|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.
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.|
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!