5E: Battle of the Sexes of the Monsters

So there’s been a bit of a discussion around the gender distribution of the monsters in the 5E Monster Manual.  More research is always better, so I did some counting myself.

To cut right to the bottom line:

Total Monster Illustrations: 277
Asexual Illustrations: 221 (80%)
Males Illustrated: 37 (13%)
Females Illustrated: 19 (7%)

Ergo, changing 9 male illustrations to female illustrations, or 3% of the total illustrations, would result in gender parity.

My data and comments follow.  It is, by its nature, often a judgment call, and I can appreciate that others may have different judgments.  Maybe it’s obvious that flumphs reproduce by fission and I just missed it.  Alas, I’ve done my best.
Sexual Biology, Depicted Ambiguously [88]

Aarakocra
Ankheg
Basilisk
Behir
Bugbear
Bulette
Bullywug
Carrion Crawler
Chuul
Cloaker
Cockatrice
Darkmantle
Dinosaur, Plesiosaurus
Dinosaur, Pteranodon
Dinosaur, Tyrannosaurs Rex
Displacer Beast
Dragon, Shadow
Dragon, Ancient Black
Dragon, Ancient Blue
Dragon, Ancient Green
Dragon, Ancient Red
Dragon, Ancient White
Dragon, Ancient Brass
Dragon, Ancient Bronze
Dragon, Bronze Wyrmling
Dragon, Ancient Copper
Dragon, Ancient Gold
Dragon, Ancient Silver
Dragon Turtle
Ettercap
Faerie Dragon
Fomorian
Gnoll
Goblin
Griffon
Grimlock
Half-Dragon
Hippogriff
Hobgoblin, Warlord
Hook Horror
Jackalwere
Kenku
Kobold
Kuo-Toa
Kuo-Toa, Archpriest
Kuo-Toa, Whip
Lizardfolk
Lycanthrope, Werebear
Lycanthrope, Wereboar
Lycanthrope, Wererat
Lycanthrope, Weretiger
Lycanthrope, Werewolf
Merrow
Ogre, Ogre
Ogre, Half-Ogre
Oni
Orc, Orc
Orc, Orog
Owlbear
Peryton
Pseudodragon
Quaggoth
Roc
Rust Monster
Sahuagin, Sahuagin
Sahuagin, Baron
Stirge
Thri-Kreen
Troglodyte
Troll
Wyvern
Yeti
Yuan-Ti, Abomination
Blink Dog
Giant Eagle
Giant Fire Beetle
Octopus, Tentacle
Giant Spider
Hawk
Hyena
Mastiff
Quipper
Riding Horse
Swarm of Bats
Rat
Winter Wolf
Worg
NPC, Druid

Ambiguous or Unknown Biology, Depicted Ambiguously [49]

Aboleth [1]
Beholder, Beholder
Beholder, Spectator
Blight, Needle Blight [3]
Blight, Twig Blight
Blight, Vine Blight
Cambion [4]
Chimera [6]
Doppelganger
Flumph
Fungi, Gas Spore [11]
Fungi, Shrieker
Fungi, Violet Fungus
Gibbering Mouther
Grell
Grick
Hydra
Intellect Devourer
Kraken
Manticore
Mimic
Mind Flayer
Myconid
Naga, Spirit
Naga, Guardian
Nothic
Ooze, Black Pudding
Ooze, Gelatinous Cube
Ooze, Gray Ooze
Ooze, Ochre Jelly
Otyugh
Piercer
Purple Worm
Rakshasa
Remorhaz
Roper
Shambling Mound
Slaad, Red
Slaad, Blue
Slaad, Green
Slaad, Grey
Slaad, Death
Sprite
Tarrasque
Treant
Umber Hulk
Xorn
Death Dog
Phase Spider

Asexual, Depicted Ambiguously [46]

Demon, Balor [8]
Demon, Barlgura
Demon, Chasme
Demon, Dretch
Demon, Glabrezu
Demon, Goristo
Demon, Hezrou
Demon, Manes
Demon, Nalfeshnee
Demon, Quasit
Demon, Shadow Demon
Demon, Vrock
Demon, Yochlol
Devil, Barbed Devil
Devil, Bone Devil
Devil, Horned Devil
Devil, Ice Devil
Devil, Imp
Devil, Manes
Devil, Pit Fiend
Devil, Spined Devil
Gargoyle
Genie, Marid
Golem, Flesh
Hell Hound
Homunculus
Lich
Mephit, Dust
Mephit, Ice
Mephit, Magma
Mephit, Mud
Mephit, Smoke
Mephit, Steam
Mummy
Nightmare
Revenant
Scarecrow
Skeleton, Skeleton
Skeleton, Minotaur
Specter
Wight
Yugoloth, Arcanaloth
Yugoloth, Mezzoloth
Yugoloth, Nycaloth
Yugoloth, Ultraloth
Zombie, Ogre

Asexual, Depicted Asexual [35]

Animated Object, Animated Armor
Animated Object, Flying Sword
Animated Object, Rug of Smothering
Beholder, Death Tyrant
Coatl
Crawling Claw
Death Knight
Demilich
Dracolich
Elemental, Air
Elemental, Earth
Elemental, Fire
Elemental, Water
Flameskull
Galeb Duhr
Golem, Clay
Golem, Iron
Golem, Stone
Helmed Horror
Invisible Stalker
Magmin
Modron, Monodrone
Modron, Duodrone
Modron, Tridrone
Modron, Quadrone
Modron, Pentadrone
Naga, Bone
Salamander, Fire Snake
Salamander, Salamander
Shadow
Shield Guardian
Water Weird
Will-O’-Wisp
Wraith
Zombie, Beholder

Sexual, Depicted as Male [19]

Centaur [5]
Duergar [10]
Elf, Drow Mage
Ettin
Giant, Cloud
Giant, Fire
Giant, Frost
Giant, Hill
Giant, Stone
Giant, Storm
Gith, Githyanki
Gith, Githzerai
Gnome, Deep
Yuan-Ti, Malison
NPC, Archmage
NPC, Bandit Captain
NPC, Cult Fanatic
NPC, Noble
NPC, Thug

Asexual but Traditionally Depicted as Female, Depicted as Female [7]

Banshee [2]
Devil, Erinyes
Dryad [9]
Hag, Green
Hag, Night
Hag, Sea
Succubus

Asexual, Depicted as Male [7]

Azer
Devil, Chain Devil
Genie, Djinni
Genie, Efreeti
Ghast
Vampire
Zombie, Zombie

Asexual but Traditionally Depicted as Male, Depicted as Male [6]

Angel, Deva
Angel, Planetar
Angel, Solar
Devil, Bearded Devil
Satyr
Incubus

Sexual but Traditionally Depicted as Female, Depicted as Female [5]

Harpy
Lamia [9]
Medusa
Merfolk [12]
Gynosphinx

Asexual, Depicted as Female [4]

Demon, Marilith
Genie, Dao
Ghost
Vampire Spawn

Sexual but Traditionally Depicted as Male, Depicted as Male [4]

Cyclops [7]
Minotaur [13]
Androsphinx [14]
Unicorn

Sexual, Depicted as Female [2]

Yuan-Ti, Pureblood
NPC, Scout

Ambiguous or Unknown Biology, Depicted as Male [1]

Empyrean

Ambiguous or Unknown Biology, Depicted as Female [1]

Pixie

Asexual but Traditionally Depicted as Male, Depicted Ambiguously [1]

Drider

Sexual but Traditionally Depicted as Female, Depicted Ambiguously [1]

Gorgon

Sexual but Traditionally Depicted as Male, Depicted Ambiguously [1]

Pegasus

Footnotes:

[1] Aboleths have been around a very long time, and “they never die”, and the average campaign setting is not knee-deep in aboleths; together, this implies that aboleths probably either cannot reproduce at all or reproduce in some manner very different from standard biologies.

[2] The undead in general are a bit problematic under this sort of analysis.  They generally either cannot reproduce themselves (zombies, for example) or reproduce in a broadly asexual fashion (wights, perhaps.)  Still, they’re generally formed from the corpse of a sexual creature, so there’s that to consider.  Finally, a monster like an undead skeleton might be depicted as the remains of a sexual corpse, but I personally do not have the expertise to identify the sexual dimorphism present in the human skeleton.  I’ve done the best I can with the undead, but there’s a certain amount of inherent arbitrariness in how I’ve classifed them and their depictions.

[3] Tree-related-monsters are a bit of a challenge.  Some trees have distinct male and female individuals, such as poplars.  Other trees do not.

[4] Cambions have the fiend type, but they also seem to be half-mortal, so I’m not sure what their reproductive capabilities might be.

[5] Somewhat tempting to classify the centaur as ‘traditionally male’, yet female centaurs go back to at least 400 BC, so I’m not convinced it’s a strong tradition.

[6] Probably chimerae have two sexes, but the possibility of them being strictly-hermaphroditic is too tempting to sweep aside.

[7] The various Cyclopes of myth are invariably male, but it seems as likely as not that the D&D monsters described here are, like others of the giant type, sexual.

[8] If I was arbitrary with the undead, it’s ten times worse with demons, devils, yugoloths, and all the rest of these extra-planar non-biological entities.  A few are obvious but many are not; I’ve done my best, but I certainly hold no grudge against anyone who comes down on the different side of the fence on these ones.

[9] Very close to calling this depiction ambiguous, but the traditional sources for the dryad were just enough to tip me over to one side.  Much the same situation with the lamia.

[10] It’s always a tricky thing to sex dwarvenkind by their beards, but this default position seems relatively safe.

[11] There’s so much variety in even the real-world kingdom of fungi that I hestitate to assume much more.

[12] I don’t think it’s a stretch too far to lump mermaids in with the merfolk, so I have.

[13] I live in hope that someday we’ll see a female minotaur with battle-ready armoured udder, but let’s say that I’m not holding my breath.

[14] Every monster could adopt these prefixes.  “You’re attacked by three androbugbears and four gynogoblins!”  It might clear up a lot of confusion.

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