Monday, October 12, 2020

Sexy Warhammer Ladies: On being a female hobbyist in the #WarhammerCommunity (Xenos Alchemist Podcast)

Coming hot on the heels of our special #Krootoberfest episode of the podcast is this more serious episode, which I recorded back in September with hobbyists LadyDothPaints, Norn.Queen, and Hivfleet_Horror

When we recorded the episode it'd been three months since Games Workshop posted its Warhammer For Everyone message on its Twitter and Facebook accounts, unleashing a deluge of gatekeeping, hating, and other bullshit. We look back on all of that and ask the question "what can male hobbyists do to help female hobbyists feel more welcome and secure in the #WarhammerCommunity?"

Turns out it's not that complicated. 

If you listen to only one episode of the Xenos Alchemist podcast, it should be this one. 

No, we're not perfect, and yes, we've all made mistakes. But it's our job to learn from those mistakes and do better. Here's hoping that this episode is a good place to start!

Here's the YouTube version of the episode, complete with links in the description to all the accounts we reference in the actual episode.

And here's the audio version of the episode:

Also, let us know what you think of the episode in the comments below. Or if you want to confess a time when you might have been a less-than-stellar hobbyist to someone from a different group, you can do that too! Whatever you do, just don't be a jerk ;)

I'll start by admitting what I admitted in the episode: That I, too, was once judgmental of sexy warhammer ladies. But then Charlie set me straight.

What's your hobby confession?


  1. I liked the female marine model, but... if female space marines, and female imperial guard, become commonplace, sisters of battle will no longer be special. It would retro-actively change the original setup and that feels wrong to me. Warhammer started as a "boys own" very male universe (which GW both celebrated and parodied at the same time). Women exist, but they're rare and stand out. And of course, like everything in Warhammer they tend to look ridiculously exaggerated & overly glamorous. The same is true for space marines. It's a retro-futurist crypto-fascist pseudo-medieval space fantasy. This, honestly, should be ok. There are other fictional universes that are the opposite, and that's fine too.

    1. I'd say I disagree from the off.

      Sisters of Battle are not special. They are tokenistic. It is unrealistic for the only female representation in the human imperium to be in the form of an order of battle nuns. That is communicating the message that women either don't exist at all in this universe, or they exist in segregated, all-female forces.

      If you look at human society, that is not realistic. Heck, if you look at Eldar models, that's not realistic. They're an alien race of elf people, but even they are able to have both male and female models in their boxes.

      Also, if other imperial armies embrace this approach and start including both male and female models in a unit, that by no means changes or affects sisters of battle. They will still be an all-female force if you're into that sort of thing. There will just be more women around in the human line in general.

      And if that bothers you, and you want an all-boy force, feel free to use only the male models. There will still be PLENTY of them around!

      Also, please don't talk about retroactive changes to established LORE like they are anathema. GW does this all the time, and did it as recently as Primaris, which went against all Space Marine lore up until that point. Lore is made up. It can be changed.

    2. I couldn't have said it better, Mr_Pink

    3. You seem to forget that there are two Primarchs no one talks about. You don't know that they were not women. This is done specifically by GW so people can create their own thing. Also, it is now canon that the Primarchs have a 'mother,' and the Emp used her to create them. So there is DNA from a woman in them.

      Lastly, if you can't let someone run with the lore a little in something as niche as Warhammer, you take it too seriously. I mean, hell, GW themselves change the lore all the time. If you really think Space Marines all being male is one of the most important pieces of lore that should never be messed with, it shows some strange priorities on your part.

    4. Decades old lore is not a satisfactory reason for why Games Workshop can or cannot do whatever they want with the model line out here in the real world.

      Leaning on lore seems to be one of the preferred angles for diversity deniers. However their myopic focus seems to conveniently miss that the lore is a story that was just made up to sell models.

      As I mentioned above, this story has changed over the years in myriad different ways, and people have accepted those changes. Why is it that this one change seems so hard?

      "It would hurt the stories they're trying to tell."

      How do you figure? What if the story they're trying to tell is that the two missing Primarchs were both ladies? How would that hurt the story?

      Or is it the case that it would hurt YOUR INTERPRETATION of the story?

      It's rich that you say GW can't do something. They can literally do whatever they want. You don't want them to do something. That is very different from can't.

  2. As a woman in the world of wargames I think it is my time to make a personal opinion about how I feel about it, I am from Spain from a small community in Malaga
    in which the majority of the community members were already my friends from before. If it is true that I have never received any type of aggressive comment against me for being a woman, I have always felt supported and loved.
    The problem for me was when I wanted to be part of a community about 6 years ago when I discovered what warhammer was when I saw a store on the street I enter and when I entered what I received were thousands of looks from men
    judging me, what was a woman doing entering the store? Nobody told me anything, in fact the manager was very nice explaining how it worked and how to play, he even told me the day people were going to play so I could go too. However how I felt
    was not welcomed but rather judged and scared by everyone's stares.
    A week later I went to the store again, but this time with a friend (boy) because I felt safer if someone accompanied me. unfortunately he didn't like the game.
    Over the years I met a group of people that I made friends with and they told me that they played warhammer and it was thanks to them because I already had a group to be with that I got to start in this world
    As a woman I have felt judged when I went to the skatepark when I did karate and when I painted graffiti basically all my life I have been proving people what i'm capable of
    I understand that most men have not had to go through that process, they don´t know what it is to feel judged simply for being a woman in a men's place.
    things are changing but there is still a long way to go for change.

    1. Thank you, Laura. I really appreciate you sharing your experiences on this point. There are many male war gamers who say that this is a non-issue because they've never personally seen it happen. So it's important that they hear the real lived experience of women who are interested in this hobby, but put off by the reception they receive from the community.

  3. Hi, I'm an Italian model maker who has been passionate about the Warhammer world for some years and I have always wondered why some armies don't have regular female troops. In particular, the Space Marines who have a completely male-dominated formation. Yet in the 1980s, two miniatures of women in space marine armor were created, but the project was shelved. Being more and more convinced that this was a lack I started to create a codex of space marne women, but not being a player I had to stop and ask for the help of other hobbyists for the rules. Well, I was amazed when I saw that no one was interested in this project and that, indeed, they told me to collect the warrior sisters. Even today I try to carry on my "Stelle del Mattino", female space marine daughters of a woman primarch and, despite having been years, I still cannot find support for the project. In my opinion, the time would be ripe for a change, but like many things in the world, hobbyists have fossilized on the old way of conceiving the game and Mom Game Workshop, for economic reasons, does not risk a possible change.

    1. Hey! There are people out there that support and share this vision. A friend and I are currently working on some concepts. kitbashcat on IG has a great Primaris chapter, the Kraken Born, that are fantastic. If you're having issues finding people in the local scene, look online. We are out here!

      I have definitely been toying with the idea of one of the 'lost,' Primarchs being a woman, or having geneseed that made it easier to create Astartes out of women. There has been some new fluff added in the Siege of Terra novels that might also excite you, but I won't spoil it in case you're going to read them.

    2. Nemo, thanks for sharing your project, and I'm sorry no one has yet seemed too keen on it. I think your right that times are changing and that now might be a better time for it.

      We're it not for the fact that I find ALL space marines boring, I'd offer to help with it ☺

  4. Hello!
    I'm a male currently building a mixed gender Imperial Guard army (remnants of nearly decimated regiments that got together as a side force for AdMech having lost their forgeworld) and going into that direction make you realize how hard it is to be reprensented in this game as a woman. And expensive, as third party exists but cost more.
    The worst argument is the "you have Sisters anyway" which is blatantly ignorant of what makes something either inclusive or realistic if that's what you're going for.
    And why does "beautiful" must be the first characteristic of female soldiers? Damn it, males with a grumpy, scarred face are the common stuff in this universe, but when it goes to women suddenly they have an angelic face with subtle features. And as a guy, I still have to think about it to notice it. It is so rooted and accepted in our society that equality is an conscious effort. Ehr.
    Anyway, I'm very happy this questions arise more often, and I'm actually surprised of how welcoming people are on the majority of the warhammer-related subreddits I'm on (especially the biggest one r/warhammer40k) concerning women, trans and acceptance-related topics in general. The other day someone posted a standard bearer with the LGBTQ++ flag painted on it, and everyone warmly praised his paint job.

    Thank you for your effort to raise those questions, and thank you to be a part of our common hobby in spite of everything.

    1. I really like the ideas behind your force, and I'm glad you're championing representation in your hobby.

      And don't be surprised by the acceptance in this hobby. We are all weirdos who started out playing with little men in our parents basements. We were nerds, and worried about being outcasts.

      Though some of our number take that fear and try to make an all-boys club out of it, utterly rejecting the notion that our niche hobby could become so mainstream that (GASP) WOMEN could be interested, they were only the first, angry wave in this conversation. The silent majority are people like me, who take the knowledge that we once worried about being outcasts for our dorky hobby and use that to inspire us to encourage and embrace anyone who's interested.

      Though the angry little boys were first, the open and accepting men are making their voices heard now, and we're making it clear that Warhammer is for Everyone.

  5. Gatekeeping is needed because as soon as the left manage to infiltrate something, they ruin it. There's not a single example where it has not.

    1. Brave words from an Anonymous poster.

      And, yes, thanks to the left's infiltration, Marvel, Star Wars, and the video game industry have already gone utterly broke. And now James Workshop will join them since we have female Cadian heads!

      Your line of reasoning is a crock of shit, and you know it.

      I'm left and I've been here since 1996. Long before the snow flake gatekeepers rolled up. If anyone is trying to ruin things it's the jerks trying to control access to fantasy worlds.

    2. marvel and star wars havent gone broke, just their story writing has turned absolute garbage
      diversity of characters is fine, hell alot of the best movies have a mix of people, only thing leftists do wrong is being absolutely crap at making enjoyable stories with them
      put people with actual imagination and not political narratives into scripts and youll have gold

    3. Ok dude. Marvel story writing was never good. And the recent Star Wars stuff was crap of its own accord. All those actors could have been white bros, and it still would have been trash.

      I'd be interested to hear how you feel about Andor, which many have said is the best star wars since Empire (I'd agree). Are you mad at it because it has women and people of colour involved?