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Thursday, 16 March 2017

Classic Rant: Can You Engage With Someone Who Thinks "Aleena the Cleric" is Sexist?

Remember Aleena the Cleric?  If you're a D&D player of a certain age, you undoubtedly do, even if the name doesn't ring a bell.

Maybe this will jog your memory:

For those of you who weren't part of the two million or so kids for whom the Red Box D&D "Mentzer" box set was one of their earliest RPG experiences, let me put it into some context:  Aleena the Cleric is the NPC that shows up in your very first (solo) adventure, in the introduction booklet of the Red Box.  She is in some ways one of the earliest "iconics".  She is a brave and heroic adventurer, slightly more experienced than your own character, dedicated to fighting evil.  She ends up teaching you a lot of what you need to know to survive in the dungeon.  She is determined to stop the evil wizard Bargle, but tragically dies at the hands of Bargle's sorcery for you to avenge her.
She is at no time a 'helpless princess' type of character.  She is, if anything, the Roy Fokker or Obi Wan Kenobi of the red box, the mentor-character that shows you what you need to know and then dies so that you can continue in your Jungian Hero's Journey.

Oh, and as you'll see above, she wears full head-to-toe armor.  No 'chainmail bikinis' or 'slave girl outfits' for her.  The only skin she shows is her face.  She could only be more covered up if she wore a burqa.

Tracy Hurley, one of the Outrage Brigade who has recently been trying to smear me all over the internet, and who complains about how it is impossible to 'engage' with me (when her definition of 'engaging' was to slander me in mid-argument with a made-up story about me looking at some vaguely titillating picture and then pretending to be all stunned when I got mad at her dirty pool), thinks Aleena the Cleric is sexist.

I think, frankly, it's pretty much impossible to 'engage' with lunatics of this level.  With people so determined to undertake their crusade to impose their will on the hobby that they'll try to claim that a heroic female warrior figure from 1983 (a time when fantasy art routinely depicted women as naked as legally possible for them, and often in some kind of pseudo-bondage position) is a bad representation of women.

I'm not making this up.  Why would I lie when the truth is this damning?  Here's a partial transcript of the conversation where Hurley shows just how extremist she is.   Note that it's been edited, and so it doesn't necessarily reflect the full radicalism of her views, but it's pretty damning enough by itself.

The following are ACTUAL QUOTES of Hurley's about Aleena the Cleric:

"she's drawn to please a heterosexual man"

"the woman is being made to fit into a world view where women are there for display first, their power second."

Seriously, about Aleena!

Want some more?

 " There's an emphasis on femininity in the drawing that I don't find overly practical, especially the long piece of fabric between her legs"

This one makes Hurley look ignorant more than anything: that "piece of fabric" is a tabard.  It's an actual thing that knights wore, including templar knights, which Aleena the CLERIC is clearly being modeled after.  So far from an "emphasis on femininity", Aleena's full body-covering armor including the tabard is meant to make her look more like a MALE KNIGHT.
I guess she can't be blamed for not knowing  a tabard was a real thing, and mistaking it for something the artist put in to 'sex up' Aleena in some vague way.  She was probably too busy doing other things in her education to bother studying history.

Ready for the one that will leave you speechless?

"To me, the purpose (of the tabard) is to soften her and to play cat and mouse with the viewer. The pose is opened up to give greater access to her inner thighs but the "money shot" is hidden behind the soft, flowing tabard."

That's right, "money shot". To Tracy Hurley, that drawing of Aleena the Cleric is like pornography.

 I think you must have something seriously wrong with you and how you look at art and the world if you look at that image and think 'that tabard further covering that fully dressed warrior-woman is just too arousing'. But then, I guess if you're a professional witch hunter you'll want to find witches everywhere. The more you do, after all, the better it pays off.

But anyways, I'm not writing about this to make fun or just to insult; but to raise awareness. I want people to understand exactly the type of people we're dealing with, and to consider the source. It puts a context into the mentality of our opponents. They want to present themselves as the "reasonable" ones, the "inclusive" ones.

For me, "inclusive" means putting a heroic transgendered character on the cover of an RPG I wrote, or making casual mentions to LGBT relationships just like I would heterosexual relationships in another RPG I wrote, or writing a detailed and carefully researched RPG on a non-european culture, which I also did.

For my opponents, "inclusive" means going after Aleena the Cleric because a depiction of a brave, dashing, heroic warrior woman dressed in head-to-to armor that reveals no skin whatsoever aside from her face is just far too sexist and must be stopped.

A year ago today, the exact same people who are now engaging in a campaign to blacklist me and Zak S were engaged in a campaign against rpg writer Shanna Germain, accusing her of having created a 'sexist' monster in the Numenera RPG.  Tracy and her friends were going after a female RPG writer in the name of feminism. 

A year and a half or so ago, they went after Stacy Dellorfano for daring to make an woman-centered RPG Convention ("Contessa"), which featured all-women panels and women-run games. Why on earth would they go after that?  Isn't that exactly the kind of thing any feminist, or just anyone who wants to encourage women to have a bigger voice in the RPG hobby, should be cheering about??
Well no, because Dellorfano wanted the con to be about actually running and playing RPGs, and not about talking about how horribly sexist the hobby is; they went after Stacy mercilessly in essence because she wouldn't give them center stage and support their 'narrative' that the hobby is just far too awful to actually let women play at all.   A con where women were playing and running games and everyone was happy about that fact ruins their whole argument.
Somewhere in between those two events, they were trying to push for a supposed 'anti-harassment' regulation for all gaming cons that would allow them to kick anyone out they thought was dressed too provocatively.

At the time, I made a blog entry which implied that the Outrage Brigade wouldn't be satisfied until they saw women in Burqas in the name of feminism, but of course that's not true. What Tracy Hurley wants is for WOMEN TO DRESS LIKE HER.

She'd be equal in condemning a naked porn star, a bikini-clad booth babe, a cosplayer showing too much leg, or a conservative muslim woman in a niqab/burqa/etc. because they are all different then her particular view of propriety, a view informed by and conditioned by a type of feminism very rooted in middle class ideas, which (ironically) descend directly from victorian prudery.  The point is any woman who CHOOSES to not look like her is wrong and misguided in her eyes, and must be shown the error of her ways including by coercion is necessary; she has to be forced to dress right for the sake of feminism. Likewise, any art that does not reflect her personally is wrong and misguided.

She's doing this:

All of the Outrage Brigade are.  One of the few things that makes Hurley exceptional is the fact that she's actually a woman; the majority of the Outrage Brigade are actually men, telling women like Shanna, Stacy, and Mandy Morbid what they should write, how they should act, and what they should or should not wear.

And apparently this even extends to Aleena the Cleric, which is a sign of a REALLY extreme extension of that kind of 'prudery' based not on actual interest in modesty so much as a desire for homogeneity of thinking.   The Outrage Brigade can't stand anything that doesn't think like they do; and Tracy Hurley suspects that while Aleena is a figure that would be seen as a role model for some young girls into D&D, this is actually dangerous because it represents a type of D&D she despises as contrary to her thinking of what is proper.  Aleena is sexist because D&D is sexist, because D&D does not agree with her about how her ideas are best.  It's a neat little logical pretzel.

Aleena would not be out of place as a heroic female figure in 2014, but in 1983 she was almost radical, compared to much of what was around her.

To say this is 'not good enough' is to suggest that NOTHING in fantasy or RPGs is good enough.  It betrays your real motives: to never ever be satisfied because your real issue is with the entire hobby/culture, and you want all of it to be taken down completely, so you can rebuild it forcibly under your control and in your own image.

There's no 'middle ground' to be found with people like that.


Currently Smoking:  Lorenzetti Egg + Gawith's Navy Flake


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Dude, let it go. Move on. Find another proxy for your fake internet rage. Dang.

  3. I think there are better battles to be fought. Hurley has a point- Aleena (hot babe as she is, in her skintight chainmail) is sexualised. It's no biggie really (Elmore, who I have a lot of time for, never seems to draw a woman who isn't sexualised), but it's daft to deny it. If I was making a basic D&D set now, that's not the kind of art I would use. But it has a lot of charm and nostalgia value for me personally.

    1. "Sexualized" is a nonsense term used to describe anything prudes dislike.

    2. To say nothing of the fact that the heroic male image found in the same book is equally "sexualized," what with that sexy long hair and muscles, etc. Do you even know how ridiculous you are?

    3. Matt, Jim knows full well how stupid he sounds. Notice how he tries to use soft, weaselly language in order to camouflage his idiocy.

    4. Nothing soft and weaselly here, mate. You're the one calling people idiots for a difference of opinion. And I've no problem with 'sexualised' fantasy art, just that it's not what I'd use, now, if I was marketing a game to kids.

    5. If you find that picture "sexualized" that says a lot more about you. Can you show me some female art which is not "sexualized"??

    6. Did I say 'sexualised' was bad? Don't think so. You're right, most RPG female art from that period is sexualised (Clyde Caldwell especially - much more strongly than Elmore's Aleena pics). For me, sometimes it's cringeworthy, sometimes it's fun, sometimes it's just background. But denying it is just stupid, and if Hurley and others want to comment on it or critique it,why not just let them instead of constantly turning it into a major deal?

    7. No, I mean, can you show me any artistic depiction of any woman which is "not sexualized"?

    8. That's a good question Pundit, which is why it took me so long to reply. Obviously there are plenty of examples (no, I'm not going to post up a gallery) but yes, the women in RPG art are likely to be young, healthy and doing active things (i.e.adventurers) so it's quite likely they are sexually attractive (which isn't intrinsically bad). Seems we agree on that, then...

    9. Well, my point is, if Aleena the Cleric can be accused by "feminists" of being "sexualized", I'm pretty sure any picture you posted here that wasn't some kind of hideous hag or monstruous hamplanet would be one that I could use current Ctrl-Left dialogue to accuse of being 'sexualized' in exactly the same way that Hurley did for Aleena.

      The truth is that of course Aleena isn't 'sexualized'. There's nothing overtly sexual about her or how she's portrayed. It's ridiculous and if people were being honest she'd be held up as a "heroic female icon" of early D&D. This isn't about the 'sexualization of art', of course, this is about trying to destroy a beloved old-school character out of an agenda that despises traditional Roleplaying in particular, and despises Western Civilization in general.

  4. I don't think Tracy Heiferly is going far enough. Never mind Aleena's outfit. What about the arrow and extended finger pointed directly at her? Those are obvious phallic symbols representing the twin patriarchal evils of rape and oppression. Seriously though, I think Heiferly just needs to shut her cockpit, get down on all fours and smell the glove.

    1. Never mind the arrow and finger, what about the giant sex toy she's waving around! Outrageous!

  5. There's no shortage of sick and delusional people in this world.

    How about that bowl of fruit? Is that too sexually charged? Why can't people deal with the female body? It exists. Move the fuck on!

  6. I think it's safe to say Aleena is portrayed as attractive (much like 95% of all fatasy heroes) but to say the image is exploitative laps idiocy and delusion and lands in an area of malicious intent. You have to want to be offended desperately to disprove of this image.

  7. While I'd rather agree that you can't engage with someone who thinks that Aleena the Cleric is sexist, in the very transcript you have so unadvertently provided a link to, Tracy Hurley says very explicitly that she thinks nothing of the sort. "Nobody said it was sexist... I never used the word sexist. I didn't even say it was non-inclusive; just that I didn't feel included and that I felt the femininity of the character, as a whole, was more important to the artist than her being a strong character". She just says that subjectively (her own word!) she does not feel this picture to be representative of herself. She does not even want this picture removed or censored: she just want to see more artwork of a different kind.

    Pundit as usual: the new and improved attacker of strawmen.

    1. I read that as backpeddling, given that Hurley contradicts herself in the space of a sentence:

      "I never used the word sexist . . . I felt the femininity of the character, as a whole, was more important to the artist than her being a strong character."

      So she's using her "feelings" to impart sexist motivations to the artist by way of attacking a character is is written very strong, and very compellingly. Or to put it another way, she objects to an artist to drawing a female, well, feminine.

      And then there's this gem: "I didn't even say it was non-inclusive; just that I didn't feel included . . ."

      Hurley is basically just trying to hop all over the map so that she can always say, "But I SAID it wasn't sexist!" later.

    2. Yes, she's lying after the fact. She also later tried to pretend she knew what a tabard was.

  8. Tracy did respond in her blog. She uses words like "falsely attributes opinions" in explaining why she felt slighted by the pundits review. In case she is reading this, Tracy, your reasoning is false. You have amassed a body of work that decrys certain things as objectionable. It doesn't take a giant leap in logic to find that you would dislike Alpha Blue. Unless you give an argument that this material really is OK in your eyes, I think any reasonable person can say "of course she would find this offensive." Note I am not defending the Pundit, I am refuting you, Tracy Hurley aka. Sarah Darkmagic.

  9. What offends me most in the picture is. D6+1 damage magic missile killing a minimum 3d6 hit point cleric!

  10. What offends me most in the picture is. D6+1 damage magic missile killing a minimum 3d6 hit point cleric!

  11. What offends me most in the picture is. D6+1 damage magic missile killing a minimum 3d6 hit point cleric!

    1. Was she not 2nd level though? But yeah, it did cross my mind even back then...she must have had been unlucky with the dice rolling and had one strict DM...

    2. No, she must have been at least level 3 since she was able to cast two spells before succumbing to the magic missile.

    3. The two spells were Cure Light Wounds and...?

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Conan, what is best in life?

    To crush my enemies!
    See them driven before me!
    And hear the lamentation of big fat anime titties!

    That is good!