Tag Archives: Patriarchy

Card Gaming while Female

The totality of female presence in the Star Wars films. Fortunately there's a few more women in the card game. But only a few.
The totality of female presence in the Star Wars films. Her card is a built-in damsel in distress…

A new article on cardgamedb.com appeared which is an interview of an experienced tournament-focused woman who plays the Star Wars LCG. It is a very interesting article, which refreshingly gives enough focus onto the gender-shortcoming of the SW card game.  It poses some very good questions on why FFG decided to go exclusively with male pronouns when referring to the human players, and also tells of some personal experiences of treatment of women in male-dominated card game tournament environments.

To be depressingly honest, none of that is surprising in the least. The geek culture is still profoundly misogynistic and even though some progress has been made, we still have a long way to go. In the article itself, male commenters really jumped in to posit that referring to all players as “male-by-default” is the best available options because…historic convenience I guess? It’s the same kind of lazy excuse people make for movies where there’s barely any women around (Incidentally, that very much includes the Star Wars films)  because it’s “more realistic this way”.

Fortunately I got to see the resulting retort.

To bring up fallacy, there are three that we can discuss specifically. The first is the informal fallacy termed the false dilemma, in which a set of options are presented as being collectively exhaustive, when there is at least one other option. As other games have shown, with a little bit of linguistic finesse, the gender issue can be remedied.

But, even granting that those four options were collectively exhaustive, choosing based on previous structure and historical custom presses toward the fallacy of precedent, essentially asserting that nothing should happen for the first time.

Lastly, primarily for fun, is the fallacy fallacy, in which one assumes that, because an argument is fallacious, its conclusion is not true. For example:

P1: Socrates is a man
P2: Socrates is mortal
C1: The sum of the deviation scores about the mean for a given distribution of values will always equal zero

A non sequitur (i.e., the conclusion does not follow from the premises), yet a true and valid conclusion. :)

Just because you find that something was born of fallacy does not render it untrue de ipso facto.

Using a male set of pronouns does indeed have its roots in patriarchal societal structures; this is the reason that we have not traditionally used the female forms as the all encompassing versions. But, language evolves, conventions die, and that type of language is obviously becoming archaic rather quickly. Furthermore, it isn’t about finding the “valid” choice, it is about finding the more inclusive, progressive, and considerate choice, which was not done in the case of the Star Wars LCG. Someone decided to use exclusively male wording for this game, which I think the interviewee found surprising, given her background in Pokemon, MTG, and AGoT, which have all made efforts to avoid that.

Unfortunately that didn’t stop them. so while a very interesting article, it was somewhat soured by the male commenters not missing an opportunity to come and remind us that the patriatchical status quo is really the best.

On a sidenote: Personally I’m quite partial to “they” since it’s small, it fits most situations and you can easily work around the rest. This is also the pronoun I’m predominantly using my OCTGN plugins where humanly possible. It just works without too much hassle and nicely encompasses genderqueer people just as well.

Is it just me or is Japanese culture really so sexist?

Sakura Haruno
Image via Wikipedia

I recently started watching Naruto and by now, I’ve watched around 17 episodes and what has really made an impression of me is the undeniable sexism that exists in the story. You see, in these series, at the point where I am now at least, you follow the story of Naruto, a kid “ninja” who is travelling around with his Sensei and his two schoolmates, 1 girl and one boy. As is to be expected, they have to overcome any number of enemies and challenges in their travels.

Until now, I haven’t seen the girl do anything. Seriously. While the two boys have defeated enemies far stronger than them, and shown some awesome initiative and power, continuously impressing their Sensei, the girl’s accomplishments until now are: Faint, Fail to provide a weapon to he schoolmate, cry over the body of the one she loves, roundhouse kick someone (not anyone powerful mind you) who tried to steal her bag, be the object of lust for Naruto. And that’s about it. Oh no, wait, her biggest accomplishment is that she managed to climb a tree using Chakra.

I keep waiting, since the 3rd episode, to see her do something exciting. Anything. But she won’t. She politely stays away from all the battles and is dutifully impressed and scared when the true heroes, teh mens, do all the dangerous stuff. This kind of shit is so heavy it really threatens to ruin the whole show for me. I keep hoping it will get better but given past experience with Japanese cartoon, I can’t hold my breath.

You see, I’ve also been watching the Legend of the Galactic Heroes for a while now and that one is far worse at reinforcing the patriarchy. There’s basically two strong women in that show, both in some kind of advisory role, which isn’t as bad per se but given that the whole thing revolves around dozens and dozens of men, it’s really sad that the only thing women can do apparently is advise the men. But as bad as this is, it got even worse as the show moved on, one of these women got married to one of the main protagonists and then she immediately became practically his wife-slave. It would show the protagonists sitting in the living room relaxing, while his wife would cook, clean and arrange of all the social duties. Her biggest fear was that she wasn’t a good enough cook for fuck’s sake.

All the other women that were married naturally had the same role. Take care of the household while the men did the important stuff like war and politics. I was thinking if this was because this looked like an older TV show but then I learned that it run from 1988-2000 which is definitely not that old. This can only mean that Japanese culture continues to remain so patriarchal that such displays of sexism are considered the norm and expected by the majority of their viewers. Nevertheless, I was hoping that Naruto, which started 10 years later, would be more progressive, but alas it was not so.

It also makes me wonder if any girls watch shows like Naruto or if it’s explicitly targeted at boys. If girls watch it, which character could they possibly identify with an support? Can they really enjoy having their gender being displayed simply as an object of lust?

So I’m curious, is Japanese society really so sexist in the 21st century? For one of the most progressive countries out there, their patriarchy seems exceedingly preserved.