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Misguided chivalry


So there's this dude in my gaming group whom I'll call "B" for purposes of this post.

B is a nice enough guy, if not the most perceptive. There doesn't seem to be any malice in him, though.

However, his attitude about women seems a little...backward (for lack of a better word) to me. In at least three instances recently, he's had his male character "protect" my female one by standing in front of her in a fight - despite my character being more capable in a fight than his is (both my gals had better combat stats than his guys, and one of those instances was in a Werewolf: The Apocalypse game, where ALL the PCs could turn into big furry killing machines, so it wasn't like my gal needed protecting).

Talking to B is difficult, because he...doesn't really talk much. He also tends to not take criticism well (I can remember a game I was running number of years ago when I gave him a talking-to about similar concerns and he ended up sulking, leaving the game, and refusing to talk to me for over a month).

I suspect he thinks that "protecting" my female characters is the chivalrous thing to do. Unfortunately, I see it more as male chauvinism (and he'd likely deny that if I said it outright).

He recently left my current game (which was set in a matriarchal world, which probably had something to do with his departure, based on the evidence above), but it's likely we'll be in a game together again (we both tend to game in the same circles). Any ideas on how to deal with him if this should come up again? I'd like to keep things friendly, because, as I said, we tend to move in the same gaming circles.

x-posted: women_in_gaming


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 31st, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
i think it's important that you communicate your issue to him. it sounds like he's socially inept, which a lot of gamers are. but, just explain to him that it's bothering you, and that you know he doesn't mean anything bad by it, but that you'd rather he didn't try protecting your character and to let her do her own thing.

if he gets upset about it, then fine. you're not being mean, you're just explaining the issue at hand.
Jul. 31st, 2009 03:18 pm (UTC)
I guess to me it would depend on the historical context of the game. I mean...I don't know if women's lib hit Middle Earth yet. ;-)

But seriously...If he's playing an "old fashioned" style of character...that behavior is "in character." I'd deal with it in game.

But if it spills over into real life...then I'd have a quiet talk with him and see where he's coming from. Some men don't even realize they're being condescending until they have it pointed out to them...and like you said, he's probably not being purposefully mean.
Aug. 2nd, 2009 08:28 pm (UTC)
This is actually addressed in one of the D&D core books--basically that, because of magic, there's a lot more gender equality in the adventuring class than there would have been in medieval Europe, or even Middle-Earth (although there's likely to be the same old patriarchy in the aristocrat/commoner type circles).

But seriously...If he's playing an "old fashioned" style of character...that behavior is "in character." I'd deal with it in game.

I agree with this, but ONLY if it's an actual "modern" game (e.g. WWtA). Again, if you're playing something like D&D, then this has probably already been dealt with in-world.
Jul. 31st, 2009 04:38 pm (UTC)
I agree with fuzzyscribble. It doesn't seem like he's doing anything to you outside of the game, so it's not like he's after you personally. It's an in game problem that should be solved in game. Since he doesn't take criticism well, then just work around him - i.e. his character tries to shield yours, you character dodges around him and attacks the opposing force head on. I imagine if he keeps reacting this way to every strong female force he comes up against, there really isn't a way to keep things friendly (likely because he also takes in game actions personally, and no one should, so that's a problem you can't face). *shrug* You just have to be nice and subtle about it, and his reaction is his choice that has nothing to do with how good of a job you tried to do in handling the situation.
Jul. 31st, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC)
....he tried to protect your character. In a WEREWOLF game? Where you were playing a werewolf? You know, the critters that turn into nine-foot-tall killing machines with dice pools of 10+ to hit stuff? O_o

First off, how drastic was the combat-spec difference? Are we talking minor tweaks, or are we talking my friend's male Scion of Loki (Strength: 2) saying "I'll save you, fair damsel!" to my female Scion of Hephaestus (Strength: 5, Epic Strength: 4, has biceps bigger than his thighs)?

Second, is the character specifically and in-character-ly "old-fashioned" or a gentleman? If he enjoys playing chivalrous characters with the code of honor and the protecting of the helpless and all that jazz, that's one thing. If the character(s) are only displaying "chivalry" when it comes to protecting the weak wimmins, though, he may have some OOC issues.

Finally, if you enjoy combat and would like to participate in it without this guy standing in front of you going "I got this; don't you worry your pretty little head about it," you might want to set up some rules. My group generally runs on "unless somebody's a designated squishy or obviously overwhelmed, let people have fun with their own fights."
Aug. 1st, 2009 01:48 am (UTC)
I'd just tell him to lay off the kill-stealing.
Aug. 2nd, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
I would just explain to him, gently but firmly, that your character is perfectly capable of taking care of herself. If that doesn't work, suggest a duel (nonlethal) between your two characters, in-between sessions (so as to not bug the other players), that the GM moderates.

Or something.

Good luck!

p.s. Or you could play a male character, although that's a little avoid-y.
Aug. 8th, 2011 04:29 am (UTC)
Personally, I can think of at least three ways to deal with him, but that's perhaps due to having to be diplomatic with social rejects in an anime club I stopped attending. As someone mentioned, you can play a male character so that he gets used to playing with you without the double female aspect stacking up to chivalrous. If he tries to protect your manly character forgetting that even if you are a girl, its a guy character, you can always joke in character that "Oh, I didn't know you swung... that way..."

Second way is to build it into the characters background that her pet peeve is people standing in the way of a fight. Perhaps announce as a strong female character "I will warn everyone, if you get in front of me in a fight, I might not be able to distinguish friend from foe as well as some." This is usually the way I deal with such problems.

The third option is to become an area of effect mage (depending on the game) where the only thing that isn't hurt within a certain radius is yourself. Something of the sort. Or make a clumsy woman who has touch attack spells and a perchance for stumbling when she is nervous.

Oh, a forth way is to joke and act like he is the one that needs to be protected in real life from acts of friends. Depends on how subtle and charming you are.

Usually, building a character that can deal with the problem in a realistic (and creative) way is the best way to deal with it. Just don't be mean and try to do it in an entertaining way that everyone knows about so when you stumble when nervous and kill someone, they should have known better not to stand near you.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )