Geek Girls Rule! #59 – Cross-Gender Playing. Yes? No? Maybe?

Because my friends are trying to drive me to an early grave via aneurysm, heart attack or stroke, I was recently directed to a forum with a discussion about the treatment of female gamers by male gamers. That wasn’t the blood pressure rising aspect of it. With my background with the He-Male Woman Haters Association and the stories that my other female friends have told, I’m kind of inured to all but the most egregious. Now the OP did have a truly egregious story about a StoryTeller allowing the other players to dominate her character and force the character into kinky sex, and we’ll talk about that in a bit. But something else really annoyed me in the ensuing thread; the statement that people were outlawing cross-gender playing.

Ok, so way back in the olden days, I did a post on Cross-Gender Role-Playing, GGR #19. And I still stand by what I said then, that I don’t have a problem with cross-gender playing if it’s done well. I have as little patience with the girls who play men badly, as I do with the men who play girls badly. But frankly how is someone going to get good at it if they don’t ever get to do it?

Honestly, I prefer playing female characters, but I have to say that were I ever to encounter a GM who told me right off the bat that there was no cross-gender playing I would have an irresistible urge to play a male character. Ok, truthfully, I’d probably bail on the group right there. I don’t deal well with people who have a desire to dictate “good fun” and “wrong bad fun.”

One of the most frequently repeated complaints about cross-gender playing, voiced even by yours truly on occasion, is the unwillingness of people to have other people’s sexual fantasies played out in front of or involving them. I understand that, I truly do. After spending several years working in a Fetish club, I really, really, really understand that. However, that, my friends, is where negotiations about things like boundaries and comfort zones come in.

Seriously, if you can’t tell the people you spend hours pretending with when they’re being jackasses, why are you gaming with them?

So, like every other part of gaming, playing the opposite gender can be done well or badly, and yeah, if someone was really, really egregiously bad at playing the opposite gender repeatedly, I could see telling them no, or even kicking them out of the game if it was due to some rampant misogyny or misandry.

Now, on to the part where the StoryTeller allowed the other (male) characters to force her character into kinky sex.

WRONG!!!!!!!! Seriously, sometimes I think every female gamer should carry around a rolled up newspaper so she can start smacking fuckheads like this in the nose every time they do something horrible. This definitely falls under the realm of discussing boundaries and limits. If it comes up, and you say, “Hey guys, this is making me seriously uncomfortable and it needs to stop,” and they don’t. Leave. Call them a bunch of assheads and walk out, because that isn’t ok. However, it behooves you to SPEAK UP. If you don’t tell them it bothers you, they may not realize that it does.

Look, just everyone be adults about this. Before you introduce graphic sex or violence into your campaign, you should make sure everyone’s on board with that. Want to use rape as a hook? Make sure everyone’s on board with that. Want to kill puppies? Make sure everyone’s on board with that. Want to eat babies? Make sure everyone’s on board with that. You don’t know when something is going to trip something problematic for someone, and unless you’re a dick, you don’t want to be that person.

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4 thoughts on “Geek Girls Rule! #59 – Cross-Gender Playing. Yes? No? Maybe?

  1. Amen, sister!

    I run a contemporary horror game, and I remind them frequently that if something makes them uncomfortable, the safe word is “this makes me uncomfortable”. And we stop, right then. If I plan to introduce something potentially triggering (a potential rape situation when I know one of my players is a rape survivor) I clear it with them first.

    I play both genders (I’m female). In long-term, face to face games, I *tend* to play females, mostly because then I don’t have to remind people every few minutes that “he” said that, not “she”. It’s much easier to play cross-gender online because there isn’t that dissonance of a female face/body portraying a male character.

    I really, really agree with the fundamental point of: don’t play with jerks.

  2. I’ve put down the cross-gender ban in the past, usually for specific groups. I haven’t done it in several years, though. My issue was mostly an annoyance factor: Men who routinely played cross gender and either did it really badly or were really creepy when they did it. This was primarily back when I played more with the Crack Habit crew. I don’t think I’ve ever had a problem with women playing men. It’s not always a good fit, but women don’t usually abuse gender stereotypes or bring out the squick factor.

    Currently my solution is that people who squick me out just don’t get invited back and I try to avoid games where it may become an issue.

  3. Hell yeah and a-fucking-men. I’m a girl who does mostly cross-gender roleplay. I have nothing against playing female characters, I just happen to enjoy playing guys more. *shrugs*. I’ve been doing this for years now, and the things people say when I spring on them that I’m a girl behind these masculine characters has always given me a kick of amusement. I also know several guys who plays girls really well. I think it’s a little more rare to find guys playing girls as something other than sex objects or damsels in distress, but there are definitely more of them out there than you’d thinkg.

    All I can say to the story of the girl whose character wad forced into kinky sex is…well, what the fuck!? I would say the same as you, that she should have just high-tailed it away from those bastards if it was making her uncomfortable. However, there’s always a chance that those people she was with were friends or people whose peer pressure she was otherwise susceptible to. However, while I understand there are likely good reasons why she didn’t leave (intimidation being the main one) I agree that anyone actually in that situation should tell them to go fuck themselves.

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