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Thesis on gender, sexuality, and race in Ex2

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  • Thesis on gender, sexuality, and race in Ex2

    Some of you may have seen this Elsewhere while this forum was down, but I figured it would make sense to share it here as well given that this is still the primary forum for fans of Exalted.

    I wrote a thesis on representations of gender, sexuality, and race in Exalted, second edition:

    Sexy 16-Year-Old Baby-Eater: Gendered, Sexualized, and Racialized Discourses in Exalted, Second Edition

    If you like to read academic texts and/or if you have spent a significant number of hours pouring over supplements for Exalted, you may find this an interesting read.


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  • #2
    Huh. That's really neat!


    Exalted Behind a Screen of Jade, Savant of the Immaculate Texts, No Moon Scholar, Good Sitting Dog, Best Lurking Cat with Bones, Pioneer Pooch, Corsair, Director, Keeper of the Karstein Manor, Scion with Shield of Knowledge, Erymanthian Boar, Seeking Awakened, Cloaked Changeling, Family Head, Kindred, Agent, Poltergeist, Disciple of the Antler Crown, Wraith, Conspiracy Theorist, First Time Traveler

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    • #3
      Hey, good job! I'll read it! Sometime!


      Dex Davican wrote: I can say without exaggeration or dishonesty that I am the most creative man ever to have lived

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      • #4
        Overall, I do like what you've written here, even if there's a preponderance of 5 dollar words (though, since it's an academic paper, I'm hardly going to blame you, I've done the same before.) One error I must however point out is your assertion that besides Ma-Ha-Suchi there are no male homosexual or bisexual characters (on pg. 23). Ledaal Kes is not only explicitly homosexual (since 1st Edition even, see: "Aspect Book: Air", pg. 87) he is pretty much the star example of such for the male figures in Creation as far as I'm aware, so I'm unsure as to why he was not mentioned and Ma-Ha-Suchi of all people was. If I did some more digging, I could probably find more example of homosexual/bisexual men, but there's only so much time in the day to do so.

        Besides that however, nice job! I did like your digging into the "monstrous motherhood" concept that pervades some of 2nd Edition's enemy designs, though you could have also included Lillun under the infantilization category because WOW did the writers of that section in Infernals make a huge mistake. I'm not one who outright despises the concept of a monstrous mother, due to its history in culture, but Exalted did not handle it very well to put it mildly.

        EDIT: Having reread the section, I did see that you mentioned him, though without stating his name. I think this is a matter of edition inclusion/exclusion, whether things from a prior version are also considered canon for the next. While I won't argue the other examples in that paragraph, because those are pretty clear cut demonstrations of "burying the gays," I don't think that the mention of Kes and Szaya of being married indicates that they are no longer homosexual, but then again I have the knowledge about them from 1st and 3rd edition, and I'm not sure outside of comics that they're ever shown besides this brief mention in 2nd Edition. I'll try to find another example that mentions them in the meantime.
        Last edited by Critian Caceorte; 05-28-2021, 02:44 PM.

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        • #5
          I did a word search of all of the PDFs and they are not mentioned anywhere else.

          Kes appears in one comic, if I am not mistaken, but there is nothing to suggest his sexuality.

          He went from being "the star example" to being one half of married couple with nothing to suggest that he was homosexual. Sure, all of us who had read 1st edition assumed he was still gay in 2nd edition, but there is literally nothing in the edition to suggest that he is.

          If you scroll down a bit in the forum, you will find a thread called "Homosexuality in Exalted second edition" where the topic is discussed at length.

          And yes, I could definitely have emphasized Lillun as a child. If I had had a greater word count, she could have had an entire section to herself like the Deathlords and the two Lunars. There is a lot to say about that character.


          Loch Ness monsters. On vacation. On a pillow.


          My wife is on Spotify!

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          • #6
            You know, I never noticed that about Kes. I wonder if that was intentional? I know that Holden once mentioned that one of the very few changes that were ever made to his submissions was to make a character not-gay, which implies that someone at White Wolf may have been stripping homosexuality out of Exalted intentionally.

            At a glance I didn't see that incident mentioned, although perhaps you felt a forum post wasn't enough to include it in a paper like this (and I'm not sure the post still exists - the forum has been reset several times.) If it does still it would be worth mentioning it in any followup papers just so there's a permanent record of the incident in academia, since it's a useful reference-point about how things like that happen and it's comparatively rare for someone from inside a company to reveal them - I'm sure for every incident like that we hear about there are hundreds we don't.

            (In fact come to think of it I saw it happen at an old job I had - we were ordered to eliminate LBGT stuff because the company thought it would make it harder for them to sell in red states. So I suppose I'm one to talk.)
            Last edited by Aquillion; 05-28-2021, 10:59 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Aquillion View Post
              You know, I never noticed that about Kes. I wonder if that was intentional? I know that Holden once mentioned that one of the very few changes that were ever made to his submissions was to make a character not-gay, which implies that someone at White Wolf may have been stripping homosexuality out of Exalted intentionally.
              That was Dreadful Adjudicator of Law who was supposed to be gender-fluid and under cover as a woman.

              My concern with this is outlook that we start looking for the villain who tried to take the gays away and don't reflect on our own attitudes at the time and how they were permissive to queer erasure for example, the prevalence of the "everyone in Creation is bisexual" meme and a tendency to fall back on details established in 1st edition. I know that I'm guilty of this.

              This was clearly to some extent reflected by the books themselves. The art direction seemed to be a cavalcade of characters 1st edition had established and 2nd edition assumed we already knew like featuring Havesh the Vanisher in a comic. I remember on one occasion Kiyo complaining that they were asked to draw Cathak Cacek Marn because 'nobody knew who that was'.


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              • #8
                The release of a new edition does not instantly erase the previous one. The desire to focus on the new or underdeveloped locations and characters over those who may have been other people's work is common among writers. It’s Occam’s Razor; was there some grand conspiracy or did someone just want to focus on the glitzy new things we made or reinterpreted over rehashing 1E?

                Isn't this the same happening now with 3E? Well, what few products we have from 3E. Exalted came out of a creative space and time when we focused on how society forced conformity on us all. The expectation of the writers of 1E was that with the power of demigods to ignore the demands of society so too would fade the prejudices it enforced. It was very 90's very hopeful.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Avrjoe View Post
                  The release of a new edition does not instantly erase the previous one. The desire to focus on the new or underdeveloped locations and characters over those who may have been other people's work is common among writers. It’s Occam’s Razor; was there some grand conspiracy or did someone just want to focus on the glitzy new things we made or reinterpreted over rehashing 1E?

                  Isn't this the same happening now with 3E? Well, what few products we have from 3E. Exalted came out of a creative space and time when we focused on how society forced conformity on us all. The expectation of the writers of 1E was that with the power of demigods to ignore the demands of society so too would fade the prejudices it enforced. It was very 90's very hopeful.
                  I don't comment on threads much anymore as I have very little to say on the state of Exalted as is; but, I will comment on stamping one's creative mark all over a particular setting or product.

                  Case in point: Magic the Gathering.

                  Magic is a relatively ‘old’ property, first launched in 1993 and at first it had no real or coherent story other than snippets of flavor on the cards themselves. Then that morphed into the Armada Comics (which are mostly terrible and incoherent, but I love them for their badness) and a few scattered novels before exploding in 1998 with the release of Jeff Grubb’s the Brothers’ War.

                  By 2006 Magic lore was a hodgepodge of characters created by many different people. This was when Wizards of the Coast decided ‘for branding’ to overhaul Magic and focus on its unique magic users – the Planeswalker. This came with a new card type and brand new Planeswalkers! Yay, right!? More characters are fun, right?

                  The only problem was they went and systematically murdered all the old characters and replaced them with basically carbon copies that were less interesting for the sake of what I can only assume is ‘dis my character’ and that the new character in question ‘looks good on a box of cards.’ This was also coupled with basically a complete setting revamp and then an abandoning of Magic’s first setting for fifteen years.

                  This was also hot on the heels of trashing the Forgotten Realms in 4E DnD for basically the same reason.

                  I hated this so much I quit playing MtG for years and I have never played 4E DnD.

                  I don’t know if this has a point other than sometimes writers just can’t see the forest for the trees.

                  Last edited by Kashi; 06-04-2021, 02:47 AM.


                  My Map of Third Edition Creation in a First Edition Style (2021 Update!)

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Aquillion View Post
                    You know, I never noticed that about Kes. I wonder if that was intentional? I know that Holden once mentioned that one of the very few changes that were ever made to his submissions was to make a character not-gay, which implies that someone at White Wolf may have been stripping homosexuality out of Exalted intentionally.

                    At a glance I didn't see that incident mentioned, although perhaps you felt a forum post wasn't enough to include it in a paper like this (and I'm not sure the post still exists - the forum has been reset several times.) If it does still it would be worth mentioning it in any followup papers just so there's a permanent record of the incident in academia, since it's a useful reference-point about how things like that happen and it's comparatively rare for someone from inside a company to reveal them - I'm sure for every incident like that we hear about there are hundreds we don't.

                    (In fact come to think of it I saw it happen at an old job I had - we were ordered to eliminate LBGT stuff because the company thought it would make it harder for them to sell in red states. So I suppose I'm one to talk.)
                    I've definitely heard Holden talking about how Alan Alexander deliberately stripped LGBT characters and matriarchal societies out of Exalted wherever he got the chance.


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