Jump to content

Representations of Women in Malifaux


Recommended Posts

I think there needs to be a serious talk on the representation of women in Malifaux.

 

In general I think Malifaux does much better than other wargames; there is a strong female presence in the characters, and they are written to be more than side-notes or as foils to the men. Wyrd have also done a lot to improve their scuplts of women since starting. This doesn’t mean there aren’t areas that can be improved though.

 

My biggest issue comes from with how may of the characters are dressed and sculpted. Beyond ‘in character’ revealing clothes there are many outfits which are designed to enhance sex appeal on characters where this is not part of their background, and where the male version is dressed normally (see gunsmiths for a good example). Moreover many female characters have a body type that I can only describe as ‘male fantasy’. They’re not proportioned well, and the models sexuality seems to be a core facet of the sculpt. I propose that both of these things should change from the Wyrd design team moving forward. Jesse Holliday is a great step in this direction going by her art, and maybe Wyrd are already moving this way (though Pandora goes in the other direction), what I would hate to see is that the render than changes her body type. Wyrd sculpters seem more than capable of making a model apparently female without sticking large breasts and a narrow waist on her.

 

To answer some common questions/rebuttals I have seen to this suggestion:

  • Why do this?

    I have struggled to get people into the game, especially female friends, due to these sculpts. They appreciate everything else about the game but this oftens winds up being a deal breaker/killing interest. There is no reason to not make this change unless a significant proportion of the community actively want sculpts looking like this. In which case I need to question whether I want to stay in the community.

  • I don’t see a problem with the sculpts.

    That’s great. I’m highlighting that there are people who do. Unless it really pains you to have your women unsexualised, you shouldn’t mind a change.

  • Why can’t they just play with what they like, and I play with what I like?

    Unfortunately you cannot pick what you play against. Additionally it is about the community we want to portray to people. From my experience Malifaux is one of the most open and accepting communities, but if people actively are petitioning for models that look like male fantasies, then this attitude definitely won’t be seen by everyone.

  • Like 2
  • Agree 3
  • Respectfully Disagree 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

Why would you say the female gunsmith is over sexualized? 

For me personally, the biggest problem I had with women in Faux' is that in the early Breachside episode every women was described as "beatiful" when introduced. Like dont tell me that, show me that. But more importantly, the descriptions were very samey, with the first and foremost thing about the women being "she was beautiful." Check how many times that phrase is said lol. I do think they have been getting a lot better at it though!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I fear that the original poster has managed to present his, her or their position in an unfortunate and confrontational manner.

It is a common failing in sculpting to produce figures that are only conventionally attractive, especially for women.  Body types for men typically exhibit more variety than body types for women do.

Increasing diversity in the sculpts will result in an improved product.

Disclaimer:  When discussing situations like this, it's really easy to overlook neutral examples and focus on "bad" or "annoying" examples, and dismiss "good" examples as exceptions.  

  • Like 2
  • Agree 5
Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, solkan said:

I fear that the original poster has managed to present his, her or their position in an unfortunate and confrontational manner.

It is a common failing in sculpting to produce figures that are only conventionally attractive, especially for women.  Body types for men typically exhibit more variety than body types for women do.

Increasing diversity in the sculpts will result in an improved product.

Disclaimer:  When discussing situations like this, it's really easy to overlook neutral examples and focus on "bad" or "annoying" examples, and dismiss "good" examples as exceptions.  

I'd agree. It's tricky, too, because we could compare, say, Titania and McMourning. They're both crazed, slender, athletic, and "conventionally attractive" while horrifying. We might look at Madame Sybelle and lament the mixing of a large body with "grotesque and undead," but we could similarly look at Guild Executioners that are large, grotesque men, and recognize that this "Weird West" genre of steampunk/western/horror plays with the lines of sexuality and embodiment as part of its aesthetic. But the cultural context that prioritizes beauty and sexuality for women means that similar features or treatments certainly wind up landing in different contexts, which isn't nothing.

In Guild, I appreciate a lot of the female figures I get a chance to run. Nellie, Allison, Phiona, and the Field Reporters are fully dressed and present their time faithfully. Melissa KORE is an unsexual model. Cornelius Basse's daughter Bernadette's main features are rolled-up sleeves for her knifework. Perdita Ortega or Sonnia Criid both have some some lank-and-slouch to them, but they're dressed for the West.

Lady Justice rocks a midriff and a six-pack, but this is a reasonable nod to her athleticism, and the 3e sculpt has her in a powerful stance with a full duster (an update from a 2e sculpt with a lot more skin). You notice that katana before any T-&-A. Again, the sexualization of female athleticism is a cultural context that her look still lands in, and that also isn't irrelevant. Meanwhile, her henchwoman the Judge is dressed and alert.

I know there are crews out there that play with the problematic, though I think it's usually in-theme and a part of Wyrd working with their timeframe. Seamus's undead harem is meant to hit that creepy Venn Diagram spot of creepy but alluring. The Qi and Gong brothel is supposed to be seedier and more corrupt and frontier than the historical duties of Geishas because that's what Malifaux is, even though that drops it into problematic real-world misconceptions.

All of that said, I appreciate that this community of players lifts these conversations up and encourages people to keep moving towards progress, rather than shouting them down.

 

All of that aside, the point is always well taken and I agree that part of what drew me to Malifaux was badass women with cool mechanics, and I do tend to shy away from fan-servicey stuff.

  • Like 9
Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Yore Huckleberry said:

Lady Justice rocks a midriff and a six-pack, but this is a reasonable nod to her athleticism, and the 3e sculpt has her in a powerful stance with a full duster (an update from a 2e sculpt with a lot more skin). You notice that katana before any T-&-A. Again, the sexualization of female athleticism is a cultural context that her look still lands in, and that also isn't irrelevant. Meanwhile, her henchwoman the Judge is dressed and alert.

1st edition metal Lady Justice, Puppet Wars Lady Justice, Dead Justice, M2E edition plastic Lady Justice and M2E Plastic Lady Justice is a really interesting comparison over time.  As is things like Taylor or the Viktorias over time.  Or Criid.  

But the thing is that trying to tell someone that a model is "too sexy" is like trying to tell them that a candy has too much sugar or too much chocolate in it.  There is, objectively speaking, no such thing as too much chocolate.  😇  But there are often situations of too many chocolate candies, and not enough other flavors.

One interesting thought experiment is "What could a gender swapped Crossroads Seven look like?"

  • Like 1
  • Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, santaclaws01 said:

What sculpts that have released recently are examples of ones you'd say are over-sexualized?

I think you don't need to look any further than alt Pandora. 

 

1 hour ago, Mycellanious said:

Why would you say the female gunsmith is over sexualized? 

For me personally, the biggest problem I had with women in Faux' is that in the early Breachside episode every women was described as "beatiful" when introduced. Like dont tell me that, show me that. But more importantly, the descriptions were very samey, with the first and foremost thing about the women being "she was beautiful." Check how many times that phrase is said lol. I do think they have been getting a lot better at it though!

I chose Gunsmith because it's a good example of what I am talking about. The male model is dressed very normally and fit for purpose. The female model has had her breasts made the focal point of the model (large breasts and hips, small waist/open clothing/tank top) with a rather impractical holster connected to her boob tube. 

I agree the writing has got a lot better, and similarly the models have moved away for the most part from a similar glaringly obvious problem. However that doesn't mean there isn't work that can still be done. 

1 hour ago, solkan said:

I fear that the original poster has managed to present his, her or their position in an unfortunate and confrontational manner.

 My intention was not to be too confrontational. 

 

1 hour ago, solkan said:

I fear that the original poster has managed to present his, her or their position in an unfortunate and confrontational manner.

It is a common failing in sculpting to produce figures that are only conventionally attractive, especially for women.  Body types for men typically exhibit more variety than body types for women do.

Increasing diversity in the sculpts will result in an improved product.

My intention was not to be massively confrontational. Your points it the nail on the head.

26 minutes ago, solkan said:

1st edition metal Lady Justice, Puppet Wars Lady Justice, Dead Justice, M2E edition plastic Lady Justice and M2E Plastic Lady Justice is a really interesting comparison over time.  As is things like Taylor or the Viktorias over time.  Or Criid.  

But the thing is that trying to tell someone that a model is "too sexy" is like trying to tell them that a candy has too much sugar or too much chocolate in it.  There is, objectively speaking, no such thing as too much chocolate.  😇  But there are often situations of too many chocolate candies, and not enough other flavors.

One interesting thought experiment is "What could a gender swapped Crossroads Seven look like?"

I agree Wyrd sculpts have gotten better over time for the most part; however the bar started pretty low. 

The problem I have with what you're saying is that there is such a thing as a model being 'too sexy'. There is not the same cultural problem for the most part with the sexualisation of men. Not to mention 'conventionally attractive' male models can still often be seen to be still within the 'male fantasy' whereas the same does not hold as true for female models. 

I think the Corssroads 7 is a good example of this; the female models are far more sexualised than their male counterparts. 

  • Like 3
  • Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
53 minutes ago, wookiejunior said:

I think the Corssroads 7 is a good example of this; the female models are far more sexualised than their male counterparts. 

Wait, what? First of all, there are only two women out of 7. One is called Lust, but looks like mixture of two real-life violinists with hardly any over-the-top sexualization that would actually fit her name. The other wears a dress with a long skirt. Both have quite average body type. Then we have Wrath and Pride who yet again mimic real-life musicians, both are topless or almost topless with athletic physique. Pride is even supposed to look vain and sexy. And then we have an undead version of Slash, overweighted avatar of Gluttony and Envy who is shadowed by his own transport.

  • Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, may we actually get an alternate Lust that would actually look foxy? And, why not, make her a kitsune as well. I know there's Snang, but female fox spirits are somehow absent in Malifaux. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, wookiejunior said:

think you don't need to look any further than alt Pandora. 

I think we do, considering that barely even registers as being sexualized, let alone over-sexualized. Is cleavage the bar that gets set?

1 hour ago, wookiejunior said:

with a rather impractical holster

bodyholster.thumb.jpg.b07b6250d5d64269ea9807f48c0f2db3.jpg

You sure about that?

2 hours ago, wookiejunior said:

I think the Corssroads 7 is a good example of this; the female models are far more sexualised than their male counterparts. 

The crossroads 7? How are they sexualized, like, at all? Especially how are they sexualized more than either Wrath or Pride?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you're right. A relatively small number of sculpts have this problem, so I suspect it may be some specific designers.

Looking around briefly in the app, I notice a few random things: Kaeris has completely impractical armor, the mechanical rider is a scantily clad woman (despite being a construct??), Trixie from above looks like she may have been modelled on a Playboy image, Perdita has ridiculous cleavage (unless they add 'back problems' to her card), etc.

Definitely can see it being off putting, and kind of limits how easy it is to for example invite a family to play the game.

EDIT: seriously the Kaeris one is ridiculous though: "I am an impossibly badass being of fire. But also want to appear sexy mid-battle, so I will don this impractical armor and risk my life!"

  • Like 1
  • Agree 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, santaclaws01 said:

 

bodyholster.thumb.jpg.b07b6250d5d64269ea9807f48c0f2db3.jpg

You sure about that?

I'm not sure this is a good example. A quick google of such harnesses indicates they are intended for concealed weapons (and also the first news result I found was someone accidentally shooting themselves using a bra holster).

So not sure they are practical at all (unless it is concealing the weapon under a coat). Real world items often exist for impractical reasons (vanity, etc).

EDIT2: although note the male gunsmith actually has the same misplaced chest holster xD But the larger issue with those two pieces is the discrepancy in how clothed they are.

EDIT: for reference, here is a more realistic image of a combat-ready woman who isn't undercover:

 

images (34).jpeg

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

I'm not sure this is a good example. A quick google of such harnesses indicates they are intended for concealed weapons (and also the first news result I found was someone accidentally shooting themselves using a bra holster).

So not sure they are practical at all (unless it is concealing the weapon under a coat). Real world items often exist for impractical reasons (vanity, etc).

EDIT: for reference, here is a more realistic image of a combat-ready woman who isn't undercover:

 

images (34).jpeg

Can't really compare how someone carries pistol vs how someone carries a rifle. Shoulder holsters aren't exactly uncommon for law enforcement, and gunsmiths would fit more in with that style. 

Also, anyone that shoots themselves while their gun is holstered, that's their own fault for pulling the trigger and not having the safety on or the safety not working, not a result of a holster.

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, santaclaws01 said:

Can't really compare how someone carries pistol vs how someone carries a rifle. Shoulder holsters aren't exactly uncommon for law enforcement, and gunsmiths would fit more in with that style. 

Also, anyone that shoots themselves while their gun is holstered, that's their own fault for pulling the trigger and not having the safety on or the safety not working, not a result of a holster.

See my edit, the male gunsmith has the same type of harness so you have a point there.

However the level of clothing on the two still stands as a stark difference.

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Ming said:

Wait, what? First of all, there are only two women out of 7. One is called Lust, but looks like mixture of two real-life violinists with hardly any over-the-top sexualization that would actually fit her name. The other wears a dress with a long skirt. Both have quite average body type. Then we have Wrath and Pride who yet again mimic real-life musicians, both are topless or almost topless with athletic physique. Pride is even supposed to look vain and sexy. And then we have an undead version of Slash, overweighted avatar of Gluttony and Envy who is shadowed by his own transport.

I wouldn't say either have a particularly 'average' body type. Topless with an athletic physique isn't the same as sexualised for men, and should not be treated as equal.

3 hours ago, santaclaws01 said:

I think we do, considering that barely even registers as being sexualized, let alone over-sexualized. Is cleavage the bar that gets set?

Except it isn't just the cleavage. It's the ridiculous body proportions designed to appeal to men. The model looks like it's based off a pin-up girl. 

 

3 hours ago, santaclaws01 said:

 

bodyholster.thumb.jpg.b07b6250d5d64269ea9807f48c0f2db3.jpg

You sure about that?

If she's meant to have a holster like this then that makes more sense. My takeaway from the art was that the holster connected to her clothing. Either way the bare skin underneath is rather impractical with the leather straps. 

46 minutes ago, Plaag said:

this is a game and women in it must be beautiful and sexy, why not? with nice boobs and ass

And this is a good example of the problem. Making your characters defining characteristics on the table be about appealing to male sexual fantasy alienates a rather large proportion of the population; one that is already a rarity in gaming (in part likely due to this). This has been a very real problem in our community before: https://www.vox.com/2016/4/7/11371194/tabletop-harassment-malifaux-controversy

 

 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 2
  • Agree 2
  • Respectfully Disagree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thing worth noting of course is that I think Wyrd do well the majority of the time:

Molly, Kirai, Reva, Shieldbearers, Philip and the Nanny, etc.

And I think the same is true for many other factions. For every Kaeris, there is a Rasputina or Toni that is done pretty tastefully.

So I think the question for Wyrd is more of "how do they lift their standards a bit" than "how do we fix everything."

More women on the design team would possibly help, but for all I know their design team might already be largely women xD

EDIT: although that article is pretty disappointing.

  • Agree 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Alright, a bit of grown up talk.

1. Stop insulting women by calling them "looking like male fantasies" or anything like this. Women are born with different body types, including those that are condisered sexappealing by mass culture and majority. Yes, it includes women with big natural breast, thin waist and a six-pack. And they are free to wear what they like. If you root for inclusivity, stop excluding and shaming them. Especially since women of different body types are considered appealing and there are professional models of different types. After all, beauty is in the eye etc. Please note, that female artists draw pinup girls of different body types, too. Some of those artists even look like their drawings in real life. And next time you visit a convention, count all the cosplay beauties, who are part of the geek culture, including Malifaux cosplayers.

2. If there is a real harassment problem in any community, it has nothing to do with pieces of plastic or metal. It has to do with people. Just kick harassers out, if they don't get it, and blacklist them. Problem is solved. In our Malifaux community we have underage players, female players and married couple players. Our female players have no problem playing Viks, Pandora or Colette, even if they have different body type. Some of them jokingly identify themselves with the characters and look the part. E.g one redhead was nicknamed Pandora by her husband, but preferred to be identified with Colette. That's being grown up.

3. If someone doesn't want to play a game just because they don't like the looks of a mere piece of plastic or metal and even insulted by it - don't push them. They are clearly not into the game anyway, it's just an excuse. I may prefer some models over others aestethically, but I don't mind playing with or against models I don't like. I used to not like Plague or Amalgam aesthetic, but I play them, since it's just a game and they are just chess pieces. Yes, some Malifaux motives are not for small children. First of all, there are small parts in the models and the game is quite complex. And second, it's a dark fantasy horror game where everyone is trying to kill each other as savagely as possible. Nuances like Jack the Ripper having an undead harem or an elderly gentleman having a May-December relationship with a teenager can be completely overlooked by players unfamilar with flavor text.

  • Agree 11
  • Respectfully Disagree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, wookiejunior said:

This has been a very real problem in our community before: https://www.vox.com/2016/4/7/11371194/tabletop-harassment-malifaux-controversy

Great thing about posting a link to that sort of article is that you can get redirected to the side of the story.  In case a four year old web page is recent news to you.

https://themostexcellentandawesomeforumever-wyrd.com/topic/117582-sexism-in-gaming/

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information