Women in Miniature Wargaming
Why is there a constant push against women in the miniature wargaming space? What does it stem from? Is it entirely from a position of misogyny? Is there a valid argument to excluding someone from this hobby? I asked this question in the Way of the Brush discord server and many answered my question. This is an important discussion to be had. Here are some of my thoughts on this topic. I will preface this piece with this thought, this hobby is better with more people in it. Meaning Anyone no matter their sexuality, gender, creed and ethnicity should be included in these spaces and be free to enjoy the hobby just like anyone else. This freedom should not be infringed upon.
When I was a younger lad in the early nineties I was a gatekeeper of sorts. I was concerned about what was “official” rules and “official” paint jobs. I teased those in my gaming group of these apparent trespasses of what I thought was the hobby, or I should say What the hobby was to me. The lore is sacred, the rules are gospel and the painting was paramount. Those were the kinds of thoughts I was consumed with when I was a immature boy in those days. I was all about Warhammer 40,000 and other sci fi properties like for instance Dune, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc. I was a kid. I had a lot of growing up to do. I almost feel like an adult today. I saw a post by the WarMistress aka Tanya on Instagram and that is what started this train of thought. I tried to reach out with an encouraging word but I honestly have no idea what women go through on social media or in actual hobby spaces. In short I tried to convey that she stay in this hobby and fight. I know many women in this hobby don’t feel welcome or are actively discouraged from taking up the rulebook, paintbrush or just entering the arena of miniature wargaming. I don’t understand this kind of thinking. I try to think back to when I was a young punk, I wasn’t one of the unwashed masses discouraging girls but I was one of the gawkers. I know today that that sort of behaviour is another form of discouragement from entering the hobby. I had a lot to learn.
What is it about women in miniature wargaming that threatens boys? Why is there so much resistance to female gamers? Why is the question “did you paint that for your boyfriend/husband?” asked if a male observes a painted mini by a female artist? Why is the question asked “did your man coerce you into playing the game?” I have seen many of these questions asked of women in this hobby. I know there are many societal factors at play regarding a “woman’s role” in this world, but this is supposed to be a fun hobby. How can anyone look themselves in the mirror after saying such ignorant drivel to another human being? It reminds me of school yard boys versus girls type of crap when boys would pull hair or tease girls about cooties! It is all quite childish. It does seem obvious that there are men out there who never grew up. Is that it? Simply immature men? Certainly seems so if you ask me. Fear seems to be the root of these feelings that these kinds of boys have. Fear drives people to react to things in predictable ways. We are in a culture of fear. What is it that they fear? Change. It has been my observation that the wargaming community is made up of those who would likely identify as conservative. Identifying in this way is not inherently a bad thing. Things become awful when they start to enter the fringe elements of a dangerous ideology. Conservative folks are just resistant to change and prefer tradition in most instances. That kind of thinking has a place in the world. It is like the expression “two steps forward and one back”. They are the step back and the net effect is still progress. But antiquated notions of a woman’s place or a persons skin colour having a bearing on someones status is based on false ideas that were made to hold people down. These are the basis for gatekeeping in this space.
Gatekeeping is the tool of this idea of supremacy. It is the tool for these boys to feel better about their own status in societal groups of other like minded boys. They like these ideas of hierarchy and dominance. It makes them feel safe and secure in their position even though the position is an illusion. Buying into this way of thinking creates a feedback loop of thought. The more they read/game/paint means they are of higher standing or of importance. They feel like they are the ones keeping this hobby alive and it would all come crashing down with out them. This is the male ego at work. As many know the male ego is fragile. So fragile this ego is that they feel personally attacked when they are questioned on it. “How dare you” they think. If this whole miniature wargaming thing does die, it will because of them. They killed any chance of new blood entering the battlefield. These kinds of boys have little imagination and it would all stay the same for years with no innovation. It is pretty easy to spot them as they are the ones that really gravitate to the satire of fascism in a fictional universe and think that is how it should be. You all know someone in this camp.
What do we do to make the hobby space a better experience? Yes I’m talking about inclusiveness. Yes, we have to be considerate of other people. Yes, we are just playing with little plastic soldiers fighting in fictional universes made up for entertainment. I do have some ideas what many can do right now to make it slightly better for all.
1. When you see a post on any of the social media sites of paint jobs painted by women, Simply give it a thumbs up or don’t. You do not have to say anything to them. If they didn’t ask for feedback then simply stay silent.
2. If you happen across a video or livestream with a female gamer simply say hi and tune in. If they ask the audience for input and you have something genuine to offer then offer it. They are highly unlikely to be looking for dating advice or anything like that. Otherwise keep scrolling.
3. If you encounter a woman entering a hobby shop or similar venue, Don’t stare or gawk. If they ask for help then help them with what they asked for. You are not going to impress anyone with your vast knowledge of the meta…
4. If you encounter a woman at a gaming tournament, simply say good luck and play the game. If you win or lose be gracious and shake hands like a man. 5. They aren’t in these spaces because they are lonely and looking for a date. Stop treating as such. These are just my thoughts on this subject and there are many miles to go before we all can enjoy this wonderful hobby together. All it takes is respect and humility. This could have gone on for longer as this is a deep subject but let me know what you think. Take care of your Brushes…