It’s funny, the things that set us off. Make us angry. Incense and offend us.
(Note: The following is not even remotely politically correct. In fact, in a way, it’s a furious response to rampant and out of control political correctness.)
For many years, I played various tabletop RPGs; from my earliest experiences with TSR’s Dungeons and Dragons (thank you, cousin Seth!) through my years-long infatuation with Palladium Games’ Rifts setting, through a brief encounter with White Wolf/Black Dog’s World of Darkness and H.O.L. settings, several ferociously furious encounters with the Shadowrun games, many second string and offshoot games that lots of gamers never even heard of (Gamma World, Ghostbusters International, Arcanum), and finally into the twilight of my gaming career as I’ve been increasingly unable to find good local gaming groups…online MMORPGs.
(A pale comparison there…I’ve never played an MMO that lived up to the potential of tabletop games…but I’ve made some good friends while playing them. And in the end, that’s all that matters.)
I’ve picked up copies of second and third-party game expansions (the Book of Vile Darkness was particularly disturbing), and read some pretty spectacularly weird fan-written game expansions for many of these settings. Some of a very mature nature, if you take my meaning. And while I never found a way to work them into an actual game (thank goodness), they provided me with amusing reading and I never found any of them particularly off-putting.
Throughout all of this – and to this day in MMOs – I have always preferred to play female characters. The best explanation I can offer as to why is that I have enjoyed the challenge of playing against type and trying to get into the head of a female character. You’ll find that in my writing, as well…with only one or two exceptions, my protagonists are female (and many of my antagonists).
I don’t do it because I feel any particular need to provide the literary community with “female characters who are strong in spite of being female” (I don’t remember who said that to me, but it kind of defines in a single sentence everything that’s wrong with that line of thought). I do it because I enjoy playing and writing female characters. Like I said…it adds to the challenge. Not because it’s hard to write a strong female character – it isn’t – but because I’m not female. It broadens the horizons, if you will.
All that out of the way…I have never in all my years of gaming sat at a table or joined an online group who found it in any way weird or offensive that I was a man playing female characters. Nobody ever said “You can’t do that” or questioned my motives for doing so. I’ve had a few people question my sanity…but not specifically for that reason (and I’ve questioned my sanity myself on a few occasions…so it’s fair).
So I find it spectacularly offensive that the most recent edition of Dungeons & Dragons felt it necessary to include rules for playing other genders in games, and felt it necessary to include the following paragraph in a core rule book:
“You don’t need to be confined to binary notions of sex and gender. The elf god Corellon Larethian is often seen as androgynous or hermaphroditic, for example, and some elves in the multiverse are made in Corellon’s image. You could also play a female character who presents herself as a man, a man who feels trapped in a female body, or a bearded female dwarf who hates being mistaken for a male. Likewise, your character’s sexual orientation is for you to decide.”
I’m sorry…Is that really necessary? Are there so many game masters out there who find such a thing offensive that it became vital for rules on such things to be included? Is there some reason why doing so should give your character benefits or penalties above and beyond “Human,” “Elf” or “Dwarf” racially-speaking?
I simply do not understand why this has become an issue. Like I said, I’ve never met a gamer who felt that such a choice had a major impact on playing the game, beyond how the player chose to play their character during role-playing moments. And, I thank goodness for this, I’ve never had the misfortune to rub elbows with someone who found such things offensive.
So yes…I’m kind of irritated that ‘gender issues’ have become so prevalent in modern society. You can feel you’re a girl trapped in a guy’s body, or a girl who identifies more strongly with being male, or whatever you want. It’s none of my business. I do not care. It doesn’t affect my life in any way, shape, form or manner. It doesn’t lessen me in any way, and it doesn’t lessen you in any way.
We are what we are, no matter what that is…as long as what you are isn’t hurting other people, why should I object? If you’re expecting me to…well, sorry to disappoint you. I do not care. I’m not going to make fun of you, tell you to go away, or even feel uncomfortable around you. I’m comfortable with myself…if you’re not comfortable with yourself, that’s your problem, not mine.
You thinking that you need to make it my business offends me more than anything else. So please…stop rubbing my nose in it.