Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Roadmap for Games Workshop to fix it's misogyny

Here is a quick draught of a roadmap for Games Workshop to repair the long standing problem with the 40k universe.  The erasure, segregation and devaluation of women.  It is not an article on why, it is how.  Honestly if you have to argue 'why', you need to take a good hard look in the mirror mate.

Stage 1: Retcon and move on

Going forward, include female marines as if they where not removed. Do not write a reason or justify it with new fluff.  Simply include them in new art and new fluff as if they where always there.  (After all, this worked perfectly well for Squats, Genestealer Cults, Genestealers as Tyranids, Tau, etc etc etc)

2: Sisters of Battle
Good news! No more sisters of battle codex to upkeep!  That will save you a headache. Disband the faction entirely and roll it into marine forces using the following method: 
2.1: A 'sister of battle' and 'Adeptus Sororitas' henceforth means a female space marine. A sister mini is fielded as a space marine with same stats.  They ARE marines, simple as that.
2.2: Inquisitors now requisition marines and imperial guard for missions.  The problematic loophole that they cannot have 'men' therefore use only women is removed.
2.3: The problematic Sisters Repentia are rolled into arcoflagellants as "penitants"- marines, guard and other imperium operatives of all genders who wish to make pennace or who are punished by an inquisitior to wear no armour, take combat drugs and run at enemy with hand to hand weapons.
2.4: Penitent Engines are fielded as Dreadnoughts.  Exorcists are fielded as a Whirlwind. All remaining figures are rolled into marine forces using similar parity.
2.5: Sisters of Battle armour is retconned as just another variant of the many ancient space marine armours in existence.
2.6: The fleur de lys is retconned as a symbol of women in service of the emperor, and is an optional symbol often used to denote the person in the suit is female and prefers to be addressed with female pronouns.  Nothing more.

(Sister of Battle- art by Delaney King)

3: the sisterhead sprue
This is a sprue of bare female heads and sororitas style helmets designed to fit existing space marines.  To begin, these are supplied to stockists to hand out to anyone purchasing a marine product.  Going forward, this will be included in all space marine boxes.  The sprue can also be sold as an upgrade pack for those of us wanting to convert existing purchases.
No change to body armor is needed to depict women marines (we aren't exactly major boob armour fans).  A sprue is enough.  The soritas helmets are a variant designed to tie together SOB and Marine forces.  A female marine may be honoured with one, or any of the current helmets.  A helmet halfway between soritas and regular helmets would be a nice touch to denote the blending.
The sprue can also include fleur de lys bosses that can be glued onto existing armor and weaponry.

(Statuesque minis make an excellent head sprue- but using it means women are locked out of tournaments for using non GW products. A GW equivalent would fix this.)

4: problematic material
Problematic material and novels should be revised before reprint or retired, we understand this can take several years to accomplish.  Set the mission statement now and ensure it is a step in the revision process. If you want a list of problem paragraphs and are serious about amending them, I am happy to consult with the many women gamers in our networks to compile an exhaustive list. Many hands make light work, and we WANT THIS TO WORK.

5: announcement
A white dwarf article announcing the phasing out of sisters of battle, how they are to be played going forward and introducing the head sprue.  Hell, tape it to the cover like you did with the age of sigmar giveaway.  Make a clear statement that going forward, Games Workshop values it's female fans and will continue to polish it's material over the coming years to ensure women gamers feel welcome at the gaming and painting table.  An apology would be nice, but just fixing the problem would be a great way to move forward.

That's it.  Female orks would be nice too, but start with this and you will see a massive shift in how women gamers relate to you.

In the grim dark future there is only war, your gender does not matter if you live and die to serve The Emperor.


  1. That's interesting, I actually see this from another angle : I'm just not sure I want everyone to wear power armour.
    Space marines are boring (to me) as a concept and adding them ethnic and gender variety will unlikely change that.
    On the other hand, I'm definitely intersted in having ethnic and gneder diversity in the games I play hence why I chose and paint the models I do. I paint people with different skin colours because that's what the world is made of and I do like to have women models which look like the women in real life (like my mother, daughter or the girls I get to date when I 'm lucky). The extra bit of realism make fantasy worlds more intersting to me.
    Do I want GW to provide me the means to play "legal" woman space marine armies in tournaments ? Not really but then if I'm being honest I'm a white straight male born in France used to seeing fantasy worlds developped by (and for) white (usually) straight males so I'm definitely biased despite how inclusive I aim to be.
    Maybe it's time for big companies to hire different profiles (ethnical, cultural, gender...) to breathe a little fresh air into our imaginary worlds...

  2. You're talking sense again. My daughter would totally buy into this.

    1. That's reason #1 for doing it. People where crying at GXaustralia because a little girl was cosplaying Rey. Finally she had a kick ass Jedi Starwars film lead she could look up to. It was a very emotional moment for a lot of us.
      I now regularly see little girls on the tram and train wearing DC, Marvel and Starwars clothes. That wasn't something that happened when I was little. A whole generation of young girls growing up with Wonderwoman, Supergirl, Rei, Jynn, Harleyquinn, Batgirl, Batman, Thor, Wolverine (x23) etc etc etc

      How is this a bad thing?

  3. Some great suggestions that would really help GW appeal to more people and "grow their base." Might actually get me to dust off my Sisters again.

  4. But if you include women equally without calling attention to it people will grow accustomed to this and just think it's normal.

    Oh wait, that's a good thing.

    I don't care what GW does myself, but I was excited about Relic Knights 2nd Ed and Wrath of Kings for a little bit until I saw their miniatures. Makes Corvus Belli look good in comparison.

  5. This is such drivel - 30 years of background and stories mutilated because a few cucks and SJW's can't handle some fantasy misogyny.

    This is a Nazi-esque dystopian future when life isn't fair and people aren't going to respect your pronouns. I think you're delusional at best (possibly damaged) if you think this would ever work.

    1. Sorry bro, but the only reason the fantasy misogyny exists is because of the real misogyny that was the context for its creation—the two aren't separate. There's nothing wrong with enjoying the old background and stories if that's your taste, but maybe recognize that they contain some deeply ingrained misogyny...and maybe don't be so offended if people who are different from you want to make a different kind of imaginary world.

      Delaney—these are some cool ideas, and a welcome addition to my headcannon even if GW doesn't do anything like it. (2.1 more or less was already, though I'd never really articulated it.) Good stuff!

    2. I'm not sure what part of these ideas you find so upsetting. Fiction is in a constant state or revision and iteration - there is no reason changes (big and small) can't be made. We all know that 40K is portrayed as a CrapSack future - but that isn't a valid excuse for continuing to portray women as (at best) invisible. A female Space Marine could be every bit as bad-ass as a regular Space Marine! Nothing about devaluing women makes a universe more "realistic". Fictional worlds are shaped by their authors to reflect the type of worlds they wish to see explored - bringing with them any biases. Hiring more women, LGBTQ individuals, people of color - (and listening to them!) helps reshape fiction to reflect both the realities of or world and our aspirations for our fiction.

      Furthermore, stating at any point that someone is "delusional" or "damaged" is incredibly distasteful. Nothing about the blog post above warrants this sort of behavior. At the end of the day, we're all talking about our love for toy soldiers here!

    3. 'Unknown' is a pathetic pissbaby who hides behind anonymity. He proves my point.
      By the way, SJW stands for 'social justice warrior'- someone who fights for social justice. I am proud to be a social justice warrior. You, in the otherhand, seem opposed to social justice. Why do you a defender of injustice? Remember that when you are watching your superhero movies fantasizing anout being a hero. You aren't playing on the right side for that.

      Grow up, you pathetic little boy

  6. GW is terrible about including women in their fantasy, either spears or space flavor, and they certainly ought to be better about including both female characters and rank and file. However, like Asslessman, I do not want to see more space marines! I am aware that for whatever reason Marines are the "standard" for 40k, but it does not mean I have to like it...

    For me it would be better to treat the Guard how you describe, with revised fluff, head sprues and so on. Guard are the basis of the whole Imperial forces, and women should be front and center in that. And that reminds me, I have some female guard figures from way back that I need to get around to finishing.

    1. No, we won't be fobbed off with second best. Imperial Guard did and should have women, yes. But that cannot excuse the exclusion of women in the Space Marines.
      Again, the statement is women should be happy with a lesser role, are worth less and are not welcome.

    2. I see what you mean, although for me the guard is the best! :)

      Marines are just mopey monks that occasionally get to murder a bunch of civilians with guns.

  7. Whilst I agree that the 'why' needs no explanation, your plan on 'how' leaves me a little indecisive.

    Personally, I play tyranids, although I used to play orks in their 2nd Ed incarnation (when they were hilariously funny). Three other female gamers I know play tyranids, another played necrons (her conversion of a C'Tan Deceiver based on the old metal Ariel model was quite something) and another played tau.

    Since they released the plastic eldar guardians squad, which contained both male and female fighters (something they continued with the dark eldar, and their fantasy elven counterparts), I was really quite surprised that GW didn't continue this trend when the imperial guard cadians and catachans were released (seeing as we've seen female guardsmen in their metal format before GW went plastic). I still remain perplexed by this seeing as they've done the same with the new tau sprues as they had done with the eldar (included both male and female fighters). Seeing as there is plenty of lore already to support the fact that the imperial guard regiments are often of mixed genders, I'm very surprised that they've not done anything about this yet in the miniature sets they released.

    As to your proposal about female space marines, seeing as GW have categorically stated that the stormcast are made up of both male and female warriors (with no visual difference between the two genders in miniature form), I can see why you look to them as opposed to the imperial guard. Plus being the 'flagship' faction of 40k, they are evidently more popular than the others, so such a change would have a much larger impact.

    I agree that the current imagery of the adeptus sororitas does need to change as they are far too thin (especially in the legs) to be believed to be wearing power armour, not to mention their figure is wholly unrepresentative of an 'average' female form (needs more in the hips and backside) and, as you've mentioned, armoured boob cups are wholly impractical (not to mention probably quite painful) - I'd imagine they'd be sensible and wear a sports bra for battle. However I'm not sure using space marine bodies for both male and female warriors is the way forward from this, not unless they redesigned the space marines to be a little more like the stormcast (ironic, huh?) which have a little more gender neutral frame (if you excuse the six-pack). Though without seeing some test miniatures done, I'm still on the fence about whether it'd work visually.

    You've already proposed the problematic material of the current lore 'should' be changed but without going into 'how', or stating which parts in particular you propose need amending/omitting. There are some massive hurdles in the current lore that are so rooted, they might be impassable. The Age of Apostasy being one such example which shows the creation of the adeptus sororitas, their ties to the ministorum and the introduction of the 'decree passive' preventing the ecclesiarchy from having 'men at arms'.

    As for orks, their reproductive cycle is more analogous to that of fungus, so technically, all orks (indeed all greenskins) are gender neutral (or rather isogamous).

    Just my two cents, although my thoughts will be considered moderate and seen as rank capitulation.

    1. The how? Using a word processor. Your arguement that fluff cannot be changed because of fluff is absurd.

      Orks are not in practice gender neutral. 'Painboyz, boyz, nobs, ladz' are common terms. For a gender neutral group, they sure use male pronouns a hell of a lot.

      Saying a faction doesn't have gender, then behaving as if it does is a sham. Essentially writing out women and then using ersatz men. The message is we are excluded either way.

    2. I never made such an argument that fluff cannot be changed because of fluff, so please do not put words in my mouth. I was asking for clarification as to which parts you considered needed changing. And I meant that some of the more rooted lore in the history of the Imperium probably couldn't be tweaked and would need to be entirely rewritten (something that would probably incur resistance from the IP department).

      It's been a while since I've played orks, so I'd completely overlooked the names they're given (although 'nobs' is British slang for 'nobles' - I however get the allusion).

      As a woman (and a female gamer) I get quite scared when I'm attacked personally by other feminists because they make me feel like the enemy, excluded and somehow less of a woman by not agreeing absolutely with everything they state.

  8. Can you give me any more detail about 2.2? I've not seen that thing about the Inquisition not being able to recruit men before and it seems ridiculous.

    One of the very first pieces of 40K art I ever saw featured a couple of female space marines, so in my mind they have always been in the game, no matter how much forum frothing says otherwise. I would love it if GW caught up with my mind.

    1. It's a bit of a 'fuck you' to women written into the Sister's Codex. The joke is that the only reason inquisitors use them is a loophole in the wording that they may not 'gather forces of men'. Ergo, forces of women.
      The 'fuck you', in case you missed it, is that sororitas only exist because of a wording error. Women don't even get in on merit- just a text error. Ho ho, very funny.

    2. That is terrible. They were probably going for something like Macbeth's "no man of woman born" but instead came off as slimy. Or it was deliberate, which is even worse.

    3. Is it actually intended as a "joke" or a "fuck you"? I get it could be taken as such but is that the intent? What about the Sister's of Scilence? I don't actually know the fluff for them.

    4. Of course it isn't intended as such nor is it. It's just how they fit into the lore and the author is choosing to take offence. I doubt anyone sitting around in the pub while discussing their new satirical setting in 1984 went "Hey, lets have an order of nuns who wear awesome armor and whose faith is so strong they channel divine power. That'll show those stupid women."

      If the Adeptus Sororitas had no merit in the setting they wouldn't exist as an organisation.

    5. Not sure where this came from. I seriously need source for these false claims.

      There is no such rule, Inquistion can request any forces male or female. The Inqusitorial Storm troopers have both Males and Females. Ordo Xenos have the Deathwatch and Ordo Malleus the Grey Kinghts.
      Ordo Hereticus has the Sisters to back them up as the Hereticus was created after Vandire was defeated to look over the Imperium and its organizations for heresy. As result the Sisters became the Chamber Militant of the Hereticus but that does NOT stop a Hereticus Insqusitor from calling the Guard ,Navy ,Marines or having Male Acolytes or Inqusitorial Stormtroopers

      Its the Imperial Church was banned from having "men at arms" NOT the Inquisition, Cardinals can have bodyguards who can either be Male or Female but having an official force with men was banned. The Sisters were better trained and fanatical so they have no interest in creating a male army anyway except the Militias who are brought up during Wars of Faith

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  10. Your why is fine but your how isn't so clear to me. What's the big problem with Adeptus Sorroritas? So far as portraying a misogynistic view of women I think they're far from extreme. Far far far worse exists in miniature form and undoubtedly in mainstream culture, especially that culture that is aimed at women. So far as Orks go, aside from presumably being biologically gender neutral they are the absolute pinnical of grotesque caricature of masculinity, I don't see anyone complaining about that. (Original comment deleted due to iPhone autocorrecting!)

    1. No, it's the notion of segregating women to a seperate faction based solely on gender is the issue. Hence the proposed use of the models within.

    2. Sororitas are highly problematic for women gamers, mostly in the fluff. I could go on for a good long post as to why, but a better practice I think would be for you to bring this up in conversation with women gamers in your circles.

    3. I haven't played 40k in years. The women in my DnD circle probably couldn't be bothered to learn the entire fluff of several factions for 40k to get context and understanding on the issue. Fwiw one of them plays a half orc that swaps gender depending on what plane she's currently in.

    4. Vast majority of Imperial elites are Gender segregated like Sisters of Silence not taking men despite there are male blanks.

      But forcing them to change a fictional world just because the setting does not go well with a person's views is just childish and I am honestly disturbed by wanting to revise "problematic material". The words used are like it was taken from a Soviet or Nazi message asking an author to censor his works

      Modern feminist movement could do a lot better they stopped trying to bring Gender equality to fictional works and demand censorship.
      Let 40k and fictional worlds be and improve real life. Complaining about SM being all male yet does nothing for the fact that the vast Majority of real life Special forces are all male. Real life is mirrored in fiction
      If feminism is now about censoring fiction and forcing equality of fictional characters while actual women are discriminated in real life then the feminist movement is dead.

      There will be more setting where there are mixed gender secial forces if there are more mixed gender special forces in real life.
      GW is a british company and there are no female combatants in SAS ,Even Navy SEALs in the US are still all male (Although it almost changed before the only female recruit dropped out).

      There is no need to change 40k just because it isn't politically correct(40K tends to glorify genocide ,Nazis ,Religious extremism ,Weapons of Mass destruction ,Torture ,Executions ,Extrajudicial Killings, Imperialism, Use of Child soldiers etc) .

      Ask GW and other Tabletop gaming companies for better universes , which will happen if real life improves

  11. I'd argue that fantasy tropes deal largely in archetype. There are of course good and bad included in those archetypes and I applaud trying to remould the negatives but as I said the negative role of females in 40k lore pales compared to much of mainstream culture. 40k society mainly parallels historical norms in terms of warfare. Combat has always been dominated by men getting together in large groups to violently murder each other in large numbers and I'd suggest it always will be. The moral discussion surrounding warfare itself is far outside the scope of a blog comment let alone throwing in gender studies to the mix. I get that you want to see your gender represented "equally" in your favourite dystopian fantasy but frankly I think you've blinded yourself to the general absurdity of the setting beyond your narrow focus of attention.

    I understand that segregating women into one faction is problematic in ways but I don't know if it's seen that way by all women gamers. After all they're not the only females in 40k. The Tau have female warriors and stand for the most moral of 40k races. The Eldar of all stripes deal nearly exclusively with archetypes of androgyny and femininity, grace and beauty, they have done since day one. I agree that mixing genders in the Imperial Guard is called for even if not mirroring their historical counterparts particularly well.

    Space Marines represent an order of fascist warrior space monks in their universe at worst dealt with in clumsy "teh awesome" cliches and at best with a great deal of satiric pathos. I think that the exclusion of women from their ranks makes sense on all levels within their universe.

    If I were to play devil's advocate I'd like to hear your take on why Orks shouldn't be offensive to the male end of the gender spectrum? At their worst they attach male pronouns to portray violent anabolic mountains of boneheaded violence. Masculine sexual dimorphism taken to the extreme, cruel, enslaving, murderous and stupid. Yet emasculated by being sexually ambiguous so far as reproduction is concerned.

    I think the real bonkers thing is that if GW decided to sell female marines and guard, they'd sell like fucking hot cakes, the injection moulding machines wouldn't be able to keep up with demand!

    As an aside, has anyone ever thought how close to misogyny GW came to with Tyranids at one point? Several of them had objectionable names at one point "Termagants" "Harridans" "Dominatrix" I don't know the convoluted etymologies of a lot of the others and I'm probably being over sensitive but even as a kid I thought they sounded a bit off!

  12. If you're wanting some lady heads just drop me an email and I can send you a selection. It'd be cool to see what you make with them.

    This thread on my Facebook page is worth checking out. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling seeing everyone having fun with female marines and guard.

  13. I'm not sure you understand the setting you're complaining about. How is adding women to probably the most morally awful faction of the Imperial forces helping them, even of they are the poster child of the setting.

    The Space Marines are terrible. They wait till a majority of the fighting is done then swoop in and destroy everything in their path.

    Most Imperial citizens are worse off for having even been near a Space Marine. Even if they survive a battle the Marines act with utter disregard for Imperial citizens and they'll be lucky if they still have a house left after the orbital bombardment the Marines used as conflict resolution.

    The Imperial Guard on the other hand actually fights in defense of the planet and its citizens. The ordinary men and women of the guard evacuate, rescue and try to preserve their homes. People like you and me facing down 15ft tall creatures with the power to melt their brains with a thought from outside the galaxy or making a stand as literal nightmares that can cut a tank in half appear from thin air.

    All this is happening while the Space Marines you think are so great are sitting safely in a space ship a few dozen star system away are deciding that the Khorne cultist army skinning people alive isn't worth their time.

    The Adeptus Sororitas and Imperial Guard are just ordinary people doing extraordinary things. THEY are the heroes of the Imperium and your opinion that their role is inferior because Space Marines are super cool guys with the bestest guns shows a horrible misunderstanding of the setting.

  14. I agree with you on topic 1 reguarding mariens. It doesn't even need a novel retcon I think as I don't remember it mentioned in the novels. Just going forward add a few female marine characters.

    Where we disagree is on the Sisters. I think they should remain a separate faction. Warhammer 40K in particular has a theme of Early Holy Rome vs. Pagans. It would be a cultural dilution, and a mistake, to remove a faction that showcases this cultural conflict theme.

  15. Incoming female Stormcast Eternal model...