Geek Girls Rule! #381 – Sexism isn’t Dead, it just Dresses Better

Ugh.  So, that Kotaku article about D&D.

Did anyone else cackle like Witch Hazel from the old Bugs Bunny cartoons when you read the last paragraph, which seems to state that because D&D had a female POC pictured in it, sexism in gaming is dead?

Follower Saffire Rainbo brought this to my attention, and came to much the same conclusion I and every other woman who games that I know came to.

Great article, flawed conclusion.

As a historical piece, it’s interesting.  The repetition of “women just weren’t into it” gets a little old, especially since many of us were or knew women who were in gaming contemporary to this time period.  Repeating the same old tired tropes does not history make.

Or maybe it does.  Worked for the Tudors.


I did enjoy the highlighting of the women who were involved back in Gygaxian times.  That was great.  But gods damn it, people…

Can we please quit confusing “actively discouraged from participating” with “weren’t interested?”  Any freaking day now.  And yes, I know at least one of the women interviewed said she wasn’t interested.

What about the ones who were?

Where were the ones who were but were unwilling to put up with their characters being forced to “seduce a small party of dwarves,” or other bullshit chauvinistic behaviors?

To this day if they want a career in the gaming industry, many women keep their mouths shut publicly because calling out the bullshit has a tendency to get you labeled as a troublemaker or merely “overlooked,” and that goes for the Indies as well as the more established gaming properties.  Gaming is still very much an industry of “who you know,” and as such anyone who calls out bullshit behavior soon finds themselves on the outs.

I can name at least three women this has actively happened to, and many more who stay quiet publicly while talking in the back channels of geek womanhood.  And I don’t fucking blame them for keeping quiet.  It sucks for them, to have to put up with a bunch of bullshit with a smile and a nod, just like those women at TSR no doubt did for decades.

Now, many of the indie game companies are at least nominally better about it.  But even there, men outnumber women by quite a lot.  And you can look at the stats on Kickstarter:  indie games with a man as the face or as part of a team fare better than women-headed game Kickstarters.

And let’s face it, part of me considers backing off on calling out the bullshit when I see it pretty frequently.  I mean, I would like to kickstart my game, and I am, not unrealistically, concerned that the fact that I’m out here shooting off my mouth about sexism in gaming as well as comics and other facets of geek culture is going to torpedo that.

But you know what, I have a career that isn’t gaming that will likely always exist.  I have a safety net.  I’m in a far better place than many to call this shit out from a place of relative safety, so that’s what I’m gonna keep doing.

Edited to add this link from my friend Lex, about female war gamers.  You know, since the article claims women didn’t like D&D at first because it was too much like wargaming.


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