August 18, 2013
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
I have been told that in my games and my writing, I have a knack for portraying women really, really well. I have been told that I am good at creating strong, assertive, independent women and that it is a credit to my artistic ability that I do just that. What is my secret? Well, I believe that George R. R. Martin, author of A Game of Thrones, said it best; “You know, I’ve always considered women to be people.”
That is it. That is the big secret to writing women; treat them as people. When creating a character, whether for a role-playing game, a novel, or whatever, when you create a character, that character need not be defined by their gender. A strong character is just that, a strong character whether they are male or female. Their personality, their characterization, is built on what they have experienced and how they react to said experiences. The need to make the main protagonist male or to create a female character only for the purposes of giving purpose to the male protagonist is something that has always troubled me.
I am a Gamemaster. I play the parts of every NPC that my players encounter, and that includes women. The bar maids, the brothel matrons, the whores, the evil sorceresses, the character’s girlfriends, and every other possible female NPC you might expect, I have characterized them all. It can be tricky at times, I will not deny that, but after many years of acting out the parts of such characters I have come to see that role-playing the part of a women is, at is core, no different than role-playing as a male or anything else. Just as I feel that no person is wholly defined by their gender, the same is true for characters. In light of this, I began, when given the opportunity, to make my own player characters (when I am a player rather than a Gamemaster) women. Not the night-elves dancing on top of mailboxes without any clothes on that you might see in World of Warcraft either, but actual, genuine, women. At first, this was an experiment to see if their really was a difference in playing a female compared to a male, to which I saw that what makes a character awesome is not determined by their gender or sexuality, but by their actions. Later, I came to enjoy taking up the part of the often unrepresented female hero. Though these characters I gained a better understanding of human interaction, gender stereotypes, misrepresentation, and the definition of what it means to be a well-rounded, relatable character.
This is not to say that I put women on some pedestal above men or consider them in any way to be a superior gender. I do not. I simply think of women as equals. Equals who often to not get representation within literature, television, movies, or role-playing games, and that I find to be a terrible shame. Women have just as much potential as men do to fulfill the roles of heroes, perhaps even more so because it is often unexpected of them. Gender should not matter when it comes to creating a hero.
So why is it that it often does?
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