D (vulpez) wrote in dnd3e,
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vulpez
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Gender Roles in D&D

This is something I've been noticing for a while, in D&D game after D&D game, in fantasy whatever in general. I'll take Final Fantasy X as an example, 'cuz I'm about halfway through it right now and I don't think it's at all a-typical. The party is:

Tidus - brash, arrogant, male fighter/rogue type.
Wakka - devout, passionate, fighter/paladin type.
Kimahri - fierce, no-talking, fighter/ranger type.
Auron - grim, deadly, male fighter/fighter/fighter type.
Rikku - chirpy, cheerful, cute female rogue/thief type.
Yuna - serene, suffering, beautiful female cleric/martyr type.
Lulu - sarcastic, unsmiling, sexy female wizard type.

Look at the WotC iconic characters from the PHB:
Krusk, male half-orc barbarian.
Gimble, male gnome bard.
Jozan, male human cleric.
Vadania, female elven druid.
Tordek, male dwarf fighter.
Regdar, male human fighter. (Two fighters!)
Ember, female human monk.
Alhandra, female half-elven paladin.
Soveliss, male elven ranger.
Lidda, female halfling rogue.
Hennet, male human sorceror.
Mialee, female elven wizard.
Nebin, male gnome wizard.
Now, I will give WotC credit for giving us a convincing 8-charisma female elf in Mialee, but ... two fighters, both male?

Seeing the pattern? Think about your D&D games. Think about PCs and NPCs both. So far as I can see, females are relegated to low-strength, high-charisma/dexterity roles. Women can be warriors, but only if they're paladins (gorgeous paladins, of course). Time and again you come across female sorcerors, bards, clerics - supporting the menfolk with buff spells, being desireable and glamorous and needing protecting, natch. Women can be rogues (preferably hard-knock upbeat street orphans not yet our of their teen years), and again the high charisma rears its pretty head. Women can occasionally be monks (high-dexterity monks with mediocre strength and of course they're incredibly sexy). It's even conceivable that you'd come across a female ranger ... but the vast majority, I think, are going to be caster-types.
Now, it's no secret that D&D in particular and fantasy gaming in general is a male-dominated hobby. This is changing, of course, but it's still true. I think that the worst perpretrators of this of males and probably in particular male GMs (they have so many more opportunities for abuse, of course). I know I've done it myself - female paladins, female clerics, female rogue/assassin villains, a vampire rogue - women are not only underrepresented in my game, they're largely relegated to the same roles I'm discussing above. Spellcasters and nimble types.

Basically, our society has certain expectations for women - they must be beautiful, small, and either sweet & kind (the girl you marry) or alluring & dangerous (the girl you cheat on her with). These same expectations are translated into D&D. Beauty is generally interpreted as high charisma, and when the dice or point-buy system don't give her a high enough charisma, it's "Oh, she'd be very beautiful but she has a scar on her face" (I had a player who used this explanation for his 8-charisma monk) or "She's stunningly gorgeous but never speaks," or something similar. Women are given low Strength and Constitution scores - they must be protected and defended, of course - and wind up in rogue/cleric/bard/mage/sorceror roles in I'd guess 9 out of 10 cases. I've seen exceptions (a female half-elven fighter who was still high-dex and of course gorgeous and an 8-Int half-orc fighter with her mighty war pottery), and you know what? They've all been played by women.

There's not really a question here, per se, but I do invite discussion. Have you seen this in your game? How can we address it without just throwing a token Brienne of Tarth character in?
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