This is why we can’t have nice things.

I haven’t really talked at all, here, about being a woman and playing magic or any sort of related topic. That’s partly because I feel like it’s a pointless endeavor- the people who would read it already agree- and partly because it’s not really what I’m most interested in. But after this post, I have a few things to say.

Side note: Evan Erwin and BDM pointed out that giving this post attention is counterproductive, and I agree. But once Jonathan Medina has posted it (with 1700+ followers) I think that ship has sailed.

There’s a lot obviously wrong with this contest. Women are already seen as a novelty in this community, and any attention that doesn’t dispel the notion that women are bad players and probably only want to play a vampire deck because you know, all women love Twilight is not the right kind of attention, in my opinion. The language is also pretty fucked up- “In your email include the picture, the name of the girl, and your email address that you can be contacted at.” In other words, they aren’t even assuming that “the girl” is the one sending in the photo. Just dress up your girlfriend in a Mirran shirt, fellas!

Sam posted a response later on today, adding a “Hottest Men of Magic” contest, which is really what I want to talk about. I get that Sam intended the contest to be light-hearted, but I don’t think he understands how women + appearance + the internet works.

Go to any celebrity blog, and watch AnonymousRando76 attack the appearance of obviously beautiful women like Alessandra Ambrosio and Scarlett Johansson. Do you really think that no one is going to say anything cruel about whoever enters this contest? The same isn’t true for men, at all, which is why adding a contest for men does nothing to make this symmetrical or not sexist.

I’ve felt reasonably comfortable posting a few pictures of myself here and on twitter, but there’s a big difference between that and actually asking strangers to decide how hot I am. I wouldn’t ask for that kind of attention, and I find it pretty troubling when it happens anyway.

If it was a given that the community would take women seriously, this whole thing would be on different footing. But as it is, when I go to my local store people ask my husband how he got me to come, and feel pretty comfortable congratulating him on the fact that I am an ok player right in front of me. If you want to “introduce more women into the public’s eye on Magic”, maybe find a way treat those women as people first.

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49 responses to “This is why we can’t have nice things.

  1. Thea-
    Appreciate your insight on this topic. For the most part I agree with your stance, but not entirely in this context. Certainly the ‘objectifying’ of women is nothing to joke about. However, if there were women or men who wanted to participate in either contest, I don’t see that as a problem. You’re right, there will be people out there who will pass judgement and say mean things. But that would be true if it was an article about cube, sealed, a tournament report or even tales about highschool drama. Haters gonna hate. I don’t think we can set our community as “scared” of what trolls might say. Certainly, if one was uncomfortable receiving such criticism, then of course, they shouldn’t participate. I think Sam could have presented this idea in a much different way, and it wouldn’t have been received so poorly. This may come from his viewpoint of what he wanted this contest(s) to be, or his personal views, or ignorance, or whatever. I certainly got the creepy vibe from his post as well. In general, I think it is a cool idea for Magic players to connect about things other than magic. It does wonders to show the greater community of our non-mtg peers that mtg players do more than talk about some card game about dragons and beasts. My non-mtg friends are always asking me things like, “So what’s better the serpent or the beast, HARHARHAR.” And I totally get it. I totally understand why they feel that way. Because there’s no signals from the community that the game is anything other than fantasy time for children. Obviously, rating people’s attractiveness is not going to make many friends, but would probably drive traffic to the site. In any regard, I completely agree with your perspective, but I think also some attention could be called to the minor positives (that should be executed differently by someone else somehow). I think encouraging the social aspect of magic, beyond actual gameplay, card trading, etc, would really help grow the game. This can obviously be done with out objectifying anyone. I know the only reason I turned from casual player to crazy addict is because the people I play with are good company. You see this often in tournament reports, but having some sort of outlet for the greater community, other than a forum, might be a way to spread awareness virally. Certainly sending a link to a forum to a non-mtg player will not really give any insight as to what the community is like. But a social contest of some sort, would be cool. Might even be beneficial for the more socially-awkward types in the community that need a boost to meet more people. At this point I’ve lost track of where I’m going with this, but if it were in a different context, this wouldn’t have been such a bad idea with willing participants. I honestly think the spirit of the idea was positive.

    • re my above post: Flores Rewards is a good example of this, but is only a starting ground. Even though I don’t participate, i’m always curious when i see the tweets floating around. More stuff like this would be good.

      • I agree with you that there is a positive way to do this. If you wanted this to be lighthearted, it could have been done as a benefit (maybe for someone whose collection was stolen, or to raise money for a plane ticket for a qualified player) rather than a competition.

        And you’re right- not everyone cares about criticism, and I certainly respect people who can just brush that crap off. My point was more to say that a male equivalent is not really equivalent at all.

        I also agree, 100%, that community building is a good thing. One of the best things about magic is that the community is full of talented people who are happy to promote others. As a relatively new player and writer, I’ve felt consistently welcomed and supported, to a degree I didn’t expect. I appreciate that, and it’s definitely something I want to perpetuate.

  2. Great post, Thea. Sexism should not be tolerated. It doesn’t matter if this was meant to be a sexist contest or not, you are correct in asserting that it is, regardless.

  3. Very well put.
    1 Respect. 🙂

  4. So true. The community will never lose the stigmatisms of anti-social as long as that type of behavior remains prevalent.

    It takes strong female leadership to abolish. Luckily we have Thea, Megan, and others to show the way.

  5. Absolutely. Like I told someone on Twitter, the women’s contest is ‘Looks first, playing skill second (or rather, completely ignored)’, and the men’s contest is ‘Known for their role in the Magic community first (how else would they have the popularity to win?), looks second’. Not comparable contests, and the latter doesn’t even out the former, like you said. Thanks for this post. 🙂

  6. I said this to Medina on Twitter, but I’ll repeat it here:

    Listen to many MTG podcasts, and listen to the language used.

    Then read this quote:

    “What’s the worst possible thing you can call a woman? Don’t hold back, now.
    You’re probably thinking of words like slut, whore, bitch, cunt (I told you not to hold back!), skank.
    Okay, now, what are the worst things you can call a guy? Fag, girl, bitch, pussy. I’ve even heard the term “mangina.”
    Notice anything? The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a woman is the ultimate insult. Now tell me that’s not royally fucked up.”
    — Jessica Valenti (Full Frontal Feminism)

    Sound familiar? The level of casual disrespect for women within the MTG community is ugly, really ugly. And I’m sure that many of the people that talk like that don’t actually hate women — but nobody (few) are standing up to say “Hey, when a bunch of people talk like that, it drives women away, and it makes you look like you hate women. So stop, and think: your words have power, use them wisely.”

  7. ‘The same isn’t true for men, at all . . .’

    Why not, and what can I do to help make it true? I agree that women are far less critical of men’s appearances than vice versa, but I see no good reason why this should be, and it would be awesome if it were equalized….

    • Why would this be awesome? The thing about equality between the sexes is not only that it isn’t really possible, but it’s a very shallow (both senses) thought. There’s a famous quote that goes ‘the law, in its infinite majesty, forbids the rich and the poor to sleep under bridges…’ and it clearly represents the kind of ‘equality’ that men will often bring up in this sort of argument, e.g. “I’d love to be oogled” or “I wish women paid that much attention to how I looked.” But you really don’t; it would be a novelty for about a day, but then you’d quickly find it rude, embarassing, humiliating, even demeaning. And in any case, simply wishing for a facile equivalence doesn’t achieve anything and ignores the real and important differences (biological and social) between the sexes.

      It does no one any good to sink down to the lowest common denominator; instead of wishing that men were treated as poorly as women, why don’t you instead try to change your attitude about judging anybody on their appearance and rise above both bitchy comments and crudely objectifying gazes? And if you want to help, talk to your friends when you see this kind of situation develop and gently show them how and why they are wrong, don’t let them get away with this kind of subtly sexist thinking, even when no women are around.

  8. I agree completely: when I read the reply post and the guy said 1) that men couldn’t be offended 2) that the contest was about proving Magic wasn’t a sausagefest, it made me very annoyed/sad.

    The idea that men can’t respond negatively to the idea that what would be the most enjoyable thing for Magic Players (who are mostly men) to do is rank a bunch of women by their fuckability is amazing. No gay Magic players? No men who can respect the fact that women aren’t just there to make your card game not seem like a ‘sausagefest’? I wonder what he thinks about men who are offended. Might it start with ‘g’ and end with ‘ay’? ‘The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl’ indeed.

    Thank you for the post as well.

    -Mecha

  9. I don’t think I have ever seen anything so tone-deaf on a Magic site in 13 years. And then to attempt damage control by having a bunch of guys jokingly point out a few ‘sexy guys(no homo)’… yow.

    Is calling attention to the female players of the game even a worthwhile gesture? I have a hard time imagining anything, even a tame ‘Lovely Ladies of Magic’ not putting out a creep vibe. Sex should not really be a factor in the game. Wizards takes probably the best approach; when a female performs well at the professional level, she will get a feature match and the requisite unflattering photo, but no coverage writer would ever think to mention her appearance. It does sort of treat women as a novelty, but you can’t blame Wizards for trying to demonstrate that Magic does have a broad appeal.

    Perhaps something good can come out of this disaster. One way to raise awareness of women in the game could be the sheer number of them who would object to this demeaning contest. Maybe someone could write an issue/advocacy article for Star City about how and why this is exactly the wrong thing to do to make women feel like a part of the community, and suggest ways gamers could make their stores, tournaments, kitchen tables, and really their entire personal lives more female-friendly. Because the average Magic player could probably use a strong dose of maturity, and a vicious cycle of consciousness-raising and increased female presence could achieve just that, making our game a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

  10. Hey Thea,
    I wanted to stop by and say thanks for your post on this, I always enjoy reading your writing. I also wanted to talk about why I posted a link to the contest. I know that Evan and BDM don’t think it was the best play, but I stand by posting the link. Here’s why:

    I predicted that the conversation that it would spawn would be worthwhile for people. There are topics in the magic community that are ugly, stuff like cheating, theft, arrested social development, and the view of women. These are all things that people often sweep under the rug. Posting the link was my way of dumping peroxide on a wound, sure it hurts a little but it’s good for us.

    For the record, I agree with your post. Furthermore, I won’t say, “I respect women.” because this is a misnomer, instead I prefer, “I respect people.” To quantify the respect by adding the sex to it only adds to the objectification of women. There’s only one respect, not a respect for women and a respect for men. If a person only has respect for one sex then their respect is false and impure.

    On the other hand, every heterosexual guy has gawked at women. Every guy had made a looks-based judgment on women. All that we can do when we meet women is make an initial judgment based on appearance, that’s the only information that we have. Sure, the more astute might say, “You should reserve judgment for later when you get to know them.” but seriously, is this possible? Yes, in the sense that you can prevent yourself from developing your full opinion based on appearance, but it’s impossible to look at someone and not make an appearance based judgment. IE:

    “He looks shorter that I expected.”

    “She’s kinda cute.”

    “This guy is fat.”

    “Dang that chick has nice legs.”

    “Who does this guy think he is Brian Kibler.”

    The reason that I bring this up is because I was surprised at how many guy were riding the high horse today (excluding Justin, I think he was genuinely frustrated) – as if they had never checked out a chick, watched porn (yes, porn is objectification guys) or made a looks based judgment on anyone before. You would think that more people could empathize with were a contest like this is coming from.

    My response to the contest is much like my response to my initial judgments of people. I set aside the surface appearance to dig into the substance and check to see if there is something good and useful, while at the same time understanding that I myself do not always produce goodness (but I do always produce Mexicaness). When I met my wife for the first time, I remember NOT being overtaken by her beauty, but she was a great conversationalist and I was interested in recruiting her for my Bible Study (another life). Fast forward to now a days, I think my wife is hot and she has the substance that I was looking for.

    Truth be told, I am not sure if this contest could ever be good for magic, but I wouldn’t dismiss it without discussing it. I could see this as a way for girls who play magic to show up and break the MTG stereotype. I think as long as the voting is fun an light hearted and not based sole on looks, then it could be something interesting to see or read. I will note that I don’t think the proper response to this is to take a picture of your GF in a bikini holding magic cards, but I think there is a way to respond to this in a fun way without making it an issue, in the same vein as Lauren Lee’s attitude.

    All that being said,

    1) I am totally going to enter into the Hottest Man in magic contest, I think I have Evan Erwin’s vote and I am pretty sure that Kibler is going to help by scooping me in. Can I count on your vote Thea? 🙂

    2) I think that you, Laruen and Megan are doing an excellent job of showing people what real women in Magic look like (pun intended). 😀
    Peace and I’m outta here. #throwback

  11. Thank you.

    Well put.

  12. Are you #$%@ing kidding me?

    Sexism is something that is especially prevalent in Magic? Are you retarded? Sexism is something that exists everywhere in society and any emphasis that you place on it existing more in Magic is just you whining and seeking attention.

    The men of the Magic community value women playing the game so much that they will bend over backwards to be nice to you, apologize for insensitivity, and try to do their part to help you play better when you’re new to the game.

    My girlfriend plays all the time and has never had a bad experience with any male players at FNMs or local PTQs. They are always either nicer to her or just as dickish as they are to men.

    Quit your whining and claiming you don’t want attention as you link to forum posts of people saying you’re hot. Your outrage is misplaced at this small-time article that barely anyone even cares about. If anything is belittling the female gaming community, it’s whiners like you that perpetuate the stereotype that women 1.) have no sense of humor 2.) require constant attention and 3.) deserve special treatment.

    • Propogandist makes a compelling argument.

      “Are you #$%@ing kidding me?” – He quickly establishes that he is a level-headed, rational thinker that deserves your respect.

      “Sexism is something that is especially prevalent in Magic? Are you retarded?” – Classic rhetorical question, causes you to quietly reflect on your position.

      “Sexism is something that exists everywhere in society and any emphasis that you place on it existing more in Magic is just you whining and seeking attention.” – Great thesis sentence. Cause and effect: IF sexism is everywhere AND you emphasize its existence in a certain community, THEN you are whining and seeking attention. You see, it’s like you know AIDs is a world-wide dilemma, so you shouldn’t complain when your brother gets it, you baby.

      “The men of the Magic community value women playing the game so much that they will bend over backwards to be nice to you, apologize for insensitivity, and try to do their part to help you play better when you’re new to the game.” This is universally true, and there has never been an example to the contrary. Also, the women CLEARLY want the special treatment, because, you know, they are women.

      “My girlfriend plays all the time and has never had a bad experience with any male players at FNMs or local PTQs. They are always either nicer to her or just as dickish as they are to men.” – Propagandist’s lucky lady is clearly representative of all the women in the community. Lucky, lucky lady.

      “Quit your whining and claiming you don’t want attention as you link to forum posts of people saying you’re hot.” – Seriously. Stop demanding that people stop sexually harassing you. It’s so childish.

      “Your outrage is misplaced at this small-time article that barely anyone even cares about.” – This is such a devastatingly awesome argument my mind can’t comprehend it. I have no idea what you’re saying, Props, but I know it’s incredible!

      “If anything is belittling the female gaming community, it’s whiners like you that perpetuate the stereotype that women 1.) have no sense of humor 2.) require constant attention and 3.) deserve special treatment.” – In summary, women get treated badly because they complain about being treated badly, and they need to chill out and take it like a man. Also, sexism is hilarious.

      Propagandist for President!

      • Perhaps my method of making my point isn’t to your liking. It doesn’t discredit my point. You are ever so clever to be snarky on the internet. Haven’t seen that before.

        No argument can accurately state that 100% of all [blank] do anything. Your assumption that my meaning was thus was your assumption alone and not my assertion. Whether or not anyone wants special treatment for any reason is entirely subjective.

        My reference to how my girlfriend views her experiences as a Magic player are meant to be the point of view of a woman that I know and respect. It is anecdotal, sure, but I’ve heard the same from most female Magic players in the areas I’ve played.

        You are hot.

        Yup. Now I’ve sexually harassed you over the internet. I’m a terrible person. Maybe you should write an article about how hard your life is now and how tired you are of people treating you differently because you’re so incredibly hot.

    • Hey, Propagandist, can we talk about the good stuff? — where are you? Which stores are you playing at? Let’s encourage people to _go to these good places_. 🙂

      • I play at Xanadu Games in Baltimore, MD. We have a competitive atmosphere and only a few creepy guys. Lots of different formats including a huge Legacy following. Very female friendly as long as you can deal with the loudness.

        I have seen a few creepy places like the ones you guys refer to, but I never go to them after I notice it. Creepy dudes make me almost as uncomfortable as they make the women feel.

    • “Perhaps my method of making my point isn’t to your liking. It doesn’t discredit my point. ”

      actually, propagandist, he did discredit your point. your argument was ridiculous and he pointed out exactly what was ridiculous about it.

      • What is ridiculous about my argument besides my method of expressing it?

        The women of the World Poker Tour don’t complain like this. The male players don’t pander to them like Magic players do. They prove themselves by winning with help from, or despite their feminine attributes. Most women that I play Magic with do the same.

        What about other hobbies that are predominantly male? I play online games with dozens of girls and none of them complain about similar things going on there.

        It is the nature of the male to appreciate the appearances of females. This isn’t “objectification” by any means. It is appreciation of a work of art. To take it as a negative or, worse yet, be offended by anyone showing and fostering an appreciation for something is silly. We all appreciate the personalities of women, but there is nothing wrong with appreciating the things we can see.

  13. not to be contrary, but i’m not sure this COULD be done in a way that isn’t negative and sexist. as sensitive and mature as you try to make it, there’s no way to erase the context of women in the magic community consistently being disrespected and objectified. guys in every store i’ve been to have demonstrated the tendency to view women as inferior or objects rather than people. not everyone, obviously, but each store has plenty of dudes who are like this. it is common throughout the community. a contest where guys judge women’s looks isn’t going to have any positive impact on this issue, especially if it’s anonymous and/or on the internet.

    @jonathan medina: “I could see this as a way for girls who play magic to show up and break the MTG stereotype. I think as long as the voting is fun an light hearted and not based sole on looks, then it could be something interesting to see or read.”

    why would the voting not be based solely on looks? it’s very unambiguously outlined that the contest is about looks and nothing else. neither the magic community nor the internet have a good track record with the way they treat women. how about highlighting excellent female magic players instead? or women who have had a positive impact on the game in some other way? believe me, i’m not mr politically correct. i can understand people reading this and thinking “why doesn’t this guy just lighten up?” but the fact of the matter is, the subject is problematic and this contest celebrates all the negative elements about it while bringing nothing positive to the table. it purely and simply is about judging women physically, and i don’t think the magic community needs any practice at that.

    “On the other hand, every heterosexual guy has gawked at women. Every guy had made a looks-based judgment on women. All that we can do when we meet women is make an initial judgment based on appearance, that’s the only information that we have. Sure, the more astute might say, “You should reserve judgment for later when you get to know them.” but seriously, is this possible? Yes, in the sense that you can prevent yourself from developing your full opinion based on appearance, but it’s impossible to look at someone and not make an appearance based judgment.”

    yes, men do objectify women. i admit that i objectify women. there is plenty of cultural pressure and encouragement to do so. but that has nothing to do with whether you SHOULD do it, or encourage others to do it or defend it. especially in a community that has a problem going overboard with it. quite frankly, i find your logic to be pathetic. “guys treat women like objects all the time, so why bother trying not to?” really, dude? really?

    anyway, this subject reminds me of a story. my girlfriend and i went to a release and one of the guys she played gave her condescending advice about how good her pool is and how HE could top 8 with it if he made some changes to her deck. and then after not following his advice she top 8ed all by her little girly self and won some packs. she’s not a competitive player by any means, but she made strategic decisions based on her understanding of the probable metagame and this dude (and others) were just incapable of understanding that she was able to do that. no matter how many events we went to, there would always be guys giving her belittling advice on basic strategy and the rules as if she had never played before. giving these guys her picture and asking them to anonymously discuss and rate her body is not the strategy i’d choose to alleviate the problem.

    • “guys treat women like objects all the time, so why bother trying not to?” really, dude? really?

      I was pointing out the hypocrisy of publically speaking against objectification and then privately objectifying women. Since, it seems that you missed what I was alluding to; I’ll spell it out for you.

      If you want to stop the objectification of women, start in your own heart.

      I didn’t advocate the contest anywhere in my post, instead I said that I understood the tendencies behind it and I noted that the contest could be approached in a different way, that could possibly (which doesn’t mean definitely) serve the Magic community.

      In regards to your story, have you ever played competitive magic? If so then why are you surprised by this?

      “… one of the guys she played gave her condescending advice about how good her pool is and how HE could top 8 with it…”

      I am a guy (sometime a pretty intimidating one) and guys still do this to me. I can’t count how many times, after a game, I’ve stood up to meet some dude great me with, “You know you could of done XYZ and won the game right?!”

      “Yeah I knew that, but I decided to lose instead, it seemed like the right play.”

      How many times have I given my friends crap for punting, or called them donks or laughed at their terrible misplays. This is part of the culture it doesn’t have anything to do with women. I am not going to dig into the social make-up of the average magic player or the game culture as a whole, but I think the “sexist” thing can sometimes be liken to the “it’s because I’m Mexican…” stigma.

      “You didn’t invite me to that party because I’m Mexican!”
      “No, it’s because you’re obnoxious!”

      “You think I can’t play magic because I’m a girl!”
      “No, it’s because you suck. Play better.”

      Could this guy have been condescending to your GF because she’s a girl? Sure, but it could have also been because he’s a douche. I know there aren’t many who play this game, but every now and then, I’ve heard of people running into these types.

      • it seems like you just disagree with thea and some of the rest of us that there is a culture of sexism in the magic community. i guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. i’ve played in shops literally 1000 miles apart, and i’ve seen evidence of it. i’ve also heard about it from others. you’re welcome to think i’m wrong, and i don’t know how to convince you otherwise. but i was there. these guys were douchebags to me too, but not in the same way.

        i am still not entirely clear what your point is, by the way. are you just pointing out that sexism exists in other ways as a sidenote to the discussion? or are you suggesting that anyone who has ever been sexist in any way can’t validly criticize this contest?

  14. First, Brad: at least propagandist had an opinion and put it out there, if clumsily. You on the other hand just took the opportunity to make yourself look cool through the clever device that sarcasm is without adding much to the “debate”… good on you.
    Second, my opinion on the matter: GENERALLY men and women relate to the world differently. Our sensitivities, be they sexual, racial or just personal become much more manageable as obstacles when one takes responsibility for them, rather than place that responsibility with someone else. For example, it is much easier for me to convince myself that it doesn’t matter when someone slights or insults me than it is to make sure that each and every individual knows what I find offensive and is encouraged on a personal level to stop taking the action I find objectionalble. I have my work cut out for me if I want to try to convince a whole culture to behave a certain way. Not so much if I choose to convince myself that said culture’s actions bring very little that matters to bear upon my life. I am sure it can be frustrating to have to deal with being looked upon differently at a magic event because of being female it doesn’t change the fact that being a female at a magic event makes you a novelty in the eyes of many at that event.
    So, I guess my final point is this: who cares if someone solicits picts of hot mtg girls? Trying to change the feelings of that person and those who feel similarly will get you nowhere… however, not letting it get under your skin and ignoring it probably does more to eliminate this sort of thing. Imagine how much additional exposure this contest has gotten through the continued “debate”…

    • Men and women don’t relate to the world differently. We live in different worlds. This is the point. If we relate to the world differently, if is merely do to social construction. We aren’t born men that want to sexual harass women, and women aren’t born whining and wanting special treatment. Regardless, both of these types of people are rare, yet one is universally panned (“oh, that bitch is so whiny”) and one is generally accepted (“dude, sexual harassment isn’t cool, but that chick has awesome tits!”)

      Please. If you fail to recognize the point, perhaps you should read a book. (Might I suggest Alice Walker or Betty Friedan.)

    • One can’t be snarky and sarcastic while making a point? I think it was pretty clear that I found his arguments ridiculous, and taking his points to their logical conclusions showed how absurd they were. I usually don’t respond to “Are you ****ing kidding me?” and “Are you retarded?” as if they are legitimate debate topics. Coming off as incredibly cool was just a bonus.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to be saying, “You can’t change the bigotry in the world, so keep your head down and don’t worry about it.” Do you know how many social and political movements have succeeded DESPITE people thinking this way? Would women have the right to vote had they “chose to convince themselves that said culture’s actions bring very little that matters to bear upon their lives”? Do I need to bring up race?

      “So, I guess my final point is this: who cares if someone solicits picts of hot mtg girls?” See: author of this blog post. Obviously you can’t relate to how she feels. That’s why she wrote a blog post, to try to show you.

      • Where do you draw the line?

        Do you think the world would be a better place if men had to repress their feelings toward a woman’s appearance? At what point does this kind of thinking infringe on men’s rights?

        Women can do anything men can do legally. They even have added benefits above men in this country (alimony, maternity leave). I think it’s wrong that they make less money than us on average for the same jobs, but that’s the last logical step I can see in the “equality movement”.

        I wouldn’t want to live in a world where I couldn’t tell a woman at the local store that I thought her dress was pretty for fear of being accused of sexual harassment.

      • @Propagandist:
        “Do you think the world would be a better place if men had to repress their feelings toward a woman’s appearance?” – Yes. My dad has a habit of telling every young, female Dunkin Donuts girl she looks pretty. It’s incredibly creepy and makes me want to die inside.

        “At what point does this kind of thinking infringe on men’s rights?” – As always, you have the right to free speech, but you have to live with the consequences of what you say. In this case, I think that men who make women uncomfortable in the Magic world by hitting on them, disparaging their play skill, or simply pointing out that they don’t fit in (“OMG A GIRL!”), should be looked on with disdain from their peers until we evolve past this behavior. That’s how most social norms are created, anyways.

        “Women can do anything men can do legally. They even have added benefits above men in this country (alimony, maternity leave). I think it’s wrong that they make less money than us on average for the same jobs, but that’s the last logical step I can see in the “equality movement”.” – Sure, in the eyes of the law, women are pretty much equal (also, most major companies offer paternity leave these days). It’s more difficult to make the general public feel that way; it’s ingrained in all of us from the day we are given a blue onesie instead of a pink one.

        “I wouldn’t want to live in a world where I couldn’t tell a woman at the local store that I thought her dress was pretty for fear of being accused of sexual harassment.” Sexual harassment wasn’t exactly the right term, but there are analogue to the workplace here. My girlfriend goes to the cafeteria at her work every day, and every day the guy making the sandwiches throws her a wink and a compliment. At first, maybe it’s flattering. Then it’s creepy. Then it becomes uncomfortable to go get food at work. Why should my girlfriend have to live with that every day? Because some guy wants to get her number?

        There’s a line between a nice compliment (“Oh you got a new haircut? Looks good!”) and a creepy flirtatious comment (“UR HAAWT”). It’s not a legal problem, just one of learning how to fit in to society.

      • @Brad
        I finally see some humanity in your response! I can definitely agree that creepiness is something that is a factor.

        But what we’re talking about here is not a workplace. It’s not someplace where a woman HAS TO go to to live her life. If there is a specific comic shop (I’ve been reading of several in this very thread) that has especially creepy guys, then don’t play there. Tell the owner that you’re choosing to go elsewhere if the guys can’t behave themselves. FNMs are all over these days. I do the same thing if a shop has a bunch of douchebags at it.

        I’m sorry that your Dad acts like that, but I’m sure the looks and comments (“Ew, gross old man” possibly) he gets from those girls is the social stigma you seek. So it seems to me that the “system” works as is. I’m sure that your Dad doesn’t give a shit of course, since most old guys that act that way do it because it amuses them. Kind of like trolling in the real world.

        I’ve never been saying that the extremes (creepiness) of said behavior should be protected or glorified. I hardly think posting a couple pictures of cute Magic players (male or female) is over the line. This is assuming, of course, that the people in the pictures are okay with their inclusion.

    • so if we keep our objections to ourselves, the problem will fix itself? you think silence is a better option than public discussion? i’m afraid that doesn’t make any sense at all. a problem is dealt with through discussion and by convincing one person at a time, not with apathy and keeping your mouth shut.

      oh, and propagandist didn’t put his opinion out there in an clumsy way. he put it out there in an insulting, and (how strangely relevant) sexist way.

  15. Woof.

    Women in Magic is a tricky topic to handle, and it’s one that I don’t think has ever been handled well. I know I’ve read more blatantly sexist or misunderstood articles about it than good ones. I don’t think I can re-invent the wheel here, but maybe I can get us a little closer to the real issue at hand.

    Magic, remember, is a game that takes a special kind of person to enjoy. Bring it up to the average guy or gal on the street and they will either be confused or repulsed by the game.

    We’ve carved out a little niche for ourselves that is populated by people who enjoy thinking on multiple levels at once, competition, fantasy worlds, mathematics, decision making, and a hundred thousand ever-changing puzzles that can be solved in a hundred million different ways.

    Well, it turns out (surprise!) that most of the people who enjoy all of those things are male. Maybe humanity evolved in such a way that men are just more predisposed to liking the types of things that make Magic attractive. Maybe society encouraged those traits in men and discouraged them in women. I don’t know. What I do know is that the game is EXTREMELY male dominated. More so than video games, or D&D, or engineering departments, or nearly anything else we do.

    If you’re a dude, imagine for a moment that you are passionate about an activity where more than 95% of those who enjoy it are women. In fact, sometimes you will be the only guy in a room of women. While the gender roles in our society don’t make this experience perfectly comparable, it’s still going to be awkward as heck for you. Being in the minority usually is.

    Most women who play Magic do it because they love the game so much that they’re willing to buck a very large trend in order to play it. They have the self-confidence and the passion to show up to FNM or a PTQ or a playgroup week after week often as the only representative of their gender. Any while most male Magic players might be helpful and courteous to them, it only takes a couple of creepers to make things feel really awkward in a hurry. Yet they keep playing because they love the game.

    I would bet that the kind of women who play Magic week after week have spent their entire lives trying to be treated as mental equals in a game where it is rare that their gender won’t be a constant topic of discussion. I would also bet that most of these women struggle with it in other aspects of their lives, too. I know several women who have stopped playing female characters on WoW or posting under clearly female forums handles because they’re sick of their gender being at the forefront of discussion. I would also bet that many of them had a rough time in adolescence being the girl who wanted Star Wars action figures for their birthday instead of classically feminine gifts.

    Come on, guys. It was hard enough growing up as a nerd, right? Most of us were too skinny or too fat or too tall or too short. We had glasses and braces and acne and we liked science and history instead of gym and lunch. We were smarter than everyone else in our class since day one. We knew that the worldview everyone else subscribed to wasn’t for us.

    Now imagine that added on to the pressures of being an adolescent girl. You couldn’t even sit at the nerd table in middle school because the guys were afraid to talk to you, and chances are there weren’t too many other female nerds. They’re a rare breed – most of them had their will broken by years of relentless seventh grade teasing.

    So let’s let the ones that were brave and strong enough to stay nerdy and join our subgroup have a haven where they can be a human first and a girl second. Yeah, all guys objectify women to some degree. But that doesn’t mean we have do it openly, right? While there may be some women in Magic who would love a good beauty contest, it speaks volumes that as of now the contest has ZERO ENTRIES.

    Zero.

    Let’s embrace the women of Magic as people of Magic. Let their ideas speak for themselves. We’re all here for the same reason, after all.

    We want to belong.

  16. First of all, let me say that I found your post somewhat enlightening in the sense that I haven’t really had the opportunity to understand where people were coming from on twitter when they spoke out against the contest. (Mostly because it’s hard to get someone’s full point of view in 140 characters.) Second, I would like to, again, apologize to anybody who felt wronged by the contest or felt offended, as that was not my intention at all. Third, if at any point in these contests, or my subsequent Twitter posts, I came off as creepy, again, that was not my intention.

    Allow me to, for the record, state my goals for the contest.
    (1) To generate over-all site traffic to http://www.theothersamb.com. I would actually like to thank you, and Jonathan Medina, and Evan Erwin, and BDM for talking about the posts, even if it is to say don’t give them any thought. I believe that human nature is to look at something when someone tells us not to, the temptation is just there. Because of what amounts to a bunch of free publicity, my site has racked up over 100 times more views over the past two days than I typically get on my average day, and over five times more views than the conclusion to my last big event. (My Pack to Power) While negative attention wasn’t what I was trying to breed, it still accomplished my goals, and a lot of the views that start at the contests go on through the rest of the blog, a plus in my book.

    (2) To introduce more people to the Magic community by putting a spotlight on the females rather than the pros like LSV or Saito or FFfreak or Conley Woods. Now, I acknowledge that I handled this about as gracefully as a bull in a china shop, (And just humor me if you watch Mythbusters) but that does not mean that the best answer is to go straight to faulting every single word in my post. Instead, tell me how to make it better. Give me proper, constructive feedback as opposed to feeding the trolls that have popped up in the subsequent flame war after Medina first tweeted about my article. I looked around online, and the two closest things I could find to what I wanted to accomplish here were Flores Rewards and some lists of what some guys thought were the top 10 women in the Magic universe, i.e. “She’s a Lady – Top 10 Women of MTG” on gatheringmagic.com. The Flores Rewards was kind of close, but not quite exactly what I was looking for, while all the top 10 lists weren’t even close. What I was looking for was a sort of American Idol-esque contest, one where there would be a winner, but the other entrants would become known even if they didn’t win.

    (3) To create a conversation piece in the Magic community. Goal three basically supports goals one and two, but it’s very important. I don’t just want people to view the article and maybe enter. I wanted people to be talking about it at FNM, asking each other who they were going to vote for. I wanted some buzz, some groundswell, and although it wasn’t what I intended, I appear to have gotten that as well, as last night at Legacy I was talking to people about it and actually having fun with it.

    For just a brief moment, let me talk about the contest that immediately followed, the guys of MTG. I followed the Twitter debates/flame wars immediately after they began. What I was surprised to see was how many initial posts were calling for the Hottest Guys contest. Maybe they were just trying to prove a point, I don’t know. The point is that people spoke, and, whether they were serious or not, I listened. That’s all there was behind the decision making for that contest. Copy-paste and run it. Again, not the best execution, but this is my first time running a contest like this on any scale. Blame ignorance and immaturity, because I sure do.

    To finish this response, let me give my frame of reference to what I said in the post, and what some of your biggest gripes were.
    ““In your email include the picture, the name of the girl, and your email address that you can be contacted at.” In other words, they aren’t even assuming that “the girl” is the one sending in the photo. Just dress up your girlfriend in a Mirran shirt, fellas!” Honestly, that was actually kind of what I was expecting. Using “your name” would definitely be the best way to word it, especially because it works with the rest of the sentence. Hindsight is 20/20 I guess.
    “The same isn’t true for men, at all, which is why adding a contest for men does nothing to make this symmetrical or not sexist.” Um… sorry? I mean, there were basically three (and a half) options here as a response to all the negative feedback I was receiving. First option, leave things be. Ok, seems pretty bad, next? Second option, change the contest to cater to every individual person’s issue with it or just take it down. (The take it down was really only half an option and not even considered.) If I changed it, I felt as though I would be faulting the maybe three people who would actually enter. I’m typically a man of my word. If I owe someone money, I pay it back to them. And if I say I’m running a contest and the winner gets a Jace. I don’t care if there’s only one entrant, she’ll get her Jace. Third option, run the “Hottest Guys” contest. People were asking for it, and it seemed like it would work, let’s run it.
    “If you want to “introduce more women into the public’s eye on Magic”, maybe find a way treat those women as people first.” Ok, time out. Think about this seriously for one second. If I run this contest, I get yelled at for not treating women like people. If I don’t run this, and instead led with the Hottest Guys contest, I would probably be yelled at for not giving women an equal chance. Both contests were going to be run, no matter when or in what order I ran them in. I figured that if one was successful, the other would be too, and due to the feedback on Twitter, it seemed good to just run them simultaneously. The truth of the matter is that even if I didn’t run the contest, people would still view Magic as male dominated 1000 to 1, and probably think that any women who showed up were “convinced to come” or something lame like that. I thought if I ran this, and there was a good turnout (even if all of the submissions were of girlfriends wearing a Mirran shirt) people would maybe rethink their view on the Magic community. I’m sorry I offended you so severely, and I’m sorry if I offended anybody else just as badly. Thanks for reading.
    -SamB

  17. Can we see some pics?

  18. I’ve read virtually everything associated with this deal, and have yet to find a legitimate reason why *anyone* would, should, or could care about omg hawt magix gurlz!, thus I must conclude that this issue is relevant only to the sanctimonious and pious victimologists.

  19. There are some problems with MTG that are just community based. Magic has some inherently sexist ideas in it, some of them comes from the fantasy setting other parts seem to be deliberately created. To prove my point lets look at the original planeswalkers. All of these are designed to represent their color very well. The avatar of greed, deception, and power at any cost is Liliana, a women. Bastion of rage and impulse, is Chandra (bonus points for reprinting even more impulsive and destructive in zendikar), also a women. Now some of you are thinking coincidence not conspiracy, and rightly so. And some of you are thinking well Elspeth came out next block and was not a women are evil stereotype. Well the truth is Elspeth is the worst. Her role as a good, and just (white) planeswalker is purely supportive, and the message this sends is if you are women to be good means sit back and support. She has to help other creatures attack or protect them from destruction. Well she can do things, summon soldier tokens, male soldier token. Elspeth is role to protect and nurture, and creature as many soldier as possible. Nissa has sort of the same thing, female planeswalker summon males of the same race to fight their battles.

    I do not think this excuse the jackass behavior of some of the Magic community, but my real point is WOTC itself is not really trying to make magic more accessible to women.

    TL:DR Cut down on sexism in cards so player do not feel it is expected, or acceptable.

    • @Dhwoolf: Thats like saying gun manufactures need to stop making guns that kill people because the people using them are just too stupid. Magic cards dont cause sexism, people do.

    • not sure if you realize it or not but you are making an argument that is extremely flawed. You criticize Liliana/Chandra for being evil/aggressive depictions of women and yet criticize Elspeth for being too supportive and therefore weak. I could easily make the opposite claims that Lilliana and Chandra are strong and independent and Elspeth is a guardian and protector. You are focusing on the negative aspects to make a point and ignoring the positives. Two sides of the same coin…your point is ridiculous and circular at best.

      In the same vein, I’m surprised you aren’t complaining about how they are stereotyping males in planeswalkers because Garruk/Ajani/Gideon are roided out muscle heads.

      I get what you are going for, but it’s a card game. Wizards aren’t the ones making sexist cards, you are making the cards sexist by making these connections. You want them to be sexist so you are looking at them with one eye closed.

    • Virginia Lawrence

      DH Woolf is certainly a good name for that comment though, albeit probably unintentionally ironic.

  20. i’m really not buying your theory, dhwoolf. i think elspeth, chandra, and liliana are actually pretty well done, non-sexist female characters. look at how elspeth and chandra are dressed: they aren’t even playing the “sexy” card, which is actually pretty surprising. i think the walkers are actually evidence of the exact opposite of what you’re saying.

    • I agree with this. I think the planeswalkers are a good example of how to represent women in a fantasy setting- they aren’t super sexed up and they feel like real characters (or that’s my impression, I don’t read the books).

      Although they could probably do better than 4/14, right?

      In general, I think that WOTC does a good job. They are scrupulously gender-neutral in the material they publish, which is not true of any other major source of magic writing. Some art is fan-servicey, but most isn’t.

  21. man, i sure said actually a lot there.

  22. I’m not sure if this was mentioned before because i didn’t read ALL the comments so i apologize if its a repeated statement.

    The most disturbing thing about that “contest” (besides the blatant ignorance of it all) is that the first thing that popped into my head was some creepy guy searching the net for pictures of women playing or involved in Magic in any way and just posting them. The contest might as well say “please search the internet or snap photos of girls you don’t know so we can ogle them together”. And if people can’t see what’s wrong with that then they aren’t worth the time it takes to get them to understand it. Bottom line: some people aren’t worth the effort and try not to get too worked up about idiots like that.

    Keep up the good work and reading your cube related posts has been a pleasure. Wish there were more articles like yours that focus on this extremely fun and casual variant of Magic.

  23. Upon reading more of your articles and tweets I have come to learn more about your perspective as a Magic player. I feel the need to apologize for my harsh comments toward you (the author). You are clearly not the type of female gamer that seeks attention the ways I insinuated.

    I am sorry.

    I’m sure you HAVE seen a large number of “gamer girls” that DO seek attention of course. These are the ones I get annoyed with. I am sorry I pigeon-holed you with that unsavory group.

    I maintain my point of view that women and men are very different in how they express themselves and Magic will not change until society changes as a whole. I am FOR a change in language that strays away from feminine features being seen as a negative in both sexes. I am FOR women making equal pay as equally qualified men. I am AGAINST men being restricted in language and social interaction.

    Games and the internet will always be a haven for the socially inept of course, myself included in some ways. As society slowly progresses (legalizes gay marriage, repeals don’t ask don’t tell, etc.) some of us will always lag behind. Please be patient with us nerds.

    • Thanks for saying that.

      Your point is relevant outside of games. There is this idea in our culture that it’s a good idea to pretend to care about some typically male interest to get attention- pick up any women’s magazine and you will literally see advice about how to make it seem as though you are an expert on football/grilling/beer. I think that’s pretty damaging, both for men who want to have interests in common with their partner, and for women who actually have those interests.

      • Yea, my mom’s magazines are like that, but I never see stuff like “Learn how to like ballet / gardening / baking / etc.” in men’s magazines. Not that those are sex-exclusive of course, but neither is gaming and football.

        Everyone should just be themselves I guess, like Grover and Big Bird used to tell me when I was single-digit age.

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