to speak. Yes you bet your ass I did. I'm uncomfortable broaching this subject as a male. Genuinely. I'm still uncomfortable about it because I feel although it's my responsibility to make things better I really don't think men should be setting the agenda or defining the discussion, I really do believe that is women's place and that our role in the debate should be to engage in a mature and respectful way with the discourse they set.

    YEs I bemoaned other gamers behaviours, as well as my own, and people for not censoring them or me. As it's an important issue that has actually gained a fair bit of discussion time over the last few weeks on message boards and Blogs. If you are unaware of that then fair enough, I felt I needed to get that out there because many people have actually been apologists for thoroughly reprehensible behaviour. Also I felt I needed to be honest about my own behavior because to do otherwise would be disingenuous.

    On the issue of the pornography point I agree it is hard to define, I said so, blurry lines. Did you not read that? Perhaps it got lost in the other 7190 words... :P ... Also just because courts and others have trouble trying to define what pornography is doesn't mean we should stop trying. Honestly I dislike that sort of cop out justification for not trying to tackle issues. Sorry MxConnell that is a cop out.


    1. As for the "chicks / hotties " comment... it was a joke, a joke which, thankfully, most people got. Clearly you didn't. For that I apologise. However, this is a fairly heavy topic and honestly if I hadn't tried interjecting a bit of humour, and try to make the subject seem a little less daunting I'm not so sure I'd have got some of my points through to some of the readers I have. I'd have instantly set the defenses off and they'd have not felt comfortable engaging. You thought it was bad and in poor taste, others didn't, but your complaint is duly noted and stored away in the memory banks.

      Onto the three quotes and freedom of speech now. Firstly where did I say things should be banned not allowed? Did I? Because I've gone through this article 4 times now looking for where I said that. Honestly I think youre stretching because the article made you pissy. But lets say that it did give you that impression and let me clear up where I personally stand on the issue. If you read my Ax Faction Gilded Saint review I clearly say I wouldn't want to see this stuff banned, and I make it clear here too, despite you saying otherwise. However, I also feel that with Freedom of Speech comes an important responsibility not to abuse it and to act as a civil human being. I also believe just because somebody has the right to say something doesn't mean I have to agree with it. Or are you saying it does? I've always had a very difficult relationship with Free speech though, and freedom in general. There are plenty of philosophers who argue the right to live free from harm should outweigh freedom of speech etc. and honestly they make very, very compelling arguments. My heart does say that liberty and freedom should be protected for all, but liberty and freedom unchecked can lead to some pretty horrendous things been done to others. So yes I struggle with that moral conundrum, not going to lie.

      Next onto my measure of acceptable yep, that's it. Also I did indeed join the House of Paincakes because they allowed swearing and talking about other game systems etc. Now ask yourself this question? How many times have you seen me swear in an article, or in the comments section? It's rarely isn't it? Very rarely. So I self regulate and censor, is that incompatible with me believing I should have the right to if I choose too? Weak argument don't see the point in you raising it, perhaps it was an attempt at point scoring. I don't know, perhaps you could further clarify what your point was.

      OK cheesecake images on the Dust review. Is that it? Seriously is that the lot. I think I posted two pictures of women in their undies around Christmas time too and also a picture of Scarlett Johanson. So in 362 articles that's the sum total of my transgressions? Yep I'm terrible, truly awful. Now go out there and look around the Internet. How many hobby Blogs and articles are literally plastered with pictures of naked women? I do so and try to poke fun at the phenomenon and try to get people to see it for the childish behaviour it is. However, I'll concede that they are however transgression, no matter how few of them there are. So if I caused offence to anyone with those images and jokes (Dust Tactics review aside) I apologise again. Let me however bring up my Dust Warfare review. I did not post the images you mentioned, because of the exact issues you raise. I posted them in the 'intrigues me article too' unthinkingly, I freely admit it, I'm no saint and nor am I perfect. I don't claim to be in the article either, I'm just as flawed as the next person. But, I do learn, and I'm willing to continue to learn. So you've pointed out something I myself have already become self aware of, so yes it is a point.


    2. As for misogyny... yes, yes and thrice YES. Strong word? Yes. Powerful word? Yes. Needed in the context of this debate? Yes. Because it has brought out a thoughtful response from you and Spiffy Iguana. However, if you want to see why I did so please read my response to spifferson under part 2 of your comment. That's my reasoning and that's why I'm sticking to it. You don't have to like it, and I'm not particularly bothered if you do, or that you think I'm some apologist or whatever. I know how I feel and I know how looking back through all the emails I've received while piecing this article together has made me feel. I'm comfortable with me coining the phrase 'institutional misogyny' to describe our hobby, even if the thought makes me deeply uncomfortable. Because an institutional behaviour is one that requires no thought from the actors and is instilled in them from the institution themselves. If you aren't familiar with the concept of institutional behaviour you should honestly look it up. Although from your response I getting the feeling you are and you're glossing over the point.

      As for INSIGHT you know what I'll refer you back to the article. Look at the paragraph next to the black and white Fiat advert. There you go, there's me explaining the behaviour, there's me understanding it doesn't necessarily mean to cause harm even though it does. Or even the paragraph next to the picture of the TV series Men Behaving Badly (sorry I'm not sure you'll know that show or not). Also I do say to guide people and to act as role models, so I don't get where you are coming from. I also don;t say individual sculptors or games designers are misogynistic or sexist so and so's, I actually say that the hobby, with it's many facets does give rise to an environment that is potentially hostile to women... hence Institutional Misogyny. If you don't see it then fine, you don't agree. But I think I've stated quite clearly throughout the article that many of the things that give rise to the unwelcoming 'vibe' for lack of a btter word is perception based and a by-product of acts as opposed to the implied consequences of those acts. You missed that point, maybe that's because you didn't read the article correctly or because I wrote it badly. Either way it doesn't matter, because guess what... the result is the same. :P

      Honestly thanks for taking the time to respond. Some of your criticisms I see, and I will take on board. Others, sorry I think you were the one caught stretching on a few, and actually you really weakened your own central thrust by bringing them into the discussion, much like my article eh? ;) They did however give me the opportunity to clarify my own position so again, genuinely thank you, no condescending implied there or for that matter in any of my response. Sorry if the article made you mad, but in a way I'm glad it did.

      and peace out to you to my friend! :)

      PS. I think I ended up responding fully any way and you've made me miss my morning coffee!!! So hopefully none of it came across as cranky. Honestly I'm not. Now if you'll excuse me I'm off to get that coffee now and do some actual work.

    3. Well, let me leave it with the following:

      1) I do agree we should be concerned about how all people are treated in all aspects of our lives.

      2) There are a lot of figures in the world that make me uncomfortable: for sexual content, for violence, for gore. I don't buy them. But where are my lines of acceptable different from yours? What if a figure you found acceptable is not acceptable to me? Certainly I have met people alienated from gaming for all of the above types.

      3) Having been a gamer since the 1970s, I have experienced being told I am in league with Satan for playing RPGs and that I promote war for playing wargames. I have an inherent, knee jerk reaction when folks start talking about what folks should and should not be doing; that what other folks are doing is "bad" (and this is pretty much what you're doing when you start labeling things as pornography, soft or otherwise). Yes, you can say those folks talking about RPGs and wargames are nutters, but one person's nutter can easily become another person's prophet and it can all start sliding down hill very quickly. It requires a very light touch.

      4) As to the joke, no I suspected it was a joke. But let me put it in another context. You're talking about images, behaviors, and speech that are demeaning. Can we agree that there is a significant percentage of the female population that would find the use of chick or hottie offensive and demeaning? Well, what if your article had not been about women but about ethnic minorities, another segment under served in the gaming community? What if you had ended you list with a demeaning phrase towards a minority? Would anyone think it was funny? Would we be having this debate? Most would argue that the use of hottie and the dreaded N word are not the same. But they both are demeaning. A lot of the bad behavior in your FLGS is passed off as a joke too.

      5) Can we turn the conversation to the positive and constructive things that will reverse the trend? Can we find a woman game designer to support through Kickstart? Can we come up with a clever T-Shirt to increase awareness? How do you work with the manager of your local FLGS to make it a hospitable environment?

      6) First thing I do on Sunday morning, before I even get out of bed, is boot up the kindle and read the Sunday Sermon. Yes, my life is that sad. This article was on my mind all day Sunday. I spent 2 hours Sunday night composing my reply. I rarely respond to blogs. It has spawned a half hour conversation with my co-workers on Monday. Primarily due to #3 noted above. So I guess in that regard the post is very successful.

      I'm done now. It's almost out of my system. I'll go back to lurking.


    4. Right then, firstly don't slink away and become just a lurker!!! I genuinely like people who challenge things, it's always good to have you beliefs challenged no matter who you are. either it makes your beliefs stronger or you learn something new.

      1) Good I'm glad. I didn't for one minute think otherwise.

      2) Honestly I think it'd be time to discuss it. In this hobby often we just let things slide don't we. I think we're all too polite and strangely a little too respectful of other peoples opinions. I would have no problem with somebody saying "dude, I think that mini of Fabio in a Mankini is well out of order and overly sexualise the male form" genuinely. Likewise when people have genuine issues with things I write. I never go out of my way to be offensive. Sure I might offend by just being me, and having the opinions I do... but you know what? I'm a grown up and if people approach me in a grown up way they'll find I'm willing to listen and take them seriously... and then tell them to bog off. Politely of course. ;)

      3) I know people in the States lived through that, but us enlightened Europeans didn't have too. We only had fascism to deal with. However, I'd like to point out I'm not some knee jerk reactionary right wing nut job from your delightfully named Bible belt. I am in fact a member of the very community I was talking about. I am not some outsider attacking us. I'm an insider saying "hey ladies and gentlemen, I think we might have a genuine issue here." I'm not so sure in America whether you've had the same discussions we have had here in the UK, and indeed in other EU countries about institionalised discrimination. It's partly because we have had to deal with fascism, but also because of tragic cases like that of Stephen Lawrence. However, despite me having witnessed institutional sexism and yes possibly even misogyny I remain flabbergasted it isn't a phenomenon more talked about, certainly with regards to certain careers, such as academia. I could go on all night about that... as could my better half.

      4) Boy I'm really not the best person to talk about that. I actually think using humour to defuse some 'charged' words helps. I had a work colleague in my last job who I referred to as token. I didn't know him before I called him it, and he didn't know me I said it with a wink and a grin and he has been a very good friend ever since. For the record he called honkey. I also had a French Algerian gaming buddy who had a very dark sense of humour and I think again genuinely that sort of experience we had in Europe means we have it etched in our psyche to try and remove such tensions around word via humour.

      5) Absolutely. As I say we call ourselves a community and I'd hope we could start acting like one anyone would be proud to be a member of.

      6) Wow you must be as sad as my mom. She's the other reader I have on Sunday :P I'm also glad to see it has started debate a few other places and so far I'd say so good.

      Also as I'm a bit calmer now... I'm not an apologist. I have apologised for my bad behaviour that is not the same thing as being an apologist.


  21. Really interesting article. The number of comments, and the contents thereof, show that this is a topic that deserved to be discussed, and kudos to many for being so eleoquent in their discussion.

    On a slight tangent, one thing I'm interested in is people's opinion on Malifaux with regard to this topic. In my view, many of the strongest and best developed characters in the game are female, and they run the range from bikini clad, sword waving vixens (Viktoria/Justice), through fully clothed, strong leaders (Perdita/Collette). Ironically, the only model that has her breasts on show is the wizened old crone (Zoraida).

    Malifaux strikes me as a game that has the balance just right between "sexy cheesecake" (chainmail bikini & high heels) and "functional practicality" (warm overcoat and sensible boots.

    Does that make it a more attractive proposition for female gamers?

    1. Quite possibly. In my close gaming group, many of the wives/girlfriends are perfectly happy to join in RPG's and some of them have taken to it much better than the guys, but don't really wnat to do wargaming. Malifaux and potentially Warmachine/Hordes is the exception with most of them being at least interested in it. I hadn't thought about why, but you could be right.

  22. As stated by some others, my gaming club too has a perfectly safe environment 'gender wise'. Like me, my girlfriend also plays quite regularly, so I should know if something was ever wrong.
    The first store I was ever in to game (early nineties) was managed by a very nice 35 y.o. lady, and truthfully I've never witnessed any behaviour problem in there also.

    I know it may not be like that everywhere, but I'm sure we all have a quote of responsibility to educate (young and old alike) to behave as they should.

    Other than that I really think that as in everything else, every mind has a different understanding over the same subjects (ain't that fantastic?), so perhaps we shouldn't try to judge or label stuff so fast.
    Miniatures (as art in general), may be interpreted with many different philosophical or ideological approaches, but in the end of the day we might just be over-scrutinising an hobby you know?
    Offensive to women?
    Well, as you probably know by now, there are as many different thoughts about that between women as there are between men so you'll never get to achieve a consensus.
    I for once showed it (Ax Miniatures 'Guilded Saint') to my girlfriend and questioned her about this whole subject, and as far as she's concerned its just a (quoting) "quite well sculpted miniature".

    I'm not trying to make a point here, just letting you know that I'm ok if you, by whatever reason dont like it and dont want to buy it.
    But please take it easy when you labelling or judging stuff, because we all have different definitions for the same stuff.

    Glad we agree that every one should be more polity to girls/lady's and that clubs would be a lot more pleasant if there were more of both genders.
    Maybe then young geeks could take more care of their personal hygiene...

    1. Sigh

      Just because one female is OK with something doesn't mean there isn't an issue. I will continue to label things as I see them. Pin-ups, cheescake, porn whatever. If it is what I think it is I will say. Because there is an issue with more sexualised imagery creeping into our games, and much of it does appear hostile towards women. So I think it needs talking about. I'm not saying ban stuff, but I am saying lets at least be honest about the motivations of such pieces.

  23. Unfortunately, unless she's just moved into a design role in the last couple of months, Jen Ikuta is a cat-herder, not a designer or artist/sculptor. She used to be in charge of the Pressgangers, but moved to be Organised Play Co-ordinator last year. ( )

    And, for some LOLs:

    1. No I know Jen Ikuta isn't a designer or sculptor, I threw her name in because I was genuinely struggling for positive female role models in the hobby. That is a bit worrying.

      I've seen the college humour video so many times. It's in my adventures with girls series, the Descent dungeon crawler one. Classic.

  24. I think this is a problem with Geekdom as a whole and not just our narrow wargaming corner of it. Comic books has a far worse problem. Just look at the "women in refrigerators."

    In war gaming the female models are usually just showing too much flesh so they appeal to the male players and ending up looking like a grotesque parody of the female form. In comics they are scantily dressed before ending up raped, crippled, depowered, dead or folded in a refrigerator.

    Just check the website:

    At least the men die heroic deaths in the comics and usually come back to life better than before. But the women are either permanantly dead or permanantly depowered. Not exactly equals.

    1. Yes it probably is a problem with geekdom on the whole. For now though I'm focussing on getting pur house in order. Say something is bad over there, so it's OK to be bad over here won't cut it with me.

      Adter we've sorted out wargaming I'll help sort out comic books next.

  25. As a man here is my feelings on this issue. I like nudity. Maybe it is the testosterone in my body or the way I was indoctrinated through our society growing up or a combination of both. I do remember sneaking a peek at my dad playboys he had hidden when I was a kid. To this day I have never bought playboy or even porn but I do like some nude miniatures as long as they are somewhat tasteful and not with overly enhanced parts. Out of the 1000+ miniatures I have maybe 20-30 of them are nude. Men in general like nude women and there is more men in the hobby so there is more nude female minaitures.

    here is another

    and here is a male one

    So the barbarian female is not acceptable but the male one is because society puts a stigma on women showing their breasts. I have probably 20+ male barbarians in my collection. The Conan stereotype I find enjoyable.

    here is one

    so this one basically shows everything and some would consider this way more provocative.

    Here is another miniature I saw recently

    This one goes over the top because it shows male part. We can't have that.

    The Eldar Rape scene is not something I would buy. I could see that happen with any army from any country on this planet. People act like that could never happen and are so appalled about it. Maybe if it was more open in society it would happen less. People would be more on their guard. Just last year a female American reporter covering the uprising in Egypt was raped and a male one was beat up. Horrific criminal acts for sure but I have to ask WTF were they thinking putting those people in those positions in the first place. Men commit vast majority or rapes. Maybe it is our biological make up or whatever. I think trying to hide it or not talk about it just allows those few criminals easier victims.We live in a bubble where we have the luxury to worry about nude miniatures.

    I don't want to go too crazy on the subject. Let me just end on this. Humans are predators. Men are like Lions. They fought and took what they needed for survival for millions of years of evolution. Society keeps improving over time but will it be able to evolve beyond our emotions and instincts? Would it be acceptable to use drugs or maybe even use surgery on people to get the perfect society where men/women don't care about nude miniatures and rape no longer happens?

    1. OK I'm not so sure you get the point. Boobs on show isn't the problem. It's the context of the pose for me. That Barbarian female is absolutely fine as far as I am personally concerned. Its what I'd actually expect of barbarians, she has a lot of fur and is standing tall and proud.

      And the male one proves my point. Both the male and female miniatures are treated the same in that range. There's no real difference in the poses and the way they are standing. They both exist to fight, not to titillate and pleasure certain viewers. Society doesn't put stigma on women showing their boobs. Societhy put a stigma on certain acts.

      I've actually used Kev Whites Artemis as an example of a "nude study" in miniature form. Would some people find it racy? Yeah, but me I think it's a great study of what a women looks like for it's own sake and not to illicit arousal in its viewer. There's no bending over waiting to receive a delivery.

      The last miniature you show of the male barbarian with his member out is fine. I personally applaud whoever sculpted that. It's a brilliant piece of work, and much like Artemis is more a study of the male form, although clearly more animated. Again I don't think it's primary purpose is to titillate... although other might disagree and I'd hear them out if they did.

      OK the points about the rape scene clearly passed you by. everyone knows that not only do such atrocities go on in warzones, we also know that sadly they go on in supposedly civil society too. We also all know that all too often such crimes of violence against women go unreported and the perpetrators get away with it. The producer of that diorama was not trying to raise the issue of wartime rape. That was a sick and twisted male rape fantasy. Simple as that. It was lascivious and disgusting. It glorifies rape, not chastises those who perpetrate such acts and it shows none of the harmful and hurtful consequences for the victim. So anyone who defends the piece in my eyes has as little understanding and empathy with the subject as the jackass who created that horrendous piece of trash.

      Oh and by the way humans weren't predators, they were scavengers. What we are is civilised. What made us strong were our brains, our capacity to learn and our capacity to reason. We've built cities, language and great works of art. Science and engineering has advanced us into the stars. We've designed laws and developed a code of morals that allows us to all have a modicum of peaceful existence. You try and separate emotions and instincts, but my friend you fail to realise that it was our emotions and instincts that led us to develop all of these things. We gathered together for protection.We developed language so we could better understand one and other... and if we say it's in man's nature not to be able to keep it in our pants quite frankly we do over 3 millennia of human civilisation and progress a huge disservice. We don't need drugs or surgery to remove urges, we need to live up to the standards we demand of ourselves, because if others can do it, so should you.

    2. I choose those picture to prove a point about American society. I was trying to be sarcastic but I failed in my delivery. Many towns in our country do not allow women to go topless and men can run around with no problem without a shirt. American movies have no problem flashing bush but as soon as you whip out a dick its like whoa hold on! You don't like the suggestive nudes but you are fine with some nudes. How would you like it if a government body or some other organization decided a web site like hasslefree miniature should be considered porn and off limits? Maybe even your site. A game store may not be the best place to have a Kingdom death miniature display. If someone wants to have it In their store I would consider it bad business but ultimately it is their choice.

      You say we have come so far as a society then why do we still have rapes and murders? Society is held in check by a Razor thin margin. War, natural disasters, famine can easily push society back to more feral ways. I think you and I are lucky for where we live.

      Btw I consider bears, monkeys, wolves, lions as predator. Anything that kills another animal for sport, protecting territory/food source or even eat for food is a predator in my book. Man does all that and worse.

    3. Unknown, yes humans do so much more than kill for sport. But what got us to that point was our civilizing tendencies ironically enough. Without tools and weapons quite frankly we'd be an awful predator. My point is it's actually in human nature to scavenge. In fact the whole act of farming can be seen as the logical extension of scavenging behaviour and far smarter anthropologists than I have made that connection. think about it, scavengers look for food sources that are easy to get. Farming makes that ridiculously easy doesn't it. We create an easy and readily available abundance of resource in one place. Sorted.

      I also contest the society and civility as paper thin argument. It comes out quite often and so often that many now don't even critical judge such statements. How many people on this planet commit murder? Rape? Or any crime? It's actually a very small percentage of our populations who do. For the vast majority of citizens such acts are wholly abhorrent and beyond the pale. It's why so many of us are outraged at their perpetration.

      So yes for some individuals the reality is it is paper thin. But for the vast majority of law abiding citizens it is not. It is in fact the rock solid core by which they live their live.

      Oh boy. You yet again attribute opinions to me I 100% haven't said. Comprehension please. I have not said ANYWHERE that nudes or suggestive miniatures should be banned... or that I don't like them. As somebody else has said in the comments section there is a time and a place for such things. My point is we do need to have a mature discussion about what that time and place is and call things by what they are.

      So your point about Govenment agencies banning Hasselfree or my website are entirely wasted my friend. Because sadly you've simply assumed because I think something needs a mature debate and discussing like grown ups I'm against something. Why is it that so many gamers see things in distinct dichotomous groups? Either one thing or the other rather than understanding and accepting that it is entirely possible to have complex and stratified opinions and beliefs on issues that aren't simply FOR and AGAINST?

      I would defend anybodies right to produce and buy the Gilded Saint or Kingdom Death Pin-up miniatures. However I would like people to be honest and say, yep, this is a pin-up, yep this is cheesecake and hell yes maybe even this is pornography. We have a blurry line in our industry because we don't define. That is problematic, for all the reasons I've listed above in the article and expanded upon in the comments section. I refuse to constantly have to restate my position when I've made it abundantly clear and repeatedly clear. Either you are capable of sensibly debating stuff and understanding the other persons position or you are not. I have not said ban pornography or anything, I think all of it has its place, so stop trying to claim otherwise and develop piss poor arguments based around things I haven't said or don't believe. Debate my points, don't make new ones up.

    4. I totally agree with you. Porn should be labeled porn. Who decides what is art and porn? You? Do we make an industry panel? You say the eldar rape is basically trash but some people don't see that way. Even you calling it a rape in itself maybe bias. Some people see it as a eldar who is going to grab that knife and gut some imperial guard before they can even "Rape" her and she will probably go down in blaze of laz fire IMO. She is not exacly bound and chained like GW slave girl. My impressions and some of your responses to the comments comes off you are against the Eldar "rape" and some other aspects of miniatures industry. Sorry your article is to me is decidedly slanted by your personal view. So I attribute some thing to you based on my impressions. What can I say you wrote it and responded to it. That's is how you come off to me. I guess I will have to say I disagree with you. The Eldar Rape is not a rape. You could say it is a possible rape and an inappropriate diorama. My response would be coolminornot is not exactly as PG site and if some people want to put controversial stuff up they can.

    5. OK this is the last response I'm going to write to you on this topic, because clearly you have not given me or what I have written the same courtesy I am affording you. Yet again you assume things, when I have actually stated the exact opposite, so it patently suits your argument, and yes I use argument and not debate, to paint me as something I am not. Why? Because I think you don't actually know what you are objecting to. The article has clearly made you feel like you personally were attacked. Your use of language portrays that.

      But I will clarify my labelling points as I have re-read my aricles and I think that maybe I have been a bit vague now I look at it. It's part of the problem when writing something, you know what you mean and assume you've been clear, but hey I accept that if I didn't know what I mean, if you see what I mean it could come across as vague. Here let me use an example.

      When I say we, I mean the industry. All of us should be honest about what it is we are buying and why, and what it is we are producing and why. So who should be honest and label this stuff? The people who produce it. People have asked why I haven't taken pot shots at Adam Poots and his Pin-ups. Well I can tell you why. He's clearly and correctly labelled what his product is for. That's all that is required.

      Moving onto the Gilded Saint, it isn't labelled as anything really. I like Paul, the guy behind Ax Faction. He comes across as a genuinely nice guy and reasonable too. I've chatted to him about my review. But he has said something to me that perfectly illustrates the problems that I think can arise when things are labelled correctly by their producers.

      He has told me that someone has brought the gilded Saint to lead his Empire Army. His implications was that because somebody thinks it is OK to plonk it in the center of their Empire army, take it to gaming clubs, and tournaments that there can't be any issues with it. I'm saying that is inappropriate. In your own home with consenting friends do what the hell you like as long as it doesn't cause any harm to anyone. But when you are out and about? No that's different.

      What I get up to in the privacy of my own home with consenting adults might commonly be describe by many as perverted, lewd, promiscuous and potentially extreme. But I don't display it where others can see. It's private. Were I to do some of the things I have done in private in a public place it would be inappropriate, and I'd rightly get arrested for it.

    6. This will be my last responce. I don't think you get it and I don't mean that in a mean or nasty way. I think you are a likeable guy and I like your articles. I am not really put out about any of this and I don't think we will see eye to eye on a few things. I think you wrote an article that you feel said this but it comes off differently to me. Maybe we are from different parts of the planet. Just because you think something is one way does not make it right.

      What I do take issue in your article wrote and comments such as this you are "fuming mad" over the Eldar Diorama and you write this

      "our hobby has created an air of sexism that empowers people to create such tastelessly lurid and sordid scenes"

      You are obviously against the Eldar Dorama. You have drawn a line in the sand. You even cheer on people who supports your views and others who disagree you bring up how people give you death threats....

      Then you bring up the pinups and stuff from kingdom death and you give his other tastelessly lurid and sordid diorama scenes like the wet nurse a pass which I think goes well beyond the Eldar Diorama. The wet nurse should be called the "Rape Nurse".

      You keep bringing up the Ax figure which I agree with you. I will add I don't think that that item should be sold in a gaming store at all unless it was put behind the counter and out of the reach/sight of children. If you want to put a 18 year old rating on it I am fine. Look it it. It is inappropriate if you call it a pin up or not.

      About a year ago I was showing someone my Helldorado figures and a guy picked up Jinx. He was actually really put off with that figure to the point he was like some of these figures are really nice but I can't support the game because of some of the content. I was like hrrrm ok. He never asked but out of common courtesy I never brought that figure or any other devils out in that store unless I asked people if they objected. In my area there is a lot of South American people and they can be very religious Roman Catholics. I am not really religious but I respect their view and the devil is really bad to them and they don't like to associate with any imagery of the like. They don't want their kids playing DnD or anything that has demons or devils in it. Do I want them telling me I can't buy helldorado figures and the gaming industry should be more inclusive to their religions views? NO! Does this rise to the same standard of the Wet nurse or Eldar Diorama. Not in my opinion but heck if I know what people are thinking or even if I have the right to try and police it. If it bothers me I am a big boy and will ask them to put it away.

      If some kid wants to toss the ax figure down at the head of army and someone has a problem with it they should say so and he should remove it. If kids are in the game store it should never be brought out period. He should ask any adults in the game store if they object to nudity and have a problem with the figure before he brings it out. You never know what some people consider inappropriate.

      anyway this chat is turning into the likes of a political or religion argument. Lets just say I am glad people can make wet nurse or even the Eldar diorama and have a place to post it up like on the coolminiornot website. I think that site is an acceptable spot for such displays. You can lead me to your water troff and I can you lead you to mine but I don't think either of us will take a big drink.

  26. Good to see this at last :)

    Wow, I just have so much to add, and there are so many tangents I could go off on, but I'll just add one thing because I'm pretty sure no-one's said it yet. Or at least they hadn't in the hundred or so comments I managed to read.

    I'm starting to think this issue is actually really simple, and that it only seems complicated because the people in the gaming community who feel threatened by the large-scale entry of women into the hobby keep insisting it's complicated. The large-scale entry of women will happen, and it will change things, and some people like the things that will change and don't want them to. The thing is, me, you, and most of society think those people are wrong.

    Our society has values, ones that we have held forever and ones that we are trying to move toward. In all western nations, laws and official policies are currently set up to ensure that women and men are given equal freedom and respect. How successful this is is arguable, but the same can be said for attempts to enforce all laws and community standards, e.g. theft, murder, whatever.

    The important thing is that we are trying here. We have a stance on this issue as a culture. The debate is long over. Anyone who thinks women should stay out of any sphere of life is at odds with the general morality of our society. And the problem is that there are anti-social people, and that some of them are in our hobby, and they don't want women to be a part of it.

    Now before you say I'm paranoid, one of the reasons I stopped frequenting forums was that I kept coming up against people with this attitude: "women have already taken over everything. Why can't we have this one thing (gaming) where we can be left alone to be men? Men are the oppressed ones now." This is obviously monumental bullshit of the highest order, and I don't think I need to point out why.

    So there are elements in our community who don't want women to be a part of it. And that answers our question, is the hobby misogynistic? Well, yes, so long as we allow these people a voice unchallenged, as though they have a reasonable point of view and should be heard. They don't, and shouldn't. Their view is completely out of whack with our culture's morality at large. All that crap about "sex sells" and "objectification is everywhere" is not the issue. That's a wider social issue. The issue facing us is that our sub-culture treats sexist views with more respect than it should, and to an extent normalizes them.

    I am completely confident that this will end. Women like gaming just as men do, and soon enough the anti-social elements will be swamped and gaming will be truly inclusive. But it won't happen easily or painlessly, and it could be that all this debate we're having is a sign that the battle is already well underway.

    I have a whole bunch of other stuff to say about the rape diorama but maybe I should put it in another comment.

    1. *stands up and applauds*

      Preach it Brother James, preach it.

      The reality is the vast majority of gamers I know have contacted me to say how much they wished that certain aspects of the hobby would change. And be more welcoming and inclusive of women. We do normalise sexist behaviour and the language used casually by us gamers without much, if any thought could be fairly described as hostile to women. I've already decided I'm implementing swear jars and other things during my games you use certain words and phrases that'll be £1 please. You can still call your opponent an arsshole but there'll be no aggressive sexual imagery please. As to the rape diorama... still even after all this time I'm fuming about it.

    2. Yeah, the diorama. Sigh. The way I see it is this:

      Western culture is pretty liberal. If you like porn, by and large that's OK. There are limits to what is considered acceptable, mostly based around violence, consent, and age. Depictions that transgress these limits are punished, censored and/or frowned upon depending on how far they go.

      Fine art has a certain license to transgress these limits. That's because one of its functions is to critique society. Artists can conceivably depict sexual assaults or whatever and avoid censure, but even then it's a case-by-case thing and there is often controversy, e.g. the Australian artist Bill Henson and his nudes of teenagers. The artist has to be seen to be making a valuable statement, one that outweighs the violation of standards that they are committing.

      So is that diorama art, worthy of us forgiving the objectionable content for some supposed deeper message? Hell no. If anything it is 3D fan fiction and here's why: Sinsynn as usual has hit on something important: there is no real sex in 40k. This is because it is implicitly (perhaps even explicitly) aimed at children. To argue therefore that a depiction of a sexual assault in a 40k scene is political art because of the realities of war is ridiculous. A diorama depicting taboo subjects, that is not in an art gallery, made by someone who is not a fine artist, derivatively set in a game world that is implicitly aimed at children, sets off alarm bells. It violates our taboos of age, violence and consent all at once, for no readily apparent artistic reason.

      Why isn't it in an art gallery? Because it's a derivative fan-work that makes sense only to a niche in the population, and therefore says little of wider social value. It lacks broad artistic vision. Viewers quite rightly see it not as a political statement about the horrors of war, but as gratuitous and unacceptable violent imagery in a setting aimed at children. A child could quite conceivably stumble across this image looking for Warhammer stuff.

      People read it as they would a picture of Leia being assaulted by Wookiees - as creatively barren erotic fan-fiction that crosses society's line of decency. Craftsmanship and skill are not the same as artistic merit - although any good work of art needs both. A work like that diorama displays craftsmanship but lacks artistic merit completely. I think the vast majority of game-related art is the same. Real artists are rare, but people with artistic talent are not: that's why awesome pictures of Master Chief are everywhere.

      The issue here is that as a traditional refuge for anti-social people, gaming harbours more than a few folks with sexual proclivities that violate cultural standards. Anyone who has had much to do with fan fiction knows that as well as some great stuff, there is quite a bit of deviant sexuality by mainstream standards, i.e. violations of our taboos of age, violence and consent. The internet has made these people confused, and they think that because other people share their tastes that that somehow validates them, as if they are an oppressed sexual minority. In the eyes of wider society they are not.

      Basically the person who made that diorama should have kept it in their pants. And the claim that it's political art is not fooling anyone.

    3. I see where you are coming from, yet I have to say that the WH40k backround as a whole is not really suited to children. When it was first created it was (among other things) a satiric, deeply pessimistic take on real world problems in 80th England (similar to "V for vendetta" (comic version). So there is and has ever been a political component in the seemingly arbitray grimdark.
      Yes, it is problemnatic that GW now focusses on children as its target audience, despite keeping the dystopic contet from its early days, but that is not the fault of the artist who did this diorama. Btw, there is plenty of sex, even kinky sex and rape in WH40k if you look a bit beyond recent codex fluff. Some is only hinted at (Dark Eldar live by inducing suffering and anguish of the worst kind. Guess what would be a good way to archieve this... need I go any further?), some is spelled out (Visit on a slaanesh infested planet in the old Inqusition war triology).

    4. James, I agree. I could've written an entire article as to why that scene wasn't art, or trying to make a politicized statement. But to give it any more coverage than I have would have sickened me. The best argument for it not being art though is that it is tasteless and tacky. I could go over the body poses and language created by those poses and what it actually says about the power dynamic in the scene and the reason intended by the creator, but you know what? anyone with half a brain seems to get it and the vast majority of the gamers who I've spoken about get it. They have no problem with somebody wanting to broach the subject of rape and tackle the thorny issues that surround it and the impact it has on the victim. They just all see that this diorama attempted none of that and was aimed at purely titillating immature lame ass geeks.

      Yuggoth... just no. Sorry you can't try justifying that rape scene on the back of your belief that it exists in the 40K universe. Regardless of whether it does or doesn't that scene is not tackling any isse. It isn't trying to say anything other than "Phwaor that sexy Eldar chick is going to get some whether she like its or not. Am I right or am I right!!! Hive 5 guys". I will just shake my head at your comment. Sorry.

    5. Honestly I can just shake my head at your reply too. Ok, its your blog, but do you really think accusing me, or anyone else who finds it acceptable to have "half a brain" or beeing "lame ass geeks" is any better than the behaviour towards woman gamers you (and me) find so apalling?
      Btw. I have a masters degree in art history, so don`t assume I view the diorama from the primitive "yeah cool" angle you so maliciously implied.
      As to why I think it is justified, read my longer post below

    6. I will summarize how I feel about your post.

      You said "Sinsynn as usual has hit on something important: there is no real sex in 40k."

      So Ibram Gaunt never had any sex in any of 40k books Gaunt Ghost books by Dan Abnett? Try Again.

      There is slave girls miniatures in 40k. GW has sold them. Maybe they still do. What happens to slave girls? Hmm I wonder. They didn't have nudity but they were bonded in chains.
      Not exactly something I would consider being in a "kids game".

      So you can only have rape in art Gallery? Rape in movies is no good? Rape on TV?

      It seems like many people like that Diorama it has a stellar high vote rating and I don't think it received that rating because of the paint job. The paint job is good but IMO it is a not a 9.8 out of 10. I think your opinion and feeling about that diorama are in the minority for people who frequent that site. What if that diorama had no nudity? Just a Eldar sitting there with her top still on. Would that still offend you? I think we can still make a guess what they are going to do next even without the nudity. Just for the record. I don't really care for that Diorama. I think it was a cheap way to get attention.

      I don't consider coolminiornot a kid site. I wouldn't let my kid go to that site. If someone wants to post the Eldar rape on coolminiornot. Which I consider rated R site I say go for it. I have seen pictures way worse then that in a miniature game or minatures themselves. The hell dorado french miniature game rule book has a picture of an angle getting raped on an alter by westerner man. Fortunately Cipher studios removed it for from the English version and I do like Hell dorado as a game so I think that picture was not worth printing because of the controversy and the chance of losing sales to the game. A lot of the kingdom death miniatures have lots of rape overtones. A sick diorama called the wet nurse basically is a monster that goes around raping women to spawn monsters IMO.

      I think you try and push your puritanical like views on others and I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing. You don't like that diorama. That is cool but a lot of people disagree with you. I feel you over reach and there is a place and time for some subjects. Rated R movies are not made for kids. Playboy is not for kids. Why can't suggestive nude miniatures have a place? It needs to be kept away from children but adults should make their own decisions about it. If a game store feels a particular game is insulting to women they should ban it.

    7. @Yuggoth, again I bang my head against the table. I'll read your justification, and I'm sorry it made me laugh. I'll tackle it once I've calmed down a bit. I just think using the background of 40K as a justification for that work is poor. Does the background of 40k allow you to explore those themes? Possibly, but that still means you need to approach the subject carefully and with tact.

      @Unknown, I have no idea who you are aiming that comment at, whether it is James or me. If it is me, then I'm sorry you're way off the mark. Calling me puritanical would have many people who know me rolling around with laughter. People have made threats of sexual violence against me over the last 8 to 9 months for me writing this Blog. So many individual counts that genuinely I have lost count. I know how many people though. So I'm sorry but I think we have a problem. Perhaps I should post an article containing many of the sick and fucking twisted things gamers have sent me because I didn't like Dreadfleet, or my Gandalf fell over and was faulty. A fact acknowledged by GW themselves.

      Or perhaps my article on Malifaux needing to take a pause for the cause, which brought one delightful individual out of the wood work who offered to use a knife for sexual intercourse with every member of my family. This article? Wow that's really brought the freaks out. And yeah I'm sorry but many do have half a brain... and it's the wrong half. The tone and language used is pretty rank and vile, and the fact that a lot of people disagree with me honestly makes me worry quite deeply about certain individuals in our hobby and broader society.

      Also I have not once said that nude or sexually suggestive miniatures should be banned or don't have a place. In fact I've said the exact opposite. So sorry you're clearly attributing opinions and thoughts to me that I simply have not expressed ONCE. So get a grip. I have said that we should call a thing by it's name and define what things are because if we don't they have a way of seeping into the mainstream and becoming normalised. And if you want things like that in mainstream gaming a hobby that aims to be inclusive and talks of the implied contract between gamers then I'm sorry but our hobby is in a worst state than I thought it was.

    8. I`m genuinly sorry to hear about those irrational, hatefull responses. There is just no justification for that. But those who have used the comment funktion here to say something critical, like myself or "unknown" deserve not to be thrown in with that bunch of freaks, even if our positions might seem similar on the surface.
      Looking forward to your response on my main posts.

    9. I'm not throwing you in with them Yuggoth and if that's how it has come across then I apologise and let me state clearly that isn't my intent at all. Not in the slightest. So genuinely sorry if that is how it came across and caused offence.

      My point is that just because a shocking number of people like that diorama and looking through the reasons on CMoN hardly any were on artistic ground but more along the lines of "boobs phwoar" and "yay sex" doesn't mean they are cultured or reasoned about why they do. I'm also pointing out we have a serious problem with some people in our hobby, who seriously think it is perfectly OK to go around making threats of violence and threats of sexual violence against people who don't agree with them.


    10. First off, thank you for your first statement, I guess we are all standing on our tiptoes when such topics are discussed and doubly so in the i-nez.

      I have taken my time to read trough all the comments on the diorama and again, I get a vastly different impression. Yes, there are those thoughless, unfeeling resposes, but "hardly any where on artistic ground"? Really? Have we read the same thing?

      Never said we don`t have a problem, we do. I just don`t think that the diorama or even dump cheescake like those of ax should be taken as prime examples. Tentacle bendo, Carnage or the wet nurse would be far mor fitting. But thats just my personal feeling.

    11. Obviously James and in no way am I going to spew vile thing at you. If someone sent that nasty stuff to you and if I knew who they were I would back you up. If it was me I would forward the email to police.

      You bring up many valid point. I don't consider coolminornot or even the miniature gaming industry mainstream by any stretch of the imagination. It is more a fringe element and a very small percentage of people are miniature gamers. You want all miniatures to be all inclusive to men and women and I say that is not practical as men make up the vast majority of the miniature gamers. Even a game such as sedition wars will probably be played by 95%+ men. There will always be some debases stuff like in comic book, movies or whatever. People will find a way to get it.

      I am going to tell you a little RPG miniature story. I was playing a Dragon Lance campaign recently and we have 9 of us with 2 being women. A couple players were playing Minotaur. Since I have been collecting miniature for around 20 years I brought a couple painted Minotaur from my collection so a couple could use them. One Minotaur was made by Hersey and was ripping a man in 1/2. Little did I realize that if you look under the miniature it has a male part hanging down. The guy playing that Minotaur pointed it out. I was sort embarrassed by it. If I had known it was like that I would have left it home but the 2 girls at the table thought it was hilarious. You can never predict how all people are going to react. If one of the women said that was not appropriate I would have put it away. You have a problem with some suggestive miniatures but maybe some women don't really care and they consider these miniatures as nothing more then juvenile man things. Anyway Peace my Friend.

    12. @Unknown I have responded above, I'm not going to discuss points with you that have no relavance to my article or my beliefs. I refuse to let you try and redifine my debate and what I have said to suit you. Why? Because I just refuse to have an argument with someone who actually doesn't want to discuss the issues.

      Your Minotaur with todger, I guess that was displayed in private, as most RPG groups for logistical reasons tend to be located at various peoples homes. It was also displayed with people you knew and had an understanding with right? So those things are very different to say me turning up with a units of BaneLegions Sword Mesulines and the Gilded Saint leading them at a tournament... right?

      I'm in a public place, and as such I should be aware and courteous of the sensibilities of others. There's also the added pressure and responsibility when in a public place that I am an advocate and ambassador of the hobby. Whether I like it or not, I represent all of you lot when general members of the public walk into these places to see what is going on. So yeah I think it is important that we do think of others views, as that's what any decent person would do.

    13. @Yuggoth, Tentacle Bento will be an interesting one when that comes out and I can view it for myself and judge it there. As it is, I think it is a clearly adult product that should be played by adults. I'll be able to tell more about tone when I finally see the finished produced. My point being if it is adult the CMoN and Sod Pop need to put mature content labels all over it.

      Moving onto Kingdom Death I actually applaud what Adam is doing. For a number of reasons and I'll try to be as precise as to why I think his approach IS acceptable.

      1) He labels stuff as Pin-ups. That lets consumers know exactly what they are, why they were designed and it frames it accordingly.

      2) He actually takes a lot of things that society deems attractive or desirable and subverts them in twisted and horrific ways. That is actually a well established school of thought in all forms of art and I'm sure you could name artists who have done similar things in literature, sculptor, photography etc.

      3) It is also in the tradition of horror and nightmares that these things happen. His subversion of lions as noble and regal creatures in the lion King thingy is brilliant. He's taken something that society has deemed noble, se Aslam etc. and turned it into a warped parody that unnerves.

      4) His work clearly has the desired effect. It achieves what it sets out to achieve. It makes the viewer seriously uncomfortable, and most people are grossed out by it. Which was the exact intention all along.

      s I say, motivation, context and clearly labelling why you are producing something. That's all I'm asking and for people to be mature about discussing it. As for Carnage, I'm not quite sure what that is, sorry. If you have any links I'll take a look and let you know exactly what it is I think.

    14. I frankly can`t understand how you can percieve the wet nurse and her ilk as justified, while at the same time condemning the "alien contact" diorama. To me, the idea of a giant rape, impregnation and abortion machine (read the discription of that thing if you havn`t allready is even more repungent than "normal" rape.

      Whereas I can read "alien contact" as a commentary on the ugly sides of war often forgotten in ouer hobby, I fail to see any real world significance in the wet nurse. Sure you could construct some far-fetched analogy about (wo)man as material, abortion clinics or the like.
      And while constructing such analogies is the art historicans daily bread :-D, it would strike me as fairliy hypocritic. In fact, subverting something just for the sake of it strikes me as rather childish (and yes, childish even in the so called "high" art) and catering to the "lulz booobies" crowd a lot more than the aforementioned diorama.

      Carnage. Yeah sorry about that. I guess its rather obscure. Its a tabletop system currently in production by a german metal band named "Debauchery". It will supposedly feature the bands mascot, the "Butcher of Bitches" and be filled with all sorts of other mysogonistic crap. There was a discussion about it on the german tt-board "Brückenkopf online" in which I took a stance not widely different from yours.

    15. I can justify it it (the West Nurse) because it does what it sets out to do and disturbs people. I physically don't like it. It disturbs me, it is a thing of nightmarish brutality. That was its intention. And if somebody is titillated by it boy do they have serious problems.

      Alien contact on the other hand exists, in my opinion, and many others, to titillate the male viewer. It's not created to horrify or explore the themes of wartime rape.

      It's the context and the aims that are important as much as the effect on the viewer. On the one hand the Wet Nurse achieves the revulsion that was intended and I think on the other we can say that it is at best mixed. :P

    16. It desturbs me to, but I fear that there are indeed scores of people who fell titillated by it. I had things shown to me on the internet who others alledgedly "fap to" which I honestly wish I could erase from my mind. Go to "gurochan", fchans /d/ board,, sicktube etc.
      No wait, I don`t actually recommend going there, but it would prove in an instant that this is a sick world indeed, and I strongly suspect that it is people like those who dewell there, that are responsible for the skyrocketing sales of things like the wet nurse.
      (Not saying that everyone who owns one or likes it, is demented or perverted, as you yourself prove there are some who see artistic merit in it.)
      As it stands, I personally think it is just an easy giger-ripoff and pointless in its to-the-face shock value, but each to their own.

      Back to the diorama:
      The pastel "cartoony" colours are needed, because that is exactly the way those things are normally done in wargaming. When it would be in a wildly different style than the one GW does, would it have the same impact? Would it get us to think about the implications of our hobby in the same way?

      As to body language, I read it as shocked but gathering the composure to fight back. Look at her stern, frowning face, the tension in her lifted arm. She will go down fighting (lets me hope she gets the knive and cuts his balls off). As I said earlyer, clearly not a porn model to me.

    17. Right I really, really wish I could convince two friends to comment here as to the merits of this diorama. One is a body language expert who works on picking up physical queues and the other is a curator at a fairly well respected, and sometimes controversial art museum here in B'ham. Firstly the curators concerns:

      * The composition of the piece has the 'victim' surrounded by aggressive males whose intent is clear. Rape.
      * There is a 'broken' ring around the victim that the viewer is invited too 'fill' if you will, leading the viewer to empahsise with the rapists naturally as a function of composition.
      * If the composition was meant to offer any sympathy for the victim it would have split the scene rather than framing it. This is a common device used in the study of such works of art and allows the artist and viewer to see the two sides to the scene. This work does none of that.
      * She isn't bloodied battered or bruised, there is nothing to 'ruin' the sexuality of the victim in the eyes of the viewer. The only piece of 'damage' is to expose her breasts.
      *Honestly its clear to me what the intentions of it's creator were, and I don't it, and I feel it has little redeem it. Apart from perhaps starting the debate you have.

      That's the thoughts of one friend the thoughts of the other aren't really printable Yuggoth, so hopefully you'll excuse me for putting her words into my own:

      "The female at the center of the scene is striking a typical "come hither" pose which is very typical of pornography. Some call it the unwilling willing victim. The legs apart to receive sexual advances, on their back ready. Even their attempts to cover themselves up have failed and actually reveal another come hither sign, a nipple. It is without question a male fantasy scene."

      She ironically used the same film you did 'Casualties of War' to talk about body positions an actual unwilling victim might take. Legs tucked tight to the body arms held out to fend off attacks.

      I won't go any further because there were some personal attacks and some vitriol I'd rather avoid Yuggoth. Suffice to say neither thought very much of the defenses of the piece or the critiques and like me I think you are stretching far beyond what is actually contained within the composition to defend it. If buts and maybes aren't the same as the physical realities of the framing. I think they've helped put my own objections into perspective and helped me to articulate better than I could my own issues with the piece. I think the point about the broken ring around the victim that invites the viewer to complete it was particularly insightful.

    18. Admittedly I`m no expert in body language, so I can just bring my own perspective to it.
      As an art historian, I find it quite normal that the ring is broken (and its not even really a ring to begin with). It is a standart way to present scenes: The viewers intended position gets him a good look at what is going on. This would occur no matter if we would talkt about a brithday party or a brutal rape. If you absolutely have to interpret it as inviting the viewer to share the attackers position, look at my comment further down below regarding "Lolita". There are countless other examples in art hinstory, where the viewer is forced into certain uncomfortable positions, attacker, victim or peeping tom.
      You might not like this, but normally this emotional stress is seen as something that attributes to their artistic greatness. Your friend will most likely confirm this.

      As an additional point: even if the artist intended this scene as lurid, there are many comments on cmon who go like this: "Makes you really root for that poor eldar", "hopefully she`ll rip his balls off" and the like. My onw reaction was similar, so all that body language can`t be that obvious (unless you asume that anybody who felt that way, myself included is just to dump to see the obvious, in this case I`m totally wasting my time and should stop posting right now)

    19. No my friend confirmed that the position and the nature of the center of attention was titillation. He vehemently disagrees with pretty much with everything you've said actually. The view is uncomfortable, its sensual and arousing, hence the perspective and context bias.

      As to the revulsion at the body language, I felt the same except I didn't extrapolate because I felt there was no will or drive in the piece to make me. Many men are actually turned off by such language when presented in those ways. I've spoken about Lolita below and why on so many leve;s that is different. We're not going to see eye to eye on this Yuggoth.

    20. Huh, I guess I have finally come to a dead end in understanding the subility of the english language. What exactly do you mean my extrapolate? What language? Who is turned of by what? Please clarify this, I genuinly don`t know what you mean.

      As to what your friend said, yeah, we disagree about that, and its rather pointless to go on when he is not present to interact witch my voiced opinion. Again, you (or he?) puts it as absolutes. Why not say: "Comes across as titillation?" Unlike in mathmatics, where a circle is eigher round or it isn`t, there are no absolutes when it comes to art!

  27. As always, I`m late to the party (I guess thats due to not owning an awesome S:A&B-shirt, right?^^) so I hope that you will still read my rather longish comment.

    At first, I have to say that I absolutely love your blog and your sensible, yet funny way to tackle complicated issues and your use of classic art pieces in this sermon and a couple of other entries.

    As it stands, this one is a favourite topic of mine for a number of reasons and I hope that my English will be good enough to get my points across on this somewhat delicate matters (my native language is german).
    I totally agree with your opinion regarding the demeanor of certain gamers around females and the need to adress sexistic and discriminating behaviour right when it occours.
    I also think that the sword melusines and similar sculpts are butt-ugly and ridicoulous sculpts which only serve to perpetuate the clicheé that us gamer-nerds have never seen a real woman naked.

    However, I have to contest the idea (only passed here, but developed in greater detail in the review) that sculpts like the dragon hunter can have no artistic merits beyond the obvious "technical" abilitys of the sculptor (and should therefore be considered (soft-) porn) because they don`t make sense from a "fluff" or context based point of view.
    Sure, one would not venture forth without proper armour to slay a dragon, but on the other hand, said dragon would not be able to fly because his wingspan is not big enough to lift his body weight, his flight muscles are anatomically impossible, his ability to breath fire defies physics and so on.
    Once you start trowing real-world logic at fantasy, it all starts to fall apart (granted, there are exeptions whith some low-fantasy settings, which I happen to prefer most of the time). When you think of it, a scantly clad warrior is no more ridicoulous than this famour "drive me closer, I wan`t to hit them with my sword"-pic or a ton of other things in wargaming.
    There have always been works of art which abandoned what would be realistic or topic-apropiate for artistic vision, idealisation or even blatant erotisation. You have given a Michelangelo as an example of tastefull nudity, but according to what was said about the dragon hunter, "David" is also porn, because it would make no sense to go giant-killing buck naked, no (and its certainly not in the bible)?
    What I want to say is this: The line between art and porn is blurry at best and cannot be drawn by arbitrarily imposing "realism" on a fantasy setting.

    1. OK. Right I'm going to talk about the certain individuals thing. I'll ask now, how many people who read this Blog have jokingly or even not, told an opponent they were raping them or were going too, or used somesuch imagery. Honestly when I've asked people I know, males and females, when they all stop and think about it most go "Holy crap. I do" followed rapidly by "why the hell do I do that?". I'm not so sure you understand the main thrust of my argument. That's fine let me spell it out for you a bit better and clearer.

      I do not and would not consider myself a misogynist or indeed sexist in any way shape or form. That's not to say I haven't done things that have been. But I would hope that if I did and have I'd be good enough to apologise and remedy such situations. Yet, playing games in this hobby has at points brought me to use phrases and terms that could be considered hateful to women. Why? Because it is commonly used and accepted language within the hobby. I don't think those using it (including some females) are misogynistic. But the air and vibe the hobby has created and we all accept is.

      The idea that the Gilded Saint wasn't to be considered art because of fluff reasons is balls Yuggoth. Re-read my review carefully. I explain it quite clearly. Paul has said the miniature was meant to be edgy and daring in his press release. Well sorry, if you had gone to a strip club almost anywhere in the world over the last 40 or 50 years you'd have found strippers prancing around in thigh high kinky boots and thongs wobbling there boobs as they gyrated up and down a pole.

      Ditto porn. The Gilded Saint Dragon Hunter is nothing new. It is not edgy, in fact I contest that in the context of depicting females in sexualised ways it is anything but edgy and is in fact hideously old fashioned and formulaic. Thigh high boots? Oh come on please. Edgy? No way. She's not pornographic because her boobs are on show. She's pornographic because of the way they're on show and the rest of the composition. As an art student surely you can see that.

      As to whether pronography can be art and art pornographic my answer to both is yes. In fact a resounding yes. The issue that defines whether they are being where the motivation for such pieces comes from and what they convey in terms of message. The Dragon Hunter conveys nothing but look at my boobs and big pole, and she exists to titillate. I'm saying that's pornography as it doesn't try to get you thinking beyond boobs and sex. Nothing wrong with boobs and sex either. But that's what it is.

      So as you can see. You argument quite frankly is way off base from what I have said. So the David as porn quip? Sorry wasted. Nice try though. :P

    2. I might have gotten that one wrong, but isn`t one of your recurring arguments that nakidness is ok where it seems natural (on a barbarian /amazon) whereas it is not in cases like the gilded saint because it seems "forced".
      I don`t acually like the gilded saint, all I want to say is that many pieces of art are "forced" that way. The David is a good example, because his nakedness is not totally "natural" eigher.
      Btw. I swear to god that I have never used rape-bases insults in my whole life and I don`t hear them that often eigher. Not saying you lie about your survey, just that it might not be statistically waterproove.

    3. A question for you Yuggoth. When you game (online, tabletop, whatever) do you mostly speak English or German? If it's the latter, it might simply be a language difference. In my own native language rape-based insults aren't that common either. We prefer to 'put someone down like an animal' (closest translation). Or at least we used to, it's been a while since I did online gaming and things might have changed.

      But throw us in with international gaming community speaking English and you'll see peer pressure and group-think do it's work pretty quickly. It's uncanny how quick a new individual in a group picks up on the language and other behavioral sets of that group.

      Or, speaking of statistics, you could be in a statistically improbable invironment. Nothing is impossible, only varying degrees of unlikely.

    4. Yes, that might be possible, I do indeed game in my native language. I guess it also has something to do with not gaming in stores and having left the teenage years well behind. After thinking about it a long time I did hear "Ich hab ihm sowas von den Arsch aufgerissen" from a friend not to long ago, which might be translated as "I thoroughly ripped his ass open", so clearly an allusion to male rape. But it is really an exeption.

    5. @Yuggoth, No one of my reoccuring arguments is that nakedness is fine. Period. But that if you can take nakedness in a number of ways, and styles then shouldn't we acknowledge that. Just be clear about what it is. It's context and defining that context. Because quite frankly if you don't you'll eventually end up with somebody thinking it is OK to plonk an entire army of pin-ups down on the table led by Fabio in a mankini riding a pronstar pony fetishist. :P

      As to rape based language please se my response to Aeria.

      @Aeria, you raise group think and we've all seen that in action over the years haven't we? I met a guy online at the start of the PS3's life. Literlaly the day it was launched. He was from Penn State University and was a post doc sociologist. Utterly hilarious person with a great sense of humour. His girlfriend and now wife also used to game with us on Resistance: Fall of Man.

      One day we were all in a game and we heard some grown men using quite violent sexual language and it actually shocked me. But it pissed my friend off royally. After the game had finished and we were in the lobby he raised it with the guys. Now back then the majority of gamers were adults I'd say in late 20's early 30's and they were rational and actually apologised and said they just didn't think. Couldn't do that now without some squeaky Mickey Mouse voiced teenage boys telling you to suck their cock or shut up faggot.

      However we decided to try an experiement where we would go into games and start aggressively using silly words to describe people and see how quickly it caught on. The results were impressive and I told him to do a paper on it. Don't think he ever did. Within a couple of miniutes we had people calling other gamers spoons, deckchairs and my favourite... pastry dishes. Seriously, it was hilarious to here people say "what a complete spoon" or "did you see what that idiot tried to pull there? Deckchair."

      So yep groupthink definitely happens. In fact a few years later with the same group of friends we heard some random gamer call somebody a deckchair. We'll never be able to prove that it was all started by us playing a few games of R:FoM, but I like to think it was. ;)

      Yuggoth, whether my sample is statistically significant or not is a moot point. I hear it an awful lot, from many and varied gamers. Others are writing about the phenomenon. Go to not in the kitchen anymore and listen to the foul language and abuse dealt out there. It's cringe worthy... and I bet half the time people don't even realise they're doing it. Seriously think long and hard and I'm sure you can come up with some examples of some quite colourful sexually violent German language you've heard used. In fact a number of Germans have said they might not use "rape" but they do get graphic. lol.

    6. @Yuggoth, ah you see I was typing that out as you responded. You might not realise it at first, but it does go on. In my closed circle of gaming buddies at my house I doubt you'd ever hear "I'm going to rape you" because that's not really us. But put us in certain clubs, shops, tournaments etc. and I could fully believe them uttering such words because it becomes commonplace and part of the vocabulary.

    7. Ok, I know that you are not a prude. I also understand that you don`t advertise censorship. So what you aim at is to instill a sense of appropiateness in fellow gamers, both regarding language and use of models. Thats great and I will leave it at that.
      Maybe I just game with the right people allready / visit the right forums and that is why I failed to see it as such an urgent problem. Your expierience with replies leaves me somewhat shocked and I`m willing to reconsider my opinion.

      Would still like to hear your thoughts on the second part of my post if you can spare the time.

      Best regards

    8. I've had some help from some friends as I couldn't quite phrase my objections as well or professionally as they could. I knew what I disliked I just couldn't find the word to express it, as that isn't my forte in terms of art appreciation and indeed body language. I'm an enthusiastic amateur but this is their livelihoods. I've posted their comments above. somewhere.

  28. With regards to the Eldar rape diorama:
    I can`t understand all the hate. Do you really think it gloryfies rape? You say: "Is there any empathy in this piece for the female victim? Nope. It's a very male centric pornography industry view of the act of a gang rape."
    I beg to differ. The males in this don`t lent themselves well to identification. Even without knowing what they are up to, to me they look greasy, brutish, not very sympathetic. The eldar on the other hand (again, just in my personal perseption) has an air of dignity or at least defiance about her. Given the big combat knive near her, the super fast reflexes eldar have according to fluff and her cunning looks, the outcome is far from certain. Shure, she might end up raped and/or dead, but she is far from beeing a hapless porn-model. The ambiguity is the saving grace of this work that lifts it from horrible porn to a piece of art. To me, this diorama shows not what might happen in 40k, but what definitively would happen EVERY DAY on thousands of worlds, if one takes the "grimdark" (tm) at face value. "There is only war", right? Rape has been and will forever be part of war, anyone who claims otherwise is naive in the extreme. To me, this is the 40k version of "casualtys of war" (, a film that does not promote rape in any way. Some have claimed that it is bad because the victim looks to good. Guess what, there are studies who prove that we simpathise more with beautyfull people. Yeah, us humans are really shallow like that :-(
    And to those who say that rape should not be depicted at all, thats rather naive too. Not speaking about something will not make it go away. In addition, the the topic has a rather long tradition in art:

    As a last point, and I know that it is somewhat provoking, I would like to point out, that fantasy in all its forms is that attractive to many precicely because it gets their mind-porn going without having to worry too much about real world implications. If you have studied psychology you will probably know that despite rape beeing a horrible crime, it is also one of the most common female sexual fantasys.
    Fantasy as a genre helps to reconcile those fantasys with our moral selves because it is a savehaven quite removed from reality. Just look at "Game of thrones". The depiction of sex there varies from "take me stranger" to outright rape, yet it is hugely popular with female audiences. One should ask, if it is really advised to take our (hopefully high) morale standarts over to oue imaginary pasttime worlds.

    Best regards,

    1. OK before I respond over the actual diorama I need and I must express the word NEED very clearly to remove a common misconception right now that you have uttered. It is an excessively dangerous one that was born of piss poor research by a piss poor researcher. The idea that "rape" is one of womens most common sexual fantasy's is not only woefully innaccurate, but statistically and categorically wrong. It is also an exceedingly dangerous thing to claim, and one that seems to have been accepted by western culture and beyond as fact. despite decades and decades of solid and well worked research clearly stating the exact opposite is true. So where does this misconception come from? I'm ashamed to say early psychologists, and in particular Freud. He assumed that the stories women were telling him of family members raping them or sexually abusing them were fantasies, and psychosis brought about by sexual repression. He was hideously wrong. What he was actually hearing was testimony of events that happened. From his work and the work of many other psychoanalysts of the time. Their poor and erroneous conclusions have been taken as fact and become part of 'common knowledge' in society... and it is based on false assumptions. Just need to get that clear from the outset on that one. Whenever I see people claim that and not back it up (because it can't be as the weight of evidence suggests the opposite) it angers me to my core.

      As to fantasy worlds and imposing real world values on them. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that no matter what an artist tries, or a viewer for that matter, we do bring our societal baggage with us. You can't take it out of the world created. So why should you bother? You can disassociate things or re-purpose them if you are deft enough to create an in-depth enough world and to explain the context... but even in the act of explaining you are admitting the influence of the real world.

      Moving onto the rape scene, the pastel colours... sorry it's not grimy it's cartoony. The position of the Eldar females body, her back isn't against the wall, she's not attempting to defend herself and her legs are akimbo. Body language experts could tell you more about the positioning than I, but I'm afraid I've had enough of this debate and if I go any further and think further about it (I'm still angry about it) I'll end up being rude to people and I don't want to do that. All I will say is this, it's sole purpose from my perspective was to titillate and not educate as to the horros of rape or explore some of the themes.

    2. I`m well aware of the shortcomings of Freud and that is totally not where I was aiming at. My time is running away right now, but I promise to back up my claims tomorrow. For today I just want to point you towards collections of womans fantasys, and not of the artificial "playboy" kind, but those whose genuine nature was proven time and again ("My secret garden" et al.). I can`t make this clear enough: Those "fantasies of beeing forced" do NOT equal a desire to be raped for real, quite the opposite. More on this tomorrow

    3. Oh good lord.

      Please, please do not bring the work of Nancy Friday into it. I don't want that debate of her 'works' coming into this discussion. It'll doistract and deviate wildly. If you wish to discuss her works and what I think about them, then please email me. Lets just say while much of her work was important, it has been the subsequent dissection of what she did and how she framed it that has been the really illuminating work.

    4. So, like I promised, I`m back again.
      Wheather or not the works of Nancy Friday are forgeries has been discussed to death, and I have a feeling that we won`t agree on that eigher.

      So let me get a bit more personal instead:
      I would not describe myself as a part of the bdsm-scene, yet I have many friends and aquaintances who do. You might know, that "rapeplay" is actually a quite common practice there. And it is not something which is forced on the women by men, it exists also between same gender couples or if the man is the "bottom" part of the couple.
      Again, I can`t say clear enough that "rapeplay" DOES NOT equal real rape or is indicative that those who enjoy it would like to suffer trough the real crime.

      What I`m aiming at is this: There certainly are people who abhorre rape as a serious crime, yet at the same time enjoy it as a fantasy. Of those, I personally know two), who enjoy dark and (for the lack of a better word) "edgy" fantasy because it lets them reconcile those different angles.
      And looking at the huge success of books and films that contain such themes and motives, I`m inclined to think that they are not a small minority of "perverts".

      Sure, I would be the last person to claim that fantasy or SF have nothing to do with our real world. But both have something like an inherent disclaimer "Look at all those fuzzy hobbits and ridicoulous barbarians, you need not take everything which happens here at face value".

      So there might be a lot of people, many of them woman who enjoy fantasy exactly because it allows them a pause from beeing politically correct all the time (it isn`t very politically correct to play a giant space nazi who burns witches and kills other races on sight, isn`t it?)

    5. Well nobody has been able to emulate Nancy's "findings" in my Secret Garden and her methodology was iffy at best. Her second book regurgitated other researchers findings but made them 'racy' and for titillation purposes, as opposed to attempt to try understanding sexuality. So I have a number of problems with her works, if not necessarily what she has said and what she stands for at a higher level. In short I feel she kind of got in the way of some pretty good research that happened in the late 60's and 70's and her work then defined much of the research in the 80's because her work was popular and she ultimately set research in the field back a bit because she sent people up the garden path and they had to come back again.

      BDSM, I'm so glad you brought that up, I had a feeling you would. Guess what, I actually AM into BDSM and more importantly I was a very active member of the scene when I was younger. I also conducted an observational study of activity at a BDSM nightclub here in the UK where I managed to remove the observer effect bias by actually recording what happened via the already pre-installed CCTV camera's. So it is a topic that has fascinated me and quite frankly I know a fair bit about it as I have had cause to read an awful lot of the scientific literature into the phenomenon.

      The term "Rapeplay" is problematic, and within the BDSM community it isn't universally used. Although an awful lot of people do use it. However, studies have shown that despite all the optional extras and 'props' BDSM trends or acts all stem from very similar urges as what could be termed as "vanilla's". All sexual fantaises seem to pivot around control and the taking of it or the giving of it. When you distill most BDSM fantasies down this is where it all comes from, the key though here and this is vitally IMPORTANT to acknowledge, is that for the relationship to work and for the Top to get what they want the power in the relationship MUST be surrendered. The top derived all of their sexual pleasure from the very fact there partner has relinquished control to them, and trusts them. Whether male or female this is the case. No Top actually wants to take power. So the dynamic proposed by many who clearly don't understand the scene is highly dangerous for and has wider implications I'll not go into here as it has no place in this discussion.


    6. Suffice to say that "Rapeplay" has become a term that means bugger all. It is a deliberately provocative phrase and use of language that is used by a group of people, of which I count myself as one, that like using extreme things to cause shock and heighten sexual tension. Another way of putting it would be to say we're all drama queens and thrive off of the theatrical, I know I certainly do. So you shouldn't read much into the phrase because it isn't really all that descriptive of the acts or indeed the fantasies themselves. It's just a name used to cover a whole gamut of activities, that have very little to actually do with rape.

      More importantly it also has very little to do with this actual debate. So again if you wish to discuss these themes further I will be willing to discuss them with you via email. As to fantasy being an escape of sorts? Of course it is. But is there a need for all women in fantasy to be bending over and showing us their labia? Plus I'd assume having had a look round the real world and the massively and inescapable media machine that overly sexualise the female form, that for many women who might want to 'escape' as you put it, would welcome well dressed strong female sculpts and poses that exist for that purpose and not titillation. I guess that's why most of the women I've spoken to seem to like Warmachine.

      And again you've sort of missed the point with regards to 'political correctness'. It's an infuriating term and one I hate having to use because it means feth all. It's a non-declarative descriptor, which in case you don't know makes it about as useful as a chocolate teapot but sadly no where near as tasty. What I'm talking about is a social contract between all gamers and future gamers, to be respectful of each other because this is a social hobby that requires at least two to tango. SO question, are many of the sculpts and the portrayals of females in our games respectful to women? Well are they? My answer is no.

      I think the answer of anyone who was being honest with themselves and looking at it critically would say no. So therefore we have a problem. This core social contract to be respectful of each other is broken in many cases before we get our armies out of the cases, before we as gamers can do anything about it. This does create problems for a lot of women. So we've gone to far and have damaged a key potential building block of our community and hobby, and what's even more sad is that we've done it to get a hard-on from little metal, plastic and resin toys. When you boil it down Yuggoth, it is pathetic.

    7. So, as we are now coming out of the closet so to speak, I might add that one of the two people I was talking about is in fact my own wife. She was the one who brought me into contact with the whole bdsm thing in the first place and I do enjoy it even if I don`t feel like part of the "scene" as others do.

      Why do I tell you this?
      Well, because my wife said on various occasions that she does enjoy some fictional depictions of rape, especially those quite removed from our time and space. Yes, she does not enjoy wargaming and she thinks that some sculpts are just stupid and don`t lend themselves well to identification.

      But there is a fine line where self censorship can actually make a gaming word less attractive. For us, this was the case with the biggest german RPG "DSA" (The Dark Eye in its short-lived international edition).
      Years ago, an apocalyptic evil-wizards plan (and inevitable defeat) left the game world in a darkend state, where many of said wizards followers carved out domains for themselfes. On of those domains was intalled by followers of a slannesh-like demon.
      It was a rather ham-fisted inclusion of certain bdsm themes, but it was an interesting playing ground for those who felt so inclined. Guess which of those domains was retconned in an even more hamfisted way within short time?
      While it made the gaming world certainly more PC and child friendly, it also reduced its apeal for my wife.

      So long story short:
      I agree with you that we should talk about worrysome trends in our hobby, I don`t want every female model to show its genitals or even their breasts. I just felt that your sermon sounded too much.. well, like a sermon of the Bill O`Reilley kind. (sorry for this rather grave insult^^)
      In trying to protect woman from degradation, we have to be cautious not to do away with things that women actuall LIKE.

      (PS: I`m well aware that "PC" is a hollow concept most likely invented by rightwing media to apear "cool" by ignoring it. I just can`t find a better word in what is not my native language. (The same might hold true for the term "rape play") I`m sure I could be clearer if I could say all this in German, so apologies if it appears quite cumbersome)

    8. And there you go, proving my worst suspicions. You mention the Rev Bill O'Reilley, whether as a joke or not. You confirm the perfect stereotype that people on the Internet try to assume diametrically opposed opposite camps and argue dichotomously. You fundamentally failed to read the thrust of the argument that things aren't quite right, that doesn't make everything wrong. You lumped me in one extreme where my main argument is almost certainly moderate ind liberal in all senses. I just ask people to be careful and respectful of others and act appropriately. Sorry it is in many cases the hobby that goes to the extremes, not I. That's the worrying thing, in our hobby this shit seems to be normalised, it's the same with computer games.

      See the recent sacking of that Destructoid Blogger who attacked Felicia day for no apparent reason. Me personally? I don't like all the shows she does, not because she's a women, but because I don't find them interesting. I've never felt oh God it's THAT women again. I've normally gone, oh it's not as funny as the Guild. Turn off. But this Blogger felt safe attacking her on Twitter because... she's a women. You what? The fact he felt safe enough in his power bubble to do that tells you a lot about male gaming culture. I'd urge you to check out the website not in the kitchen anymore. It's just about treating people with respect.

    9. No, I actually don`t, see my comment below about a clearer description what I ment with this O`Reilly comment. I know hes a studid jerk and I know you are not, so it was a bit crude. I just wanted to pick an example that we both might know.

      But you do things he does in his show all the time, you generalise, you assume.

      Regarding the diorama you wrote "We (meaning: the tacktfull, non creepy, non asshole gamers) don`t like it"
      Guess what? I like it and many others on my favourite mini-related site like it too! And I don`t want myself or people I like painted as stupid jerks! its easy like that.

      I entered this whole discusson not because I thought you want to ban every nipple on sight, but because I think you are making broad assumptions: About the charakter of the dioramas cheator, about those who like it, about what or what is not art, cheescake, porn; about what is or is not degrading for women and so on.

      That said, of course those assholes on "not in the kitchen anymore" need a good kicking, but I have never seen such behaviour anywhere in my geeky circles. It is certainly not on the forums on cmon, nor would any of my gaming buddies dare to behave so (guess my wife would curbstomp them if they did :-D)

    10. It wasn't crude it was, in my opinion a carefully constructed insult. Event the way you couched it, you intended to position my argument and debate yet again as right wing and extreme when it is not. I saying be mindful of others and specifically don't be disrespectful of women. It was calculated to cause offence and I think you knew it would, expecially given my views on freedom of speech ad inclusion. Something the Rev Bill O'Reilly does not stand for.

    11. No, it was not, I know you are not right-wing. Now you are the one who is reading waaay to much in what i have written.

      You may not believe me, but I don`t want to "win" this debate, so I don`t feel inclined to insult you.
      I write these thinks as they come to my mind and while I of course try to be clear and sometimes even "witty" I certainly do not "carefully construct insults."
      This whole discussion is allready eating up my time more than is good for me and I wont invest even more to come up with especially clever comebacks.

      I picked up O`Reilly because he is internationally known for his own style of sermon where he tries to press those who might oppose him in prefabricated forms of beeing morally questionable.
      You did exactly the same think with those who like the diorama (among other things) by suggesting they are at least immature, if not would-be rapists.
      You made me uncomfortable in coming up to its defence.

      I tried to point out what I percieve to be a flaw in your argumentation. If you won`t hear it, just because I picked the wrong example, so be it.

    12. Here read the fourth section down:

      That explains my Sunday Sermons. They're a well used editorial style developed to illicit responses to debate, it's easy to set up a position so neutral everyone agrees. that's not what I do. In English this is common, and so too, I'm told pretty much most in most Germanic language countries. You don't get that, then fine. Don't bother reading them.

    13. Oh my, you say you intend to use the sermons to paint a caricature version of yourself and be diliberately preachy and at the same time you are all up in arms if I liken you to O`Reilly? Really?

      You got "responses to debate" by using a VERY delicate topic. Now life with the responses you got.
      Dispensing harsh judgement in a topic so sensitive and then using this "its all experimental / half joking" as an excuse is also considered a major cop-out in most Germanic language countries, and so too, I`m told pretty much in England.
      You don`t get that, then fine. Don`t bother talking about RAPE if you are not dead serious.

      There, now Im really angry

    14. Oh no don't get me wrong I'm deadly serious about the topic and what I say. And I'm also deadly serious about the fact I find certain things in our hobby a little unnerving and unsettling, if not unsavoury. My point being the preachy tone and air was consistent with my Sermons and the fact that I take such stances to get responses. There is nothing wrong with doing that. I've given you a platform to state your case, I've allowed you to state it, and I have not once shouted you down, or called you names or insulted you. You did not give me the same courtesy. I could easily act like many dicks on the Internet and try and get everyone who reads my Blog to round on you, but I don't. I let people have their say and I don't delete comments. So you know what? You pissed me off first and I really don't care if I've done the same to you. I asked you not to take the debate away from the thees and if you wanted to talk about them I would do so in emails. But you ignored that. You've pissed a fair few people off with your comments and I'm getting people asking me to delete some of them because they're offensive, I've defended what you have to say to people and I'm refusing to delete ANY of your comments. and as long as I don't think you cross the line and are aggressive with others or promote hatred I won't, but quite frankly I'm done with you. Carry on defending what you like. I simply don't care anymore.

    15. Where in the world have I insulted you? Where have I called you names? Where did I shout you down? I explained the O`Reilly thing a lenght and if you still object to it, fine, I take it back.
      Where did i piss you off first?
      Also, taking the debate away from what? I don`t know the word "thees".
      You where the one who could`nt lay the whole "Secret garden" thing to rest, I only said that I have no intertest to spark that special debate again, neigher here nor in e-mails.
      I really don`t care if I pissed "people" of, I can only respond to what is written here and now. If those people want to tell me why I`m wrong, they would better come out of hiding write it down.

      If you don`t want to respond any more I can not force you, but I genuinly believe I have not given you any cause to be so sulky.

    16. After taking the dog for a walk to vent some steam I want to add the following:

      I really don`t know why it had to come this way. I still respect your opinion. Even if I do not agree with you, I never ever intended to insult you on a personal level. If that O`Reilly-comment was hurtfull to you, I sincerely apologise. In fact, as an avid reader of your blog I think we have many things in common and if you`d ever happen to come to Munich I would gladly invite you on a beer.

      With best regards

  29. Apologies, I am very busy (as I'm sure many of us are) and in a different time zone to most of you. So my responses will be slow and partial.

    @Unknown, firstly, I'm not a puritan. Please don't make assumptions about me or call me names. You don't know me, and I never did any such things to you.

    I'm willing to grant you most of your points. I don't think they are really important or change what I am arguing. I will condense and repeat my main argument to avoid further confusion:

    1. That diorama lacks artistic merit firstly because it is derivative, not because it is "erotic."

    2. The erotic content involves violence and lack of consent, which is illegal in Australia and all(?) other liberal western nations unless there is a valid artistic reason.

    3. There is not, that I can see, a valid artistic reason.
    3.1 There is no political or gender-political statement being made.
    3.2 There is no over-arcing narrative taking place wherein the characters can grow and change.

    Maybe, maybe, the artist is trying to point out that we let children play games about war and this is what war is really like. But given how it looks, this seems really unlikely.

    All I am saying is that regardless of anyone's personal feelings in the matter, works like this are perceived by society at large as violating our moral standards with little or no justification. This damages the way we and our hobby are understood by those not familiar with it.

    Personally, I am in agreement with the general moral standards of society when it comes to sex. If demanding a bloody good reason why an artist should be allowed to depict a sexual assault makes me a puritan then fuck it, call me that.

  30. @Yuggoth, you raise way too many interesting points for me to respond to.

    What I will say though is that all of the art works you mention are by established canonical artists and the reason these people are considered to be "proper" artists is that they take the time to contextualize their works and position them within the history of art itself. Everything they do is for a reason.

    David's nudity may lack context in practical terms, but it is completely in context with the history of western art. Michelangelo was making a statement by using Greek style nudity to portray a biblical hero. Anyone looking at it who knows about Classical sculpture, which would have included Michelangelo' audience, can see that instantly.

    Nudity in gaming products is infantile and generally context-less, though I'm willing to grant that there might be exceptions.

    1. What I mean is that nudity in gaming generally is in context with the history of pornography and pin-up, not art.

    2. That's a very well reasoned response James. Although I've grown to expect nothing less of you. I'm glad you pop along and read my Blog and comment.

  31. You raise many good points too, and I want to make clear both to you and frontline, that despite disagreeing with your position, I am genuinly pleased that you voice your opinion so staunchly (is that even a word in English?) on this unpleasant but nontheless highly interesting topic.

    Who is or is not considered a "proper" artist is sadly often determined more by sheer luck and marketing genius than talent or artistic vision. Michelangelo surely was a genius, but he also was an expert in showmanship.
    So will future generations view the guy who did the diorama as an artist? Most likely not, because he works in a very small niche which is by large ignored by the "professional" art world.
    You say his work is not framed/contextualised in any meaningfull way. I would tent to disagree. The way it is done shows that it is carefully insertet into this specifig garming universe which has become something like a posterchild of the whole hobby. It is not a meaningless rape scribble someone did on a toilet wall.
    It is contextalised in that is only a very small step away from the grisly content that is considered "normal" when it comes to wargaming.
    Also, like I pointed out, it has ambiguity as to what exactly will happen. Like the statues of antiquity, it is a moment frozen in time just before something is about to happen (read Lessings "Laokoon" for further info on this).
    This "something" will probably be rape (but,like I pointed out earlier, I would not take it for granted), and this makes it a grisly thing. But beeing grisly does not stop something from beeing art. Look at various depictions of "rape of the sabine women"
    In some, who are considered masterpieces today, it is even more clear what will happen than in this diorama.

    1. We're not talking about the diorame being grisly Yuggoth. The issue is that it isn't grisly. There is a sheen and a gloss to the work that is at odds with the subject matter and actually lessens it's impact and allows for certain viewers to be sexually aroused by it. What is worse still is that I truly believe that is the intention of the piece. Not some grand artistic statement, or social commentary. I choose to read what is presented, not make stuff up about what isn't. The composition invites the viewer to emphasis with the attackers and as my friend puts it "complete the ring". Her positioning is directly ripped from male fantasies and is suggestive. I can't get my head around your defence of the piece, and if you like it good on you. But you are nowhere near convincing me it has any merit, and the more you talk actually the more you convince me of the opposite. So I'll leave it there I think. thank you for helping confirm that it is as tacky and lascivious as I thought it was.

    2. Well, forcing the viewer into the perspective of the attacker, thus forcing him to question his own moral is exactly what many pieces of great art do. Have you ever read the novel "Lolita"?

      Anyway we should do each other the coutesy to admit that while we can`t really understand the conclusions the other has drawn, hating it does not make you a prude and loving it does not make me one of the "hehe, that chick is gonna get sum"-team. OK?

    3. Yep that was my conclusion.

      As to Lolita we discussed in in this very household, and how deftly it dealt with its subject matter. It did so as it was a novel that could contextualise and build in-depth characters. Something a frozen moment can't do I'm afraid. Unless it is itself a frozen moment taken from a larger artistic tradition, which sadly that piece isn't and can't be. There just isn't that tradition in the 40K universe no matter what people say. It is always left unsaid, and only very infrequently alluded too. But I'll step away, safe in the knowledge I've managed to put my point across effectively and without malice. If others choose to read it and agree with me then so be it. If they choose to read it and disagree then that's up to them too.

    4. Yeah, same goes for me.
      I could go on and on about the whole frozen in time thing or about if or if not those themes fit with what the essence of "grimdark" is, but I know that you could do too, so we would chase each other round in circles for the next 38K years.

      Just allow me one last comment on this part of the discussion, and I hope you don`t take this as an insult, because it really really isn`t meant that way.
      If you take that step back like you wrote, you CAN say you have gotten your point accross effectively, i grant you that. But you have ALSO most of the time talked in absolutes. Its right there in your last post: "isn`t and can`t be"... "no matter what people say".
      Thats what I meant by "O`Reilly preachy". Its good to have a firm opinion, but why oh why do you have to make it word of god?

      Thats not the tone I know from your blog, and frankly this whole discussion would have been a lot more pleasant if you refrained from it. Hell, I might have easily agreed with your initial sermon if not for this.
      If it does not "matter what people say" why start a controversy in the first place?

  32. Just wanted to thank you for your article, Jody.

    I actually took the time to read through most of the comments (which was a bit of a pain, at some points) and subsequently read all of the other articles you linked to, and then some more (Dave Dorman seems to be a repressed dick, I learned).

    It is a great sign for the hobby that articles like yours are becoming more frequent. Age patterns in the hobby scene have shifted and it would be a sad sight indeed if this was not reflected in the way how the community looks at itself.

    1. Firstly you have me at a disadvantage Sir (or Madam)!!! You seem to know who I am yet I don't know who you are...

      Any way you are clearly a very brave soul for firstly wading through the article and all the comments and not once wanting to blow your brains out.

      As to age patterns in the hobby shifting... I think... nay I know you're right. I think though that in many respects because it is such a niche hobby these sorts of debate are younger and less developed in effect. Hopefully that will change.

  33. Very good article (though I read only a good majority of it) but I sort of hate you, just a taaaad, because I really wished I hadn't known the existence of the Eldar Rape Scene diorama... I understand the many atrocities associated with war, reality or not, but there are just some lines that should not be crossed, ESPECIALLY in miniatures.

    I might be 'new' to the minis scene (coming from the world of Resin Garage Kits), and I have found my share of extremely pornographic pvcs, tentacle rape figures and what not(Them japanese sculptors are sooo talented... but they're sculpting the wrong things, imho). I thought I would be de-sensitised to these kinda things now but BAM! out comes the Eldar Scene... and I'm extremely disturbed by it. So many things went through my thoughts:

    - Why would they paint this with such high degree of effort?
    - Who would want this displayed in their house?
    - Couldn't they have made a different approach in creating this but gave the same effect except less 'morally wrong'?
    - Are they proud and happy of what they made?
    - Was it made just to get a rise out of people and laugh about it saying 'Hey dude, they're just minis! Chill out!'

    Now I'm no 'Art' expert, but I believe Art can be used to evoke emotion to its viewers. Sense of love, beauty, admiration, inspiration... the opposite side of the spectrum holds true as well. Anger, hatred, depression. Thing is... Why would anyone wants to feel the negative emotions in any way? Granted the negative emotions can used to a more positive note, e.g I found an artwork in Deviantart some years ago of a man speaking on a podium, face was not revealed, but he had an US flag for a badge(Suggesting the speaker was MAYBE politician or a President) and his hand is smeared in blood. The facial features was quite similar to Bush's... I've tried an hour looking to find that art again but alas... no Bush =)

    Anyways, art like that is what I meant by using a negative emotion and turning it into something positive(the positive I get is hating the man all the more and just maybe other viewers would be more exposed to his ineptitude in running a nation)

    In the case of the Eldar scene... what's the purpose? I don't see what anyone would get out of it... Do people like to feel angered(cause they like to be reminded that 'Hey! I angry with this image therefore I is human and therefore I is generally accepted to community'?) or they're just emo and into that kinda crap? Is the diorama's purpose just to say that rape is bad? At first I thought EVERYONE knew rape is a No No, but after reading your article and the associated links... guess not. They 'know' it's bad but joking about it is ok... thats' just like an African American saying "'Sup Nigga!" to another African American... they're 'de-powering' (dunno if that's a word) the meaning of the word by using it in that manner. Same thing is applied here. A display of one of the atrocities of war? seems to 'Cartoony' for that.

    1. Heya and welcome to the never ending debate. :P

      Better late than never I say, so thanks for the contribution. I have really, really tried to see the other side of the argument on the Eldar Rape scene, and indeed the laddish behaviour exhibited by some gamers / hobbyists.

      On the rape scene, try as I might I just can not see it. I have tried to compare it with other similar depictions within the art world of the atrocities of war, but on every level I see differences. There is more subtly in how many artists tackle the issue, and there isn't ever a hint of lasciviousness, it's always tinged with sadness, regret or anger. There's a moral to these works that is woefully lacking in my opinion in the Eldar Rape scene. I know it's subjective, but I'm a pretty open minded guy and I just can't see the other side to it and I have really, really tried.

      As to dickish behaviour... well given some of the abuse I have received over this I'm likely to say fuck that shit and call it what it is. Assholes being assholes. There is no excuse in my book for denigrating women and downgrading the use of the word rape, or using slang terms for female body parts as insults. Actually it is out of order and it is hostile towards women.

  34. What's even more disturbing is... the comments on the CMON site. I understand it is a collection of painters around the world, but what is an Artist who does not say what's in his mind to another who made the diorama as a wake up call? What is an Artist who does not draw a line for him/herself to never cross(this is debatable but this is not the medium for it)? I see 10's and 'Great WORK!'s being thrown around like nothing, if not then a majority of them do. Sure there are some those that said 'Oh its disturbing' but none I saw (briefly that I did) REALLY made an impact to the painter to the point that they just have to realise 'Yea... I fucked up big time with this dio... I need a shrink...' kinda thing, yknow?

    Apologies for the long rant, grammar errors and double posting, FG... You touched on so many subjects with this article but the dio struck me most.

    As for the threatening letter you received, I hope it didn't go beyond anything than it is, a threat. I hope it does not discourage you to post more articles such as these and just keep on keeping on.

    1. Hello again!!! :)

      Yeah I think many of the people who have defended the piece and for that matter other similar pieces have done so in poor terms. I accept that at least Yuggoth and Unknown attempted a higher degree of debate about it, and raised in some respects valid points. I just can't subscribe to them and on the diorama I am diametrically opposed to their views. They're allowed their opinions and I've not deleted any of their comments and nor would I, but I think they're wrong.

      As to the threats and the flak I've received over this, absolutely no chance of me backing away from sensitive or touchy subjects in the future. It's just not my style. Cheers for stopping by.

  35. VERY interesting article, especially the female eye view of a dozen randy smelly males swivel and locking stares - very uncomfortable, I can see why many would be scared away.

    We had one woman in our Uni gaming group. She was the jolly one who brought out a riding whip for socials. Let's just say she filled us with equal parts fear, respect and friendship.

    As for whether that Greek statue or the other one is more sexist - we really, really don't know why the Greeks (or possibly Romans) chose to sculpt ladies with their breasts out. Were they more liberal about these things, were they massive perverts/misogynists, did women actually go about like that in those days? We don't know, so it's very hard to compare when we don't know why they were sculpted like so in the first place. However, I lean towards the theory that it would be seen as acceptable in that society, while it most certainly is not in ours.

    Something I haven't seen much talk of too, is the fact that nerd culture at the moment revolves around the male fantasy (this applies to videogame characters as well). Men are all Conan - strong, muscly, brave or competent in a way as to be a power fantasy for men. Women are too often sexual fantasies for men. Sonja the Red - sure she's a strong, capable woman who could outdrink and outfight any three men present, but she's still a male sexual fantasy. I really want there to be some kind of growth in characters that break away from this orthodox (and many other orthodoxes - do Nurgle Champs all have to be fat with great weapons and guts spilling out?) but this is also a problem in videogame character creation, for RPGs and whatnot - the men are Men and the women are Hawt. What if someone wanted to create a woman who was seven foot tall, could decapitate bison on her chin and had a voice like Louie Armstrong?

    ALSO: it had long been established in W40K lore that there are many female regiments of the Imperial Guard. Why hasn't Forge World up and made some instead of that boring Cadian eco-suit nonsense? Make a range of sometimes butch, sometimes average, sometimes attractive Guard ladies, and they could set some kind of standard.

    And that rape scene was ... harrowing. Sure it happens in real life, but part of the point of sci-fi and fantasy is that it is not RL, but escapism so we don't have to look at part of Real Life we don't want to see, and that rape in a hobby dear to many for years might be something that cannot be unseen in the worst way.

    In any case, very thought-provoking post. Don't let the hate-mailers get to you.

    1. Haven't seen you round these parts in a while GoldenKaos, you keeping well?

      I think we can know what Greeks were thinking when they sculpted various things. We do have pretty good records of how various things were received culturally. We also know that the male for was treated in similar ways. They were 'studies'. Much like David was.

      As to nerd culture, you're right. It is the world seen through the eyes primarily of white young males. Be that comic books, computer games or wargames. As I've said many times I'm sure in this comments section now, it seems that for character designers the instant go to when designing a female is sexy first and foremost. I'd like to see a few more Ramirez (as in from Aliens) type female characters.

      Any who, I'm not letting the hate mailers get to me. Cheers for the compliment.

    2. Haven't been around because my laptop bought the farm back in Spring, and when I could get internet, checking up on blogposts (along with all dem forums) became a rather tertiary priority - I also can't paint without some kind of TV show or movie in front of me to ease the dullness, so I had no reason to update blog either. But I got a job and bought a gaming PC, so that's sorted out now. But getting back to painting after such a long dry spell is a little bit of a challenge.