So I’m playing a P & P RPG, and one of my chars is a young acolyte of low social standing (because she grew up as orphan, raised by a hunter and priest of the god of hunting). Now circumstances placed her in a barony somewhere far from home, where she had saved the young baron’s life with her group, and tended to the temple and shrine in the absence of a priest. The baron (an NPC) finally proposed to her and neither me nor my GM were sure whether the next-higher noble had the right to intervene (my char doesn’t get along with her), and whether my char would be expected to swear allegiance to her after marriage. So I did what every gamer might do: I asked the online community.
It didn’t even take 24 hours for the thread to take a nasty turn. After a few posts, the initial questions were answered, and we had already got some additional food for thought (and questions about the circumstances and char in return). As soon as I mentioned her low social status, though, I had to read posts like “Such a begging slut might be fucked by the nobleman, maybe, but…” and “She can count herself lucky if she receives a silver coin after the night”, and talk about her “bastard children”.
Nowhere, and I mean NOWHERE in my posts did I so much as hint at the fact that she might consider sex before marriage. In fact, her goddess is one of the more moral ones, and my char would never consider having sex with someone she is not properly married to. She never begged, either.
But somehow, in those people’s minds, the facts “female” plus “low social status” plus “wants to marry a baron” added up to the “fact” that her morals must be on the lose side. Sure, because female characters are all only trying to score money and influence by sleeping around, right? Bullshit!
I don’t know whether these posts were from male or female gamers, and honestly, it doesn’t make any difference at all. The fact that someone considered these comments appropriate enough to make them shows that sexist stereotypes are still a long way from dying out, and that sexism is still prevalent in gaming communities.
How reading those comments made me, the player, feel? Kind of personally attacked, actually. Judged. And yes, I know that they were about my char and not about me. I still didn’t sign up for having my char insulted and degraded by nasty, sexist comments, when I asked a few questions about background.