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Author Topic: Character designs: sexism and objectification  (Read 5151 times)

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Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #125 on: May 10, 2013, 09:30:36 AM »
So the discussion on women being treated equally in comic books and video games becomes heated because people (men and women) enjoy being complimented and admired?  I do not follow this train of thought.  Certainly some people like being shown off by another, but I would argue that is a minority of people.  The argument becomes heated because to one side this argument is insulting and to the other the argument is an attack on a much loved hobby. Anita Sarkeesian wasn't threatened with brutal rape and had her accounts hacked so that various images of computer game characters raping her could be displayed because women "enjoy" being admired or objectified.  This was done because the icons of a beloved hobby were being threatened.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #126 on: May 10, 2013, 09:39:52 AM »
But some of those who enjoy the hobby (as receiving it, feeling sexy and special in the eyes of strangers etc) are women. And yes, when a minority of people feel their pleasure, their sense of self is getting attacked by what they see as a big, overbold and bigoted horde (the rest of us, or the "silent or not-so-silent majority", whatever) it can get very raw and ugly. And personal.

 Besides it's objectification focusing on some people's looks, appeal and presence - real or imaginary people -  I am talking about, not equality as a general thing. Welcome to keep reaching into equality but I'm no part of that discussion topic as far as this thread goes.


*checking out now for some time*
« Last Edit: May 10, 2013, 09:43:46 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #127 on: May 10, 2013, 09:59:08 AM »
Certainly some people that enjoy comic books, video games and that culture are women.  Just as black people enjoyed movies at a time when racism was rampant in Hollywood and there are homosexual people that enjoy hip-hop despite the many lyrics and artists that are hateful of them.  People can enjoy a part of culture that does treat them poorly without enjoying that aspect of the culture.  Many women that play video games and read comic books have spoken out against such genres.  This does not mean that women will just throw down their comic books which they have grown to love, simply demanding as a paying audience that better female characters are presented to enjoy. 

Also, objectification is not simply admiring someoneís physical presence and beauty.  Objectification is more complex than simply looking at a womanís breasts or a manís behind.  I believe the definition has been brought up many times before as being different than simply admiring a beautiful body or a sexual pose.  Immanuel Kantís thoughts on objectification are quite influential to modern feminist theory and involve the lowering of a personís rational self so that another views that person as an object or a thing.  Feminist Theory has several aspects to objectification.

instrumentality: the treatment of a person as a tool for the objectifier's purposes;
denial of autonomy: the treatment of a person as lacking in autonomy and self-determination;
inertness: the treatment of a person as lacking in agency, and perhaps also in activity;
fungibility: the treatment of a person as interchangeable with other objects;
violability: the treatment of a person as lacking in boundary-integrity;
ownership: the treatment of a person as something that is owned by another (can be bought or sold);
denial of subjectivity: the treatment of a person as something whose experiences and feelings (if any) need not be taken into account.

None of these involve admiring, looking or ďchecking outĒ another person or giving them a compliment. 

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-objectification/

In a sense we are discussing equality.  We are discussing the equality of female characters to be on par with male characters for their treatment and depth.  Just as myths, legends and faerie tales set the tone for a culture; women are asking that icons of our modern day culture reflect the accomplishments and complexities of a modern day woman.

Offline Shjade

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #128 on: May 10, 2013, 11:11:41 AM »
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.

Generally speaking, the degree to which one is fleshed out prior to being stuffed in a fridge is, more or less, irrelevant. If the character is brutalized mainly to motivate or otherwise influence some other character's story, rather than because it is the culmination of their own separate story, it kinda doesn't matter how deep a character we're talking about in that fridge.

Maybe think of it like this: Hero comes home to find his girlfriend's corpse tied to his bed. The body is quite obviously mutilated; he doesn't need a coroner to tell him what happened to her to get the gist of how long and painful the experience was before she was finally put out of her misery. This is what finally makes him realize he got his powers to save people from ending up like her, not just for making himself happy.

Now if I tell you his girlfriend was previously the star of what then becomes Hero's series, a successful heroine in her own right and a progressive mayor of her city when she wasn't doing the vigilante thing, does that change the above paragraph at all?

Not so much. In fact, it might actually make it worse that the well-established female character got chucked for a male replacement (perhaps because the writers think he'll be more popular).

On the other hand, if Heroine gets killed off and that's just the end of her series, as its own thing, well, I'm not saying that's necessarily a good thing, but at least it's not a Fridge issue anymore.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #129 on: May 10, 2013, 01:16:49 PM »
Anita Sarkeesian wasn't threatened with brutal rape and had her accounts hacked so that various images of computer game characters raping her could be displayed because women "enjoy" being admired or objectified.  This was done because the icons of a beloved hobby were being threatened.

My thoughts on that are, yeah, some people are bigoted idiots that take things way too far.  On the other hand however, one thing I see with Anita (and other "feminists" that come under this type of attack) is that they tend to be very receptive to troll attacks, they talk about it like they have a real fear of getting raped because of it (not that I'm trying to say they don't actually have a fear of it, or that it's unlikely, etc), and that generally serves to incite the trolls to keep doing it.  It's the idea of a bully picking on someone because their victim responds in a way that they like.  Now, would all these threats stop entirely if she would stop talking about them and brush them off as no big deal?  Maybe, maybe not, but I think most of them would move on to someone else that's more receptive.

Which makes me think, actually... I see a lot of people like this that keep talking about the rape threats and whatnot as a horrible thing, but are there any feminists that have gone on to brush it off and ignore it that still get targeted as heavily?

Offline consortium11

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #130 on: May 10, 2013, 03:09:35 PM »
My thoughts on that are, yeah, some people are bigoted idiots that take things way too far.  On the other hand however, one thing I see with Anita (and other "feminists" that come under this type of attack) is that they tend to be very receptive to troll attacks, they talk about it like they have a real fear of getting raped because of it (not that I'm trying to say they don't actually have a fear of it, or that it's unlikely, etc), and that generally serves to incite the trolls to keep doing it.  It's the idea of a bully picking on someone because their victim responds in a way that they like.  Now, would all these threats stop entirely if she would stop talking about them and brush them off as no big deal?  Maybe, maybe not, but I think most of them would move on to someone else that's more receptive.

Which makes me think, actually... I see a lot of people like this that keep talking about the rape threats and whatnot as a horrible thing, but are there any feminists that have gone on to brush it off and ignore it that still get targeted as heavily?

I'm not sure a 'defence tactic' (for lack of a better term) which is based around letting rape threats (however hypothetical) and pretty serious verbal abuse slide as "no big deal" is really something we want to push. 

Online Skynet

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #131 on: May 10, 2013, 03:21:35 PM »
I think that lots of online anonymous threats aren't genuine, but that doesn't make them any less terrible.  Especially when it's a concerted effort by many people against one person.  Trolls definitely go for easy targets and ones who respond to their threats, but it still reflects badly on the trolls.

It reminds me of a story I read on Something Awful:

Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
This guy was working as a cashier at a video game store.  A new game would come out in a few days.  One customer falsely assumed that they had copies the game in the back room, and repeatedly asked if he could just buy it right then and there.

When informed otherwise, the customer refused to believe it, and threatened that the cashier "wouldn't get home tonight" by saying he put a bomb in his car.

This was a ludicrous lie, but the cashier said "I'll go take a look, then" and called the police in the back room.  There was no bomb, and the threat was empty, but the police came out with a bomb squad anyway.  They arrested the customer and dispersed the crowd.  "No goddamn game is worth threatening to blow shit up!" one cop said.

The whole "my threat wasn't genuine!" isn't a valid excuse.  Espeically when it has malicious intent to intimidate someone.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2013, 03:23:59 PM by Skynet »

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #132 on: May 10, 2013, 03:29:31 PM »
I realized after I posted earlier that it really sounds like I'm blaming the victim here.  I'm not, but there's no easy way I can figure to make the point that going out on speeches and saying how horrible it is doesn't actually help matters.

Going to that story about the cashier, what if that cashier didn't call the police, but then went on to give a speech about what happened to tell people what to watch out for and what not to do.  I think people criticizing him for that speech by saying he should have called the police would have a valid point; even if he knew that the threat was empty, he shouldn't be subjected to such abuse (and yes, it is abuse), and the guy doing it should be punished by what society would deem acceptable (in this case, fines/jail time as assigned by a judge).

Back to online threats, I also agree that it's abuse, and that the people doing it should be punished... but now we hit a wall.  These threats are anonymous, and unlike the cashier story, you can't call an internet-cop to go arrest them.  So I suppose my question here is, what -should- be done about cases like that?  Like I said, I think the best idea would be to mostly brush it off, inform people that have the ability to do something about it (honestly I have no idea who that would be, unfortunately), but otherwise ignore it and... well, I suppose hope that it goes away.  It's not an ideal solution, by far, but having too significant of a reaction is likely to only make things worse.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #133 on: May 10, 2013, 05:27:22 PM »
The best solution we have available is to shine a spotlight on it, stand in solidarity with the victims, and show that we, as a society and on the whole, do not find this shit acceptable. To push back. Cultural taboos are far more effective at shutting down bigotry than any law.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #134 on: May 10, 2013, 10:09:28 PM »
Perhaps, and while I think it works for most members of society, unfortunately I don't think it would work to deter many of the trolls.  I will say that I would love to be proven wrong about that, however.

I don't think I can really add much to that topic however, so to try and get the thread back on the main topic...

Generally speaking, the degree to which one is fleshed out prior to being stuffed in a fridge is, more or less, irrelevant. If the character is brutalized mainly to motivate or otherwise influence some other character's story, rather than because it is the culmination of their own separate story, it kinda doesn't matter how deep a character we're talking about in that fridge.

Maybe think of it like this: Hero comes home to find his girlfriend's corpse tied to his bed. The body is quite obviously mutilated; he doesn't need a coroner to tell him what happened to her to get the gist of how long and painful the experience was before she was finally put out of her misery. This is what finally makes him realize he got his powers to save people from ending up like her, not just for making himself happy.

Now if I tell you his girlfriend was previously the star of what then becomes Hero's series, a successful heroine in her own right and a progressive mayor of her city when she wasn't doing the vigilante thing, does that change the above paragraph at all?

Not so much. In fact, it might actually make it worse that the well-established female character got chucked for a male replacement (perhaps because the writers think he'll be more popular).

On the other hand, if Heroine gets killed off and that's just the end of her series, as its own thing, well, I'm not saying that's necessarily a good thing, but at least it's not a Fridge issue anymore.

My understanding of the problem isn't that stories contain characters that exist only to further the main character's story arc by dying, but that those characters are often female, by a significant majority.  If it were a more even mix, it wouldn't be as much of a problem; I mean, I don't see anyone ever complain about how Spider-Man treats Uncle Ben (at least the recent movie versions; never got into comics when I was young), or Uncle Owen's and Aunt Beru's deaths in A New Hope.  As far as I can tell, those characters are getting the same sort of treatment; it's just that male examples are much more rare that's the problem.

Offline Shjade

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #135 on: May 10, 2013, 10:15:01 PM »
I suspect Uncle Ben's completely off-page "Oh and he killed your Uncle" death doesn't quite stand on the same terms as discovering Uncle Ben hacked up and left on your porch in a paper bag, either.

Offline Tairis

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #136 on: May 10, 2013, 11:08:08 PM »
I find it very hard to believe you've had encounters where you're not allowed to have an opinion just because you're a white male and oppress people just by existing*. On the other hand, I find it very easy to believe you've had encounters where you've pissed people off with aggressive cluelessness to the point where they've told you to just leave off. Attempting in a lordly manner to dictate the "proportion" in which things should be happening will do that.

(Protip: people feeling strongly about something is absolutely not an excuse for you to say that it's "being blown wildly out of proportion." It's a cue for you to listen, because maybe they've had experiences you haven't. "Blown wildly out of proportion" is the kind of language -- shrill language -- you reserve for when people are being criminally accused or tossed from the walls into the Pit of Despair. It's really, really not the card you play when people are merely annoyed or aggravated by a thing.)

[* Not that it's impossible for that to happen. It's just that it happens way less often than defensive (usually white male) geeks like to pretend it happens.]

Well I don't have a handy catalog of my life to display for you and from the tone of the response it sounds like you're not going to believe anything I have to say anyway but suffice to say it has occurred. Mostly in the college setting where I was effectively told that as a member of the ones 'in power' I can't understand and am complicit in the crimes of my race/gender. And thus my viewpoint/argument is arguing on behalf the oppressive status quo.

Quote
So, it's not worth picketing a sleazy environment in which women feel frequently unsafe, humiliated, harrassed and assaulted because Rosa Parks had it worse? I doubt the good Sister would agree with you. Using the civil rights movement as an excuse to defend the sexist geek culture misses the very point of the civil rights movement so profoundly that I have to think Martin Luther King himself would take you to woodshed. Jesus.

I don't seem to recall the article saying it was the women working as booth babes at the convention that were the ones doing the complaining/picketing. It wasn't that CES or anywhere else had made complaints of assault or unsafe work environments. That I would have understood. My point is more than picketing about what amounts to evolution (men like to look at attractive women) seems a rather considerable amount of effort on the part of people that weren't even being affected by it.

Also watching the report one of the detractors says 'it's focused on a very narrow, shrinking part of the industry'. Which logically means the practice is already going to be heading for a decline if its losing its effectiveness.

Somehow I doubt Martin Luther King would wish to subject me to violence because I disagree with you in a debate. But I refer to the comparison as the Godwin's law of these debates because it works on much the same principle. As soon as you bring it up you're trying to associate one group or another with the thing you're referencing and things tend to go down hill from there. Maybe that's not your intention but it's hard not to see it as that when you bring it up in this sort of debate.

Quote
Probably not something you want to bring up. Yes, the original controversy was silly to an extent: on the other hand, Penny Arcade's would-be "supporters" scored something of an own-goal when they responded to it with an outpouring of rape jokes, rape threats and generally juvenile, stupid and embarrassing behaviour. The behaviour of their so-called "allies" probably gave Gabe and Tycho more pause than anything, which hardly makes the case that the complaint was ultimately out of line.

So... person A pointed to an innocuous joke in a webcomic known for random over the top jokes and effectively called the writers/artists sexist supporters of rape culture. People that disagreed with her argued back and the worst elements quickly degenerated into hate spewing. That's kind of my entire point for this hence why I brought it up. This is the stuff I have an issue with. I don't have a problem with 'hey, this character is poorly written and seems to only exist for eye-candy for men'.

My problem comes when that changes from 'this isn't good writing, here's the problems with how it portrays character A in a sexist or objectified manner, here's why I'm not buying/supporting/etc this product' to 'you're sexist, this whole industry is sexist, this is a crisis'. Which is what it always seems to become. I believe someone already linked in this thread the video from one of the big youtube game bloggers about the same issue but if not I'll dig it up later. Sums up my feelings rather well.

Quote
It's a worthwhile debate to have. What's not worthwhile is saying there's no debate to have and it's all just being "shrill."

And by the same token there are fuck-ton of open racists out there who think they can get away with it by just claiming that anyone who calls them out is being "shrill" or hysterical or otherwise irrational. Luckily, it doesn't work that way.

Except how often is it a debate? And how much more often does it become a bunch of people from group B calling Group A 'sexist' and Group B calling Group A 'prudes'?

I call people out for being irrational because they are. There isn't a dialogue, there's one side claiming the other is wrong and demanding they change. Then the other side digs their heels in and refuses to change.

Quote
Or maybe someone gets incensed because certain people try to undermine or outright kibosh actual dialogue while hypocritically claiming they're doing the reverse. That's an understandable reason to get incensed, and it happens all the time, and "someone getting incensed" is not in fact an excuse to claim all dialogue has ceased. That claim is bullshit. What we need is less bullshit.

Sorry, but yea, it is a good claim that dialogue as ceased because when people start becoming vicious, screaming, angry, and/or vindictive. They're not talking about solutions and compromises anymore. They're just interested in proving their side as the ones that are right. See American politics. (And probably everyone else's politics too but I don't live in those other countries so I'll leave their political systems be). There's a difference between impassioned and incensed. One can drive you to achieve, the other just drives logic and rationality out of the window.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2013, 11:09:32 PM by Tairis »

Offline Tairis

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #137 on: May 10, 2013, 11:18:03 PM »
This is probably going to be a double post but I wanted to keep them separate for easy of readability. If that's not kosher in these parts do tell and I'll try to combine them.

Generally speaking, the degree to which one is fleshed out prior to being stuffed in a fridge is, more or less, irrelevant. If the character is brutalized mainly to motivate or otherwise influence some other character's story, rather than because it is the culmination of their own separate story, it kinda doesn't matter how deep a character we're talking about in that fridge.

That's a thought that I've had as well. My take away from the entire trope is more the 'throw away' nature of the character than anything. Because people dying as motivation for other people? That's a story device as old as the written language pretty much. Death, love, and honor are the major motivating factors for I'd say 90% of all the 'good' characters film, books, and other media.

So the only way I can address the problem of the trope would be in the manner in which that device is used. If the character in question is shallow and pretty much the only mention is how important they are to the main character, then they're not really much of a character. And since even now the majority of well known super heroes are straight males this often makes said character their wife/girlfriend/or lover it can be seen as women being 'disposable'.

The over the top level of the death also has to factor into it I think, as was also pointed out.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2013, 11:19:21 PM by Tairis »

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #138 on: May 10, 2013, 11:50:09 PM »
I suspect Uncle Ben's completely off-page "Oh and he killed your Uncle" death doesn't quite stand on the same terms as discovering Uncle Ben hacked up and left on your porch in a paper bag, either.

True, but it was the only case I could think of offhand that would be popular enough that everyone knew it.  I could mention Edward Roivas's death in Eternal Darkness (his granddaughter and the main character, Alex, shows up at his house to find the police there and his body lying in a pool of blood, sans head), which is quite a bit closer, but I'm not sure if anyone here would know what I'm talking about.

Offline consortium11

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #139 on: May 11, 2013, 04:23:43 AM »
My problem comes when that changes from 'this isn't good writing, here's the problems with how it portrays character A in a sexist or objectified manner, here's why I'm not buying/supporting/etc this product' to 'you're sexist, this whole industry is sexist, this is a crisis'.

So what happens when people repeatedly say the first thing, point it out to multiple writers/artists over multiple years and still very little changes? At what point can someone say that a creator who repeatedly creates sexist works, has this pointed out and continues to do it anyway is sexist? At what point can someone say that about an industry that does the same? Women in Refrigerators has/was going as a site since 1999... and yet a decade later the awful Cry for Justice was a major DC event based almost entirely around a blatant fridging. Identity Crisis, another infamous fridging, took place in 2004. And that's to say nothing of the way art is still drawn in comics. I enjoy comics, I read a lot of comics both from the Big Two and more "indy" publishers. I even enjoy some comics which are blatantly sexist. I just don't pretend that the comics aren't sexist or that the industry as a whole doesn't have an issue.

Sorry, but yea, it is a good claim that dialogue as ceased because when people start becoming vicious, screaming, angry, and/or vindictive. They're not talking about solutions and compromises anymore.

This seems suspiciously close to the tone argument/fallacy...

Offline Tairis

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #140 on: May 11, 2013, 10:44:41 AM »
So what happens when people repeatedly say the first thing, point it out to multiple writers/artists over multiple years and still very little changes? At what point can someone say that a creator who repeatedly creates sexist works, has this pointed out and continues to do it anyway is sexist? At what point can someone say that about an industry that does the same? Women in Refrigerators has/was going as a site since 1999... and yet a decade later the awful Cry for Justice was a major DC event based almost entirely around a blatant fridging. Identity Crisis, another infamous fridging, took place in 2004. And that's to say nothing of the way art is still drawn in comics. I enjoy comics, I read a lot of comics both from the Big Two and more "indy" publishers. I even enjoy some comics which are blatantly sexist. I just don't pretend that the comics aren't sexist or that the industry as a whole doesn't have an issue.

So my question then becomes what does viciously attacking that industry accomplish?

Some writers just aren't that good. Calling them sexist, etc in a combative, attacking manner isn't going to suddenly make them better. Half the time even blatantly obvious critiques don't work on artists (Rob Lieffield *shakes fist*) And by taking the 'everyone is sexist for reading these' etc road you alienate some of the people that could have been on your side by insinuating negative qualities that they might not even possess (admittedly there are some that DO possess those negative qualities, but they also aren't likely to change). I haven't seen the comics industry do a 180 since 1999 (the 'fridge' start date) for example.

Comics have changed over the years based on society as a whole. One generation of writers has retired or phased on, another one steps in, new stories are written. The change comes from new blood and new readers changing the target audience. We've seen some shifts and changes. But if we're going to see a drastic '180' style change it's only going to come about if the people reading the comics stop buying the comics. The 'big two' especially are all about money.

What is not going to get the predominantly male readership of comic books to stop buying comics? Attacking their hobby and them as individuals.

If a particular author has proven themselves to be beyond the pale? Then you should stop buying their work if that's how you feel. And there is nothing wrong with pointing that out to other people. But do it in a reasonable manner.

Quote
This seems suspiciously close to the tone argument/fallacy...

The tone argument fallacy (which is already a shaky one) would apply if I was saying that the only thing that matter was the tone and that the tone somehow invalidated the facts. I'm not claiming that there's no sexism in comics or any other industry. I'm simply stating that when two groups of people get angry and self righteous about an issue it turns into a game of scoring points. Not of actually fixing anything. Human beings get their feelings hurt and want to hit back until it devolves into scenarios like the 'Dickwolf' thing.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2013, 10:48:35 AM by Tairis »

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #141 on: May 11, 2013, 11:31:03 AM »
So my question then becomes what does viciously attacking that industry accomplish?
So now it's a "vicious attack" on the entire industry if a fan who loves comics, buys works that they can support, and wants them to be better points out that fridging is an issue, or that DC's handling of the Batgirls as compared to their handling of the Robins is problematic, or the bullshit that Gail Simone went through recently, or how horrible the standard female T&A shot is, or Greg Land. Good to know.

Some writers just aren't that good. Calling them sexist, etc in a combative, attacking manner isn't going to suddenly make them better. Half the time even blatantly obvious critiques don't work on artists (Rob Lieffield *shakes fist*) And by taking the 'everyone is sexist for reading these' etc road you alienate some of the people that could have been on your side by insinuating negative qualities that they might not even possess (admittedly there are some that DO possess those negative qualities, but they also aren't likely to change). I haven't seen the comics industry do a 180 since 1999 (the 'fridge' start date) for example.
If the bad writers are pointed out as having serious problems, enough that people object and stop buying their works... well, soon they stop getting decent work. (See: The joke that is Frank Miller's recent career.) And who exactly is taking the "everybody is sexist for reading these" angle? I've seen a lot of "You should probably think about this before reading these.", but the former appears to be a total strawman as far as this thread is concerned. Once again, as has already been pointed out to you: The people complaining loudest about this are fans who want to see the thing they love become better.

What is not going to get the predominantly male readership of comic books to stop buying comics? Attacking their hobby and them as individuals.

If a particular author has proven themselves to be beyond the pale? Then you should stop buying their work if that's how you feel. And there is nothing wrong with pointing that out to other people. But do it in a reasonable manner.

The tone argument fallacy (which is already a shaky one) would apply if I was saying that the only thing that matter was the tone and that the tone somehow invalidated the facts. I'm not claiming that there's no sexism in comics or any other industry. I'm simply stating that when two groups of people get angry and self righteous about an issue it turns into a game of scoring points. Not of actually fixing anything. Human beings get their feelings hurt and want to hit back until it devolves into scenarios like the 'Dickwolf' thing.

I, uhh... think you might want to reread the part immediately above the last paragraph there. And the numerous other times you've said that the tone of the arguments invalidates them or turns them into "vicious attack [on the] industry".

Online Skynet

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #142 on: May 11, 2013, 12:24:49 PM »
...or the bullshit that Gail Simone went through recently...

I haven't really kept up with her lately.  What happened?

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #143 on: May 11, 2013, 12:41:17 PM »
I haven't really kept up with her lately.  What happened?
As of December 2012, she was DC's only long-term female creator. She helmed a title that did better than the majority of their line, coming in at #17 in overall sales, with its first trade ranking at #4 on the New York Times list. She had a huge fanbase who would buy literally anything with her name on it.

Then she was summarily fired, for no readily apparent reason. Via email.

Then the fanbase collectively lost its shit, DC realised she was basically a license to print money, and they hired her back. But still - it should not have taken that.

Offline Tairis

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #144 on: May 11, 2013, 11:04:42 PM »
So now it's a "vicious attack" on the entire industry if a fan who loves comics, buys works that they can support, and wants them to be better points out that fridging is an issue, or that DC's handling of the Batgirls as compared to their handling of the Robins is problematic, or the bullshit that Gail Simone went through recently, or how horrible the standard female T&A shot is, or Greg Land. Good to know.

So two things:

1) No, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that taking it to the extreme doesn't help anyone which is often what the 'argument' devolves into. Such as the whole thing about Dragons Crown as was brought up on the first page. Pretty much with history repeating itself where both the original critic and the creator/artist for the game turned it into a giant shit flinging storm until both of them actually calmed down and had an actual conversation.

2) I'll leave the other with this simple question: How is that everyone seems to know that Gail Simone was fired from Batgirl because the DC executives are sexists that hate money... but I can type in a google search of 'Why was Gail Simone Fired' and get NO actual facts about said firing even from the woman in question? Just a lot of theories.

The industry ain't perfect, but the above is kinda part of my issue in a nutshell. Because this latest (of many) idiotic decision on the part of a comic book publisher involved a well known woman then it's automatically assumed it was sexism that resulted in her being fired.

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If the bad writers are pointed out as having serious problems, enough that people object and stop buying their works... well, soon they stop getting decent work. (See: The joke that is Frank Miller's recent career.) And who exactly is taking the "everybody is sexist for reading these" angle? I've seen a lot of "You should probably think about this before reading these.", but the former appears to be a total strawman as far as this thread is concerned. Once again, as has already been pointed out to you: The people complaining loudest about this are fans who want to see the thing they love become better.

I wasn't or wasn't trying to single out anyone in this thread. Though by the second page you have someone claiming that every counter argument against them is fallacious and things went down hill from there to further comments of 'person A doesn't see it from my way ergo they're 'part of the problem'. My point, however, was regarding the 'campaign/movement' in general that springs up around these sorts of incidents that devolve into nothing more than flame wars and shit slinging.

Haven't actually read Frank Miller's recent stuff (I did read All Star Batman and Robin awhile back. That was both awful writing but somewhat entertaining in a train wreck sorta way so I can definitely believe his stuff has declined).

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I, uhh... think you might want to reread the part immediately above the last paragraph there. And the numerous other times you've said that the tone of the arguments invalidates them or turns them into "vicious attack [on the] industry".

And I've said, over and over, in this thread that I think people should critique and call out problems they see in the works they love. I also said that once it turns into a witch hunt or campaign against some perceived 'evil' or 'conspiracy' then it quickly devolves into nonsense of people yelling at one another. The tone fallacy is not a magical shield that lets someone be as belligerent as they want and still claim the moral high ground. It's meant to prevent someone from saying 'The sky isn't blue because I don't like how you said it was blue'.

This thread is taking entirely too much of my time so I'll leave it with as brief a summation of my argument as possible rather than continue to beat my head against the wall:

Sexism exists, it will probably always exist, some industries do have bad elements in them or others that are not trying to be offensive but simply didn't think a plot line or idea through as much as they should have. And people have the right to critique, complain, boycott. But they shouldn't expect favorable reactions from the people they are asking to change if they go about it by being vicious or accusatory about it.And there is not a grand conspiracy of sexism 'keeping women down' that needs some sort of great campaign or civil rights comparisons.

The world we live in is pretty damn good compared to where we were thirty years ago. And many things are continuing to change. Want to help it change? Great. Be active, be reasonable. But don't act like the greatest crime against humanity that's been perpetrated in recent memory is that someone drew too many comic book characters with bad anatomy or too skimpy of a costume.

Instead have a reasonable discussion about a social issue and move on with your life.

That's exactly what I'm doing.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #145 on: May 12, 2013, 01:03:02 AM »
2) I'll leave the other with this simple question: How is that everyone seems to know that Gail Simone was fired from Batgirl because the DC executives are sexists that hate money... but I can type in a google search of 'Why was Gail Simone Fired' and get NO actual facts about said firing even from the woman in question? Just a lot of theories.
...well, that's just it. She's a highly-respected writer, who was performing not just adequately but well above average, and had a long history of doing so and a dedicated fanbase. About the only visible point of friction was her repeated requests to use female characters that were shelved without explanation. There are a few possible reasons DC would fire its only female creator under these circumstances, let alone do it via email. Not one of them paints DC in a good light, particularly on gender issues.

The industry ain't perfect, but the above is kinda part of my issue in a nutshell. Because this latest (of many) idiotic decision on the part of a comic book publisher involved a well known woman then it's automatically assumed it was sexism that resulted in her being fired.
When her job performance was way above many of her male peers? When she visibly brought in more money than them? When, once again, the only visible point of friction was "Hey, I've got this great idea for Steph..." "No." "How about Cass?" "No, dammit."? There is a high bar of evidence required to show that the firing was justified. DC has failed to even pretend to provide any, even in light of the massive shitstorm. In fact, they immediately rehired her, which strongly indicates that there wasn't a legitimate issue that was worth losing the money she brought in.

I wasn't or wasn't trying to single out anyone in this thread. Though by the second page you have someone claiming that every counter argument against them is fallacious and things went down hill from there to further comments of 'person A doesn't see it from my way ergo they're 'part of the problem'. My point, however, was regarding the 'campaign/movement' in general that springs up around these sorts of incidents that devolve into nothing more than flame wars and shit slinging.
It's not "If you don't see things exactly my way you're part of the problem" so much as "If you don't acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, the other side actually has a point - and spend at least a good five minutes thinking about things from their perspective - then yes, you are likely encouraging the problem." It's possible to disagree - don't get me started on second wave feminists, for example - but it's not possible to bury your head in the sand and claim that anybody who wants you to at least understand the issue you're discussing is the real problem.

And I've said, over and over, in this thread that I think people should critique and call out problems they see in the works they love. I also said that once it turns into a witch hunt or campaign against some perceived 'evil' or 'conspiracy' then it quickly devolves into nonsense of people yelling at one another. The tone fallacy is not a magical shield that lets someone be as belligerent as they want and still claim the moral high ground. It's meant to prevent someone from saying 'The sky isn't blue because I don't like how you said it was blue'.
...except here's the thing: You don't get to set limits on what's "too belligerent". Especially not when your standard for that appears to be "mentioned the word sexism".

Sexism exists, it will probably always exist, some industries do have bad elements in them or others that are not trying to be offensive but simply didn't think a plot line or idea through as much as they should have. And people have the right to critique, complain, boycott. But they shouldn't expect favorable reactions from the people they are asking to change if they go about it by being vicious or accusatory about it.And there is not a grand conspiracy of sexism 'keeping women down' that needs some sort of great campaign or civil rights comparisons.
For fuck's sake. That line I bolded? Is a massive and blatant strawman. You are arguing against nobody in this thread. Seriously, search it for the word "conspiracy". Civil rights comparisons were drawn because, as has been pointed out, social justice movements can learn lessons from those of yesteryear. And one of the most consistent repeated lessons - in slavery, in women's suffrage, in the civil rights movement, in the gay rights movement - is that being quiet and polite does not work.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #146 on: May 12, 2013, 01:05:49 AM »
But some of those who enjoy the hobby (as receiving it, feeling sexy and special in the eyes of strangers etc) are women. And yes, when a minority of people feel their pleasure, their sense of self is getting attacked by what they see as a big, overbold and bigoted horde (the rest of us, or the "silent or not-so-silent majority", whatever) it can get very raw and ugly. And personal.

 Besides it's objectification focusing on some people's looks, appeal and presence - real or imaginary people -  I am talking about, not equality as a general thing. Welcome to keep reaching into equality but I'm no part of that discussion topic as far as this thread goes.


*checking out now for some time*

Okay, but I don't think the line is a razor sharp one. Some people do enjoy it a good deal when they're showed off, or get to play off against other people's gazes - past, present or anticipated round the corner - even though they are aware on some level that those gazes pass by (deny) some of their more human, live and ordinary sides. Or that you, the attractive person, are acting under more or less strict directions from behind the scenes: walk the carpet like this, talk in this vein, smile like this etc. And at the same time, this incites envy in other people - "that person is stealing the spotlight on all of us" - and that's part of the reason why discussing it can get so heated.

Certainly some people that enjoy comic books, video games and that culture are women.  Just as black people enjoyed movies at a time when racism was rampant in Hollywood and there are homosexual people that enjoy hip-hop despite the many lyrics and artists that are hateful of them.  People can enjoy a part of culture that does treat them poorly without enjoying that aspect of the culture.  Many women that play video games and read comic books have spoken out against such genres.  This does not mean that women will just throw down their comic books which they have grown to love, simply demanding as a paying audience that better female characters are presented to enjoy. 

Also, objectification is not simply admiring someoneís physical presence and beauty.  Objectification is more complex than simply looking at a womanís breasts or a manís behind.  I believe the definition has been brought up many times before as being different than simply admiring a beautiful body or a sexual pose.  Immanuel Kantís thoughts on objectification are quite influential to modern feminist theory and involve the lowering of a personís rational self so that another views that person as an object or a thing.  Feminist Theory has several aspects to objectification.

instrumentality: the treatment of a person as a tool for the objectifier's purposes;
denial of autonomy: the treatment of a person as lacking in autonomy and self-determination;
inertness: the treatment of a person as lacking in agency, and perhaps also in activity;
fungibility: the treatment of a person as interchangeable with other objects;
violability: the treatment of a person as lacking in boundary-integrity;
ownership: the treatment of a person as something that is owned by another (can be bought or sold);
denial of subjectivity: the treatment of a person as something whose experiences and feelings (if any) need not be taken into account.

None of these involve admiring, looking or ďchecking outĒ another person or giving them a compliment. 

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-objectification/

In a sense we are discussing equality.  We are discussing the equality of female characters to be on par with male characters for their treatment and depth.  Just as myths, legends and faerie tales set the tone for a culture; women are asking that icons of our modern day culture reflect the accomplishments and complexities of a modern day woman.


  Writing of people who "enjoy the hobby" and don't want it challenged, I was thinking of real-life objectifying behaviour - real life gestures, talk and interplay, and including the one who is receiving it (often women, but not always). A lot of the arguments about objectification as a choker of equality that I've heard over the years (not just this thread) draw sweeping parallels between objectification in comics, books, art and in real life: the one is attacked as a means of undermining the other, and the underlying idea often is "if you accept objectifying images in art, adverts, comics, movies you will perpetuate them in your own life as well "or in the lives of other women. And vice versa: if you're a guy and objectify women irl you're likely to want the female characters in your video games and movies to be big-boobed props who are not driving the story. As far I can see Anita Sarkeesian's criticisms of video game gender mapping and gamer culture relied to some extent on those lines (but I haven't read her in depth).

But anyway, when I said quite a few women accept and enjoy getting objectified in some situations, as long as it does not lead to long-term serious loss of control or reputation, I was thinking more of r/l objectifying activities, gazes, hints and talk than how game characters are framed and pictured. Some women actually do enjoy receiving a measure of objectification in daily life, they are not against it on principle and they like it personally, but it's not seen as kosher today to come out and say that in a public space, in print, especially not for women. I honestly think we need to realize that

1) Not all women feel the same about clearly receiving objectification themselves, of being "dolled up", getting clearly looked at for satisfaction and nipped in the butt, playing up to get that kind of thing going, or receiving the protective cover of a man (often, but not always, the partner) that allows them the space to act the coquette in a safe way. Some women loathe all of that, but not all women.

2) What you wish for yourself doesn't have to translate directly to what you think is right on principle for everybody else. And if somebody claims that her general (political and moral) principles are perfectly aligned with what she wants for herself, we don't have to buy that without questions.

3) Many people want their relationship at home to be permeated by flavours that they do not see as a yardstick for wider society. Just because a woman wants things to have some feel of Bacall vs Bogart at home, likes old musicals and loves vintage clothing doesn't mean she wants to be treated like a fifties housewife or secretary when she steps out the door, or when she is discussing let's say politics, religion or books. Or wants to see a sharp throwback to what colleges or courtrooms could be like for women in the old days. I think we have to acknowledge that people are not of one piece in that way. 

One more point, objectification and reducing someone to a powerless tool are often discussed in a way that starts on one level, maybe a language level, and then moves to harder and more real-life stuff. That kind of thing might happen when someone is getting pushed down too, of course, but it's also a way to trump up an argument, to make a hen out of a feather.The other day I saw some columnist in a paper around here saying "I think the question must be raised, can you ever accept taking somebody else's name upon your marriage without bending down into submission for the guy with part of your person? ---My name is so unique to myself that I can barely even envisage losing it without losing a vital part of myself!" (though in the next part of the piece, she noted that there was actually one other person with the same first and last name, someone living in the same city of course, and due to googling they were sometimes getting confused by strangers, "name contamination" sort of:they had never really met). That kind of "raising a question" talk can sometimes be done as just a loud, contrived way of really stating "This is HOW it works: no one can adopt the family name of the person she's marrying without letting herself be objectified and forced into submission". It's ostensibly argued from "this is how I feel about it" to "this is a general law that can or does apply to everybody, especially all women". Logically it's paper thin and besides there's not such a rock hard social pressure these days on women to adopt their hubby's family name, so you could say it's really raising one's own prickliness to a pristine virtue, but it's precisely the hook-up between a personal "I feel this way, this happened to me" (no matter how embellished that part may have been) and a general claim: "Everybody needs to think this way" that makes it hard to discuss without risking to be pictured as sexist or patronizing just because one *is* discussing it, and not just buying the claim. A technique for making one's own doodled tune sound unchallengeable and morally superior,
« Last Edit: May 12, 2013, 01:19:13 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Healergirl

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #147 on: May 12, 2013, 07:08:42 AM »
Ephiral,

Please, for the love of humanity, don't even mention S*c*nd  W*v*  F*m*n*sts in this context.

The incautious  use of Names can Summon, you know....

Yes, I am Third Wave, if one insists I put a label on myself.  The Riot Grrl Movement...   *sigh*  Those were the days.

Those SWF women, insisting it was their way or the highway, and we pretty much ignored them when we could.  Ignoring them was the worst thing we could do to them.  And we knew that of course.

Offline consortium11

Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #148 on: May 12, 2013, 08:41:42 AM »
Ephiral,

Please, for the love of humanity, don't even mention S*c*nd  W*v*  F*m*n*sts in this context.

The incautious  use of Names can Summon, you know....

Yes, I am Third Wave, if one insists I put a label on myself.  The Riot Grrl Movement...   *sigh*  Those were the days.

Those SWF women, insisting it was their way or the highway, and we pretty much ignored them when we could.  Ignoring them was the worst thing we could do to them.  And we knew that of course.

And all tied together with a nice dose of trans-phobia which seems if not endemic then at least as a strong undercurrent of the remnants of the second wave.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Character designs: sexism and objectification
« Reply #149 on: May 12, 2013, 09:24:46 AM »
And all tied together with a nice dose of trans-phobia which seems if not endemic then at least as a strong undercurrent of the remnants of the second wave.
This is the overwhelming majority of my issue with them, yes.