Via Daddy Warpig:
Dungeons & Dragons, at least the most recent Fifth Edition, has made it clear that players don’t need to be “confined” by binary notions of gender. The game’s Player’s Handbook notes that some elves are androgynous in nature after Corellon’s image, while noting that players can also choose to present their characters however they wish.
So what does the concept of genderfluidity have to do with the drow, which have long been depicted as the “evil” subrace of elves? The drow come from an extremely matriarchal gendered society and have widely rejected Corellon as their god. A drow that can change their gender is seen as an affront to drow culture, not only because it’s a direct blessing from Corellon, but also because they can choose whether to be part of the ruling female class.
Drow with the ability to change gender usually have to take sanctuary in temples of Corellon because they’re considered dangerous to other drow and are considered outcasts, or even killed.
Sounds like a plan. After all, inimical elves that are an outright manifestation of chaos over and against science, Christianity, the mundane, and humanity are so passé. Why would anyone ever ponder the implications of immortality, timelessness, the nature of the human soul, and why elves might necessarily be barred from heaven? And why would anyone explore the consequences of a union between a human adventurer and an almost completely alien elvish princess given that such a thing is fundamentally unimaginable?
I can’t wrap my head around it myself. Besides what do you do when for decades elves have been pointy eared long-haired woods-hippies that are not inherently different from a glorified subspecies of homo sapiens? That’s easy. You whip up another subspecies of elves that hail from the depths of the underworld– and you make those elves scary and inimical and alien and weird and chaotic.
Except that… there’s just one problem there. That solution to a problem that real fantasy never had is pretty dull in practice. For one thing, it leads to and endless parade of tedious attempts to reinvent elves by people that don’t know what real elves are actually like. Because none of these “races” can ever truly hit the mark of what fantasy junkies actually crave with this sort of thing.
It gets worse, though. The people that make this stuff today can’t imagine anything that is beyond or outside or that transcends their concept of reality, so they’ve been somehow rendered incapable of conceiving any sort of fantasy at all. The idea of an Oz, a Barsoom, or a Never Never Land is beyond them. They look at such things and can’t make any sense of it. The only way to make fantasy seem real and relatable and relevant is to project the only frame on it that they know: that of their tepid progressive monoculture. So they’ve worked up an an all new alignment spectrum. Instead of law and chaos, they’ll do oppressed transexuals at one extreme and bigoted transphobes at the other.
Instead of the boring, mass market fantasy of the eighties that had the wonder, the weirdness, and the edginess filtered out of it, we can finally go all the way. We can now make fantasy just as boring as the struggle sessions of today’s corporate diversity training seminars.
Congratulations, 5th Edition D&D. You’re plumbing new depths here!