Thursday, May 14, 2015

Reader Email: Why No Exclusive Focus on Minorities? [Updated]

This morning I received an email from a reader who wanted to know if I would consider writing a series focusing on under represented minorities as a way to showcase them to the wider blogging community and thereby exposing them to a wider audience. I get this question from time to time and I'd like to take a moment to address it publicly.

As a general rule I don't write articles that focus on someone's gender, sexual orientation, or race as their main qualifier for why my readers should pay attention to them. I wouldn't like for someone to single me out for such an article based on what's going on with my crotch, who I let touch me there, or what color my skin is so I won't do that to anyone else either.

Furthermore, when I write something like the Best Reads of the Week series I want everyone to understand that of the bloggers I surveyed that these individuals - regardless of the sexual orientation, gender, or race - were the best that week and that what those authors wrote got my attention and really excited my imagination. Every article that I have ever linked to in the series has been chosen expressly because of its own merits and not for any other reason. I've featured links to articles by homosexuals, straights, bisexuals, men, women, trans-gendered, and people of practically every race under the sun and every single one of them was selected based solely on their ideas and natural talents.

I know that my reasoning will not be sufficient for everyone who reads this post, and I'm open to discussing it with anyone who want to explore the subject. Hell, I'm even willing to add your opinions to this post to help further develop the conversation when you make a really good point; but for right now, this is my reasoning for why I don't focus on such things.

[Edit 5/14/2015 11:03 PM EST]

+Mateo Diaz Torres joined the discussion earlier today and had these salient points to add to the conversation:
I definitely don't think you're under any obligation to highlight anyone, but I think people do have potentially good reasons for doing it. It isn't necessarily degrading and discriminatory like some of your blog commenters have said.

1. People do get their work and ideas dismissed based on their race/gender/sexual and gender identity. Highlighting marginalized creators can bring attention people deserve based on the merit of their work.

2. People get scared off from the hobby. With some regularity, I see women who dropped out of groups or even gaming because of the amount of rape directed at their characters (emphasis added), and less threateningly, a lot of gamers seem to think women are mysterious aliens. "Hey, look, there are women/gay people/Latinos in the hobby, too" can go a long way to attracting more people into the fold.

In both of these cases, the highlighter (for lack of a better word) is bringing attention to people on the merit of their work, and trying to pull people into the hobby based on their interest in games.
Look, I want to say this in a public setting where anyone can come across it. If you think it's okay to act out your power fantasies by raping a female character than you need to fuck right off. You're not being funny, or clever; you're just being a dick bag.

14 comments:

  1. Fortunately I'm not popular enough to get such requests. But if I were I think I would like to answer this way...

    I really don't care to focus on the political dimension of RPGing. As far as I'm concerned what we're talking about all happens in the fantasy realm of the mind. It's not reality. It's a fantasy setting. I think we deserve to be allowed to escape from modernity and all of its hellish in-fighting and go someplace where none of that matters and none of that is germane. So when I think about, talk about, write about, and play RPGs I'm not planning on engaging in the quibbles and quarels of 21st Century propaganda for either side. Its not that I'm personally neutral on these matters, but I don't think RPGs is at all the place to have this conversation. When I go to the land of Fantasy, its to escape reality. And I believe that not only do we have the right to do so, but there is an ever present need to be able to do so. So thanks for the suggestion that I should cover politically charged topics (on your behalf), but no thanks. In the world of RPGs please consider me an Elf. A long lived, all-too-wise-and-knowing, white haired, smooth skinned, poker-faced-while-smiling, Elf. Named Tod, btw, in case you'd like to address me formally. Thank you.

    “Hence the uneasiness which they arouse in those who, for whatever reason, wish to keep us wholly imprisoned in the immediate conflict. That perhaps is why people are so ready with the charge of "escape." I never fully understood it till my friend Professor Tolkien asked me the very simple question, "What class of men would you expect to be most preoccupied with, and hostile to, the idea of escape?" and gave the obvious answer: jailers.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature

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  2. Hear! Hear! Highlighting a minority for no reason than their minority status is simply another form of marginalisation and degrades both the highlighter and the minority in question.

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  3. Good for you. Let's judge people by the content of their blog posts, not the color of their skin. Or something like that. :-)

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  4. I've yet to get such a request. I suspect I am seen as not "politically correct" in the first place ;)

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    1. I'm surprised. Do you ever get taken to task for using orcs in your games as something other than a racial stand-in? Or is that something that I get to enjoy all by myself too?

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  5. as an aside, how many gamers / bloggers stress their sexual orientation / gender / race in their posts? Shouldn't gamers / bloggers be judged upon the content they create and not some gender / racial bias?

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    1. Of the 380 I can think of two for sure who do and another two who occasionally mention it. Most focus on their games and on their ideas without any other topics coming up.

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  6. I read this post last night before I went off to work, and in a lot of ways it's just about the most depressing thing I've read in the past year. I guess I'm some kind of freak; I had to look at a photo of my gaming group before I remembered who was a Person of Color, or who was a Female Gamer. And I'm sorry, but I never thought to inquire which of them were gay, bi, straight, or anything else. All I could remember was that we rolled dice, pushed little lead people around the table, and had a whole lot of fun.

    From what I've been seeing on the Internet of late, those days are long gone; in my own naive way, I never did worry about The Burning Issues Of Our Time, and accepted anyone who came to the table as a player, and not as a stereotype.

    Will the last person in the game room please turn off the lights? Thanks!

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    1. Chirine, I don't think you're a freak; I think that you're like me in a lot of ways. You don't really care about all the extra stuff that comes along with a person, you just care about how they treated you and how they treated the other people at your table.

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  7. I'm sorry but I find your reaction too depressing to just leave ad is... there will be no "Last person in the game room" and no need to turn out the lights, despite the best efforts of the political operatives involved. Perhaps theirs is a scorched earth policy, but that's not mean we need wither away because some people are intolerant of any other viewpoint than their own. The solution to the problem they pose is quite obvious. Turn off the light in the political strategy room, and go back to quietly enjoying our wonderful hobby as ever we were before. While that may seem too simple to work, in fact it is extremely effective. So keep the faith. The wondrous hobby will continue to blossom.

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    1. Please don't apologize; The fact that you find my comment depressing is a good thing - it's a sign that sanity still exists somewhere out there.

      My problem is that I've been getting my teeth kicked down my throat for the past forty years for not embracing whatever Cause happens to be trendy at that particular point in time. If anything, my attitude of simply accepting people as they are has been pretty unpopular. Back in the days when I ran a show production crew, I got a lot of grief for having a crew that was over half - gasp! - WOMEN!!! I recruited my people based on their skills, pure and simple.

      I've had the same problem in gaming. Back in Ye Olden Dayes, we get people freaking out that a good third of the players in the original Thursday Night Group out at Prof. Barker's were women - oddly enough, about the same proportion as you'd find in Tsolyani society for women as 'adventurers'. We had guests who simply could not handle the fact that the face across the table belonged to A GIRL; they didn't last long, either in-game or out.

      So, if I may be blunt, I'm sick of this kind of thing. I've had to listen to two Big Name Tekumel Fans argue over which of the two of them had a 'more relevant viewpoint' on Tekumel based on their degree of support and socio-political standing in the LGBT community. It got old.

      And please, don't get me started on the Hugos, this year...

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    2. "I've had to listen to two Big Name Tekumel Fans argue over which of the two of them had a 'more relevant viewpoint' on Tekumel based on their degree of support and socio-political standing in the LGBT community."

      That has to be the weirdest thing to argue over for justification of your own views. You either believe it or you don't. People are so weird sometimes Chirine.

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