Updated: Nov 10, 2018
Times have changed (I'd dare to say: finally!), and even hobbies like ours, once almost completely carried on by males, have started to collect more and more enthusiast girls and women in their ranks.
This new trend is not only a great news for me and a symptom that we are getting closer and closer to a world where boys and girls develop interests based genuinely on their own tastes and inclinations, but it's also an interesting, often hard, challenge for us manufacturers, who are called to evolve ourselves to take care of a new type of demand.
So I asked myself (and I ask to you, obviously!): what is the best way to support this cultural/social change?
Before going on, I want to premise that these lines that you're about to read (hopefully!) are my personal thoughts: for this reason, please don't take them as a peremptory statement or a judgement. Far from it! I would like, instead, to start a constructive discussion about it and if you think I'm wrong, I encourage you to let me know it.
PART I: THE PAST
For years, manufacturers had to design female subjects for a male audience, and that, in my opinion, influenced a lot the women's role in our hobby, both metaphorically (talking about the role of female characters in rpg/wargames/etc) both concretely (referring to the fact that girls weren't attracted by our hobby).
I don't blame manufacturers: they had to sell a product, so they designed it in a way they thought it was more easily to sale.
Rather, and this is my first point of debate, I blame a common thought that, I think, it's not only the cause of the problems of the past, but can lead to a dangerous drift in the future: I call it "the uniform identification".
Especially in the past, children were taught (often not directly, generally unconsciously) to identify themselves looking at their similars: boys looked at other boys or men, girls looked at other girls or women.
Have you ever seen a boy play, pretending to be Joan d'Arc?
Have you ever seen a girl play, pretending to be Conan the barbarian?
I didn't, and of course I wasn't that kind of boy.
We looked at what we felt that the society (for society I intend our family, our friends, our parents) expected to see from us: it's normal, after all we are pack animals, we can't avoid the influence of our "herd".
So, when a manufacturer had to design a female subject for an audience composed by 99,9% of males, of course he had to make something that, in its opinion, could be salable for its customers: a classic "pin-up" was that kind of subject that an average boy/man would buy. It was normal to think about a boy attracted by a sexy girl, it was less normal (let's say "usual", instead) to think about a boy that imagined to live a perilous quest in the guise of a brave adventuress: why should he prefer to identify himself in a woman, instead of a brave warrior?
For this reason, in my opinion, the vast majority of female subjects of the miniature landscape were pin-ups or "ladies to be saved": after all, it was expected that a normal boy thought about those kind of roles, for female characters.
Obviously, designing almost only female characters in that way, it helped keep the girls away from our hobby: after all, if all the main characters were males, and girls were only accessory characters, why should a girl be interested in that narration?
PART II: THE PRESENT
Nowadays, things are changed, or at least are slowly changing. That kind of hobbies that were always been associated as "males things", are finally opening to the other side of the sky.
As written above, that means opportunities and interesting challenges for us, but also this social change made obvious that, at least 'till now, there was very few space for females in our narrations. With a growing demand by female customers, we all had to re-think the role of women in our ranges: girls should not be only pin-ups or a sort of fascinating background objects, but the market needed more female protagonists.
Despite I think it's more than good as a change, compared to the past, I think that we are