Playing With the Boys

Okay. Okay. So this is the obligatory sexism-in-gaming-culture-sucks post. I was honestly writing something else for today, but then I was hanging out on Old School Gamers, which is a facebook group for gamers who like Old School Games (OSG). And there was a picture of a sexy female on a couch, posed, with a large plush D20 in her hands. The comments below the picture included, but were not limited to: "That looks so fun. I gotta get me one of those. The die is cool too." "Strip D&D... Never thought of that one..." and my favourite "It might be nice if she rolled my d20s."

Being the angry little feminist I am, I was immediately pissed off. I mean, the picture was posted with the line "I bet she DM's without a screen." Seriously? So I decided to say something, and was immediately met with the "not my toys" mentality and how I needed to lighten up. Other people had mentioned how this wasn't inclusive, and how this was offensive, but were shut down rather quickly. 

There are plenty of articles on the internet out there about how not to be an asshat in gaming culture. We all know, and are aware, that gaming culture is rife with inherent systemic sexism. See how I just linked them there? So clever, eh? The fact that I continually run across this issue in this gaming group is getting exhausting. It must be at least once a month that someone posts something female armour clad and pouting, or else put into a bizarre pose no woman would do naturally. 

During FanExpo 2013, Toronto Area Gamers hosted a discussion on Inclusive Gaming Communities and how to build those. The topics ranged from how to be inclusive to ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ community, and of course, women. It was an interesting talk, and one that I didn't felt had enough time to discuss some of the most important issues in gaming today. #1reasonwhy hosted a panel at FanExpo as well discussing the inclusion of women in gaming.

About a month ago I posted a question on OSG about what people do with rape jokes, and how they handle them in their games. For the first hour, it was a wonderful chat about how people shut them down and kill them immediately when they happen. After that, it started getting to the point where people were arguing about the "grey area of a rape joke." The same happened today when I inquired about how people tried to make their game inclusive of those same groups mentioned above.

Here's the response I got: "It infringes on my rights that you push this liberal agenda at me." There were others, but all to the beat of that drum. It was only mildly soul crushing, and here I am, wondering what I can say about my experiences in the gaming world that sum up how much I'm growing to hate nerd culture. 

These sentences have all been said to me:
"I won't game with a girl. You have to leave."
"Girls can't GM, I won't play."
"You game? That's HOT."

"I look forward to more table top experiences with you." (add extra sleaze with this one)
"Are you here (at this gaming convention) because your boyfriend brought you?" (with sympathetic face)

In regards to getting women into gaming: "Did you know there are pretty dice? Or these little cool things called miniatures?" This from industry guru and leading world designer Ed Greenwood, who then had the audacity to hit on the women attending the panel, while we seethed in rage.

Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress came out in 2007 and did nothing for women in the culture. It advertised picking out new items like going to the mall, and tried to make the ultimate feminine experience relate to D&D. It treated women like the stereotypes the culture sees them as, and it was overtly insulting. I was disheartened to read it and then enraged shortly after. 

It isn't difficult to not be a dick. While I wasn't raised a male, I do have the privilege of being caucasian and was raised in a world where that was a lot of privilege (small town Ontario). I grew up with a lot of racism, and sexism, but found myself aware and conscious of the world around me, and through simple reading anyone can figure out what they're doing is awful. One of the big things I find in geek culture that keeps knocking me over is the consent found in silence.

From my fellow gamers, here's what I ask:

If you're at a game table, or in a gaming community, like OSG, and someone posts something offensive, your silence is the same as saying "Go man!" and that has to seriously stop. Men are just as responsible as women for fighting for our equal rights, and for the right to feel included in a culture that we're very much a part of. The big ones are ethnic stereotypes (see Deadlands), rape jokes (wtf is with this?), and racist jokes. It's everyone's responsibility to say no, that's not cool, and move on. Those who make rape jokes are often people have committed rape, and are normalizing their actions by laughing about rape. The fact that other people laugh with them confirms their beliefs that rape is okay. Don't buy into this. Don't let that culture keep going.

So this one time, at FanExpo, I was in a game of Serenity, where every female NPC (and pre-gen PC) was hot, scantily clad, and apparently hypersexualized and needing help with that. When I called the GM on this shit, after the mechanic girls were hot and not wearing much, he retorted with: "Fine, then they're blubberous and ugly." Don't do this. As a GM, make women people, always make women people. They aren't defined by being a man with a female name, either. Nor are they defined as victim. Women are so much more than just the girl needing rescuing or the girl who's "strong" and rises above it. 

Historical settings. My friend, A., is a historian and talks a lot about historical games. He does a way better job of talking about it, but it has to be said that historically, women have the very short stick. And that's fine if you want to play a historically accurate setting. However, I do ask that you remember people are just people. Today, I can walk down the street and meet 4/5 guys who are a-okay with women. One guy will be an asshole. Even if most of those guys have sexist tendencies, they're still okay people and aren't going to smack me just because I'm a woman. Remember that in your settings. Remember that people are just people, and not everyone you meet is going to be in asshole mode all the time. That, and in A.'s words, there's no such thing as historical accuracy. Ever.

Well... I guess that sums up some of my thoughts from today. Asking people to repeatedly get it through their heads that women are people too and that we love gaming just as much as them, and shouldn't need to ask people to stop being dicks is a constant fight. It's something I'm always involved with, and I don't know if it's just my luck, but I do tend to constantly end up locking horns with someone. The internet is full of trolls. And asshats. 

And on that note, I just thought I'd mention that hours after my incident on OSG, sexism is being tossed around as a joke on other threads. Good job, OSG. You certainly set the standard.