Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sex & Sexuality & Dungeons & Dragons

     One of my Nerdlier methods of killing spare time at work is clicking the 1d12 Dire Weasels button over at GnomeStew. Which brought me to this discussion of Gender/Ethnicity issues in rpgs. It's an interesting topic and was civilly well-considered by the good gnomes and their readers... But it got me thinking about a tangentially related topic, Sexuallity and RPGs.
     First off, I think it would be useful to let you know my perspective on human sexuality. I more or less agree with the Queer Theory assertation that an individual's sexuality is not a static, inherently meaningful descriptor but a dynamic, evolving set of characteristics, desires, and personal identity. I also find nothing immoral about what any two (or three or seven or 1.5) naked, consenting adults do to each other on private property. They can even involve a robot and some hot sauce and I'll still consider it morally acceptable - possibly interesting, possibly arousing, possibly frightening, and possibly unsanitary but ethically it's a big O and a little k.
     Sexuality is a Huge part of the human experience but one that is little traversed in our hobby. I remember back in the day, (way back... in the late nineties, early aughts) there were a slew of "Carnal" netbooks on the interwebs but they were written with all the enlightened, sensitive maturity of F.A.T.A.L.. Well it wasn't that bad, but nothing else could be. Suffice it to say they were silly, poorly-executed, unrealistic, unhelpful, and juvenile affairs. I realize there's a bit more out there now, but sexual orientation, sexual practices, and sexual beliefs still seem to carry a pretty heavy taboo in gaming.
     It never really has with my groups. When we were young, sexual issues got dealt with pretty sillily.  Then again, so did a great number of other things. The only rule was no one could role for penis size. 'Cause when you're a group of 14 year old boys that's just gonna degenerate into stupid.
     Later, as we became something more akin to adults, the topic got dealt with more seriously. Repercussions, such as pregnancy became a part of the dramatic turns of our shared narratives. It was more monster-babies born of affairs with tieflings and cambions and the strange energies of the planes, mind you. Never-the-less, sex was something that made our games better and our settings seem more real. That's still very true. (For more on this topic go here. I post there as randite if you care.)
     I find, however, that this dynamic is an unusual one. Sex is simply a Verboten topic at many gaming tables. I wonder why? Is it that silly American idea that bloody violence is R to PG-13 worthy, but genitals equal NC-17? Is this the case in other countries? I dunno. Tell me if you've got ideas. I truly don't understand the problem with a frank discourse on all things sexual. I don't understand why it makes so many, so uncomfortable.Why is sexuality not a bigger part of the RPG cannon and culture?

    Mayhaps, the answer to my queries could be partially explained thusly: I see something more in RPGs than many people do. I've found that roleplaying is a wonderful tool for self growth and an enlightening format for the exploration of social/personal issues. It allows you to safely try on new perspectives, to feel out new philosophies, and even to grow as a person. Fundamentally, you have to have a great deal of trust with your fellow gamers to do this. That's not always a possibility, though.

(And not something that everyone [including me] wants to do all the time.)

     A dungeon-crawl with four strangers at your local friendly gaming store probably wont afford you the opportunity to really develop the personality of that cross-dressing, pansexual, elvish wizard you've been thinking of playing. But it could be the perfect opportunity to curb-stomp some goblins and steal their shit. 'Cause like The Exploited taught me, there's more to life than sex. Also there's violence. Sex and Violence.