Someone in a thread over at the Pathfinder RPG pafe said said “These personal issues really distracts from the game. Does anyone remember the days when none of this stuff was a friggin issue and all we had was fun????”
Such a time never existed, and if you think it does it’s because either as a guy you never had to deal with it, or for some reason your experiences were sheltered.
You know what days *I* remember?
I remember being told no matter how well I rolled, my female D&D fighter could not, as a matter of the *rules* be as strong as a man. Another player could decide his 13-year-old boy PC had a 18/00 Strength because he was magically blessed, but as a female character I *couldn’t*.
I remember bringing in a new character and being told they’d pick me up at the next village, and my background would be randomly rolled for. And do you know what was rolled? Harlot. And then I had to see what KIND of harlot. But, I was assured, this was totally fair. Because I might end up being a pimp, which would mean I was a male character.
But no, I was a wanton wench.
I remember not being ABLE to find a figure for a female warrior who didn’t have her tits, ass, thighs, or all of the above exposed. I remember being shown an editorial in Dragon Magazine where Kim Mohan *admitted* that sexualization in female miniatures was a problem, but claimed the Strength cap wasn’t “something any reasonable person could argue with” … AND didn’t offer any suggestions on how to deal with either issue.
I remember being told that since my magic-user’s level title for the next level was “sorcerer,” and not “sorceress,” and there was NO evidence in the rules of female sorcerers, I could NOT gain that level.
These were the people who TAUGHT me to role-play. And yeah that last argument is stupid, but I had NO WAY of knowing that. I mean there were racial caps for classes, and a Strength cap for gender, so why wouldn’t I accept a gender cap for classes?
Those days sucked. Roleplaying was so great a thrill I wanted to do it anyway. It wasn’t until one of the toads I played with physically assaulted me I left that group, because I was young and impressionable and they had LOTS of evidence that was just How the Game Was Played.
Never, EVER think that HOW a company describes things, presents itself, covers issue of gender and sexual orientation in the rules, and comports itself with customers doesn’t have a MAJOR impact on the culture of people playing the game.
TSR, and then WotC, had a LONG history of showing that women are second-class PCs at best, and mostly exist as sex objects to cling to the thighs of Conan-like heroes. Played by Boys. Gary Gygaz once said that women’s Brains are “Wired Differently,” and that’s why they just aren’t interested in rpgs. Of course that attitude impacted how woman were portrayed, and thus how a lot of players and DMs played.
It’s NOT that “All Cheesecake is Bad.” I’m not claiming you can’t have sexy character and nods to pulp – you just have to have them for both genders, and you have to have more than that. You have to show a RANGE of characters, male and female, spellcaster and warrior, preferable in every product but absolutely in the core rules.
Paizo and Pathfinder do a MUCH better job of that than anything WotC did before 5e (and 5e is too new to fairly judge either way). And so yeah, it is NO surprise to me when I can have fun with every Pathfinder group I ever meet, and get inappropriately harassed by about a third of the MTG and D&D groups I encounter.
So yeah, this stuff matters. It has ALWAYS mattered. And we NEED it in order to allow EVERYONE to “all have fun.”