For Over 25 years, Magic the Gathering has built a community of players bonding over Black Lotuses and Lightning Bolts, but what happens when a minority within the community is objectified, belittled, and ignored? For the female Magic player this is an everyday occurrence. From sexist and rude comments mid-game to sexual harassment throughout Grand Prix, the average female player has a lot more to worry about during a tournament than when the correct time to cast her "Inverter of Truth" is.
The discrimination one faces as a female Magic player transpires through two mediums, one that is blatant and another which is subtle. Both are harmful, yet the passive discrimination tends to be less detectable from an outside perspective. Blatant sexism, like the infamous Magic for Bad Facebook group, is easily recognizable and is even occasionally acted upon. The more insidious side of sexual discrimination exists in smaller, less noticeable infractions which are damaging in their defusal of the ever-present motif experienced by women in the community, that we do not belong.
An example of overt sexism within the community can be observed through the alleged actions of former Star City Games (SCG) writer Todd Stevens. Stevens was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment, and as a result of these accusations, Stevens was fired from SCG and banned from all SCG events. Wizards of the Coast took about a year before taking action against Stevens, and although direct action was taken against Stevens for his malicious actions, it wasnt done soon enough. This inaction on Wizard’s behalf sets the precedent that this behavior is acceptable, and will be tolerated. Although situations like this are rare, they are only a fraction of the discrimination female players are subjected to in a tournament setting.
The vast majority of the sexism female players experience is less obtrusive than the blatant sexual harassment cases mentioned above. Try and recall the questions you are most frequently asked while sitting across from a new opponent: are they about your day? How you’re liking the event so far? Where you’re from? For female players those questions consist of: Is this your first Grand Prix? Are you here for your boyfriend? Are you just here to cosplay? I have personally had an opponent call a judge on the grounds that my top was “too distracting”. This subliminal sexism is incredibly harmful to the female community because there are no grounds for punitive measures to be enacted. Many of the men who make these statements do so without the intent to insult, however the underlying subtext reads loud and clear, “You are a woman. You are an outsider. You do not belong here.”
Female players may only be only one percent of the competitive Magic community; however, we refuse to be a silent percent. By drawing attention to both the blatant and subtle sexism within the community, we hope to foster an atmosphere which is more accepting towards of all its players. Only through official action will the precedent be set that this alienating behavior is unacceptable. Wizards, please take this opportunity to show the female community that we are not a minority in your eyes and that you value us as players. I hope in the future there will be more representation of female players within the community then on the art of the cards.