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Forums » RP Discussion » Gender Bias in RP?

So I know the title is perhaps not really what I mean to say but I can't think of a better word for it. Basically what I want to talk about is how when I first started rping ten years ago often I noticed there were maybe one or two guys in a rp while there were six or seven females. Still on some other sites where I rp this is still the case. Now on here, I notice on a lot of looking for ads are looking for males, either for MxM or MxF relationships.

Now, this is not a huge problem since I do have four male characters and only two female characters. But I was curious if anyone had ideas as to why or struggled with finding rps for certain characters because of it?
I have actually thought about that as well, and I have a sort vague theory, but I will gladly share it, haha.

I study litterature, and we partly went something that is similar to this once, during a discussion on canonization. Almost all widely celebrated literary characters are men. And that is of course in huge part because it has mainly been men that has been writing, in the history of litterature. But! It is also because we are more familiar with the masculine archetypes and dilemmas. Stories always build upon other stories. Therefore in classical litterature, we as readers experience the masculine protagonist as more complex, not only because of the way he is written, but because we have a large number of similar characters that build a sort of world of association around the character.

Okay, so this is a VERY simplified way of explaining that, but the point I wanted to get to is, that I think it has gotten a lot more popular to play male characters, because people watch a lot more TV than they used to, and are therefore presented to a large array of typically male protagonists, that becomes the fundation of the inspiration for the characters people make. Back when I started rp'ing there was almost only female characters as well. But back then, 80% of the characters were indirectly inspired from Bella from Twillight, haha. Or just other female characters from shows or stories that were targeted towards women.

I don't know if any of that made sense, I typed this out a bit fast, but that is my take on it.
G-zus wrote:
I have actually thought about that as well, and I have a sort vague theory, but I will gladly share it, haha.

I study litterature, and we partly went something that is similar to this once, during a discussion on canonization. Almost all widely celebrated literary characters are men. And that is of course in huge part because it has mainly been men that has been writing, in the history of litterature. But! It is also because we are more familiar with the masculine archetypes and dilemmas. Stories always build upon other stories. Therefore in classical litterature, we as readers experience the masculine protagonist as more complex, not only because of the way he is written, but because we have a large number of similar characters that build a sort of world of association around the character.

Okay, so this is a VERY simplified way of explaining that, but the point I wanted to get to is, that I think it has gotten a lot more popular to play male characters, because people watch a lot more TV than they used to, and are therefore presented to a large array of typically male protagonists, that becomes the fundation of the inspiration for the characters people make. Back when I started rp'ing there was almost only female characters as well. But back then, 80% of the characters were indirectly inspired from Bella from Twillight, haha. Or just other female characters from shows or stories that were targeted towards women.

I don't know if any of that made sense, I typed this out a bit fast, but that is my take on it.

This... wouldn't really explain a whole lot if you're basing your argument on the exposure modern audiences have to media VS a decade or so ago, mostly because cable TV has been steadily declining in popularity as more people subscribe to streaming services like Netflix, which have been pushing more female protagonists or more relatable female supporting characters to appeal to a more progressive audience (as that audience becomes the norm.) This is also ignoring shows like Steven Universe which I'd wager a lot of high schoolers on this site did grow up watching by now which both featured strong female characters while also being incredibly gay about it.

That's also not taking into account video games, which are also a huge media dominant right now. Games like Horizon Zero Dawn have a strong female protagonist filling the role that men typically do without making a big Girl Power fuss about it that something from the mid 2000s would have. (Looking at you, ATLA.) Overwatch actually has a strong female cast, all of which are considered strong as a given without comment on their gender, beyond affirming their preference as gay or straight.

Media has been full of more gender equality and LGBT representation in the last decade than it has ever been, so I don't think that argument holds water, especially not among the generations who are (at least from my rough estimated guess) the most prevalent on this site: Teenagers and young adults.

But you might be able to make a case for counter-culture using the same framework. Many protagonists in RP were female because there was significantly less good female representation before, but now many are male because of the recent push for more females... Except there are still also a lot of male protagonists, even if they aren't as ubiquitous. God of War, Legend of Zelda, and plenty other video games still feature male protagonists, many shows on streaming sites (including Netflix) also feature male protagonists. I wouldn't say that female protagonists dominate, especially when streaming sites (unlike cable) can house 30-40 years of backlogged shows from a variety of genres, and it's mostly the newer creations which have more gender equality representation.

Having said that, I don't think the answer to this lies in media analysis. I have my own guesses about the gender discrepancies, but I doubt that it has anything to do with anything other than random chance.

Maybe it's just that RPR has a higher volume of male users than the site OP recalls in the past. Maybe it has something to do with changing attitudes about gender and identity that makes more men comfortable with RPing than they used to be. Maybe RPR just has a ludicrous amount of gay and out men on it. Maybe this is still a very female-dominated space and there's just a lot of fujoshi looking for BL fics. I couldn't say for sure.

I can say that the whole "Hunter Gender x Gender" thing is kind of ridiculous to me. Unless you're looking for ERP or a romance story, why would you care about the gender of your partner? I see a lot of people advertising for a specific gender and even if I like the plot idea, it is an INSTANT red flag and I avoid that person. I stick with ads that have the romance slider set pretty low and I absolutely do NOT appreciate people trying to be sneaky about it.
Y'know, it's kinda simple, really. Like you mentioned in your example, the RPing community generally seems to harbor more women than men, and what I've seen it's generally straight women. Straight women like MxF with them as the female role, and for some reason MxM is madly popular with them too. That's literally all there is to it, if you ask me. No shady illuminati shit involved, just the result of a community having a very large straight woman population. I'm a funky lil' lesbo that prefers FxFs myself (occasionally do MxM if I happen to be writing with gay dude buddies who exclusively write that), but I don't really mind it, 'cause although if my pool to choose from is scarce compared to the market for MxF and MxMs, there's more to RPing than just romance, so even if people don't like the same pairings they can still cook up some kickass stories together.
Honestly, it has to do with the high volume of straight ladies on RPR. Most of the male exclusive RP requests I see are the same tired toxic yaoi tropes repeated ad nauseum. Which ironically tends to leave actual gay men a bit high and dry. This is a problem on most roleplaying sites and it's not just endemic to RPR. It's also a problem in fanfiction circles. Like, look at the ratios on Archive of Our Own's demographics sometimes and their most popular pairings. It's mxm and women all the way down more or less.

And there tends to be alot of overlap between fanfiction circles and roleplaying circles to boot.
One thing that I will state is that, referring to your original post, the sex/gender of the character will not necessarily align with the sex/gender of the player. So the increase or decrease in particular relationship requests in terms of role-play is more something observable regarding characters than it is reflective of the players necessarily.

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