It’s a storm in a teacup to be sure, but when Monica Valentinelli put out a call specifically looking for female freelance writers to work on a Conan RPG, it was all but inevitable that someone would ask “why only females?”
Now, I could say that this smacks of tokenism, but why not give Monica the benefit of the doubt? It might be an interesting perspective to have a really good woman author writing a Conan story. I mean, the biggest problem I’m going to have reading sci-fi adventure pulps is that I’m going to be judging the manliness of all the protagonists against the ones that Leigh Brackett writes. As I mentioned before, I found myself saying of Gardner F Fox’s heroic male lead “Yeah, but wouldn’t it be great if he smoked cigarettes and called the alien queen ‘baby’?”
Well, here’s the thing about putting out a call for Conan: he’s a character that resonates a lot with a male audience, so a LOT of folks who would want to work on a Conan project are PROBABLY going to be male. Just like if you put out a call for writers on something that appeals primarily (not exclusively, I am NOT saying exclusively!) to women, you’d probably have to put some effort into it if you were looking for a male contributor who would have the same level of interest, dedication and knowledge necessary. That’s not to say that there might not be a woman who could do just as good, if not better, a job at writing about the manliest dude this side of Fist of the North Star.
It could’ve been that they were looking for another Norton or Brackett among the many fans who are applying. But I’m starting to think that might not be what’s happening here.
Update: Jeffrey Shanks says it is. The easiest thing to do would’ve been to just come out and say in the first place “yeah, well, we want a female perspective on the character/setting/game”, but hindsight is 20/20.
Addendum: I’m still not seeing anywhere anyone accusing her of breaking the law, at least not on Twitter.
Addendum 2: Well, nevermind Addendum 1.
Addendum 3: I had to look up this guy to realize he wasn’t trolling.
When I come back on Monday, I’ll be talking about Kull and why RE Howard may have inspired the Reptoid conspiracy.