D&D 5E Core Books: Numbers Aren’t the Whole Story [LONG][MANY IMAGES]

In my last post, I wrote a detailed breakdown of the representation of women in the 5th Edition D&D core books, along with a basic analysis of what those numbers meant. However, as is the case with any numbers post that I do, it’s also important to note that numbers inevitably don’t capture the nuances of depiction that can be important to consider:

Looking at the gender ratios for both fully-covered (characters shown as being covered from neck to ankle and shoulder to wrist) and suggestively attired (characters with either portions of exposed torso or exposed portions of upper thigh) characters, the numbers collected make it appear as though depictions are pretty evenly balanced across all three books. However in all of the PHB, there were only 6 illustrations that I outright rolled my eyes of, whereas I just plain wanted to chuck half of the monster manual in the garbage for how bullshit it’s treatment of women is.

…I suspect that a large portion of the reason behind this is my decision to include ungendered figures in my counts for the first time; that is probably throwing off my results in ways I haven’t figured out how to account for yet. This in combination with the fact that how I define “suggestively attired” and “fully covered” and how consistently I apply these definitions are intended to over-correct for the difference in depiction, since my own personal bias is admittedly… pretty strong.

To be honest, in going through the images (and there are a lot of them), I would be hard-pressed to nail down a definitive reason for why the numbers appear so much more equitable than the reality. But I can at least speak to some broad trends:

But first, an aside

As mentioned last time, one of the things that struck me about the imbalanced depiction of women was that it was “best” (ie most balanced) in the PHB and “worst” in the Monster Manual, with the DMG falling squarely in the middle. But once I took some time to reflect on that, it actually wasn’t all that surprising.

Consider that the PHB is aimed at depicting characters that would make appealing avatars in a game. Since WotC is taking greater pains to not alienate women, it makes sense that the art direction would be strongest with regard to cutting down on bullshit depictions of women in the PHB. In a very real sense, the art in the PHB is a reflection of what the players can aspire to be in the context of the D&D universe, so art that only depicts women as sexy objects to be consumed by a presumed male viewer would be counterproductive to the goal of getting more women to play the game.

The DMG, however, is focused just as much as on depicting the world and opposition that the PCs will face as it is on depicting avatar characters. And the Monster Manual is used pretty much only as an aid to the GM in fleshing out antagonists the PCs will face. (There are some circumstances, say if you play a shifter druid, where the Monster Manual can be used as a player supplement, but those circumstances are comparatively rare.) Consequently, the less explicitly player-focused the book is, the worse the art seems to get.

And, obviously, that sucks! Because honestly, yes it’s nice that D&D is doing better at portraying female characters who function as player avatars. But only doing well at player-avatars is it’s own special brand of fucked up, because you’re essentially saying that women who are heroes (PCs) are special snowflakes who have somehow managed to transcend sexism and oppression by just, I don’t know, shaking off patriarchy. Which just isn’t how it fucking works.

Art Trend #1: The men are men and the women are sexy

One thing I will say for the PHB is that as irksome as I find the lack of female representation, there were only five illustrations in the PHB that I found really objectionable, and those were mostly because it was obvious that the artist in question was doing their best to thwart art notes that called for characters that weren’t gratuitously sexualized:


All of these (except the woman in the middle) were counted as suggestively attired, owing to what the artist chose to reveal, though some of these are a bit more obviously egregious than others. For instance, the woman on the far left, and the druid with the tiger? Those are obviously bullshit. Leather bustiers as armor are one of the most common of cheesecake fantasy art sins, and sexy ladies with tigers is it’s own special subspecies of fantasy art bullshit I wish would go away forever. However, looking at the others, it’s still obvious that the artists were determined to squeeze in the maximum sexiness that they felt they could get away with.

Frex, look at the contorted pose that the elven mage is twisted into – I don’t care that she’s not human, that is an unnatural degree of spine bend, for no other reason than to emphasize her… attributes. Her top is also completely strapless and I’m not sure how she’s keeping it up, since double-sided tape isn’t exactly something you can find on an item table in the DMG. Or take the ranger on the far right – the artist was clearly hoping that no one would notice that she’s not actually wearing pants. (“It’s called barkskin, so clearly she’s gotta show some skin, right?”)

Lastly, check out the druid in the middle. This is one of the clearest cases of “draw naked, add clothes with extreme reluctance” that I’ve seen in a while. What the fuck is up with that ass perspective? And that ridiculous ass-leaf is only emphasizing how we can aaalmoooost see some rear-camel-toe, rather than doing anything to actually preserve modesty. But despite being worse than the pantsless ranger on the far right in terms of degree of sexualization, she is still counted as not suggestively attired while the ranger is.

It’s also important to consider that characters counted as fully-covered were also depressingly prone to being sexualized, even when they weren’t counted as being suggestively attired. Take, for instance, these four illustrations from the DMG which all depict women counted as fully-covered.:

The half-orc on the far left is the only one counted as suggestively attired, owing to the ridiculous cleavage window (which wasn’t even well done, why are her breasts so weirdly shaped, what the hell). And yet, out of all of these women, she’s actually the least egregious because at least she’s not overly objectified or distorted, and seems to be having an actual character moment. Whereas the left-middle woman and the far-right woman are both wearing some of the most fucking ridiculous boobplate I have ever seen[1] and are both shown in poses that I can only describe as “boob perspective”.

And while the right-middle woman isn’t wearing boobplate, the artist clearly got so wrapped up in drawing her strange armored stripper boots that he kind of forgot to pay attention to how the middle bits all go together, and then just kind of said “fuck it, I’m going to add a naked fire lady because who cares?”. So once again, despite the fact that the criteria for “fully covered” is clearly defined, sometimes images that technically fail to meet that criteria are better than the ones that do!

And of course, it’s definitely worth mentioning that even when there are male and female figures that are both meant to be sexy, the women are clearly more objectified than the men, as is the case with this illustration of an incubus and a succubus in the Monster Manual:


As a matter of fact, in all of the 5E core books, there was only one illustation of a male character that I would be willing to say was as equally sexualized as most of the sexualized women:


If even half of the male characters that were counted as suggestively attired looked like this guy, I don’t think I would have found the unequal sexualization nearly so bothersome. But unfortunately, what so many people fail to grasp (as witnessed by the fact that people commonly think that Conan is “as bad” as Red Sonja) is that simply not wearing a shirt/pants is not the same thing as being sexualized. Which brings us to…

Art Trend #2: Male figures counted as “suggestively attired” are almost never sexy; female figures almost always are

This is something that I have written about extensively on this blog in the past (you can find this point mentioned in pretty much all of my numbers posts); the prevailing trend in fantasy artwork is to use otherwise suggestive attire to make a statement about the “bestial” or “savage” nature of a culture being depicted. Because almost universally, characters shown in attire that would count as suggestive (no shirt, no pants, etc) are clearly not intended to be found sexually appealing.

There is also a tendency for “savage” characters to be depicted in hordes, which given that I am basing my figures on the numbers of distinct individual figures, throws off the numbers quite a bit. Goblins most especially tend to wreck my results, given that there’s always tons of them, and they’re never wearing any goddamn pants:


Now, I feel pretty strongly that none of the goblins in the above illustrations were intended to be viewed as sexualized. But since I realize that some people could still make an argument to the contrary, here are some even more extreme examples of male figures that were counted as suggestively attired that are really really not sexy:


All of these were figures that were counted as male, and all of these are really, really not sexy. Especially the two on the left! And yet just like the goblins, all of these are characters that counted as suggestively attired, which has the unfortunate effect of making it look as if the numbers of suggestively attired characters are close to balanced, when they’re really really not.

Of course, the worst book with regard to this trend was the Monster Manual, where any creature you might face is assumed to be male, unless it is female – and then it is sexy. Here are just a few of the my least favorite examples:



What the fuck is up with the black-armor demon’s broken spine pose? Why are the marilith and the ghost both making duckface? Why did they give A GODDAMN ROCK cleavage? Why would a drider wear midriff-exposing scale male when she’s a fucking spider? Why does the sea hag have so much goddamn sideboob?? I swear to god I couldn’t go more than about 10 or 20 pages without seeing some bullshit that reminded me of how much gaming hates women, which is just depressing.

The contrast only gets more ridiculous on the rare occasions when you have male and female depictions side-by-side (something which is surprisingly rare in the Monster Manual, but only because the Monster Manual doesn’t contain very many women at all). Take, for example, these merfolk:


With the male figure on the right, the artist clearly put a lot of thought into how this human-fish hybrid would work. There is a lot of detail put into the musculature of not just the torso as it joins with the lower half, but also the neck, shoulders, and arms. Whereas with the female figure on the left? About the only real anatomical considerations are giving this poor woman some sexay fish boobs.

However, the award for the absolute worst example of this goes hands down to the Yuan-ti:


Seriously? SERIOUSLY? What the fuck is this shit? What the hell happened that the general art directive was something along the lines of “make D&D suck less at women” and then this happened? Because the two male yuan-ti are side by side in a full page spread, and the Yuan-ti Pureblood is LITERALLY ON THE NEXT PAGE. Which is basically the visual equivalent of “OKAY BUT IF THERE’S ANY CHICKS THERE I WANT TO DOOO THEM!”


But wait! There’s more!

That’s it for larger trends, but believe me, folks, I’m just getting started. I’ve got about another 2,000 words that I want to write about some very specific fucked up things going on in the 5E Core books, but this post is long enough already. So expect more in a day or two!

[1] Seriously, in boobplate that extreme it would only take one reasonably-strong blow to the sternum to kill you. The purpose of armor is to DEFLECT the blow, not to channel force to the most vulnerable parts of your anatomy, for Christ’s sake.

Representation in D&D 5E Core Books: “better than the rest” unfortunately still falls short [CHARTS!!]


Right before leaving for this year’s GenCon, I put up a post about my frustrations with the lack of consistency of art direction between Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons; both product lines are owned and published by Wizards of the Coast, so I’ve always found it confusing that their art directions are so divergent wrt depictions of women. Happily, this actually wound up being a major topic of conversation during my lunch this year with Tracy Hurley and Mike Mearls, and as a result I found myself wanting to take a more definitive look at the D&D 5E core books to see how they compared to M:TG’s recent art direction in terms of actual numbers. Because while I’ve done some work that I’m very excited about aimed at increasing the diversity of representation in D&D products, there’s no real substitute for looking at actual numbers and getting a clear picture of where something actually stands.

Now, I’ve written about the D&D 5th Edition Player’s Handbook in the past, which can be summed up as ZOMG! SO MANY AWSUM WIMMINZ!! So I was honestly a bit reluctant to go through and examine all of the images in detail, because I was afraid that my overwhelmingly positive feelings would be complicated by the actual reality. And it turns out that I was right to be concerned, unfortunately. (But I’ll come back to that part.)


In writing my initial post about 5th Edition artwork, I only had access to the PHB. However, this time around I decided to examine the PHB, Dungeon Masters’ Guide, and Monster Manual, because those are the three books required to “make the system go” as it were. (Though certainly a large number of players who didn’t plan on GMing would only own the PHB.)

As with all of my other “numbers” posts, I was specifically interested in tracking the following criteria:

  • total breakdown of figures by gender
  • prevalence of fully-covered versus suggestively-attired figures by gender
  • class archetype depicted by gender

(For a more detailed explanation of what I mean by these criteria, you can read my very first such study here – starting with the heading “Determining Methodology”.)

However, because of trends that I noticed flipping through books, I did make some modifications to my criteria and how I counted things. For instance, as there were a large number of illustrations where it was not possible to determine the gender of a given figure, I counted “humanoid figures without discernible gender” separately from male and female figures.

One thing that I also noticed while flipping through the books is that there seemed to be a marked difference in representation between group shots (shots with multiple figures) and shots with only one character; as such I looked at the gender-breakdown of single-character shots as well as group shots that contained male figures and group shots that contained female figures.

Results and Analysis

Looking at such a wide variety of criteria across three books means that I wound up with four pages of hand-written tallies, numbers, and notes. So this section gets a bit chart-happy[1]. Do bear with me.

Base Demographics

As previously mentioned, my fear that women would turn out to not be as well-represented as I had thought they would be was supported by the actual data once I started counting things. (Although interestingly, I will note that one trend that held almost universally across each of the criteria that I examined was that representation was almost always best in the PHB, worst in the Monster Manual, and about halfway in between in the DMG.)


As positively as I had remembered the representation of women in the PHB being, it turns out that female figures accounted for only 30% of figures. The DMG did almost as well, but not quite, with female figures accounting for 26% of all figures, while the Monster Manual was clearly the worst with only 19% female representation.

However, specifically with regard to the PHB… It is true that ungendered figures make up only 7% of all figures, and if these are not included in the overall tally the percentage of female representation does increase. But given that ungendered figures represent a much larger portion of the total number of figures in the DMG and MM, it seemed important to retain this as a separate category.

Now overall, these figures tell a compelling story, but something that occurred to me when I was flipping through the books for a second time[2]. It seemed to me as if the women were being better represented in group shots than they were in single-character illustrations – as if when it came to group and environment scenes it was a no-brainer most of the time for artists to say to themselves “well I gotta make sure I include at least one woman in here”, but when it came to single-character illustrations that the default impulse to depict a man was largely going unquestioned.

And again, the data largely supports that impression:




In both the DMG and PHB, only approximately a third of all multi-character illustrations did not contain women. Which, let me just say is still an atrocious total. If women are 1/2 of the population, it’s pretty terrible when 30% of your environment shots don’t actually reflect that – especially since I wasn’t actually counting the gender balance in each group shot. I was just counting if a group shot contained women.

The Monster Manual is a bit harder to draw conclusions about, given that there are only 11 multi-character illustrations in the entire book. However, I’m inclined to say a 2-to-9 ratio is pretty obviously terrible, even given the small sample size. Especially when you consider that the lack of representation is just as bad in the Monster Manual’s single-character illustrations.

The last bit of demographic information I looked at was class archetype:


In fantasy and gaming artwork, it’s still an unfortunately common stereotype to see men depicted overwhelmingly as fighters and women overwhelmingly depicted as mages. Because of course it is the job of the big strong mans to hit things with swords while the women stand safely in the back and twiddle their fingers. [sigh]

This is perhaps the one area where the DMG can be said to have clearly done better than the PHB, because the balance of character archetype depiction by gender was the closest to even in the DMG. With regards to the depiction of fighters, the imbalance in the PHB is disappointingly large – with 61% of all fighters in the PHB being depicted as male and a measly 22% being explicitly gendered as female. Whereas the Monster Manual once again comes in dead last with a whopping 82% of all fighters being depicted as male.

Style of Depictions

The second set of numbers collected were intended to convey data about the differences in how men were depicted versus women. However, the only numbers that wound up being even sort of clear-cut were the numbers regarding active poses versus neutral poses:


The Player’s Handbook had the closest to an even split of active and neutral poses, which I found hugely encouraging. However, things start getting a bit confusing with the DMG – women are actually more likely to be depicted as active than men. And in the Monster Manual, despite that the illustrations in the MM were clearly the worst about portraying women, the numbers of active versus neutral poses are again pretty close to an even split.

Things got even more confusing when I started looking at the results of my tallies of fully-covered and suggestively attired characters. After going through each book so many times, the impression that I got was that the most thought had been put into balancing depictions of women in the PHB, a bit less thought had gone into balancing the DMG, and that the Monster Manual had been very much “business as usual” as far as the artists were concerned.

But the numbers that I collected didn’t tell that story at all:


Looking at the gender ratios for both fully-covered (characters shown as being covered from neck to ankle and shoulder to wrist) and suggestively attired (characters with either portions of exposed torso or exposed portions of upper thigh) characters, the numbers collected make it appear as though depictions are pretty evenly balanced across all three books. However in all of the PHB, there were only 6 illustrations that I outright rolled my eyes of, whereas I just plain wanted to chuck half of the monster manual in the garbage for how bullshit it’s treatment of women is.

It’s about more than just numbers

I suspect that a large portion of the reason behind this is my decision to include ungendered figures in my counts for the first time; that is probably throwing off my results in ways I haven’t figured out how to account for yet. This in combination with the fact that how I define “suggestively attired” and “fully covered” and how consistently I apply these definitions are intended to over-correct for the difference in depiction, since my own personal bias is admittedly… pretty strong.

For example, in doing such posts in the past, I almost always end up with at least a few corpses counted as suggestive. Often I end up with (male) animal people who are clearly intended to be seen as “bestial” rather than alluring. And once I wound up counting a zombie that had been turned into furniture as suggestive.

So it’s important to point out that the numbers will only get you so far – especially when what is being discussed is something as inherently hard to quantify as art. So, as I’ve already put an inordinate amount of work into putting this post together and it’s getting pretty long, that will be what we take a look at next time.

I should note that all of these charts were made using Infogr.am – since Excel’s chartmaker makes ugly, hard-to-read charts. Sadly, Infogr.am’s embed code doesn’t get along with WordPress.com’s interface and I wound up having to cobble things together on their own

 As it turns out, because I wasn’t exactly sure how I needed to change my criteria around, I wound up going through each book and doing detailed counts FOUR TIMES. Ugh.

Smite: sexist, racist, and culturally appropriating [LONG]

[ETA: I’ve revised my comments with regards to the Greek deities and whiteness, which weren’t clear enough, but you should also read the comments.]

I try not to pay attention to MMOs anymore, because the vast majority of them are steaming dung piles of bullshit sexism. However, Smite is a game that kept coming up on my radar for various reasons. When it first came out, my brother emailed me a few pieces of promo art of the female characters. More recently, a few friends over on G+ that have been talking about playing Smite. So when Smite made a few headlines last week for its decision to include Hindu gods as playable characters, I figured that it would be worth taking a closer look since that was the third time in a relatively short period of time that it caught my attention.

As it turns out, I wound up having a lot of stuff to say. So let’s just jump right on in!

Getting ready to rumble

What exactly is Smite? Smite is a MOBA – a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, a genre made popular by games like Defense of the Ancients 2 (DOTA2) and League of Legends. Smite, like other MOBAs, has a pre-set roster of characters that you can choose to play as that have set abilities. If you wish, you can pay extra to unlock special characters or alternate skins. And Smite has a lot of playable characters – sixty-six in total.

Those of you who have been reading my blog long enough to be familiar with my numbers posts will know that I generally tend to stick to the same set of criteria when evaluating character designs in video games; typically I will compare the numbers of figures that are shown with: 1) active poses versus neutral poses and 2) fully clothed versus suggestively attired by gender in order to demonstrate the consistent under-representation, objectification, and sexualization of female characters.

However, this time around going to all that effort really felt like a tremendous waste of time. Such an approach might be worthwhile when I’m writing about Magic and how, despite recent improvements in art direction, their art is still very sexist. But when I’m looking at a game like Smite, which is just as blatant in it’s bullshit sexism as League of Legends, it just feels like a giant fucking waste of time.

I mean, look. This is Aphrodite:


Ridiculous, right? Even more so when you consider that she’s not even the least clothed Smite character. So let’s just take it as a given that the female character designs are definitely objectifying and sexist and not waste time beating a dead horse[1]. Especially as there were a lot of characters to look at and other issues of representation that I wanted write about regarding problematic racist tropes.

Criteria examined and overall summary

[Note: When looking at characters, I looked at the default designs and descriptions as shown on Gamepedia’s Smite Wiki. If I get anything wrong here, I blame Gamepedia.]

In the end, the criteria I decided to examine were:

Number of figures by gender: simply the number of female figures and the number of male figures

Whether a character was whitewashed: I considered a character to be whitewashed if they came from a nonwhite culture but were explicitly depicted as white. I did not count a character as whitewashed if they were an animal or other nonhuman, had animal features, or had nonhuman skin tones (there are several characters that are either blue or purple). While some of them seemed like edge cases that could count as whitewashing, for the most part it seemed too ambiguous to make a definite argument one way or another.

Deity alignment: This was taken from the character descriptions on the wiki rather than the artwork; each character had a blurb a few paragraphs long about their backstory. I read each and assigned each deity as either Good, Neutral, or Evil. (A lot of the Greek gods wound up as Neutral, just because they capricious assholes even if they are gods of nominally good things.)

Character Damage Type: Again, as defined on the Smite wiki, I was curious to see if there would be an imbalance of Ranged characters versus Melee characters, since that’s a pretty common area of imbalance in many other video games.

After going through all 66 characters and taking tally, here’s what I came up with:


In some ways, the numbers were a bit surprising even while they were also completely predictable. Female characters account for 30% of all playable characters. However, while they were clearly more sexualized and objectified, they weren’t any more likely to be whitewashed or to be pigeon-holed as a ranged character. There is an interesting difference when it comes to alignment, but I’ll come back to that in a bit.

Bullshit sexism

As previously stated, I don’t intend to waste words proving that Smite’s character designs are sexist and bullshit, because they just are. Many of the female promo art pieces feature broken spines, anti-gravity sphere boobs, and painted on clothing. Almost none of the female characters have clothes that would actually function to preserve modesty in any meaningful way in the real world. So regarding the female character design, I’m just going to issue a blanket: THEY’RE BULLSHIT and move on with my life.

Instead, let’s talk about how Smite is another perfect example of the interesting/pretty binary, which I’ve talked about before:

Notice how the male human gets to have actual facial expressions that convey emotions? While the female character renders all have the same vapid expression but with different hairstyles. Because men get to DO THINGS and EXPRESS THEMSELVES but women get to BE PRETTY.

When looking at the different character types, there is such a huge variety when it comes to male characters! Male deities can be humans, humanoids, demi-humans, robots, giant flying serpents, or even giant-ass rock-creatures. Whereas the female deities? Well they get boobs. And sometimes funny hats.

Case in point, look at what happens when you compare male animal and demi-human deities with female animal and demi-human deities:

animal dudes Animal ladies


The male deities are all very appealing avatar images. They give a strong sense of the culture that they come from, while also appearing strong and heroic. Whereas the female deities? The most important part of their designs are their tits, and making sure that they are clearly visible to the viewer. Giant spider thing? TITS. Man-eating snake thing? ‘DEM BOOBS THO. It really goes a long way toward illustrating[2] the priorities of the design team.

Now the interesting thing about Smite is that is that it also manages to throw in some “benevolent” sexism along with all of the bullshit objectification. Remember how I said there was a weird gender imbalance when it came to deity alignment? Well it turns out that out of 19 evil deities, only one is female:

female alignment

male alignment

Now, you may be saying to yourself – but wundergeek, I don’t get it. What’s the problem? The problem is that the stereotype of women are more wholesome and more nurturing is benevolent sexism, which is still sexism. It’s like the boss I had once who told me he only hired women to work in the office because we were more nurturing and community-minded. I found his comment terribly offensive, but didn’t say anything because I happened to desperately need the job at the time.

However, even if it is a stereotype I will admit that this actually ran counter to what I expected. Given that the female characters in Smite were so grossly oversexualized, I had expected the evil deities to skew female – you know, because sexy women are always evil. Since, you know, [mumblemumble]femme fatale[mumblereasons].

So at least if the female characters are horribly stereotyped, at least we have a mix of regressive stereotypes. Yay diversity!

Racist whitewashing

Something that’s honestly more important than the frankly not-all-that-exceptional-for-video-games level of sexism in Smite is the fact that there is an UNBELIEVABLE LEVEL OF WHITEWASHING. Literally EVERY PANTHEON except the Norse deities is whitewashed, with the worst example being the Greek pantheon – who are shown almost universally as blondes or gingers:

(LEFT: Aphrodite, MIDDLE LEFT: Scylla, MIDDLE RIGHT: Apollo, RIGHT: Athena)

[sigh] Uh, video game industry dudes? I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but Greeks are NOT ACTUALLY WHITE ACTUALLY PRETTY BROWN. Take for example, Tonia Sotiropoulou – who played the Bond Girl[3] in Skyfall. I realize this is an embarrassingly common trope in video games (I’m looking at you Soul Calibur!) but this is pretty fucking awful.

However, EVEN WORSE than the Greek deities are the Chinese deities:

Chinese whitewashed

WHY DO NONE OF THEM LOOK ASIAN? Seriously, the only one who maybe looks even sorta-kinda Asian is Chang’e, and even then she still looks Katy Perry doing her best Asian drag. All of them have round eyes and decidedly European features.

And I already know what some people might be saying; OMG it’s just the style, the art is anime-influenced, the art is heavily stylized, blah blah blah. So let’s take a second and zoom in on two of the character portraits for these supposedly Chinese deities, shall we?

LEFT: Hou Yi, RIGHT: Ne Zha

Looking closely at the faces, you can see that it’s not just the eyes – although those are a big part of why they look decidedly un-Chinese. Their eyes are round, with visible lids, and are un-slanted. But more than that, the features and facial structure overall conveys the impression of whiteness. And given that I see this mistake repeated again and again across all of the character designs, I have to think that this mistake is more than just accidental.

The Chinese deities do not look Chinese. The Greek deities do not look Greek. The Hindu deities do not look South Asian. It’s obvious that effort was put into ensuring that the costume design would be recognizably adherent to the culture that was being referenced, but when it came to the actual faces of the gods being portrayed? The artist doing the designs obviously didn’t bother looking up references for non-white faces, because EVERY. SINGLE. DEITY. has white features. ALL of the deities that are even slightly human have indisputably white features, which is frankly, inexcusable.

About the only positive thing that can be said with regard to Smite’s frankly terribly racist character designs is that, contrary to my first impression, heroic gods weren’t more likely to be whitewashed than evil ones. So. yay? At least we’re engaging in equal opportunity racism and whitewashing here.

Culturally Appropriating

And here we come to the bit that inspired me to write about Smite in the first place. Apparently the publishers of Smite have decided to add Hindu deities as a faction – a decision which breaks with their use of only dead religions for all of their other factions. (ETA: It’s been pointed out to me that Norse paganism is not actually a dead religion, even if it is widely perceived to be. I apologize.) Unsurprisingly, given that Hinduism is a religion that is alive and well in the world today, there was pushback against this decision, arguing that if Hinduism was fair game that figures from other modern religion – like Jesus or Moses should be permissible.

However, Smite’s publishers would like us all to know that they are definitely not going to use Christian, Jewish, or Islamic figures in their game. But don’t worry – Hindu deities are still a-okay!

Rama – one of the chief avatars of Vishnu

…which is, frankly, pretty bullshit. Especially when you look at the list of Hindu deities that are included, like Rama – one of the chief avatars of Vishnu and one of the most widely venerated figures in Hinduism today. And Hinduism is not a small religion! With approximately 1 billion adherents, Hindus account for approximately 1 in 7 humans on the planet – which makes the decision of Smite developers to use religious figures of central importance to a large and vibrant modern religion all the more shocking.

Because it’s obvious that when faced with the question of “where to draw the line” that the developers of Smite were clear on the fact that they weren’t willing to do anything that might offend any adherents of the Abrahamic traditions, many of whom are white or can pass for white[4]. But Hinduism? Well Hinduism is for INDIANS who are just so, you know, EXOTIC.

…which is just more creepy, culturally appropriating bullshit.

But really, given how generally awful Smite is, I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising.

[1] Fair warning. Any comments attempting to argue that Smite’s character designs aren’t sexist are going to be straight-up trashed. I don’t have time for bullshit of that magnitude.

[2] See what I did there?

[3] I have a whole ‘nother rant about Bond Girls and how fucking sexist they are, and how it’s particularly awful that in Skyfall the Bond Girl literally has sex with Bond and then has maybe 3 or 4 more lines of dialogue before dying.

[4] I realize that I am arguing something problematic here. There is a perception that Christianity is equated with whiteness, despite the fact that there are large and vibrant faith communities in South America and Africa and other areas of the world that are decidedly nonwhite. And given the overlap of traditions between the Abrahamic faiths, there tends to be a certain level of automatic goodwill extended to Judaism and Islam. However, I recognize the racial diversity of the communities that practice these faiths and certainly am not arguing that they are worth protecting because of their whiteness or proximity to whiteness.


Year in Review: My experiences with Patreon and self-publishing in 2014

(ETA: I forgot resolution number 6!)

Because I’m a big fan of transparency, as I find it helps encourage new self-publishers and content creators (women especially), I wanted to do a bit of an analysis of how 2014 went – both in terms of this Patreon, and a little bit in terms of my other publishing. I also wanted to talk about some lessons learned, in the hopes that this will be helpful for folks looking to jump into self-publishing in 2015.

(This post is a freebie, because charging patrons for a post about how much money I’m making off of my Patreon would be totally sketchy.)

1. Patreon revenue

For several reasons, it’s a bit difficult to quantify [money earned] per [standard unit of effort]. Sometimes I’ll do a visual post where I’ve monkeyed with photoshop, or done a redraw, or made a bingo card, whatever. Those tend to have low word counts, but higher time investments than writing-only posts. There’s also no way to quantify time spent on research, short of tracking my hours per post – which is way too anal for the amount of money I’m making on this thing.

So here’s the best approximation I could come up with – [monthly payout] / [total number of paid words]. (I can’t do it per post, because monthly limits mean that I get diminishing returns on subsequent posts in the same month. (That is absolutely not a complaint.))


Now the reason I started my Patreon was to “replace” to revenue that I would lose by writing here on my blog instead of working on other projects that would later earn me money. Kids are expensive, and when I was first looking at starting out, I was really feeling the pinch. So if you look at it from that angle, this Patreon has been a great success. Standard industry rates for freelancers are 2-3 cents per word – which means I’m earning more money per word than I could freelancing, and have been from the start! (That said, standard freelance rates are complete bullshit and don’t represent any sort of liveable wage in terms of financial return on time invested.)

All told, the income I got from this Patreon in 2014 paid for just over half of my kid’s daycare costs, which is a fair chunk of change. Hooray!

2. Patreon: pros & cons

So obviously Patreon is great. And really, to almost every single woman I know who has been saying “I’d like to do more publishing this year”, I will yell GET THEE TO A PATREON. However, it’s not universally perfect. So here are the pros and cons I’ve encountered in the last 10 months (not universally applicable, obviously)


  • Predictable, regular income stream
  • Pays better than freelancing
  • Gives me the freedom to choose what I write about
  • Real, concrete, tangible proof that what I am doing here has value. Literally!


  • I’m now a “professional victim” according to some of my haters
  • Every patron-spike (a cluster of new people becoming patrons) larger than 4 people was the direct result of targeted harassment campaigns against me
  • It’s hard to expand your patronage once you reach a certain saturation, because even with the ability to set monthly limits many people aren’t willing to take on new monthly expenses
  • The pressure to make paid posts “valuable” sometimes makes me post less, perversely
  • Patreon is only suitable for small, periodic content; it won’t ever replace KickStarter for huge projects
  • Doesn’t support multiple content “streams” (I couldn’t use this Patreon to support, say, fiction writing, frex)

This might make it look like there’s not any real advantage to having a Patreon, but don’t be fooled. The pros easily, easily outweigh the cons.

3. Self-Publishing: lessons learned

This is the year I decided that I was going to be A Real Publisher! And mostly, that worked out pretty well for me!


Most of what I learned this past year is excellently summed up in this piece by Molly Crabapple about how to “make it” as an artist. (Note: I am not even remotely claiming to have “made it”.) But briefly, here are the main lessons I learned this year:

  • Seriously fuck exposure. If someone wants you to work for exposure, tell them to jump off a fucking cliff.
  • IT’S ALL ABOUT REVENUE STREAMS. Multiple revenue streams is the name of the game. This year I did patron-supported blogging, game publishing, children’s book illustration, and a few other miscellaneous projects. Don’t put all your eggs in one baskets. Baskets are amazing. You need more baskets. (I think I lost control of this metaphor.)
  • Haters have almost zero power to affect your earnings. People willing to listen to a hater were not going to buy your shit anyway. So when someone hates on your work (spoiler alert: this will happen), set your fucks free, do a haters-gonna-hate-dance, and go on doing what you’re doing.
  • Communicate with your audience! Your audience is something you should build a relationship with. Ideally it will grow, and much of your audience will support multiple projects. (Remember – baskets!) This is something I’m still working on, but wow it’s important.
  • If you’ve ever done a thing and thought “I should sell this thing”, and then immediately talked yourself out of doing that? Tell your brain to STFU and sell the thing. I made $550 this year on a mini-game I almost didn’t publish.
  • Speaking of which, small projects are amazeballs. Don’t be afraid to do lots of small projects instead of one HUGE GINORMOUS PROJECT.

4. Resolutions for 2015

So with all of that in mind, here are my thoughts for the coming year.

FIRST, after the shitstorm back in March over my redraw of GenCon’s mascot, I got paranoid and locked comments the fuck down. That’s killed a lot of discussion and I think that level of caution is no longer warranted, at least for now. I’m probably going to start cautiously easing restrictions on commenting, which will mean that people will be able to comment on old posts again. Hopefully people don’t abuse this.

SECOND, replacing troll comments with sarcastic memes is always a good decision. I resolve to keep doing that.

THIRD, I want to get back into doing at least 3 freebie link posts per month. I’ve neglected this blog shamefully the last three months, and traffic numbers have reflected that. I want to do what I can to promote under-represented voices!

THREE-and-a-HALF, I want to do more “creative” posts. Redraws, cartoons, photoshops, stuff like that. They’re fun! I need to do more fun things!

FOURTH, I want to do more to support women getting into publishing!

FIFTH, I really want to find a way to do more fiction writing in 2015! I’m going to put serious thought into how to do this. Maybe a crowdfunding ransom model? We’ll see.

SIXTH, I’m thinking of adding a tip jar, since a number of people told me this year that they would have supported me as a one-time thing. So I’ll probably put up a PayPal link or something. I’ll figure that out.

So that’s where I’m at. Thanks for sticking with me through what was a pretty tough year. I look forward to seeing what we can do this year!

M:TG – Khans art is great… when it remembers that women exist [LONG]

Recently, I got a chance to attend a local pre-release tournament event for the latest Magic: The Gathering expansion – the Khans of Tarkir. And it was… an interesting experience. One I definitely felt was worth blogging about, in light of the fact that I do know people who are trying to get more women into playing M:TG. But also, I felt like it was time to revisit the art in this newest set and see how it breaks down, since it was my feeling that the art for Khans was “better” than art I’ve seen on previous sets.

First: my experience of the pre-release event

I’ve only attended one other pre-release event; it was for Theros last year. That event was in a game store, which was, frankly, terrible. There were 30 people crammed into the back of the store, which was insanely cramped and dimly lit. There was one other woman there, but she was on the opposite end of the room. And of the guys who were there, it was obvious that a large percentage of them were of the awkward persuasion[1].


But this time, we were both able to go to an event at a local university. Brightly lit classrooms, very spacious, absolutely not confining. Much better right?

Well… it was better in that I didn’t feel any of the low-level threat that I did at my first pre-release. But it was still decidedly uncomfortable walking into the room to realize that the only reason there would be another woman participating is because we came together. Said woman was a friend who has many, many more years experience playing Magic than me, but still – I would have been all alone if we hadn’t picked up the phone and been like, “hey, want to come to a pre-release with us”? And that’s really not a cool feeling.

So combine that with the fact that I was obviously there as a female S.O. to my male husband, and I felt a lot of pressure to do well, which unfortunately didn’t happen. I got very unlucky in that I didn’t have great cards to work with (the good stuff I got wasn’t in the colors I’d registered for), plus I’ll cop to making some mistakes. (It was my second ever tournament, and I’ve only been playing for a year.)

Now factor that in with the fact that I’m a very competitive person who really doesn’t enjoy losing. So my overall poor performance sucked from that standpoint, but also because by not doing well I became That Woman who only does geek things because her husband is doing them and generally sucks. (Stereotype threat is real, and it is zero fun.) And to add insult to injury, the very art on the cards reminded me that this game that I was spending money to play wasn’t for me. So overall, the experience left a bad taste in my mouth.

Which makes it too bad that there aren’t any chapters of the Lady Planeswalker Society anywhere close to where I live, because until the demographics of typical M:TG events change, I doubt I would go to another singles tournament. (I haven’t ruled out the idea of doing 2-headed Giant with my husband.) And yes, I’m fully aware that not going to Magic tournaments because there are no women is a self-reinforcing problem. I get that! But folks, Magic is an expensive hobby, and you can’t force people to spend a lot of time and money on something they don’t even enjoy “because inclusion”. I wish I had ideas on how to fix the gender imbalance, but for now all I have is a big fat shrug. (And the planeswalker my husband pulled in that tournament. Lucky bastard.)

On to the numbers

Veterans of my blog will be familiar with how I do these posts. New readers, the tl;dr is that I look at an entire set of artwork for a given game product and count figures with discernable gender as well as look at a list of set criteria: actively posed versus neutral, fully-clothed figures, and suggestively attired figures. (If you want definitions of these criteria, you can see the original article that I wrote for See Page XX that was the genesis of this blog, examining sexist trends in official game art across all areas of gaming.)

Before breaking down the numbers, my sense of the artwork from Khans of Tarkir was that it did much better than previous sets with the portrayals of women that it did have, it did worse at actually including female characters at all. (Depressingly, those impressions are pretty much borne out if you compare the numbers that I got with the numbers I gathered when I did a breakdown of the M11 core set.)

discernable gender

Only 18% of the figures for which I could discern gender were female! Yikes!

Now things do look a little more encouraging once you actually look at the number breakdown:

Detailed breakdown

Given that women comprise 18% of all figures counted, they’re actually slightly overperforming with regard to active poses. Similarly, they are overperforming when it comes to fully clothed figures, as compared to their male counterparts. And holy cats, suddenly it’s the men who are all sexay instead of the women?

Well… no. Not so much.

Bring in the caveats!

So before we get any further, it’s worth mentioning that out of all of the artwork in Khans, only THREE CHARACTERS are depicted as being both non-human and female. THREE: a female djinn depicted on Riverwheel Aerialists (remember her, because we’re coming back to her in a bit) , the naga Sidisi the Brood Tyrant, and the naga shown on Kheru Spellsnatcher (we’ll revisit her as well).

This becomes significant, because this set featured a much higher percentage of non-human sentient characters, owing to the fact that there are goblins, orcs, djinn, efreet, bird people, dog people, and nagas in addition to vanilla humans in the set’s artwork. The orcs are pretty clearly depicted as male – that one is easy. But the djinn and the efreet are much more ambiguous. I would have been totally willing to believe in them as androgynous races were it not for the lone female djinn – which makes me think that the artists were handed specs that only specified race and not gender and simply defaulted to male, because male is always the default.

As for the bird people and the dog people, an argument could be made that they should be counted as ungendered, since they’re clearly non-humanoid characters. And in general I would agree, except that M:TG artists have had no problem ridiculously gendering inappropriate things in the past by putting tits on things that should not have tits like lions or trees. (And those aren’t even the worst examples I’ve seen – just the worst examples I can remember card names for.)

Furthermore, a depressingly large number of the small number of female figures that were included were depicted as the Smurfettes in a group of otherwise all-male characters:


Jeskai Ascendency

The Ascendancies (each of the five clans had an Ascendancy card) were particularly bad for this, as they each had large groups of figures, with ooooone woman and the rest dudes. It’s like someone on the art team was giving art revision notes that said “needs women” and the artists changed one figure in each drawing. Which only serves to emphasize even more what an afterthought the inclusion of women is.


Also important to consider is the issue of the seeming saturation of suggestively attired male figures. As I’ve blogged about before, the phenomenon of pantsless/shirtless male figures in fantasy art is something that consistently throws off the results I get when doing these counts. Very often, “primitive”, “savage”, or “bestial” characters will be drawn as either shirtless or pantsless as a shorthand for conveying either non-human or non-civilized status.

So here is an example of some of the male figures that were counted as suggestively attired:

sexy not sexy

So sure the first is a beefy guy showing a lot of pecs punching a bear(!)[2]. But we also have flying bird man with leg-wraps-instead-of-pants, and goblins with no pants, because seriously when do goblins ever wear pants[3]?

The other important thing to mention is that the consistency with which I applied this standard led to some ludicrous results. For example, all of this art was counted as containing suggestively attired male figures:


The criteria was clear – they have clearly discernable gender (or at least secondary sex characteristics consistent with gender in cis people; I’m not going to try to determine the cis-ness of zombies because that way lies madness). Plus none of them are wearing shirts or pants. So despite the fact that none of them are depicted in any way close to even resembling attractiveness, they are counted as suggestively attired. For that matter, the zombie figure on Dutiful Return is counted as suggestive, despite being called out on the card as being furniture. (I only counted it once.)

In fact, here is the only male figure I saw that I would call actually suggestive, because yum:

Jeskai Student

He’s muscular without being a ridiculous power fantasy or engaging in ridiculously cartoonish violence (ie punching a bear in the face), and his shirtlessness isn’t being used to comment on a “savage”, “bestial”, or “uncivilized” nature. He’s just a super pretty dude practicing some awesome kung fu and being super hawt.

But even then – even then – there is a clear difference in how Shirtless Kung Fu Guy is portrayed from this female naga:


I totally eyerolled when I first saw this card, because this is textbook boobs-and-butt… applied to a snake. I had to look pretty closely to verify that she does not, in fact, have boobs[4], but the artist still managed to suggest them with the angle of the straps on her chest. Also, she’s got serious snakespine, so it’s a good thing she is in fact a snake, because that’s pretty much the only way that degree of spine bend would be possible. Lastly, check out how she doesn’t have legs but the line of her belly scales, or whatever you’d call them, still implies a thigh and crotch.


Issues of ridiculous objectification of snake-women aside, there’s also the problem that the Kheru Spellsnatcher isn’t actually doing anything. Shirtless Kung Fu Guy is practicing some awesome kung fu, while Kheru Spellsnatcher is just like OH HAI ISN’T THIS A PRETTY LIGHT HOW U DOIN’.

Thankfully, the Kheru Spellsnatcher is the only piece of art that I whole-heartedly disapprove of. And there is art that I really, really like in this set! Certainly, this set has done a lot to address my previous complaint that fully-clothed women don’t get to be awesome, because here are a bunch of fully-clothed ladies being completely awesome.

awesome ladies

The first two images are of Narset, whom I might add is one of the mythic rares in the set and either totally rules or totally sucks depending on if it was you that pulled her or the other guy. (I’ve seen her in action and she’s just wrong, folks.) But generally, this set was great for pictures of awesome ladies doing awesome martial arts, of which I am always a fan. Particularly I am always a fan of ass-kicking-grandmothers and think this set could have used 2000% more characters like the Jeskai Elder, because ass-kicking grandmothers make anything better. The end.

There were also women getting to do ridiculously gonzo fantasy awesome things, which has definitely not been the case in previous sets:

moar awesome ladies

Check out the Tuskguard Captain being all HOW DO YOU LIKE MY SWEET-ASS RIDE BTW IT IS A MASTODON. Or the Abzan Guide being all DO NOT MESS WITH ME I CAN RIDE A GIRAFFE. And sure, the Chief of the Edge isn’t so much gonzo, but she sure looks like she’s about 2 seconds from ending a dude.

So it’s great to see art like this, because it shows that Wizards has made strides in how they portray women in the last few years. But looking at other products, like D&D – which is also produced by Wizards – it’s also clear that they could do so much better.

[1] Seriously I can’t emphasize how much I hate most game stores. They are not welcoming for many women, and often when I enter one I have dudes literally stop and stare at me.

[2] This, incidentally, is my new favorite card ever and will henceforth be referred to as “Bear Punch”

[3] The answer is never

[4] Thank god! Wizards is finally cracking down on putting breasts on reptiles!

New posts on Gaming as Women

As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve started blogging about gaming again. Some of the posts are going to be things that focus on sexism in gaming, and some will be more general posts about my experiences with gaming. For the sexism-related stuff, I’ll link here when something relevant goes up on Gaming As Women, though I’ll be disabling comments on such posts since I want discussion to happen over there and not here. (A note for people looking to comment on this stuff – the commenting rules at GaW are pretty much the same as here, so behave yourselves.) For certain posts, I might even start linking them into my reference posts, if I feel they fit gaps that I’d still like to see covered.

As it happens, I have the first such link to a GaW post about gaming and sexism! You can check the post out here: Dear Wizards: Why Failing Less at Gender in 5E Would Be Good For Your Bottom Line

(Obviously, it’s a post focusing on why there are some very good business reasons why Wizards of the Coast should endeavor to fail a little less at gender in their New Edition of Dungeons and Dragons.)

Happy Birthday! Looking back at a year of GMMaS.

Well, folks. It’s hard to believe, but Go Make Me a Sandwich is officially a year old today.  When I first started writing this blog, I never imagined that I would acquire the kind of audience I now have. I honestly thought that I would be doing the internet equivalent of ranting crazily in the wildnerness, so I was pleased and astonished and even a little scared when this thing took off the way it did.

I started this blog as someone new to feminism and social justice issues and wound up trying to educate myself in a hurry when the popularity of this blog took off. (Sometimes I still feel like I’m faking it.) I’m very proud of some of the stuff that I’ve written, but at the same time I’ve said some pretty ignorant and problematic stuff too. (Though I’ve repented of some of my earlier positions and I’d like to think that I’ve gotten better as time went by.) So I thought this would be a good opportunity to look back at my experiences of writing this blog and some of the things that I’ve learned. This will probably wind up being two or three posts, depending on how much rambling I wind up doing.

First up: Traffic stats

Today’s post makes post #130, which means in the last year I have averaged one post every 3 days or so. I realize my posting frequency has fallen off in the last month, and that average is being spoiled by the frequency with which I posted while I was unemployed earlier in the year. But as I did do my best not to post filler, I’d say about 95% of the posts were actual content. Considered in that light, It’s pretty amazing to consider how many words I’ve put to virtual paper on this subject. (I did try to get a total word count on this blog that didn’t include comments, but I haven’t found a great way to do that yet. If anyone has suggestions, I’m all ears.)

Now recently, I’ve been freaking out quietly over social networks that I recently passed 300,000 views on my WordPress blog – an astonishing feat when you consider that I switched from Blogger to WordPress less than six months ago. What I neglected to remember is that there was still a substantial amount of traffic to the old Blogger iteration of GMMaS in those first few months after the switch. Even now, the old links out there mean that the Blogger site still gets a decent amount of traffic. So when I put the traffic numbers for Blogger together with the numbers for WordPress, the result was even more shocking than I’d thought it was:

Don't forget that this October is only 2/3 over. It'll probably be a drop-off from August and September, but not by as much as it looks like now.

…holy shit, people. At the time of writing this post, Go Make Me A Sandwich has gotten 564,834 views. That’s… astounding. Especially when you look at the average number of views per day:

Again, numbers for October 2011 are as yet incomplete.

Now all of this is averaging out the traffic spikes that tended to happen when I would talk about something particularly controversial. If I were a more cynical person who only cared about page views, I would have devoted this blog to talking only about gaming conventions, D&D, Paizo, Wizards of the Coast, and BioWare. The two largest traffic spikes I saw were in response to my series of posts about Mass Effect and my later series of posts about GenCon, with the largest single day number of views (6,347) happening right in the middle of my series of posts about Mass Effect. From the comments left here and following track-back links, it was pretty easy to establish that the really big traffic spikes tended to be mostly trolls. I came to dread any traffic spike that happened because of Reddit and very quickly learned to never follow trackback links to Reddit.

Seriously. It’s just a bad idea.

Most viewed posts and most-commented posts, some interesting differences

When you look at the numbers for posts with the most views, the subject matter is pretty diverse and wide-ranging:

Female characters done right: FemShep (Spoilers, of course)
A belated look at gamer Valentines: the good, the questionable, the pathetic
Industry artist fail: Hyung Tae Kim (so VERY VERY nsfw!)
In his words: why Jim Sterling is, in fact, very sexist
Porn as advertising (really NSFW)
League of Legends: SO MUCH character design fail
Industy artist fail: Wayne Reynolds (at least he’s not as bad as HTK)
Paizo: Thanks for not being full of race fail, but…
Et tu Nintendo?
TERA: competing with Bayonetta for the sluttiest women still wearing clothes?

I wasn’t particularly surprised to see one of my BioWare posts came out on top. What I was surprised to see was that half of these were about non-video-game-related fail, considering this blog does skew pretty heavily toward video games. I am particularly encouraged to see that my first post about Jim Sterling comes in at number 4. I’m very proud of the fact that that post is the number five Google result for “Jim Sterling”, and while I doubt it will ever affect his career I can at least take comfort in the fact that he’ll have a hard time explaining that to people outside the gaming community who ever feel like Googling him.

Also, I’ll note that number 10 there probably made it into the top 10 because there was quite a flap here and over other blogs about my use of the word slut. Yes I know it’s terrible. I’ve since repented its use and have stopped using it, as well as others of its ilk. I have mixed feelings about that post, because as problematic as the title was, I really was proud of the post itself (not the least of which because I got to make the nerdiest pun ever). Still, I’m leaving the title as is because I feel like changing it would just be dishonest.

Now interestingly, the list of most-commented posts doesn’t really have a lot of overlap with the list of most-viewed:

Some gaming news WTF: Eternal Light trailer; Duke Nukem Forever not sexist?
Female characters done right: FemShep (Spoilers, of course)
Industry artist fail: Hyung Tae Kim (so VERY VERY nsfw!)
New comment policy is coming
Why I don’t want Shelly Mazzanoble to represent female D&D players
Bayonetta and the Male Gaze
Photos from GenCon 2011: Part 1 of 2
League of Legends: SO MUCH character design fail
On the word slut: a rambling response long overdue

Given the previously-mentioned flap about my use of the word slut, again not too surprised about #10 there. What is surprising is that there’s a group of people more vocal than BioWare fans: Hyung Tae Kim fans. Despite the fact that I say pretty much the same stuff in my post on Blade and Soul as I do in the original post about HTK, the post still got dog-piled with comments. So that was pretty surprising.

Also surprising is the fact that the #4 most commented post was a post on how I wasn’t going to tolerate trolls anymore and was going to start moderating comments. I mean, honestly I don’t think that saying I don’t want to put up with people calling me fat/ugly/crazy/fascist/all of the above is controversial. Nor do I see the controversy in saying I don’t want to put up with people telling me that I should kill myself. But apparently, this being the internet, it was controversial to want to feel like my own blog is a safe space. So, go figure.

What I am not at all surprised at, though, is the fact that my post about DNF blows all of the others out of the water for comment volume. The comment thread for that post was pretty much a microcosm of all internet discussion of sexism ever, with some sane and rational discussion being drowned out by angry trolls, defensiveness, and flailing at strawmen. Which leads us to…

Trolls: a frightening reality of blogging while female

But instead of trying to cram that in, I’ll make that a post of its own, along with lessons learned and where to go from here.