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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
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    confused Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Hello forum!

    How do you roleplay your character when she is a female warrior?

    I am a man, and I have roleplayed a few female warriors. Even thought it is a role that I cannot immidiatedly relate to, I am fascinated by it. And as I am bereft of first-hand insight I am left to ponder and speculate about it.

    I know that history has plenty of examples of women warriors, and I know that roleplayers sometimes choose to disregard gender differences. But I cannot help to wonder over the difference between male and female warriors; specifically when it comes to physical violence and aggression.

    How is the female warrior different from the male? When suffering through the ordeal that is war in the ancient world, would the genders be more alike than different?

    When considering both the most violently aggressive male combatant, how rare is the female equivalent? Is the woman prone to physical aggression an oddity, or a possible product of her enviorment?

    I haven't found much real-life information about it. There have been a few studies about physical aggression in women, but those I found were mostly about violence between spouses. I have heard that when it comes to sports women have shown themselves to be as violently aggressive as the men, though I am doubtful if the source was reliable.

    So! What do you think? Do you have any insight to share, or anything to add to my speculations?

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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    To be perfectly fair, raising a completely standard person, and comparing their mentality to a career soldier, or an experienced warrior, the civilian male will have a completely different attitude to violence and aggression and how and when to use it. I would honestly play a female warrior essentially the same as as male one. A female that wasn't a warrior compared to a male that wasn't a warrior would be potentially very different, but a part of the culture of war and violence is standardizing your perceptions on violence and aggression.
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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    The idea that a female warrior would be less physically aggressive than a male warrior, just by virtue of being female, is ridiculously sexist and insulting. My female co-players would probably beat the crap out of me if I came up with it.
    Last edited by Tengu_temp; 2013-03-08 at 06:45 PM.

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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    I have some insight. That individual differences apply to women too and such a thing as cultural variation exists. Rather than broad sweeping statements on the topic of female warriors, put some thought into the cultures of your setting, their values and their gender roles. Then think about how the setting would react to deviation from the norm, for both men and women, while keeping in mind that these reactions are also subject to individual variation. Then once you have done that, think about why you chose to make gender roles like that and what effect it would have.

    Or, you know, just declare gender equality and be done with it. For anything short of a complex exploration of gender roles, that's the version that causes the least conflict and nothing is really gained by mandating arbitrary gender roles if you don't have a deeper purpose behind it.
    Last edited by Terraoblivion; 2013-03-08 at 06:47 PM.

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    The idea that a female warrior would be less physically aggressive than a male warrior, just by virtue of being female, is ridiculously sexist and insulting.
    Firstly, we are talking about the same thing here, right? Aggression is not the same as capability in combat. When you are aggressive you are more inclined to violence, it does not mean that you are better at it.

    Secondly, general concensus have long been that women are less physically aggressive than males, is it true or not? I don't know. I recall a study showing that children are as likely to be violent up to the age of 2, where girls start to develop their language and social skills at a faster rate than boys and also begin to favor verbal aggression over the physical kind. I am not sure if the connection have been proven, however.

    Lastly, if I am wrong then it is due to misinformation. I would be careful not to jump the gun and call something "ridiculously sexist and insulting" when the person writing is clearly trying to be open-minded and explore the subject.

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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    From my experience as a female fencer, I'd say there's two types. Half the girls are exactly like the guys--same roughhousing, same aggression, same tough-it-out, suck-it-up, take-it-like-a-man attitude.

    The other half enjoy the stereotypes--they have pink equipment, pink bags, pink socks, and will beat you up in a bout. They're the really scary ones.

    Either one would probably be quite offended if you suggested they were in any way inferior to a male fencer, or less aggressive, or anything along those lines.

    (Disclaimer: Obviously there's much more depth and nuance to people than this, you can't lump people into stereotypes by gender, yada yada yada.)
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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    How is the female warrior different from the male? When suffering through the ordeal that is war in the ancient world, would the genders be more alike than different?

    When considering both the most violently aggressive male combatant, how rare is the female equivalent? Is the woman prone to physical aggression an oddity, or a possible product of her enviorment?
    You talk about gender here, which is a term used to describe the social aspect of sexual identity. So, the answer is clear: a society in which females are expected to be aggressive produces aggressive females.

    Consider the physical aspect of a person as their starting point, not their destination. If (which is not proven) females are inherently less aggressive compared to males, that'd still be just one aspect of how aggressive she turns out in the end. Cultural values, individual upbringing and the situation she's currently in will play into that just as much, if not more.

    Unfortunately, I can't provide any examples of historical cultures. Honestly, though, if you just play her like you would a man, you won't go much wrong.
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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by Magenta View Post
    Firstly, we are talking about the same thing here, right? Aggression is not the same as capability in combat. When you are aggressive you are more inclined to violence, it does not mean that you are better at it.
    Yes, we're talking about the same thing. And I stand by what I said before. If a female warrior is less aggressive than a male one, then it's either due to her personality or cultural background, not because women are inherently less aggressive. And in fantasy settings and other pretendy fun games it's usually best to leave the "cultural background" part behind the door.

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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    The idea that a female warrior would be less physically aggressive than a male warrior, just by virtue of being female, is ridiculously sexist and insulting. My female co-players would probably beat the crap out of me if I came up with it.
    Men have higher testosterone levels*. Testosterone leads to aggression.

    That being said, we're not talking about normal people here. We're talking the end of the distribution of people. A female warrior is going to be much closer to a male warrior than she is going to be to the average female.

    A female Marine probably has a lot more in common, behaviorwise, with a male Marine, than she does with the girl who spends her time shopping.






    *In human beings. In fantasy races, who knows.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by Terraoblivion View Post
    Or, you know, just declare gender equality and be done with it. For anything short of a complex exploration of gender roles, that's the version that causes the least conflict and nothing is really gained by mandating arbitrary gender roles if you don't have a deeper purpose behind it.
    The former sounds utterly boring, if I may speak my mind

    As I said, I am quite fascinated by the women as warriors. Partly because it has the potential for a good story given the possible conflict between a culture's gender roles and the choices of the individual. And I guess I am also a sucker for the inexplicably graceful elven warrior in heavy armor

    But no... I don't have any deeper purpose than mere curiosity, but neither am I looking for any "arbitrary gender roles" either.
    Last edited by Magenta; 2013-03-08 at 07:17 PM.

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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by Magenta View Post
    The former sounds utterly boring, if I may speak my mind

    As I said, I am quite fascinated by the women as warriors. Partly because it has the potential for a good story given the possible conflict between a culture's gender roles and the choices of the individual. And I guess I am also a sucker for the inexplicably graceful elven warrior in heavy armor

    But no... I don't have any deeper purpose than mere curiosity, but neither am I looking for any "arbitrary gender roles" either.
    My point was that unless you put a lot of thought into how gender roles are, why they are that way and how people respond to that challenge, you're likely to end up with a sexist product, even if you don't intend to. Not just that, you're likely to end up with a product that's controversial in some way, even if it doesn't turn out sexist. So in the interest of not angering people and not being insensitive, the creation of clear gender roles should be approached with a lot of thought and only if you truly have anything to say about it. If you start including physical differences between sexes as an explanation, you should probably just step back and scrap what you have, since there's statistically a 0% probability of the result not turning out offensive.

    And, yes, fetishizing powerful warrior women is offensive too. Just like making them special unique snowflakes or portraying it as some kind of upside down world. Really, the best thing I can say is to research a lot, be very careful and thinking deeply about what gender roles really add to your story and why you feel like including them.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    The idea that a female warrior would be less physically aggressive than a male warrior, just by virtue of being female, is ridiculously sexist and insulting. My female co-players would probably beat the crap out of me if I came up with it.
    I find the way you word that could easily be said to insulting in itself. People are entitled to their opinions, whether it is sexist (I use this word neutrally here, not negatively) or not, and should not be abused for them.

    I would also suggest that co-players, whether female or not, beating you up for any reason is a VERY BAD THING(TM) and you should probably call the police in the case such a thing happens ;p

    Not that I'm saying your opinion isn't valid... but keep in mind it IS in fact, your opinion.

    Now as to the direct topic at hand... I think female warriors can have whatever aggression you feel is appropriate at hand, and that your group is comfortable with. Keep in mind the many different stereotypes of male warriors, the grizzled warrior, the silent killer or perhaps the fresh faced recruit who is wetting himself before and after a fight, but brave during. These can apply to women too.

    In terms of the disparity between genders, the marginal differences between men and women who otherwise have the same environment and expectations, are minimal on an individual basis, to see the difference it makes, I would expect a large swath of population of each gender having to be measured as a whole, in this way, otherwise unnoticeable differences can become more pronounced due to the scale of the observation.
    Last edited by Robs; 2013-03-08 at 07:37 PM.

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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by Robs View Post
    I find the way you word that could easily be said to insulting in itself. People are entitled to their opinions, whether it is sexist (I use this word neutrally here, not negatively) or not, and should not be abused for them.
    Would that apply if they were racist instead? Or homophobic? Or thought that handicapped people were useless wastes of energy? Just where do you put the border between inoffensive and offensive?

    I'm also quite curious as to how people can be sexist in a neutral way, given that the term means holds discriminatory views based on the sex of an individual.
    Last edited by Terraoblivion; 2013-03-08 at 07:44 PM.

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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by Robs View Post
    I find the way you word that could easily be said to insulting in itself. People are entitled to their opinions, whether it is sexist (I use this word neutrally here, not negatively) or not, and should not be abused for them.
    What. No. That's not how being entitled to your opinion works. Some opinions are clearly wrong. Being sexist, racist or whatever-ist is wrong. Freedom of speech is no excuse for prejudice.

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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by Terraoblivion View Post
    Would that apply if they were racist instead? Or homophobic? Or thought that handicapped people were useless wastes of energy? Just where do you put the limit of what opinions people can say are offensive?
    Anything can be offensive to a person (it is that persons choice); but racism and homophobia are indeed opinions people hold, as well as that handicapped people may indeed have fewer options than another person. All these are generally seen as offensive, as societal norms today dictate.

    If you think someone has a grossly twisted and/or invalid opinion on the subject, do something about it, but unless they show you no respect in the voicing of their opinions, I see no reason why the other party cannot do the same, the voicing of a grossly different opinion does not constitute a lack of respect.

    Tell them why they are wrong, or why they'd find more benefit in other opinions. Not tell them that they are wrong and then call them names and that they make you feel bad (or could make others feel bad), and therefore are bad people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    What. No. That's not how being entitled to your opinion works. Some opinions are clearly wrong. Being sexist, racist or whatever-ist is wrong. Freedom of speech is no excuse for prejudice.
    Are there not differences on perspective to see if something is wrong or not? I seem to recall that as an old debate. I'm not saying it is not wrong. But being wrong is not an offense. And therefore does not deserve being offended upon in turn.
    Last edited by Robs; 2013-03-08 at 07:53 PM.

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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Whether women do or do not have a difference in aggression on average isn't particularly relevant, because in general, "stabs monsters to death in the face with pointy metal things" is not, well, average.

    EDIT: Oh wow dat above post. Yeah, uh, you guys can handle this.
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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    {Scrubbed}
    Last edited by Roland St. Jude; 2013-03-12 at 01:16 AM.

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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by Synovia View Post
    Men have higher testosterone levels*. Testosterone leads to aggression.
    That is incorrect.

    Pink was once a manly color. Aggression, especially sexual aggression, was once believed to be a female-only trait (this actually ties directly into why witches were women more often than not and why doctors have a somewhat "kinky" reputation). Actually, the very idea of what was considered "manly" back in the day was elegance, refinement, a high, lilted voice, and a limp wrist.

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    Host of MANSWERS, 1735.


    It's culturally biased thinking that leads us to think that specific colors, smells, behaviors, or clothing are more feminine or masculine than others; some cultures have completely different dress codes for men and women, and some cultures have more than two genders. Samoans have at least three. Some Mojave tribes had six. Incas had at least three. The Bugi in Indonesia have five (and recognize three sexes). In the scope of the world at large, the European gender binary is actually pretty weird.

    The idea that one sex is more aggressive than another inherently is also culturally biased thinking; before you start picking up character traits and assembling them based on whether a character is male or female or man or woman or whatever, first try to figure out what that character's culture would think of those things, because your character would definitely be shaped by their own cultural biases.

    That is, if you plan to make an issue of it. If you don't, then don't worry about it.

    My own games tend to explore gender and cultural issues a lot, so these become important questions to me.
    Last edited by hiryuu; 2013-03-08 at 07:57 PM.
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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    {Scrubbed}
    Last edited by Roland St. Jude; 2013-03-12 at 01:20 AM.

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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    {Scrubbed}
    I think such displays have a tendency to degrade a proper discussion, and that's all I'm here for,

    Peace.
    Last edited by Roland St. Jude; 2013-03-12 at 01:20 AM.

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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Well, to be fair, gender equality itself is not a universal concept. I live in Korea, and here women would find it insulting that someone would think females are equally prone to violent aggression as males (given all other factors are same).

    I do believe gender equality holds true; I'd just like to point out that it still is an 'opinion' as according to the word's definition.
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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by Robs View Post
    People are entitled to their opinions, whether it is sexist (I use this word neutrally here, not negatively)
    'neutrally', huh? Talk about a giant red flag.


    Not that I'm saying your opinion isn't valid... but keep in mind it IS in fact, your opinion.
    That opinion is a fact, actually, much like one can opine that the sky is blue. The fact of the matter is that it's making an assumption based on gender, and the assumption is ultimately rooted in sexist notions of women. It's sexist, period.


    If you think someone has a grossly twisted and/or invalid opinion on the subject, do something about it, but unless they show you no respect in the voicing of their opinions, I see no reason why the other party cannot do the same, the voicing of a grossly different opinion does not constitute a lack of respect.
    Voicing the opinion that I am less capable because my gender inherently makes me so is, in fact, the definition of not showing me respect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Magenta
    The former sounds utterly boring, if I may speak my mind
    That doesn't exactly fill me with confidence at your ability to ably pull off the conflict you find interesting.

    But no... I don't have any deeper purpose than mere curiosity, but neither am I looking for any "arbitrary gender roles" either.
    Well, gender roles are arbitrary. If you don't want arbitrary ones, you might as well just declare equality and be done with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Synovia
    Men have higher testosterone levels*. Testosterone leads to aggression.
    That link is marginal, and indeed says nothing about individuals.
    Last edited by RPGuru1331; 2013-03-08 at 08:05 PM.
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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by Terraoblivion View Post
    So...If a group of neo-nazis very politely told you that they thought killing everybody not of non-Jewish Western European decent was the right and proper think to do, you think that you should politely stand aside or try to argue for the personal benefit of being more tolerant? After all, they're making a ideological, ethical statement, not a falsifiable statement and they were very polite about stating genocidal intentions. This is of course a hyperbolic example, but it illustrates the absurdity of your premise, as you essentially declare value judgements illegitimate, except for your absolute ban on rudeness. Nice hypocrisy by the way, making a value judgement saying that all value judgements are wrong.
    I would say to that, intentions are something to go to war about. Someone who hates pink hair but serves pink haired people in their little shop regardless are nothing to worry about, as an example.

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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by meto30 View Post
    I do believe gender equality holds true; I'd just like to point out that it still is an 'opinion' as according to the word's definition.
    No, it's not. The medical side of thing is well within the realm of falsifiable science and based on what is currently scientific fact, differences outside the realm of reproduction and some gross physical traits, such as height, fat distribution and body hair, are minimal. This is no more a matter of opinion than gravity or the distribution of whales in the Pacific Ocean. Evidence of major psychological differences is similarly vanishingly small, while substantial evidence of similarity exists. And once again, it's not in the realm of opinion, but in the realm of scientific inquiry and what that has yielded so far is that there is no major difference. People disagreeing with that without substantial scientific evidence backing their position up are not expressing a legitimate difference in opinion, they're simply uninformed and factually wrong. Just like a person stating that the sky has tiger stripes or someone insisting that Burundi is in North America.

    Similarly, beliefs about what degree of equality is desirable isn't strictly speaking a matter of opinion, but rather normative, ethical positions that people adopt. While similar to opinions, they are more strictly speaking part of the ethical framework that forms part of the backing for opinions and again, there is a logical structure allowing reasoned discussion of them and determining which positions are more valid based on different ethical premises and axioms.

    So, no, it's not a matter of opinions and certainly not a matter of opinions that are created equally. An opinion founded on reasoning and coherent ethical thought will generally be more lucid than one formed without any real effort put into it. Similarly, this backing of forming logical arguments and constructing coherent frameworks for your ethics allows for reasoned discussion beyond just emphatically stating whatever you position you might have happened upon.

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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    I see that many people here have rather strong feelings on the subject.

    I have a site for anyone interested:

    https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/

    There are several tests, what they try and do is separate conscious opinions from unconscious ones. Aka, what you most likely really feel.

    I am not sure how relevant they are to the direct discussion, but they should be useful to the spirit of it.

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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    I see that many people here have rather strong feelings on the subject.
    I do in fact have strong feelings on the topic of my personhood and equality. Rather a common trait, yours just isn't being challenged.

    There are several tests, what they try and do is separate conscious opinions from unconscious ones. Aka, what you most likely really feel.
    Which would say nothing about inherent traits, because it can't seperate you from your cultural context.
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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Human men, in general, are more prone to aggression. This is the reason males world-wide make up majority of criminals. The difference, however, only becomes apparent at the very end of the population bell curve - the average man and average woman are probably just as aggressive.

    However, as pointed out, a female warrior is anything but average. She probably defies several general guidelines about the human condition - for example, the average woman has less upper body strenght than average man, but a trained warrior of either sex usually trumps the average man.

    Once you move outside humanity, all of the above gets thrown out the window. For example, in case of Gnolls, it would be logical to assume that the females are bigger and badder, since that's how it is in hyenas, their inspiration.

    Finally, invidual variance can defy a general rule. Training and upbringing can also skew a sample population's traits - just because averaged data from all of humanity suggests females are X and males are Y, doesn't mean things are necessarily so in Weirdo Culture XI.
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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by hiryuu View Post
    That is incorrect.

    Pink was once a manly color. Aggression, especially sexual aggression, was once believed to be a female-only trait (this actually ties directly into why witches were women more often than not and why doctors have a somewhat "kinky" reputation). Actually, the very idea of what was considered "manly" back in the day was elegance, refinement, a high, lilted voice, and a limp wrist.
    Exactly, Estrogen is the difference. Men have less than Women so the only factor is testosterone in men. When women's estrogen drops, the effects of testosterone is shown on them (T is never affected by gender): develop masculine stuff (losing female).

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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    This derailed quickly. I have no interest in quarreling so I will leave the thread, my aplogies to you who tried to engage in an actual dialogue.

    Also, this can be useful:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_charity

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    Default Re: Female Warriors and Physical Aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by Terraoblivion View Post
    So...If a group of neo-nazis very politely told you that they thought killing everybody not of non-Jewish Western European decent was the right and proper think to do, you think that you should politely stand aside or try to argue for the personal benefit of being more tolerant? After all, they're making a ideological, ethical statement, not a falsifiable statement and they were very polite about stating genocidal intentions. This is of course a hyperbolic example, but it illustrates the absurdity of your premise, as you essentially declare value judgements illegitimate, except for your absolute ban on rudeness. Nice hypocrisy by the way, making a value judgement saying that all value judgements are wrong.
    Phew, okay. I've finally understood what you said here (My fault, not yours).

    I am saying that within the context of an intellectual discussion, value judgements have no place, else the discussion fails from the start.
    {Scrubbed}

    To OP: My apologies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Magenta View Post
    This derailed quickly. I have no interest in quarreling so I will leave the thread, my aplogies to you who tried to engage in an actual dialogue.

    Also, this can be useful:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_charity

    I am actually studying philosophy at the moment, and was introduced to that a week or two ago. It is the reason I posted.
    Last edited by Roland St. Jude; 2013-03-12 at 01:26 AM.

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