>This just in: women actually aren’t stupid

>Dude, I was going to take a long weekend off from this shit. But then Louis Porter Jr came and posted this comment on my last post, and I’m almost constitutionally incapable of not responding, let alone responding concisely to this nonsense. (It’s a failing.) Hence the new post.

Anyway, before I start off, thanks to the fine folks on Story-Games who helped me refine my arguments. Much appreciated.

So here’s the comment in question (emphasis mine):

This is going to be a two part answer.

First on the racial diversity of Paizo character design: Always a good thing. Being one of the few (if only) African-American (or Black if you like) RPG publishers I think it is a GOOD thing to show ethnic and racial diversity in the artwork. Paizo always kicks ass for that and I hope they continue to!

So, yes, thumbs up to Paizo for not being full of race fail. That’s great. Good for them. It’s so great that they are making efforts not to marginalize men of color. And if women of color feel marginalized, well, they should be used to much worse by now, right? None of this is going to change, so us wimmenz should just learn to suck it up and deal.

Yeah, I call bullshit. As a person of color, I would assume that you have some experience with feeling marginalized. Why then are you excited that Paizo is fighting one type of discrimination (racism) even as they simultaneously embrace another (sexism)? Doesn’t that seem a little hypocritical and more than a little privileged to you?

Second, women and sex appeal. Sorry but you lost me on that one. Paizo knows it market: majority male. And males (and some females) like scantily dressed women (which I am one).

Okay, aside from the issue of your grammar sucking (you just implied you were a scantily dressed woman), your argument sucks too. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

When doing my artwork for many of the females in my products, I over sexualize what they physically look like or what they are wearing. Why? Because it will cause males (my main base of customers) to stop and look and in the gaming of marketing that would be considered a WIN! Now would I over sexualize males and place them on the cover a product I created? ABSOLUTELY if it helped draw interest which in turn would equal additional sales. For me this is an issue of helping me generate sales. Sad but true.

But I do understand where you are coming from and I do support you so saying what you think is right.

Oh, thank you. I’m glad that you support my right to express an opinion on my own blog. That’s very gracious of you. I mean, I’ve been pretty nervous about criticizing large game publishers, so it’s very good to know that I have your permission. It’s quite gracious of you.

So, basically you’re saying I “lost you” with my complaints about Paizo’s sexist Pathfinder art because I’m not a man and therefore not part of Paizo’s target market. Does that mean that only men have the right to complain about Paizo’s art? I call bullshit on that too.

It’s clear that Paizo has made the marketing decision to pursue their “safe” market – horny conservative males – and to not really try to reach out to anyone outside that market. But the lack of success of these “experiments” that Paizo has done with non-sexist representations of women doesn’t prove a damn thing. I know TONS of women who were completely, COMPLETELY geeked about Seela’s design. But then you pick up a Pathfinder book and go, wow, that’s just the exception to the rule. Look at all this cheesecake! Which leads back to ‘meh, this is just like all the rest, I’m going back to FarmVille’.

Do you honestly have so little regard for our intelligence? Why should one character make us satisfied enough to flock to Paizo’s products? Sure it’s better than most other mainstream RPGs out there, but that’s like saying that Justin Bieber is better than Britney Spears. They both suck – it’s just a matter of degree.

But in the long run it’s a short-sighted publishing strategy when you consider that more and more women are getting into gaming. There are somewhere around 62 million active Farmville users, and 69 percent of them are women. That’s a whopping 42,780,000 women all devoted to one game!

Now let’s hypothesize that Paizo actually pulls its head out of its ass and creates a product line completely devoid of sexist representations of women, and let’s say that they somehow managed to find a successful way to advertise to the “women who play FarmVille” market. If only five percent – around 2.1 million – of women who play FarmVille wind up being interested in this new product line that they spend an average of $10 a year on products from this line, that’s a whopping $21,390,000 per year in sales. And if you attract only 2.5 of the women who play Farmville , that’s still $10,695,000 per year in sales.

I’m not sure if you realized this, but women constitute roughly half the population. And these days, they even let us have jobs, which means we have our own money! But given a choice between spending it on roleplaying books splattered with ridiculous cheesecake porn and, say, a new copy of Beautiful Katamari, where do you think my dollars are going? (Hint: Not the cheesecake-laden RPG)

Lastly, as much as I know you find this hard to comprehend, there are men for whom cheesecake art is off-putting and actually creates negative associations with your products. This insistence that splashing breasts on the cover will make a sale is pretty demeaning toward men as well. Do you as a publisher honestly have such a low opinion of your own customers that you think their purchasing decisions are made with their dicks?

Now I’m sure at this point you will have dismissed me as 1) not a customer 2) an over-emotional female or 3) a humorless feminist. And that’s fine. In case you need more reasons to dismiss me, I suggest checking out Derailing for Dummies for more reasons why what I’m saying doesn’t matter.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make a sandwich.

About wundergeek
In addition to being a cranky feminist blogger, I am an artist, photographer, and somewhat half-assed writer living in the wilds of Canada with a wonderful spouse and two slightly broken cats.

44 Responses to >This just in: women actually aren’t stupid

  1. Brennan says:

    >Yep. I'm one of those guys who is actively turned away by sexist cheesecake art. There is a service I am really interested in (infrno) that I am not going to use because of the porn star marketing. I'm also done being quiet about this and I'm registering complaints with companies I'm interested in whose marketing turns me off.I'm kind of sad that I may be taken more seriously with my complaints because I'm a guy.

  2. alan-de-smet says:

    >"Paizo knows it market: majority male. And males (and some females) like scantily dressed women (which I am one)."That sounds familiar. Where was that? Oh, yeah, in the defense of white-washing movies! Apparently white people are the majority of the market, and white people prefer seeing white people, so it's appropriate to cast white folks as characters described as Chinese, Inuit, Persian, Japanese, or so other non-white ethnicity.

  3. >"Do you as a publisher honestly have such a low opinion of your own customers that you think their purchasing decisions are made with their dicks?"What's wrong with making a purchasing decision with my dick? Seriously. Let's not make the assumption that sex is bad.On the marketing front, sex obviously sells. So is it possible to depict women (or men) in a sexy way that isn't sexist? What about scantily clad women (or men)? I would say yes, but I have a feeling you might say no. I ask because I don't want to put words in your mouth and because I'm honestly curious about your opinion. Many of your posts here are based on a definition of sexism that I'm not sure you've ever defined.Also, just to be clear, I'm speaking generally. I'm not defending Pathfinder or talking about cartoonish, misshapen breasts and all that. Yikes. Not attractive — especially not when compared with a drawing by someone who's studied even a bit of anatomy.

  4. Brandon says:

    >Motherfucker…I just lost a huge response. Short version:- I love Paizo as a company, they do lots of stuff right (positive non-male, non-white, non-straight characters)- However, it's still disappointing to get the usual deluge of cheesecake, even if there are a few good sprinkles on top- Contrary to what LJP said, I don't think it's necessary nowadays to include the cheesecake. Are there really that many gamers that would buy an RPG book, but *wouldn't* buy the same book if it didn't have all the exposed jumbo cleavage?

  5. >Hmmm… thinking about this some more.I think one big difference is gratuitous skin vs. incidental skin. Is it sex for the sake of a sale only or is the sex there because it's actually doing something for the scene being depicted?

  6. Brandon says:

    >@Tim – I can't speak for wundergeek, but at least for me, the situation would be a lot better if the characters were drawn realistically in terms of anatomy and dress, and if there was more parity between male and female characters.(And since you commented again before I finished)Yes, that is a big part of it. Cleavage isn't inherently bad. But cleavage on a barmaid or noblewoman is more appropriate than cleavage on a warrior in full armor riding into battle.A barmaid or noblewoman has it to their advantage to show some skin, as they benefit from being noticed and being considered attractive/sexual. If you walk into battle with boobs or belly exposed, though, the only advantage you have is that you know where you're gonna get stabbed.

  7. >I don't think I've ever bought a product based on the artwork. I might think some of the art is fantastic, or lousy, but content is king with me.

  8. >It's not that anyone necessarily buys a product based on artwork alone (although I'm sure some do), but a catchy cover will certainly get people interested enough to investigate.

  9. lemuriapress says:

    >Paizo's publisher, here. Hope I'm welcome.I appreciate Wundergeek's points above, though I think some of them are overstated out of ignorance of our all of our products (nothing shameful in that, as we make a ton of them). You can definitely point to the giant boobs and impractical outfit of our iconic sorcerer, Seoni, for example, and say with justification that her image is relatively sexist. She is pretty much a cheesecake character all the way, in part because that's the way Wayne Reynolds drew her and in part because the sorcerer is based on Charisma and the idea of a "hot chick" as the character makes sense on a very simple level. In D&D 3.0 the bard Devis and the sorcerer Hennet were both bare-chested males designed, in part, for sex appeal (both classes use Charisma as their main ability score), and this is sort of the female version of that, albeit pushed to 11. I'm not really trying to apologize for Seoni, but it is what it is.I'm glad that you're aware of our iconic paladin, Seelah, as we did indeed include her as a non-sexualized female hero on purpose, in part to counterbalance characters like Seoni but mostly because we thought a female paladin in plate mail armor would look cool. and, whereas a sorceress can cast mage armor to protect herself no matter what she's wearing, a paladin is usually going to prefer armor. It makes sense for the character.You ask: "Why should one character make us satisfied enough to flock to Paizo’s products? "Speaking as the publisher, I don't think that one character should be satisfying enough to get you to flock to our products, but in point of fact there are a lot more characters than Seelah that go against the "Seoni" look. For example, our iconic character Kyra basically has only her face exposed and is otherwise completely covered head to toe in cool cleric-y robes. We just published a new book with Kyra on the cover that I think any gamer would appreciate, male of female, totally regardless of how "hot" the character is. (Cont'd)

  10. lemuriapress says:

    >Other female iconics, notably the elf rogue Meresiel, the half-orc inquisitor Imrijka, the gnome druid Lini, the barbarian Amiri, and numerous non-iconic characters (such as the lead character in our female-authored Pathfinder Tales novel Winter Witch) are, I suspect, more in line with the types of female heroes you might appreciate.We've definitely done some "sexier" covers here and there, and some of our characters (male and female) show a bit of flesh (I hear that our bare-chested magus iconic Seltiyel likes the way his ass looks in his leather pants), but there's not a lot of conscious decision making to use porny images because we think gamer dudes will be more enticed to buy a product if it has big boobs on the cover. I don't have any idea what sort of "experiment" Louis is referring to, at least insofar as Paizo is concerned (how he runs his business is, of course, his business and not mine). We generally give our artists a loose rein to draw what pleases them, and the fact of the matter is that lots of artists, especially the younger male ones who like to draw stuff for comics and gaming companies, are fucking perverts. It must have something to do with all of those life drawing classes they take, or their focus on the human form, or whatever. As a class of people, artists are generally pretty filthy. The number of times over my 10-year career in this industry that I've had to send back an image with a note like "um, thanks, but can I get this without hard nipples showing through the leather armor, please?" would shock just about everyone.We're all going to draw a slightly different line when it comes to representations of sexuality in art. Obviously, Paizo's allows for a certain amount of cheesecake, but a lot of that has to do with trusting our artists to create the best images they can provide, and almost nothing has to do with us trying to give geeks boners in game stores so that they buy our products.It's 2010. If they want free pornography, it's pretty easy to come across here on the internet.So, to sum up, I'm sorry that the representations of females in Paizo's product fall short of your hopes and expectations. The opinions of female gamers CERTAINLY are of interest to us, as it is imperative that the hobby attract as many players and enthusiasts as possible, and deliberately cutting off 51% of your potential audience is not good business strategy.I don't think we do as bad of a job as your post suggests, and I do think we do a considerably better job than most game companies, but I can understand that this is all a matter of degree and that reasonable people can disagree about how much "sexy" is ok, and I appreciate your criticism of our products and the imagery we contain in them.–Erik MonaPublisherPaizo Publishing

  11. >Hi again. I didn't know my personal opinion would affect YOU so much. Once again this is MY opinion and it can be different from yours. I am not forcing you to accept it or forcing it on you, I am just giving it to you as I feel. I think it is great you feel this passionate about this and you should vote with you dollars because that is the only way things really change. Good luck, I hope you get what you want.

  12. wundergeek says:

    >Tim: See, man. It's so case-by-case. I'm not going to say I hate all sexy art ever, because man I loved the art in Mortal Coil. (It helped that it was part of Year of the Dong.) So, I guess I'm okay with sexy art when the game is actually about being sexy. It's the disconnect that I'm not okay with – having sexy women in a game that is ostensibly about having adventures. Or having sexualized women in art surrounded by men who are not sexualized. (Idealized, yes. But that's not the same as being hyper-sexualized.) If there are sexy women, I want them to be sexy because the situation is sexy! Not because they've been obviously designed to appeal to a male gamer.Gratuitous skin versus incidental skin is a good way to put it. I'm not against all sex ever in RPGs! Honest.

  13. wundergeek says:

    >Brandon: Virtual fist bump, sir.

  14. wundergeek says:

    >GSX: I've never bought an RPG because of the art. But I sure as hell have walked away from games because of the art.

  15. wundergeek says:

    >Erik: Wow. Thank you so much for coming and responding here. This being the internet, I'm going to clarify – I'm not being sarcastic. I appreciate that I said some pretty inflammatory stuff and I appreciate that you made the effort to make a thoughtful response that is clearly not a knee-jerk reaction.I have stuff I'd like to say in response, but dude it's late and I'm going to be AFK pretty much all weekend. So I guess I'm rejecting internet time. I'll get back to you on Monday. :DIn the mean time, again thank you for the tone of your response. A lot of my tone was due to my anger at LPJ, which made me angrier about the cheesecake thing in general and… well. It's the internet. I'm sure we all know how Internet Crazy works by now. Thanks for not responding in kind, and thank you for not patting me on the head and telling me to suck it up and deal!

  16. lemuriapress says:

    >No problem. I read your original post (with the "meh" designation) AFTER I posted my response, so I didn't realize you'd already posted about Kyra and Merisiel earlier. And I agree that the picture of that woman doing a curley-q backward leap is not one of our best efforts for a variety of reasons.Take it easy, enjoy the weekend, and thanks for the response! :)–Erik

  17. lemuriapress says:

    >Oh, and btw, that image of the cheerleaders is like 7 years old, from Origins (and not Gen Con), and was something like three marketing managers ago. For a magazine that no longer exists.

  18. westernind says:

    >Dear Erik Mona,Thanks for engaging with this issue. Normally I wouldn't bother raising my voice on a blog comment, but I get to hear and see a lot (a LOT) about Paizo by proxy, and it seems to me that Paizo isn't a lost cause. My husband is a big Paizo fan; he went to the UK PaizoCon this year. He's a fabulous ref and buys pretty much everything you publish. He'd really love for me to play Pathfinder, and in fact, I did play one game – Chelaxion opera for the win! (I love badgers! Goblins!) But mostly, I don't feel like it. It's kind of weird – the text of your books and the adventures say all the right things, yet this rubbish art gets in the way. Unfortunately I don't see all the over the top images that you reject, I see the enormo fake unrealistic cheesy boobs that do make it in, and I can't be arsed to put myself in a situation of constant annoyance. It's hard to un-see things once you've seen them. So I do other things instead – music, craft, reading. (And opera singing!) Maybe given time the situation will eventually change enough so that himself and me can happily game together. Sadly, we'll probably be retired senior citizens by then.very best wishesWesternind

  19. >Hey Erik, I appreciate your measured response here. Why not art direct harder and trust your artists (who you call raging pervs anyway) less? These guys obviously want to work for you, you're obviously comfortable sending back leathery nipple trainwrecks, it seems like if you changed the standard of what was going to be accepted Paizo's art would lose any genderfail overnight. I know this is a difficult subjective line, but you have a lot of control when you commission and then accept a piece, right?

  20. lemuriapress says:

    >Well, for starters, while I have served as a stopgap art director on several RPG projects over the years, I no longer have direct control over those elements. I trust the editorial staff I manage to produce excellent books that appeal to a wide audience of gamers. I offer guidance, occasionally step in in the rare case of something egregious, but I do not micro-manage the process. My function at this stage in my career is frankly more focused on the business end of things than on the creative end, though I do like to keep my toe in the water and get into the nitty gritty when I still can. Which is rarely.I trust that the instincts of my creative team will serve the business needs of the company and our audience and like to give them as much leeway as possible to create the types of stories and imagery they think would best appeal to fantasy RPG gamers. Because the tastes and expectations of gamers in general are so varied, their decisions are not going to make everyone happy all of the time, but the staff is as professional as it gets in this business, and the business success, personal fulfillment, and general response on behalf of our customers suggests that the choices we make are generally popular.Of course, we don't know everything, and we do make mistakes. Some folks pay super-close attention to stat blocks, for example, and rake us over the coals when we make some minor (or major) math error. Others think our adventures are too challenging, or not challenging enough. Balancing all of this stuff is very difficult, especially when you are publishing something like 60 products of various types in a given year, all filled with hundreds of pictures and hundreds of thousands of words. Sometimes stuff slips through the cracks.But we do try to listen to well-reasoned criticism and take that into account as we move forward, whether it has to do with game mechanics, general themes and elements, or something like how we portray women in our books. I know I speak for the whole staff when I say that we are genuinely interested in how gamers interact with our products, and how we can make them as appealing as possible to as many gamers as possible.–Erik

  21. >Cool, thanks for the reply. I'm sure discussions like this can only be beneficial. Paizo does so much, so well, I can't help but want you to be bold in this area. Tell the people who *do* art direct to up their game! You get a free pass on the stat blocks in exchange, OK?

  22. wundergeek says:

    >Erik,So I’ll definitely give you guys props for designing powerful female characters. So much of the time in fantasy art and RPGs women are drawn as passive, or are posed as if they barely know which end of the sword to hold on to. Even if I hate certain boobular character designs, they’re at least boobular characters who are both active and powerful. So that at least is a huge step in the right direction.That being said, I wish that Lini, Kyra, and Seela were the norm rather than the exception. Meresiel, Amiri, and Imrijka are awesome characters in their own right – so why the random cleavage? Let them be awesome without having to show skin! It’s just disappointing. Like Meresiel, Amiri, and Imrijka (along with others, like the Persian Princess) – they’re all so close to making me have a joygasm like I did the first time I saw Seela, but I just can’t get past the cleavage. On a personal level, it makes me feel like the only strong women gamer men will accept are hot chicks willing to show some skin. Which sucks. I want to like those characters, but I can’t help like feeling like the artist is telling me “tits or gtfo”.I know that fantasy artists are by and large pervs. I’ve been to GenCon and walked Artists Alley, and I went to art school as well. I don’t know what percentage of your artists are male. Given that male artists overwhelmingly predominate at GenCon, I’d suspect a majority of them are male – and that might contribute. But all the same, you guys sign the checks. It’s in your power for an art director to say “when I say fully covered, I mean fully covered. Not fully covered except for the cleavage, or except for the midriff, or with a crotch shot or visibly erect nipples”. (*cough* WayneReynolds *cough*)None of this is to say get rid of all sexy characters ever. But, man, I’d just really like to see more strong female characters like Kyra and Seela that stand on their own merits without the viewer being reminded that OMG THEY HAVE BOOBS.

  23. Remo says:

    >Erik, you commented:" because the sorcerer is based on Charisma and the idea of a "hot chick" as the character makes sense on a very simple level. In D&D 3.0 the bard Devis and the sorcerer Hennet were both bare-chested males designed, in part, for sex appeal (both classes use Charisma as their main ability score), and this is sort of the female version of that, albeit pushed to 11. I'm not really trying to apologize for Seoni, but it is what it is." What I find funny is: Pathfinder *does* a male character who belongs to one of those "charisma classes" — the bard. Why is the sorcerer's charisma "sexy" but the bard's isn't? In case the bard was female, would said bard be "unsexy" the same way the male bard on the core book is? The impression I get from Pathfinder's art is "only females are allowed to be attractive here".

  24. lemuriapress says:

    >I dunno. Probably because we had to have a halfling iconic, and people have a hard time making halflings he-hunks (or she hunks, for that matter). It's a good point. Part of it probably has to do with the fact that Seoni was the second iconic ever drawn, and Lem was somewhere near the last, but yeah, he's not quite as sexy as he could be.I think Seltiyel (he's in the Core Rulebook under eldritch knight but has been retconned as our iconic magus, a new class to be introduced in a book next year) is an example of an "attractive" man. There are plenty of other character who fall into this rubric the deeper you look in our books, but yeah, you make a valid point.–Erik

  25. Renee says:

    >I don't know that I have anything terribly productive to add to this conversation. I agree in principle with everything wundergeek says, and as someone who deals with the real-world effects of misogyny on a frequent basis (I'm a volunteer first-responder for a rape and domestic violence crisis center), the idea that a reasoned and well-constructed argument (like the ones this blog regularly puts forth) can be casually dismissed as "hey, it's just business" is utterly horrifying.But I'm going to take exception with one thing.Lastly, as much as I know you find this hard to comprehend, there are men for whom cheesecake art is off-putting and actually creates negative associations with your products. This insistence that splashing breasts on the cover will make a sale is pretty demeaning toward men as well. Do you as a publisher honestly have such a low opinion of your own customers that you think their purchasing decisions are made with their dicks?I read every post here with great interest. As a gamer and a woman, these issues are deeply affecting for me. But it's always with a bit of trepidation that I visit because, although I'm a feminist, I'm also trans, and I sometimes feel like I'm on dangerous ground with cisgender feminists who haven't made an explicit attempt to engage trans people as equals (the second wave successfully built a wall of catastrophic hatred towards trans people that is only slowly being deconstructed). Until now, I haven't had reason to be concerned but the conflation of gender and genitalia is problematic. I know many men with vaginas, and I know many women with penises. And I know people who aren't either man or woman. Point being, the genitals don't make the person.I don't presume this slight to be intentional in the least. But like the conversation above points out, the marginalization of one group does not automatically make a member of that group sympathetic to the marginalization of another group (although I think it should). Given the statements wundergeek makes on that topic, I should think blog wouldn't want to fall into that trap.My apologies if it sounds like I was spoiling for a fight. I've been through this enough I could practically write this comment in my sleep.

  26. Alan De Smet says:

    >Tim said, "but a catchy cover will certainly get people interested enough to investigate."I agree in general, but disagree with the implication that an underdressed (in context) woman on the cover is catchy. It's so pervasive it's not distinct, and thus not catchy. You can only see so many different midriff, cleavage, and thigh baring outfits before they run together. Seela and Kyra are distinct. They certainly caught my eye!Someone investigating based on a catchy but non-representative cover is more likely to be investigating from the wrong mindset. Even if subconsciously, there will be disappointment when the book doesn't deliver what the cover promised. Maybe the benefit from more people investigating outweighs the negative association, but I'm doubtful.

  27. wundergeek says:

    >Renee: Thanks for your comments. They're definitely welcome here. I'll admit that I was brought up in an incredibly conservative, white, and Catholic part of the country. I've done my best to leave that baggage behind, but I honestly hadn't thought about how my words would affect trans individuals. I guess that's MY privilege rearing its ugly head. As a straight, white, middle-class Christian I won't deny that I have my fair share. Thanks for speaking up.

  28. >I posted some of my own thoughts and support on my blog here: http://synapserpg.com/blog/?p=945Interested in your thoughts.

  29. Renee says:

    >@ wundergeek Thanks, and no problem. I love your blog (Paul turned me on to it, fyi) and wish these weren't the first substantial comments I was able to leave. 99% of the time it's me sitting here in front of my keyboard silently nodding affirmation (side note: I'm a contributor at a fairly minor feminist blog…I've wanted to link to you at different times, but wasn't sure how you'd feel about that). At any rate, I need to find reasons to comment more often, even if it's just to voice support. It's easy to feel alone in a hobby like this, when everything you see is so utterly compromised by sexism and misogyny.Also, don't beat yourself up too much. We all carry baggage. I'm not Christian and I didn't grow up in a particularly conservative environment, yet I struggle ferociously with getting non-binary language right because it's really easy for me, while advocating for my own needs (which are pretty binary), to forget that when I talk about "trans" I'm not just talking about trans men or trans women…I'm talking about an experience, and that experience is shared by people who don't identify as either male or female. At the end of the day, we all just want to be appreciated as something more than a set of genitals with arms and legs attached, but it's freaking hard when that's the crap that's been shoved down our necks from the moment an ultrasound was able to take a picture of our privates.

  30. mikemonaco says:

    >Well, I'm a guy with a healthy interest in sex and I have certainly been put off by cheesecake RPG art. There are game books I don't even pick up at the store because of ridiculous anime cheescake. It's embarrassing and looks like something a fourteen year old might want to wack off to but not something for adults. I can't say I'm a Paizo customer though either, I don't play Pathfinder or WotC editions of D&D and I don't buy modules period.I don't mind seeing skin in art but it should make some kind of sense. It's funny, though, I see all kinds of art by guys that is not cheesecake juvenilia. Maybe it would be worthwhile to hire artists who have something other than comic books as a reference point for art. Just saying.Similarly I'm often embarrassed by/for certain blogs that use a lot of cheesecake art. One of the best D&D-related blogs out there is "Playing D&D with porn stars" and read it DESPITE the occasional softcore pics, but I'm probably in the minority.

  31. wundergeek says:

    >Greg: I was nodding in agreement throughout your post, but I'm not sure I have much intelligent to add. I, too, absolutely adore Joss Whedon for creating female characters who are strong and well-rounded and who actually can pass the Bechdel Test(!).Renee: If you want to link to anything I say here, feel free. I realize that the focus and tone that I take here might not always be useful to larger conversations about feminism, but if there are things that you think other people might find useful then definitely make use of them. Also, thanks for the support. I've gotten more support than backlash so far, which is encouraging.Mike: There are a lot of great artists out there doing fantasy art that doesn't use cheesecake, both male and female. That being said, I'd personally like to see more female artists featured in game books. When I walk through Artists Alley at GenCon, the men always have nicer booths, more name recognition, and MUCH better spots than 90% of the female artists there.

  32. lemuriapress says:

    >Eva Widermann is one of the better female fantasy artists out there, and Paizo contracts with her extensively.See also Julie Dillon.–Erik

  33. bobfeather says:

    >Remo said "What I find funny is: Pathfinder *does* a male character who belongs to one of those "charisma classes" — the bard. Why is the sorcerer's charisma "sexy" but the bard's isn't? In case the bard was female, would said bard be "unsexy" the same way the male bard on the core book is?" You obviously haven't seen my wife's reaction to Lem, then."He looks like a man who knows exactly what he wants and how to get it, and that's OK by me.""He can take me up Bag End any time!"Seriously, though, I think artists (sub?)consciously pull back from portraying halflings and gnomes in a sexual manner, as their size makes them easy to mistake for children.Lem's got his Noddy Holder mutton-chops, and Gimble had his Uncle Sam beard, so you could get away with more.But the female short folk may just veer too close to the line for some. If you're a gamer, you know that Lidda, and now Lini, are full adults, but folk outside the fandom will give you some strange looks if you're seen eying them up.

  34. >(Hi, I work for Paizo!)I think part of the issue with trying to make Lem sexy is that he's a halfling, halflings are child-sized, and we don't want to come too close to a sexualized "child" image.

  35. wundergeek says:

    >Sean: And I appreciate that. I know whenever I see cleavage on gnomes in WoW it gives me the shivers. I mean, brr.

  36. Anonymous says:

    >MR Reynolds- Thank you for not giving us halfling cheesecake. As you note, it could get squicky in a hurry.Oh, and thanks for the furry Hobbit feet. No more 'is that supposed to be a gnome or a hafling' problem. I'm a bit surprised y'all didn't give the gnomes big schnozzes while you were at it. :)-Ewan Cummins

  37. Faduche says:

    >Is the issue any cheesecake art at all? Or is the issue an overabundance of cheesecake art? I've been a gamer since my sergeant in the Army got me into it back in 2000, and while I like the Seelahs of the world, clad in shining armor, I also like my Conans and Amris. I want to see my barbarians half or three quarters naked with toned abs and and rippling muscles. I don't like the implication that having even a good chunk of cheese/beefcake art is somehow detrimental to the hobby as a whole. It doesn't dominate (at Paizo) by any means, and focusing on it seems almost a 'mountain of molehill' approach. The makeup and clothing industry actively try to make women feel terrible about how they look so they will buy their products. Raging over tits and ass in fantasy artwork…even if the entire RPG industry (not just Paizo but everyone else) capitulated tomorrow and refused to post flesh-showing characters, you'd still have 99.999% of what's left in various media to deal with.To sum it up, I like the humanoid body, and I enjoy sexy characters of both genders as artwork. I also like more conventional and less sensational pieces. Paizo gives me a good mix of all of that.

  38. wundergeek says:

    >Faduche: For clarity's sake, I'm not against all sexy art ever in games. I'm against the inequality of depictions. There exists in game art a diversity of male body types that doesn't exist for women. That's all I want – a diversity of depictions! I'm totally cool with that diversity including sexy/cheesecake art. (If that's not clear, then check out this post where I explain it better: http://gomakemeasandwich.blogspot.com/2010/12/just-for-record.html)

  39. morobrany says:

    >Thanks for writing this. It's an interesting discussion and it brings me back.By the way, I'm Kevin Andrew Murphy, one of Paizo's contributors. (I've done the webfiction "The Secret of the Rose and Glove" and some adventure path fiction as well.)Anyway, part of why this brings me back is that this is what I did my anthropology thesis on over twenty years ago. The title of that was "Sexism and Racism: The Myth of D&D." There should still be a copy of it on file at that UC Santa Cruz library, but a nutshell of my conclusions from that was that D&D was set up to reflect not the actual mythology of the world but the mythology of white middle class male America, down to halflings being the Mexican gardeners and dishwashers (a trope which has stuck around through editions, unfortunately, though thankfully we've gotten away from the half-orcs being written with African-American dialect like they were in an old issue of Dragon, or the 1st ed Monster Manual talking about orcs horrible kinky hair). I actually went through the 1st ed books and counted images of races and sexes depicted, did surveys of gamers and all the rest, and basically concluded that benighted as it was, the gaming field was getting better, and it has.Obviously it's not perfect, but I just wanted to let you know that a lot of us in the field have been aware of this for some time and have been working on making things more egalitarian. (There was an effort at White Wolf when I was writing for them to actively alternate between genders when giving character examples so as to appeal equally to both sexes.)

  40. wundergeek says:

    >Kevin: It's always nice to hear from the people in the industry who don't think I'm spouting complete nonsense here! Myself, I didn't get into tabletop until 3rd Ed, but I know even just since then I've seen an improvement. Definitely Paizo has been hugely important to improved depictions of minorities. But at the same time, it's disappointing that that improvement hasn't been more substantial wrt women. It makes me sad that "women are people" is still a controversial statement in some portions of the gaming world.

  41. morobrany says:

    >The improvement is actually far more substantial than it might seem. The 1st ed Player's Handbook, in their character portraits section, had one insipid looking elven sorceress surrounded by five males: the human, half-elf, half-orc, gnome and dwarf. That was pretty much the only PC option shown for women, and the female NPCs were pretty much a lamia, a sylph, a succubus and a marilith demon–basically the cheesecake monsters. It wasn't until Paizo did Hook Mountain that anyone did a scary ogress (that being Mammy Graul) like there was in folklore. Before then? You'd think the ogres were some sort of evil men's retreat since you never saw an ogress.With the transition of editions, PC female characters have about 50% representation now, and are also depicted in a good number of the martial class as well. Admittedly there are some cheesecake costumes, but then there are some beefcake ones as well.

  42. wundergeek says:

    >Mobrany: Sure there's been improvement. I'm not denying that! But go check out my article in which I did actual counts of figures in the core 4E books: http://pelgranepress.com/?p=3501Women account for only 40% of all figures. And yet 80% of all suggestively attired figures are women! Wizards is doing better for itself than, say, Blizzard. But they still have a long way to go!

  43. boredom says:

    Your little tantrum amused me. Many men like to look at the female form even if, or rather especially, if it has been distorted to represent something like ‘Seoni,’ the sorceress iconic in the Pathfinder source books.
    If your mad because you don’t look like the women in these pictures and don’t feel like you should be held up to that standard, than I have a bit of advice…get over it. I don’t look like the over muscled hulks depicted in 90% of fantasy artwork, Pathfinder or otherwise, and I can still appreciate the game and artwork. For that matter take a look at the rogue or cleric iconics. These two characters don’t fit into your attention grabbing rant…must be why they aren’t mentioned.

  44. wundergeek says:

    Hey wow. It’s the “all feminists are shambling, drooling horrors who are mad because no man wants them” argument. How unbelievably original.

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