Conan and the Lamentations of the Women Working on His RPG

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?”

The answer was because so far only men had applied.

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.

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3 responses to “Conan and the Lamentations of the Women Working on His RPG

  1. This is a case where the damage control was worse than the actual misstep:

    “When you tell me that gender doesn’t matter, and the writer’s ability does, you clearly think women write like shit.”

    The concern was that she was going against some kind of “content of their work not their character of their genitalia” type principle. And I agree… there’s nothing really wrong with what she wanted to do. She simply could have been a bit more discreet or diplomatic, that’s all. However, with this “clarification”… she’s made it clear that egalitarianism is at odds with her particular brand of feminism. In fact, she would go so far as to equate egalitarianism with misogyny. That sort of thing is simply going to be problematic for a lot of people, because (a) it’s bigoted and (b) it insinuates that women actually are inferior and are therefore unable to compete on a level playing field.

    But hey… you know I’d still give her the benefit of the doubt and assume this is yet another case of Twitter giving the appearance of brain damage. Just to be on the safe side, I should probably still look into my prospects for identifying as a lesbian left-handed midget albino.

    • Absolutely. It can be tough to find dedicate female fans of certain properties, just as it can be to find dedicated male fans of others. Wanting to find and highlight those fans can be cool and can help grow fandom. But the kneejerk reaction makes one think that for her, at least, this is more than about finding awesome ladies who love them so Conan.

      Ironically, when I was trying to think of some opposite, I really couldn’t. Most properties that appeal to women primarily would still find a slew of gay men who would crawl over each other for a chance to write for something… like a Desperate Housewives or The Nanny RPG.

  2. Pingback: Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy’s Explains Her Entryist Strategy | Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

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