Comments on: [Guest Post] Thoughts on Women in LARP /2011/10/18/guest-post-thoughts-on-women-in-larp/ A feminist pop culture adventure Thu, 06 Sep 2012 12:58:00 +0000 hourly 1 By: maxcarrion /2011/10/18/guest-post-thoughts-on-women-in-larp/#comment-6092 Thu, 06 Sep 2012 12:58:00 +0000 I don’t know how to say this without sounding like an awful pig but…. So?

I can’t disagree with many of the posters, sexism exists in myth, sexism exists in larp, prostitution isn’t the same as equality – even pretend prostitution for pretend money, but I see a lot of moaning and very little acknowledgement of the simple idea that men are not women.

Sorry to say it but I’m a sexist, at larp and not at larp I treat men and women differently (which seems to be your entire premise of sexism) but I think you have to look pretty hard to find a problem sometimes and other times I think you need to clearly explain the problem to bone headed men like me who just won’t get it otherwise.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but men, especially single geek men, but many men, will go to extra efforts to spend time with and impress women, especially women who dress up in corsets and share hobbies with them. It may not be intentional or even conscious, but it’s going to happen, it happens in real life, it happens at work, it happens at larp – sorry, but there’s very few things more natural then men and women treating each other differently – even as a child, if my Dad yelped in pain I would expect him to be fine and tough it out, if my mother yelped in pain I rushed to help – there’s preconceptions deeply ingrained in just about everyone and I’m not sure pointing this out is ground breaking sociology.

I will freely admit that I am more inclined to offer to escort a woman of my faction on the paths than I am a man, maybe that makes me a sexist pig – maybe it just means I prefer the company of women, I’m more likely to try and date a woman than a man too – at what point is choosing your interaction with one gender over another not ok? That’s not belittling the choice, but a serious question, where is the line where it’s ok to treat genders differently. In my opinion that line is at duty of care – if I can be reasonably expected to offer someone an opportunity then that should be regardless of gender – battle leaders and faction leaders chosen on merit, to not hold someone back on their gender – fine, tell me I cannot roleplay differently with a woman than I do with a man, no chance.

Some specific examples
Drow are matriarcal and evil – so? That’s how they were written decades ago (incidently attitudes were very different decades ago), people want to play that culture let them, gender politics has a massive influence on history, fantasy and everyday lives, why can’t it enter “some” larp – especially in bigger systems like LT there are plenty of other factions that are not matriarcal or evil, don’t like it play something else.

All women in fantasy are tainted – this is pretty true, it’s hard to find many examples where female characters arent at least one of plot device (princess peach), love interest (Arwen), non combatant (Rosie), part of a feminine empowerment plot (Eowyn) or overtly sexualised (Red Sonja). There are a few though and, well, so what? There’s lots of stereotypes and honestly I’ve seen plenty of larp women playing traditionally male stereotypes and many larp men accepting this without question.

Where’s my equality? I’d quite enjoy playing a prostitute in larp – they can certainly bring in the coin and I think there’s some psychological pay offs I’d quite enjoy, like being made to feel desireable and of value and I certainly wouldn’t mind giving a few shoulder rubs for it. Sadly there just isn’t the demand for it. Personally I think this anti-prostitution sacred cow is destructive to everyone IRL and have no problem with attractive people using their bodies for profit, whether it’s modelling, porn or prostitution, it’s just lucky for women that thier opportunity for profit is much much higher – of course this only applies when people aren’t compelled or tricked into these things, which is much harder to regulate if you make the whole thing illegal and therefore unregulated but this is a whole other discussion but I don’t think a woman who choses to profit through her sexuality (provided it isn’t to others detriment) should be held as a pariah.

I’m not denying the existence of sexism, I agree it’s a real issue and should be seriously considered, but I think in that consideration you have to respect the fact that men and women ARE different, they are “generally” different physically, motivationally, psychologically but far and away the most important fight in the battle against sexism is ensuring that the “generally” different can be permitted without being a barrier. (e.g. men are “generally” better at and more drawn to spacial tasks, like, say, flying an aeroplane – trying to make 50% of all pilots women would be ludicrous as they only make up around 5% of the applicant pool but ensuring a woman who is of a certain standard and at a certain ability receives the same opportunities and priveledges as a man of the same standards/ability – that’s where we should be aiming, surely)

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By: Miranda /2011/10/18/guest-post-thoughts-on-women-in-larp/#comment-1877 Fri, 21 Oct 2011 13:53:36 +0000 In reply to Miranda.

Wow, I just googled “LARP women”. The first link – the first – was titled “Teh Sexay” and is a forum thread about LARP as a useful geek’s modus operandi for “picking up chicks”.

First google results are tailored, and the thread itself isn’t so bad and is mainly people sharing dating anecdotes – but even so, that (and the predominantly male-identified poster count) illustrates something, doesn’t it.

I’m not saying it’s not a great place to meet partners (I’ve done very well on that front myself) but the language, and most of all the fact that when I google “women” I get “dating” and “sex” as first associations, speaks volumes about who some games are often seen as primarily being for… more work/discussion/etc needed, perhaps!

By: Miranda /2011/10/18/guest-post-thoughts-on-women-in-larp/#comment-1876 Fri, 21 Oct 2011 12:24:32 +0000 In reply to Meg.

That’s a great example right there, yes, of how deeply a whole lot of attitudes, especially when you’re working with mythic sources, run. Which isn’t to say “myth=sexist” but matriarchal dynamics aren’t the same as, and exist in a unique and therefore rather complicated space compared to patriarchal ones which inhabit language (“it took three men” etc) much more readily.

“it is a predominently white male hobby, and the preconceptions and privilege of the players don’t suddenly disappear because we’re roleplaying.”

Yes, I absolutely agree. Your average LARP field is a sea of white- and class plays a role too, especially in high fantasy games. Kit = costs. I have played with people of colour (so I illustrated accordingly. Also because the Elves are Assumed White Except When Drow Who Are Evil trope annoys the piss out of me), but they are rare.

From my own editorial perspective (I’m BR’s ed, and a LARPer!) I don’t think we should be too harsh on Al, though, who has started the discussion (and is commenting as north5 in this thread), whose aim is to introduce a hobby he clearly loves and wants to help improve, and who did, at my suggestion, interview several LARPing women for this piece. Their experiences are not the same as commenters’ but I am glad they’re having those experiences.

I don’t think it necessarily follows that he is not a person who “could spot sexism in LARP”, and while I’m loath to put words in his mouth too much, I think he was also hoping to interest new people and focus on the positives… I definitely have had some great games, but I suspect very strongly that field-LARP is a very different environment to my urban games, and I do wonder if I’d have more to shut out and go “la la la” to myself about in a bigger game. Definitely.

If anyone else would like to pitch a response article which dialogues (respectfully of course!) or offers up further food for thought I’d be very pleased to hear from them ([email protected]).

I’m very pleased he did write it as now I’m getting to hear from everyone on here as I work out which “big” LARP to dip my toe in…

Ooh, and I’d like to get our Sarah C’s view on matriarchies in LARP as she was in the Tritoni mentioned in the article, I think.

By: Meg /2011/10/18/guest-post-thoughts-on-women-in-larp/#comment-1875 Fri, 21 Oct 2011 11:46:53 +0000 In reply to ribenademon.

Fantastic comments, I couldn’t believe the naivity of the article either and I kind of thought on a feminist blog it might be useful to have someone writing who recognised and could spot sexism at LRP. Turns out you’re all down here :)

I think it’s not that LRP is a more sexist environment than anywhere else, but that it is a predominently white male hobby, and the preconceptions and privilege of the players don’t suddenly disappear because we’re roleplaying. I play a leader of a matriarchal society, and recently sat through a ritual in which someone told a story about a famous male hero, naming all the rulers (except one, when I reminded him, at which point he acted quite pissy) as male, saying that all the children learning to fight were male, and using phrases like ‘the dog was so strong it took 3 men to hold him back’ and I thought ‘you know what, this is a lot more complex than just saying women are in charge.’

By: Miranda /2011/10/18/guest-post-thoughts-on-women-in-larp/#comment-1874 Wed, 19 Oct 2011 12:38:30 +0000 In reply to north5.

I’m terrible at leadery scheming types, seriously. Even though I technically teamlead this blog, that spills into my gaming not one jot, sadly.

I just don’t have the gift of strategy OOC, so it’s hard to convincingly have it IC. So I agree on not being able to wing everything in LARP. Maybe it comes with experience? I currently see almost no plot coming before it’s in my face, and can’t strategy my way out of a paper bag. At least I do good surprise reactions… every game needs someone to supply a hugely genuine “WHAT WAS THAT?!” :D

By: north5 /2011/10/18/guest-post-thoughts-on-women-in-larp/#comment-1873 Wed, 19 Oct 2011 09:52:17 +0000 In reply to Miranda.

With this: for those players, playing a hardcore Tank is out of the question. – I’d say it depends on the LARP subgenre.

Oh, yes, totally. I mostly just play – and therefore wrote about – “classic” fantasy larps; a tank would be expected to wear armour, swing a sword, hold a shield, stand in line. In Steampunk larp, it would be enough to wear an Electrum-Infused Longcoat and carry a Thermobaric rifle – enough for anybody!

I wouldn’t like this just to be about combat, either – I am not co-ordinated enough to be a juggler, funny enough to ringlead a carnival, or mathletic enough to manage a bar in a multi-currency system. I could do all these things in Tabletop, but these are the restrictive, hard skills with which larp is inevitably riddled.

By: wererogue /2011/10/18/guest-post-thoughts-on-women-in-larp/#comment-1872 Tue, 18 Oct 2011 20:38:47 +0000 In reply to Miranda.

I was going to post this thread, but it’s already here :) The one thing I’d add is that while sexist behaviour (in some cases, *extremely* problematic sexist behaviour) is present at most LARPs, they also have a higher-than-normal population of people willing to stand up and out it, and fight all the way to the top to get it changed (or at some systems, sadly, get themselves banned).

Great article.