“I’m going to play a female character! She’s going to be a real slut, wear skimpy clothes, and just whore it up. No wait, she’s going to be a barbaric lesbian, wearing full on bondage outfits!”
If you have been around role playing as long as I have, you have heard a variation on the above quote. And after all this time it is more than a little disturbing. Since it often is coming from teenage boys or young men it is clear that there is more than a little sexism going on. Some wish fulfillment, a mix of stereotyping, it is really not acceptable.
I don’t know why some people seem to think that they can honestly portray a member of the opposite gender. Some can pull it off. Just as some writers can pull off writing books with believable female characters. It’s not impossible. But I think that for the majority of role players it is really beyond their abilities. So they end up falling into these stereotypes. And wish fulfillment.
Well I decided, after some careful thought, that I simply will not allow it in my game. The two boys whose characters died last time are creating new characters. And we started the process last time, and they both said they were going to play female gnomes. At the time I wasn’t thinking real deeply about it. And yes, one of the other boys is already playing a female character, but is doing a decent job of it, not falling into the traps illustrated above. But I have to draw the line somewhere. And this is it.
They can keep all of the flaws and ideals they rolled up before, still be gnome wizards. But in the interests of many things I am going to choose to not let them play female characters. I am not comfortable with it. And as the adult who is working with teenage boys I don’t think I should encourage them to role play such things. It really is not acceptable.
I know that the boys will test things out here. And it is a safe environment for that. But I think that none of the parents involved would like to hear about this. It is one thing to let them cuss, tell dirty jokes, but certain things should be out of bounds. And this is one of them for me. They might be upset, but it is a line that I am unwilling to let them cross.