As the culture changes and more and more creators add diverse characters, the diversity, or lack thereof, is often a source of internet rage. Fans send blistering tweets to artists and producers if they’re offended by a lack of diversity or the treatment of a female, LGBT+ or minority character. Sometimes these complaints are perfectly legitimate, sometimes it’s nothing more than trolling. But the best source of diverse characters comes not from artists who cave to pressure, but to artists who simply enjoy writing the characters.
Warhammer 40,000 is a decent example of the latter. The designers, writers and fans of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 couldn’t care less if someone’s offended by their hobby or books. They are, after all, the source of the God Emperor Trump meme (Which is a joke and not a fascist cult as some blogs claim.)
Fans of 40K will be familiar with the most obvious example, The Sisters of Battle: an all-female army which is the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Hereticus. But other writers incorporate women in a more organic way. For instance, many Imperial Guard regiments are co-ed. Dan Abnett, writer of the famed Guant’s Ghosts series, features prominent female characters.
The Ciaphas Cain series, by Sandy Mitchell (not a woman) joined an all-male regiment with an all-female regiment for the series and featured high-ranking female officers.
Lord of the Night, by Simon Spurrier, featured a psyker named Mita Ashyn who pursued Zso Sahaal, the merciless lost Talonmaster of the Night Lords through an Imperial underhive as he slaughtered his way though the underworld in his quest to reclaim the Corona Nox.
And in Eye of the Night, a short audiobook by Gav Thorpe, readers get early glimpses in the post-rift universe of Warhammer 40,000 through the point of view of a female Inquisitor named Greyfax. In her quest to return an artifact to the revived Robout Guilliman, Greyfax makes compromises and questions the cost to her soul as she travels through the Eye of Terror to face a powerful demon.
Some bloggers have accused Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 of failing in inclusiveness. Certainly, it can’t be denied that there are a lot more men than women in the books. And there’s a detail in the lore that’s caused a few scrapes: women can’t survive the process of becoming a space marine. But aside from the space marine issue, Black Library writers are recognizing the importance of female characters.
Bloggers could find reasons to reject all of these examples (most are male-led and have boob armor), but the writers didn’t start off with an inclusiveness checklist. First and foremost, their intent was to create good stories. And the fact that the writers now realize they need female characters to create good stories does more for inclusiveness than any army of offended bloggers.