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D&D Empowers Women By Encouraging Counter-Culture Behaviour

D&D Empowers Women By Encouraging Counter-Culture Behaviour

Just about every woman who has stepped into a gaming store has also walked through a grocery checkout littered with women’s magazines promising ways to be more confident, assertive, and get what they want (while the inside of the magazine is generally filled with images and products that reinforce the notion that she’s not good enough in a myriad of ways).

The notion of female empowerment isn’t new, but the way women are finding it through D&D certainly is, at least in mainstream reporting. After all, it took The Guild to offer a popular representation of women who play MMOs that’s as varied and representative as the reality. While playing D&D has always been somewhat counter-culture, the last thing I would have guessed is that it would prove to be a counterpoint to Cosmopolitan’s mainstream approach to shopping one’s way to confidence. Instead, it gives women the chance to dungeoneer their way to the life of their dreams, including promotions at work, a bigger paycheque, and a fancy title in the Forgotten Realms

Tina Hassannia, a (female) Canadian author and movie critic, started playing Dungeons & Dragons and was surprised to find it an extremely empowering experience. One of the remarkable discoveries she made was about how many female role-models are good and playing D&D let her discover how empowering and liberating it can be to be bad. As she put it in her National Post article, “Nerd culture, of which I count myself a member, has long been dominated by men, but playing D&D left me feeling empowered in a way that watching Beyoncé videos never has. Instead of looking up to a role model, the game prompted me to discover the badass warrior within.”

Sure, watching Beyoncé smash cars is one thing, but using your both own dagger and free will to solve life’s little irritations (or bigger ones, like overly aggressive owlbears) is a more personal and immersive experience.

In Hassannia’s CBC 180 Interview and National Post article, she uses the lessons she’s learned about herself and her inner aggressiveness (even her bloodlust in-game) to figure out how she wants to be in her day-to-day life. Beyond those lessons, roleplaying gives women the opportunity to take on roles within groups they would not normally have: as an assertive and unquestioned leader, a reliable damage dealer, a tank who soaks damage to save the party, or maybe even the knowledge cleric whose role is literally the party’s know it all, without the stigma of being smart.

Until the day that Cosmo advertises a fireball spell that lets me burn my belly fat (without losing too many hit point) or offers a quiz to find out what your alignment really is, I’ll skip on the grocery store rags and stick to slaying my way to a newer, better self. After all, rolling up a new character is both faster and more fun than any makeover I’ve ever had.


Do you have a story of how roleplaying has helped you find a confidence? Share it below in the comments!

Featured Image Credit: Image Comics (Rat Queens)
Blog Image Credit: Dungeons & Dragons (With Copy Added by Teri Litorco)

Teri Litorco embraces her violent streak by playing Barbarian Classes, but in real life plays the part of tabletop gaming knowledge cleric, having authored the book, The Civilized Guide to Tabletop Gaming. Follow her on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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