Home Forums General General Sexism in Rules?

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  • #54297
    BanditBandit
    Participant

    Not terribly long ago one of the Magic: The Gathering expansion sets included a card called “Sex Appeal”, I think it was from “Unglued” or “Unhinged” or something, it was well after I was no longer playing. Anyway, the card has some effect that whatever sex was in least supply at the game received a benefit.

    While it is very, very uncommon to find woman outnumbering men in a game of Magic, it is a neat example of the fact that a rule can be written sex specific to allow either sex equal advantage given the circumstances “on the ground” and thus be sex/gender neutral while being focused on it at the same time.

    Cheers,

    The Bandit

    #54311
    Russell PhillipsRussell Phillips
    Participant

    Although I’ve been following this thread, I haven’t commented yet because others have made the points I would have made. There are two points I’d like to address, though:

    So what is wrong with referring to a wargames unit as a body of ‘men’and an individual figure as a ‘man’, if historically and by sculpture these are what the minis represent?

    I haven’t seen anyone arguing against referring to figures as “men” where they represent men. The argument is around how rules writers should refer to the players.

    Many wargames simulate and also celebrate conflict, combat and killing. It seems to me that we have skewed values if we embrace the thanos of such games while at the same time demanding political correctness with respect to sex/gender/self-identification. Is this not an odd disconnect?

    I don’t think many wargames celebrate conflict. The only one I can remember that might be said to do so is Warhammer 40,000, but it’s a long time since I’ve played it, so I’m not sure. Many of the wargamers I’ve met have been anti-war to some degree or other. My (personal, untested) theory is that their researches around their chosen periods have led them to a greater understanding and dislike of war than that held by the general public.

    #54320
    PatricePatrice
    Participant

    Very interesting thread. I had never thought about trying to write gender neutral in English, I thought that writing “he/she” was the only way.

    “player with the most impressive facial hair wins… ”

    I had suggested an optional rule: “player with the most impressive [choose body location] hair wins” but it was never popular…

    I haven’t seen anyone arguing against referring to figures as “men” where they represent men. The argument is around how rules writers should refer to the players.

    Yes that was the argument at first. However, in fantasy contexts, and in many historical contexts, some of the figures represent women and in skirmish games grammar makes a difference when you must refer to them too.

    This thread also made me realize that some of my game AARs and examples in my rules may look sexist although it’s not the intention. Fighting women character roles are possible but I realize that it’s not explained enough and that most examples of female NPCs in the AARs are servants, prostitutes, and a renowned governor’s niece… This fits well in adventures and enquiries when player characters visit villages to seek information and clues etc but it could give a false impression to readers. I must do something about this.

    http://www.argad-bzh.fr/argad/en.html
    http://www.anargader.net/

    #54321
    Russell PhillipsRussell Phillips
    Participant

    Yes that was the argument at first. However, in fantasy contexts, and in many historical contexts, some of the figures represent women and in skirmish games grammar makes a difference when you must refer to them too.

    My point was that no-one has argued about how figures should be referred to in this thread (unless I missed it – I did a lot of catching up before writing my post), and so Rod seemed to be arguing against something that no-one had said.

    For the record, in any context where the figures may represent men or women, I’d support gender-neutral grammar when referring to the figures.

    #54324
    RhodericRhoderic
    Participant

    My point was that no-one has argued about how figures should be referred to in this thread (unless I missed it – I did a lot of catching up before writing my post)

    AB did in the original post of this thread, but more to the point, you were correct in your first assertion, because he didn’t do this:

    arguing against referring to figures as “men” where they represent men.

    He didn’t argue against referring to figures as men where they represent men specifically, because his ruleset is a sci-fi one, so it would be frankly very laboured to assume that all figures being spoken of represent males.

    As for referring to figures as men in a historical ruleset where all figures are well and truly, without exception, assumed to represent males, I suppose that’s fair, but I don’t think there genuinely are many rulesets that completely leave out the possibility of any figures whatsoever being female. Even disregarding the possibility of female soldiers/warriors such as Indian maiden guard, onna-bugeisha or the women of the Soviet armed forces in World War 2, such a ruleset would have to explicitly exclude any possibility of camp followers, villagers/townsfolk, Kipling’s “women of Afghanistan’s plains” or any other civilians being included in gameplay.

    At any rate, the issue of what to call the miniatures didn’t become the main focus of this thread. The bigger issue is, indeed, what to call the players. Not that it wouldn’t be better – and entirely practicable – to avoid referring to figures as “men”, mind.

    #54343
    Katie LKatie L
    Participant

    I had a wander through several sets of rules that I wrote and discovered there is one rule which uses a gendered pronoun, in a previous draft of a WW2 game and is referring to the combatant figure, not a player. And also, isn’t in the latest version.

    The reason for this is probably that, in my head, the players of these rules are me, Chris, Rory, etc. And that’s definitely not a group to whom either single gendered pronoun applies.

    So there’s the solution then. Women make better rules writers…

    Being merely a bit dim about why this matters is one thing, but when it’s pointed out responding in the way Lambshead has is just… well. Dickish.

     

    I’m not buying anything from Warlord until he either doesn’t work there or he apologises for being stunningly unclassy.

     

    #54356
    DMDM
    Participant

    “So there’s the solution then. Women make better rules writers…”

    Could be a whole new career here for you Katie, editing the ramblings of us poor males 🙂 (and heaven knows some of my ramblings could do with it!)

    #54362
    RhodericRhoderic
    Participant

    “So there’s the solution then. Women make better rules writers…” Could be a whole new career here for you Katie, editing the ramblings of us poor males 🙂 (and heaven knows some of my ramblings could do with it!)

    Aha, so you’re saying that the work of women must be contingent upon and second-order to the work of men? 

    (I am joking, here. Really!)

    #54365
    DMDM
    Participant

    Up selling and value added 🙂

    #54368
    Thaddeus BlanchetteThaddeus Blanchette
    Participant

    What really bothers me about this whole thing is that if one simply brings this up  — and I don’t mean being shrill, or accusatory, I mean just pointing it out as a problem — one gets called a censor, a social justice warrior and evena feminazi.

    Really? Is is how sensitive some guys are about their identities as men, as gamers, as what not? Simply saying “Hey, using pronouns that include half of the world would be a good thing, given that our hobby is notoriously ‘dying’ and currently doesn’t include many women” is being “politically correct”?

    The level of ressentiment among older white guys on this planet has got to be at an all time high.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #54376
    RuarighRuarigh
    Participant

    Thaddeus, I think part of it is that they feel like they are being punished for their gender. They don’t recognise all the advantages they have because they are male, so when we try to level the playing field they react against it. Being rewarded less can feel like being punished when you are used to being rewarded at a higher level your whole life. Reminds me of an inverse version of Machiavelli’s comments on running a captured state: put an extreme authoritarian general in charge until they complain and nearly revolt and then execute the general and replace them with a slightly less authoritarian general. The populace will praise you and feel like they are being rewarded when, in fact, they are actually just being punished less.

    Never argue with an idiot. They'll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

    https://emidsvikings.ac.uk/
    #54377
    MikeMike
    Keymaster

    Hi, let’s try to keep it about the games and less about politics in general please.

    #54400
    irishserbirishserb
    Participant

    My personal view on this, is that it is easy to use terms that are all inclusive, and that it benefits all of us to do so.  But, this thread got me to thinking, and I did some investigating.

    I’m an older(ish) white guy, who was taught that the use of “he” is acceptable in situations where the “he” may refer to any individual person.  I was also taught that “they ” is never used to refer to a single person.  This teaching came from multiple source at multiple levels.  But I am old(ish) and language evolves to meet the needs of those who use it in the present.

    Earlier in this thread, there is discussion about the use of they as a singular pronoun, so I got out my dictionaries printed between 1957 and 2008.  Under the definition of “they”, none of them qualify that the word can be correctly used to refer to a single person, with all but one calling out something along the lines of, “… for singular, see he, she, and it…”.  All of them also state that “He” is acceptable to refer to he or she in situations where gender is not known.

    So I contacted my daughter, and shared this with her, and she shared it with her mid-thirties PhD English prof in her writing class at a major US university. The prof shared in turn that my dictionaries are correct, and that use of “they” as a singular pronoun is incorrect, that “he” does correctly refer to a he or she.

    I found most of this somewhat surprising, particularly the info from the prof, and the definitions in the more recent dictionaries.

    So, thinking further on this, maybe the resistance to change should not be so surprising.  Maybe some benefit of the doubt should be offered on both sides of this issue.  If current and contemporary professional sources still support “traditional”  usage, maybe those who are accused as being old fashion, insulting, etc, are simply following what they are still being taught as correct and acceptable from supposedly reliable sources.  Maybe their offense, when being challenged, at least in some cases, comes from the fact they mean no affront, and believe that they are conducting themselves in appropriate fashion, and that those offended are acting outside of the reasonable based on the sources of the offender.

    Clearly, based on my exploration over the last week, there is some ambiguity with respect to what is acceptable or proper.  In the case that brought about this discussion, I was saddened by the manner of both parties.  Both took opportunity to be insulting and offensive in pursuit of the issue in question.  And otherwise, there seems to have been effort here to be insulting at times (at least that is how it appears to me in print, maybe it is my mistake).

    The internet has made my gaming community more diverse, allowing me to gain perspective through the eyes of those who were previously excluded from my community.  I am endlessly thankful for this increased diversity in the community.  I would hope that in the future, that we would all take advantage of every opportunity to further increase the diversity of our community through whatever means available, including rule writing.  I mean in all honesty, this is such an amazing hobby, how could you ever want to risk excluding anybody from it?

    I’ll get off of my soapbox now.  Sorry if I crossed any lines Mike.

    • This reply was modified 3 years ago by irishserbirishserb.
    #54402
    MikeMike
    Keymaster

    Not at all, what upset many was the abuse and name calling from one of the authors when questioned on it.
    I suspect had the said author not insulted people the matter would have been less intense.

    #54407
    Not Connard SageNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    The level of ressentiment among older white guys on this planet has got to be at an all time high.

     

    Hey, I’m an older white guy, and I have no problem with gender neutral pronouns and possessive nouns. 🙂

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #54408
    Not Connard SageNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    Earlier in this thread, there is discussion about the use of they as a singular pronoun, so I got out my dictionaries printed between 1957 and 2008. Under the definition of “they”, none of them qualify that the word can be correctly used to refer to a single person, with all but one calling out something along the lines of, “… for singular, see he, she, and it…” 

     

    Demanding correct English usage and style when discussing wargames rules is futile. Most rule books are not written by grammarians, and I include Barker. Indeed, some rules appear to be written by authors with only a passing acquaintance with the English as she is writ. 😀

     

     

    Anyway:

    Some people object to the use of plural pronouns in this type of situation on the grounds that it’s ungrammatical. In fact, the use of plural pronouns to refer back to a singular subject isn’t new: it represents a revival of a practice dating from the 16<sup>th</sup> century. It’s increasingly common in current English and is now widely accepted both in speech and in writing.

    https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/usage/he-or-she-versus-they

     

     

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #54409
    RuarighRuarigh
    Participant

    The prof shared in turn that my dictionaries are correct, and that use of “they” as a singular pronoun is incorrect, that “he” does correctly refer to a he or she. I found most of this somewhat surprising, particularly the info from the prof, and the definitions in the more recent dictionaries. So, thinking further on this, maybe the resistance to change should not be so surprising.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post, Irishserb. Resistance to change is not surprising. We all tend to think that what we learned as kids is the right way to do things and that all this newfangled nonsense is wrong. I’m convinced it is because these things become part of our identity as we grow up. As a child I learned exactly what you did, but I still used singular ‘they’ despite it being frowned upon. Since then, I have learned that singular ‘they’ was in use at least as early as the 15th century. The OED Online cites two instances of Caxton using it that way, and also offers ‘they’ with a singular definition. It was only in the 19th century that it fell out of fashion when 19th-century grammarians started trying to rigorously apply all sorts of rules, such as not splitting infinitives and enforcing ‘they’ as plural only. I wonder if there is a US/UK divide at work with the differing definitions that you have found though. Most academics of my acquaintance in the UK and Ireland happily embrace singular ‘they’ and do not consider it to be incorrect at all, even those that are members of English departments. They would applaud the attempt at gender-neutral writing.

    In the original discussion about the rules, it seems that the correspondents forgot the cardinal rule: Be most excellent to each other. Instead of examining the complaint and themselves, they appear to have immediately got defensive and counter-attacked. A moment’s reflection away from the keyboard could have worked wonders and helped build their business, instead of encouraging people to step away from it. Like Katie, I’ll be avoiding their products in future, not that I need anything new anyway; my Unpainted Lead Pile is causing the attic floor to bow alarmingly!

    Never argue with an idiot. They'll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

    https://emidsvikings.ac.uk/
    #54412
    RhodericRhoderic
    Participant

    One should keep in mind, however, the power structures that were in place when the dictionaries were written, and to some extent still are in place even as dictionaries are being written today. Objecting to the use of “he” as the go-to pronoun for unknown/undefined gender in our little corner of western culture is part of the greater work of calling out male primacy. It wasn’t a coincidence that the English language landed on “he”. It’s hardly the case that it might just as well have landed on “she” had a butterfly flapped its wings a little differently outside the window of some lexicographer’s study on some specific day in the 18th century.

    So, yes, people have been taught that “he” is correct, and therefore usually have no agenda or ill will whatsoever when they consistently write “he”. But the point is, that still doesn’t mean it’s wrong to call it out, when it’s in the interest of positive progress. The goal here isn’t to degrade one’s elders by taking on a role of some kind of “re-educator” – age should be irrelevant the same way gender should be.

    #54423
    William JonesWilliam Jones
    Participant

    Dude. I’m so gender-neutral that I don’t *care* what pronouns an author uses in a set of wargame rules. I will say that I left TMP and joined here to get away from threads like this. And here I go, posting again, con mucho snarko. Y’know, we should start running polls, I’ll bet that would drive up the traffic on this site. I’ve got a topic: Which of the Laugh-In Sock It To Me girls would you rather have socked it to? Judy Carne, Goldie Hawn, or Ruth Buzzi?

     

    Agreed.  And Goldie Hawn.  Although my true love from that era is Carly Simon.

    #54428
    Thaddeus BlanchetteThaddeus Blanchette
    Participant

    All future rules should be written in Láadan.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_Tongue_(Suzette_Haden_Elgin_novel)

    Ruth Buzzi.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #54433
    Guy FarrishGuy Farrish
    Participant

    Ahem.

    It doesn’t matter what is ‘right’ now. That is a social construct where language is concerned. We make the rules. We can change them. So if we want a gender neutral pronoun (and think ‘one’ is too posh/archaic/misunderstood) we can adopt ‘they’ as the answer if we like.

    We could adopt ‘fish’if we liked, although it might be more confusing.

    We can use any word we like to identify the referent, there is no fixed and necessary association.

    Of course we can reject the whole concept, but that should lead us to at least ask why we want to reject the idea. Is it because we are hard line 18th century categorising Philosophes? Or is it because we are hard line male stick in the muds who don’t like our linguistic slippers being mussed? On the whole we should probably think it a good idea not to diminish the role in society of just over 50% of it.

    I withdraw hastily from the fray.

     

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