Too Many Women in Magic Lore?

Lore forum

Posted on Sept. 6, 2017, 11:31 a.m. by vbfabled

I would like to preface this by saying that I am starting this thread here because I trust this community to keep this a mature and civil exchange of ideas rather than allowing it to descend into an emotionally overcharged mess of ad hominem slinging chaos. To avoid misunderstandings, I ask that you read the entire post before responding. Please do your part.

Lately I have noticed that basically every "hero" introduced in the past several sets, especially the more successful/helpful ones, have been women. From Tazri to Samut to Hazoret to Pia, we've had a noticeable lack of testosterone among our heroes lately. And after seeing some of the new Ixalan spoilers, I have a hard time believing it's a coincidence.

Okay, but is that a problem? Not necessarily. I like strong female characters as much as the next guy, Samus Aran has been my favorite video game character since I was five, Elspeth is still a favorite planeswalker of mine. So why am I making this post? Well, here's the thing, WotC is a business, and businesses don't do anything without a reason. After some consideration, I figure the most likely motive here is that WotC is trying to expand their player base.

It's no secret that the vast majority of MtG players are guys, and in an age where "nerdy" interests are becoming more and more socially acceptable, it makes sense to try to expand your customer base into a group previously less included.

Now this is all fine and good, too. I've met a lot of awesome women who play magic. To me here, the issue is the risk of alienating a portion of the existing community in the efforts to expand it. See, people grow attached to characters they can relate to, and people relate to character who have things in common with them, and it's much easier to relate to characters of the same gender. This is becoming a problem for me, because I haven't had a character introduced that I can really relate to since Khans block, leading me to become less engaged in the story, which was one of the things that hooked me into magic in the first place. I've reached the point that new spoilers don't even really excite me anymore because I know the only cool new characters won't be ones that I can relate to.

So basically, while I think it is beneficial to have strong female characters and to expand the MtG community, I wish wizards would not forget about the existing players who came for the game and stayed for the characters.


K34 says... #2

I'm a straight dude. I like to look at women.

It's a fantasy game, so i don't bat an eye at the thought of Hero of Bladehold being a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield, just like i don't think anything of it that Phage the Untouchable can kill me with a gentle touch.

September 6, 2017 11:43 a.m.

windlnk says... #3

To be fair They aren't just introducing only new female characters in this. For Tazri and Drana in Zendikar we also got Munda and Noyan Dar all of whom I think are great characters. And with Samut we also have Djeru who I honestly thought was going to be the planeswalker before it turned out to be Samut. The problem isn't that WOTC isn't making any new interesting characters that aren't female it's that you're choosing to look only at the female characters because they are just a little bit more prevalent in the story. Not every cool new character has to be a main character.

September 6, 2017 11:44 a.m.

Rev_Lycan60 says... #4

You make solid points. Yet as a male I would argue women can be relatable as well for either gender as a male character can be for either gender. I say this because for the longest time I related with Sarkhan Vol with a mutual love for dragons, but then the Innistrad Block presented Werewolves which transform. I fell in love with them because Werewolves are my favorite movies, comics, books, and video games.

So I held onto hope for some planeswalkers which would support Werewolves and we gained Arlinn Kord. Because of my love for werewolf lore and creatures. I honestly relate with her the most now...sorry Sarkhan.

Plus it may just be me but I feel one who enjoys the game of Magic the Gathering should have favorites or cards they personally enjoy the most regardless of how old they are. I say this based on my mutual passion for DC Comics. When they introduced Batgirl, my joy for Bateman never decreased.

I will round this response out by going back to what you pointed about you bringing up good points because it is how you feel. Though I will personal state I do not feel WotC is alienating men by introducing more women characters.

September 6, 2017 11:45 a.m.

Gidgetimer says... #5

"I would like to preface this by saying that I am starting this thread here because I trust this community to keep this a mature and civil exchange of ideas rather than allowing it to descend into an emotionally overcharged mess of ad hominem slinging chaos."

Mistake #1, never trust the internet to be adults about anything.

On topic- I'm not trying to tell you how you feel, but are you sure that you are not interested in the story anymore because the Gatewatch has turned the magic story into a monster of the week serial with no lasting consequences? They defeat all three Eldrazi titans in 2 blocks using the power of friendship, rainbow farts, and ex machina. Then they finally are outmatched by Bolas, but none of them die. I really wish that if they want to cram the marquise walkers into a set each year that they would make it a non-storyline set and that the story actually had lasting consequences and not inevitability because the protagonists are able to do what is impossible even in most fantasy settings that are better written than fan-fiction.

(Seriously though, who thought it was a good idea to have Jace make direct mental contact with a literal eldritch horror and not be driven immediately insane.)

September 6, 2017 11:49 a.m.

vbfabled says... #6

I have made posts in the past about how much I hate the gatewatch and their invincible friendship powers, but after a lot of consideration I found that they were only part of my problem.

My favorite character in any magic story is Urza, and a lot of it is because I relate so much to his efforts and struggles, as well as just his personality.

I also find myself getting irritated with stories that start to get too social justicey, which I also find myself worrying will happen to magic, so that could be part of it.

September 6, 2017 12:10 p.m.

vbfabled says... #7

Also, K34, I avoid Force of Will (the game, not the card) because of the excessive depictions of half-naked mega-boobed women. It makes me feel like the creators don't respect me as a consumer, and I'll just buy anything they slap a "hot" girl onto, and I feel the same way about cards like that.

September 6, 2017 12:24 p.m.

K34 says... #8

To each his own.

September 6, 2017 12:28 p.m.

TheDevicer says... #9

I care less about the gender of characters and more about if they're interesting people. I know this discussion is about Magic, but let me branch out a little bit here. You see, I play a ton of League of Legends. I particular, I started playing the game because of Ahri, a nine-tailed fox-turned-human succubus.

Picture of Ahri Show

If I'm honest, I'm very much the audience for attractive female characters in video games. I tend to gravitate toward alluring characters like Ahri. For a very long time, I used to joke that my favorite type of characters in League of Legends were the busty, bursty ones.

Still, her character was designed ages ago and this is reflected in her in-game lines. You see, in lore, Ahri becomes more human as she sucks the souls out of people she has seduced. Through gaining humanity, she has realized the wrong she has done and is on some sort of path to redemption. So what's the problem? Her in game lines do NOTHING to reflect this. In fact, they're so generic that she ends up feeling incredibly one-note. In the end, she's supposed to be vague enough to allow you to project whatever you want on to her while being specific enough to hint at her playful and seductive nature.

As a fantasy character, Ahri's pretty uninteresting. And mind you, this has nothing to do with her being a succubus-type character. That can be done in a way that's interesting and compelling. Ahri just falls flat.

On the other hand, League of Legends also has newer, much better realized characters. Take Taliyah, for example.

Picture of Taliyah Show

She's a mage capable of manipulating stone who's powers are far and above her ability to control. For the safety of her tribe, she goes into self-imposed exile to learn to better manipulate her unique ability. However, during her exile, she learns that a looming threat hangs over her homeland and she's sprung to action in order to protect her people.

Everything about her reflects a deep connection to her homeland including her in-game mechanics. She's a compelling character because her coming-of-age story is realized through her desire to learn and become better in every aspect of her being.

I have no sexual attraction toward Taliyah. Rather, my relationship to her is almost fatherly. Like I genuinely want the best for her and I want to be a part of her journey. All if this is made possible because of how compelling she is.

Do me a favor and listen to the differences in the in game lines spoken by both AHRI and TALIYAH and get to know these characters a bit better and understand where I'm coming from.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is to demonstrate that even the people who are generally the targets of male-gratifying characters can and will appreciate diverse types of characters as long as they are interesting.

Hell, those characters don't even need to be female. Two male characters in league of Legends, Ekko and Rakan, are both superficially these easy going people with a flair for the dramatic. Still, what makes these characters resonate with me so strongly is that they have these sparse lines where they show their deeper desires and past history that colors both to be a tad darker.

My point is that it really doesn't matter what the balance between male and female characters is as long as we don't go too far toward one end. I want my characters to be interesting.

Looking at you, Jace...

September 6, 2017 12:41 p.m.

strangecharm says... #10

So the problem is Gideon and Jace getting stale and getting all the love while the new ladies are introduced.

It's not the girls. It's the Gatewatch. I would love more Garruk or Ajani for example.

September 6, 2017 12:41 p.m.

I identify with characters on the basis of their abilities and their mindset. Unless gender, race, sexual orientation, haircut, or what-have-you is relevant to the plot in some way (e.g., a woman gets pregnant, a black man finds himself in 1960s Atlanta) or was pivotal in that character's development (e.g., main character attended an all-girls boarding school in her youth) I care very little about those traits.

Appropriate balance is necessary, of course, (the definition of balance being contextual in all cases), and I don't think an exclusively female cast is right for Magic, but I don't think it's a problem for more prominent female characters to be introduced. As long as the fact that they're female is either incidental or productively intentional (i.e., aimed at developing an interesting character and not a fanservice ornament).

September 6, 2017 12:44 p.m.

abby315 says... #12

I'm psyched there are more women.

September 6, 2017 12:58 p.m.

JakeHarlow says... #13

It's just marketing, plain and simple. I think the assertion that WotC has doubled down on this strategy might have some truth to it, though. Despite that, it has been something they have pursued for quite some time now.

September 6, 2017 1:19 p.m.

Archegos says... #14

I would honestly be thrilled if they made a set with zero men in it. That would be really cool to see. Honestly, if they were to never print a male card again, I wouldn't shed a tear.

September 6, 2017 2:28 p.m.

Qolorful says... #15

Gunna repeat a few things I agree with here. First of I think it's true that gender is far less important than actual character development. In reference to league of legends again, I really love the shuriman story line, in which none of the main characters are even people other than sivir. Meanwhile Demacia versus noxus is really flat to me. The characters just don't intrigue me in the slightest, though most if not all are people, and there are plenty of guys for me to resonate with.

Give me ponies for all I care, just make the characters interesting.

I'd also like to say that I genuinely despise the gatewatch. None of the characters but liliana are any good as far as I'm concerned. Chandra is too bratty for me, Gideon strikes me as more of a moron than a protector, Nissa is a hippy, and Jace is just... not that interesting... I resonate with Lili even though she's not my gender because of the kind of anger and frustration she won't let others see behind her elegant facade. I like that because it feels more real in a fantasy character. Same goes for nahiri tbh. I liked the way she just lost her shit. It felt more like characters and less like dry archetypes

September 6, 2017 5:41 p.m.

yeaGO says... #16

I guess I'd like to see some data before I really started to believe any kind of tale that ends in the male playerbase becoming "alienated".

But then again I play Lux, hadn't really thought about analyzing my attractedness to her, but she seems cool I guess.

September 6, 2017 5:56 p.m.

KingMathoro says... #17

I have honestly never given it much thought. To be frank though I really do not care that much. My favorite cards in magic are women. Those being Avacyn, Angel of Hope and Meren of Clan Nel Toth. I mean you raise good points don't get me wrong. And I think it would be cool to see another strong male character that wasn't a part of the Paw Patrol but was instead a fresh character. But if they don't make one I wouldn't really mind. Those are my thoughts on the matter.

September 6, 2017 7:14 p.m.

Homura_Akemi says... #18

I would love some more hot guys in the main story. We have no interesting male characters at this point and it's about time we get some.

September 6, 2017 8:21 p.m.

Dredge4life says... #19

Ugin's pretty cool.

September 6, 2017 9:49 p.m.

landofMordor says... #20

Hm. It's a tough topic, because everybody has their own opinions, and opinions are often mistaken as excuses to do/think whatever you want regardless of existing fact.

First, facts: MaRo has said that polls put player participation at 38% female players overall. Obviously, that doesn't correspond to professional or competitive play, which is estimated at around 5% women. (These data are from a 2015 article I've linked below.) So, the OP isn't entirely correct that the "vast majority" of MtG players are male. Now let's proceed.

A given woman playing Magic is more likely to be casual, as the data above imply. I'm not here to delve into reasons why that is, just stating the fact. Therefore, from Wizards' perspective, they would be stupid not to print more female cards, since a card "being female" exclusively affects the casual experience (art, lore, and character, as opposed to competitiveness). It's just pure marketing to make the casual aspects of the cards appeal to the casual demographics, which are 38% female.

I speculate that another factor leading to current increased female visibility is the historical objectification of women exhibited in cards like Elvish Ranger/Jaya Ballard, Task Mage/Mirri, Cat Warrior; that is, even though the fantasy genre thrives off of transporting its customers to an unrealistic world, women have historically been depicted as sidekicks at best and sex objects at worst, not only in Magic but in the genre as a whole (as others have pointed out with LoL and FoW). Perhaps WotC is asking their female customers to forget their past missteps in that regard by increasing the heroism of their female characters.

That's enough speculation from me on why WotC's women seem more high-profile lately. Let's move on to why it matters, and why it may bother some male players. As a preface, I think there is probably a strong correlation between "lack of relatable characters" and "Gatewatch lore foibles"... So if "characters that males relate to" is defined as "well-written male protagonists", I'd say the tides are turning in your favor, considering the quality of Magic Story "Jace, Alone" (a soft reset for the character). If "characters that males relate to" is defined as "characters males role-play as for the fantasy aspect of MtG"...let's examine representation in legendaries between humanoid males and females (using EDHREC data, discounting PWs). In C17, there were 2 more male legendaries; in HOU, there were no female humanoid legendaries; in AMK there was 1 female legendary more; in Aether Revolt, there were 3 more males than females... Pretty even representation. Out of non-Gatewatch PWs in Standard, there are 5 male (Sorin/Ajani/Dovin/Tezz/Bolas) and 4 female (Arlinn/Tamiyo/Nahiri/Samut). Pretty even representation again. So, the data does not seem to support the claim that women are over-represented in recent Magic lore.

A caveat: Whether you empathize with a given character, male or female, is likely more a function of the quality of the writing (or your personality) than of the character itself. You might see a lot of Dovin Baan in me (you'd be right), but you may not empathize with him. That's not WotC, that's a personality mismatch. That brings us back to the quality of the Gatewatch stories and how the new sets will have a decreased focus on the Gatewatch as a group. Believe me, I empathize with your fav characters being poorly written, and I'm also hoping for a day with a relatable Jace/Chandra.

My personal opinion is that more female characters like Samut -- totally equal with Djeru, neat cards, idealized-but-not-sexualized, good lore -- can only be a good thing. I don't think that outweighs male characters like Djeru or Dovin, who are equally strong, deep, well-written, and influential. Equality is more like an apple tree than a apple pie -- the more it grows, the more we all benefit.


TL;DR: Women are actually 40% of MtG players, so WotC has real reasons for increasing female visibility in the game. If you don't like the male characters recently, it's more likely because they're poorly written than because there's too many women.

September 6, 2017 10:18 p.m.

Gleeock says... #21

One of my MINOR gender qualms (which really is just specific to MTG lore) is that: they just needed to stop giving all angels "jumblies", if anything angels should be somewhat androgynous. Or lets finally get a Michaelesque badass dudeangel!.. For all I care they can say some crap about Avacyn's leftover uncorrupt essence combining with Sorin's and KABLAMO! badass "male" angel.

Mostly, specific to EDH I have just noted most my favorite commander abilities belonging to female commanders... but whatevs.

Also, someone above was basically mentioning "broke-back". Hope they don't read comic books, "broke-back" is about as alive & kicking as it was in the 90's: basically the artist not-so-subtly alters the laws of physics & body mechanics & snaps the spine & reassembles the body. MTG artists have mostly been pretty solid at no broke-back, I've seen a few angels here and there with some pretty bad brokeback - mostly tokens.

September 6, 2017 11:38 p.m.

VampireArmy says... #22

Wotc has a very politically correct mindset as a company, sometimes dipping into the extremes which is how things like this happen. Regardless of that, they seem capable of creating interesting characters despite the norm of "mary-sueing" every female to boost political correctness cred (looking at you Disney) so there's likely no reason to worry. They do have some affiliate and employees with some pretty extreme "left" open views though which can be pretty cringeworthy

September 7, 2017 2:11 a.m.

Sulk says... #23

Well just saying, Bolas is male, but then again, we can't relate to a supervillan that well.I agree with OP the we need more male characters in the story. Currently most of them are foolish and iratinal to the point of Stupidity (looking at you here Gideon. Great plan against Bolas)The new Jace seems nice However.

September 7, 2017 2:19 a.m.

saj0219 says... #24

I have a few thoughts on this:

  1. I'm curious why characters being female makes them unrelatable, but being non-human is fine. In what way can one easily relate to Ajani that one can't relate to Nahiri? I've heard this several times and I've never been able to wrap my mind around it. For me, being an ancient blood sucking creature (looking at you, Sorin) or a literal dragon seems like it gets in the way of relatability more than the gende of the characters in question. Not that I mind the nonhuman characters; I love them and wish we had more. It just seems like a strange thing to not be a barrier when gender is. I'd guess that a magic character who is a human woman (or an elf, I suppose) probably has a more relatable lifestyle and set of experiences than a walking cat creature.
  2. I did a similar exercise as landofMordor and came to a similar conclusion that gender is actually fairly equally split across legendary and planeswalker cards in recent sets... which led me to think about why this split feels female dominated for people. Gender perception gap is a real thing borne out in a number of studies. Essentially, as a society, we over perceive the presence of women in a crowd or group conversation when the percent of women hits a threshold of something like 25%. So, in a crowd that is 30% female, for example, we are liable to say that it is mostly female. I wonder if we experience something similar with magic cards? Our experience playing magic was restricted to powerful male characters and a handful of sidekick women for a long time. Does wizards moving towards a more even split fall prey to the gender perception gap and make us believe women are over-represented when, in fact, they're just reaching a level of actual parity?
  3. I actually think, as a number of people have pointed out, that the gatewatch has eroded the story and lore recently. But on top of that, I think the gatewatch presents a great argument for the ways in which WotC still struggles to write female characters. The two who engage in a subtle leadership battle are both the men, and the women are: 1. Too emotional and impulsive (Chandra), 2. Sensitive and caring (Nissa), and the one woman who they suggest could be a leader is depicted as manipulative and evil (standard fare for women who seek power in fiction). Yes, the male characters are obnoxious and boring, but my point is that the female characters are equally poorly developed. The male characters lack of development is not because of the female characters over development. Everyone is just kind of bland across the board.
September 7, 2017 6:05 a.m.

Homura_Akemi says... #25

saj0219 At one point during the BFZ story, I thought to myself that Kiora and I would be a lot more similar if I were a merfolk. I do disagree on that all of the Gatewatch has equally bad character development. The female characters are more relatable personality wise and we actually know more about their motivations than the male members at any given point in the story so far.

September 7, 2017 7:28 a.m.

landofMordor says... #26

saj0219 I'm totally with you on all of that. Especially #2-3. Granted, one of the main tropes of fantasy is to use stereotypes to communicate effectively, but even then, fantasy should also have a component of transcending those stereotypes so we're not just living our work lives out on Zendikar.

Gleeock I'm with you 100%. The only reason AMK had male angels (Angel of Sanctions) is because Bolas "corrupted" the plane. I think male angels would be super awesome. It's also worth noting that most Demon subtypes are male, if I thought about it off the top of my head. What does that say about our inherent superstitions?

September 7, 2017 8:44 a.m.

vbfabled says... #27

I believe the reason gender creates more of a barrier than mythical races has a lot to do with how our brains work on a basic level. As much as we all want both genders to be equal in our society, there are still basic natural differences physically and mentally that our brains pick up on. Two men or two women are much more likely to think the same way as one another as far as problem solving, reacting to situations, etc. than a man and a woman because of differences in brain chemistry, and our subconscious picks up on that. This is why, especially in children who have less psychological maturity, guys are typically friends with guys and girls are typically friends with girls.

However, When it comes to these mythical fantasy races, our subconscious only has what the authors write to go off of, and for the most part Magic's bon-humans are still written very human. They have human qualities and human flaws from Kiora's hubris to Nissa's retconned bigotry. So, our brains sort of fill in the blanks and think of these characters as being very close to human.

As far as the even split of characters, I've more been comparing what they've accomplished. The most prominent characters recently have been Samut and Hazoret in Amonkhet, with Neheb doing like 2 things, Pia and Yahenni, who, I know, is from an ungendered race, but has a pretty feminine demeanor, with Gonti, a more masculine aetherborn, and Dovin, who I actually really liked, doing very little.

September 7, 2017 11:15 a.m.

Gleeock says... #28

Yep I also noticed that about demons as well, I think the female demon subtypes I have seen all tend to be kindof succubi-like. Maybe Lili's last demon could be a badass she-demon.

September 7, 2017 11:17 a.m.

abby315 says... #29

vbfabled: It's dangerous to make assumptions about biology or chemistry when it's impossible to study the human brain outside of a societal context, and when the physical layout of our brain is observably subject to that context. (Habits, experiences literally change brain pathways and chemical production.)

September 7, 2017 11:32 a.m.

Qolorful says... #30

Abby no assumptions were made. Everything in the first part of his statement is quite verifiable in a social context and in the lab, we can study the brain to a point

September 7, 2017 11:44 a.m.

abby315 says... #31

Qolorful I mean, the argument that men and women "naturally" think differently or have significant biological differences that should affect social behavior is an essentialist one that can't be verified in a lab without bias affecting both measurement and conclusions. I'm not saying you can't have a social study that reports these differences, but calling them natural or innate is impossible, and drawing conclusions about how our society should operate (or how games should be written) based on an assumption of innateness is irresponsible.

September 7, 2017 11:53 a.m.

yeaGO says... #32

A study of the brain that concludes anything close to this topic is very far off indeed, given that there is no agreeable developed scientific model of consciousness itself. What we take to be "natural" seems hardly better than folk "from the gut" knowledge, which isn't worth exploring.

September 7, 2017 12:08 p.m.

vbfabled says... #33

I will admit most of what I said is still theoretical, as is most of psychology, but there have been psychological studies on problem solving and how gender relates to it that have concluded with, at the very least, evidence that male and female brains handle these situations differently.

Of course, as with every psychological situation, you have to take into account both the subject, in this case their exact personality traits, and their situation, in this case their upbringing and environment, to fully understand the situation. Basically what this means is that just because those differences typically exist doesn't mean they always apply. The human brain is extremely variable, so sometimes there will be women who have more similar personalities to men and men who have more similar personalities to women.

As far as my assertions on brain chemistry, that's more referring to hormonal balances in our brains that affect our decision making, which are very much affected by biological sex. For example, men have higher levels of testosterone which can lead to less careful decision making in certain situations.

September 7, 2017 12:46 p.m.

vbfabled says... #34

I'd like to pause briefly and thank you all for keeping this discussion civil and stimulating. I know gender is a very hot-button issue right now, especially on the internet, and I am relieved and impressed by how maturely this community is handling it.

So yeah, thanks!

September 7, 2017 12:53 p.m.

Qolorful says... #35

Well the assumptions of different behaviors between genders aren't based on lab results, they are based on field results. The observational results have consistently shown trends for some time now. Females are more nurturing by nature than males is something that's been observed as traits common between genders. Females ability to multitask is usually stronger than males as well. Something else that has been observed fairly consistently.

Now there are always people who don't fit this data, but the majority do. So when you are honing in on specific people I agree that is wrong to make such assumptions, but if you are referring to a large group, you usually do want to use the larger trends as your assumed data to encompass the largest possible group.

What I'm saying is they can't be scientifically proven with certainty, but they can be observed as distinct trends, and it is justifiable to use them.

September 7, 2017 1:56 p.m.

landofMordor says... #36

Qolorful, vbfabled, you bring up interesting points. However, before I address those, I must mention that we've really kinda moved on from the original question of the post. Neurology can answer the "why"s of women in MtG, but the fact remains that almost 40% of all MtG players are female and neurology can't be used to change WotC's minds on how many female cards to print.

First, you're right that there are irreducible differences between male and female sexes (genitalia is the most obvious), which means that even the most "feminine" of males will never be a woman, bear children, etc. But does the male/female brain bear the same irreducible differences?

Your main claim seems to be "the majority of men act like average males, and likewise with women". That's an alluring claim, but it isn't necessarily mathematically true. Consider the following number sets: X = [20, 20, 20, 20] and Y = [0, 100, -30, 10]. Both have an average of 20, but only X has a majority of numbers resembling 20. Y doesn't have a single number equal to 20. So your claim rests on the assumption that male/female brains resemble X and not Y. Luckily, a recent scientific study set out to investigate that issue.

In 2015, a researcher named Daphna Joel took MRI scans of 1400 male and female brains. Her goal was to identify gender differences in brain structure, and she did identify a few statistically significant differences in regions like the hippocampus (responsible for reason, which was on average larger in females) and the amygdala (responsible for emotion, on average larger in males). You read that right, by the way. However, when any one human brain is compared to the average, only 2% out of those 1400 brains matched the "average" for male or female. In other words, 98% of humanity resembles my number set Y, where each person has wildly varying "male" and "female" brain bits. In fact, there's nothing scientifically that says my brain is more likely to resemble the "average" male brain than resemble an "average" female one -- but I'd be equally a man either way.

Clearly, the science doesn't support the idea that the majority of humanity neurologically resembles the average. In fact, it's misleading to do so. You could still argue that cultural trends matter the most -- socialization is huge in developing what we consider "male" or "female". However, that argument suffers the same flaw as the neurological one -- the "average" represents very few people in their entirety. And it also shifts the burden of proof in terms of MtG -- if women are men's neurological equals, why aren't women my cultural equals in a Magic tournament? Do I subconsciously assume that they're not cut out for MtG? Far from proving that WotC needs to "fix" their lore, I think my male role in shaping MtG's gender culture is a really pertinent issue that I need to work out before I can ever hope that my fianc/future daughters/mom/sister will ever enjoy the wonderful game of MtG as much as I do.

PS: As to your point that women are more prominent/powerful in recent Magic lore, I think this is again an issue of storytelling, not gender. Djeru, for example, was the focal point of the sub-narrative of the lies of the Trials. Sorin was a huge quasi-protagonist in SOI. Dovin and Tezzeret were the faces of the Consulate on KLD (Dovin actually brought the Gatewatch in and would have taken them out if Baral hadn't gone haywire). Nicol Bolas is the father of all villains. And, perhaps most importantly, the ONLY two wannabe leaders of the Gatewatch are both men. There's a lot of gender parity there (even though stories are inherently subjective data). It's not unrelatable or unbalanced characters; it's unsatisfying Gatewatch narrative (and I can't wait for the day when the Gatewatch stories improve!).

If you want to see the articles from which I pulled the Joel brain study, see the Scientific American article "Is There a 'Female' Brain?" and the Popular Science article "Brain Myths Busted".

September 8, 2017 2:19 p.m.

vbfabled says... #37

My arguments were not so much directed at the physical structure of the human brain advanced much as it was human behavior, which is influenced by natural impulses as well as societal pressures. My point about the differences in the human brain between genders was mostly just to say that innate differences exist between them.

Although way to cite sources, I'm liking where this thread is going.

Also my arguments were for the new characters being introduced, and how all the heroes who really got things done were female. Tezzeret, the Gatewatch, Bolas, Sorin, etc. are all old characters, although I do like some of them quite a bit.

September 8, 2017 2:51 p.m.

Qolorful says... #38

My argument was also referring to behavior, not brain structure. Also I'm not sure id trust your source, the hippocampus is responsible for memory and some levels of emotion, the cerebral cortex has more to do with reason. I've done quite thorough research on depression and all my sources agreed on at least the main role of the hippocampus being memory... so I'll have to read your source myself, but it currently is a bit suspicious to begin with...

September 8, 2017 3:32 p.m.

Qolorful says... #39

Update, I've found your source (or at least one by the same person on the same topic)and am reading it now. It appears that the study got that right, you just reiterated it inaccurately. Moreover the findings seem to have enough prior studies to back their claims, but lacked any significant amount of hard data. It may not have been the same article, but it was by the same person at around the same time. It seemed to want to take a lot of studies and extrapolate on the numbers without giving the actual numbers. I'm going to read into the topic further. It is very interesting regardless of whether or not it is true.

It seems that there are a select few, including but not limited to the ones you mentioned, areas of the brain that are consistently male or female, while most other areas have a tendency to lean one way, but are heavily impacted by outside influences such as stress levels and trauma. (This is actually in line with my study on depression, stress and trauma have severe impact on the brain). Though it wasn't completely on the same track my claim was on, it doesn't seem to condratict it

September 8, 2017 4 p.m.

Funkydiscogod says... #40

This thread has been an interesting read.

I'd like to say that there already exists a theory that would explain why we've seen a rise in the quantity of female characters, and a decline in their quality.

September 9, 2017 1:58 a.m.

landofMordor says... #41

vbfabled I think you're completely right that societal pressures affect our expressions of gender -- it's how matriarchal societies developed in parts of Africa, even though patriarchal dominated Europe. Perhaps cultural effects on gender is one of the causes behind the current dynamics of women in MtG? As to your point about driving/new characters...I mean, if you narrow your definition enough from all current MtG characters, you're correct that new, important, and heavily featured characters are predominately female. But isn't that because the past history of MtG was so male-driven? Now, new females are being introduced at a disproportionate rate just to get parity with male characters, and new characters always do cool things lore-wise so we'll like them as characters. In the meantime, though, the older male characters are still doing cool and important things, as I've mentioned. Once WotC has developed a stable of relatively equal levels of men/women (which I think you'll agree was not equal prior to BFZ at the earliest) to reflect their 60/40 gender split in their audience, I'm sure they will introduce new male characters at equal rates.

Qolorful, that was my error on misinterpreting brain anatomy. I'm a science geek but not a true neuroscientist, so all errors are mine alone. Additionally, I cited a review of Joel's study, not the study itself, because I wanted to have accessible sources for rhetorical reasons, in case you weren't as much as a data person as me. If you're looking for the data itself, I think the original Joel study and studies that came after it would be a good starting point.

In terms of your research on stress and trauma (how far we've come since the OP), that is so interesting! I've heard lectures on the topic, and it's really come to inform my perspectives on giving other people benefit-of-the-doubt and on my own triggers for emotion/responses/etc. I would love to see the most influential studies you've read on the topic.

Also, it's my pleasure to cite sources(: no discussion of tough topics would be complete without a little grounding in people who are more expert than myself(: Thank you to both of you (and all other posters) for having a really civil and interesting discussion. It's as refreshing as it was initially surprising to see such polite and intelligent discourse.

September 9, 2017 9:05 a.m.

clayperce says... #42

I'm amazed at how rational this thread is. It's really quite a tribute to the quality of the T/O community that this is a "mature and civil exchange of ideas rather than ... an emotionally overcharged mess". Very cool!

Posts #20 by landofMordor and #24 by saj0219 were especially thought-provoking. Thanks, mates!

September 13, 2017 8:30 a.m.

RazortoothMtg says... #43

Something I've noticed too. Really liking this new Ixalan story, as it includes both Vraska, Relic Seeker and Jace, Cunning Castaway as actually very well thought out characters, as well as Malcolm and Amelia as lesser characters. However, going backwards from there until SOI, the list of important characters favors female a loot more than male. This is a list of characters who, if memory serves right, were actually mentioned in the story as more than a passing reference, and got a card (I know the rest of Djeru's crop were sorta important, not really, but were mentioned throughout an entire story, but I don't remember their names. Pretty sure they were about even.)


Total Female: 14

Total Male: 6

Note I didn't include Djeru or the non-Hazoret gods, because as they did play an important role, they were overshadowed by either Samut or Hazoret. Also not counting repeats (Nissa, Steward of Elements and Nissa, Vital Force) or minor characters (Kari Zev, Skyship Raider, Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun). I also probably missed a few.

Also worth noting that along the note of alienating male players, there is only 1 female villain (Nahiri, the Harbinger) where there are 3 male villains (Nicol Bolas, God-Pharoah, Baral, Chief of Compliance, and Tezzeret the Schemer) which means that 1/14, or 7% of the female characters are villains, where 50% of the male characters are villains.

Again, like you said, not necessarily a bad thing. I'm glad WOTC is trying to expand it's borders. I remember when my EDH league at my FNM was like 6 guys. Now we have an average of 12 a week, many of which are women, and it lets my games be a lot more diverse and more fun.

September 21, 2017 11:44 p.m.

windlnk says... #44

Ahem Cat man Ajani Unyielding would like a word with your list And Djeru, With Eyes Open was just as if not more important to the story than haptra (Ajani is in a simaler boat with Tamiyo)

In addition Odric, Lunarch Marshal deserves as much of a mention as a character like Haptra as well.

September 22, 2017 1:31 a.m.

RazortoothMtg says... #45

I don't remember the SOI story a ton but in SOI block prety sure Odric wasn't very important.

Ya, I guess Djeru is kinda in the same boat as Hapatra. It was late and I was tired. I just remember Hapatra had her basilisk thing and was in one of the first AKH stories, talking to the gatewatch, while Djeru kinda just sat around with Samut.

Ajani saved chandra/nissa from the Deadlock Trap, but what did he do after that? He talked with Oviya Pashiri, didn't do anything to stop Tezzeret, then made the Oath of Ajani and left.

So, probably a little less dramatic, closer to 6 - 11, but it's still high. I do think landofMordor is right about the proportion here- we'll get a ton of women with some male characters here and there to even it out. Still, the large number of male villains compared to Nahiri, the Harbinger (who i think is the coolest villain out of the bunch) is interesting too.

September 22, 2017 1:03 p.m.

landofMordor says... #46

Interesting, y'all. MaRo just confirmed our suspicion that WotC IS trying to push female PWs to get parity with male PWs. In his words:

"We were interested in her [Huatli] being female, as we've been trying to gender balance our Planeswalkers and, due to an abundance of early male Planeswalkers, we've been making more of our newer Planeswalkers female."

That suggests, then, that the numbers of female/male PWs will start to even out as the relative number of active PWs reaches parity. At least WotC is doing this actively, and will invest equally in the importance of their characters (regardless of gender) once parity is reached, as this statement implies.

My source:

September 26, 2017 9:15 a.m.

Dredge4life says... #47

September 26, 2017 9:22 a.m.

windlnk says... #48

Not sure why you just listed off names there dredge but Ugin has been an established character for a while now and they didn't say there were only going to make new female planeswalkers just that they will be making a few more female then male till the ratio balances out. right now it's 22 men (counting angrath) and 15 women (counting huatli). And 1 Ashiok.

September 26, 2017 9:31 a.m.

Funkydiscogod says... #49

They're not going to start printing more male planeswalkers once their male:female ratio balances out. That's not how these things work.

September 26, 2017 9:45 a.m.

windlnk says... #50

Not entirely sure what your idea you are trying to get through here is funky. If it's that they won't undo the even ratio of men/women when they get it to 50/50 I agree. But it also looks like you might be saying that they aren't going to make any new male planeswalkers ever which makes no sense as we even have a new male planeswalker coming out in rivals and has already been introduced in the story. (I'm pretty sure you are trying to say the first one though.)

September 26, 2017 10:03 a.m.

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