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.