Women in Gaming Communities

13

Comments

  • edited April 2013
    Wow! Interesting topic. Look at all the views; all the lurkers like myself who follow but don't chime in... oops.

    How to improve the situation? What to do? What to do?

    My first thought was: would an all female group be comfortable with a gay man at the table? Then: what about a lesbian? THEN!: what about an Asian? Then what about a transgender Jewish African in a wheelchair?

    Whoah, way off topic! Or is it? What if the all-female group was uncomfortable with another (un)identifiable group? Is that okay? Is there a gaming table reserved for Anti-semite Homophobe females? Okay, I pushed the Sarcasm button once too many times.

    Here's my suggestion: make a gaming environment that is open to EVERYONE! And I mean clearly. Advertise that men, women, gay, lesbian, transgender, non-cis (I'm not sure if I'm using that right; I'm a little more Kirk than Picard), black, white, purple, green, disabled, differently abled, cape-abled, short, tall, fat, thin, stars-on-thars or not. Don't even disclude the bigots; they'll disclude themselves ("Dude, you didn't go to RainbowCon, did you?" "What, me? No way!").

    When a couple of strong, burly gamers help the wheel-chair-bound post-op trans-sexual black Mormon into the gaming convention, THEN we can stop discussing this. But not a moment before.


    On a personal note, I will predict here and now for future generations to record: there will be a third public bathroom. It's symbol will be Mercury (as in mercurial; changing) and it will initially be frequented by everyone because it is the cleanest.

  • >>>
    Here's my suggestion: make a gaming environment that is open to EVERYONE! And I mean clearly.
    >>>
    Great suggestion!
    But that's already happening. Everywhere.
    And it's not working.
    So,

    NEXT!

  • Except for the specialized case described by Anansigirl, most of the other reasons given do imply that. The mirror image is something like this:

    "Here we are at a SG meetup. I'm pitching this cool game:" "Oh but men only; no women are welcome."

    "What!! Why?"

    "Because we want to play a game where everyone can follow complex rules, do math, and are not constantly inserting comments about makeup, lipstick, and fashion."

    Prejudiced, right? Sexist, right? I certainly think so. Well if that is, then so is saying "no men allowed" at a meetup because "we don't want to play with a sexist jackass".
    Yes, in opposite world, this would be a bad idea. Therefore in this world, it is a good idea.
  • Alright. My response here is long overdue, and there is no way I am going to respond at every point that I might.

    But real quick, a little bit of background on me for some context. I am a self-identified feminist and a clinical social worker in the field of domestic violence. Most of that I do revolves around our addressing our client's distorted beliefs concerning gender and personhood. These issues are very close to my heart, and I am reasonably well educated on these concepts.

    There are some serious problems with some of the statements that I read again and again in this thread. These show a deep misunderstanding of equality, equity and gender bias, and an unawareness of privilege issues.

    In America, gender bias is a real thing. It may not be quite the same in other cultures. I don't know and I'm not going to comment on that. I don't know what's up in other places and none of this is intended to examine those cultures.

    Consider this. What does a man need to do/think about in order to not be sexually assaulted or harassed on a daily basis? That is, when you walk out the door, what do you have to do? For the overwhelming majority of American men, the answer is “pretty much nuthin'.”

    What does a woman need to do/think about in order to not be sexually assaulted?
    -Consider where she is going
    -Consider when she will be there
    -Consider what she will wear
    -Consider who she will be going with
    -Not go alone
    -Mace
    -Phone
    -Keys in between the fingers
    -Rape whistle
    -Consider where she will park
    -Walk only in well lit areas
    -Let somebody know where she will be
    -Be wary of strangers, and especially groups of strangers
    -Tolerate verbal harassment
    -Tolerate unwanted advances
    -Tolerate being looked at in a sexual way
    -Tolerate stereotyping
    -Or, endure the reaction for NOT tolerating any of those things

    And this is just a quick and dirty list. Granted, many men do some of these things anyway, but many men also feel these considerations are optional. Many women feel they are necessary on a daily basis. What it takes for a woman in this culture to go out to any given thing is very different for what it takes for a man to go out and do the same thing. No matter how much you put on paper “Everybody is equally welcome here!” that does not change anything about what it takes for different genders to just leave the house and put yourself out there.

    And this is before you even factor in the odd brand of misogyny that runs in geek cultures. And before you factor in the prior negative experiences that many women have had in tabletop gaming in the first place.

    (And not to mention people outside the gender binary. This is an issue I need to understand better, and I am glad that there are people in my community who are sensitive to those issues.)

    So, the question is, what would a woman need in order to feel as though they do not have to overcome the obstacles that men don't have to overcome? This Ladies' Night business is one possible solution to this issue (and remember, the most important person you need to consider is the one who isn't coming to events) because it removes some of that problematic dynamic.

    This line about “discriminating against men” does not acknowledge equity. Nor does it acknowledge the privilege males benefit from because they don't even have to think about those things, much less act differently because of them. If fact, being able to ignore the equity of a given situation is a part of that privilege (and it shows a lack on empathy for the experiences that American women endure every day). That, and men have an event for them and their needs. It's called pretty much every event ever.

    This sexual assault question is a dramatic kind of example, but I use it because it is really clear. The gender bias and other dynamics work in more subtle ways too, but they are still pervasive. And it is still oppression even though it's widely accepted as “it's just the way things are.”

    I am troubled and concerned that a community organizer in a major American city could be so deeply oblivious to matters of privilege and equity. And to throw out this business about their version of “equality” all the while. You have an obligation to your community to do better.

    Love,
    Tayler
  • Alright, about the event itself.

    First of all, I've directed the people who have actually run this event to this thread. No telling if they will pipe up, but keep in mind that I can only report what I have observed, or what has been told to me by attendees. The only time I've been was to drop off materials, and when I was invited to hang after an event.

    It takes place outside of game stores because there seem to be fewer social questions about what experience you can expect. At a game store you experience is highly dependent on the game you play, where as in a bar & bistro, you can at least get some food and a drink.

    Also, the way the event is run is very social. It opens up with just hanging out and talking, and the games are super laid back. Like, improvised facilitation a lot of the time. Which means that the priority is everybody having a good time, not playing a game. Fewer social questions there too.

    The primary demographic attending this event are females who were already aware of the other events in town, but never managed to muster up the will to go. File that data point away – there is a (probably significant) demographic of people who are aware and informed about whats going on, but have not attended. Obviously, the claims to equality and safety did not cut it for these people.

    Usually, after attending one of these events they show up to the Open Play events. And from then on out they are often repeat customers. This has quadrupled – at least – the number of female attendees in the Open Play event.

    There have also been a handful of people who have expressed that just knowing that there was a Ladies' Night event as an option made them feel more comfortable coming to the Open Play event (“at least I have a Plan B if this doesn't quite work out”). Or, that it made the difference between attending our event over some other gaming event in town that did not make the extra effort in this department.

    I find the current language of the event posting to not quite emphasis enough the inclusion of other gender minorities (which, I agree with what was said earlier, in that there is a potential privilege issue in simply using this phrase). Really, anybody who does not identify as simply male is welcome to this event. Trans, gender queer, other identities to which I am not sufficiently aware, what have you.

    Is there room for improvement? Totally. Are there other options? Totally. Is this right for any given community? Maybe, dunno. I can tell you that it might be the coolest and most important event in the Portland gaming community, considering the impact that it has had.

    If there are more specific questions about this event, I'll try and answer them (though this thread has moved on, looks like). Or have one of the ladies do so.

    Tayler

  • Thank you so much for your posts, Tayler! You said a lot of things about systemic oppression against women that I was going to say. Thanks for saving me the typing ;)

    Also, that's cool that Ladies Night is open to any non-cismale folks; I was not aware of that! I was actually curious about that.

    So...here is my background, so y'all know where I'm coming from. First of all, I'm tired so sorry if I ramble. Secondly, I'm queer and genderqueer/transgender (somewhere in there...I don't really know, I'm just Alex!) I was socialized female and made a terrible attempt at doing the whole female thing for about 20 years before throwing in the towel and giving society's gender culture the finger, so I have experienced life as a woman, a man (which I'm generally read as these days, and I use male pronouns so that's alright with me), and as an androgynous question mark (my preferred state of being).

    I am an activist and I have dedicated the past five years of my life to ending discrimination for non-straight folks through an organization that I run. I am an educator on how to interrupt oppression and I have done a fair bit of training and studying on how oppression and privilege works. I would not, by any means, consider myself an expert on the topic, but I consider myself competent and capable enough to speak about it publicly. I'm a little upset over some people's responses, so this might not be the friendliest of responses, and I apologize for that in advance.

    I have a few points, some of which have already been made, but obviously bear repeating because some people on here don't quite get it...

    Also, I'm speaking in general about cis folks when I say male and female, although some of this applies to passing transfolks as well, but we have our own set of non-privilege/safety concerns/etc. that run far deeper than a lot of this.

    1. Women are systematically oppressed. Tayler has listed several examples of this that are not entirely in the context of gaming, but are still relevant (such as a woman feeling unsafe traveling at night to get to a meetup).

    2. Another consideration that has not really been touched on is that men are celebrated in our society. Men are given all the space they want. They are welcome just about everywhere, and wherever they go, they are considered to be the authority over women, and they are allowed to take up as much space as they need, and then some. The world revolves around men. You cannot debate this with me, because you are wrong and this is fact. This does not mean that in every single situation where there are men and women involved that men are dominant; it means that our society is set up in a way that makes these facts true overall.

    3. Men, as the dominant majority, are not allowed to speak for women on the topic of gender inequity. They are not allowed to tell women what is best for them, because they are not women. Women are allowed to speak on their experiences as women, and men have to listen to them, and respect their experiences, because they happened. They are fact and cannot be denied. Women are allowed to talk about what is best for them, personally, as women, and men have to listen to that, because women know what is best for them as women and men do not.

    4. Men, because they are allowed, 99.9% of the time, to take up as much space as they want and are included everywhere, get really sad when there's a party they're not invited to. They get their man-panties all in a bunch and scream about "reverse sexism" (hint: it doesn't exist) and talk about how everyone is a hypocrite, kind of like a toddler screaming about not getting candy at the supermarket.

    5. Women-only spaces are not about men. They are about women. This can be difficult for some men to wrap their head around, because they are men, and the world is set up to revolve around them at all times, but it's true. You cannot debate this, because it is also a fact.

    6. It is not some kind of "segregation" or "discrimination" to have a space that is set up by and for a group that is not the dominant majority. It is a safe space for people that experience systematic oppression in their daily lives where they can take some of the load off, knowing that they are with company that experiences this same oppression. Safe spaces for non-dominant-majority groups are incredibly important. They are empowering because they are place where people can shed a layer of anxiety/fear/trauma/etc. and let themselves show through and enjoy themselves more than they might in the same situation except mixed-company.

    7. Reverse sexism does not exist. It is a buzz-phrase and a derailing tool made by men to keep women silent and to keep the status quo that men dominate all spaces. You cannot discriminate against someone that has privilege in regards to their privilege; that's not how institutional oppression works.

    Obviously, not every man in the world is a cock-swinging jerk, peeing on his territory and whatnot; these are general statements about society and how men and women interact in this framing. Also, the benefits that men receive for being born men don't always look extreme, like a caveman. They happen in subtle ways that you probably don't even notice, if you are a man. If you think these things aren't relevant to gaming, you're wrong. We bring our whole selves to our games, and that includes our entire lifetime of experiences. These things are all incredibly valid.

    Also, I would like to add my own personal experience with segregated groups. As a queer person, specifically as a gender non-conforming queer person, I often feel threatened around straight men. I am a different person in a group of activist-minded queer folks than I am in a mixed-company, straight male dominated group. I am afraid to be myself, to come out, to speak my life experience, or to talk about topics that are important to me when I'm around straight men, unless they have said or done something that has shown me that they are safe people that won't ask me creepy questions or make rude comments. There is a level of understanding among queer folks where I don't have to explain a lot of things about myself that I feel I have to explain (or hide) around straight people, specifically men. It's not that I am a man-hater, it's that your average, run-of-the-mill straight man has never had his reality shaken or had to face what it means to have straight male privilege, and I am forced to consider dozens of things related to my gender every time I leave the house - even though I have the luxury of "passing privilege" at this point in my life. It also doesn't mean I think you're a bad person if you are a straight man that I don't necessarily trust, it just means I think you're ignorant about oppression (because you haven't had a reason to learn and nobody has taught you) and have some catching up to do.

    I would also like to say that at our regular story games night in Portland, and at other gaming events here, I have been very happily surprised at the amount of queer folks and non-cismale folks that show up, and that makes me feel a lot better in general about being a part of the community. I definitely was scared away from gaming for a long time because I was afraid I wouldn't be accepted as equal based on my gender and sexuality! It's nice that it's generally a non-issue :) The only times I have felt uncomfortable in this regard were when people made inappropriate or privileged comments (about anything - gender, race, sexuality, etc.), which has happened only a few times.

    I apologize for the long post and for repeating some things. Thank you for bearing with me.
  • edited April 2013
    *sigh* And the "war" begins...

    Can people please talk without ridicule "the other side"? So if anyone sees anything like that in this thread, ignore it and answer the important subjects that the person is trying to point out instead. We all want the same thing in the end.

    ---

    Another positive side of having Ladies Night or similar arrangements is that it can make people aware about the issues that women can encounter at gaming conventions. Perhaps we need this at first to recruit more women into the hobby, and then we can move on and put them in the front ("celebrate" them) to make the hobby more diverse.
  • Okay, I pushed the Sarcasm button once too many times. *raises hands in mock surrender* *audience laughter*
    You're trying to dismiss something of importance by acting like a mediocre comedian. Stop that.
  • I really don't get why people have a problem with it. We need to sit down and accept the fact that this community does have a troublesome amount of people who fit the classic "neckbeard" stereotype and that's not a problem that will be fixed any time soon, because it's a cultural one. What we can do in the meantime however is, as Taylor mentioned, make a safe place for those unsure about the hobby and those uncomfortable in open-play events (and those who just want another event that they can drink during) to be introduced into the community which could potentially lead to the attendance of open-plays.
    These complaints that it's pointless and ~discriminatory~ are just really short-sighted.
  • edited April 2013
    Just wanted to say that it's awesome to see so many feminists (queer, trans, cis, dudes er...if I'm leaving anyone out I didn't mean to!) posting in this thread.
  • edited April 2013
    Wow! I have to admit I haven't had time to read through all of the comments here, but I'm happy to see such an active discussion about inclusiveness in our community. I'm now in Seattle and no longer directly involved with the Play Out Loud or the Portland Ladies' Night, but I thought I should at least chime in as the gal who started the event. Tayler, thanks so much for saying most of what I would have said.

    Here is the text of a document, to be found on through Play Out Loud's facebook page, that describes my original intentions for Ladies' Night in a little more depth:
    Ladies’ Night: Purpose and Intentions

    Who is this for?
    This event is for people who represent minority gender identities within the gaming community. If you self-identify as male, if you most comfortably refer to yourself by using male pronouns and prefer others to do the same, if you feel most at home in male-predominated environments, it is probably not for you. But if any of those statements are untrue, uncomfortable, or problematic for you, then please join us! This is for you.

    Why do we need this event?
    Like many women, I enjoy gaming with male-identified folks. I think they can be just as smart, fun, creative, and generally awesome as anyone else. The thing is, they already have a safe space where they can feel at home, in the majority, “among their own people.” It’s called the general gaming community. Most of the time, no one is trying to be exclusive or marginalizing. Many guys actively want to welcome a more diverse community. But the reality is that we live in a historical and cultural context such that gender minorities might feel unwelcome, uncomfortable, or even unsafe at standard gaming events, even despite the best efforts of everyone involved. The purpose of this event is to create a safe space for those people.

    Where do we go from here?
    My hope is that, someday, Ladies’ Night, along with other efforts from many fronts, will work itself out of a job. When we have achieved a truly all-inclusive community, it will become obsolete, and that will be awesome. In the meantime, this event and the community around it will strive to take small, relentless steps towards that vision. I hope that Ladies’ Night will grow, and that the men in our lives, in the Play Out Loud community, and in the gaming community at large will continuously grow in their support of us. I hope that this will be an opportunity for us to make our presence as members of the gaming community impossible to ignore.
    As I've already seen several people express in the comments here, excluding a certain group of people who already have a safe space is not the ultimate intention, but a means to welcome people to the community who might otherwise feel excluded.

    Thanks for the great discussion!

    - Hannah
  • Ugh, the dogma in this thread seems like a tactical error.

    I used to think more like @Dreamofpeace, but am in the process of changing my mind. Mostly because I am in a profession which almost completely consists of men, and I've read data and anecdotes that indicate to me that trying to be equitable is not a way to increase female participation in that or other male-dominated communities. However, we can't pretend that excluding men from events isn't discriminatory (I doubt it's frequently sexist). You can quibble about semantics and the word "discriminatory" if you want, but certainly it participates in the same sort of behavior that put us in the situation we are in now. It's unequal, but that doesn't mean it's not worthwhile and it doesn't mean it's unfair. But those aspects aren't central to our discussion, but rather whether it works. (In other spaces, like education, they are, because unequal systems are often illegal.)
    Usually, after attending one of these events they show up to the Open Play events. And from then on out they are often repeat customers. This has quadrupled – at least – the number of female attendees in the Open Play event.
    This is very encouraging on the effectiveness front.
  • edited April 2013
    it participates in the same sort of behavior that put us in the situation we are in now.
    I feel like there's a world of difference between "GIRLS CLUB (girlz only [no dudes allowed])" and creating a safe haven/entry point for those who aren't that comfortable in regular environments. This group in and of itself isn't intended to be the solution to the problem, it's only a provision until a solution can be reached.




  • edited April 2013
    I kind of want a thread cop to come in and say whether we should all drop the whole issue of male exclusion and try to discuss how to support women in gaming communities, or whether this thread is now about male exclusion. I was hoping the "no dudes!" topic would be dropped a while ago, but it keeps getting replies, whereas my attempt to come up with some tactics has received zero response. (Admittedly, the other tactics mentioned are probably better than what I came up with, but I haven't seen much response to those either.)

    Separately, @Hannah, that statement of intent sounds great to me! Very well said. One question: why the term "Ladies", as opposed to "Women" or some other term?
  • 4) Establish standards for conduct and clear signals to evoke those standards. Like, I dunno, if some dude sexualizes you against your wishes, repeat the ritual phrase, "I measure your penis and find it lacking," or something.
    You might want to pick something less vulgar, I don't think that everyone would be comfortable saying that.
  • True, and I guess "see how you like it!" might not actually be constructive. I was hoping the slight comedy value would offset the downsides, but that's probably a vain hope.

    That said, I think something with some sort of "oomph" is required. I mean, a simple "I'm not comfortable with that" works great... at a table where this is unlikely to be a big problem. For a really oblivious/insensitive table, I think the status quo requires a bigger shake-up.

    Actually, now that I'm envisioning that situation, if I were at a table where I was being disrespected, what I would really want is a way to leave and join another game.

    Perhaps an event could include one game specifically designed to be inclusive and add players mid-game? No easy task, but with the right facilitator, I could see that working.
  • That said, I think something with some sort of "oomph" is required. I mean, a simple "I'm not comfortable with that" works great... at a table where this is unlikely to be a big problem. For a really oblivious/insensitive table, I think the status quo requires a bigger shake-up.
    I think the "oomph" needs to come in the form of solidarity.

    If someone feels uncomfortable or harassed, and they call that out, then the group needs to be there to support them. A cry of "Hey, we're supposed to be playing a game here... why are you commenting on my body?" needs to be backed up by "Yeah dude, that's not cool!" and "Seriously not cool. Do it again and we'll ask you to leave."

    Comedy and snark can downplay the gravity of the concerns. IMO.
  • edited April 2013
    Right, but a table that would back up a complaint with "Yeah dude, that's not cool!" doesn't need any help from organizer tactics. I figure the thing we're trying to troubleshoot here is the table that wouldn't do that.

    As for taking a player who would not normally say "Not cool!" and somehow getting them to say "Not cool!" at an event... well, I hope there is a way to achieve that, but I don't know what it is. I don't recall ever seeing a pre-game speech about conduct ever changing anyone's behavior by itself.

    (As for comedy and snark, I suppose you're probably right. I've had success with that tactic for lessening the sting of criticism, but never in the context of "you're being sexist".)
  • Nobody is ever going to crack a Funnay Joek about my race or gender that I get hurt by, because from end to end my nation/state/city/occupation/society is set up in their favor. I can afford to laugh about men not wanting to ask for directions or white people not being able to dance in part because nobody is going to critique my chest if there's a picture taken of me at a convention and posted on Facebook and no cop is ever going to stop me and ask me what I'm doing in this part of town. So that probably wouldn't really work - "hey, if I can take a joke why can't you?" Well, because it's not opposite world, JD, that's why.

    I see what you mean, though, some kind of ritualized "you crossed the line, dude" might help it go down easier, even if it's not comedy.
  • edited April 2013
    Apologies all, I’ve been off sick for most of the last week and so unable to respond to anything. As I’ve missed quite a few opportunities to respond specifically to specific comments I’ll confine myself to speaking to the subject in general.

    I continue to be amazed by the apparent huge difference in gaming culture between the US and the UK. I know a lot of folks can’t believe all this bottom-pinching and leering etc. desn’t go on here, but the evidence for it simply isn’t there. Thank God. James_Fleming mentioned it happening at events invlolving anime and cosplay. This does make some sense to me as there’s dressing up involved, which could lead some men to think it’s ok to touch, as they’re only elves etc., or because by dressing up in this way the women concerned are ‘asking for it’, an excuse you often hear in rape cases when the victim was allegedly ‘sexily dressed’. It’s astonishing in fact, and deeply depressing, that this excuse still gets trotted out but it apparently does. As to GMs doing obnoxious things to female characters in-game, as 3Jane mentioned when linking to a thread on UKRP, sure, that happens, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence for it, I’m just saying the out of game stuff is less well documented.

    This is an issue with, sadly, a huge amount of polarisation, making it difficult to impossible for a sensible debate to occur, which is a pity because that’s precisely what’s needed. At times the debate got so heated it almost became a flame war, and I worried that the site would have to be re-named the Small Purple, or the Big Mauve, or whatever. Thankfully, the brink was pulled back from, which is good because what happens in flame wars is that folks with a calm and measured opinion go ‘Yikes! Now, where’s my asbestos jacket? Damn, it’s at the cleaners’, and stay out of it, leaving the field free for the more extreme elements to fling fireballs around with abandon.

    The aspect of the debate with the most polarisation- which admittedly occupies a good deal of the thread- is the one about women-only spaces, with some saying it’s a good idea, and others expressing queasiness with the implications of actual, as opposed to effectively, gender-excluding events. Here are a selection of the latter:
    I can't get behind excluding people based on gender, race, religion, whatever. It just doesn't seem right to me.
    I find myself in sympathy with Ben's principle of "celebrate, don't exclude". Being told you're not welcome at an event because your behavior is unacceptable is one thing - you can control it or change it - but being told you're not welcome because of your gender is hurtful.
    I agree, segregation only enhances in equality and hatred.
    I find myself in sympathy with Ben's principle of "celebrate, don't exclude".
    Me too. I also agree with @WarriorMonk when he writes that women should be treated as people, and not as something different. Don't invite women just because they are women. The word "invite" makes the impression that you bring "them" into your world. Have as a goal to involve both genders and let it be 50-50 at best.
    I too am uneasy about solving gender exclusion with, uh, gender exclusion. I do realise that if you simply can’t get anywhere trying to solve the problem from within you might sometimes have to ‘take it outside’, hence direct action. But I think gender exclusion is such a bad thing in general that it can’t be the answer, even in the short term. Let me try to explain why. There are already plenty of areas of life where there are women-only and men-only groups: a group of women having lunch together, a group of men down the pub together. Both groups presumably feel they can talk about stuff without being misunderstood, stuff mainly they are interested in which they perhaps wouldn’t get the chance to talk about so freely otherwise. Ok, fine, they have a good time and no-one gets hurt. But is it fine? Another example: I used to work as what in the States would I believe be called an ESOL teacher; most weeks a group of us would go down the pub to unwind, typically on a Friday night after work. Now, a feature of TEFL here in the UK is that the gender split in the staff room is roughly 50:50, meaning that these outings ended up being pretty mixed on most occasions. And I enjoyed them much much more than if the participants had been mostly or wholly male. Now I reaise that the women-only gaming areas are intended to solve a specific problem, that of bringing into gaming women put off by male-dominated gaming events and male-dominated gaming culture. All I’m saying is be very very careful; beware the development of gender segregation any more than already exists, because it’s not healthy.

    Another part of the thread has been the people saying things like ‘Don’t criticise and bellyache, help to come up with with solutions’. The thing is, if you think a particular solution is wrong you need to say why. Yes, then you should try to think of other solutions, but not before explaining why the original one is wrong. And…
    I am very excited about doing things instead of talking about things.
    Doing things is great, but so is talking. Talking is what prevents nations from going to war, people from committing acts of terrorism, couples from getting divorced, and neighbours from poisoning each other’s dogs. Without talking we’re finished. So please, let’s continue talking, but quietly, and pausing occasionally to listen to what the other person is saying.

    Just to be balanced, something that a lot of the male posters are not feeling is that they will never know what it’s like to experience the kinds of things that the excluded female gamers have, not only because they’re not of that gender, but because, as JD Corley points out above, they’re from the power-wielding majority, and are probably not aware of a tenth of the power they wield. That’s not to bash them, just to say they should take care to phrase their comments about women’s issues sensitively.

    Oh, and one last thing, as a kind of illustration of what we’re up against. When I first posted about my game Where The Heart Is on another forum, one with a more trad focus, this is the first response I got:

    Poster: It looks distressingly thespy.

    Quoting the WtHi Introduction: [Is] the traditional family unit (at least, as conceived of in modern industrialised societies, i.e. consisting of one or two parents plus their- usually but not always- biological offspring) necessarily the best model? Could the polygamy or ‘hippy commune’ dynamic work as a standard model? What about a woman with a husband and his (male or female) lover, or a transgendered man with ‘his’ wife? Or a group of siblings, each with children of their own, all being parents to all of the children? Essentially what I’m asking is, what does, or should, a modern family look like? And how would the various models operate in practice? Controversial? Sure. Worth discussing? Definitely!

    Poster: I would suggest that the best place for discussing this is rpg.net Tangency Open. They'll lap that shit up and ask for seconds.

    [Incidentally, they didn't, which was annoying]
  • All I’m saying is be very very careful; beware the development of gender segregation any more than already exists, because it’s not healthy.
    Usually, after attending one of these events they show up to the Open Play events. And from then on out they are often repeat customers. This has quadrupled – at least – the number of female attendees in the Open Play event.
  • edited April 2013
    All I’m saying is be very very careful; beware the development of gender segregation any more than already exists, because it’s not healthy.
    Usually, after attending one of these events they show up to the Open Play events. And from then on out they are often repeat customers. This has quadrupled – at least – the number of female attendees in the Open Play event.
    EXACTLY. A fundamental part of the atrocious treatment of women in gaming culture(s) is that novicehood is conflated with women (ie: "girls don't play games" so they don't count as "real gamers" so we treat them like shit).

    For the umpteenth time: these kinds of events are explicitly designed to provide a safe space for woman-identified people to gain or hone their competency, fluency, and expertise, which in turn enables them to feel more comfortable and confident in "ordinary" gaming contexts, demonstrating to others in the community that women CAN and DO play (and make) games, and contributing to a more inclusive culture for all kinds of marginalized people and novices.

    There has been substantial evidence of this productive effect shared by women who have posted in this thread from their own experiences (and I pointed to a parallel example in indie video games: http://dmg.to), but as @Mcdaldno said upthread, there's a lot of men proselytizing about women instead of listening to them.

  • I haven't read the WHOLE whole thread, but I've read a lot of it.

    I don't have much to say, but I feel like I should speak up and applaud Hannah, Alex, Tayler, etc, and say I back up all of their statements one hundred per fucking cent. I didn't have a hand in Ladies' Night beyond hearing about the initial idea and yelling YES LET'S DO THAT, and I'm super happy it's there.

    I'm sure there's more we can do to be genderqueer inclusive, but I'm also happy that folks like Alex feel comfortable (enough) to come to open play events--and not just in a high-level way: I'm specifically happy that, like, Alex comes, because without Alex we would not have Alex's voice and Alex's expression and creativity at our tables. Ditto for Alex's partner, ditto for a now-friend of mine whom I met playing games and who only came to the open event because she had Ladies' Night to try out first.

    This has been nothing but positive for our community.
  • edited April 2013
    Just so we're clear: female and male are biological terms. We're talking about women and men, femininity and masculinity - gender. Terms like cismale don't make any sense.

    That's all I wanted to point out. Conflating those things is hella problematic. I don't wanna have to "commit sociology" on ya'll.

    Also, thanks for this thread, Go Play Vancouver is definitely going to organize a women's night.
  • OK I need to make this one last post about the issue of male exclusion, and then anyone who wants to keep talking to me about it can whisper or do it off-list, I don’t want to talk about it more on-list. First, as I mentioned previously, the issue is not as Lizziestark and a few others mistakenly maintain, about a group of friends meeting privately to game who all happen to be women; it is about an *organization* holding a specific event that will not allow men to attend. The former is analogous to some guy friends and I going out for drinks; the latter is gender discrimination, and organizations have been sued successfully for doing exactly this (yes, for having women-only events or classes) – not in a gaming context that I’m aware of, but certainly in educational and other contexts (so if your organization is planning on doing this, you should probably get good legal advice first).

    Secondly, I disagree quite strongly with some of the feminist assumptions that some posters have listed (I think many are flat wrong). This thread isn’t the place to go into discussing what’s right or wrong about feminism or specific versions thereof; I’m mentioning this to point out that we don’t have to agree on politics or political theory to have a common goal that we can support each other in achieving, in this case making gaming a more inclusive, welcoming experience for all.

    Finally, let’s stop making it personal and talk about the helpful ideas instead. In particular, don’t make assumptions that because someone disagrees with your politics that they are somehow misinformed or uneducated. For myself, I am a health care professional (have been for 16 years) and 80-90% of my patients are women; many of those women I treat have been physically, sexually, or emotionally abused, including being raped. My day job is to help relieve people’s suffering and help them to heal, and I do this mostly for women. I have been privileged to see and assist many of those hurt to become whole. My views have developed not because I’m uninformed (and I used to have what some would call more traditional feminist views), but because I am informed in what it takes people to heal (and this can’t be summarized in a “one-size fits all” cliché). So I’d like to suggest people drop the personal assumptions and focus on the common goal that I hope most of the readers of this thread share.
  • OK, here are some of the suggestions I’ve seen on this thread that seem to me to be especially helpful, and ones that I have questions about (some of this was already compiled by Rickard):

    From kaser:

    1) Intervene and call people out when you see bad behavior, even when not directed at you (e.g. sexist or homophobic language and jokes).

    2) Use a safe word (or maybe x-card) that will remove and rewind/fix an uncomfortable situation. This is established at the beginning of a meetup or con, and once invoked it will not be questioned. Simply rewind and do it again without the content that caused discomfort. I've personally used the x-card in many of my games, which I think helped put new players at ease.
    We use something very similar to this in SGS (the “veil”). It is for dealing with elements in the game fiction that may be uncomfortable; everyone is glad it’s there even if they don’t use it themselves. Would it be helpful to also have a word for out-of-character, player-to-player interactions? What comes to mind is the “yellow light, red light” method some organizations use.

    4) Encouraging game designers to make their games more inclusive. There's been a lot of this type of encouragement on S-G, which I appreciate. I haven't seen a chainmail bikini in a long time!
    That sounds like two kinds of things (both good). First, in the game text designers can use more inclusive language and use diverse examples. Second, avoid offensive stereotypes.

    From Eero Touvinen:

    In practice this has meant encouraging people to speak up if they've got problems, interpersonal problems included. Anybody who thinks that this is a difficult way to solve the problem of female comfort in a male-dominated hobby has my agreement, but it seems to work over time, and it has the advantage of transforming the community given enough patience: as you communicate the message that this community does not accept e.g. sexual harassment, and complaints are dealt with in a just way that does not fall into dogmatism (both ignoring minority complaints and over-reacting to them causes problems, long-term), both onlookers and people being bullied gain courage to uphold social standards. I've also found that men take a passive equality strategy more positively than an active one: most Finnish men I've met are eager to participate in upholding a no-bullying, no-harassment policy, going as far as to police each other, while many would be confounded or suspicious over positive discrimination. That's probably a pretty normal situation - see my reaction to women only game-nights up top.
    From Anansigirl:

    1. Show the faces of the women in your organization.
    2. Reach out to women in the community and personally invite them.
    3. Recruit women from adjacent geeky interests (cosplay, fetish, video games, geeky knitting).
    3. Welcome new gamers, many women are not as entrenched in the gaming communities.
    4. Reduce antagonism toward feminine things in you games, at your events. Have feminine coded stuff around in addition to the masculine stuff that's usually around.
    I could use some more explanation about # 4. Can you give some examples? What feminine things are we talking about, and what does it mean for a thing to be feminine coded or masculine coded?

    5. Play games that are gender inclusive.
    From David Berg:

    1) Attach an "X card" table action to some event authority, so it doesn't depend on the errant group for validation. I mean, if I wound up at a table of people who weren't treating me with respect, I certainly wouldn't expect them to treat my "X card" with respect of their own accord. Maybe a buzzer that summons an organizer, with the expectation that the organizer isn't going to lay down the law, but rather simply support the idea that the "X card" is valid and the issues are relevant? So if the group can fairly address it themselves, the organizer moves on, but if not, then they can step in to assert the values and m.o. of the event.
    If I understand correctly, the type of X-card you’re talking about here is about interpersonal interaction as opposed to in-game fiction (or did you mean for it to cover both?). I think the ability to summon an event authority is a good idea, but I wouldn’t exclude first trying the X-card within the group. Sometimes people don’t realize what they’re doing until they get the “yellow light”.

    2) Construct activities specifically for boors so those who don't want to deal with boors can avoid them.
    This is funny :-) Did you really mean it?


  • 4) Establish standards for conduct and clear signals to evoke those standards. Like, I dunno, if some dude sexualizes you against your wishes, repeat the ritual phrase, "I measure your penis and find it lacking," or something.
    “Red light” is probably easier 

    From Rickard:

    1a. During a convention or major gathering, have every staff understand how to handle sexual harassment. I myself would feel hesitant how I should go through with a complaint of sexual harassment. Perhaps have one person in charge if that happens. Also, discuss after the convention how much complaints that occurred during the convention, and how it was handled.

    1b. Draw up some guidelines to treat everyone with respect, for the visitors to read up on in folders, at the homepage et c. Discuss after the conventions if the guidelines needs to be changed.

    2. Sometimes have a majority of women that organize the conventions. This is important because it can bring the feeling of "I can also do that" for other women. It can also create a feeling of safety and avoid alienation to see other women.

    3. Create a mentoring for newcomers for the first year, and strive to have a women mentor another woman. There are a lot of thresholds to overcome if you're feeling like a minority and have to make your way through a new territory, and another woman can guide you to avoid her own pitfalls. The mentor can also hook the newbie up with connections and act like a safety net. Critique, as an example, is made to the mentor and not the newcomer.

    4. Putting both genders in leading roles at conventions for the same reason as in point 2.

    [edit] 5. Have as a general guideline to always ask a women first for a role, up until there are almost 50-50 balance. I myself know how easy it is to ask friends first, or follow old tracks and involving the same dude year after year. It's sometimes not enough to be open and inclusive in mind. You also need to take the first step to show it.
    I don’t quite understand what you mean by (5), can you explain more?
  • Here is a strategy for the listmakers:

    1. Don't call women and transpeople "mistaken" in their descriptions of personal experiences of navigating gender discrimination. Especially when it's followed up with a huge screed that ignores any and all evidence behind what they are saying in preference for some kind of formalized list or illusory rigour that's probably the same as what like three people have already posted right before.

    Apparently I only come to this board to be passive-aggressive mostly but seriously, this is maybe the most important rule in my mind, in terms of directly creating a space where people are comfortable bringing their concerns or complaints to my attention. I am not perfect at it and have responded wrongly to some complaints in the past but I do my best.

    I feel very informed by principles of storygames in this; "say yes or roll" and "we'll have to agree to disagree (because I feel demeaned by you having a space where you can be expert)" are opposites in my mind.

    Those principles are not only applicable to mechanics. This is in fact why I play games.
  • edited April 2013
    If I understand correctly, the type of X-card you’re talking about here is about interpersonal interaction as opposed to in-game fiction (or did you mean for it to cover both?).
    My intent was to cover behavior that makes a participant uncomfortable, regardless of whether that behavior uses the medium of in-game fiction. I think successful application depends on people being reasonable about appraising their own discomfort; I'm sure there will be errors from time to time, but it may still be worthwhile overall.
    I think the ability to summon an event authority is a good idea, but I wouldn’t exclude first trying the X-card within the group. Sometimes people don’t realize what they’re doing until they get the “yellow light”.
    Sounds like a good call to me. Also, I think those phrases (“yellow light”/“red light”) are great -- easy to remember, apply, and parse.
    2) Construct activities specifically for boors so those who don't want to deal with boors can avoid them.
    This is funny :-) Did you really mean it?
    I did! Dunno if the pros actually outweigh the cons, but I do think it's an option.
    4) Establish standards for conduct and clear signals to evoke those standards. Like, I dunno, if some dude sexualizes you against your wishes, repeat the ritual phrase, "I measure your penis and find it lacking," or something.
    “Red light” is probably easier
    Yeah, I think we're agreed (as per Tim, Joe and JD above) that this was not the most brilliant idea. "Red light" is totally better.
  • I'm merely going to share an anecdote that happened at my local gaming club.

    It was Warmachine night and I was in a little early chatting with some of the other people. This new player, who happens to be a girl, wanders in and starts looking around but doesn't really talk to anyone. I notice she has a huge battlefoam bag strapped to her back and ask if she wants to play.

    She pulls out this expertly painted Trollbloods army. We chat a little as we set up. She just moved to NYC and this is her first game in a few months.

    As our game progresses, I notice people staring at her. Eventually, other people approach her and start asking her who painted her army. Who is she there with, etc.

    This. Doesn't. Happen. To. Men.

    While I haven't been in a while, I never did see her again.
  • edited April 2013
    5. Have as a general guideline to always ask a women first for a role, up until there are almost 50-50 balance. I myself know how easy it is to ask friends first, or follow old tracks and involving the same dude year after year. It's sometimes not enough to be open and inclusive in mind. You also need to take the first step to show it.
    I don’t quite understand what you mean by (5), can you explain more?
    I was mostly thinking in terms of co-producers of games and co-organizers for conventions. Of all the seventy-something roleplaying games printed in Swedish, I can recall three female authors being involved in perhaps six productions. It gives a raised eyebrow if a woman is involved, and this is only because of the feeling that women are rare in our hobby. Having more female names in our activities makes the male gamers more aware of and used to their presence, so women aren't treated as freak shows as soon as they turn up. Because all this isn't just about making women feel welcomed, it's also about changing the usual gamers view of it all.

    To summarize: if you want to organize something, it's easy to ask around in your friendship group or the same guy that takes care of it year after year. Try next time to reach out and ask a female gamer instead, just to show that you care about this topic. At least until the general ratio of males and females, that are included in our hobby, are more healthy.
  • Hey everyone,

    In case you're new or didn't know or something, I'm a moderator here on Storygames! So I'm watching this thread (and so are Andy and Jason, fellow moderators) to make sure that it's a safe, inclusive space to talk about gender issues in gaming communities.

    I think personal anecdotes are really important, especially based on gender experiences, and thank you to the women who are speaking in this thread! It's unusual to see this many women posting on a thread like this, especially being open about their genderqueer situation. It makes me really happy to see that. THANK YOU.

    I'm also really appreciating hearing experiences from the woman organizers and what is working for them. I can use this as a useful template moving forward, and that's practical, good advice. I'd really like to network with all of you and create a g+ page or something for women organizers of game nights (or game night organizers for women) where we can share and trade strategies.

    As far as feminism and its different iterations... I think it's hard because the gaming community seems trapped in the past with some of these issues. It'd be great to see gaming cultures and organizations functioning at a level of contemporary feminism with a lot of other social groups, but even most social groups that aren't mostly consisting of men are still problematic in some way toward women based on the social dynamic that still exists between men and women and the inequality there. This is a fact! It's getting better, but we're not near equal yet, in many, many impactful ways.

    I'll say it again, let's focus on personal experiences and what's worked for you and ideas about how to make gaming spaces more inclusive.

    Let's also keep it civil! It's good to point out mistakes in language, but do it in a respectful way please!

    One of the ways that seems to be very very functional is a Ladies Night. That is good. Let's go forward with that in mind, and if you want to dispute the gender inclusiveness of a Ladies Night, please take that off thread. There's legitimate things to talk about there!! But that's not useful or productive to this conversation, or where gaming groups clearly are socially. They need things like Ladies Nights to redistribute gender equality. We're not here in this thread to dispute that kind of thing, and once we start getting into it it changes the topic, and it also silences those in this thread who are trying to share their experiences by invalidating them. So yea, people who want to dispute the legalities, exclusiveness, "real feminism" or whatever of one gender only spaces please don't do that in this thread.

    (as a note, I love disputing gender stuff, I'm in the middle of reading Sexing the Body right now by Fausto-Sterling, and the complexities, nuances, and cultural vs scientific impact of gender interests me intensely. If you'd like to talk personally to me about this stuff, feel free to msg me any time.)
  • Neither here nor there, but since a few people contacted me through or around the boards on this matter:

    Ignore Lists

    If you go to your forum preferences (click on your name at the top of the site, to the left of "Praxis"), there's a selection for "Edit Ignored User List". That's where you add usernames that you want to ignore. It's like the Mute feature of Google+.

    Not saying anything further, just saying that this feature is there and available.
  • If I understand correctly, the type of X-card you’re talking about here is about interpersonal interaction as opposed to in-game fiction (or did you mean for it to cover both?).
    My intent was to cover behavior that makes a participant uncomfortable, regardless of whether that behavior uses the medium of in-game fiction. I think successful application depends on people being reasonable about appraising their own discomfort; I'm sure there will be errors from time to time, but it may still be worthwhile overall.
    What do you think of having different strategies for each? The reason I think it would be useful is that often someone may feel uncomfortable with an aspect of in-game fiction that comes about innocently, e.g., the GM is narrating a scene where a dog is catching a squirrel, not meaning to offend or disturb anyone - but it just happens to be that a player is disturbed by this for some personal reason. Thus I think it would be helpful to have some way (like "the veil") to say, "nobody's at fault, but please let's not go there" in addition to a yellow or red light which says "your personal behavior towards me is not acceptable, stop it."
    2) Construct activities specifically for boors so those who don't want to deal with boors can avoid them.
    This is funny :-) Did you really mean it?
    I did! Dunno if the pros actually outweigh the cons, but I do think it's an option.
    Here's one possible problem: sometimes descriptions of activities may not be written or explained carefully, and sometimes people don't always read or hear carefully, and may make innocent mistakes - and a non-boor may accidentally attend a boorish activity. The consequences could be dire...

  • Thanks Hans :) And thank you for helping make RSG a safe place for everyone to play!

    Also, thank you to the folks who are continuing to advocate for women here and who are acknowledging the experiences of women and considering them an integral part of this discussion.

    I don't really have much else to contribute here, I pretty much said my peace (which has been mostly ignored, it seems, but I didn't expect otherwise).

    One quick thing though...

    Also, a lot of the suggestions are based on people feeling comfortable enough to speak up if they are uncomfortable. I can say that for myself, there have been many times in my life, some in gaming situations, some not, where I have not felt comfortable or safe enough to even speak up and advocate for myself (or someone else that was obviously being made uncomfortable). Some days I can, but some days it's too much, because I've had a lifetime of being silenced and derailed and ignored since I'm not part of the dominant majority. I also deal with a hefty dose of anxiety, so I can get kind of "deer-in-the-headlights" when I get triggered.

    I realize this makes me a bit of a hypocrite because my life's work is based around educating people on how to speak up in these kinds of situations, but we also teach people that if it's not safe, it's ok to deal with it at a later time or not at all. Self-care is number one.

    For me - and this is just me! - I GREATLY appreciate it when someone else speaks up for me when I am visibly uncomfortable and cannot speak for myself. Because I'm so used to being ignored or derailed, sometimes if someone that is of the majority (generally this happens to me with trans-related comments, so this would be a cisperson, but it applies to whatever) says something on my behalf, it is taken more seriously. It's bullshit, but assholes are assholes and if it takes an ally to get them to stop saying inappropriate things, then I am grateful for the ally. If I had trouble with someone at a game night and one (or more!) people spoke up with me or on my behalf (especially the GM or group leader), I would go back to that night and just avoid the rude person, and moreover, feel empowered to stand up for myself and know people would have my back if the situation occurred again. If people just stayed quiet and watched me squirm, I would probably just leave mid-game or immediately following the end if I was too paralyzed with anxiety to interrupt the game, and never come back.



    Also - Orlando, although I see what you're saying on why cis isn't relevant to this conversation, I feel like it's important to acknowledge that trans and gender non-conforming folks have a different experience than cis folks. A transwoman, for example, might not only encounter everyday sexism or sexist comments, but also cissexism and cissexist comments that add an additional layer to the gender discussion. I think that in a discussion about gender imbalance and inclusion, we need to recognize safety for all genders and gender expressions.
  • edited April 2013
    From Kira, not even 5 public posts above:

    ----
    One of the ways that seems to be very very functional is a Ladies Night. That is good. Let's go forward with that in mind, and if you want to dispute the gender inclusiveness of a Ladies Night, please take that off thread. There's legitimate things to talk about there!! But that's not useful or productive to this conversation, or where gaming groups clearly are socially. They need things like Ladies Nights to redistribute gender equality. We're not here in this thread to dispute that kind of thing, and once we start getting into it it changes the topic, and it also silences those in this thread who are trying to share their experiences by invalidating them. So yea, people who want to dispute the legalities, exclusiveness, "real feminism" or whatever of one gender only spaces please don't do that in this thread.
    ----

    Apologies, we didn't state what would happen if you actually post further on the polemics of male exclusivity, because we simply didn't expect anyone would do it.

    1) Your post will be deleted from this thread.
    2) You will be asked to not post further in this thread.


    It may seem unfair to apply these rulings retroactively, but seriously: Kira said not to do it, and described the kind of social silencing that happens when you do. That was warning enough.

    I will invite anyone who cares to discuss the polemics of male exclusivity, or anything else that falls into the category of things that Kira said not to do, above, to feel free to post one single link to your off-site blog where you carry that discussion further. You are not allowed to say anything more on the matter in that post than something to the extent of "I discuss why I feel that excluding men from activities is wrong over here. Please feel free to read/comment there: (LINK)".

    Thanks for your understanding.

    -----
    Callan_S: Please do not post further in this thread. Your posts have been deleted.
  • I don't really have much else to contribute here, I pretty much said my peace (which has been mostly ignored, it seems, but I didn't expect otherwise).
    One of the pitfalls of this medium is that it's not always easy to see who's listening unless they respond. Thanks to everyone who has contributed positively to this thread - I've learned a lot by listening and keeping my e-mouth shut up to this point. I'm Mr. Privilege - a straight, white, mid-40's male-born-male person from a solid upwardly-mobile middle class family.

    I do see a parallel that I'd like to throw out. Nota bene: the following is grossly simplified, and anyone wishing further conversation on the specifics is welcome to message me privately.

    I've been a professional church musician for nearly 30 years, as a choir director/organist/pianist/soloist/what-have-you. When I was in school for a church music degree, it was the mid 1980's and there was a big, disputative ongoing conversation about the role of women in the church (in my case, various mainstream Protestant denominations), not just in clergy positions, but as "consumers" of liturgy and hymnody - the technology of worship, if you will. There were also parallel movements in queer theology and the stirrings of the 50's/60's Liberation theology into the mainstream. I was regularly involved in discourse about inclusive language in worship, the patriarchal poisoning of the essential messages of the Gospels, and other soi-disant radical concepts.

    During that time, and for years afterwards, I often had friends (women and gay men, predominantly) go off to retreats or conferences where I was specifically not invited, to discuss these issues that were so close to my heart and mind. I was always sad. "Surely, I would have something to contribute?" "Yes, Paul, but you do that here... I know you, but not everyone would, and sometimes..."

    And the thing is that sometimes, not always but often enough, my friends would return from these events brimming with ideas and energy to bring to the general conversation - I once compared it to the static electricity from a dryer full of socks, sparking and startling. This changed the dialogue, and the modern church is a benefactor - the current United Methodist Hymnal was highly influenced by these formal and informal caucuses, to the good.

    I guess my point is that intentional communities with a specific common purpose can often benefit the larger, more inclusive community. I want to game with everyone and anyone, and if ideas and sparks and... electricity come out of events that I'm not invited to and reach my games and my heart, well, cool.

  • I just want to say that I'm reading and learning, which is a great thing.

    A huge thanks to all those of you who are willing to contribute personal anecdotes or viewpoints. That takes courage and an open heart! I'd like to add a word of encouragement: your words and stories are truly valuable. Thank you!
  • And the thing is that sometimes, not always but often enough, my friends would return from these events brimming with ideas and energy to bring to the general conversation - I once compared it to the static electricity from a dryer full of socks, sparking and startling. This changed the dialogue, and the modern church is a benefactor - the current United Methodist Hymnal was highly influenced by these formal and informal caucuses, to the good.
    This is really cool. I think it's a great reminder that groups have many subgroups and sub-subgroups, pieces of the larger group that can grow and flourish specifically to contribute back to the larger group. It seems to me that we should keep that in mind as we try to develop better ways to nurture and nourish underrepresented communities.
  • edited April 2013
    What do you think of having different strategies for each? The reason I think it would be useful is that often someone may feel uncomfortable with an aspect of in-game fiction that comes about innocently, e.g., the GM is narrating a scene where a dog is catching a squirrel, not meaning to offend or disturb anyone - but it just happens to be that a player is disturbed by this for some personal reason. Thus I think it would be helpful to have some way (like "the veil") to say, "nobody's at fault, but please let's not go there" in addition to a yellow or red light which says "your personal behavior towards me is not acceptable, stop it."
    I've never been in a situation where behavior crossed the line into obviously unacceptable, so my tendency is to assume best intentions. Accordingly, assigning fault isn't really on my radar. If someone's uncomfortable, then we solve that problem as best we can, regardless of how exactly it arose.

    That said, it wouldn't surprise me if other circumstances make your suggested approach superior.

    I kinda hope someone with relevant personal experience (e.g. being harassed at a con game) weighs in on these ideas. All I really have to contribute is brainstorming.
    2) Construct activities specifically for boors so those who don't want to deal with boors can avoid them.
    Here's one possible problem: sometimes descriptions of activities may not be written or explained carefully, and sometimes people don't always read or hear carefully, and may make innocent mistakes - and a non-boor may accidentally attend a boorish activity. The consequences could be dire...
    If one were to actually attempt this, significant effort should be put into crafting the perfect description of the boor-luring activity. I don't think it's possible to create a description that attracts only boors, but I do think it's possible to create one that makes it clear to the boor-averse that the likelihood of boorish attendees is relatively high. Supplemental announcements might be required.

    I'm still not claiming this is a good idea, just that there's a non-zero chance that it might be. I imagine we'll only seriously examine that if an organizer considers trying it.
  • edited April 2013
    For me - and this is just me! - I GREATLY appreciate it when someone else speaks up for me when I am visibly uncomfortable and cannot speak for myself.
    I am happy to speak about my experiences being the someone else who speaks up, if that's deemed relevant for this thread.
  • Just so we're clear: female and male are biological terms. We're talking about women and men, femininity and masculinity - gender. Terms like cismale don't make any sense.

    That's all I wanted to point out. Conflating those things is hella problematic. I don't wanna have to "commit sociology" on ya'll.

    Also, thanks for this thread, Go Play Vancouver is definitely going to organize a women's night.
    Small continuation of the aside:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cisgender

    I've always read "cis male" as "male sexed and male gendered and not trans." What's amiss? Am I conflating something?
  • WP - that is great! Thanks for sharing :)
  • Terwox: not my area of specialty, but, I believe it's that the nouns male/female refer to biological sex, while the nouns man/woman refer to gender presentation. So a trans man is someone with a masculine gender identity but with a biological sex that is not male.

    It's problematic to conflate sex (biology) with gender (behavior) because it denies the experience of people who don't fit into the neat taxonomy our culture imposes.

    Hope I haven't put my foot in anything with the above explanation -- it's a good faith attempt to try to explain a bit!
  • 4. Men, because they are allowed, 99.9% of the time, to take up as much space as they want and are included everywhere, get really sad when there's a party they're not invited to. They get their man-panties all in a bunch and...
    No one's going to like agreeing with a bunch of this stuff, right? Because Alex has painted with pretty harsh brush-strokes here. But I want to; I think it's important, both to corroborate from the inside and to provide contrast to the second half of that point. So that's me. When I read about ladies' night, I get sad (maybe too strong a word, but something; jealous?) because I'm being excluded. That's not supposed to happen! ;-)

    But also, it's plainly obvious that the good that this exclusivity is aiming for is way more important than my little feelings and I can suck it up for that greater good. Anyway, I wanted to own that.

    Is this an appropriate place to ask about the use of three words: girl, lady and woman? Calling a woman a girl is plainly insulting, right? I sort of feel that way about lady but it seems like I'm in the minority; though since no one is offended by my using woman, I'm OK. Is there anything more interesting to say about that?

    I've been to several (like thirty?) public conventions. I've seen poor, but not (I think/hope) crazy-poor, sexist behavior. I've never called bullshit on anyone for it even when I felt like people were crossing the line. There's this thing where I can't tell if the recipient/victim thinks it's a big deal -- big enough that I'd want to be supportive of them, right? And like, if I stand up and call bullshit, and she thought it was nothing, maybe I fuck up the whole game. And so I worry that these women were just enduring that bullshit because they didn't think anyone would support them and I'm the guy that wasn't trustworthy... Am I the only one who doesn't know how to behave? In this regard, I guess some sort of statement from the convention maybe, about expected behavior might help a little, but even then, all our programmed social stuff is going to override that. So I'm not sure how to get everyone on the same page.
  • If you're experiencing behaviour (of any kind) at a table that is making you a bit uncomfortable but you can't tell if it's just you or other people too then the 'safest' way to deal with it is to call a comfort break and then ask. If there's another person at the table that you are uncomfortable for then a check of 'are you OK with X' should be sufficient. If they are fine, then I guess you can put it down to misreading the situation. If they aren't then you can add at that point that you weren't either and suggest it's taken up with the table before things continue.

    At the end of the day it's all a judgement call, it's just worth remembering that often if something is making you uncomfortable, it's probably also making other people at the table uncomfortable too, but being the one to call it out takes more confidence than thinking 'no-one else is commenting on this, it must just be me'. Getting rid of that atmosphere by bringing attention to the issue will help the session in the long run (or show the session for something you're better of not playing I guess :-) )
  • @ChristopherWeeks -- great points. I know that for me, a list of expectations from the convention would, in fact, actually help me speak up with more confidence even when I wasn't being directly targeted.

    I've also often adopted the tactic of saying,"Well, I'm not comfortable with that" even if I'm not being directly targeted by the offending comment.

    Matt
  • Another relevant example from the non-gaming world: there was a neat interview with a woman programmer this morning on NPR: Blazing the trail for female programmers. She said that she got tired of being the only woman in the room at conferences and started this programs, RailsBridge, to help women learn Ruby on Rails programming, and after a little bit of marketing found out there was a huge demand for this service.
    You can see the RailsBridge Wiki here and see there are guys involved in the program too, and it's branched out into addressing various minorities as well.
    Why I am posting this:
    1) I think it might be interesting and relevant;
    2) Woman-centered programs are not radical or marginal;
    3) I think there are plenty of gamers of every gender who would support this kind of effort.
  • edited April 2013
    Selfish tangent:

    The local Ladies Game Nights in Greenfield/Northampton, MA have greatly improved my own play experiences.
    They have expanded the player base from which we can draw for various other gaming-related events (such as Coffee & Game Design, American freeform larps, etc.) These players are in turn more engaged and self-confident, which the ups the ante at said events. Heck, some of these women also bring their non-gamer boyfriends along.
    Clearly a necessary and productive institution has taken its shape!
  • Great stories.

    I'm curious:

    Has anyone ever had a bad experience with a "Ladies' Night"-type gaming event? How did it go, and what would have fixed it?

    (I haven't.)
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