I was about halfway through the first draft of this article when I had a bit of a sudden realization. In the first article I was listing ten things that women bring to the table. I was excited about this idea because I felt it was a great way to show how different women are and how their approach to gaming is different. Then I realized that I was pretty much doing the exact thing I want other people to stop doing. I was explaining women like they are some alien species that needs to justify their place at the table. When I realized this I felt like a complete idiot.
There I was being Mr. self-satisfied mansplainer thinking that I was doing women some kind of service with my thoughts about how they are different. I was arrogantly thinking that I was somehow gonna point out the difference between men and women and that would make the gaming table a better place for women to be. Sometimes my arrogance astounds me. Thankfully I am learning how to think about things differently. It's a slow process and I am going to make some mistakes, but I am trying.
Yes, men and women are different, but this shouldn't be the focus at the table. We shouldn't look at a woman joining a game as some kind of invasion or as an opportunity to flex our rules knowledge. Nor should we expect a woman to live up to the ideal that we have in our heads. Instead we should do our best to look at women as simply another gamer and treat them as such. This isn't going to be easy but if we try to do it I think that a gaming table will be better for it.
Imagine for a second if a guy walks up to a gaming table. The dudes there are not going to be thinking about things like "can he play the game?" or "Does he know the rules?" in fact we are pretty much going to assume that they already know how to play the game unless they tell us differently. Why can't we do this with women too? Why do we feel a need to see a woman approach and suddenly bust out the mansplaining voices that pretty much say "don't worry you simple little woman I will help you!"?
Does every single Game Master do this when a woman comes to the table? No, but I have seen enough of them do it, have done it enough times myself, that I do know it happens a lot. I get why this happens, women in gaming is still a somewhat unusual thing and there is this natural assumption that they don't know anything. I don't know when or if this will ever completely go away, but I want it to.
I started out this series of articles with this idea that I was going to champion the cause of women in gaming. I was going to show everyone what a sensitive forward thinking guy I was. Instead what I have discovered is that women don't need a guy to blaze a path for them, they need community to simply say "Welcome to the table now let's game!"
So what do women bring to the table? The same thing we all bring to the table, a character sheet, some dice, and a willingness to spend some time with other people playing let's pretend.
I want to give a shout of thanks to my friend Melody Dickson for looking the article over and making sure I didn't make to many egregious grammar mistakes.
She also suggested an article about the unique traits that women bring to a game would be a good idea. I would like to hear what other people think. Feel free to let me know how you feel about this article and if there is anything you would like me to talk about. Until next time be well :)