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Responces to Girls in Roleplaying

21/9/1999 sent by Heidi Manning

I have realised that my statement "girls are more likely to give up" is likely to be taken askance by some people. I have had someone argue that "most of the women I associate with are hard bitches ;). (And I mean that in the nicest possible way.)". My justification for that statement is that I am talking specifically about teenage girls (not women), and though I can't claim that I know all teenage girls, I know a large number and they ARE much more likely than teenage boys, to give up if they are not good at something. Often they have low self-esteems which can be related to typical teenage low self-esteem, compounded by parental and teacher pressure, and the de-emphasis on assertiveness as encouraged by teenage boys. Having been an assertive teenage girl, I received a lot of negative feedback for that particular quality especially from teenage boys. So, I stand by my statement as a possible reason as to why *girls* (as opposed to women) do not get into roleplaying.

14/10/1999 sent by Fraser McHarg

A survey was done at the very first Arcanacon, that's 1983 and there were 11% females and it has been going up since then. Sure it is still a male dominated hobby, but nowhere near as much as it used to be. I'm reasonably certain if you were to poll at a convention these days you should be in the 30-40% female category if not higher. So I would like to see some more accurate figures or a reference to where the 5% figure was obtained. Note I am only talking convention figures because there is no statistically reliable way of determining the makeup of non-convention attending roleplayers.

From Kyle Schuant 14 Nov 1999

I don't think it's so much that girls are more liekly to give up, as that boys are less likley to give up. That is, when women realise they have absolutely no talent or ability in an area, they try something else. Men are thicker skinned, or thicker headed, and will keep plugging along for years regardless of how useless they are. I have known and played with for at least a session probably 200 roleplayers over the years, and at least half of the males were USELESS. Thye had no idea what they were doing, but remained incredibly sure they did!

If you have ever played a "self" game you will know what I mean: the players design themselves as characters. It's amazing how strong, charismatic, fit and agile these scrawny single computer nerds can be! And the number and levels of their skills is just stunning. I recall vividly one guy, a chemistry student. I examined his character sheet. "Chemical weapons???" I exclaimed, "where the hell did you learn about them?" "Oh," he said casually, "I've studied them in chemistry." "So, you know the principles of chemical weapons. Well, that's just Chemistry skill." "No, I know how to build and handle chemical weapons." "Where did you study that? Australia doesn't have any." "Well, I studied it!" "Sheesh, look, mate, I assure you, in my game, you will never need build nor defuse any chemical weapons, nor will knowledge of them ever be an important part of any plot..." "I want that skill!" "Okay," I said tiredly. So you see, men are just more stupidly stubborn than women. I don't wish less women would give up, I wish more men would! Cos there are some weird ones out there...

You also didn't mention two other things that might put women off, Heidi - the pictures, and the guys. The pictures in RPG books are all to often of the chainmail bikini type, I daresay that'd put me off, were I a woman. And the guys, let's face it, the nerdy image is a)accurate, and 2)unattractive. The image is: long unwashed hair, thick glasses, surfs net looking for cyberporn, wears long grey trenchcoat... need I go on? Is it any wonder the women at uni would rather join the mixed touch rugby team?

The first point can be solved by biffing all the old books, and grabbing any artist friedns you've got at uni to do better artwork. The second, well, lads, all I can say is, presentation is everything! Appearance and fashion indeed are considerations of a bourgeouis capitalist conformist society, but still, why look like a mangy dog? Iron your clothes, wash your hair... nerds can dress ncie, too! I know I do:)

sent by Kevin Lowe - 26/5/2000

Caveat: People aren't purely the product of their socialisation.

I've got a theory that roleplaying as we know it appeals to the wish fulfillment and empowerment fantasies that boys are taught to have, not the ones girls are taught to have.

Boys, in a vague sort of way, are encouraged to be emotionally rugged and distant, athletic, powerful, rich and capable of violence. RPGs are usually emotionally unthreatening and you pretend to be people who just get more powerful, more athletic, richer and more capable of violence every day and in every way. Boys just wanna be Arnold Schwarzenneger.

Maybe those girls who buy the standard social conditioning would like rpgs more if their characters got steadily more attractive, better informed and better dressed as they went along? And maybe they could spend experience points to make their partner-NPC richer, better looking, funnier, gentler, more sensitive and so on as they went along.

That's meant to be semi-satirical, by the way, not condescending. There's an element of truth though - lots of rpgs are _so_ blokey.

Alternatively, someone might pitch an RPG at girls or adult women who think that the goals female people are typically taught are worthwhile suck. (Hercules and Xena could have been an attempt at this - Xena's a bit of a role model).