5 comments on “Mansplain to Me

  1. I would like to point out that saying the sexism and misogyny in the game lore ‘makes sense’ because of the repressive, conservative nature of the Imperium is not an excuse, but a sample of the problem. Games Workshop created this world. They made a decision to make the Imperium sexist and misogynistic along with it’s many other flaws and problems. They were not trying for ‘historical accuracy’ or anything like that. There is no history of a time that has not existed yet. They could have as easily decided to have a strong unisex or female presence in all of the game’s races, yet they chose not to.

    Games Workshop is both victim and perpetrator of the larger social issues of the male-dominated world we live in. They are no more or less guilty of any other group or organization that continues the same sexist attitudes that have been going on since humans first discovered that some could force their will on others and dominate them. But this is a case where if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Silence or holding the middle ground only ever helps the oppressor, not the oppressed. And Games Workshop has definitely taken the side of the dominate oppressor by having such a male-centric game and lore and sexist themes of male empowerment and female dis-empowerment.

    It can certainly be said that there are no role models in the Games Workshop games, as they are all about grimdark, violent times and nobody is ‘the good guys’. Just various shades of dark grey to complete black. But it is not about having someone to look up to so much as having a group you can identify with. All of the groups have a very heavy if not total male-dominated bias and leadership. The groups/races that have the strongest female inclusion are the Sisters of Battle who exist in game only to give the male-dominated Ecclesiarchy military power since they are a loophole in the law that prevents them from maintaining a force of “men-at-arms” because they are women. Their fantasy equivalents, the Sisters of Sigmar, are crazy nuns from a convent where people would dump off their unruly daughters, to be whipped into a self destructive, self punishing religious fervor for the disgrace of not being pliant enough to their families wishes.

    The races with the strongest female presence are the Elves/Eldar, especially the Dark versions of the race. which are by theme crazy, bloodthirsty, murderous maniacs. The female units distinguish themselves by being even more crazy, bloodthirsty and maniacal, and wearing almost no (Or in the case of the Witch Elves literally no) clothing. The same can also be said of the female servants of Slaanesh. The Eldar/High Elves/Wood Elves are the most egalitarian races out there. Women have a large presence in their armies. Yet in their lore, the number of units and characters, they are still by far outnumbered by the number of males.

    Some people try to say that gaming is still a male dominated field, and that female characters or models just would not sell as well. That is demonstrably false, and was only ever true because people were trying to make it true. More and more women are getting into geek culture and gaming. Even among the male population this is a growing interest in strong female characters that are not reliant on male characters or just scantily clad eye candy. There is plenty of desire for those kinds of characters as well, but we as a group and a society as a whole need to realize that the mail dominated everything just doesn’t work and needs to be changed. And the only way to change it is one bit at a time.

  2. Hmm, not sure if I understand this correctly, do you have issue with background lore or GWs focus on male customers(or both). If it’s the lore, I honestly don’t think the Imperium is inherently sexist society, at least according to Black Library books(I suggest A. Dembski-Bowden and Dan Abnett). Imperial citizens from lowest worker to High Lords, there is quite even split between sexes, in Inquisition, noble houses, leading functions(civillian though, I don’t recall ever seeing a female general or warmaster in those books). Mechanicum doesn’t care, nor Ecclesiarchy. Also, Imperium is culturally incredibly diverse, with instances of matriarchal societies, purely female IG regiments etc. The reason Marines are male is I think fairly reasonable, Emperor based geneseed designs on his own genetic material(primarchs are basically imperfect modified clones), which is the reason female body can’t accept it. Also, Marines don’t have much in common with humans, aside from general appearence(they are, in the end, brainwashed killing machines).

    As far as focusing on groups of customers, well, I don’t see how this is in any way bad. You try to please everyone, and end up pleasing noone. As customer base is vastly dominated by males, they want characters they can identify with, that’s why even Eldar\Elf personalities in codex lore are mainly male. Because it sells. Products are designed with male customer in mind, because female wargamers are only few. Look at Holywood production over last few decades. Once they realised there is a market for stuff like super-hero movies, or there is is a sizebale demand for female-centric(is that even a word? I’m not a native speaker :)) movies(not talking about rom-coms, but they certanly belong to that category), they started making more and more of them. But there is no such market of female wargamers, or it’s negligible. Why bother then, from business perspective? I suspect female wargamer market will grow, slowly, in the future, as it did with video games, but until it’s sizeable enough, I wouldn’t expect a lot to change in that regard.

    “Writing a holocaust story where the heroes are Nazis is Anti-Semitic. Writing a story where the protagonists unapologetically own slaves without negative consequences is racist. Writing a story where the protagonists are misogynists committing misogyny is misogynistic.”

    This is just plainly wrong. Just because characters condone something in the story doesn’t mean story or author condones it as well. I don’t have to go far for example, society and pretty much every character in 40k stories is devoutly religious and anti-science, yet I have yet to read anything based in that universe that actually suggests that such a society is a viable idea(this is basicaly the point of every story based dystopic world or society).

  3. 1) “If it’s the lore, I honestly don’t think the Imperium is inherently sexist society, at least according to Black Library books(I suggest A. Dembski-Bowden and Dan Abnett).”

    I’ve read those books, among others. Of them Abnett does the best service to women, but only in the Ravenor series. Among the other authors Sandy Mitchell does decently in the Cain series with Amberly and Col. Casteen. The Enforcer series are notable in having one of the very few female protagonists in a nongender restricted organization, but besides one single sentence in the second book Shira Calpurnia could have had her gender switched to male without changing anything but pronouns across all three of her novels, which is not a good thing.

    2) “Also, Imperium is culturally incredibly diverse, with instances of matriarchal societies, purely female IG regiments etc.”

    it is described as diverse, but in examples it is not. All female guard regiments in the fluff or the tabletop are all but nonexistant, as are high ranking members of the Ecclesiarchy. Mechanicus does slightly better, but not often, and at the higher levels are all but genderless, defeating the point. It’s impossible to be gender positive by stripping someone of their gender.

    3) “The reason Marines are male is I think fairly reasonable…”

    You think wrong. This is a pseudoscience explanation. The fact that someone went out of their way to think of a reason why Space Marines can’t be female is exactly the problem, not an excuse.

    4) ” Products are designed with male customer in mind, because female wargamers are only few.”

    In contrast, the reason female wargamers are few is because products are designed with the male customer in mind. This advertises the hobby as a “Boy’s Club” where women aren’t welcome. There are plenty of women who would love to get involved with wargaming, but they feel, quite rightly, that is an exclusionary hobby where they’re treated by the companies as second class citizens.

    5) ” Just because characters condone something in the story doesn’t mean story or author condones it as well.”

    Correct, but that’s not the point. In stories about the holocaust nazis aren’t portrayed as the heroes. In misogynist stories the misogynists are often portrayed as the heroes with no negative consequences for their misogynistic actions. These stories have an impact on their audience, communicating a message that it’s okay to act this way. This is bad.

    • Really? You think there are fewer female wargamers due to game design? How would you “fix” the problem? I’m all for having more female gamers but somehow I doubt you can change the essence of the game to appeal to female interests without killing it for the males. Bottom line tho -don’t state there’s a problem unless you also have a solution – otherwise all you’re doing is complaining. On a lighter note…in the year 40k there are those who get dressed up in terminator armor to go forth and do battle with the enemies of man, and those who make sandwiches.

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