From the mailbag: Heartbreak & Heroines win, M:TG wtf

I’ve gotten a fair number of emails recently and things have been piling up faster than I’ve had time to blog about them; I still have notes lying around for that post about Shelly Mazzanoble I’ve been meaning to write, and I still do want to do a roundup of all of the LoL characters… But these are things that deserve mention, so I thought I’d shove two half-posts together about things I think deserve some attention but wouldn’t ordinarily fill out an entire blog post of their own.

Win: Heartbreak & Heroines Kickstarter:

Amusingly, here’s the part where I have to disclose that I do have a sort of tenuous non-connection with Heartbreak & Heroines. Back at a much earlier stage in the game’s development, the author actually originally approached me asking if I would be willing to do the illustrations. At the time I was very burned out on illustration and had several other creative projects that were consuming all of my energy, so I regretfully passed. Still, the concept was interesting to me, so I’m glad to see that it’s close to turning into a finished product.

What is the concept? Well here are some key paragraphs from the Heartbreak & Heroines Kickstarter:

Heartbreak & Heroines is a fantasy roleplaying game about adventurous women who go and have awesome adventures — saving the world, falling in love, building community, defeating evil. It’s a game about relationships and romance, about fairy tales and feminism.

Heartbreak & Heroines is first and foremost a fantasy adventure game. It’s not preachy and it isn’t a textbook about feminism, but it’s written from a feminist point of view. It challenges some of our assumptions about the role of gender in gaming but at the heart of H&H, it’s about being a heroine (or hero) and finding your way to happiness in a dangerous world.

This is the kind of stuff that makes me happy, and honestly the sort of angle that I wish more mainstream companies would at least consider when writing games – telling stories from the female point of view. Roughly half of humans are female, so it does seem to make a sort of sense that one would create games that would explicitly seek to encourage storytelling from a female perspective.

But all of this sounds like crazy-talk to quite a lot of gamers. So, you know, predictably a bunch of people over on RPGnet freaked out about the game and started flailing at strawmen. Because, you know, HOW DARE someone suggest that gaming isn’t the most inclusive hobby out there. And HOW DARE someone have the gall to write a game that attempts to tell stories from a feminist perspective. Didn’t they know that gaming is THE MOST INCLUSIVE HOBBY EVAR? What a bitch.

…ahem. [/sarcasm]

Anyhow, I could write more about why inclusiveness in RPGs is important, and why RPGnet is (as usual) a wretched hive of scum and privilege, but the fine folks over on The Designer Monologues already beat me to it with a very well reasoned and well articulated post which I hope you’ll go read.

I do want to take a moment here to mention, however, that Heartbreak & Heroines isn’t the first game ever to tackle storytelling from a female perspective. While mainstream RPG companies seem to have their collective heads very far up their asses, indie tabletop gaming offers quite a wide diversity of games that allow stories to be told from pretty much any perspective you can think of. For that matter, while the world of indie RPG design is still a world in which male designers outnumber female designers, you don’t see the kind of tokenism that you do in mainstream game companies.

So specifically I want to mention that if the idea of a game that encourages feminist-friendly storytelling from a female perspective is one that interests you but Heartbreak & Heroines doesn’t seem to appeal to your personal preferences, don’t be discouraged. If you’re into period romances without the fantasy adventure bits, might I recommend Kagematsu as another game that is explicitly designed to tell stories about female characters, albeit with a bit of a gender-bending twist.

And if that doesn’t float your boat, there are so many good indie titles out there by great female designers. I could try to list them, but I’d leave awesome people off the list and that would make me sad, so I’ll just say that as full of fail as companies like Wizards, Paizo, Green Ronin, White Wolf et all are… there’s some good stuff to be had out in indie land. (And bad stuff too – no one’s perfect. But much less bad stuff overall.)

Fail: some M:TG wtf

A reader sent me a link to this blog post about Azure Mage over on the official Wizards site. As you might have guessed, the post features prominently the Azure Mage, from the Magic 2012 card gallery:

What the… but… she isn’t… those don’t… ARG!

Okay, so clearly the artist has not been reading Boobs Don’t Work That Way. Boobs are sacks of flesh attached the chest, not whatever the hell this guy is drawing. Without a bra, there is no way she would have this much cleavage. Cleavage just isn’t natural without some sort of support pushing breasts together; as sacks of flesh and fat, breasts tend to hang separately. They’re not magically attracted to each other like magnets.

Also, one assumes that those stupid silver buttons are meant to cover her nipples, which is just so very wrong. Nipples are not ON TOP of the breasts, they are generally toward the underside. Another reason her breasts are just plain freakish is her complete lack of areola. With that much exposed tit, we’d be seeing at least some areola – especially as the “nipple-concealing buttons” are in entirely the wrong place to actually conceal her nipples.

Lastly, her rib cage DOESN’T EVEN CONNECT TO ITSELF. Seriously, check this out:


It’s like the artist realized that without a bra, SOMETHING would need to push the two breasts together and then failed to remember that the arm connects to the shoulder, which connects to the rib cage… I mean, it’s not that hard. Remember the song we all had to learn in kindergarten? Maybe the Wizards artists should have to prove they know the song in the first place to get hired on…

So this is bad enough, but I had to laugh at the image that was pointed out to me at the very bottom of the article:

Were they seriously trying to rip off Crapping Frost Mage? I can’t think of any other explanation for this picture. I mean, honestly. As little sense as the Stripper Pole Dancing school of spellcasting makes to me, it at least makes more sense than the Taking a Dump school of spellcasting. Now, admittedly I might be too jaded to be an objective judge of this sort of thing, but I fail to see how this pose would be attractive on any real woman ever. Even her expression makes her look like she’s trying not to crap more than she’s concentrating on mastering arcane forces.

I never thought I’d see the day when Crapping Front Mage had competition for the most ridiculous crapping pose ever, but it looks like that day is here. I guess, this being the internet and all, I shouldn’t be surprised.

86 thoughts on “From the mailbag: Heartbreak & Heroines win, M:TG wtf

  1. One of the things from the RPG.net thread I got a chuckle out of was the argument that the game was pretentious because it’s about women that start adventuring after the titular heartbreak, and therefore isn’t feminist because it implies that women need external motivation to be heroic. Because no man has ever been motivated by terrible things happening involving love interests, apparently.

    The worst I can say for the game is that the Kickstarter page not saying a damn thing about how the setting or mechanics are feminist (or really anything about them, beyond ‘it’s like our other game, but different’) is raising alarms, like that one Fudge shoujo game which was the same game except that it told you to do romance with it. This looks to be a similar marketing gimmick, albeit seems to have worked damn well considering how quick they kicked it. And who knows? I could just be being over-cynical.

    The Chandra thing is funny, because nearly all the comment threads about that art were filled with bitching about how fucked up her face is. This doesn’t even work as fanservice. I’ve not seen art this generally despised since Voidmage Prodigy

    • Over-cynical? With the number of games out there claiming to support a certain style of play, and then utterly failing to include any sort of mechanical support for that style? Nah, you’re just being realistic. “The Game Mechanics” section reads like a tired re-hash of a thousand stunted game designs. Maybe, just maybe, the game text itself will be a different creature entirely–a design revelation even!–but the Kickstarter promo doesn’t give one much reason to hope. Which is, of course, too bad, because the world could use more good RPGs about women.

      • Oh, thank god. I thought it was just me. Ah well, most other people here are video gamers, so they brobably don’t know much about the fantasy heartbreakers thing that happens every month in this hobby. (and for those that can’t look it up, imagine if every fantasy rpg was hyped like Fable and delivered just as much. That’s what actually happens in tabletop.)

        “Which is, of course, too bad, because the world could use more good RPGs about women.”
        Yeah, I remember the lsast time someone tried that, with Blue Rose. People ripped it apart because they were totally unaccustomed to the genre of romantic fantasy and couldn’t suspend their disbelief like they could for S&S and High fantasy because they had no experience with the source material.

        That’s not to say that games are deliberately trying to exclude women. If anything, it’s the opposite. Every game has female fighters, Arc Dream’s Progenitor centres (almost literally) around two women, and White Wolf’s moved heaven and Earth to get women into their games, to use a few examples. (there is an official Exalted product that includes yaoi. I am not making this up.)

        The problem is that most women have no idea how to enjoy these (high fantasy, superheroes) genres, just like men have no idea how to enjoy Blue Rose, and as we’ve seen, the community is quite hostile to games openly targeted at women. (Houses of the Blooded, for instance, got away with being half a Gothic Romance game, but only because the other half of the game was basically Dune and John Wick has developed a personality cult.) They don’t seem to realize that regular games are targeted at men.

  2. I love my MTG, really. I go do friday night tournaments all the time. But yeah, there’s been more than a little big of laughing about Chandra. I hadn’t seen the art for Azure Mage yet, but Jade Mage (one mage per color) looks almost as crazy. I think Izzy still needs some help on the women, but some of his crazy creatures look pretty neat.

  3. ,,Anyhow, I could write more about why inclusiveness in RPGs is important, and why RPGnet is (as usual) a wretched hive of scum and privilege, but the fine folks over on The Designer Monologues already beat me to it with a very well reasoned and well articulated post which I hope you’ll go read.”

    I read the post, there was a lot of nudge nudge wink wink for the American RPG market players ,which leaves me not knowing what they were talking about other then the haters gona hate response that is in there, but I was also feeling that they were talking about something else too (in case you did not notice it in my past posts on your blog I’m a Serb from Belgrade so the whole different cultural background got in the way of me understanding that article). Could you explain what else was in that article I know I missed something but I do not know what it is.

    Diversity in storytelling and character portrayal is the lifeblood of RPGs, so we are on the same page for the win part of the post.

    And thank you for the link to boobs don’t work that way and for showing me that Azure mage’s rib cage is broken, I would not have noticed that because I can not draw very well and my understanding of the human figure is not as good as yours.

  4. The thing I don’t get is that one aspect of roleplaying games of all sorts is the … er … roleplaying. The chance to “be” someone who isn’t you, who can do things you can’t, go to places you’ll never see, etc etc.

    Why would the existence of a game offering the opportunity to do that in a less-frequently encountered way be a bad thing for anyone?

  5. I kinda like the fire mage chick. She’s got this kind of steampunk thing going on and her pose says “ready to strike”. Her face is kinda weird though.

    I’m in two minds about the boobylicious lady. Perhaps the artist should have chosen a less severe pose if he wanted to emphasize the breasts. Her breasts need to be lower and sitting evenly on her chest rather than to one side. However, this would mean that the arm would obstruct their view. The artist really shot himself in the foot with this one.
    As for the outfit…I’m really trying to figure out how it could work. I’m assuming the top part is metal or something to hold the breasts that way. I have a couple of corsets that I’ve always been terrified of popping out of but they hold perfectly and really emphasize my cleavage (no bra needed). And I’m assuming, because it’s metal, that the skin doesn’t move around much underneath, meaning she’s not in danger of popping out where the strappy bits are. Some girls can have very small nipples though, so she might be safe in that area. These are all very large assumptions though. It really is a silly bodice.

  6. Here’s something awesome: it looks like all the bullshit in that rpg.net thread actually helped produce enough anger that it ended up HELPING Kynn get funded – and really fast, too! How great is that? A thread that was made as a stereotypical example of bullshit privilege ended up being instrumental in the funding of what promises to be an awesome new inclusive RPG.

  7. In burlesque, some performers don’t center their pasties over the nipple, but cheat the pasty up a little bit, to suggest nipples pointing skyward; so maybe the Azure Mage is just using the magick of pasties to make her tits look perkier. Plus, by cheating the pasties improbably close-together, her boobs look more pushed together than they really are. That’s not an anatomy fail, it’s a beauty-tip win! Her east-westies and their areolae are hidden safely down in the corset. See, now the Mage is photo-realistic! I can explain-away anything. It’s magic. Did I mention she has severe scoliosis and a dislocated/prosthetic right arm? It’s really uncool that you drew attention to it. She may be self-conscious. We should be more encouraging, like complimenting her ability to swing her butt around in front of her, so she can smack it with her forward hand; which she’s clearly about to do.

    More magic: the so-called ‘crapping’ pose. It brings to mind the documentary Dogtown & Z-Boys about the moment when lock-kneed perpendicular early skateboarders were out-evolved by a radical new generation of knees-bent, ass-out, crouchy skaters; better able to lean and spring. Hunkering-down is badass. But her googles are basically a skull-bra. Cheated upward to make her forehead look perkier, they provide no protection for her eyes.

  8. I am confused by your tone towards the RPG.net thread…I was expecting to see the masses burning Heartbreak & Heroines at the stake and what I saw instead was a small number of fucktards being told by the majority to “quit yet bitching, it seems like a good idea” .

    I dunno, I only got about 5 pages in maybe the rabid mass hate is further in?

    • You probably missed the part where someone was trying to insinuate that because the author is a transwoman, she was unable/shouldn’t/was conning people by claiming her game was in anyway feminist.

      It made me puke a little in my mouth. At least they banned the offender. I guess?

      Still made me a sad panda that someone would even do such a thing, though I shouldn’t be what with this being the interbutts and that alone is full of disappoint.

      • I did indeed miss that part.

        I guess I just expected to see such things in that thread be the norm rather than a low percentage who as you indicated got their asses banned.

        I blame working in the retail/service industry for skewing my perception of people, about 90% of whom are assholes😀

        Actually I find it scary that people are nicer on the fucking internet than they are in person…..and I’m including the likes of 4chan in there…

      • I’m not sure if someone was just trolling, but cultural and radical feminism really don’t like transpeople, (because you can’t believe in gender being a fluid social construct and simultaneously accept people that believe they have a biological medical condition. Especially when sicence is on thier side ) so I can totally see this happening. They’re bigger fanatics than the Westboro Baptists, so it wouldn’t surprise me if some of them popped up entirely to yell at a transwoman.

        • Actually, you can believe that gender performance is a social construct (see stereotypes of what men and women are like, etc – which very much do change over time and from culture to culture) and that a person’s internal perception of gender (I am a man, a woman, both, neither, other) is something else entirely.

          • “a person’s internal perception of gender (I am a man, a woman, both, neither, other) is something else entirely.”

            Okay, I’ve heard that before and it seems like this is a version of the “separate magisteria” argument we get from theologians about how something can be both scientifically falsified and religiously true. Somewhat fittingly, this argument also applies to homosexuals: that their sexual orientation is environmental rather than biological, but their “internal perception” is “something else entirely”. Would you grant this? If so, I’ve no problem with your views.

            • Depizan is talking about two separate things entirely, not one thing that interpreted in different ways. Gender as performance, in the way that Judith Butler is famous for popularizing, is about the cultural flags – dress, comportment, etc. – that are traditionally attributed to one of the two recognized genders. It could be more accurately defined as “gender presentation”. Gender identity, on the other hand, is the internal sense of gender that a person possesses, and stands alone from any social contrivances that may or may not be adopted by an individual. Lots of feminist thought, particularly radfem stuff but also the aforementioned Judith Butler, sought to deny the existence of the latter and claim that all gender that ever is or was is performance, but that’s not true. Transgender people feel a painful crush when those two things are out of alignment; we call it dissonance or dysphoria and it can’t exist without both things being real.

              • And then there are the people who don’t feel like either gender, or feel that they are both genders, etc, etc. Internal sense of gender is a strange thing.

                And I have trouble believing that either gender identity or sexual preference are environmental. It seems to me that if they were, you wouldn’t get variation from the “norm”. That’s very much not how it works in reality. Performance of gender (biological or internal), sure, that’s learned. Identity, not so much.

              • @ Depizan

                *nods*

                Yup. If orientation or gender identity *were* environmental, then reparative therapy would theoretically work, but it doesn’t (and is often quite destructive, actually). I know a few people whose narratives differ from the norm (i.e., they flaunt the gender binary for political and/or personal reasons), but I don’t know a single person whose sense of gender was influenced by socialization/tragedy/abuse/all the other things commonly pointed to. Not that I should have to, but I’ll hold hold myself up as an example: My childhood was almost laughably “normal”…working class father, part-time working mother, two younger sisters, various pets, two younger sisters, no abuse, and a childhood typical of “boys” replete with lots of sports, dinosaurs, and action figures. And yet my earliest memories, from about the age of three or four, are of rebelling against being told that I was a “boy”. Where are the environmental factors in all that? I don’t know where the cynicism comes from but people should just trust that most people know themselves better than anyone else ever could.

              • “It could be more accurately defined as “gender presentation”

                Ah, there we go! I was confused by those concepts being equivocated between the word “gender”. Thank you for that correction, my field is semiotics, so I only really know about this from the transpeople I deal with in my normal life. (it’s mostly sex worker activism that I meet these people, so they’re usually talking about less savoury and more concrete matters than their psychic phenomenology)

                So the idea goes, if I’m understanding correctly, that gender (or lack thereof) is biological, but how gender is signified? It’s certainly a new way of thinking about the issue for me, so I thank you again for that. (God, this is like reading Wittgenstein for the first time all over again.)

                I do have some doubts, but I’m an empiricist, so I’m open to evidence. Is there any scientific work you could point me to? I’m having a bit of difficulty grasping how gender identity could originate asocially.

              • Apart from the narratives of thousands of trans people? Yeah, I suppose there is some science. I don’t spend a lot of time with it personally because I don’t need to…I know myself, and that’s good enough for me. But as a starting place I’ll refer you to Zoe Brain, who apart from being a trans scientist herself, also spends a lot of time blogging about the science of gender identity.

                http://aebrain.blogspot.com/p/reference-works-on-transsexual-and.html

                One thing I’ll offer is that a lot of trans people (and people from marginalized communities in general) balk at being asked to provide this kind of information. The argument goes that we’re not walking encyclopedias, and that your education about us isn’t our responsibility. I agree with that position in general, but I kind of know you from here, plus I really like talking about gender identity stuff…I just feel obligated to put that out there because there are a lot of people in the activist communities who feel very strongly about it.

              • “Apart from the narratives of thousands of trans people?”

                Okay, It seems I’ve misspoken and given the wrong impression. I trust you, okay? Empiricism is my epistemology, so that means your experiences are something I’ll trust over any academic theories, but I’m having a significant bit of trouble understanding what exactly those experiences are. I spent pretty much my entire time in sociology learning that gender is defined as the norms for each biological sex in a given society, so while I don’t doubt you when you say gender is independent from society, I still have no idea what that actually means, or even what a “gender identity” could be in biological terms.

                My hesitations are only because this (currently) doesn’t make sense to me. Which is not me denying that it’s happening, I emphasize! For example, I am also confused by the Basque language, but I would never deny that people can speak it. If I needed to understand it, I’d seek out the linguistic papers done on it. Likewise, since I need to understand transgendered persons (because sociology has apparently failed me miserably in that regard) I’m going to inquire about the biology done on the subject.

                “The argument goes that we’re not walking encyclopedias, and that your education about us isn’t our responsibility.”

                By all means, no one has a right to education. I was just making a request. I’m definitely intrigued by this, so I’d have gone looking without you’re assistance; those links make it much easier for me to get started. I’m sorry if I gave the impression of some kind of “but how will I learn!” laziness.

                “I agree with that position in general, but I kind of know you from here, plus I really like talking about gender identity stuff”

                Thank you, I’m grateful for that, I’ll endeavour not to betray your trust.

                “Not that you shouldn’t read the other stuff too…it’s dense, but interesting.”

                Don’t worry, I doubt anything in biology can be less readable than French philosophy.

              • No worries. And yeah, I sense that what may seem dense to me will be light reading for you.🙂

                It’s interesting because how do you explain something that largely exists as an internal sense of self? There were three or four blissful years of ignorance at the beginning of my life, and then as soon as I was old enough to know that gender was a thing, the slow crush of confusion, guilt, and shame kicked in. I wasn’t old enough then to know the social implications of gender. My family had never done anything to create that sense of confusion. My first real recognition of “wrongness” came when I realized my sisters and I had different anatomies, a thing my parents tried to help me with by reassuring that my body was correct for who I was (which I knew instinctively to be incorrect). Such things could possibly be passed off as a childish need to belong, except that it persisted throughout my entire life, and is repeated in the narratives of thousands of others around the world. So hopefully the links do a better job of explaining.🙂

                I do think there’s an interesting discussion to be had (not necessarily here) about why we need to “understand” other people. We’d probably need to define the word “understand”, but in general I wonder why understanding is important? Is it necessary for empathy? Do we innately need to make sense of something on our own terms before we can accept it? I don’t think so, and I certainly don’t think that’s what you’re grasping at (I sense a lot of empathy from you, and feel very comfortable sharing thoughts with you, just so you know). Maybe it’s just a curiosity thing. Then again, I don’t really understand cisgender people…it seems weird to me that anyone can wander around all day long and not feel completely out of place in their own body, but it’s not something I’ve ever really considered asking about. The only time being understood seems important is with people who aren’t willing to ascribe me my basic humanity (and when that happens, I’m not inclined to sit around and politely explain myself to them), but that’s not here. Anyway, I’m not really looking for a response or anything because I’m totally not worried about it in this context, it’s just something I think about from time to time.

              • I’m glad (and somewhat amused, considering the general antipathy I usually provoke) that I’m making you feel comfortable.

                With regards to understanding and empathy… I’m going to be blunt. There’s a feeling of dread whenever I speak to you because one of your defining features is completely alien to my experience; and it’s even more disorienting for an empiricist to meet something they cannot even perceive. (I suspect that this is why the transwomen just let us believe that their issue was solely one of “being born in the wrong body” That was something we could understand and I, at least, never felt anxiety when I was under that misconception) This is problematic because empathy is assigning traits from the self to the other, but that doesn’t make it impossible to empathize. We share a species, culture, and hobby after all; there’s plenty of more important things we have in common than mere genders, and I’ll just have to get over this nonsensical fear the same way I got over my fear of needles when I was a child.

              • @ Hazmat Sam

                Oh, sorry I missed this last reply.

                Sometimes it’s scary for me too. Even being trans I’m inundated with the same “born in the wrong body” messaging, and to be sure, life would have been easier if I had just been born cisgender. But I have the body and perspective I have, and I’m still working on being okay with that (as it turns out, it’s remarkably hard to be proud of yourself when you’ve lost a career of 14 years, are seeking new employment, or when you’re lonely and trying to find dating opportunities, and the reason for all of those things failing is expressly because of who you are). Like you say, I think we all have a lot more in common than we don’t, and the things we don’t get as much as attention they do because they’re always a source of tension. Anyway, if you’re interested I have a personal blog over on Tumblr where my friends and I talk about trans stuff in a lot more depth. Admittedly, I’ve been on semi-hiatus after suffering some burnout earlier this summer, but it’s still getting at least weekly use.

                http://transsexualferox.tumblr.com/

        • “I’m not sure if someone was just trolling, but cultural and radical feminism really don’t like transpeople”

          I don’t believe this, as a general rule anyway, for a minute. Certainly in my experience in academia it was pretty much people in Woman’s studies that where interfacing and discussing transgendered issues to any meaningful degree at all and, by and large, this was done in a positive light.

          “because you can’t believe in gender being a fluid social construct and simultaneously accept people that believe they have a biological medical condition”

          Sure you can. Generally this is done be dividing things into gender and sex and defining gender as attributes and characteristics that are socially constructed while sex are attributes and characteristics that stem from biology.

          • “Certainly in my experience in academia”

            It’s cool that your college is like tolerant, but your experience isn’t universal. “Womyn Born Womyn” ring any bells? But I’ll concede the point if it makes you comfortable; the issue is irrelevant either way because I was speaking of the radical/cultural feminists on the Internet, and no one can deny what their party line is. (like that exact thread we’re talking about, for instance, and an innumerable number of blogs and forums both academic and populist that I really do not want to link to unless absolutely imperative)

            “Generally this is done be dividing things into gender and sex”

            That’s how people generally handwave it, yes, but they call themselves “transgender” for a reason, and it can’t be ignored forever.

            But whatever. You’re probably not going to concede anything, and I’m not going to deny things I literally saw with my own eyes, so let’s just agree that discrimination based on gender identify is bad and stop talking.

            • Sam is right.

              It may not have started in academia, but it *is* deeply rooted there, and it started in feminist circles. Janice Raymond ring any bells? No? Google Transsexual Empire. Mary Daly, and many others who are widely celebrated as pillars of modern feminist thought, subscribe (or in Daly’s case, subscribed, since she passed away last year) to Raymond’s cissexist screed which, among other things, called for the elimination of transsexualism through systemic pathologizing of our condition. Even Judith Butler fell prey to this; originally she tried to shoehorn trans identities into her “gender is performance” treatise but ended up invalidating our lived experiences in the process (her old theories are still widely taught in many Gender Studies programs today, even though she’s personally gone on record as saying that her assumptions were badly founded).

              So yeah, cissexism is deeply held, and even propagated, in modern feminist circles. When a feminist calls abortion a “women’s issue”, they’ve engaged in cissexism because they’ve erased the needs and experiences of trans men and non-binary trans people, many of whom also contend with unwanted pregnancies and the need for abortion services. When a feminist talks about the shared experience of having a vagina, or a period, or child-bearing, they’ve engaged in cissexism by equating their biology with their womanhood. And so on. It’s even happened here on this blog (though Anna is extremely astute and put up with a whole lot of my nagging early on, for which I’m eternally thankful!). As someone who is a feminist and a trans woman, I can tell you that the enlightenment of contemporary feminists about trans issues is scarcely better than that of mainstream society. Which is deeply disappointing, since feminists want to characterize themselves as our allies. The problem, and this is seen in academia more than anywhere else, good allies first have to let us talk while practicing their listening skills, but that would actually mean admitting to not having all the answers and conceding equal footing, which not very many have been willing to do yet.

              Oh Anna, nice of you to plug Kagematsu btw! Although I gave up ownership of it, in no small part because it conflicted with my own personal feminism, I still get a smile when I see it mentioned in print and I’m sure Danielle does too.🙂

              • Your position that academic feminists want to be your allies is much closer to what I tend to observe in modern feminism, which is really at the heart of where I am coming from.

                Your critique along the lines of ‘with allies like these who needs enemies’ strikes me as very much along the lines of the sort of thing that many of the people I know in feminist philosophy are currently struggling with.

              • I try not to be ragingly ignorant about trans issues, but my conservative upbringing does show through a little bit sometimes wrt the intersection of trans issues and feminism. As such, I appreciate the nagging. I said some stupid stuff and deserved to have that pointed out. Hopefully I’ve done better about not putting my foot in my mouth more recently.

              • I appreciate being allowed to nag. Which sounds silly, but sometimes that’s the difference between a good, welcoming blog and one that is not. I wish people just “got” this stuff automatically, but they don’t. And as evidenced elsewhere on this blog, when a trans person tries to assert their own needs, it can sometimes be met with hostility and disgust. Being given a chance to talk in someone else’s space, without being silenced or erased or dog-piled by everyone in the community, is really great thing and this blog has been welcoming in that regard. For my part, I should realize that’s the case here and work to relax a little, as my natural tendency in spaces not my own skews towards tension and prickliness.

            • Actually I’ll concede the point. I missed that you had specified cultural feminism and interpreted your post as contending that feminism in general had issues with transgender individuals, something that ran opposite to my experience and certianly not advocated by any of the feminists that I personally know. Definitely not a position that one is likely to encounter in Feminist Philosophy 101 these days in my experience.

              • No, but also try to draw a distinction between those who pay lip service, and those who actually walk the walk. I write for a feminist website so I certainly do know a lot of great feminists, while also identifying as feminist myself (and that’s not even counting the great people I’ve met elsewhere, like here for instance). At the same time, many people are only willing to be allies so long as it’s convenient, and will quickly find a way to rationalize their own bad behavior so long as it’s in the best interest of whatever they personally care about. For example, I’ve gone around and around with Amanda Marcotte for her lionization of Dan Savage…she likes him and the way he attacks conservative marital rhetoric, so apparently it doesn’t matter that he dispenses bad, and sometimes even hateful, advice about trans people and bisexuals. And it wasn’t but two months ago that I got into over at Feministing where the vast majority of the commenters demonstrated open hostility when the site announced it was going to take a more trans inclusive position when talking about abortion rights…the argument, I shit you not, was “yeah, trans men need abortions, but if we include them we’re just going to dilute our messaging and over-complicate things.” In this regard, the trans community’s relationship with feminists isn’t that different from the African American community’s (and sometimes they’re the same; lots of trans people of color out there whose voices are even further under-represented)…feminism is ostensibly in support of us, but in practice, not so much.

                (And it may be worth noting that the trans community is similarly at odds with the gay and lesbian segment of the LGBTQ community; lots of good people, to be sure, but at a cultural level, we’re always the ones that get thrown under the bus for someone’s else’s political or social gain).

                Okay, diatribe over for now.🙂

              • No, but also try to draw a distinction between those who pay lip service, and those who actually walk the walk. I write for a feminist website so I certainly do know a lot of great feminists, while also identifying as feminist myself (and that’s not even counting the great people I’ve met elsewhere, like here for instance). At the same time, many people are only willing to be allies so long as it’s convenient, and will quickly find a way to rationalize their own bad behavior so long as it’s in the best interest of whatever they personally care about. For example, I’ve gone around and around with Amanda Marcotte for her lionization of Dan Savage…she likes him and the way he attacks conservative marital rhetoric, so apparently it doesn’t matter that he dispenses bad, and sometimes even hateful, advice about trans people and bisexuals. And it wasn’t but two months ago that I got into over at Feministing where the vast majority of the commenters demonstrated open hostility when the site announced it was going to take a more trans inclusive position when talking about abortion rights…the argument, I shit you not, was “yeah, trans men need abortions, but if we include them we’re just going to dilute our messaging and over-complicate things.” In this regard, the trans community’s relationship with feminists isn’t that different from the African American community’s (and sometimes they’re the same; lots of trans people of color out there whose voices are even further under-represented)…feminism is ostensibly in support of us, but in practice, not so much.

                (And it may be worth noting that the trans community is similarly at odds with the gay and lesbian segment of the LGBTQ community; lots of good people, to be sure, but at a cultural level, we’re always the ones that get thrown under the bus for someone’s else’s political or social gain).

                My apologies for the diatribe, especially since you conceded the point. I don’t meant to lecture, this is just one of those topics I can go on about forever. It’s one of those cases where I wish I could put my full weight behind my feminist label, but right now it’s a bit of bittersweet relationship.

  9. Damn I love GMS sometimes. He’s given me “conserva-gamer-libertarian-anti-’political-correctness’-warrior” and for that, I loves him.

    RPG.net always has me torn. There are some fantastically cool people over there and it has the quickest pace of pretty much any RPG forum around. Hell, I met wundergeek and her husband through RPG.net (and by extension my wife thanks to wundergeek and her husband).

    But there are a goodly amount of ignorant, mouth-breathing fucktards too which make some things utterly miserable. The complete frothing moron quotient seems to have increased over the years.

    Though I now can label them “conserva-gamer-libertarian-anti-’political-correctness’-warriors” and that makes me happy.🙂

    aaron

    • The moderation is good enough at RPGnet that the question actually gets breached in the first place. But the mods aren’t a precrime uni; if a mouthbreather exists, they have to let them post.

      But you can count up the banned posters, and it’s the bigots and trolls that make the far, far larger pile, while they bend over backwards to let folks from disprivileged groups stay on. (How many times was Curt banned/unbanned? And then made a mod, etc?)

      It ain’t perfect, but if RPGnet is a hive of scum and villainy and privilege… wow, not been on the Internet long, have we? I stick around the place BECAUSE the mods take it seriously when someone is being sexist, or homo/trans/biphobic, or just generally playing the Internet Jerkwad Game for the lulz.

      • The only, ONLY problem I have is that there is still a non-insignificant amount of people that spew bigotry and hate on a near daily basis and they and their fellow bigots hide behind “opinion” and skirt the bannable offence list; all the while everyone KNOWS they’re being bigoted assholes. Then the horrible flame outs happen and you get stupid bullshit for a whole week while the mods sort it all out. AND you then get to sit through people trying to justify why bigoted assholes shouldn’t be banned or why such-and-such a ruling gets picked apart because “won’t someone think of the “.

        To give credit where credit is due, I’ve been mostly pleased with the slow shift the mods have taken in having little tolerance for thems what abuses and skirts the issues.

        At the same time, and I know the mods are only volunteers, the “we only really respond to reported posts” kind of sucks.

        Before anyone responds with “well, what would work better” the fact is I don’t know what would work better*. It’s just an annoyance, especially because as I said before there are some really incredibly cool people there as well.

        *besides people just not being bigoted fucks. If wishes were ponies with diamond filled saddlebags; etc.

  10. My first inclination was to just write the first example off as nothing more than shitty art, but it’s kind of hard to give them the benefit of the doubt. It very well could be an abomination of anatomy simply because it better allowed the artist to render a woman with her breasts pressed together.

  11. For one horrified moment, I thought those silver-button things were her nipples, and her whole corset was being held up by some kind of godawful piercing anchors.

    It almost looks to me like it was originally several different drawings that got poorly composited together somewhere before the final painting stage. The top half of her torso looks… okay-ish, the bottom half of her torso and her hips look… also okay-ish, but when they’re put together it’s like someone shifted them out of alignment and created a shambling anatomy fail.

  12. Hmm… I don’t think “line of torso as it goes behind cape” is where you have labeled it. It looks kind of like it curves back to give her an impossibly narrow waist (looking at the line that starts at the end of her bracer, near the elbow). Hard to tell, though, since it’s all the same color in that area.

    • Actually the more I look at it, the more I think that her spine is severed…I think her hips are side on to the camera which would mean that she has rotated her torso a full 90 degree from just above the hips..

      I’m not good at anatomy but that seems somewhat…difficult to achieve with a spine, no?

      Either way her skeleton would be interesting to see…

      • Yeah, that kind of twist+bend motion tends to snap things. I’m not sure I want to see that skeleton, as it may cause nightmares.

  13. Heartbreak & Heroines look interesting, I like the idea that the characters become adventurers after a heartbreaking deception/let down/failure/event, etc. Good potential with this premise. 🙂

    • Haven’t we had this since the whole “Where I Was Born and Razed” thing? It’s been the backstory of choice for thousands of lazy writers. Unless there’s an actual mechanic for it then it’s something you could do just as easy in D&D. I’m still wondering exactly what’s different about this game.

      • Yeah but you can do everything with D&D, in theory. This is often the argument again many indy games “you could do this with any games”, like having beliefs in Burning Wheel. Yes I guess… But sometime simply having procedure to do something is great. As for lazy writer tricks, I don’t mind, RPG are not novels, simple stuff often work great for RPG. Anyway, we don’t have the game text in hand.😉

        • That’s just it: Burning Wheel’s mechanics separate it from D&D even though they’re both fantasy games and give us an actual reason to play one over the other, just as D&D’s mechanics that are dedicated specifically for fantasy gaming are why people don’t just play their dungeon crawls with generic d20. Or why no one plays Nobilis with the One Roll Engine. (Or why no one actually plays Exalted with its original rules, for that matter!) There needs to be a reason to use this system instead of any number of other systems that would match the setting. (I’m getting a Savage World vibe from it, honestly. I don’t know why because nothing of value’s been revealed, but there your go.)

          The question at the end of the day is “what is this game about?” Weapons’ of the Gods is about martial arts, Bliss Stage is about your interpersonal relationships imploding from stress, and Houses of the Blooded is about being Patrick Bateman in a romance novel. These things would remain the same whatever setting we grafted onto the rules because the rules themselves are the story. But H&H here doesn’t seem to be about anything at all so far, so the logical reaction would be to export the setting to a system with meaning, barring new developments. Do you understand?

  14. Y’know, normally I like to hold up Magic as a POSITIVE example of fantasy art with women in it, since Wizards has a policy that female characters in the art should be as dynamic and badass as any of the male characters. But I suppose with a few hundred bits of art every set, one might expect the occasional bit of “wha”?

    Just some small words in defense of a card game and company I like, although I totally agree about the pieces. The new Chandra isn’t nearly as good as previous, although I think the pose is supposed to be trying to do what http://www.wizards.com/mtg/images/daily/features/11_ChandraNalaar.jpg did a lot more plausibly – the “crouched in a defensive stance, about to fight” pose. It’s just doing a very poor job of it.

    • Funnily enough, that’s pretty much what my dude used to think about the art in MtG. Then I showed him a couple of Wundergeek’s posts on the subject and he started noticing things he didn’t pay attention to before. And then he was like “now you ruined it for meeeeee!!11”

      • On the other hand, even while I can agree with Wundergeek’s base thesis, I think, too, sometimes there’s a little too much of what I think of as the “iron burqa” effect and not enough consideration of context. There was a ‘post nonsexualized badass women’ thread on RPGnet awhile back that did highlight the problem, but also brought out a contingent who basically dismissed any picture that did not show a woman eviscerating a monster RIGHT THEN as ‘not badass’, or showing ANY skin as ‘sexualized’.

        I.e., one of the pictures Wundergeek called problematic awhile back was from the card Wild Nacatl, showing a not-very-clad cat-lady leaping down from a tree in ambush. Which would be fine if it wasn’t a picture of a native of a jungle world where everyone was clothing optional, and the set had a great many pictures of half-naked catpeople both male and female.

        Again, I want to emphasize, I’m not trying to dismiss the idea that there’s a sexist bent to a lot – even most – fantasy art, because I totally agree with the idea and think it is obviously and patently true. However, I think it’d be better to go after the stuff that’s really, really ridiculous instead of straining at every gnat, because it’s easier to keep the complaints credible and, accordingly, show the people who reply “durr I don’t see the problem” as being clueless.

        Granted, my preferred approach would be to get more beefcake shots in the mix to make the ratios even than desexualize it all equally. It is fantasy art after all. It’s why Exalted remains a favorite RPG line of mine. While there’s been occasional fail *koffSavantandSorcerorkoff* it’s more usually been equal-opportunity art-wise while refusing to pretend people don’t have sex. People who should be wearing armor are wearing it. People who don’t wear armor probably know kung fu that can make your legs drop off, literally, and they’re equally likely to be male or female. It’s not perfect, by any means, but the art is usually well-balanced while the text explicitly is.

        • Which would be fine if it wasn’t a picture of a native of a jungle world where everyone was clothing optional, and the set had a great many pictures of half-naked catpeople both male and female.

          You’re referring to this, right?

          One of the points that Wundergeek has tried to make clear elsewhere is that not all half-naked catpeople are created equal. It’s not just about how much skin is showing (more skin doesn’t necessarily mean more sexualized) — how the costume and posing serve to frame the character for the viewer are important, as well.

          That more subtle issue might be harder to see if you haven’t had it pointed out, but I don’t think it’s any less important.

            • Oh, I’m in the mid-to-high-90s agreement-wise; as said, I’m in total agreement with the basic point. I just found that specific example a little off, and I’d much rather encourage heroically idealized female figures in fantasy art to match the males, as opposed the current setup where females are usually sexually idealized (if one could call some of the anatomy failures used as previous example “ideal”, heh) and the males heroically idealized. I think games need more Pathfinder Barbarians, fewer Red Sonja scalemail bikinis.

              It’s like the Bechdel Test – it’s a fantastic rule of thumb for displaying how sexist Hollywood movies tend to be, but it’s more telling about films as a whole than any one specific movie. ’twas only meant to be a mild comment and I didn’t even expect it to go to this much back and forth.🙂

    • Kill it with fire usually/nuke the site from orbit, its the only way to be sure….those tend to be the reactions I see, hell somedays its the reactions I have.

      Still it can be a handy source for me to ideas from.

      • 4Chan gets lot more tolerable when you notice that the “-fag” suffix that gets thrown onto everything is also used by posters to refer to themselves. (like how US posters call themselves Americunts).

        Aside from that, there’s not much /tg/ has to offend. The first post I brought up just now was Sisters of Battle fans bitching about thier new WB codex, followed by someone asking about good period music to play Arkham horror to. It’s not really all that worse than any other board.

  15. “When a feminist talks about the shared experience of having a vagina, or a period, or child-bearing, they’ve engaged in cissexism by equating their biology with their womanhood”

    Oh god! Oh my god! I’m shocked about this disgusting statement. So women can’t talk about their biology?? They can’t talk about something they experience every day because it’s “cissexist”?? Having a vagina, period and giving birth to a child is part of womanhood it is a fact! It is part of female biology.

    Normaly I’m just reading this blog without commenting but this statement offended me.
    Sorry for my english.

    • I want to be polite here, but I really don’t think you understood what was being expressed in the post that you quoted.

    • Lilly, you’re wrong. Not all women do share that experience or have the same biology; prioritizing it and promoting it as monolithic *is* cissexist. There are ways to talk about these things, but they require you to realize that your experience is not universal – that not all women share those qualities, and some people are not women do – and then annotate communication to demonstrate that understanding. Most people don’t though, preferring instead to huddle in their privilege, get defensive, and be disgusted.

    • I think you’re misunderstanding that statement. It isn’t that women can’t talk about their biology, its that not all women share the same biology. Even if you just take cis women, not all of them can have children. Hell, not all of them have periods (due to menopause, medical issues, whatnot). Does that make them less women than those who can? I would hope not. Just as a transwoman is no less a woman.

      It’s equating being able to have children (for example) with being a woman that’s a problem. Does that make more sense?

      (There’s also a tendency in some feminist circles to assume that everyone experiences female biology the same way. The idea that everyone remembers their first period is a common one. That kind of thinking kicks even more people out of the “women” club, so to speak.)

    • Is defamation* and encouraging a boycott via the internet ever a good way to deal with abuse and rape ?

      I was going to stay away from this landmine but I’ve been taking my stupid pills again.

      *depending on your local definitions I think going around stating that someone not convicted of the crimes counts.

      • I apologize in advance if this post comes off as calculated. I’m trying very hard to be diplomatic.

        In his own words, Jack (the alleged victim) put this out there because he was uncomfortable with Caoimhe profiting from feminism while being a rapist. How can anyone tell Jack what the wrong or right way to deal with this is?

        As for the defamation thing — I can’t really find a way to read your post that doesn’t say “people who publicly accuse others of rape are breaking the law”. (Defamation is a crime.) I don’t think that’s true, and I don’t think it would be a good thing if it was.

      • Oh my. You’re a little confused here:

        “Is defamation* and encouraging a boycott via the internet ever a good way to deal with abuse and rape ?”

        There’s been no calls from the accusers for a boycott. If people don’t buy it, it’s probably because “I is feminizt!” was the only selling point, and that’s not one they can push right now.

        “*depending on your local definitions I think going around stating that someone not convicted of the crimes counts.”

        See, the problem with this argument is that the vast majority of the accussed are never tried in the first place because of this thing called “plea bargaining”. More than 90% of prisoners that confessed to crimes are unworthy of being called “criminals” by your definition.

        I do understand the scepticism, believe me. “Trannies are men trying to get close enough to rape us!” has been radfem propaganda since the ’70s, so I was very suspicious when I heard of this. But I swallowed that unease because most evidence provided here is pretty clearly against Ms. Snow. Are we absolutely certain? No, but we aren’t even absolutely certain about gravity either.

        • Le sigh.

          From my pov here, we have a what, third or fourth party ‘nona’ who as far as I can tell is not jack*, ms snow or alexandraerin* coming here and not accusing but stating as fact that ms.snow is a both a rapist and abuser and that her work should not be promoted on that basis, even though as far as I can tell she is only one of several people on the project….that doesnt sit right with, I am sorry.

          I’m sorry that I am uncomfortable with the idea of tossing out the whole ‘innocent until proven guilty in a court of law’ thing out the window and swapping it for the court of internet opinion and blogging.

          I am not saying that any legal system is perfect nor am I saying that they dont tend to be shit at dealing with sexual offences but they are there and they can work, perhaps it would be better to use them rather than start something that smells an awful lot like an internet witch hunt & smear campaign.

          *unless Nona is a pseudonym either of those 2 use and I’m just not aware of it, in which case I retract most of what I said but I stand by the idea of using the legal system first .

          • The legal system is functionally broken when it comes to survivors or rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence. Speaking as a trans survivor of sexual assault, and someone who’s volunteered years of my life to working with survivors, I promise you it’s even more so for people from marginalized communities such. The process practically guarantees that survivors will find themselves re-victimized over and over again as their lives are put on trial and offered up for scrutiny…from the initial contact with law enforcement to appearances in court where you have to face your attacker to having your life shredded by attorneys in an attempt to discredit you, engaging the legal system is often the worst thing a survivor can do to help with their healing (it can also be a very good step, if that’s the kind of empowerment you need, but it’s different for each individual). Surviving rape is about empowerment and doing what’s right for oneself at any given moment; sometimes that means filing legal charges, and sometimes it means going public with your story on the internet to reclaim your voice. If the court of law is the only place survivors are allowed to talk about what happened to them and everywhere else is enforced silence, then rape culture wins.

            • I dont think this difference of opinions is going to/can be resolved here I’m afraid, so with due respect I think I’ll bow out of this conversation.

          • I know where you’re coming from.

            On the one hand, the whole thing seems fishy to me on several levels. On the other hand, I feel like some sort of apologist for thinking that a rape accusation, regardless of the details, seems “fishy.”

            At any rate, she canceled it. Not sure what to make of that.

    • Well fuck me; here I thought this was just a sit trying to jazz up a boring product, not a defence mechanism. At least she cancelled it.

    • I think the fact that they had fans vote on sets rather than specific traits works against all of the Shepards that aren’t #5, because her hairstyle is the most appealing. =/

      There are a few photoshops floating around that changed the hair color and skintone that look a lot better than the option they actually provided (who honestly looks too pale) — a redhead version that seems to be quite popular, and a really awesome version with black hair and darker skin.

      It’s really too bad they did it the way they did. =/

      • I’m with Ikkin here. None of these Femsheps say ‘I’m so sexy’ to me so we are really down to who looks more bad ass and the blond’s hair style and expression really seems to convey a ‘don’t fuck with me message’ better then most of the other options.

    • So stupid, an RPG is designed to penetrate tank armor, that stupid shield would only detonate the damn thing in perfect position.

      Plus you have people crossing each others firelanes without warning, the support weapon doesnt have a belt feed , the bolt action rifle doesnt seem to have either a mag or a clip.

      I’m guessing you meant the female medic with her own jiggle phsycis engine?

  16. Too lazy to do like a paint line thing over your drawing, but it looks completely anatomically possible and you can see where her torso actually goes if you look closely. the shoulder cape thingy just bends way out, implying its flexible but not loose.

  17. This is off-topic, but I do not know where to send you such info so:
    I already asked you in one of the previous post you made what did you think about the art for this show and you said that it looked good but that you needed to see it in motion to be able to judge if it is good. So here is the link to The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra trailer if you are interested:

  18. Not all artists are perfect. The arm placement on that first one is a bit… odd… but, well, refer to the previous statement. Sometimes, also, you don’t notice a big screwup until after you’ve already drawn and finished the image, because you’ve been spending so much time staring at it that it doesn’t seem all that bad to you. Someone should have pointed that out, but they also might not have seen that odd bit of torso in the shadows.

    As for Chandra, and some of your other pose/proportion nitpicks. It’s art, sometimes exaggerated disproportions are simply part of the style of the image, or the artist’s style in general. I draw unnaturally curved calves for example, and while I don’t go to the level of SD or caricatures, I sometimes won’t quite obey all proportion laws. Long legs, long torsos, etc, it doesn’t have to be perfect unless it’s intended to.

    The poses as well, they’re supposed to be that wild and unrealistic as to add action or an emotion to the image.

  19. Crappy proportions in Magic art tend to be just that; if you check out plenty of the male art in the same set (Garruk’s gigantic barrel chest comes to mind), you’ll find the same problem.

    I have no doubt that Magic art has quite a few sexist trends, but I doubt Azure Mage’s inexplicable anatomy was one of them.

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