Tairis, part of objectively critiquing a work also includes objectively pointing out when it is being sexist or racist or otherwise generally shitty. Demanding that all critiques carefully tip-toe around such dangerous things to focus on subjects that won't raise hackles is demanding that critiques not be objective; real objectivity faces up to facts whether they raise hackles or not. Now of course this kind of thing will provoke defensiveness, rank-closing, diversionary tactics -- like attempting to pretend this is all "frothing" or "outraged screeching" or various other versions of "you're just being hysterical" or "you're the real sexist / racist / whatever" -- but that's to be expected. Any calling-out of sexism or racism or other form of hatefulness or bigotry, at any time and in any place, provokes that kind of childishness.
No argument there. It does need to be pointed out (which is where we do get things like the 'Women in Refrigerators' trope and similar things. I don't want to give anyone the impression that these things should be ignored
. But at the same time I find them to be drastically blown out of proportion. And yes, 'shrill' is something of a loaded word but it's also just my opinion. I've had far too many encounters where I'm not 'allowed' to have an opinion because I'm a white male, so clearly I'm 'oppressing' women (or insert other minority/special interest group here) just by existing.
A somewhat tangential example but it can easily be applied to comic-cons:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20957848
The article is regarding protests about 'Booth Babes'. And I don't mean 'some people commented that it was sexist and a debate began'. I mean people showed up at CES holding protest signs. Really? Forty years ago (or even now) people go out and hold protests against war. Against corporate corruption. This is... about employing attractive women to garner attention to their product in an industry full of men. Is it sexist? Maybe abit. But it's certainly not the greatest tragedy on Earth worthy of picketing.
Another example? The 'Dickwolf' controversy from Penny Arcade back in the day.
You should never tip toe around any
part of a critique. But if the only thing that you're bothering to critique is how sexist the game is? You're quickly going to go further and further down the path of opinion.
Some examples are going to be pretty damn easy. Dead or Alive Beach Volley Ball? Yep, sexist. Asari? See below. I'm not even generally ON the 'this is sexist' side of things but apparently I actually find them MORE sexist than the person that's on the other side of the debate from me!
Where is the line drawn, for example? How much fleshing out does a female character need before she's no longer 'Fridge bait'? I might say 'well, she needs to have been established as having a life outside the main character'. Someone else might think that's not enough. She needs to have had her own story arc. Or that she needs to have had X amount of screen/book time.
This isn't just about sexism or female objectification either. Racism and most the other 'isms' can fall into the same trap.
My bottom line opinion: never curtail your critique of any work. But if you find that every critique you're issuing is on the exact same problem? It might not JUST be the work in question that has the issue.
Maybe if people don't want to be called sexist pigs, they should stop defending all the sexist crap they like?
Just because lots of people are sexists doesn't make the sexist crap they like less sexist, btw.
Also, I think you're totally missing the fucking point, but that's okay, a lot of the people on your side of the issue do: the goal is not to get everyone together to say, "Mass Effect is evil." I don't even think the Mass Effect issue is really much of an issue, because while the asari are universally pretty, they're also universally badass; they're not just eye-candy. We don't see them brutalized solely for the sake of eliciting a reaction from male characters. We do see them blowing stuff up and committing atrocities and being heroes on their own terms, though.
And this is pretty much sums up my entire point about WHY these arguments fail. Someone gets incensed and any actual dialogue tends to get lost in the wash. Clearly since I don't agree with you I'm a sexist pig that doesn't see the truth.
Also, seriously, the idea that perpetuating a cultural norm of sexism doesn't hurt anybody -- wow, that's fucked up. That is incredibly fucked up. And the problem is improving, but it's only improving because we're no longer allowing it to go unchallenged. This kind of thing doesn't just happen without people making it happen.
You're right, nothing changes if someone doesn't say something. So say something. But I'm not going to get behind the idea that there is some sort of male conspiracy to perpetuate a 'cultural norm of sexism' by drawing anatomically incorrect women (and men). If something is bad, point out that it's bad and support the things that are good. Not crusade to fix 'insert industry here'.
Edit: Forgot this one, oops.
But the "shrill cry of outrage" wasn't (generally) coming from some malicious feminist monstrosity surveying the cultural landscape, honing in on some niche area they had little understanding or enjoyment of and declaring it sexist and all those who liked it sexist. It was... and is... coming from people who enjoyed, loved and were deeply engaged with the area in question. Gail Simone, the lady who picked up on the "fridging" cliché became one of the most respected comic book writers in the industry, regularly handling important titles for the Big Two. Much of the "feminist critique" or whatever people want to call it of video games comes from people (of both sexes) who enjoy and play video games. It's one of the reasons people do end up issuing "shrill cries of outrage" (and I have to say I'm somewhat uncomfortable with that wording)... it's because they love the medium in question.
And as I pointed out above, I have no issue pointing out flaws. But when 'hey this character is poorly written and just here for T&A' turns into 'you're perpetuating horrible sexism/rape culture/etc' as I usually see these things do? I find it hard to take them seriously.
Moreover, when has "simply critiquing bad writing, plot holes, and general logical inconsistencies" ever worked? Even in general as opposed to specifically sexist issues? In danger of dragging us off-topic people did all of that for the original Mass Effect... and were rewarded with a Mass Effect 2 (and DLCs) with even more bad writing, plot holes, and general logical inconsistencies. When it was pointed out again we got Mass Effect 3. And throughout it all the series continued to get plaudits for its "epic" story and brilliant writing. The same can be said about Fallout 3, a game with so many plot holes it's surprising that anything qualifies as a plot at all... and yet it is regularly lauded for its writing. To steal an argument from an earlier thread, the civil rights movement didn't find success by getting black people to quietly take aside those who racially abused them and explain in polite terms why it was wrong...
Well, it's both lauded and hated for its writing. Which isn't helped by the fact that it had quite a few writers, some better than others. By going by that logic if people deciding the work as a WHOLE was bad, how exactly is yelling about how sexist character A is going to accomplish anything more?
(And in my personal opinion Bioware is always a mixed writing bag. Their characters tend to be excellent and compelling, their plots much less so.)
Edit again: Also quoting again for emphasis:
the civil rights movement didn't find success by getting black people to quietly take aside those who racially abused them and explain in polite terms why it was wrong...
This. THIS. This is what drives me crazy. This isn't the bloody civil rights movement. Nobody is making women sit at the back or the bus or become sex slaves to comic book writers or whatever. It's a freaking character in a comic book! To me comparing the level of sexism today to what women or black people actually had to deal with 40-50 years ago is the sexism equivalent of Godwin's law.