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The POV of a Female Gamer-and-Newbie-Keeper

There was a very nicely written piece by listener of the show Christine Fisher that she posted to the MUP Google+ group.
She said that we could re-post this here so it will get some additional visibility.
Christine Fisher  Jun 8, 2:52 PM

I just listened to MUP 146, the Women in Tabletop Gaming interview. Understandably, Chaosium is more focused on getting females to contribute material with this series. I’d like to share the things that would really help welcome (or at least not drive away) female players and Keepers with my fellow Pods, from the POV of a female gamer-and-newbie-Keeper.

I have seen all of these things personally. If it weren’t for having collected some good pals and persisting through the learning curve of who to avoid in our local game circles, I would have left con gaming and only gamed with known friends, and that’s a situation that is one job move away from leaving the hobby entirely. So to keep women gaming, eventually getting comfortable enough to Keep and maybe contribute, consider doing the following as your bit.

1. Include at least 1/3 female character choices. Half would be nice, but at least 2 females in a batch of 4 pre-gens. Having only one female or a “there’s a female name change option on this one, if you want” reminds us that we’re not the norm here, and we’d better be prepared to be The Guys if we want to play, too. If you’re thinking “but if girls don’t sign up for my game, then some guys will get stuck with girl characters!” then you’re on the first step to understanding the issue. Keep going.

2. Do not make any of your few female characters seductresses, nymphos, manhunters, etc. Really. Nothing will make the room vibe uncomfortable faster than showing that that’s about/all you could come up with for women. Or that we’re now nearly/the only woman in the room, possibly among strangers, and now everyone has sex on the brain in some way. Unnnncomfortable. Also, if you’re a man playing a female character, don’t go there or make her a joke with your voice or mannerisms. If you get stuck with that character in the bio, downplay that and let the Keeper know that it’s uncool. Sometimes, they’ll hear it when a guy says it.

3. Can’t think of a female character for your setting? Go through each of your male characters. Consider what core aspect you think “just won’t do, no way, no how” as a woman in that setting. Think of how a woman in that setting might get around that factor. Poof! Female character consistent for your setting, possibly in disguise as a boy/man in some but hopefully not all cases!

4. Do not make your female characters semi-controlled by another male character (grand/daughters, wives, fiancees, assistants, secretaries), unless the whole party is an interconnected web of similar relationships. Equal PC autonomy, please!

5. Do not incorporate alienating unpleasantness as a core element in con games (ditto on racism and non-straight-phobia!). Do not make your female characters barely-tolerated-here-because-those-were-the-times as a central “challenge to the players.” Conventions are spaces for new folks to try out gaming and new systems. If that’s your home group’s thing, have a great time. Keep the con games welcoming.

6. Do not apply a Woman Tax. We do not have to bring better snacks, homebaked goods, host, be a taxi service to other players, run the scheduling, always keep the group notes, or do more of any other OOC game-enabling to get to play. Do not even suggest this jokingly. Not even as praise or thanks. Uncool. Instead, thank or praise and then step up your own social contribution/take your turn. (Please, for the love of Nyarlathotep, up your snacks game if you always bring a bag of chips/popcorn and other members are doing potluck to build a group dinner. Don’t cook? A small deli tray would be a step up, or loaf of bread and tub of spread.)

7. Do not tell a woman, when she is giving feedback that conveys that there was a gender-based problem with your material or presentation, that “this other woman/women didn’t mind. You’re wrong/being sensitive!” That says, “Only convenient women are welcome in gaming.” Don’t be that guy.

Thank you very much Christine. This is really helpful for guys to avoid things that may make the game table less fun for someone at the table.
She then had an addition to the above. We’ll call it number 8.
sigh I realized I should have shared what some of my fave local Keepers do: Have at least 1 more PC pre-gen to choose from than players. It means the last to pick still gets a choice. Pertinent to this discussion, it means that “getting stuck with XX or XY” is less likely for anybody, by at least one pre-gen.
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