Uaithne

Staffing Gender, Sex, Pronouns

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featherstone    35
1 hour ago, Uaithne said:

Now that we're talking about it, it occurred to me that I've only seen one site (not including sites with aliens) that had characters with atypical pronouns. I suppose so many of us fear we will exclude people or others will look unfavorably on us if we aren't "inclusive" even though no one seems to really need this option. (Some people do, but clearly a negligible number.)

 

The impact of unusual pronouns is often exaggerated. Yeah, there are like two people on Tumblr who want to be called xhym or whatever, but: most people would you the most "obvious" one; trans people will have a chance to avoid misunderstandings; some (queer or not) will use "they" which is what I'd use anyway if I don't know your identity.

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Thyme    33

I personally prefer a spot for gender/sex -- and it's actually because I often play nonbinary characters. My characters use the pronouns that make them feel the most comfortable just like people in the real world. (i.e.: I have a gender fluid character who uses he or she, mostly he, but honestly you could call this character by any pronoun (other than 'it') in the book and he wouldn't care. In fact, half of the threads he's in, I use "he/him" for the character and the other writer uses "she/her".)

 

((Fun anecdote, I was talking about this character with a friend of mine, and she referred to him as "ma'am" and I got all in-character offended not because she said something feminine about a character I usually use masculine pronouns for but because he's MOST CERTAINLY a "miss" or preferably a "babe" and how dare she make him sound so matronly.)) 

 

ANYWAY, a writer can immediately figure out what pronouns to call a character. I mean, we're all reading posts, apps, shippers. The likelihood that a player has not written a pronoun anywhere in any of these is.... basically 0% (unless they're a giant troll, in which case some props. That's dedication, mr. troll.) And if this dedicated troll does exist, then .... ask what the character prefers (either in character or out of character).

 

Basically, all I'm saying is that being able to say "gender fluid" or "nonbinary" is really convenient. That way, when a new player comes onto the site... no one is confused; no one gets upset; no one has to ask awkward questions about a character's sex/gender (the avoidance of which question was the exact reason that "pronouns" was used instead of "gender" -- to avoid offending anyone.)

 

In my ideal world, I think maybe it would be like "Age & DOB" -- "Gender & Pronouns" that way all the questions are answered really quickly.

Gender & Pronouns: gender fluid (all; he/she, primarily)

Edited by Thyme
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Sage    178

This issue didn't really impact me (as in I couldn't have cared either way and had the same opinion of a lot of other posters here) until I had a fellow staff member who was non-binary and used "they/them" pronouns. I misgendered them for weeks, and while they were totally cool with it, shit happens, it really opened my eyes to how important pronouns can be! Either IC or OOC, it can be hurtful to refer to someone with the wrong pronouns habitually. And while you can say "oh it's the internet I don't know you" it can be really invalidating to constantly be referred to as the gender you're not. I'm not saying we should hold people's hands, but I do think we should strive to be inclusive! I want my communities to feel safe and be a place writers can relax. Not where they have to defend themselves. Which is why, in our member directory, we have preferred pronouns for our writers! So, when in doubt, you can refer to that. Or just pretend you're a surfer and call everyone dude.

 

IC, it can still be hurtful to have your character referred to as the wrong gender, especially if it's an issue you closely associate with. There was an exchange in my community recently, where a member asked another member (who was non-binary) if their character could refer to the other (non-binary) character as he/him instead of they/them, as that character wouldn't have known their proper pronouns. The exchange was brief and polite, and the answer was basically "yeah, that makes sense, but I would appreciate if it didn't happen all the time because it makes me feel uncomfortable." The other member agreed, the post was written, and all was good. What this told me is that, when you encounter a character with questionable pronouns, communicate with their writer. It's not that hard, and using correct pronouns is more important than you think. Or, when in doubt, use neutral pronouns. Or none at all. But this is why we include preferred character pronouns in the mini profile - it avoids confusion. Biological sex is less important to me in terms of character creation and profiles. Gender and pronouns, however, tie more into a character's identity as a sense of self and how they project themselves to other characters. If biological sex is important, it will come up elsewhere.

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Uaithne    432

@Sage, while I respect your opinion and understand that we may play on vastly different types of roleplays, it concerns me that people have trouble separating themselves from their characters to the extent that other characters can't "be themselves" without offending another member. Let's say I had a character who refused to use the proper pronouns for that member's character. Would I have to change who my character is in order to cater to the member's sensitivities? Would I, as the writer, be labeled as bad even though it's not me but my character who is refusing to use the pronouns?

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Thyme    33
36 minutes ago, Uaithne said:

@Sage, while I respect your opinion and understand that we may play on vastly different types of roleplays, it concerns me that people have trouble separating themselves from their characters to the extent that other characters can't "be themselves" without offending another member. Let's say I had a character who refused to use the proper pronouns for that member's character. Would I have to change who my character is in order to cater to the member's sensitivities? Would I, as the writer, be labeled as bad even though it's not me but my character who is refusing to use the pronouns?

For me, the big deal is OOC vs IC in situations like this. If a player refused to call someone by their preferred pronouns, then that wouldn't be okay. (As a side note, I think it's important to remember that people are not always innately malicious. Like @Sage said happened to her, people can make mistakes. People can even make that mistake after it has been corrected. If I've been calling someone "he/him" for the last year and now I know they go by "she/her" I might accidentally say "he/him" a few more times while getting used to it.)

 

At least for me, IC and OOC are entirely separated, and remain that way. So in @Uaithne's scenario, the character who decided to ignore another character's pronouns would be entirely fine -- the same way that a racist, sexist, etc. character would be allowed. Certainly, this kind of character would have IC backlash--most female characters aren't going to like a character who treats women like dirt, but that's something that needs to be dealt with IC, not OOC. It's a player's job to avoid their own triggers, so if Uaithne's character has this trait of not using correct pronouns, then it's the person who is sensitive's job to avoid roleplaying with this specific character.

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Sage    178

@Uaithne I think that's an important point you've made! I don't think you should compromise the integrity of your character - if they would refuse to use the proper pronouns, then they shouldn't use the proper pronouns. But I also think that's a topic you should discuss with whoever you're writing with. Like @Thyme said, if the other writer isn't comfortable with that, then it's their responsibility to respectfully decline to write with that character. I'm not trying to suggest you should tiptoe around this, just be aware that this is a problem that people deal with every day and can actually be quite hurtful. Both IC and OOC. If you acknowledge that and open up the dialogue with the other writer, then you shouldn't be labeled as bad. If you're like Thyme and it's not a problem, no harm no foul. But I find, with this subject in particular, it's better to ask even if you didn't need to. 

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Uaithne    432

Understandable. But here are my problems with this:

 

1) I believe that everyone should have a site that they like and enjoy and feel comfortable roleplaying on. This includes people who are so sensitive about the pronouns used for their characters that it hurts them when other characters refuse to use the appropriate ones. However, it isn't really healthy to not be able to distinguish between the character and self.  In this case, I'd liken it more to someone who has a trigger, and treat it as such; the member's psychological well being is important, but some form of outside therapy is necessary to help that person, and that's not something I'm going to facilitate. The concern I have is that I worry it will become the norm or expected on all sites to cater to people who have such overwhelming anxiety about pronouns in the name of political correctness.

 

2) This one might be me misunderstanding you, but it seems that the burden of responsibility falls on the wrong person here. It should not be the responsibility of every writer to go out of his way to figure out if the other writer has pronoun concerns, just like I don't expect other people to go out of their way to ask specifically by topic about whatever may trigger me.

 

That said, thanks for explaining. I hope this makes sense; I'm not as coherent when I'm on my phone.

 

@Sage @Thyme @randomherbs

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featherstone    35

@Uaithne, regardless to anxiety, using appropriate pronouns is a legitimate expectation OOC. If a *player* insists on people calling with their right pronouns, they aren't being oversensitive, no more than asking not to be racist OOC. IC, however, it's a different matter. Not being able to handle insensitive/transphobic/etc characters is like not being able to handle IC violence, prejudice or whatnot. It -can- be a trigger, because one often had bad experiences IRL, so it should be handled in the same way as other triggers. If, however, the issue is that one can't tell IC from OOC, I'd suggest them to find another hobby. One can know the difference and still want to avoid triggering thoughts, I'm fine with that. But if you believe mean character = player being mean to you, please leave.

 

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VirusZero    862

It's easy to say keep the in character and out of character separate. But when it comes to practice? So many people are terrible at doing so. They put too much of themselves into their character and/or they get too attached. Either way when something bad happens to their character they take it personally. This issue here is no different. They aren't going to see the problem of not keeping things separate. All they will see is that a player (through a character) is not respecting their pronouns (even if it's their character's pronouns and not actually theirs).  

At that point then it's kinda a problem... they refuse to participate with that character or even player at all because of in character actions. Which can be game breaking. I mean if that player has another character (unconnected to the character that refuses to use their pronouns) and the sensitive player refuses to have their character(s) interact with that other character (even though they should) then it's a problem. Plus it means if there aren't many players it can result in issues there too because they won't play with another person over this. 

 

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Uaithne    432

@featherstone - Don't worry; I'm not advocating that people don't use the correct OoC pronoun for the member.

 

I'm having a bit of trouble putting my thoughts into words.  (It's one of those times where I'm writing and re-writing what I write here to be as coherent and clear as possible because I think my last post might have confused you a bit, and I don't want confusion.)  Actually, I think I'm going to start another topic on a bit of a divergent (though similar) topic because every time I try to write here, I start going that direction.

 

@Morrigan (for some reason it won't let me tag) - Actually, I tend to assume that everybody is male.  When I choose a default pronoun to use for examples, normally it's he/his.  When I started roleplay on a slightly different part of the internet, there were almost no females.

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Morrigan    6,276
1 hour ago, Uaithne said:

@Morrigan (for some reason it won't let me tag) - Actually, I tend to assume that everybody is male.  When I choose a default pronoun to use for examples, normally it's he/his.  When I started roleplay on a slightly different part of the internet, there were almost no females.

 

In my experience. It's about 90% female and 10% male. (The female ratio could be higher but I'm making up the percentages anyways).

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Sage    178

@Uaithne I'm not saying you should go out of your way to determine pronouns and genders for every character. That's a lot of work and is not your responsibility. But if you notice that character refers to themselves as one way, and your character might be inclined to use another pronoun for them, then just a simple heads up to their writer is appreciated. Not that you have to do that, either - you're gonna do what you're gonna do. But it's a nice thing to do! And I feel like it's common courtesy? Idk. You'll get brownie points for at least acknowledging that your character isn't clear on this whole gender business. Honestly, the only time it ever comes up for me is if I actively notice the other character uses abnormal pronouns. I usually just ask for clarification for my sake and it's not that big of a deal. It's only as big a deal as you, or your character, make it. Until proven otherwise, I'll usually use they/them anyway, so I don't see it as problem.

 

I don't think a person declining to roleplay with certain character(s) because of their misuse of pronouns is game breaking though. If it is, your game has other serious problems. You have to do what you have to do to feel comfortable in a community. And if it's not writing with a certain person/character then that's fine. 

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