#NotAllManLands

The Magic community on Twitter recently revisited a discussion on what to call lands that can turn into creatures (e.g. Shambling Vent, Mutavault, Mishra’s Factory). Traditionally these had been called “man lands,” a semi-rhyming slang that has become fairly entrenched in the community.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa asked his female twitter followers whether the name bothered them, particularly when translating ‘manland’ to Portuguese make a feminine phrase.  Most said it did not, but many recognized there was something to it and some questioned posing the question this way.  It is important to realize that people can recognize things maybe aren’t optimal, and there is a need to improve, without it greatly affecting them in one direction or another.

The responses in favor of “manlands” broke down into three broad categories: (1) tradition, i.e. “We’ve always called them that.” (2) aesthetics, i.e. “Manland just sounds better.” or (3) semantics, i.e. “Man stands for human and is not gender exclusive.”

In truth, all three of these ultimately seem to collapse into the first.  Aesthetics, aside from being subjective, are more likely to grow out of familiarity more than any inherent virtue of the older name.

The semantic argument is also rooted in tradition. In older English style manuals, the male gender is prescribed default and it has indeed been used as a stand in for “Human” in traditional texts. However, on issues of inclusivity, appealing to tradition is rarely useful. After all, the very issue being addressed is the traditional lack of inclusiveness, so looking to the past is not a useful guidepost. It’s also worth noting that, other than Mutavault, none of the lands become Humans.

The last response that came up fairly often was, “Who cares?” Ultimately, as a poll on MTGDiversity’s own twitter showed, most of the participants (55% of 96 respondents) felt it was a small issue but a worthwhile one. But there’s room for a lot of space between “The Biggest Deal Ever” and “Literally Irrelevant.”

Ultimately, you aren’t being inherently sexist and likely aren’t directly offending someone if you say “manland”. But it’s also not discriminatory or offensive to cross your arms and sit silently when a new person enters your Local Game Store. Still, making this small change is a gesture toward inclusivity, a show of good faith, and a relatively low cost way to remove a small barrier to entry for those that the name does bother.

Instead of “manland” consider saying “creature land.” If you don’t like that, the MtG community has no shortage of quirky nicknames for things, so try lanimals, elementalands, ani-lands, critter land, or your own non-gendered way of referring to our animating land friends.

It can certainly be said that the Magic Community can and will adapt to change, it just has to be a unified effort.  Trying these alternate names on could be as simple as using them at FNM for an evening and getting people to discuss it more in depth.  Being an advocate for such change in your local community can change the community at large and make various people feel more included.

 

Thank you to Renee Hupp from Card Confidants for contributing to this article. 

6 thoughts on “#NotAllManLands

  1. Ever since I noticed the effort to change away from “manland”, I’ve been using “animateland”. I think it comes a bit closer to the lyrical sound that made manland so catchy, and it actually describes what the thing does, where creature land makes me think of Dryad Arbor first and foremost. The nicknames for card types not accurately describing them is a pet peeve of mine; “tangoland” is a blight that should be scoured from this earth.

  2. if that article wasn t politically correct nonsense it would have said something like you aren’t being inherently sexist and likely aren’t directly offending someone if you say manland. But it’s also not discriminatory or offensive to cross your arms and sit silently when a new person enters your Local Game Store. Still, making this small change is a gesture toward inclusivity, a show of good faith, and a relatively low cost way to remove a small barrier to entry for those that the name does bother. Oh wait, that s literally in the article. Hmm.

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