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Old 07-25-2005, 04:01 PM   #1
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I have always found it odd that with limitless choices of fantasy presented by the world of mudding that women often flock to the roles defined by society that limit women. Not everyone wants to play a great swordsperson, and that is completely valid, but even smart women who play smart characters seem to feel their strongest strengths are sexual. Why is this? Why do women choose to play an advisor to a strong male character, rather than be the strong character with an advisor? Why are great woman fighter characters often unbelievably petite and feminine or particularly masculine by way of speech patterns and bearing?

I suppose one could ask, the same questions about men. Why are male characters often tall and want to rescue every woman they see? But really, women are more interesting. Let’s concentrate on them.

How do we change this, if we even agree it is something which should be changed?
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Old 07-25-2005, 04:26 PM   #2
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To change this, generally, I think society in general needs to change.

Oddly, though, I actually find that on the roleplaying games I run, we often get players who assume female roles that, thematically, shouldn't exactly be firebrands but turn out to be radically outside the social norm of the game. In a society where women mostly wear dresses and speak gently, we've got female characters who wear pants and talk tough.

We've also got the occasional male character who's either an antihero or an outright cad.

But we've also got the flirty girls and the guys who want to always be heroes.

I think it varies from game to game and depends upon the environment and attitudes fostered/encouraged by the staff and, more importantly, the abundance of players in a game.
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Old 07-25-2005, 05:24 PM   #3
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Some of my characters have been "feminine" and some haven't. All have been female, in my current game. That's where I'm coming from, my point of personal reference. That said, I can identify a few players who do an outstanding job of playing *people* rather than *sexual beings.* I think the best way to go about supporting that, is to bring those players into the forefront, use them as examples of exemplary "non-stereotype" characters.

Unfortunately, new players to games that have male and female equal in social status, won't necessarily grasp that idea as seriously as it's intended. The female player will typically want her character to be gorgeous. Perfect curves, flawless skin, big boobs, silky shiny hair..all the makings of the typical what's her name on the Roger Rabbit movie.

It's fantasy, and in real life, women often look at models in magazines and think, "Oh but if only I could look like THAT..."

and in the MUD, they have that opportunity, by extension.

Men do the same with their bulky muscles and 6-pack abs in their male characters.

They want to become their notion of the "ideal" of their gender, for a few hours a day.

I don't really think there's a sure-fired solution to it, unless you impose rules like "people with pale skin in this game are to be considered mutants. Normal people in this game are ALL dark skinned." or "If your character has big boobs, she will be compared to the game equivalent of a cow and laughed out of town, because in THIS game, normal women are flat-chested." or "If your male character has 6-pack abs, it means he is a lowly commoner scum - and MUST be treated as such, because in THIS game, normal male characters are so emaciated and dehydrated that they exhibit the typical starvation-pot-belly."

It has to be reinforced by veteran players, and by staff members animating NPCs. If veterans and staffers fail to apply these consistently, without yielding to the "innocent newbie who doesn't know any better," then it will fail, and you end up back where you started.
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Old 07-25-2005, 09:22 PM   #4
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This is an interesting topic even in regard to nonrp MuDs. I have seen male players degrade female players in a number of ways including insult, language, obscene and obnoxious 'rooms' and 'emotes', and even exclusion.

Sadly, it is difficult to monitor such behavior, particularily on larger games, and even more difficult to discipline.

How far is too far? When do you (or your admin) step in and say, "You've gone to far and that behavior is not acceptable here."?
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Old 07-25-2005, 09:38 PM   #5
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Mudding is a reacreational thing, a job, even a habit for some people. Women and men can all do recreational things, have jobs, and habits. It just seems so obvious to me, treat them equally? I dont see a reason why there even has to be feminists now. I mean sure, back then women couldnt do lots that they can now. But things have changed, and are continuing to change. It's kinda shocking to me, to hear that women characters are being insulted in muds just because of their sex. Personally, I've never heard of such an instance until now.

Maybe the person insulting the character comes from a different culture, where women arent seen doing things the way they do here, or doing them at all? Muds are worldwide, more so now than ever before.
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Old 07-25-2005, 09:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Jeena @ July 25 2005,21:22)
How far is too far? When do you (or your admin) step in and say, "You've gone to far and that behavior is not acceptable here."?
Immediately. And if it's not happening immediately, there are thousands of other muds to play. Time to go.
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Old 07-25-2005, 09:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Jeena @ July 25 2005,21:22)
This is an interesting topic even in regard to nonrp MuDs. I have seen male players degrade female players in a number of ways including insult, language, obscene and obnoxious 'rooms' and 'emotes', and even exclusion.

Sadly, it is difficult to monitor such behavior, particularily on larger games, and even more difficult to discipline.

How far is too far? When do you (or your admin) step in and say, "You've gone to far and that behavior is not acceptable here."?
We've had the following in our rules for a long time:

"Sexual harassment is not tolerated."

Carrion Fields has no OOC channels (except a newbie help line), so there's rarely instances where players are targeted. (You usually don't know who is playing who anyway.) Like any rule, there's interpretation involved, and we're not out to lynch anyone who blows a kiss at a local lady.

As for drawing a line, we don't mind if a character is chauvinistic or otherwise has attitudes towards the other gender that wouldn't fly in a contemporary setting. The few times I've had to step in on matters like this have involved either:

1) A character repeatedly pressuring another character for sexual favors.

2) A character breaking role to try to harass the player about sexual issues.

In the first case, we don't want players becoming uncomfortable, and it's usually enough to just sit the aggressor down and explain that they need to cool off and plan other roleplaying. In the second case, we handle it like any other breach of role, like going OOC to threaten or curse out another character in a way that has no IC justification.

I've never had to deal with serious incidents, although over the years we've had a couple of sick puppies that needed to be removed from play for a while. Most of the time, it's basically overeager horny players desperate for attention or a relationship lead.
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Old 07-25-2005, 10:50 PM   #8
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A lot of the beauty question goes into the fact that, let's face it, most of us want characters that look good for some reason or other, even if they don't ever roleplay any sexual interest.

In small to moderate doses this is relatively harmless unless your theme makes it more or less unrealistic for such 'beatiful' appearances. Besides, if 95% of people are beautiful then it'll have to be the RP skills that stand out rather than a character's ability to look uberhot (or however you say it in sarcastic leet).

If most of your characters go for looking hot and there's good quality not always sex RP to be had... I don't see much of a problem. From an standpoint of changing it as a player you can play a less than sexually desirable character

As for the other concerns: If the player is uncomfortable OOCly and says something to the player of the offending character, it needs to stop, and OOC harassment isn't cool either. - If it stays IC and the players are comfortable, I don't worry about it.
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Old 07-25-2005, 11:14 PM   #9
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It's not an issue of being beautiful, it's an issue of being beautiful as 50% (or more) of your character concept.
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Old 07-25-2005, 11:42 PM   #10
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I try to make my characters look cool, rather than actual sexual appeal. If it takes an eyeball, and a few fingers to make him worthwhile, so be it.
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Old 07-26-2005, 01:06 AM   #11
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I myself never worry about making good-looking characters. I feel that homely looking folks are more interesting to play. But then again, I don't usually give that in depth of a look at my character's physique, I don't really care about attracting female characters because I'm always worried they're really dudes.
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Old 07-26-2005, 02:57 AM   #12
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Same here. I tell that to people and most of em stop flirting with female characters afterwards.
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Old 07-26-2005, 03:50 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Fifi @ July 25 2005)
I have always found it odd that with limitless choices of fantasy presented by the world of mudding that women often flock to the roles defined by society that limit women.
Whee! Here we go, yay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
Why do smart women who play smart characters seem to feel their strongest strengths are sexual?
Easy: Sex Works.
There is power in sex. Sex *IS* a female strength. Strong females have tapped into it for generations. Plus, it's super easy to utilize. Why NOT use the handiest tool at our disposal? In my eyes, there's nothing particularly 'not smart' about doing that.

[Edit: Also, Sex is Fun! Sex is part of the human experience! Sex is often a big part of how a person defines her/himself. Many people like to use the 'net for recreational pseudosex. Thas's where you get some of those people who have over 50% of their character being 'sex'. Not to mention, pbases are notoriously horny college students, or horny professors, or horny housewives, or horny... you get the picture. Trying to take 'sex' out of people is just a lost cause. Sex is a big deal in life. Women like it, too.]

Next:
Quote:
Originally Posted by
Why do women choose to play an advisor to a strong male character, rather than be the strong character with an advisor?
Not quite so easy, but here are my guesses:
1) Why have the responsibility? If the poop hits the fan, who takes the hit? Not the advisors, but the head honcho. The advisors can go on to advise the next head honcho, while the original's head is on a pike somewhere. Plus, as an added bonus, if the plan goes awry, the female is less likely to be labeled "The B Word" if she is not directly responsible for the outcome.

2) IRL, women often HAVE many diverse responsibilities, and it is easier to take a role with 'less' responsibility in-game, so one can come and go as she pleases, around her RL schedule.

3) Women like to make things happen 'behind the scenes.' There is JUST as much power in having the ear of the King, as there is in BEING the Queen. In fact, I would argue there is *more* power in convincing someone else, someone 'more powerful' than yourself, to do what you a) want them to or b) think they should or c) think is right, than there is in simply doing it yourself. Getting your way via someone else is often emotionally satisfying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
Why are great woman fighter characters often unbelievably petite and feminine or particularly masculine by way of speech patterns and bearing?
Weird juxtaposition of question, but I'll give it a shot.

As for the petite, feminine slayer: When your calling is murder, sometimes, you just gotta put on the lipstick to retain your female identity. Amidst all the gore, it feels good to still look classy. Plus, men find sexy assassins....er... sexy. Example: Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, among myriad others. Again, sex is power, and sex works to GET power. Petite femininity often equates to "sexiness", whereas "big ol' honkin' fighter" often doesn't.

As for particularly masculine ways of being: That's a different breed of gal. She's one who finds strength in casting away the trappings of femininity, in ditching the 'weak female' thing while she carries out her murders (or business or whatever). It is also a way to not have to 'deal' with the sex issue. If a female player doesn't want to be bothered with flirtation, act masculine. Men are suspect of 'masculine' female characters anyhow, and thus, that RL female, for once in her life, gets what Womyn's Studies teachers like to call 'male privelege'. If she acts like a guy, the real guys treat her like they'd treat another guy, because they suspect her of BEING a RL guy, and she doesn't have to deal with them like she would as a 'real' woman, where sex is always an issue. Becoming masculine takes sex out of the equation, and thus, her play/roleplay take center stage in her relationships in-game. That is a different sort of power, and it is less 'personal' or 'intimate' than sexual power, but also quite effective. It is a defensive power, whereas sex is often a woman's offensive power.

<snip>
Quote:
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But really, women are more interesting. Let's concentrate on them.
What a statement, chortle, chortle. But, fair 'nuff. Men are pretty straightfoward. Women are more suble. Therein lies the answer to most of your questions above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
How do we change this, if we even agree it is something which should be changed?
I don't believe it needs to be changed. Gals will do what gals will do. Everyone should get to play what they come to play, imho. People are all different, but they're also all the same. If women want to flock to 'limited' roles, yet find fulfillment within those roles, I for one will not judge them negatively. We do not have to be superwomen to be feminists. We need only follow our hearts, and carve out our way in both the real world and our imaginary worlds. If we are given the *choice* to be anything, then, it is merely a window into the souls of women that they choose to do what comes naturally. To ask them to be something other... to play a role that doesn't suit them.. to suggest that choosing 'limited' womens roles is somehow unworthy.. that is very un-feminist to me. It is not supportive of women being who they really are, or who they really want to be. I see no great problem here, personally.
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Old 07-26-2005, 12:09 PM   #14
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Earthmother, I don't disagree with anything you said as an isolated statement, but I have another question for you. If you have a daughter (now, or in the future) will you raise her to believe she can be, and to want to be, the president, primeminister, despotic ruler, or the mistress to a president, prime minister, despotic ruler?

Me, I'd rather raise my daughter to be a doctor, than marry a doctor. And I want that for myself, and I want that for you, and your real or potential daughters.
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Old 07-26-2005, 03:02 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Fifi @ July 26 2005,12<!--emo&[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img])]Earthmother, I don't disagree with anything you said as an isolated statement, but I have another question for you. If you have a daughter (now, or in the future) will you raise her to believe  she can be,  and to want to be, the president, primeminister, despotic ruler, or the mistress to a president, prime minister, despotic ruler?

Me, I'd rather raise my daughter to be a doctor, than marry a doctor. And I want that for myself, and I want that for you, and your real or potential daughters.
First off, I have sons. I will never have a daughter: more children are, by my choice, not in the cards for my future. So the answer to your question will be about hypothetical daughters, or about future daughters-in-law.

I would absolutely encourage my daughters to do whatever they find fulfilling in life. If it is their OWN dream to be President, or a doctor, I would encourage them both emotionally and financially.

BUT... if their dream is to become a 'mommy' (i.e. a stay at home mother), or a nurse, or a model, or an actress, or any other 'womans job', I will encourage them to fulfill that dream with the same vehemence I would encourage them to be anything else.

My point here is that women do NOT have to BE in the most high positions of power, to have power.

When we, as women, act as if traditional womens' roles are something 'less than,' we are doing all women a disservice. If we consider the things that women have traditionally done as something they were forced into, or if we believe those roles are not important, that only reinforces the idea that women as a whole are somehow less important.

This is THE great fallacy of 70's feminism. It took me 3 years of women's studies courses to realize this underlying fallacy, at which point I dropped the minor. It has taken me 3 MORE years of being a stay-at-home-mom to STOP feeling bad about myself for being one. I had been indoctrinated to believe that if a woman doesn't go out and RULE THE WORLD, she is meaningless. I never expected to be a stay at home mom, and when my life worked out so that that's what I became, I fell into a deep depression, because I was 'just doing the mom thing', as if that is somehow a worthless, meaningless thing to do.

It isn't.

Neither is any other "woman's role."

So-called "feminists" often have an expectation of other women that is unrealistic. Not everyone can BE president, not every woman WANTS to be a doctor or a scientist. Many, MANY women value family and child-rearing as THE main focus of a certain time in their lives. Many women do not put their career 'first' in life. In my experience with women, they tend to put RELATIONSHIPS first in their life, whether they are romantic, parental, friendship, or community-oriented relationships.

What's sad to me is that you, Fifi, are 'limiting' what a woman 'should be' to her career choice. Women are more than that. That idea that 'the job is the person' is a very... MALE way of viewing the world.

As for, "would I encourage a daughter of mine to become the 'mistress' to a high powered person?" [paraphrased quote, not direct]

Not particularly, because I think that kind of relationship is emotionally destructive. BUT... would I tell my daughter to support her husband/S.O. in his career, should he choose political life? You bet your butt I would. If she *wanted* to be a pol's wife, and they made that decision together, and that's how they wanted to live their life, you're darned tooting I would encourage her to support him, because I would know that this daughter would have the ear of someone making policy. And, you know what? If my son(s) marry a woman who wants to be high-powered, I would encourage HIM to support HER just as much.

I don't believe in raising someone to marry someone for their position of power or their money, I believe in raising people to carve out their own way in the world. I believe in raising them to follow their own dreams. But I do not believe that high-powered jobs or positions are the only 'right' dreams to have. People should be allowed to have smaller dreams, and if they are my children, I only want them to follow through and do the best they can in whatever dream they pursue, be it the Presidency or parenthood.  

But I DO want my 'daughters' to have the RIGHT to become someone in a high position if they CHOOSE to do so. That is all that I ask, that the opportunities exist. I do not expect others to fulfill the opportunities, merely that any avenue is open to any person, should they choose to walk the path and make the sacrifices it takes to have what they want. As long as the opportunity exisits for women, I am content with that. If women choose not to take those opportunities, that is their own personal choice. There's room enough in the world for a lot of different ways of life.
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Old 07-26-2005, 03:17 PM   #16
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I think perhaps your personal experiences make you particularly sensitive, and you are hearing only criticism. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with traditional women's roles. I am saying that if the idea of being a doctor makes a man an attractive mate, or the idea of having power is attractive then why limit yourself to a peripherary position instead of taking it? I think the being a mommy or a nurse is an exceptionally lofty goal, and I'd be proud to have my sons or daughters aspire to either. I'd feel I'd done something wrong if they aspired to being models. But that is a personal bias. I'd also be disapointed if my children male or female were attracted to power, but too lazy, manipulative or not sufficiently self confident enough to try to achieve their own, but instead used sex to acquire it second hand.
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Old 07-26-2005, 06:12 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Fifi @ July 26 2005,15:17)
I think perhaps your personal experiences make you particularly sensitive, and you are hearing only criticism. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with traditional women's roles. I am saying that if the idea of being a doctor makes a man an attractive mate, or the idea of having power is attractive then why limit yourself to a peripherary position instead of taking it?
My experiences DO make me particularly sensitive to this issue, yes.

Am I hearing criticism? Yes. Your first post cites a 'problem' that may need 'fixed'. My assessment was that the 'problem' was what you say above, that people who use secondary pathways to power are not as good as people who do it in a primary way. I disagree that it is a problem, that's all I am trying to get at.

Your first post puts it like this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by
...that women often flock to the roles defined by society that limit women. Not everyone wants to play a great swordsperson, and that is completely valid, but even smart women who play smart characters seem to feel their strongest strengths are sexual.
So, I see you being critical of women who use sex, the obvious and easy way to power, to gain power. I do not find this to be a problem.

Why? Because, if it works, it works. If the woman has power via sexual means, she still has power. It was easily attained, in fact, someone else GAVE it to her, yet... she still HAS it. This is not fair, but life is not fair.

Now, you make some fine points here, to wit:
Quote:
Originally Posted by
I'd also be disapointed if my children male or female were attracted to power, but too lazy, manipulative or not sufficiently self confident enough to try to achieve their own, but instead used sex to acquire it second hand.
The key word to me in that, however, is "IF". IF your children were attracted to power. Not everyone is. I can understand your distaste for laziness, lack of self-confidence, and manipulative behavior. Sadly, these things are all parts of human nature. If you (or this forum) can come up with a way to make these things disappear from human existance, someone's getting a Nobel Prize, undoubtedly.

I understand, very well, how distasteful it is to see people in MU*s get advancement via only sexual means. I still don't see it as a pervasive problem. Only once have I seen a female advance *completely* beyond her own capacity through flirtation/sex. Most generally, men who are willing to give away power for sex in MU*s, don't have that much power to give. Men who have power are often wily enough to realize that some chick is 'playing' them for it, and they cut off the help/info/eq/whatever soon enough.

As far as the kind of children you intend to raise, and with what values, I wish you the best. Hopefully, your children will not use sex to attain power. But I guarantee you, *someone's* children will. And, as long as people keep falling for it, and letting their loins get in the way of their brains, then, I will defend a woman's right to utilize sex to gain power. It may not be pretty, but if it works, I'm not going to look down (too much) upon the woman who does it. It annoys me in the MU* world, but the guys who fall for it annoy me WAY more than the gals who use it.
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Old 07-27-2005, 02:30 AM   #18
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*cheers quietly from the sidelines*
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Old 07-27-2005, 04:10 AM   #19
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Such is the way of life... Earthmother hit it right on there.
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Old 07-27-2005, 12:13 PM   #20
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Earthmother argues passionately and lucidly, but did she really hit it right on? Prostitution, cronism and synchophantism all work, they're all effective, and I suppose easy and fun for those involved, but is that what we want to encourage paople to aspire to?

I guess you got me, I do have a problem with it. But I don't think that makes me someone who doesn't value traditional faminine roles. I don't think gigglling and spreading one's legs are the best that women have to offer the human race, even if we throw in batting eyelashes and sultry voices. And I don't think that equating mothering, nursing etc, is fair to most mothers nannies, nurses, kindergarten teachers, and so forth.
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