Posts tagged video games
Posts tagged video games
Get your pet cause out of my vidya gaems
This whole post was like nails on a chalkboard to me. Holy fucking shit, son, we need to stop a minute and rap about the realities of the issues you are trying to address.
1) Female villains are awesome, or at least they have the capacity to be. Good things to incorporate in a good female villain would be a fully fleshed out character with a sympathetic story arc and plausible motives. Avoid common female villain tropes like evil women are inherently sexual (vilifying a woman’s sexuality), female villains only do it for attention (especially a man’s attention), or the ever-present straw feminist trope where you turn feminism into a evil, power hungry shit storm (like you sort of ironically did with this post).
2) Why do you even have to speculate on a female character’s appearance? Why is this a unique consideration separate from male characters? Why are the only two physical options for a female character seductively hot or repulsively ugly? Why can’t you possibly conceive that an average looking female character can exist? Or are you admitting that the only value a female character has is inherently tied into her appearance? I’m going to need you to reflect on those questions before you move on.
3) Being a sidekick is not necessarily being subservient. Barbara Gordon as Batgirl is not subservient to Batman. She kicks ass, has a well developed story herself, and assists in many important ways. Just because she is not the main character does not mean she is not important or equal in the Batman universe. The narration simply centers around Batman and not Batgirl. Kathy Kane, however, is a subservient sidekick. Writers created Batwoman solely for the purpose of becoming Batman’s romantic interest in order to dispel rumors about Batman’s vague sexuality. Her story is, frankly, lackluster and lame in comparison to the colorful life of Barbara Gordon. So you see, the two women both fill the same role as sidekicks, and yet one is clearly more influential and relatable as a character than the other. It’s another case of “not what you write, but how you write it.”
4) “that would imply that women can not work together, or that one is more equal to the other.” I’m sorry, but I don’t even know what the hell this is supposed to mean. Again, sidekick status does not imply that one is inferior to the other. It only implies that there is leadership in a group and that there is a fixed narrative perspective. If you write a sidekick as inferior, than that is your doing, but it is not a natural consequence of being a sidekick. When women criticize a stories lack of female heroes, it’s not because we feel like female sidekicks are buttkissing dude-worshippers (even if that is true sometimes). What we are really criticizing is the lack of narratives from the female perspective! Women most definitely can work together, and should when given the opportunity. The fact that two women working together is somehow inherently political just indicates how out of touch society’s view of woman to woman interactions really are. Women should not be in competition with one another. When patriarchal notions pit women against each other, it only serves to distract us from the fact that patriarchy itself is the real enemy. It’s like busy work for the political dissenters. And the phrase “one is more equal to the other” is an oxymoron, a logical paradox. Don’t make that mistake again if you want people to take you seriously in an argument.
5) The fact that you view having a woman as a hero as inherently part of male fantasy and fetishization of women speaks volumes about your own mental place in regards to female characters. Do women often get used as tools for male fantasy? Abso-fucking-lutely. When a female character is nothing but a glorified tool through which a man can enact excessively masculinized violence or machismo while simultaneously being able to ogle and objectify her, she has no purpose other than to fuel a male fantasy. This reminds me wildly of Frank Cho’s bastardization of Shanna the She-Devil. However, not all female heroes are violent, nympho, killing machines. Take Buffy Summers for instance. Her deal? Still kicking ass, but she is a well-rounded, wonderfully developed character with a vibrant personality and long story arc that consists of sympathetic and engaging events. She stands up for right, has flaws, and is supported by her friends and family. She has a sexuality, but it is not her defining trait in anyway. Her femininity is neither fetishized nor dismissed, and that’s what makes Buffy such an icon.
6) You can absolutely make a female character who is strong and muscular and still a woman, but this also goes back to the previous point about male fantasies and using female characters as tools. The trope of the barbarian woman has, for the most part, been used to subversively tailor womanhood to fit a largely male audience’s needs. The barbarian woman is a mindless, over-sexed, killing machine. Literally more machina than human. She is primal, compulsive, and devoid of humanizing characteristics. For this to be the main conception of female strength is both outlandish and unfair. It is frankly suggesting that the only way for a woman to be strong is to be dehumanized and masculinized. There are a few exceptions to the rule, such as my favorite female super hero, She-Hulk. She-Hulk is big, she is beefed up, and she is green. She clearly breaks conventions about stereotypical femininity. And yet? She is 100% woman. Jennifer Walters is an intelligent and gifted lawyer with aspirations and morals. She has flaws and strengths outside of being She-Hulk. The characterization of her transformation into She-Hulk is just as detailed and deliberate. She-Hulk is more outgoing and aggressive than Ms. Walters, which balances some of he original insecurities, and is a very empowered person. She has a pronounced libido, but it is not an emotionally detached sexuality that is typical of barbarian women. She still loves and cares for people, and embraces and empowers herself. This does not make her a “male character with breasts,” it makes her a character that pushes the boundaries of gender roles and expectations.
7) And your last comment only serves as an inflammatory remark regarding your ignorance on women’s issues. Let me break this disastrous comment down into it’s most basic components and see if you understand why you’re getting so much backlash. “Make a female character at all,” as in, the effort it takes you to create a realistic, fleshed out, relatable female character is so hard for you that you would rather just pass over the whole project itself? You are making no effort to listen to your female audience and willfully alienating 50% of your potential fan-base. This, my friend, is why many girls are never going to be interested in anything you write or develop. How come video game companies will go out of their way and bust their asses to do market research into what the average 15-25 year old male wants, but when you have women specifically telling you, point blank, what we want from characters, y’all want to throw in the towel and turn tail on us because somehow it’s our fault that you aren’t willing to make a game that we want to play? That’s absolute shit on your part. “because Feminists will bitch all day over nothing,” because, you as a man know exactly what it’s like to be never have accurate or equal representation in media and society, and you know what it’s like to only have diminutive roles available to you because of your gender, and you understand what it’s like to have your worth reduced to your looks or your ability to fill a need for another character, and you have had your interests and needs constantly passed over in favor of the “dominant market.” Yes, all of these things are clearly women whining about absolutely nothing. We never experience serious body image issues thanks to all the that harmless objectification of women’s bodies. We also never feel unwelcome in spaces or markets that hold femininity as frivolous or undesirable. We definitely never feel threatened by watching our heroins, the strong, courageous, and intelligent fictional women we look up to hacked to pieces or killed violently for the sake of progressing a male character’s story arc. No, you’re right. We’re all just “bitching,” as we silly women tend to do. We should be ashamed of ourselves for even criticizing these things, because… “actual women are being oppressed in third world countries.” First off, as a proud graduate in the field of geography, this is my official petition to abolish the terms first world and third world. These are archaic and colonial terms that no longer apply to our conception of geopolitics. Okay? It does not mean what you think it means. Second, your idea of dividing the worth of women’s struggles based on what type of society they live in is divisive, colonialist, and classist. Just because some women live in worse situations than others does not mean that women living in your community are not experiencing sexism. You are using a logical fallacy to derail and invalidate women’s arguments. You need to stop. That is sexist and patriarchal behavior that reduces a woman’s ability to criticize society.
So, on the whole:
You are largely bastardizing real criticism from women as consumers of media, and mutilating the intent behind them to lash out against feminism. I suggest you invest time reading and learning about “straw feminism” if you are at all interested in why actual feminists are disagreeing so strongly with what you are posting.
If you really want to know what women look for in a character, look at the ones we are consistently turning to for inspiration. We obviously have characters in video games, comics, tv, movies, books, and other forms of media that we love. We plaster them all over the place and exalt them and go out of our way to shove them in your face because we want you to acknowledge these characters, and make more like them. We are literally doing the work for you. Also, look at the kinds of characters women themselves are making. They too have an inkling about what kinds of characters to write. Your argument that you can’t write a female character that women love is so wrong, that it makes me queezy just thinking about the infinity of your wrongness. This is clearly an issue on which I feel very strongly, because I just wrote a short novel dispelling your inaccuracies. Not because I’m an asshole feminist, but because I want you to understand. I want you to know where I am coming from. I want you to think about this critically, take it into your brain meat, and come to a place of enlightenment. I’m not fucking joking. Women are not crazy sociopathic naggers. We don’t take secret joy in crushing your balls over trivial things (well… most of us). These things matter to us because they actually fucking matter. Do us a favor, and just hear us out before you decide to go on a bullshit tirade that makes you and those like you like misogynistic douchehats. It might save you some time and pain next time.
also, all of those bullet points up top are the types of things said when trying to come up with a single, token female character in an entirely male cast. it would seriously help if your game had more than one female character therefore representing more than one type of woman instead of looking at it like, “oh no, i can only have one lady in my game so what stereotype should we maker her???”
Injustice: Gods Among Us PlayStation Vita wallpapers
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Lego Batman 2 Trailer!
They use the original Batman theme song in all of it’s Danny Elfman glory!!!
Nerds and Male Privilege (definitely worth a read!)
I want to tell you a story.
A few years ago, I was dating a girl who was decidedly not nerd curious. She tolerated my geeky interests with a certain bemused air but definitely didn’t participate in ‘em… not even setting foot inside a comic store on new comic day. She’d wait outside until I was done… which could be a while, since I was friends with several of the staff.
She came in the store exactly once, after I’d explained that no, it’s a pretty friendly place… well lit, spacious, organized and with helpful – and clearly identified – staff members who were willing to bend over backwards to make sure their customers were satisfied.
She was in there for less than 4 minutes before one mouth-breathing troglodyte began alternately staring at her boobs – evidently hoping that x-ray vision could develop spontaneously – and berating her for daring to comment on the skimpy nature of the costumes – in this case, Lady Death and Witchblade. She fled the premises, never to return.
When both the manager and I explained to him in no uncertain terms as to what he did wrong he shrugged his shoulders. “Hey, I was just trying to help you guys! She couldn’t understand that chicks can be tough and sexy! Not my fault she’s a chauvinist,” he said.
And that was when I shot him, your honor.
So with that example in mind, let’s talk about a subject I’ve touched on before: Male Privilege and how it applies to geeks and – more importantly – geek girls.
MALE PRIVILEGE: WHAT IS IT, EXACTLY?
I don’t think I’m breaking any news or blowing minds when I point out that geek culture as a whole is predominantly male. Not to say that women aren’t making huge inroads in science fiction/fantasy fandom, gaming, anime and comics… but it’s still a very male culture. As such, it caters to the predominantly male audience that makes it up. This, in turn leads to the phenomenon known as male privilege: the idea that men – most often straight, white men – as a whole, get certain privileges and status because of their gender.
(Obvious disclaimer: I’m a straight white man.)
In geek culture, this manifests in a number of ways. The most obvious is in the portrayal of female characters in comics, video games and movies. Batman: Arkham City provides an excellent example.
The women are all about sex, sex, sexy sextimes. With maybe a little villainy thrown in for flavor. They may be characters, but they’re also sexual objects to be consumed.
I will pause now for the traditional arguments from my readers: these characters are all femme fatales in the comics, all of the characters in the Arkham games are over-the-top, the men are just as exaggerated/sexualized/objectified as the women. Got all of that out of your systems? Good.
Because that reaction is exactly what I’m talking about.
Y’see, one of the issues of male privilege as it applies to fandom is the instinctive defensive reaction to any criticism that maybe, just maybe, shit’s a little fucked up, yo. Nobody wants to acknowledge that a one-sided (and one-dimensional) portrayal of women is the dominant paradigm in gaming; the vast majority of female characters are sexual objects. If a girl wants to see herself represented in video games, she better get used to the idea of being the prize at the bottom of the cereal box. If she wants to see herself as a main character, then it’s time to get ready for a parade of candyfloss costumes where nipple slips are only prevented by violating the laws of physics. The number of games with competent female protagonists who wear more than the Victoria’s Secret Angels are few and far between.
The idea that perhaps the way women are portrayed in fandom is aleetle sexist is regularly met with denials, justifications and outright dismissal of the issue. So regularly, in fact, that there’s a Bingo card covering the most common responses. Part of the notion of male privilege in fandom is that nothing is wrong with fandom and that suggestions that it might benefit from some diversity is treated as a threat.
But what is that threat, exactly?
In this case, the threat is that – ultimately – fandom won’t cater to guys almost to exclusion… that gays, lesbians, racial and religious minorities and (gasp!) women might start having a say in the way that games, comics, etc. will be created in the future. The strawmen that are regularly trotted out – that men are objectified as well, that it’s a convention of the genre, that women actually have more privileges than guys – are a distraction from the real issue: that the Privileged are worried that they won’t be as privileged in the near future if this threat isn’t stomped out. Hence the usual reactions: derailment, minimization and ultimately dismissing the topic all together.
As much as my nerdy brethren wish that more girls were of the geeky persuasion, it’s a little understandable why women might be a little reticent. It’s hard to feel valued or fully included when a very vocal group insists that your input is irrelevant, misguided and ultimately unwelcome. It’s small wonder why geekdom – for all of it’s self-proclaimed enlightened attitudes towards outsiders and outcasts – stil retains the odor of the guy’s locker room.
HOW MALE PRIVILEGE AFFECTS GEEK GIRLS IN REAL LIFE
Don’t make the mistake of thinking male privilege is solely about how big Power Girl’s tits are, fan service and jiggle physics in 3D fighters. It affects geek girls in direct, personal ways as well.
Remember the example I mentioned earlier with my then-girlfriend in the comic store? Her opinions were deemed mistaken and she was told she didn’t “get it”… because she was a girl.
Y’see, one of the issues that nerd girls face is the fact that they are seen as girls first and anything else second. And before you flood my comments section demanding to know why this is a bad thing, realize that being seen as a “girl” first colors every interaction that they have within fandom. They’re treated differently because they are women.
We will now pause for the expected responses: well that’s a good thing isn’t it, girls get special treatment because they’re girls, guys will fall all over themselves to try to get girls to like ‘em so it all balances out.
If you’re paying attention you’ll realize that – once again – those reactions are what I’m talking about.
Y’see, nobody’s saying that women don’t receive different treatment from guys… I’m saying that being treated differently is the problem. And yes, I know exactly what many of you are going to say and I’ll get to that in a minute.
Male privilege – again – is about what men can expect as the default setting for society. A man isn’t going to have everything about him filtered through the prism of his gender first. A man, for example, who gets a job isn’t going to face with suggestions that his attractiveness or that his willingness to perform sexual favors was a factor in his being hired, nor will he be shrugged off as a “quota hire”. A man isn’t expected to be a representative of his sex in all things; if he fails at a job, it’s not going to be extrapolated that all men are unfit for that job. A man who’s strong-willed or aggressive won’t be denigrated for it, nor are men socialized to “go along to get along”. A man can expect to have his opinion considered, not dismissed out of hand because of his sex. When paired with a woman who’s of equal status, the man can expect that most of the world will assume that he’s the one in charge. And, critically, a man doesn’t have to continually view the world through the lens of potential violence and sexual assault.
Now with this in mind, consider why being a girl first may be a hindrance to geek girls. A guy who plays a first person shooter – Call of Duty, Halo, Battlefield, what-have-you – online may expect a certain amount of trash talking, but he’s not going to be inundated with offers for sex, threats of rape, sounds of simulated masturbation or demands that he blow the other players – but not before going to the kitchen and getting them a beer/sandwich/pizza first. Men will also not be told that they’re being “too sensitive” or that “they need to toughen up” when they complain about said sexual threats.
Men also won’t have their opinions weighed or dismissed solely on the basis of how sexy or attractive they are. The most common responses a woman can expect in an argument – especially online – is that she’s fat, ugly, single, jealous, a whore, or a lesbian – or any combination thereof – and therefore her opinion is irrelevant, regardless of it’s actual merits. This is especially true if she’s commenting on the portrayal of female characters, whether in comics, video games or movies.
Men can expect that their presence at an event won’t automatically be assumed to be decorative or secondary to another man. Despite the growing presence of women in comics, as publishers, editors and creators as well as consumers, a preponderance of men will either treat women at conventions as inconveniences, booth bunnies or even potential dates. Many a female creator or publisher has had the experience of convention guests coming up and addressing all of their questions to the man at the table… despite being told many times that the man is often the assistant, not the talent, only there to provide logistical support and occasional heavy lifting.
Men are also not going to be automatically assigned into a particular niche just based on their gender. A girl in a comic store or a video game store is far more likely to be dismissed as another customer’s girlfriend/sister/cousin rather than being someone who might actually be interested in making a purchase herself. And when they are seen as customers, they’re often automatically assumed to be buying one of the designated “girl” properties… regardless of whether they were just reading Ultimate Spider-Man or looking for a copy of Saint’s Row 3.
Of course, the other side of the coin isn’t much better; being dismissed for the sin of being a woman is bad, but being placed on the traditional pillar is no less insulting. Guys who fall all over themselves to fawn over a geek girl and dance in attendance upon her are just as bad. The behavior is different, but the message is the same: she’s different because she’s a girl. These would-be white knights are ultimately treating her as a fetish object, not as a person. It’s especially notable when it comes to sexy cosplayers; the guys will laude them for being geek girls and celebrate them in person and online. They’ll lavish attention upon them, take photos of them and treat them as queens…
And in doing so, they’re sending the message that women are only valued in geek culture if they’re willing to be a sexually alluring product. Everybody loves Olivia Munn when she enters the room ass-cheeks first as Aeon Flux, but nobody is particularly concerned by the girls dressed in a baseball tee, jeans and ballet flats. One of these is welcomed into geek culture with open arms, the other has to justify their existence in the first place.
WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN TO YOU?
The reason why male privilege is so insidious is because of the insistance that it doesn’t exist in the first place. That willful ignorance is key in keeping it in place; by pretending that the issue doesn’t exist, it is that much easier to ensure that nothing ever changes.
Geek society prides itself on being explicitly counter-culture; nerds will crow about how, as a society, they’re better than the others who exclude them. They’ll insist that they’re more egalitarian; geeks hold tight to the belief that geek culture is a meritocracy, where concepts of agism, sexism and racism simply don’t exist the way it does elsewhere. And yet, even a cursory examination will demonstrate that this isn’t true.
And yet geeks will cling to this illusion while simultaneously refusing to address the matters that make it so unattractive to women and minorities. They will insist that they treat women exactly the same as they treat guys – all the while ignoring the fact that their behavior is what’s making the women uncomfortable and feeling unwelcome in the first place. They will find one girl in their immediate community who will say that she’s not offended and use her as the “proof” that nobody else is allowed to be offended.
Changing this prevailing attitude starts with the individual. Call it part of learning to be a better person; being willing to examine your own attitudes and behaviors and to be ruthlessly honest about the benefits you get from being a white male in fandom is the first step. Waving your hands and pretending that there isn’t a problem is a part of the attitude that makes women feel unwelcome in fandom and serves as the barrier to entry to geeky pursuits that she might otherwise enjoy.
Bringing the spotlight onto the concept of male privilege as it exists in nerd culture is the first step in making it more welcoming of diversity, especially women.
*Thanks to Madoka for bringing this to my attention.
Pretty much all of this. I especially love this quote:
As much as my nerdy brethren wish that more girls were of the geeky persuasion, it’s a little understandable why women might be a little reticent. It’s hard to feel valued or fully included when a very vocal group insists that your input is irrelevant, misguided and ultimately unwelcome.
Most men will try to squash issues that women and minorities have with comics and other geeky things, because they’re afraid of losing the privilege they have in that particular area. They’re comfortable in it, and changing too much about the things they know, scares them. So we get brushed off as being too dramatic, or too sensitive. For anyone reading this that mind whole that view..I really wish you’d understand that we’re trying to change things for the better! Being more inclusive of different perspectives will ultimately open up avenues for more stories, characters, artwork, and everything else that we love about geeky culture! Why would you not want to enjoy stories that are more diverse, and that maybe you can even learn from? Come on people, let’s work together here. Nobody is trying to sabotage your beloved comic book character, or make things too “girly” to the point that you can’t read it anymore. We just want to be able to enjoy the same nerdy things that you do, without being offended by it or made to feel pigeonholed into a certain stereotype. Geek stuff is awesome, and we just want to be apart of something we love, without constantly feeling like outsiders.