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Author Topic: Male Dominance in RPGs  (Read 12543 times)
Librisia
Member

Posts: 35


« on: February 17, 2004, 07:19:12 PM »

Still gettin' the hang of the Forge Culture, so please ignore the other cross posts on other threads.

Here's what I've slapped together based on the conversations here and reconsidering the model in the paper I posted.

Let me say, that in reworking my model, I realized how sexist my model really was. See, no one is immune!

Here's what I've come up with - which still needs a lot of research to make it accpetably academic.

WHY IS GAMING MALE DOMINATED?
BARRIERS TO ENTRY

GEEK CULTURE - Biggest one -
What is Geek Culture?
- geek culture is characterized by a social setting that places high value on intelligence and depth of knowledge in the capacity of trivia (applied knowledge, like accountancy, is valued, but not generally thought of as “interesting” in the social setting)
- Geeks are widely read, and often favor the science fiction and fantasy literary genres, as well as ancient myth cycles and popular cultural phenomena (Star Wars, etc.)
- my own long term group had its “experts” in various fields, and people tended to go to them for information when gaming or other pursuits required that knowledge. Though some individuals’ knowledge bases overlapped, each member of the group was recognized as a “specialist” in one or more areas.

WHO ARE THE GEEKS (Historical Overview)
- creators of RPGs in the ‘70s were people whose interests are the same as described in my original essay - fantasy, science fiction, mythology, etc
- Gygax created a fantasy scenario based on already existing miniatures war games
- Geek factor HIGH!
- not many women interested in historical simulations (then)
- not many women in the tech industry in the 1970s, where most of the people doing the war gaming met and networked to organize play
- hypothesis: a rise in women in the tech industry in the ‘80s and ‘90s might directly correlate with rise in women gaming
- also, as the Historical Geeks got married and had families, they inevitably brought their wives and daughters into play (much the same gateway existed for women artists before the late 20th Century)
- obviously, more information needs to be gathered here

HAVEN ‘T THERE ALWAYS BEEN WOMEN GEEKS?
- of course. Fine’s study suggests that they were absent from the gaming milieu for quite a while. Why is that?
- misogyny of gaming geek culture in Fines’ study indicates that old gender role stereotypes were quite strong through the late 1970s and early 1980s. This is also where Gilligan’s ideas and my own analysis of male gaming culture would probably be most apt. Women did not participate much in early gaming because it seems they were not welcomed. Gilligan’s study took place right around the same time that Fine published _Shared Fantasy_.
- misogyny in gaming groups was likely no more worse than in other all-male groups of the time (or of today, for that matter)
- my model is more applicable in this regard to early gaming groups



WHY ARE WOMEN STILL A MINORITY IN GAMING?
1. The Minority Report
- fact is, it is difficult, socially, to be a minority in any setting. People tend to try to avoid this situation if they can. Why subject yourself to the difficulty of being a minority if what you are trying to do is have fun?

2. The Opposite of Philandrony
- As mentioned earlier, the misogyny in gaming was (and still can be) rife. This is a sub-category of the “minority report”

3. Geek Culture
- women are a minority in geek culture
- cultural norms of Geek Culture are strange and can be intimidating to any outsider
A. - Geeks generally play one-up games (as in any group), but the area of expertise is KNOWLEDGE
- Geek competition can be confusing and make people feel stupid (especially if they are stupid). This applies to both men and women
- this kind of behavior can be used to enforce group membership and thus discourage new members
- the same behavior can be used to show off. This is the Geek version of brachiating, and the signals can be read as threatening to men and women, depending upon the situation
B. - non-Geek men don’t know how to compete in this arena and don’t like being outstripped by Geeks in a social setting, so they don’t continue to game (brachiating works as it is meant to, by intimidating non group-member males)
C. - non-Geek women don’t read the signals correctly, either, and end up feeling not only like the minority, but also like the stupid minority to boot.
(depending upon how threatened members of the group are by the presence of women, this can either be read to be working properly or backfiring miserably)
D. - Geek women understand the social nuances of this kind of competition and know how to navigate Geek Culture. They are properly impressed by the displays of male members. I also married a Geek because I find his intelligence and knowledge base impressive (among his many other attractive attributes) I personally compete with the men for knowledge area expertise and carve out a niche of my own in the group structure. Many groups allow for this. The group I ran into trouble with a year or so ago did not.
I don’t know how other women navigate Geek Culture - I’d love to hear some feedback from other women on the Forge.

- In GAMING GROUPS, knowledge of the _rules_ is often a main area of competition for players. This leads to the other main barrier of entry: Game Structure

GAME STRUCTURE
- this is not particular to men or women, but is a barrier to getting more people into the hobby in general. Credit to Vincent (lumpley) for this stage of my hypothesis at UniCon last November. It’s all his. Except the argot part. That's mine. :-)

1. TIME - RPGs take a HUGE amount of time to play and (if you’re a GM) even more time to prepare for. Other hobbies take a great deal of training and practice (rock climbing, sky diving). For some reason, our culture says that “Games” should be short. RISK and CIVILIZATION are notable exceptions to this, but how many people outside of Geek Culture actually play these games all the way through? See, told you.

2. THE RULES - even more of a barrier than play time, learning the rules of RPGs takes an inordinate amount of time.
A. Added to the problem of the rules is the use of ARGOT, which is differs from game to game.
- argot is a specialized vocabulary for some group. For example, “I roll 2d10 to determine whether I save versus his fireball” Most people hearing a conversation like this will respond with WTF?
- regardless of gender, those unwilling to wait patiently to understand the argot of various games is not going to have fun and suffer from the down side of Geek Culture mentioned in A-D above
B. Rule books are text books. I personally don’t want to read a text book in order to be able to play a game. It’s a question of time as well as general resistance to reading ANY KIND of textbook.
- you can learn the rules by playing, but this puts you at a distinct disadvantage to those who have read the rules and may act as “rules lawyers” or “min-maxers” who are so thoroughly knowledgeable about the rules that they can use that knowledge to their advantage.
- this can cause resentment and the desire to NOT play if players who don’t want to learn the rules inside and out feel that their characters are always inferior to the characters of others (this is a problem with GM intervention as well, but that’s not the issue in this .. Uh ... outline)

WHY ARE THERE MORE MEN IN NEOPAGANISM THAN WOMEN IN GAMING?
I think it comes down to the Structure/Argot problem.

NeoPaganism shares Geek Culture. However, built into the structure of NeoPaganism are roles that MUST be filled by women (so that the powers of male and female balance) - this leads to all kinds of gender essentialism in NeoPaganism that is incredibly problematic. Women MUST be part of a community to fulfill the necessary role of the “sacred feminine” (to use Dan Brown’s argot)

Gender essentialism in gaming has historically taken the form of excluding women, rather than requiring them to fulfill specific roles within the community. While that is changing, more female participation requires fluency with Geek Culture and also with the desire to endure learning the argot of different games.

The argot of mythology, on which NeoPaganism is based, is not so convoluted nor obfuscatory. If you read mythology, plus a little Joseph Campbell, you get the idea and are ready to join your local NeoPagan group. Most NeoPagans only find out about the religion after doing EXTENSIVE reading that familiarizes them with the argot of mythology and religion before ever setting foot in a sacred circle.

That’s it.

Krista
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james_west
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« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2004, 08:57:35 PM »

Not a very satisfying response, perhaps, but -  the bit on gaming strikes me as essentially true.

I might be inclined to go a little farther with comparing it to other male-dominated pursuits; I guess I think it's explicitly the same, culturally, as poker night, or fishing trips, or the like.

 I know essentially nothing about neopaganism, except that one of my (female) friends says it consists of little but catfights over who gets to be high priestess.

- James
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talysman
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« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2004, 09:16:29 PM »

Krista,

I think that's a pretty good analysis and may explain a lot about the imbalanced demographics of gamer culture. I do have one minor terminology quibble and one major suggestion about a missing piece of the puzzle, however.

the terminology quibble is over the word "misogyny". there's certainly examples of misogyny in gaming texts and gamer groups (I'm thinking of the reaction of the male gamers depicted in KotDT and the movie "The Gamers", for example, or that astounding quote from Elijah Wood in a D&D game run by Jonathan Tweet for some reporter.) however, there's a difference between "misogyny" and "gender bias" and "gender prejudice". I think it's the biases and prejudices, rather than outright hatred of women, that act as the primary turn-off for the general female public. misogyny's pretty rare, but it certainly becomes magnified in the midst of the rampant sexism.

the missing piece of the puzzle, on the other hand, is a little bigger. historically, "geek chic" didn't appear until the late '80s; you must keep in mind that prior to that time, geeks were considered outcasts, especially by women. this may explain why gamers in the '70s didn't know enough women to invite to RPGs sessions, and why they weren't comfortable enough around women to talk about gaming to new female acquaintances. thus, in the early days of gaming, it was mostly a male thing.

the culture has changed quite a bit since then, but (as you point out,) there's all this historical baggage and bad sexist habits hampering new growth in the hobby.
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
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John Kim
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« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2004, 10:36:12 PM »

OK, I'm not entirely sure of this myself, but I'll throw in another aspect to the question.  In the essay http://www.darkshire.net/~jhkim/rpg/theory/liz-paper-2003/">Group Narration: Power, Information, and Play in Role Playing Games, Liz Henry suggests that there is a split between the more "hierarchical" mode of storytelling collaboration and the "dialogic" mode.  She associates traditional GM power with the hierarchical mode, which may stereotypically be viewed as more masculine.  Dialogic is a more freeform structure of collaboration.  From the paper:
Figure 4.  A stereotypically gendered view of the dialogic and hierarchical modes of discourse.
     Masculine   :   Feminine                                     
     monologic   :   dialogic                                                  
 goal-oriented   :   process-oriented                                          
   centripetal   :   centrifugal                                                
       violent   :   verbally diplomatic                                        
          wars   :   relationships                                              
     authority   :   consensus                                                  
   competition   :   cooperation                                                
  conservative   :   open to change

Personally, I would associate hierarchical with Illusionism but not inherently with traditional GM power.  For example, a game like Pantheon dispenses with the GM -- but it results in a very competitive mode of storytelling which I think is very different from the stereotypically-feminine dialogic mode.  So I don't this has much to do with overly male demographic of RPGs, but it is interesting to consider.
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- John
Ben O'Neal
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Posts: 294


« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2004, 11:09:53 PM »

i've only been gaming for around a year (i'm only 22), so maybe i missed something, but i agree with talysman that the word 'misogyny' is probably the wrong word. i certainly have never even met any misogynists other than my ex-step-father, but he was from a previous generation. so i fail to see how misogyny could ever be a major factor in the majority of games.

but what i do believe is a strong factor, is the simple stereotype of the geek. to geeks, being a gook is merely a descriptive label, and often one to be proud of. geeks hold up the positive side if the stereotype, such as intelligence, knowledge, imagination, creativity, and fun, whilst to non-geeks, geeks are socially inept weird little creatures. this relates to gender thus: males are typically less likely to care about what social niche they fit into than women are. i've never met any girl that doesn't have both an extended social network of associates and loose friends AND a small closely-knit clique. and i've never met a girl who didn't put great weight on the opinions of those within her clique, and only slightly less weight on the opinions of those in her social network. sure, i haven't met every girl in the world, and there are bound to be exceptions, but i've met quite a few girls in my years at university studying psychology. i know only two girls who game, and they are sisters who were raised by a father who used to game (thus have less inhibitions about the label "geek").

in my opinion, the male:female ratio in gaming has practically nothing to do with gamers being misogynistic, or even gynocentric (though those things may well be), but has almost everything to do with non-gamers perceptions of gamers, and inhibitions about having those perceptions placed on themselves.

also, when you think about it, RPG gaming was invented by men, for men, to be fun and engaging for men by appealing to their interests and dreams. how many men like knitting? cross-stitch? window shopping? talking to friends for hours on end over the phone? watching soap operas? or "chick-flicks"? is it because the women who do these things hate men? or try to exlude them purposefully? or is it because these things simply don't appeal to the vast majority of men? this isn't to say that no man does any or all of these things, but they are the minority. not because of any sinister plans to keep them out, but because most males don't desire to say "here, i knit you a scarf".

in my humble opinion, girls who game are an exception to the majority not because they've learnt to deal with how men play RPG's, but because they aren't frightened by the label "geek". fun can be found in any activity, from gaming to knitting. the only barriers are the ones the individual places there themselves.
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S'mon
Member

Posts: 126


« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2004, 12:01:43 AM »

I don't think all gamers are part of 'geek culture' as presented here - I'm not even sure if a majority are.  There aren't many obviously geeky characters in my gaming group - lawyer types, an actor, a church youth worker,  a charity worker, a map salesman.  The most typically 'geeky' player is one of the women.  Very few would appear geeky to someone who just met us.  I'm not sure if treating RPGs as played by a homogeonous 'geek culture' is really helpful, although there certainly is one.

Edit: The idea that Hero With A Thousand Faces is more accessible than the D&D Player's Handbook, say, shows a bit of cultural bias IMO.  :)
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Valamir
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« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2004, 04:48:31 AM »

It might also be desireable to note the great variety in Geek Culture out there.  If you are taking as the primary determinate of the culture the holding of obscure knowledge in esteem there are several different outlets that this behavior can take.

There is the traditional "high tech" geek that many people automatically associate with the stereotype.  But there are also many other fields as well.  There is an entire subculture of literary, movie, and art "geeks" who seem every bit as alien when engrossed in their particular obsession.  Near DC there is an entire subculture of State Department, Pentagon, and DoD think tank, personel that can be quite different from the "high tech" variety.  

Just as clearly there are other groups which by the definition offered could well be categorized as "Geeks" but for which there is much less overlap with gamer culture.  It may be an interesting exercize to try to identify which subcultures tend to produce a fair number of gamers and which do not, and then determine what the distribution of women membership is between them.
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jrs
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Posts: 373


« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2004, 09:34:41 AM »

Krista,

This is purely anecdotal -- your description of misogyny in gaming geek culture does not correspond to my experience.  I started gaming in the early 1980's with a core group of five to six people that played in the same AD&D campaign for four years.  It's true that I was the only woman of the bunch, but I was a full-fledged member and was not excluded or undermined in any way.  Additionally, I would only characterize three of us as being particularly geeky.  There were other players including a few women beyond the core who played for varying lengths of time.  I suggest that the time commitment involved and possibly the stigma of role-playing as a suitable pastime (as Ravien suggests) were the reasons new players, particularly women, did not continue gaming over time.  

You also specifically ask how women navigate geek culture.  I'm not sure I can answer this question.  The act of navigating does not describe my behavior; I either share interests with others or I don't.  If there is no common ground between me and a group, I am not likely to spend a great deal of leisure time with them.

Julie
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2004, 12:27:29 PM »

Quote
i certainly have never even met any misogynists other than my ex-step-father, but he was from a previous generation. so i fail to see how misogyny could ever be a major factor in the majority of games.
Mysogyny certainly happens. It's a question of how much more or less it happens in general society. I mean, FATAL is practically a mysogynists bible. But is it an aberration or part of some norm of RPGs. That's going to be rather hard to determine. You'll get lots of annecdotes, but like all things gaming, no hard data is to be had.

Mike
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AnyaTheBlue
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« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2004, 02:22:54 PM »

The misogynistic elements of gaming culture are certainly not necessarily endemic, but they do seem to be particularly vile when they do crop up, and they do seem to crop up more frequently there than in other pursuits.

The comparison to 'poker night' is apt, and I would further suggest that 'poker night' tends to be, for some groups, rather misogynistic.  But at the same time, the 'misogynistic poker groups' I know of have nothing on the simulated rape-and-pillage fests that I've witnessed at the gaming table.

Maybe I've just been unlucky?

Aside from a few specific really negative experiences, most of the misogyny I've witnessed in games has come more from the relatively poor group-socialization skills and general clumsiness of guys attempts to be inclusive.  One aspect of that is definitely the impression that most geek guys have that "displays of geek impressiveness" (ie, encyclopedic knowledge of Dr. Who companions, Monty Python quotage, and the like) are in fact both a reliable substitute for actual conversation and impressive to a woman who is willing to try out an RPG.  This is true for us 'geek women', but isn't really very common amongst the 'mundanes'.

The geek culture thing definitely needs to be broadened.  Although things are different now, largely thanks to Magic: the Gathering and Vampire, but during most of the 80s the typical "gaming geek" had an enormous overlap with computer geeks, SF geeks, science geeks, Monty Python geeks, Star Trek geeks, and even ROTC geeks (at one of my high schools).  I think the stereotype has perhaps lived on longer than the reality...

Oh, and the 'argot' thing, while certainly accurate, is something I've seen lots of non-computer people complain about using the term 'jargon', which is perhaps a bit less obscure?

I'm looking forward to the end results!
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Dana Johnson
Note that I'm heavily medicated and something of a flake.  Please take anything I say with a grain of salt.
sirogit
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Posts: 503


« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2004, 05:54:33 PM »

First off, I would like to declare my view on gender's effect on behavior. I am most inclined to believe that all differences of gender comes firstly from the role of women to be pregnant, and that effect on culture, and secondly from men's solidarity as the primary physical warrior/enforcer when developed physical strength was a much more important determination factor in ability than it is now. I could be wrong but I've never found hard data that made me think otherwise.

Now, while I'd say there are correlations, some stronger than others, between "roleplaying > "geek culture" > stereotypical geek > Exhaustive and competetive hounds of infromation", that because you have to make so many connections that the correlation between "roleplaying > exhaustive and competeive hounds of information" that the tie becomes rather weak, only holding up superficially.

I've met a few people like that, avoided them when possible, but I've never encountered them in a roleplaying environment. But it somehow SEEMS like a very plausible stereotype, as the strongest stereotypes work by basing themslves on a long network of strong connections that don't add up to anything real.

Quote
misogyny of gaming geek culture in Fines’ study indicates that old gender role stereotypes were quite strong through the late 1970s and early 1980s. This is also where Gilligan’s ideas and my own analysis of male gaming culture would probably be most apt. Women did not participate much in early gaming because it seems they were not welcomed. Gilligan’s study took place right around the same time that Fine published _Shared Fantasy_.


Could you provide a link to this study? It just sounds very out of touch with my gaming expiereinces, which are admitively more modern than the report. I would say that I've found much more actual, unimagined racist and class tension in gaming than sexist tension, and yet sexist tension is made up to be a much bigger deal.

Quote

- misogyny in gaming groups was likely no more worse than in other all-male groups of the time (or of today, for that matter)


Could you provide atleast an anectodal example of this moderate prevelance of misogyny in gaming groups or male-dominated groups, today or at the time? It sounds like blatant misinformation.

Quote

B. - non-Geek men don’t know how to compete in this arena and don’t like being outstripped by Geeks in a social setting, so they don’t continue to game (brachiating works as it is meant to, by intimidating non group-member males)


What are you basing this assumption on again...? In my expiereince with people I'd call what you define as "geeks", speaking as a person who is put off by pointless gathering of information, I don't play their games because I view them as a waste of time and unpleasantly sociopathic, like kicking a dog to prove you're better than it. Why are you reading into it that non-geek men feel threatened?

Quote

D. - Geek women understand the social nuances of this kind of competition and know how to navigate Geek Culture. They are properly impressed by the displays of male members. I also married a Geek because I find his intelligence and knowledge base impressive (among his many other attractive attributes) I personally compete with the men for knowledge area expertise and carve out a niche of my own in the group structure. Many groups allow for this. The group I ran into trouble with a year or so ago did not.


The whole paragraph sounds more misgyonistic than any roleplaying-related article I have ever read, because it's a woman complimentrly examing her own life doesn't really alter that. It presents the male-dominated portrait of a woman who is swayed into sexual service by their superior ability, and supports assumptions that a woman must be "allowed" to compete in a social setting. Barring some absurd method of normally stopping her, this would be read as playing down to her.

Not to say that this description isn't 100% factual, if it is I would say that it is just a much indication of supporting your line of reasoning for the arguement of misgyonistic geek culture as the arguement that women are inherently submissive or inferior.

Quote

NeoPaganism shares Geek Culture. However, built into the structure of NeoPaganism are roles that MUST be filled by women (so that the powers of male and female balance) - this leads to all kinds of gender essentialism in NeoPaganism that is incredibly problematic. Women MUST be part of a community to fulfill the necessary role of the “sacred feminine” (to use Dan Brown’s argot)


There are some parts of neopaganism that shares geek culture. As a participant of that scene, I would say there was a certain crowd that went into "neopaganism" because they thought it was this superior, ancient religion and being a member of it made them "cool", due to reading a really bad book that ties ancient druidic religion with feminist/new age floppery.

There are lots of branches of neopaganism. Not every branch was effected by watered-down female chauvinism as others.

Most of the mainstream branches of "Neopaganism" I would call very non-obsfucatory. But very convolouted, to be a facade of the old religions while still accomplishing it's inherent intentions.
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Ben O'Neal
Member

Posts: 294


« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2004, 06:17:56 PM »

i think it's important to note the seperation between the geek stereotype and the reality of actual gamers. certainly no-one in the group i GM for could be labelled a geek by anyone who didn't know they gamed, and the same goes for the group i play with, and the group i play M:TG with. they include soccer players, karate senseis, heavy metal musicians (of which i am one), authors, IT people, and army personel. without knowing that they game it would be hard to apply the geek label to them.

unfortunately, negative stereotypes are very powerful and people's minds are very flexible, so once they know that these people are gamers, the label of geek applies and the perception of them is adapted to suit.

i think that even were the geek label overcome by a girl, say, by discovering some of her close friends are 'geeks', and even if she was interested in joining in on the fun despite the content and style of RPGs, i posit that there would be yet another hurdle to overcome, which perhaps is not so large from the perspective of a male. librisia mentioned it in her original post, the problem of "looking stupid" in front of the other players. there are a lot of rules to learn, and for a non-gamer to pick them all up quickly is daunting, and in my experience, not even the fact that they are all friends is enough to stiffle the feeling of "being stupid" among friends who obviously know more about the game than they do.  sure, i'm not a girl, but i've seen this happen even in situations outside of gaming.

i dunno, just ideas.

just for the record, misogyny=hate of women. guys "having a go" at girls amongst their guy friends is not, in my opinion, misogynistic, any more than girls "bitching" about guys is androgynistic. i don't think either represents any level of hatred toward the other gender, just a natural and healthy venting of frustrations caused by a lack of understanding and relating to their differences. i've never been to a "poker night", so i could be wrong, but i'd hazard a guess that any animosity towards women would simply be "having a go" from an androcentric perspective when gender is salient. i'd personally reserve the use of the term misogyny or andrgyny for when it is clearly the case. "rape and pillage" was culturally acceptable to vikings and their way of life, so i'd be wary of labelling it as misogyny. roleplaying rape and pillaging is historically accurate, so again, i'd be wary. unless you know for certain the actual intentions and motivations for an action, i'd say it's hard to define it as caused by hate. unless of course misogyny/androgyny exists solely in the eyes of the beholder, in which case your reality is your own to create.

my friends and i are of the opinion that hatred toward a gender really died out a few generations back, so only exists in those generations that haven't yet died. well, at least in modern 1st world "western" cultures anyway. but we live in australia, so maybe we are wrong!
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clehrich
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« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2004, 09:15:43 PM »

Piece of purely anecdotal data.  I teach small seminar classes at Boston University, an enormous institution.  My classes, because they are part of a requirement for every entering undergraduate, necessarily draw on the entire spread of B.U. students.  B.U. is not terribly racially diverse, except for international students; for example, sad to say, I have never had a black student who wasn't from a foreign country.  The students are generally wealthy and white, or very wealthy and foreign.  Obviously there are exceptions, but they are indeed exceptions.  Okay, enough background.

By the end of a semester, I can pretty effectively pick out the classic "geek" types, because I know the students well.  They may be both male and female, though males predominate by, I'd say, 75%.

Now, note the following:
    [*]I have never seen a female geek play with a calculator before class, nor discuss video games.  I have often seen male geeks do this.
    [*]I have never had a male geek apologize for his geekiness; as someone mentioned, it seems to be a badge of pride (not always, but often).
    [*]I have very often had female geeks apologize for their interest in geeky topics, notably science fiction.
    [*]Without exception, I find that female geeks are much better students than male ones.  Given that B.U. does not get the top echelon of students, this suggests to me that there is some correlation between female geekiness and going to a school less good than they deserve.  I do not know what that correlation means, and could think of so many possibilities that I'm not going to spin them out as theories.
    [*]Every male geek who has "come out" to me has mentioned role-playing games.  No female student of any kind has ever done so.[/list:u]Just a little anecdotal data for the fires.

    Chris Lehrich
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    Chris Lehrich
    Scourge108
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    Posts: 78


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    « Reply #13 on: February 18, 2004, 09:48:16 PM »

    My own anecdotal data:  I know 4 different females who used to be gamers but got out of the hobby.  The reason, they all told me, was because they were tired of all the "dorky" guys hitting on them.  They all had stories of the other PCs harassing their characters.

    I would also have to say, anecdotally of course, that a large percentage of gamers look and act just like the Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons.  Sometimes I wonder if they do it on purpose.  We don't all act like that, though.  I remember when someone asked a friend of mine, when he was done using the computer if he saved.  He said "Yeah, and I took half damage," and laughed hysterically.  The girl looked puzzled at him, then at me, and before anybody could say anything, I said "It's a Dungeons and Dragons thing."  She looked at me with gratitude for warning her before she asked him to explain, and dropped the subject.  She avoided him after that.  
    However, while I have enjoyed many games with many people trying to fit that stereotype, I have also gamed with punks, frat boys, hicks, gearheads, lesbians, angry minorities, preppies, and almost every other stereotype, too.  The truth is, the gaming bug can bite anyone from any walk of life.  Noone is safe.  You may be a normal, upstanding young jock or criminal or anything but a geek.  Maybe one Thanksgiving, your uncle wants you to try this new game, or your weird friend finally talks you into going to a night of pizza and Rifts with his chess club friends.  And then...damn them...you loved it.  You needed more.  You can still love bathing, and exercise, and dating, and all the other things that keep you from being a total geek.  But you still have gaming.  And there's that stigma that goes with it...I never thought I'd be longing for the days when we were satanists, not dorks (to the public).  I think that stigma keeps a lot of closet gamers in the closet.  And many of them are women.
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    Greg Jensen
    AnyaTheBlue
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    Posts: 187


    « Reply #14 on: February 18, 2004, 09:52:11 PM »

    Quote from: Ravien
    just for the record, misogyny=hate of women. guys "having a go" at girls amongst their guy friends is not, in my opinion, misogynistic, any more than girls "bitching" about guys is androgynistic. i don't think either represents any level of hatred toward the other gender, just a natural and healthy venting of frustrations caused by a lack of understanding and relating to their differences. i've never been to a "poker night", so i could be wrong, but i'd hazard a guess that any animosity towards women would simply be "having a go" from an androcentric perspective when gender is salient. i'd personally reserve the use of the term misogyny or andrgyny for when it is clearly the case. "rape and pillage" was culturally acceptable to vikings and their way of life, so i'd be wary of labelling it as misogyny. roleplaying rape and pillaging is historically accurate, so again, i'd be wary. unless you know for certain the actual intentions and motivations for an action, i'd say it's hard to define it as caused by hate.


    Okay, let me see if I can explain where I'm coming from.

    First, not every social interaction between a man and a woman is an invitation to be hit upon, and if you think and act as if they are, and don't pick up on signals to the contrary, this could be considered a less than friendly environment for the woman.  It's probably more accurately described as a form of androcentrism, or an objectification of women.   Whatever term you want to use, it doesn't result in woman feeling very comfortable.

    Second, being sexually explicit in ways that could be considered gross, teasing, or annoying are also not generally useful ploys in creating an environment which is 'gender neutral'.  It's the teenaged equivalent of putting gum in Susie's hair.

    Third, having all female NPCs (and any female PCs being run by male players) defined more by their sexual characteristics than by their personalities (ie, making them all prissy virgins or massive sluts) is again pretty objectifying, and probably isn't making most women comfortable.

    Fourth, having an adventure session built around planning the sack of a town and including a breakdown of which PC is going to rape which NPC (because "she's hot"), not to mention working out how the rape is going to be undertaken (up to and including technique and what humiliating actions you're going to force her to undertake) is, again, not the route to producing a gender neutral environment in which women are going to feel particularly comfortable joining in your activities.

    I'm not saying that every, or even most, gamers fit any of these four stereotypes.  They all represent behavior I've seen in RPG sessions on more than one occasion by people from vastly different areas of the country.  Not every gamer is a misogynist.  But there's plenty of misogynistic behavior and assumptions built into what I think of as a "typical" gaming group.  I'm not saying that the gamers who do these things are themselves intentionally women-hating.  But these behaviors are not respectful of women, and no matter how 'realistic' rape and pillage may be, not that many women are going to find it fun to explore the rape aspect of that historic fact in great detail.  And if you are a guy and are finding it fun, ask yourself why?  Because I certainly don't get it, but I do keep seeing it.

    Again, maybe I'm just unlucky?  If it's not misogyny, it's at least showing a marked lack of social graces and a fairly hostile objectification of women, intentional or not.

    Quote from: Ravien
    my friends and i are of the opinion that hatred toward a gender really died out a few generations back, so only exists in those generations that haven't yet died. well, at least in modern 1st world "western" cultures anyway. but we live in australia, so maybe we are wrong!


    I think you are wrong, even in 1st world "western" cultures (I'm in the US).  Although there is a refreshing trend towards egalitarianism in the younger people I know, there are still misanthropes, racists, homophobes, and misogynists in people of all ages here, just as there are people who are tolerant, accepting, and open-minded who are of all ages.

    Adult bigots seem to bring up bigotted children, whatever their prejudices.
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    Dana Johnson
    Note that I'm heavily medicated and something of a flake.  Please take anything I say with a grain of salt.
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