Magic the Gathering: Part 1.5 – male versus female mages

Preamble: This is a bit of a tangent, but not really

All right. It’s been too long in coming, but after the debate that erupted in the comments after my first post about M:TG my husband suggested comparing male mages and female mages so that I could compare apples to apples and see if mages really are more passive and to see if there was a difference between gender depictions just among mages. There was just one problem: I had to go through and count all over again.

See, when I initially did the counts I only tallied totals. What he suggested, while a great idea, required going back and recording variables for each figure individually – a much bigger task! While I was at it, I also added a variable called “no class” for figures with no discernable hero archetype; FIgures without a class comprised a large percentage of all figures and I wanted to see if there were any interesting trends to be observed by looking at classless figures. All of this has been a lot of work, what with the re-counting and the fiddling with Excel formulas and the interpretation. Add to this the previously-mentioned decrease in time I have in which to work on research for this blog and that is the result of the radio silence. I apologize folks, but the posts that involve math always take the longest. (Hey, I majored in Fine Arts.)

The numbers I’m looking at today only involve cards from my husband’s collection of cards from the mid-90’s, which is why this is Part 1.5, since this is not quite a tangent but also doesn’t compare the old with the new. As long as it took to put these numbers together, the thought of going back and counting the new M11 set all over again makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a spork. So I’m not going to.

Results:

[note: the charts didn’t compress too well, so if the numbers are hard to read on your screen, click through to the larger version that will be much easier to read.]

As with looking at the set as a whole, the comparison of male and female figures who are mages displays clear sexist trends:

Women comprise only slightly more than 30% of all mages in the set. Interestingly, female mages are very slightly more active than their male counterparts by a small margin (4%). However, male mages are still more likely to be fully covered. And, unsurprisingly, the majority of suggestive depictions are female – 43% of female mages in this set are depicted as suggestive, accounting for a little more than 60% of suggestive mages overall. (Although, it still deserves mention that this is far better than other areas of gaming where around 80-95% of suggestive depictions are female.)

What is interesting is when the numbers for figures depicted as mages are compared with averages for the entire set regardless of class:

In the overall set, women actually account for a smaller percentage of figures than with the mages. Also, in the overall set the average woman is slightly less active than female mages and slightly more passive (or neutral), which would seem to disprove my hypothesis that female mages would be more passive than other non-mage females in the set.

Now there was something else I hadn’t thought to examine in the old set initially – figures with no discernible class archetype, which account for a large portion of all counted figures:

The proportion of female figures is roughly the same as with mages – again women make up a bit more than 30% of all figures with no class. However, while male and female mages displayed very similar rates of active and neutral poses, female figures with no class are significantly less active than their male counterparts, with less than 30% of all active figures with no class being female. Female classless figures are also less covered than the males with less that 40% of all fully covered classless figures. (Though, interestingly, female classless figures are very slightly less suggestive than female mages.)

What is most striking though when you look at the class archetype (or lack thereof) as a percentage of total representation by gender. The mage archetype accounts for a larger percentage of females than males, though the difference is pretty small with 23% of all male figurs counting as mages as compared to 29% of females. That’s not terribly exciting, I know. But consider the difference in depictions of figures with no class. Not only are female figures with no class less active and less covered than their male counterparts, they also comprise a much larger percentage of all figures; male classless figures accounted for only 31% of all male figures while female classless figures weighed in at a whopping 44% of all female figures! That’s almost half of all female figures!

This is important, because in the majority of instances, hero characters in M:TG and in fantasy art in general will fall into a discernible class archetype. The have such a large number of female figures, who are already vastly in the minority, be depicted as peasants, victims, seductresses, townsfolk, or other non-heroic roles sends a very clear message about the unimportance of women.

Something else I found bothersome is what happens when you look at figures with no class and mages together. These two categories combined account for only 54% of all male figues. Considering that the thief archetype represents a tiny proportion of figures for both genders, the lion’s share of the remaining 46% will be fighters. Contrast this will female figures where the two categories combined make up 73% of all female figures, leaving a little less than 27% of all female figures to be fighters once you take out the handful of female thieves.

And here’s where I reach the end of my ability to point at numbers and venture out into Opinion Land. To me, that difference feels significant, and I really, really don’t buy the argument that the difference in numbers of representations of male and female fighters is due to “historical” or “biological” accuracy. In a universe where dragons, elementals, gods, angels, and magicians exist, the “accuracy” argument doesn’t hold much water.

Also, women don’t have to be kitted out in full plate male to be fighters (though I always do love good images of non-boobular female plate mail.) The fact that women are not as strong as men doesn’t make them any less in their potential to be fighters; there is no law that says in order to be proficient in fighting that one has to be heavily armored and rely on brute strength. And, frankly, in a fantasy universe it’s easy to wave your hands and say ‘well in THIS universe there is no social stigma against women pursuing a career as a fighter’. It seems ridiculous to rely on the “accuracy” argument to back up the under-representation of women in any kind of fantasy art when fantasy as a genre is based on being not realistic.

Anyhow. That’s my rant for today. Since I’ve had my fill of graphs and numbers for quite a while, I’ll be going back to looking at actual images from both sets as originally planned, which should take much less time to finish since it won’t involve numbers.

51 thoughts on “Magic the Gathering: Part 1.5 – male versus female mages

  1. A few comments to start off:

    Also, in the overall set the average woman is slightly less active than female mages and slightly more passive (or neutral), which would seem to disprove my hypothesis that female mages would be more passive than other non-mage females in the set.

    I wonder if this might have something to do with the fact that you classified “Magic Knight” characters (who carry weapons, but are shown casting a spell) as mages. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if men were more likely to be shown either as a pure fighter or pure mage, while female melee fighters are more likely to be shown with magical augmentations than their male counterparts and hence fall into the Mage class instead while still retaining the more active poses.

    And, from later on:
    Also, women don’t have to be kitted out in full plate male to be fighters (though I always do love good images of non-boobular female plate mail.) The fact that women are not as strong as men doesn’t make them any less in their potential to be fighters; there is no law that says in order to be proficient in fighting that one has to be heavily armored and rely on brute strength.

    This makes me wonder a little bit about the definitions you’re using for Fighter and Rogue — I’m not really up on the D&D-like archetypes, but aren’t melee characters who rely on stats other than brute strength usually classified as Rogues? Or are you defining Rogue by the use of ranged weapons (since you mentioned all archers are classified as Rogues in the other article)? If it’s the former, the gender/archetype stats would probably still end up skewed even if they added more female melee fighters.

    • The idea that Melee fighters, at least the ones that use swords, rely on great strength is itself flawed though. You don’t need herculean strength to stab someone in the face with a pointy stick, it certainly helps but it’s not required. Even the whole ‘women aren’t as strong as men thing’ doesn’t actually hold up very well in my experience, every person is capable of developing muscle, I have yet to see the limitations of this actually tested. And really isn’t it more about how our muscles develop and not actually some huge gap in strength between the sexes?

      • Err, I kind of neglected to make a /point/ in my post😄 I guess I just wanted to say that even those D and D like archetypes are sort of silly in practice all around and don’t make for good definitions of what a Fighter is. It’s far too restrictive and badly oversimplified (And it honestly makes me wonder if it isn’t overblown and narrowly focused on strength the way it is to exclude women from the Fighter/Warrior class in the first place. Unless one is hacking off limbs left and right then I don’t think you need Hulk-like strength.) I think that’s what Wundergeek was saying.

        • Heh, well, I’ll agree with you about the archetypes being kind of silly when real life is taken into consideration. I do see the point of separating out strength-users from speed-and-skill users from the gameplay perspective, but the former is unnecessarily idolized for little reason besides seeming more “manly.”

          And with the right weapon, even someone of normal strength could easily go around dismembering their enemies — sharpness and blade geometry make up for a lot. 😉 You might need to be the Hulk to do it with an axe, but it shouldn’t be all that difficult for someone using the local equivalent of a katana (unless the opponent is armored, in which case one should be aiming for the gaps anyway).

          • Mm, well you have a point on the gameplay perspective but yeah I agree with you it’s probably the idolization of it that bothers me the most. It gets laid on so thick that it kind of became ‘being a warrior/personwhowieldsthepointystick is a manly thing’. When it’s just not.

        • @Lilith: “Err, I kind of neglected to make a /point/ in my post😄 I guess I just wanted to say that even those D and D like archetypes are sort of silly in practice all around”

          I just wanted to say that whilst these archetypes still exist in d&d they are most definetly no longer the be all and end all, in fourth edition at least there are several classes of melee combatant for whom strength is not a major concern beyond being able to carry your armor/gear. Most of them rely on mental stats more than physical: charisma/wisdom/intelligence although I will admit they tend to be arcane/divine/psionic power classes, dexterity based classes tend to be strikers (sick-high damage and accuracy but a lil fragile).

          As for your last part, it depends on what you define as a fighter, I guess? Do you mean the classic class of ‘Fighter’ or do you mean ‘general melee’ combatant. if the former, I’d say its a holdover from the chainmail origins of d&d if the latter, well thats just not true, sorry.

          @Wundergeek: I’m awful at statistics but I wonder what the accepted deviation would be for a limited sample pool?
          On another note, sorry if I’ve been spamming your email, your address somehow (I suspect i’m an idiot) ended up on my d&d mailing list and you might find a load of invites and correspondance for my campaign sessions in your spam filter.
          Ya can come if you want, but it seems an awful long flight for a 4 hour session😛

          • Oh? I did not know about fourth edition switching things up, sounds like steps in the right direction to me. Glad to know they’re putting more variety in now. And yes I meant the more traditional class of the Fighter when I talked about it up there.

          • If someone else wants to work with my numbers, I’m more than happy to turn them over. There is, unfortunately, a limit to how far I’m willing to go with this. I did major in Fine Art, after all, and not math.

            (And no, I didn’t get anything actually.)

    • I wonder if this might have something to do with the fact that you classified “Magic Knight” characters (who carry weapons, but are shown casting a spell) as mages. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if men were more likely to be shown either as a pure fighter or pure mage, while female melee fighters are more likely to be shown with magical augmentations than their male counterparts and hence fall into the Mage class instead while still retaining the more active poses.

      You’re probably on to something, but that will be something I’ll leave aside for another day.

      This makes me wonder a little bit about the definitions you’re using for Fighter and Rogue — I’m not really up on the D&D-like archetypes, but aren’t melee characters who rely on stats other than brute strength usually classified as Rogues? Or are you defining Rogue by the use of ranged weapons (since you mentioned all archers are classified as Rogues in the other article)? If it’s the former, the gender/archetype stats would probably still end up skewed even if they added more female melee fighters.

      There are plenty of light or no armor fighter classes in D&D that are not considered rogues. Druids are definitely fighters, but only wear up to medium armor and shifter druids tend not to wear armor at all (since they lose the armor bonus when they shift anyway). Monks are also fighters and they wear no armor at all.

      Generally the criteria I used to determine if a melee character is a light/no-armor fighter or a rogue is weapon size and “sneakiness”. If they’re toting a huge honking sword and/or attacking head-on, then I classified them as a fighter. If they’re wielding daggers and/or being sneaky-like, then I classified them as rogues.

      • There are plenty of light or no armor fighter classes in D&D that are not considered rogues. Druids are definitely fighters, but only wear up to medium armor and shifter druids tend not to wear armor at all (since they lose the armor bonus when they shift anyway). Monks are also fighters and they wear no armor at all.

        Huh. I was always under the impression that Druids were kind of magey (rather than pure fighters), due to the shifting. Shows what I know about D&D. 😄;

        Generally the criteria I used to determine if a melee character is a light/no-armor fighter or a rogue is weapon size and “sneakiness”. If they’re toting a huge honking sword and/or attacking head-on, then I classified them as a fighter. If they’re wielding daggers and/or being sneaky-like, then I classified them as rogues.

        Okay, that works. So, you’re basically classifying all characters who don’t expect to face much close-range retribution as Rogues, whether they’re keeping themselves out of trouble by staying out of their enemies’ range or just sneaking around where their enemy can’t see them until it’s to late — is that it? I can see how that’d be a useful category to keep track of, considering the reputation of subterfuge.

  2. Once again, this is an interesting piece. However, I still think it would be better if some examination was made of whether these results are statistically significant. There are some quite close results here that could possibly be the result of blind chance. The only way to prove otherwise is to do some statistical analysis.

    Secondly, why did you choose a 100% stacked bar for most of these graphs? It doesn’t really seem to make sense since a a lot of the data you are comparing is from separate populations of differing sizes.

    • I am not a statistician. It was my view that my husband’s collection, being quite huge and having been amassed over several years, was sufficiently randomized to comprise a mostly representative sample of mid-90’s M:TG cards, recognizing of course that there was going to be some error. What is important to me is to get close enough to point out trends, not to get hung up on numerical accuracy. Just as I am not a statistician, I’m not a professional researcher and there are limits to how much time I’m willing to spend on this.

      As for the stacked bar, I used it because the under-representation of women makes it difficult to compare apples with apples otherwise. Often for categories like “suggestive depictions”, the actual number of female suggestive characters would be lower than the number of male suggestive characters – just because the number of women was so low to begin with. I found it useful for myself to graph it this way so that I could say “aha, well out of suggestive depictions, here’s how many are female”.

      If someone thinks it would be more useful in another format, again, I’m happy to turn over my numbers to someone else and let them massage them to their hearts content. Myself, I’m done. Done done done. Stick a fork in me.

  3. I’m a bit leery about the “no discernible class” thing, because Wizards templates the shit out of everything in Magic. The problem is that Wizards also invents new templates by the truckload, (It took years for them to explain what the hell a Lhurgoyf is, for example) and it also likes to fuck with class expectations. What class is this woman, for example? The first guess would be some sort of swashbuckler, right? The answer is “healer”. White mage and everything.

    That’s not even getting into the fact that Magic runs on the “Dominions”. model where magical prowess can function as a form of physical prowess. (Red, green, and white have spells that specifically augment battlefield prowess, and black can do anything if it has enough life and corpses) That’s not even getting into magic that’s specifically designed to do this. Braids, for instance, realized using your own self-induced schizophrenia to magically warp reality is a lot harder to counter if you alter yourself instead of Doing Chainer’s thing, and beat down a blue mage entirely through knife-fighting literally powered by madness. She spent the next six books doing things like murdering people with stilettos by means of time-accelerated wire-fu headstomping and flying around swords by rapidly changing her personal gravity. (in addition to the monster army that she literally vomited into existence. She’s pretty much my favorite character)

    Do you count someone that uses magic to punch you faster a mage or a fighter? That distinction isn’t really made in Magic. Some specialize in spells, yes, but pretty much every character that’s a big deal has magically augmented physical prowess. (Gerard Capashen, Nicol Bolas, and the entire category of “Phyrexian” being the biggest)

    • Go back and re-read the criteria. Any person casting a spell, be they in plate mail, light armor, or no armor at all, was counted as a magician.

      • Yeah, that’s the problem that I have with your criteria, because anyone important at all in Magic knows some kind of, well, magic. This guy is a mage class by your specifications for god’s sake!

        I’m not saying that stupid sexist stuff hasn’t happened, okay? (Sisay ends up as a damsel in distress, Xantcha and Belbe totally got fridged, and Hanna didn’t even have the excuse of having dudes killed off with her, just off the top of my head from the first decade of this game!) I’m saying that any system where This woman is counted as “magician” doesn’t make any god damned sense!

          • I think there’s a bit of a miscommunication here — Sam asked “Do you count someone that uses magic to punch you faster a mage or a fighter?” as a general question (and not just in reference to what the character is doing in a particular image), and took your response as a full “yes” (even though your answer only referred to the action of the character in the image, not the generality). The character Sam linked, presumably, uses magic frequently in supplementary materials, and would therefore be a “mage” if mage meant “uses magic in fights, regardless of fighting style.”

            • As the whole point of this exercise is depictions, I only count someone as a mage if they are visibly casting magic. You can’t count on someone to know from looking at an image all of the backstory or supplementary mechanics that might alter what archetype the person actually is.

          • “I would totally have classified her as fighter.”

            …Did you look at her effect at all? Or check the fluff where:

            “[…] she anchored him in the physical world by a green healing spell, then burned him to ash with her Keldon magic. “

            You aren’t familiar with the Magic universe. That means you don’t really get how magic works in this universe and naturally assumed that it works like D&D because, duh, same company. While that would be reasonable, it’s also wrong. Now, I’ve been using Dominions as a metaphor to explain how magical power means greater physical power, but I’m getting the impression that you don’t know that either, so I’ll try to explain this with another analogy: You know of tabletop rpgs, yes? Are you familiar with Exalted: Well, in Magic, a good chunk of Green spells are Strength, dexterity, or stamina charms, while a good chunk of red is melee and athletics charms, and white could be modelled with warfare charms. Black does everything as long as you pay a health level. Blue’s the only thing that makes a strict division between magical power and physical prowess, and that’s it’s defining feature. An exception that proves the rule. (A better metaphor would be Nobilis aspect vs. domain miracles, but I’m not sure if you’re into smaller press stuff than the big two)

            This is why Toshiro Umezawa, for example becomes a much better swordsman through use of magic instead of D&D’s traditional dividing of potency: most forms of magic can be used with extreme efficiency as a fantasy analog for combat drugs. (not that there aren’t already combat drugs in the Magic universe already. Yawgmoth and Urza basically had a 5,000 year One-upmanship contest in the field of douchebaggery. Urza even made rocket launchers.)

            “Punching someone hard in the face” is not mutually exclusive with “knowing awesome magic” in this setting. It’s actually the opposite, (Leshrac’s fight with Nicol Bolas in Future Sight being the supreme example) so any heavyweight character is going to know magic. That’s why classifying on a binary scale of fighter or mage is absurd. It would be like categorizing D&D characters as “Priest or Caster”. Your system is fine for WoW or D&D, but it breaks dfown completely here because Magic has no mind/body distinction. (This is also literally true: Yawgmoth was able to stop Dyfed from destroying Phyrexia by “[stabbing] her in the skull with a powerstone blade that scrambled her brain, preventing her from defending herself and from switching off her immortality or planeswalking away.”

            Now if you’re just judging by the cards only, that’s cool, but it still doesn’t excuse the fact that you looked at a magic-generating creature and said, without a hint of irony, “I would totally have classified her as fighter,” when your system explicitly prohibits that designation to anything with magic.

            • I’m only looking at images here, Sam. Not everyone who looks at this stuff has your detailed knowledge of the Magic universe. And in a way, the backstory of the Magic universe is sort of irrelevant to what I’m doing. I’m concerned only with the images on the cards. I can reasonably assign variables to images; I can’t do that with fluff. And by concentrating only on images, I can draw comparisons between Magic and other areas of gaming, which – again – I can’t do by looking at mechanics, backstory, or fluff.

              • Fair enough, although I still can’t see how you’d need specialized knowledge to infer that “add {R}{R} to your mana pool” indicates that there’s magic going on. Perhaps I’m blinded by familiarity.

  4. I agree that there should be more female characters. With the caveat that I don’t know much about Magic the Gathering, it doesn’t seem justifiable.

    I really, really don’t buy the argument that the difference in numbers of representations of male and female fighters is due to “historical” or “biological” accuracy. In a universe where dragons, elementals, gods, angels, and magicians exist, the “accuracy” argument doesn’t hold much water.

    there is no law that says in order to be proficient in fighting that one has to be heavily armored and rely on brute strength.

    That’s just where I’ll have to differ with you.
    There are physical differences between the sexes – statistical, biological, physiological, whichever way you want to cut it – that are fundamental. And no it isn’t just brute strength, it’s also speed, probably the two most important factors for physical combat. Testosterone & estrogen have a large effect on physical condition.
    I have no problem with using magic to balance things out but again, you and I seem to differ on that.
    If anything, the average fantasy universe lessens these differences in the same way that they have magic and elves, so I couldn’t call that a sexist move. They could be 100% blind to these differences I suppose but
    1) Does this serve either gender particularly well? It just seems to create homogeneity for the sake of it and represents neither.
    2) Does it make the universe more relate-able or less? Just because you’re in a fictional universe, doesn’t mean you have a carte blanche because ultimately at some point people aren’t going to suspend disbelief or feel that it appeals to them.

    On point 2, obviously this is a subjective thing and this is where creators try to cater to their audience but let me elaborate by contrasting with an example. Again, I don’t know the Magic universe but with a large majority of fantasy universes, while you do have women who are generally physically stronger and more involved in combat than in reality, you also see – despite the huge range of creatures and races – a complete lack of colour: everyone is caucasian. In other words, you see a reduction in ethnic diversity, compared to reality, to just about zero. With the women I couldn’t really argue that the change in strength was sexist since it is usually enhancing or increasing their abilities, but I could certainly argue that the elimination of colour was racist.

    • “There are physical differences between the sexes – statistical, biological, physiological, whichever way you want to cut it – that are fundamental. And no it isn’t just brute strength, it’s also speed, probably the two most important factors for physical combat. Testosterone & estrogen have a large effect on physical condition.”

      Such as? What kind of large effect? I’ve never heard of that. It doesn’t mean much if you don’t have at least links or actual cites to reinforce these supposed facts (and you kind of are phrasing them as if they are), because otherwise it just flies over people’s heads. You would need something that backs up the idea that these differences are so huge that they make such a significant gap between the professions in which each sex should be in.

      I admit I don’t really think women are as weak in comparison to men as you seem to be making them out to be, and I feel you are falling back on stereotypical ideas. Women not being involved in combat situations in real life have less to do with their physical capability and more to do with the sexism they face in plenty of situations. These things should be kept in mind and within context. Like the social pressure on women to not outstrip men for the sake of men’s egos (don’t want to ’emasculate’ them), or the idea that a woman who does pursue physical strength is often further marginalized for doing so (‘butch’, ‘tomboy’, ‘mannish’) . As stated above, I also think brute strength is overly emphasized and far too simplistic to be used in most combat situations in which there are tons of other factors.

      • Ah, one more thing since I missed it. “If anything, the average fantasy universe lessens these differences in the same way that they have magic and elves, so I couldn’t call that a sexist move.”

        I would definitely call pigeonholing women into ranged/magic-users (on the shaky ground that being a Warrior is all about brute strength, which it isn’t) a pretty sexist move:\

        • I would definitely call pigeonholing women into ranged/magic-users

          I always prefer playing as ranged/magic users in games – I don’t understand how they’re supposedly lesser. Surely it’s just personal preference? And since the stats show 30 mages out of 128 female figures, how is that pigeon-holing? If I remember from the last post, there was still a very large portion of females who were also fighters.

          • I always prefer playing as ranged/magic users in games – I don’t understand how they’re supposedly lesser. And since the stats show 30 mages out of 128 female figures, how is that pigeon-holing? If I remember from the last post, there was still a very large portion of females who were also fighters.

            It’s not that ranged/magic users are lesser, as much as limiting women to those roles suggests that they’re not capable of taking melee roles, too (which is untrue).

            And I don’t think there’s much of a problem with the mage stat on its own — it’s the “not a hero archetype” figure that really suggests that something problematic is going on.

            • I’m sorry but when were we ever talking about your personal preference, Ashdcuk? How is that relevant? Uh, also, when I did say those profession types were lesser? I made no such implication. I obviously made the point that /pigeonholing/ women into those roles was the problem in, as you put it, ‘average fantasy universe’. Either you’re talking about Magic specifically or ‘the average fantasy universes’, I’d like it if you could just pick one and stay on point or else you’re just going to be further confusing. In ‘the average fantasy universe’ there is that pigeonholing that occurs and it is sexism.

              From your first post, looking over it again, it sounds like you’re trying to /encourage/ the exclusion of women from those roles because you personally don’t feel it’d be as interesting or ‘appealing’ if they were on a more equal ground of representation. Honestly, would the world end if it was more balanced? If your suspension of disbelief isn’t already thrown off by Dragons, Magic, and Hellspawn then why would more women being in frontline combative roles be such a leap of imagination? Are you sure you aren’t relying on stereotypes or exaggerations when it comes to the differences between strength or conflating strength or combat capability? (Your first post up there makes it seem like fantasy universes give women strength/capability beyond any women in reality honestly.

      • Such as? What kind of large effect? I’ve never heard of that.

        Really? Have you ever studied biology? The effects of testosterone and estrogen are pretty well documented. I found this at the first try: “Male skeletal muscles are generally faster and have higher maximum power output than female muscles. Conversely, during repeated contractions, female muscles are generally more fatigue resistant and recover faster. ” It’s worth noting the last part as well.

        Testosterone is also a well known performance enhancer for a number of athletic abilities including sprinting. It also has a huge bearing on aggression (which is why men tend to be more aggressive than women and another reason why they are more likely to gravitate towards more directly confrontational roles).

        I agree that society has a role but I’m certainly not stereotyping.

        • “We studied the role of estrogen receptor- (ER) in this gender difference by comparing contractile function of soleus (mainly slow-twitch) and extensor digitorum longus (fast-twitch) muscles isolated from ER-deficient (ER–/–) and wild-type mice of both sexes.”

          Mice. I don’t think mice are humans. Possibly, a more accurate comparison would be to compare say humans at their peak. Like in the olympics for example. Your first try was an unconvincing one.

          • Also~ Just because something is widely believed does not mean it is true or factual. So something being ‘well known’ also does not make it true. You’re going to have to be more convincing than that.

            “which is why men tend to be more aggressive than women and another reason why they are more likely to gravitate towards more directly confrontational roles”

            And yes, I believe you are stereotyping. Men tend to be more aggressive because our society entitles them to aggression and largely encourages it. For women, it’s the opposite, social pressure is on them to remain out of the way, docile, and decorative. You seem to know little of social factors.

    • I hate to burst your bubble there, bucko, but speed has absolutely nothing to do with testosterone, my friend. Nothing. Trust me. As someone who has been studying tae kwon do for almost 14 years, I think I have a little knowledge about the subject of physical combat. And YES I GET IT MEN ARE STRONGER. But faster? Speed has nothing to do with gender, sweetie. Not at all.

      • Ok, I can see I’ve rubbed you the wrong way but I made my points completely dispassionately. As for what you said, I refer to my replies above.

    • There are physical differences between men and women, but they tend to be greatly exaggerated, especially where this topic is concerned. Men are generally stronger than women, but that doesn’t mean women are weak. Women are more than strong enough and capable enough to go 1 on 1 in a sword fight, wear plate armor, and do all of the physically demanding things required of melee fighters.

      Omitting women from certain fantastical professions based on misconceptions about their physical prowess is by definition sexist, as is the assumption that seeing a woman doing physical, aggressive, or ‘manly’ things would be unappealing or break the suspension of disbelief for the audience.

      • Omitting women from certain fantastical professions based on misconceptions about their physical prowess is by definition sexist

        Yes, it would be but that’s beside the point because there has been no omission – there should be female fighters and the stats have shown that there are. Nowhere have I advocated omission at all.

        • You were speaking of ‘the average fantasy universe’ (which is, in fact, plenty sexist in the way it pigeonholes women) not of specifically this. So actually it was right on point, you were the one who strayed from it and made it rather general Ashdcuk. O.o

    • Agree with you for the most part Lilith, but remember that magic is basically the trump card of the MtG universe. You can fight without it, but you will never be anything other than a mook. Hell, until recently, we’ve had more male planeswalkers than women for that exact reason. (Gerrard’s the closest to a pure fighter that can actaully deal with the big bads, but that’s kind of undermined by him being the end product of Urza’s five thousand years of magical eugenics program)

      Like I said, Magic’s (storyline!) system is like Dominons’. After the midpoint, the only way to be a better fighter is by becoming a better caster, and the setting doesn’t really ever bother trying to separate those concepts from there. When literally everyone in the world (like in Ravnica, Kamigawa, Lowryn, and Alara, and, fuck it, everything since Mirrodin) knows some kind of magic then asking “why are all the women spellcasters?” becomes absurd.

      As to Ashdcuk, allow me to present some empirical evidence instead of meaningless speculation.

  5. Since I’ve probably pissed off a few people so I’d like to state my points in as clear a way as I can:
    1) I absolutely agree that there should be more female characters.
    2) The statistics for suggestive poses absolutely suggest a sexist bias.

    But where I differ, and it’s the point I made in the original Magic post, is this:

    3) If you’re going to use statistics as evidence of sexist bias, you can’t discard the statistics of reality – ultimately you need a difference between reality and their universe that you can point to. This would then show that the creators have made a choice to change the representation of a gender, race or other group. One of the first things you learn in Statistics is that correlation and cause/effect are not the same thing: in order to have evidence of cause you have to eliminate other reasonable explanations or disprove them. In this case the cause being posited is a sexist tendency on the part of the creators.
    1 possible explanation for the difference in the proportion of mage/fighters in women compared to men is the physical differences (statistically, biologically) between the sexes. Which brings us to…

    4) If you eliminate that explanation by saying that the statistics of reality, biological accuracy, however you want to phrase it…if you say that they are 100% completely irrelevant because this is a fantasy universe and therefore we can do anything, and so the fighter/mage ratio has to be identical for genders, this opens up a whole raft of other arguments. For example, if 50% of the figures aren’t black, this can now be argued as racist. If 50% aren’t gay, this is now evidence of homophobia. If 50% aren’t vegetarian…etc.

    6) I’ll restate a point no-one seemed to have picked up which was illustrating why reality is important in these arguments:

    while you do have women who are generally physically stronger and more involved in combat than in reality, you also see – despite the huge range of creatures and races – a complete lack of colour: everyone is caucasian. In other words, you see a reduction in ethnic diversity

    My original example of race is a cast iron example of making a statistical argument precisely because of the difference between reality and the universe they created. It is an example of a point where we should definitely be questioning the creators and asking why they made this change. Similarly for point 2 and suggestive poses (although that’s a bit harder to measure in reality or anywhere else!) – why did the creators make the women wear a lot less clothes than in reality? Common sense and experience tells us, without the need for a statistical study, that women are not significantly more likely to be walking around in suggestive poses than men are. That is an example of a statistical argument for sexism.

    The two posts, as I read them, were about using the numbers as evidence of sexist tendencies within the Magic universe’s creators. And the numbers certainly show that – there is definitely a statistical argument to be made but it can only be made by considering and comparing with the statistics of reality, which is where the one point about mage/fighter ratios falls down. If you disregard reality then the argument has nothing to do with statistics at all.

    • A couple of points:

      1 possible explanation for the difference in the proportion of mage/fighters in women compared to men is the physical differences (statistically, biologically) between the sexes. Which brings us to…

      I’m not going to disagree with the general physical differences, because I think that would be kind of pointless — men can lift more weight, men can run faster, etc.

      But, I am going to disagree with the idea that women are necessarily less capable as melee fighters because of it. Wundergeek and I both are familiar with Eastern martial arts traditions, in which applying too much strength is as bad as too little, efficient movement is far more important than absolute speed, and the best fighters are far past their physical prime due to the amount of time it took them to gain that experience.

      Game systems, of course, tend to follow the rule that physical strength scales linearly with fighting ability, but if they’re going to do something that unrealistic, they might as well avoid physical limitations on women completely (in fact, I think a lot of them do, in mechanical terms, and then turn around and have fewer female fighters anyway, which is kind of hard to defend).

      For example, if 50% of the figures aren’t black, this can now be argued as racist. If 50% aren’t gay, this is now evidence of homophobia. If 50% aren’t vegetarian…etc.

      …except that, you know, 50% of whatever-nationality-made-the-game aren’t black, gay, or vegetarian. You’d probably get a lot more agreement with that premise if the statistics weren’t so overly exaggerated there. =P

      And, in the case of the latter two, there’s a good chance that sexuality and/or food preference might not be relevant to the portrayal of the characters in the first place. How would you even make a claim that “there are no gays” if none of the characters are ever shown in romantic/sexual situations?

      • the best fighters are far past their physical prime due to the amount of time it took them to gain that experience

        THIS. My second master (I moved to a different country) is in his mid-40s and could school anyone in the school except his father without really thinking about it. My first master was in his mid-60’s when I moved, and everyone in the school lived in terror of him, and he was all of five feet tall. Testosterone, strength, youth – none of those are required to be a truly terrifying melee fighter.

      • …except that, you know, 50% of whatever-nationality-made-the-game aren’t black, gay, or vegetarian. You’d probably get a lot more agreement with that premise if the statistics weren’t so overly exaggerated there. =P

        But that’s exactly my point! I’m not making those points, I’m saying those are ridiculous arguments precisely because you can point to the reality and say that there aren’t that 50% gay people or whatever else. If you say reality is completely irrelevant because it’s fantasy and you can do anything you want, you lose that counter-argument and the point becomes about painting every group homogeneously the same for the sake of it.
        The 50% rule absolutely applies in only 1 case – the number of female characters.

        • …but 50% of whatever-nationality-made-the-game are women! That’s the problem!

          It’s impossible to know how much, if any, of the difference in combatants between men and women would exist independent from societal influence, so that can’t really be used to say anything about a society that we’ve built from the ground up which does not necessarily have the same biases. Suggesting that it’s [i]all[/i] natural is problematic, because if it’s not true, supporting it reduces women’s ability to subvert it.

          On the other hand, the percent of people who are women (a little over 50%) in any society without severe issues is an incontrovertible fact of nature and using that as a rule is unlikely to harm anyone. There’s nothing inconsistent about saying “I want to see representation based on overall population statistics” and rejecting anything that doesn’t do that, even if it uses a different kind of statistics.

          • …but 50% of whatever-nationality-made-the-game are women! That’s the problem!

            Which is why I said: “The 50% rule absolutely applies in only 1 case – the number of female characters.”
            I’m not suggesting that the differences in gender are all natural, society definitely has an influence. But the natural differences are inherent to what makes up men & women. Societal influence on the other hand is extremely hard to quantify or prove. Having a fantasy universe that accounts for the natural difference in genders makes it inaccurate to imply sexist bias on the part of the creators except when you have a comparative set of statistics i.e. those of reality.
            When talking about the mage/fighter ratio and the difference between gender, you can argue that women gravitate towards less directly confrontational/front line roles because of society or because of nature or both. Either way, there is a reasoning for the creators to do that and one possible reasoning is the natural difference between genders. In order to say that it’s sexism, that the universe is a sexist one, you need a way of eliminating the reasonable explanation. Statistical comparison with reality would be one way.

            One side point:

            a society that we’ve built from the ground up which does not necessarily have the same biases.

            The “necessarily” here is key. We have no way of measuring societal bias as opposed to natural ones. It’s possible to imagine a society very different to ours where women our encouraged into combat and men discouraged, for example. But if we don’t go with this version for the universe we’re creating, is that sexism? Just because it’s a made up world, do we suddenly have an obligation to make up a utopian society that is completely free of all bias and prejudice? Would that be realistic or interesting? And how can we prove that this made up society is even completely fair? If we make a society that is more prejudiced than our own (eliminating all people of colour, for example) then that should ring alarm bells and we can use the statistics of reality to point this out – racial population statistics for example. But comparing the roles of women in Magic with our own world and past wars, women seem to play much more of a role in direct combat in the Magic universe so that seems an improvement from our world, not a step back.

            • So basically. ‘Oh my god it’s fantasy why do I have to be fair and equal to everyone? That wouldn’t be /interesting/ and /real/, because obviously making yet another fantasy clone where women are badly represented is so new and fresh!’. Yeah, okay, if people are pissed at I can see why.

              • And FYI, you don’t actually get to tell other people that they have to fill out a form for you to mark something as sexist. If you’re making the majority of women in your fantasy universe mages and backrows while making the majority of men the frontlines and warriors then you’re sending a message. A sexist message, whether intentionally or not.

                That reasoning is flawed, because as people have repeated to you already, it’s not enough of a difference to exclude women from the front lines to such a large extent as various fantasy universes do. It’s not enough of a reason to pigeonhole and you /are/ arguing in support of that whether you want to admit it or not.

          • Quick question – Is there some fluff reason there would be fewer females overall?

            For example, if there are high levels of some variety of chemical or hormone that affects gender selection in the water or air, that would skew the results.

  6. ^
    The difference between man and women warriors?

    On the level we are generally talking about – none actually. The combination of top physical condition and master combat skills, especially armed combat make up for our completely believable typical warrior hero whether man or woman.

    In the broader sense it’s really hard to say, it depends the context I guess. Say: one woman warrior vs. statistical men who never wield a weapon in their life, they just wouldn’t stand a chance.
    In terms of making an army of warriors, the physical difference between men and women wouldn’t be a big thing again since things like: armament, morale, discipline, strategy, tactics, leadership would be far more important. On the other hand with this thing being in equilibrium it seems possible to assume that men warriors would have slight advantage over women ( but hardly a certainty unless put to test).

  7. The thing that jumps out at me the most from these Magic posts is that the Fighter/Mage split is pretty close to even on the female side(44%/50%). A heroic female character in the Magic universe is about as likely to be a fighter as she is a mage. That’s a good thing, IMO.

    On the male side though, the split is more drastic(something like 66%/28% if I remember right?). That strikes me as a little odd. If anything, it seems that in the Magic universe women are equally capable of pursuing physical or cerebral pursuits, and men are stereotyped into the physical. And the physical is clearly not superior to the cerebral in this setting(the game is called Magic, magic is all over the lore, the rules, etc).

    Anyways, that’s just my view as an outsider(HA!). Just because men and women are treated differently, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the women are the ones getting the short end of the stick. In class representation, I think they are doing okay. The “suggestive depictions” stat is the one jumps out as the most problematic, imo.

    • Actually, the overall male vs female figures stat is probably the most problematic, now that I look at it.

  8. So, because we’re talking about the comparative sexism between the old school magic and the new, I figured I’d go through the major female characters, starting with the 90’s stuff. Here’s a non-exhaustive list.

    Serra: A Planeswalker (AKA, Player character). Created Serra’s Realm, an artificial plane (world in the multiverse) that was Magic’s Heaven analog. Created the original angels, as well as the vast majority of angels that are currently known. Most other angels are refinements or copies of her designs. Serra’s Realm was destroyed by Phyrexia, and Urza crushed what was left into a power stone to power his prototype airship. Serra fled to Ulgrotha and fell in love with the local planeswalker there, Feroz. His death pushed her so far into despair that she committed suicide. It’s going to get less cheerful from here. You’ve been warned.

    Xantcha: Phyrexian Newt (think: those pod people from The Matrix) and defective sleeper agent. (Think: the humanoid Cyclons from New BSG. It’s amazing how much stuff was ripped off from this game) NOT a caster, you’ll be happy to know. Joined Urza and helped bail his damn fool ass out of thinking he could take on Phyrexia with merely godlike powers and a dragon mech. Kept him barely functional when he was feeling especially crazy. helped Urza detect other sleeper agents in Dominaria (the main plane of the multiverse). Sucide bombed Gix along with Ratepe when Gix was kicking Urza’s ass. This, to quote the wiki: ” made Gix pause and gave Urza the chance to defeat him.” Urza then used her heartstone (basically a CPU-and-Soul jar that should’ve been a remote kill-switch.) to build his time travelling bling golem Karn.

    Freyalise: Insane xenophobic elf planeswalker (Rest assured that Urza, Crovax, Gerrard, Ertai, Squee, and many other men went just as mad as all these crazy women, so it’s not a hysterical ladies stereotype here, just black magic doing it’s thing) who became worhipped as a god by helping the elves of Llanowar survive the Ice Age that lasted for 2,500 years as a result of Urza magic-nuking his brother into nuclear winter. (this is nowhere near even the top 20 of Urza’s dick moves, FYI) She finally managed to end it with the help of Kristina and a non-walker that no one cares about. She left for a while until Phyrexia invaded Dominaria, and then joined Urza’s Nine Titans to fight them off. Was the only woman on the team not to be murdered by Tevesh Szat being a traitor. (Urza recruited Szat in hopes he’d do this so Urza could use his soul as magical uranium in bombs and not feel guilty about it. #17 dick move) when reality started to fall apart in the Time Spiral block as a posthumous result of Urza’s time fuckery and his student Teferi’s phasing entire continents in and out of existence, Freyalise basically told Teferi to get fucked when he asked for help, and this led indirectly to things getting so bad she had to sacrifice planeswalker spark to unfuck reality. This killed her.

    Kristina of the Woods: Green planeswalker that helped Freyalise thaw Dominaria from the Ice Age. “Accidentally” killed by Tevesh Szat.

    Daria: Teysir’s (not to be confused with Teysa, tottaly different character) prodigy and planeswalker student. Survived the planeswalker war that we never saw because the comic got cancelled. “Accidentally” killed by Tevesh Szat.

    Captain Sisay: Was the Captain of Urza’s afore-mentioned heaven-fueled airship, the Weatherlight. (It even had lasers, bitches!) Is a Woman of Colour, for those interested in that sort of thing. Got captured, which forced Gerrard to quit whining and be the new protagonist to get her back. (he did not, you’ll notice, go back for Ertai or Crovax. Dude didn’t care about Y-chromosomes or something.) Another non-magical person, which means she was mostly a supporting character. (to give you an idea of the scope of the Weatherlight Saga, this is what supporting character do: “Sisay helped gather several artifacts known as the Bones of Ramos and the Power Matrix to repair the ship, as well as leading the oppressed peoples of [Mercadia] to a successful rebellion.” She also rode a mermaid.).

    Hanna: Navigator and artificer (An engineer, basically) of the Weatherlight. Was in a love triangle with Mirri for Gerrard, but he picked her because he’s not a furry. Captained the ship temporarily when everyone got seperated on Rath. Helped Sisay do her thing on Mercadia while trying to fix the shiip, which was constantly being ravaged by everyone. Got infected, and died of, a Phyrexian nanobot plague in the Invasion, and had her corpse used as a bargaining chip by Yawgmoth to get Gerrard on his side, possibly the greatest fridging in history.

    Orim: Ship’s doctor on the Weatherlight. Hilariously cured the Phyrexian plague at the exact moment Hanna was too far gone for treatment. Was literally the only person in the Weatherlight Saga whose romance didn’t end in tragic death, betrayal, or vampirism and one of the only people that survived it, period.

    Mirri: Cat-woman who was part of the love triangle for Gerrard. Died in the first story arc fighting an insane Crovax.

    Selenia: One of Serra’s angels that was captured and processed by Phyrexia into one of their agents. They inserted her into Dominaria under the guise of a guardian angel for the Windgrace family, and several thousand years later, she and Crovax fell mutually in love. Then, as planned, she stabbed the crew in the back, and exploded Crovax into a vampire. (Hey, twofer!)

    Belbe: Ertai’s Phyrexian love interest from when he turned traitor because Gerrard left him to die on Rath. Her job was to judge the conest to become the new Evincar of Rath (Governor, basically) from between Ertai and Crovax after Volrath left on his crazy revenge plan against Gerrard. Tried to bend the rules in Ertai’s favour after he tried to fuck his way to victory. Crovax attacked her for being asomewhat less than fair judge, and as a result, she became the only woman in story that Crovax attacked without fridging. (doubly impressive, because that’s been a Vampire’s job description since Stoker). Ertai still managed to lose, somehow, and Belbe decided to help the good guys against Crovax out of spite, for which she was promptly murdered, and Ertai took her skull as a memento. (Yout thought I was kidding about the romance? Ahahaha, no.) Funny thing is, that’s the best fate anyone, man or woman, had in Nemesis.

    Latulla: Oh, god, Prophecy was a terrible book. Just block quoting here: “On the eve of the Phyrexian Invasion of Dominaria, the Keldons launched their own invasion of Jamuraa. The campaign was led by the Overseer Latulla and the Warlord Druik. Latulla was seeking Hero’s Blood which resided in the fields of Jamuraa. This was needed to raise the honored dead that resided in the Keldon Necropolis. The Doyen Council did not support her actions, and when Latualla and her followers marched on the Necropolis, Latulla was defeated by Doyenne Gorsha and Druik was killed. Latulla and her remaining followers were banished back to Jamuraa where they were eventually defeated and destroyed by the planeswalker Teferi and Barrin the Master Wizard.” Best she could’ve hoped for, going up against someone that invented the spell Obliterate.

    That’s pretty much every woman of importance from the 90’s. All but two of them ended up dead, but don’t worry because anyone that wasn’t a main character usually died, and Apocalypse in particular handed out death like George R. R. Martin on meth.

    I’ll continue with the women of the 00’s, if anyone’s interested.

  9. What, precisely is an “active pose” defined as? For example, I’m fairly certain there are artifacts of various sorts in the game – would an archaeological team carefully uncovering those, whether male or female, be counted as actively or neutrally posed?

Comments are closed.