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The Tiger Roars 

Be Careful What You Wish For... by Kenton Kilgore

Given that the Jungle has, since its beginning in 2000, featured female Space Marines (and hasn't been shy about it), you would think that I would be really, really excited to read this, from the official Warhammer 40,000 Facebook page:

I'm all for adding more female models/bits for almost all of the armies, especially the Imperial ones (sorry, Orks, Tyranids, and Necrons: I'm gonna vote to keep your looks the way they are).  I'm all for more female characters in the "fluff" and as models on the tabletop.  I'm okay with no more "boob plate" armor (even though it's one of the hallmarks of the Sisters of Battle/Adepta Sororitas).  And if adding more female minis would bring in more women gamers (which I doubt, given the women gamers I've met), I'd be fine with that, too.

But...I have some misgivings.  There's an ongoing cultural war in society that has only increased its speed since last year, when I discussed it in the context of 40K.  I've been paying more and more attention to that cultural war, and some of what Games Workshop said in the statement above has made me prick up my ears.

If they had said, "We'll be making more female miniatures and introducing more female characters because they're cool," I'd be fine with that.  

If they had said, "We'll be making more female miniatures and introducing more female characters because our customers have asked for them," I'd be fine with that.

Instead, they said, "female representation (emphasis mine)."  And they said, "we want to help all our customers feel represented in our games and models."

Now, maybe GW's choice of words was merely innocuous.  Maybe the person that they were responding to had directly asked them about "representation," and GW was directly responding to their concern (full disclosure: I looked through the 40K Facebook page and couldn't find the post that appears above, nor the one that prompted it).  

But "representation" is a buzzword and a point of contention in the culture war that I want 40K to firmly stay out of, if possible.  

I'm not saying GW should just maintain the status quo (for God's sake, can we at least get some plastic Sisters of Battle?).  I'm certainly not saying (as I made it clear above) that GW shouldn't add more female minis and characters.  I just want them added for the right reasons: namely, that they're great products, and that players have asked for them.

And though this may be--and hopefully is--mere speculation on my part, what I don't want to see happening is Games Workshop starting to listen to people who don't play the game, and don't buy the products, but nevertheless insist on telling GW what they need to do to be "woke," and "socially aware," and "ensure representation," etc., etc., etc.  Or in other words, for GW to jump through hoops so as to be in the good graces of non-customers who have nothing better to do but take offense at some imagined failing, and screech on the Internet all day long.     

If you think that's a hypothetical situation that would never occur in real life, 1) you haven't been paying attention to what's been going on in other entertainment media, and 2) it happened before to another gaming company.

About 30 years ago, TSR, Inc. was drafting a 2nd Edition of the mega-popular Advanced Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game (perhaps you've heard of it). Bowing to public outcry from fundamentalist Christians, TSR didn't initially include demons and devils in the 2e Monstrous Compendiums, so as not to offend
a small but highly vocal group who were pushing their social agenda despite the fact that they didn't play the game, and didn't buy the products (sound familiar?).  

Needless to say, this didn't go over very well with TSR's existing customers.  TSR relented, but even when they finally reintroduced demons and devils, they renamed them "tanar'ri" and "baatezu."  Did that actually satisfy anyone?  Methinks not.  When Wizards of the Coast bought up the rights for D&D and started making new versions, they weren't afraid to call these monsters "demons" and "devils" again.

This is a "bone devil," not an "osyluth."  If the name offends you, go play something else

On a Related Topic...
While I have your attention, let's discuss another social media message that Games Workshop--or rather, one of its authors, Aaron Dembski-Bowden--posted recently.

In response to Aaron's post, some of this site's regular Fanboys and I discussed on the Jungle's FB page whether the Imperium (which, as a reminder, is a brutal, fascist regime that can only be considered as "the good guys" because its enemies are so much worse) would prefer women to serve in the Imperial Guard, or as breeding stock for eventual IG conscripts.  The consensus was that it depends on each planet's population, and whether it was currently in a "total war" scenario (a la the Soviet Union in WWII) where every able-bodied person, male or female, was needed on the front lines or in a support role.

That discussion was based on a serious examination of the 40k milieu and some healthy, intelligent disagreement.  But while I don't totally agree with Aaron's assertion about women in the Imperial Guard, I'm 100% behind him on the racial aspect.  

I firmly believe that in the far distant future of the 40k universe, racial differences among humans wouldn't be a thing.  And not because of any enlightened realization (as Star Trek would posit) that we humans are all basically the same, and that with some dialogue and tolerance and understanding, We Can All Just Get Along (TM).  

No, it would be because of the ongoing nightmare that is the Imperium buckling under the weight of its own monstrous evil, as well as the unceasing and ever-escalating attacks by Chaos, Orks, Tyranids, et al.  That's what would force mankind to overlook skin color.


No matter who you are or what you look like, everyone gets to die for the Emperor

And even if I didn't agree with anything Aaron said, I'd still be cool with it, because he's not only part of the 40k community, he helps to create and expand the game and its narrative.  He's not someone out there who's never built a model or rolled a die, but has suddenly latched on to the latest "point-and-shriek" crusade.  

As he said, It's not because of external pressure to "change" anything.  And I totally respect him for that.  So, to him, and for anyone who plays 40K, I say:
  • Collect what you want 
  • Paint what you want
  • Play how you want
  • Write "fluff" how you want
  • Design your own "house rules" how you want.  
Discuss and debate things about 40K with fellow gamers, but do it with respect.  And don't let anyone who doesn't know Abaddon from Eldrad tell you what to do.  

Comments? Questions? E-mail me

Kenton Kilgore is forging a new direction in young adult science-fiction and fantasy.  His latest work-in-progress is This Wasted Land, a modern-fantasy/horror novel, to be published in 2018.

Kenton is the author of Dragontamer’s Daughters, based on Navajo culture and belief.  He also wrote Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring nature. 

Follow Kenton on Facebook for daily posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction.


Posted October 2017. All images are used for editorial purposes. 


Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle