Thursday, November 29, 2012

Grimdark And Gender Roles

O_N brought up an interesting point in the comments to my last post, which had the concept FOC for a Knight platoon. Will there be female Star-Knights?

Here's the chart in case you missed it or are reading this later:

Now for O_N's question:
"OOOH, I just noticed the "fidelis sororis squad", and that got me thinking; we ARE having Space Knights be mixed male and female troops (fluffwise), right? There's no real reason to do anything else. Hell, I can't really see any reason for monogendered (again, from a fluff perspective) fighting forces in the Empire."
SandWyrm's Reply:

The short answer is: We'll have whatever best shows the character of each faction.

Here's the long answers:

Female Troops In The Republic

The Republic, being repression personified, is not likely to have Women's rights as much of a social priority. But being very pragmatic, they're probably open to female snipers, pilots, and other duties where maximum strength and endurance aren't needed, much as the old Soviet Union was. But when it comes to cloning & training super-soldiers, women simply aren't built for it by default. So the Generals' thinking would probably be: "Why waste resources trying to fit a round peg in a square hole? We'd rather make the square pegs more square instead."

So if we're going to put female troops anywhere in the Republic, then the Fidelis is probably the best place. The Fidelis, in my conception, is roughly equivalent to the NAZI/Communist/Baath party. It's a civilian political (and religious) organization that has some Brownshirt-type paramilitary forces for bullying, staging 'unrest', and 'helping' local law enforcement keep order. Whether their help is really wanted or not.

The Fidelis Sororis then, could be the Fidelis' elite troops. Who are as much for show and propaganda purposes as they are for actual security. The women selected would be sort of... manish... to start with. But they'd then be trained, modified with growth/strength drugs, given the best cosmetic surgery, lipstick, and pure white wigs that the Fidelis can buy, and then paraded around as an example of perfect service personified in a sort of religio-military fetish that would speak to some of the dark undercurrents present in a repressed society of ideological puritans.

There might even be entire Republic TV shows on the makeovers selected women undergo from a simple 'Fidelis Of Faith', to a full Sororis 'Warrior Of The Way'. Sort of a cross between the modern TV shows Extreme Makeover, Biggest Loser, Project Runway, Dancing With The Stars, and Top Shot. With a bit of the Hunger Games thrown in for good measure. "Faith overcomes all Citizen!"

If you use GW's Sisters models as the starting point, and extrapolate from their appearance, then the Sororis wouldn't be as heavily armored as a Knight (probably Ar3 or 4 vs. the Knights' Ar 5), and they wouldn't be as fast or strong. They also don't have sealed environment suits. Nor would they have the Knights's enhanced vison and tactical helmet displays.

But they can hold a krak rifle just fine, and since they only cost 1/50th of what a Knight does to train and equip, they can run around in large numbers. They'd also be fanatical. With a Nv of 6 or 7, but with a low Ld.

They'd also be followed around by a church film crew or drone as they fight. Since their primary purpose isn't to win a battle so much as it is to make the church look 'good'. In a very dark, dysfunctional, yet utterly fascinating sense.

Female Troops In The Colser 

Being freedom and hedonism personified, the Colser would have women everywhere without restriction. Though given their gender-bending ability to be technologically modified into any form they want, the definition of what a Colseran 'Woman' actually is might be kind of hard to nail down precisely.

"Why not mix the parts up Daaarling? It's muuuch more fun that way!"

But certainly, Republic troops would quickly learn not to underestimate any Colseran, not matter how small and frail looking. Since Colser tech can give them carbon-fiber bones and electric muscle bundles. Suddenly that Summer Glau look-alike is lifting you over her head and hurling you back into your trench.

Or that 'child' (actually 1000 years old) might just walk calmly through your lines as a swarm of anti-grav knife drones eviscerates everyone within 100 meters of her. On camera. For 'her' blog. To make a statement about the Republic and it's gender/age assumptions. Demonstrating how even though all they had to do was shoot her, their barbarous preconceptions kept them from winning the fight. Cue 20,000 comments and 42 BoLS-like flame wars. ;)

Female Troops In The Fallen

I think it could be argued that women, being more socially malleable/agreeable/civilized would integrate better as converts into Colser society. Probably on the order of 10:1 compared to men. So if we go with the Fallen as a bunch of raging nutcases from the Republic who couldn't handle their new Colser toys, and got booted out of Colser-proper for being 'rude', then it's going to be mostly men. Just as most rock stars are.

There would be some women, but they each might deliberately sex-up or sex-down themselves with Colser-tech. Depending on what 'point' they want to make about how women SHOULD be treated/seen/understood. Anything goes here, really.

Female Troops In The Gruin

"The Vorra care not for your form. They only desire your obedience. Now RAGE!!!"

If you meet the Gruin in combat, you're not likely to realize that both genders are present in their forces unless you strip and inspect the bodies carefully afterwards. Their soldiers aren't bred/selected for their looks. Which tend to get more and more similar between the sexes the more 'Puer' a population gets.

It Ain't Pretty Out In The Grimdark

So to wrap it up...

The Republic puts very definite limits on what women are allowed to do militarily, and the church exploits their sexuality (in the Sororis) for their own purposes. Alternately ignoring and perverting what it means to be a woman.

The Colser have no limits, but in many ways 'womanhood' has lost it's meaning entirely in their new social norms. Where everyone is everything they want to be, and yet nothing in particular.

The Fallen are rebels. Against everything. Colser, Republic, everyone's wrong! Especially those other Fallen over there! Rawr!

The Gruin still have traditional sexes, and near-perfect equality across their whole society. But they also have no free will. Or beauty.

If that all seems sort of depressing for the state of Women in the M42 galaxy, well... imperfection is more interesting than perfection. The whole fluff of the game is sort of a statement about Man's imperfect nature. To get 'perfection' in one thing, you have to give up some other aspect of being human. The Republic has given up it's freedoms to gain purpose. The Colser have ultimate freedom at the expense of identity. The Gruin have perfect unity and equality, but no free will.

And the Fallen? They just don't fit in anywhere.

If there's going to be a voice of reason in our universe, it'll probably be the Tao/Dao or whatever we end up calling them. Or at least it will appear to be at first glance. Everyone's got their dark side. The only truly 'perfect' society we're contemplating is the bugs.

But in their perfection they simply don't contemplate such things. :)


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