Female characters in Warhammer

As I mentioned in a previous post there was a discussion of diversity in Genre fiction ar alt.fiction. During this talk Warhammer was brought up as one of the panel members was one of the few female authors the writes for the Black Library. She mentioned how when she started going in to her local Games Workshop the staff were very eager to get her to sit somewhere visible to show that the hobby is not just for guys. This whole discussion got me and the hubby talking about gender in the Warhammer ‘verse on the train ride home.

I sort of wondered whether if there were more female models and characters is that might be one way to encourage more female players. Now let me be staight here. This is NOT because I think that women would only play as the ‘girly’ armies. That’s utter rubbish. I myself have  Blood Angles and a fantasy Chaos army and that’s because I think they look cool. My thought was more that perhaps it might make things feel a bit more inclusive. And also that if someone did want to have an army commanded by female characters they could. The point here is CHOICE, currently there isn’t much.

So I thought I’d look at the 40k ‘Verse armies and see what options there are (if any because some armies don’t really count) for female characters/models.

Tyranids

An insectoid hive mind that consumes everything in its path. They have the Norn Queen.. but honestly it would be really creepy if they all had a gender. They are just biological robots after all. They’re a race that doesn’t need gender in the slightest.

Necrons

Conciousness that exist inside living metal and who did this to be unified against the powers of the old ones, losing their souls in the process cannot have a gender. Therefore it’s irrelevant to even discuss alternative models.

Orks

They are a fungus, adult Orks continuously release spores which can grow into more Orks or Gretchin. They therefore aren’t male or female they just are. (One could almost argue that Orks despite appearances are all female considering the spores.) Again another race where the discussion is irrelevant.

Tau

An alien race who like their heavy armour so you can’t really tell what gender they are. Although I suspect most people envisioned them as male underneath all that armour, but at the same time though there must be some female warriors seeing as they have Commander Shadowsun. But thats it..

Space Marines

What can I say about these guys? Canonically they are male so no female characters here then.

Chaos Space Marines

See above.

Eldar
Finally a race that we can work with! Actually Eldar sort of have something we can work with. 1 in 5 Guardians are female. It is obvious but theres no reason that ratio couldn’t be upped a bit. Things begin to get more interesting when you take a look at their Aspect Warriors. Banshees, which are the all female aspect, can be Eldar of any sex. The aspect themselves are interesting as they represent parts of the Eldar psyche and each aspect has its own associated gender. So when an Eldar becomes a member of a particular aspect they take on that role (including the ceremonial armour) regardless of their own sex.

Looking at their special characters they are somewhat light on the ground as there is only the Howling Banshee Phoenix Lord. Why isn’t there at least a female Farseer or Autarch? (Or any Warlocks? I mean forget even the charactrization why isn’t there even a model?)

Dark Eldar

They work in a strange almost the same way as Eldar (funny that seeing as they’re all space elves…). They have Wytches – which are mainly female but do include a male minority. And they have female models in the Cabalites (the same split as Guardians).

They fair a little better with special characters though having Lelith Heperax and the Lhamaean. (Hubby thinks the Succubus is female to, but I look at the model and it looks like a male character – in what is clearly female armour.)

Imperial Guard

The army that represents humanity. Are there any female models/characters? No.

Wait? What?

Ok there are TWO. From The Last Chancers. That is it. No female generic troopers, no female support staff, no female command staff.

There is no reason for this, there are female commanders, there are female units, its mentioned in army books and we have Lieutenant Mira from Space Marine the game. So why don’t we get the option to make a whole female squad/army or even have female command staff? Hmmmm…?

Sisters of Battle

The all female army, one that could be considered the female equivalent of Space Marines. Except there’s a but here. It’s an army that GW haven’t updated in a while. Ok there was a bit of a rules update in an issue of White Dwarf around Christmas, but that was it. The models are still metal which means they are both heavy and expensive and also do not look nearly as good as all the new models GW have done recently. These girls kick ass, it would be nice if we could have a new fancy looking army (that’s not quite as expensive) to represent that.

So what can we conclude from all this? That GW could do with perhaps putting in a few more female models, I’m not asking for loads but a few at least in the Imperial Guard wouldn’t go amiss, nor would some new models for Sisters of Battle.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Female characters in Warhammer

  1. I don’t play any more but I’m still a huge Games Workshop fan and I get through dozens of Black Library novels, I’m kind of surprised you still can’t get female Guardsmen (sic). I think it says somewhere that around 10% of the Guard are women? Some female named characters would help redress the balance too.
    On a similar note, there’s also the fact that the Imperium is supposed to represent the massed ranks of humanity but looking at the official artwork they’re almost all white. I suppose that’s less of an issue when you’re actually playing though, after all you can paint your models whatever colour you like.

    • kaitharshayr

      Didn’t occurs to me about the artwork. I mean I guess because you paint the models yourself its not so bad but yeah thinking on a lot of the artwork the are generally all white (i think the only ones who aren’t that I’ve seen are the Salamanders and the Talleran but their models are hard to get and are expensive)

  2. Bach

    Cmon guys what about the daemonettes or the cultists or the witch hunters or the assassins…
    There might not be a whole load of females in warhammer 40K but they are present.

    • kaitharshayr

      I don’t really count demons as having a gender like we do. Also yes ok there are some female models but there aren’t that many, I would simply like there to be more.

  3. Anonomous

    I don’t see why with the extra 2-4 heads in every box (done to fill up the frames to make me spend £8 on a model with a gun not included) they couldn’t make one of them female, like with Tau, can’t we have a female Shas’Ui (Squad leader) head instead of having to tell people or having to cut the forehead thing from an I into a Y (which is makes it look like a terrible gender change operation).

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