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Author Topic: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?  (Read 13695 times)

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Offline ImaginedScenes

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #150 on: September 11, 2014, 06:28:19 PM »
Quote
In the interests of promoting feedback, of promoting positive discussion, then, and since I'm sure one thing we can all agree on in this thread is that misogyny and sexism are bad, I'd like to ask what everyone thinks we should do to address these issues, to actually enact change and combat the sexism that exists in the videogame industry.

Personally, I think that the issue is one of authorship.  Game developers aren't actively trying to spread misogyny with the games they make, they're just trying to make games that they enjoy playing.  However, the vast majority of these developers are male, even though the audience for their games is an almost 50/50 split between male and female, and as a result we have an under-representation of women in gaming.  Given unbalanced statistics like that, the clear solution to me seems to be to get more women making video games.

And because nobody is going to want to work in an industry when all that they've heard about it is that it's prejudiced against them, we should probably try focusing more on women who are already active in the industry, celebrate them for the great things that they've done, and encourage gaming companies to hire more women for development teams so that women can continue to do great things for the industry in the future.

Appreciated this post a lot. I think talking about ways to make games better is a lot more effective at changing public opinion and getting good discussions going than what Anita is doing. The "ban games that aren't like what I like" kind of attitude just makes people mad like you said.

Personally I think games would be a lot better if game writers asked people what they'd do in a situation. Like you could make a romance movie based on a bunch of cliches or you could ask people what their real relationships were like and make a movie based on what they say. I want the second kind of movie. Getting more women into game writing positions would help a bit, but no one can know the experiences of everyone else. An older white woman won't know how a younger person of color would handle a situation, yeah?

The very basics could be making games that don't revolve around saving a specific person, and learning from the feedback of people who play the game a lot. Part two there would be easier if more women did Let's Plays of games they like but want to see changes in.

The other thing is that good guys should stand up in support of their female gamer friends. I don't mean like telling guys who comment on their videos to back off. I mean like doing Let's Plays with their girlfriends and talking about their opinoins on the game with them, or commenting about the things a woman said in her Let's Play when the guy is doing his own Let's Play. Don't play games much myself anymore, but if I was doing a Final Fantasy Let's Play I'd bring up things female gamers said about the game that I also agreed would be nice.

It isn't just women who want games to better represent women and be fun for women. If you want to help change things, you should help show that to the game industry and other gamers.

Quote
Still, I don't understand - why is 'male character with breasts' a thing? Why is it a bad thing? Is it even a bad thing?

Don't get it either. Almost sounds like an insult at some of my friends.

Offline Melusine

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #151 on: September 11, 2014, 06:37:55 PM »
So back when gaming started, it was practically frowned upon as an inferior and socially unacceptable hobby. And so it, as so many things do, comes down to sex. gaming became the refuge of the guys who "couldn't get laid". The sporty guys got laid and played football whilst the nerds played pac-man and had a cheeky wee wank (I realise this is probably exaggerated but I don't think it's too far from the truth). Combine this with the fact that it tends to be easier for a girl to get laid, and the social stigma behind video games starts to rise up as being that all gamers are lonely neckbeard nerds who live in their parents basement. And that's where the cycle starts, the first people who got into video games and thus the first generation of developers and enthusiasts have all lived with very little female involvement in their chosen hobby. Obviously this has changed now, but much of the social stigma remains and I feel that this same stigma may actually be very related to whether or not girls actually do decide to play games.

I realise that this may be a little out of place in a serious argument but this particular joking image from 4chan does have a sort of element of truth buried within it:



Edit: changed the size of the image

That's just...not true at all. Gaming was the refuge of the guys who couldn't get laid? What about gals who couldn't get laid, like me? Do geek girls not exist? Have I, and a good deal of female friends playing since the 80's, been men that entire time?

Women have been playing videogames ever since videogames were invented, just as they'd been involved in every single "male-oriented" hobby or field. Comic books. Science. Computers. War. Women had been there since the beginning, it's just that their presence was deemed unimportant and the exception to the rule. The picture you posted is seriously misguided. It has no element of truth buried within it. More than one of the women I know had been playing videogames before the guy who made the picture was probably even alive.

Also, about the "man with breasts" thing. I personally think it can be either good or bad. Specifically, it refers to a female character who is virtually indistinguishable from a male one in the way she's written. Completely gender neutral. One of my favourite ladies ever, Ellen Ripley, was written as a man first and then simply genderswapped. It can be useful, if you're aiming for an ultra-progressive society where genders are absolutely equal and treated the same. But the approach can be a little bit tone-deaf when you want to write a woman with all her female problems in our era, navigating sexism and related social contexts. It all depends on the kind of character you want to write.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #152 on: September 11, 2014, 07:06:08 PM »
I'm confused. How are these in any way linked? Also... What optional thing in Portal? Nothing in Portal is optional... It's an entirely linear game... And my point about Mass Effect was that she was a strong protagonist in spite of being optional... So. Yes? You're getting it right? Sort of?
The point there was "Optional things don't count when they show examples of sexism, but they totally count when they show strong female characters!" It's... kinda hypocritical. And the operation you described to see Chell in Portal? Not exactly part of solving any of the puzzles. ie, optional.

Hey, I made it clear that I didn't understand her point not that I was ignoring it. I've never played Injustice and so I had no idea what she was talking about. Also the phrase "women in the fridge" is something I've never heard of and still don't particularly understand... Although I feel like I'm getting a picture now.

I have a new response then to the original argument, though I suspect like you aren't going to like it. This still feels irrelevant. Superman is simply a more recognisable character than Wonder Woman. Obviously people know Wonder Woman and you don't even have to know much about Marvel to know much about her. BUT Superman is the more popular character (I don't think that's too unrealistic to assume that is the case) especially as Wonder Woman did pretty much start off as a female Superman (as far as I'm aware). So perhaps in this case they wanted to use Superman because he is the more recognisable of the two... Although I am aware that this feels very much like an argument to make in retrospect and not one they actually had at the time.
Still ignoring the key point: The entire motivation for the whole story is "Joker murders Lois Lane." Again, woman killed off for no reason except to motivate a man. That is what "women in refrigerators" is about.

Also... you, um, know pretty much nothing about Wonder Woman, and it's kinda showing. She started off as a bondage enthusiast's way to sneak things that would get him off into his job, and then was salvaged into an actual strong female character. Depending on who's writing, of course.

And why does it have to be male then? Is that the future of gaming? You will have a team of 4 soldiers: Jim, Bob, Necessary Female One, Necessary Female Two? Otherwise everybody loses their minds that there are more men than women in the game (like this whole bloody kerfuffle over the "bro-op" in Assassin's Creed Unity).
Yes. Of course. The only possible alternative to 99.5% male heroes, 99.5% female victims is "everything perfectly 50/50 and if you ever deviate from that by a single character anywhere, all hell will break loose."

I understand what you mean, and you know it is something that could do with changing. I can't even count the number of games where you are out to avenge your wife/sister/mother or some other helpless woman who had no strong man to protect her. I get that. However, I also feel like too big an issue is made of it. Maybe that's because I'm male, but maybe that's also because I'm judging the games/characters based on the merit of the games/characters and not their genitals (my favourite point you may see, because I've made it twice now).
So... if the characters' genitalia is no big deal... why should it be such a big deal to break from the assumed defaults? Why shouldn't we have more female protagonists and male rescuees? If it's no big deal to you - and it clearly is a big deal to a lot of people who want more characters they can identify with - where's the problem with some equality?

I'd like to cite an example from TV here: Have you ever seen Leverage? It was an incredibly beloved show with a strong ensemble of protagonists, all of whom - male and female - were shown to be eminently capable in their fields, and there was actually a behind-the-scenes policy that the female leads would never be put in "damsel-in-distress" situations to be rescued. You would have a hard time making the case that this weakened the show in any way - and in fact, they did a very moving episode centered around the damsel-in-distress trope. So we can do good media where nobody is depicted as weak or incapable because of their gender - why shouldn't we?

I also feel I ought to point out that in many of the examples used previously the females wouldn't have an equal capability (take Dishonored as an example there, which is set in a Victorian style era where women were considered inferior to me and definitely would have had fewer opportunities, including the opportunity to learn how to fight).
I'm not about to do your research for you, but... yeah, there have been female warriors, soldiers, and fighters as long as there have been warriors, soldiers, and fighters. It might not have been the expected norm, but that's a very far cry from "didn't happen".

As to the Witcher thing. I actually don't have an argument against that. I suppose I can see why you feel this is derogatory and sexist. And I feel very reluctant saying that because I'm aware the Witcher is a fantastic game and one I really want. Can you at least collect cards for sleeping with men as well (I don't know if you have the option of being gay in the game)?
Well, that's an important thing that seems to be being missed here: A problematic element does not mean it's a bad game and you should feel bad for liking it. (Hell, Saint's Row 3, one of the games that has been noted in this thread for equality, is pretty much nothing but problematic elements, used well for the most part.) It means it could be a better game. Anita Sarkeesian wants games to be better - that is literally the point of critique.



Right now, we say that games aren't very inviting to women because of sexist elements, yes?  (For the sake of discussion I'll simply agree that yes, this is correct, although there are other elements I'd like to debate later.)  However, how did we get to the current point?

Gaming has always been a male-dominated hobby.  Yet the culture of games, and specifically sexism in games, had to start somewhere, right?  Assuming all other things being equal, when games were in their infancy, we would expect them to be enjoyed by both men and women roughly equally, right?  Yet that wasn't the case, and this was before everyone started looking at the sexism in games.  Essentially, we're going around in circles: games are sexist because they're pandering to a primarily male audience, there's primarily a male audience for games because the games pander to them... the cycle had to start somewhere, yes?
I, for one, would put my money on that "somewhere" being the difficulty of making a career in the STEM fields as a woman, and the marketing of early games. There were pretty much no women involved in early games design, and the initial marketing was to boys. It'd be shocking if it didn't turn into an insular boys' club in those circumstances.

Offline Assassini

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #153 on: September 11, 2014, 08:09:22 PM »
I find this one interesting. I've heard it before - the 'male character with breasts' - and I really don't understand what that statement is supposed to mean. It seems to me to imply that there ought to be some difference between male and female characters. Which I thought was contrary to what we were actually trying to achieve.

I mean, don't get me wrong. I understand that you can have a deep and strong female character and still have her behave in a way that would seem strange for a male character ( well - Gears of War might disagree ), as I believe the Tomb Raider reboot demonstrates - it at least tried to demonstrate this, according to the writer herself in an interview.

Still, I don't understand - why is 'male character with breasts' a thing? Why is it a bad thing? Is it even a bad thing?


Appreciated this post a lot. I think talking about ways to make games better is a lot more effective at changing public opinion and getting good discussions going than what Anita is doing. The "ban games that aren't like what I like" kind of attitude just makes people mad like you said.

Personally I think games would be a lot better if game writers asked people what they'd do in a situation. Like you could make a romance movie based on a bunch of cliches or you could ask people what their real relationships were like and make a movie based on what they say. I want the second kind of movie. Getting more women into game writing positions would help a bit, but no one can know the experiences of everyone else. An older white woman won't know how a younger person of color would handle a situation, yeah?

The very basics could be making games that don't revolve around saving a specific person, and learning from the feedback of people who play the game a lot. Part two there would be easier if more women did Let's Plays of games they like but want to see changes in.

The other thing is that good guys should stand up in support of their female gamer friends. I don't mean like telling guys who comment on their videos to back off. I mean like doing Let's Plays with their girlfriends and talking about their opinoins on the game with them, or commenting about the things a woman said in her Let's Play when the guy is doing his own Let's Play. Don't play games much myself anymore, but if I was doing a Final Fantasy Let's Play I'd bring up things female gamers said about the game that I also agreed would be nice.

It isn't just women who want games to better represent women and be fun for women. If you want to help change things, you should help show that to the game industry and other gamers.

Don't get it either. Almost sounds like an insult at some of my friends.

Didn't want these posts to get buried away without just briefly saying that I very much agree with all the points you are making.

That's just...not true at all. Gaming was the refuge of the guys who couldn't get laid? What about gals who couldn't get laid, like me? Do geek girls not exist? Have I, and a good deal of female friends playing since the 80's, been men that entire time?

Women have been playing videogames ever since videogames were invented, just as they'd been involved in every single "male-oriented" hobby or field. Comic books. Science. Computers. War. Women had been there since the beginning, it's just that their presence was deemed unimportant and the exception to the rule. The picture you posted is seriously misguided. It has no element of truth buried within it. More than one of the women I know had been playing videogames before the guy who made the picture was probably even alive.

Also, about the "man with breasts" thing. I personally think it can be either good or bad. Specifically, it refers to a female character who is virtually indistinguishable from a male one in the way she's written. Completely gender neutral. One of my favourite ladies ever, Ellen Ripley, was written as a man first and then simply genderswapped. It can be useful, if you're aiming for an ultra-progressive society where genders are absolutely equal and treated the same. But the approach can be a little bit tone-deaf when you want to write a woman with all her female problems in our era, navigating sexism and related social contexts. It all depends on the kind of character you want to write.

Right, let me make it clear that just a lot of what I said was an exaggeration. I definitely did not mean to imply that no girls played video games and I am also entirely aware that there will be women who have as much or even more gaming knowledge than me. There will be girls who have been playing for longer, know more of the secrets, know more about the design process. But that wasn't my point. I mean, I'm a gamer and I've never had a neckbeard and don't live in my parent's basement. The point was that this social stigma existed and this stigma might have been what drawn more guys than girls (in the "good old days") towards video games, because of finding like-minded people.

About the picture. Yes, it's misguided but one shouldn't take it too seriously because it is a joke. On the other hand, there is definitely some element of truth in it (or at least from my own experience there is). Again I want to remind you of what I just said about girls being just as capable of being gamers as guys, however there are elements out there which sort of fight against this. The "gamer gurl" thing is a real thing. It's overplayed of course, and far to many guys use it as an excuse to ignore girls or even mistreat them when it comes to video games (you know the sort of "oh look, she's wearing a Portal t-shirt she's clearly just doing it to get attention"). However, it does exist. I don't particularly want to defend the picture (because it's a joke) but I can't help but feel that the reason it's funny is because of the way it makes a satire of real life. It exaggerates something which is true.

I don't really know how I feel about the man with breasts thing. It's an argument/theory I've never heard before and so I don't exactly know off the bat how to feel about it. I would say that I would have hoped some effort goes into writing women a little differently from men. But then again I wonder isn't that part of the problem feminists are against? And if it is about life experience as ImaginedScenes says then I feel that you would need a different writer for every single character, which is simply impractical. Honestly, when it comes to writing, you just have to look in the right place I'd say. Games with a greater focus on story will have better written females. But they'll also have better written males. They'll have better written characters, which sort of comes back to my original and main argument. I don't know, I don't really see any issue either way. I'll need to think about it.

The point there was "Optional things don't count when they show examples of sexism, but they totally count when they show strong female characters!" It's... kinda hypocritical. And the operation you described to see Chell in Portal? Not exactly part of solving any of the puzzles. ie, optional.

I'm sorry but I'm still not seeing your point. I haven't given any examples of optional things which show examples of sexism (as far as I'm aware). Especially as what I described about being able to see Chell is irrelevant, even if you didn't do that she would still have a female character model... And so still be a woman... And so still counts as a female protagonist.

Still ignoring the key point: The entire motivation for the whole story is "Joker murders Lois Lane." Again, woman killed off for no reason except to motivate a man. That is what "women in refrigerators" is about.

Also... you, um, know pretty much nothing about Wonder Woman, and it's kinda showing. She started off as a bondage enthusiast's way to sneak things that would get him off into his job, and then was salvaged into an actual strong female character. Depending on who's writing, of course.

Oooh, the Joker murders Lois Lane?! I see. I thought you were saying he murdered Wonder Woman. Right, in that case I'll concede it's a fair point. Even so, I still don't really think it's an example of sexism though, just lazy writing. I did say that I dislike vengeance as a motivator anyway.

Well that just hurts my feelings... But it's very true. I'm not particularly into comic books and never have been, it's not my world and not something I particularly care about. If that's how she started, that's very interesting. She does come from Krypton though doesn't she? Or am I getting mixed up with Power Girl? I know that Marvel (and DC for that matter) used to have a horrible case of making a bloody female version of every single male character they had. Whatever the case, they don't tend to make very good video games (in my experience) so that's all I care about (except the Arkham series which is glorious).

Yes. Of course. The only possible alternative to 99.5% male heroes, 99.5% female victims is "everything perfectly 50/50 and if you ever deviate from that by a single character anywhere, all hell will break loose."

So... if the characters' genitalia is no big deal... why should it be such a big deal to break from the assumed defaults? Why shouldn't we have more female protagonists and male rescuees? If it's no big deal to you - and it clearly is a big deal to a lot of people who want more characters they can identify with - where's the problem with some equality?

It's not a big deal to me. If the character is good then I'm happy! I DON'T care about their genitalia, that's exactly my point. The people who apparently do are those who want to change more men into women... Because the men aren't good enough (even if they are a good character). I did say we ought to have more female protagonists, but if we end up with a bunch of 2 dimensional "strong-independent-woman-who-don't-need-no-man" types then I'm going to take it as a step backwards instead of forwards.

I'd like to cite an example from TV here: Have you ever seen Leverage? It was an incredibly beloved show with a strong ensemble of protagonists, all of whom - male and female - were shown to be eminently capable in their fields, and there was actually a behind-the-scenes policy that the female leads would never be put in "damsel-in-distress" situations to be rescued. You would have a hard time making the case that this weakened the show in any way - and in fact, they did a very moving episode centered around the damsel-in-distress trope. So we can do good media where nobody is depicted as weak or incapable because of their gender - why shouldn't we?

Unfortunately I'm not familiar with the series. I did a quick Google search and I think it never aired over here so I would have to go out of my way to watch it. What is the premise of the show?

I have to say you seem to have, thus far, been reading my arguments as that we shouldn't have women protagonists and women should remain as damsels in distress when I've merely been defending the games and against the overall claims of sexism. If a game can manage what you describe then fantastic! I'd love to play it. Hell, I'd actually like to mention The Walking Dead video games (the Telltale ones) here as a possible example. As far as I can remember there's never any of these damsel-in-distress situations you find so appalling and it's an utterly fabulous series of games.

I'm not about to do your research for you, but... yeah, there have been female warriors, soldiers, and fighters as long as there have been warriors, soldiers, and fighters. It might not have been the expected norm, but that's a very far cry from "didn't happen".

Oh come on! I know! I'm well aware there have been women who fought in wars, women who even pretended to be men to go away and fight alongside brothers and husbands. Women who did extraordinary things. Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie. Yes. Excellent. They existed. But it isn't too far a cry from "didn't happen" because these are very rare instances. For every Joan of Arc there were hundreds of male Knights. So if we get a game with a female Knight, I won't complain at all. But if it's a game where nobody once comments something like "how unusual to see a woman wearing armour" and it's done just for the sake of having a female protagonist instead of a male one, then really one could argue that the game is not really a step forward.

Well, that's an important thing that seems to be being missed here: A problematic element does not mean it's a bad game and you should feel bad for liking it. (Hell, Saint's Row 3, one of the games that has been noted in this thread for equality, is pretty much nothing but problematic elements, used well for the most part.) It means it could be a better game. Anita Sarkeesian wants games to be better - that is literally the point of critique.

I don't know, you might well be right about what she wants and is trying to achieve. I just don't think she's going about it the right way. I also think she just makes too many mountains out of molehills.

Offline Melusine

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #154 on: September 11, 2014, 08:34:11 PM »
I don't really know how I feel about the man with breasts thing. It's an argument/theory I've never heard before and so I don't exactly know off the bat how to feel about it. I would say that I would have hoped some effort goes into writing women a little differently from men. But then again I wonder isn't that part of the problem feminists are against? And if it is about life experience as ImaginedScenes says then I feel that you would need a different writer for every single character, which is simply impractical. Honestly, when it comes to writing, you just have to look in the right place I'd say. Games with a greater focus on story will have better written females. But they'll also have better written males. They'll have better written characters, which sort of comes back to my original and main argument. I don't know, I don't really see any issue either way. I'll need to think about it.

I'm not sure what you mean by talking about writing women differently...because at the end of the day, a good character is one who is fully developed, with human flaws and agency. This is true regardless of their being male or female. Though I guess writing a female character you have to consider issues that are uniquely female. Again, that's mostly true in our society, or societies of the past. In a fantasy/sci-fi egalitarian setting, a female character wouldn't have much of an issue being genderswapped.

Take, for example, two well-known female characters: Cersei Lannister and fem!Shepard. Cersei is definitely not a "man with boobs". She wouldn't work if you genderswapped her. Her entire character arc is how misogyny affects her, as a woman. Her character is a source of gender commentary by her writer. But fem!Shep could be considered a "man with breasts" because her struggles are not unique to her womanly nature. She's a war hero, she fights to save the galaxy. These are issues anyone would face.

However, both have their merits. Even if fem!Shep is more gender-neutral, she still exists in a game where you can make your character a female. You can put yourself in her shoes and feel like an awesome lady saving the galaxy. It's an empowering fantasy for women and good representation. In my opinion, we need both types of these characters in games. I want to have commentary on sexism and see my struggles represented, but I also want to have my escapist fantasy where I save the world and nobody thinks I'm lesser because I'm a gal.

This is also a meta-fictional concern. Perhaps people should write women differently in the sense that they should actively try and avoid stereotypes, like women being inherently good mothers, or killing them off at the first opportunity to give a man motivation?

I also forgot to mention that the "man with boobs" refers to another phenomenon in fiction: trying to make a female character "strong" by giving her stereotypically masculine traits like hyperaggression, lack of emotion, ruthlessness. Of course women can have these traits, but that's not the only way a person can be strong, and it's tired characterization to equate the two. I remember this criticism being levelled against Lara Croft, but I haven't played any Tomb Raider games and can't really form an opinion.

Also, I don't think you need many writers to write many characters, even without life experience.  :P That's what research, and talking to people, is for. Listening to different perspectives is valuable and expands our own.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2014, 08:36:23 PM by Melusine »

Offline ningyou

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #155 on: September 11, 2014, 09:10:52 PM »
I agree with everything you say, and there is one theory which I think holds some merit. I think a lot of people forget that even to this day there is a lot of social stigma attached to video gaming. I mean, it's obviously much better now, you can say "Oh I play video games" and no one will shit themselves in shock. However, even to this day I would be very hesitant about mentioning that I classify myself as not just someone who plays games but as a "gamer" to certain people. I wouldn't do it on a first date for example. I suspect it would throw up red flags and the girl would walk away (not literally but you get what I mean).

So back when gaming started, it was practically frowned upon as an inferior and socially unacceptable hobby. And so it, as so many things do, comes down to sex. gaming became the refuge of the guys who "couldn't get laid". The sporty guys got laid and played football whilst the nerds played pac-man and had a cheeky wee wank (I realise this is probably exaggerated but I don't think it's too far from the truth). Combine this with the fact that it tends to be easier for a girl to get laid, and the social stigma behind video games starts to rise up as being that all gamers are lonely neckbeard nerds who live in their parents basement. And that's where the cycle starts, the first people who got into video games and thus the first generation of developers and enthusiasts have all lived with very little female involvement in their chosen hobby. Obviously this has changed now, but much of the social stigma remains and I feel that this same stigma may actually be very related to whether or not girls actually do decide to play games.

I realise that this may be a little out of place in a serious argument but this particular joking image from 4chan does have a sort of element of truth buried within it:



Edit: changed the size of the image

What Melusine said, so so much.

Also there's a grain of truth in that image, but not a grain of truth about ladygamers? It's basically 'lingering resentment because girls i used to know thought i was a dweeb for playing games BUT NOW THEY WANT IN THEY MUST BE FAKING FOR ATTENTION/invading our treehouse and making demands UGH MOST GAMERS ARE MEN ANYWAYS/etc. dot jpeg,' and it seems like a lot of animosity dude-gamers have is wrapped up in that kind of resentment. (see also Fake Geek Girls)

(also seriously other than made-up straw-SJWs who has even said 'someone killed me in an MMO, that's basically rape')

also also lmao "it tends to be easier for a girl to get laid"

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #156 on: September 11, 2014, 09:22:39 PM »
I'm not sure what you mean by talking about writing women differently...because at the end of the day, a good character is one who is fully developed, with human flaws and agency. This is true regardless of their being male or female. Though I guess writing a female character you have to consider issues that are uniquely female. Again, that's mostly true in our society, or societies of the past. In a fantasy/sci-fi egalitarian setting, a female character wouldn't have much of an issue being genderswapped.

Take, for example, two well-known female characters: Cersei Lannister and fem!Shepard. Cersei is definitely not a "man with boobs". She wouldn't work if you genderswapped her. Her entire character arc is how misogyny affects her, as a woman. Her character is a source of gender commentary by her writer. But fem!Shep could be considered a "man with breasts" because her struggles are not unique to her womanly nature. She's a war hero, she fights to save the galaxy. These are issues anyone would face.

However, both have their merits. Even if fem!Shep is more gender-neutral, she still exists in a game where you can make your character a female. You can put yourself in her shoes and feel like an awesome lady saving the galaxy. It's an empowering fantasy for women and good representation. In my opinion, we need both types of these characters in games. I want to have commentary on sexism and see my struggles represented, but I also want to have my escapist fantasy where I save the world and nobody thinks I'm lesser because I'm a gal.

This is also a meta-fictional concern. Perhaps people should write women differently in the sense that they should actively try and avoid stereotypes, like women being inherently good mothers, or killing them off at the first opportunity to give a man motivation?

I also forgot to mention that the "man with boobs" refers to another phenomenon in fiction: trying to make a female character "strong" by giving her stereotypically masculine traits like hyperaggression, lack of emotion, ruthlessness. Of course women can have these traits, but that's not the only way a person can be strong, and it's tired characterization to equate the two. I remember this criticism being levelled against Lara Croft, but I haven't played any Tomb Raider games and can't really form an opinion.

Also, I don't think you need many writers to write many characters, even without life experience.  :P That's what research, and talking to people, is for. Listening to different perspectives is valuable and expands our own.

Sorry, have I maybe misunderstood a point you made? You describe "man with breasts" as being a sort-of gender neutral method of writing a character. When I talked about writing women differently I thought you were also talking about the same thing when you talk about other methods of writing a female character. I mean, if you don't think a male character is written any differently from a female character then doesn't that, technically, make them all "men with breasts"? I'm not arguing against you here by the way, just looking for some clarification. I mean, even in the sci-fi societies you speak of, wouldn't women sometimes interpret things in a different way that a guy might (of course, one could simply say that any person would interpret something differently from another person). That's all I meant anyway...

Also, I think me and you interpret Cersei differently. You see to the politics behind her decision and the commentary of the culture of misogyny. I can't see past the fact that she's an absolute bitch :P Another joke, because everything you say makes perfect sense and is quite interesting. For example, on this very site I never write female characters and part of the reason for that is that I worry I wouldn't be able to write a convincing one. I wonder if one was to truly take some of your thoughts to heart whether it would be any easier... Food for thought...

Offline ningyou

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #157 on: September 11, 2014, 09:28:45 PM »
Also, since I just noticed this! (aaaaaa sorry i don't mean to spam the thread)

Quote from: Ephiral
I'm not about to do your research for you, but... yeah, there have been female warriors, soldiers, and fighters as long as there have been warriors, soldiers, and fighters. It might not have been the expected norm, but that's a very far cry from "didn't happen".
Quote from: Assassini
Oh come on! I know! I'm well aware there have been women who fought in wars, women who even pretended to be men to go away and fight alongside brothers and husbands. Women who did extraordinary things. Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie. Yes. Excellent. They existed. But it isn't too far a cry from "didn't happen" because these are very rare instances. For every Joan of Arc there were hundreds of male Knights. So if we get a game with a female Knight, I won't complain at all. But if it's a game where nobody once comments something like "how unusual to see a woman wearing armour" and it's done just for the sake of having a female protagonist instead of a male one, then really one could argue that the game is not really a step forward.

As much as I feel it's kind of wasted on a dude who straight up says "lady-knights/soldiers/scientists/nurses/etc. ARE SO RARE they're a hair away from never having happened at all," I can't not link this because it's really good (and relevant!).

http://aidanmoher.com/blog/featured-article/2013/05/we-have-always-fought-challenging-the-women-cattle-and-slaves-narrative-by-kameron-hurley/

Quote
Language is a powerful thing, and it changes the way we view ourselves, and other people, in delightful and horrifying ways. Anyone with any knowledge of the military, or who pays attention to how the media talks about war, has likely caught on to this.

We don’t kill “people.” We kill “targets.” (Or japs or gooks or ragheads).  We don’t kill “fifteen year old boys” but “enemy combatants” (yes, every boy 15 and over killed in drone strikes now is automatically listed as an enemy combatant. Not a boy. Not a child.).

And when we talk about “people” we don’t really mean “men and women.” We mean “people and female people.”  We talk about “American Novelists” and “American Women Novelists.” We talk about “Teenage Coders” and “Lady Teenage Coders.”

And when we talk about war, we talk about soldiers and female soldiers.

Because this is the way we talk, when we talk about history and use the word “soldiers” it immediately erases any women doing the fighting. Which is it comes as no surprise that the folks excavating Viking graves didn’t bother to check whether the graves they dug up were male or female. They were graves with swords in them. Swords are for soldiers. Soldiers are men.

It was years before they thought to even check the actual bones of the skeletons, instead of just saying, “Sword means dude!” and realized their mistake.

Women fought too.

Let’s just put it this way: if you think there’s a thing – anything – women didn’t do in the past, you’re wrong.
In fact, women did all sorts of things we think they didn’t do. In the middle ages, they were doctors and sheriffs. In Greece they were… oh, sod it. Listen. Foz Meadows does a better job with all the linky-links, for those who desire “proof.” Let’s just put it this way: if you think there’s a thing – anything – women didn’t do in the past, you’re wrong. Women – now and then – even made a habit of peeing standing up. They wore dildos. So even things the funny-ha-ha folks immediately raise a hand to say, like: “It’s impossible women did X!” Well. They did it. Intersex women and trans women, too, have fought and died, often misgendered and forgotten, in the ranks of history. And let us remember, when we speak about women and men as if these are immutable, somehow “historical” categories, that there are those who have always lived and fought in the seams between things.

But none of those things fit our narrative. What we want to talk about are women in one capacity: their capacity as wife, mother, sister, daughter to a man.  I see this in fiction all the time.  I see it in books and TV. I hear it in the way people talk.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #158 on: September 11, 2014, 09:47:07 PM »
I'm sorry but I'm still not seeing your point. I haven't given any examples of optional things which show examples of sexism (as far as I'm aware). Especially as what I described about being able to see Chell is irrelevant, even if you didn't do that she would still have a female character model... And so still be a woman... And so still counts as a female protagonist.
I... am terribly sorry. You were defending Hitman on the grounds of level design; it was someone else saying "it was optional so doesn't count". My bad. I am not arguing that Chell is, in fact, a good example of a female protagonist; my issue was with perceived hypocrisy in whether or not optional content counts. Again, my apologies.

Oooh, the Joker murders Lois Lane?! I see. I thought you were saying he murdered Wonder Woman. Right, in that case I'll concede it's a fair point. Even so, I still don't really think it's an example of sexism though, just lazy writing. I did say that I dislike vengeance as a motivator anyway.
What does the fremale:male ratio in the refrigerator have to be before it's sexist? 10:1? 100:1? 1000:1? How bad an imbalance is clearly an issue?

Well that just hurts my feelings... But it's very true. I'm not particularly into comic books and never have been, it's not my world and not something I particularly care about. If that's how she started, that's very interesting. She does come from Krypton though doesn't she? Or am I getting mixed up with Power Girl? I know that Marvel (and DC for that matter) used to have a horrible case of making a bloody female version of every single male character they had. Whatever the case, they don't tend to make very good video games (in my experience) so that's all I care about (except the Arkham series which is glorious).
You're thinking Power Girl, which explains a fair bit here.

It's not a big deal to me. If the character is good then I'm happy! I DON'T care about their genitalia, that's exactly my point. The people who apparently do are those who want to change more men into women... Because the men aren't good enough (even if they are a good character). I did say we ought to have more female protagonists, but if we end up with a bunch of 2 dimensional "strong-independent-woman-who-don't-need-no-man" types then I'm going to take it as a step backwards instead of forwards.
Citation sorely fucking needed: Who, exactly, wants to turn existing male characters into women, and who says men aren't good enough? Names and quotes, if you please.

I believe you'll find the actual argument is that things as they stand have some very problematic implications when it comes to gender, and we should be aware of these things so that we can correct for them - and make better games and better stories as a result - going forward. Nobody's about to kick your door in, confiscate your copy of Hitman, and issue you the new Feminist Police Approved Hitwoman.

Unfortunately I'm not familiar with the series. I did a quick Google search and I think it never aired over here so I would have to go out of my way to watch it. What is the premise of the show?
Basically, people in power abuse their power horribly (ripped from the headlines as a rule), and some of the most skilled con-artists in the world burn them in order to help their victims - and come together as a sort of patchwork family in the process.

I have to say you seem to have, thus far, been reading my arguments as that we shouldn't have women protagonists and women should remain as damsels in distress when I've merely been defending the games and against the overall claims of sexism. If a game can manage what you describe then fantastic! I'd love to play it. Hell, I'd actually like to mention The Walking Dead video games (the Telltale ones) here as a possible example. As far as I can remember there's never any of these damsel-in-distress situations you find so appalling and it's an utterly fabulous series of games.
You certainly seem to be saying we don't need any more positive female characters or any less female victims in our stories. The status quo is just fine, to you - which probably has to do with the fact that you can grab a game at random off the shelf, and find that it stars someone you can relate to.

Sexism doesn't need to be conscious to be sexism, and nobody's saying that a single tinge of sexism makes a product completely unpalatable. But... wouldn't stories that more people can relate to be better? Wouldn't stories that don't fall back on the same tired gender stereotypes be stronger?

Oh come on! I know! I'm well aware there have been women who fought in wars, women who even pretended to be men to go away and fight alongside brothers and husbands. Women who did extraordinary things. Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie. Yes. Excellent. They existed. But it isn't too far a cry from "didn't happen" because these are very rare instances. For every Joan of Arc there were hundreds of male Knights. So if we get a game with a female Knight, I won't complain at all. But if it's a game where nobody once comments something like "how unusual to see a woman wearing armour" and it's done just for the sake of having a female protagonist instead of a male one, then really one could argue that the game is not really a step forward.
Oh come on! Your argument was that a female protagonist would not have been as capable in Dishonored because she "wouldn't have the opportunity... to learn to fight". And yes, the dialogue would have to account for her being female. So what? Would this have completely destroyed the game? I, for one, would find "gender roles and how we interface with them" a interesting theme to explore - especially since our understanding of past eras' gender roles and interactions is facile and often flat-out wrong. Assassin's Creed, for example, prides itself on doing the research on its settings - and this is one of the things people love about it. Wouldn't it be interesting to see some of the ways women fit into these societies (other than as prostitutes/convenient cover, that is)?

I don't know, you might well be right about what she wants and is trying to achieve. I just don't think she's going about it the right way. I also think she just makes too many mountains out of molehills.
Everything I've seen from people who actually have in-depth familiarity with literary critique says that what she's doing is absolutely in line with that. It's pretty run-of-the-mill as critique goes. Her critique is specifically focused on the portrayal of women, but that doesn't make it invalid. And as someone who flatly does not experience the overwhelming majority of sexism, and is clearly unfamiliar with the perspective of people who do... are you really sure you know what is a mountain and what's a molehill when it comes to sexism?

Offline Shjade

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #159 on: September 11, 2014, 09:48:11 PM »
Also, I think me and you interpret Cersei differently. You see to the politics behind her decision and the commentary of the culture of misogyny. I can't see past the fact that she's an absolute bitch :P Another joke, because everything you say makes perfect sense and is quite interesting.

I'd say I wonder why all the "jokes" you're sharing in this thread range from "a little sexist" to "completely sexist," but considering your response to having your earlier statement more or less refuted (this one, in case you're wondering:
All that said... I want to go back to an original point I made that I feel that any "hardcore" female gamers out there would maybe be on my side in this
) by...well, I'm not really a fan of speaking on behalf of others, but Melusine in particular in identifying both as a female who enjoys video games (and I'm really not interested in a faux debate about the meaning of "hardcore" in that respect) and as someone clearly disagreeing with your stated position was, apparently, to maintain your position without rethinking it in light of this new information that maybe you aren't representing such a steadfast argument as you'd previously implied...

...you are basically demonstrating the problem with video games when it comes to this particular argument through your assumptions and statements of "fact" about gender and the history of women. You get that, right? You can look back at your posts and see the large leaps you make that completely cut women out of the equation with regard to the likelihood of their agency in a violent or action-oriented situation, that suggest there's nothing really wrong with the present traditional gender roles assigned to male and female characters in games, and so on - you can see that, right?

"Yes," you said, "it's misguided but one shouldn't take it too seriously because it is a joke. On the other hand, there is definitely some element of truth in it (or at least from my own experience there is)." The fact that this is a joke people accept as having truth in it is a problem. It is, in fact, the same problem, as ningyou already pointed out. It has to be taken seriously because it is a joke - not because of the joke itself, but because of the fact that people think this makes a good joke.

Tell me you can see the problem there. It's rather key to the topic.

Yes, the "gamer gurl" thing is "a thing." Three guesses as to why. ... ... I'm impatient: if you guessed "because it panders to a fantasy," congratulations! You are a winner. Unfortunately, this is also a problem: it's a demonstration of how, often, female gamers are viewed as fantasy material rather than, y'know, people. It's one of the factors that leads to a lot of harassment and hassle women get online, to the point where some of the ones I know were driven away from games by it. It all feeds back into the same overarching problem of how women are used and viewed in media and, more specific to this conversation, games, and the subsequent consequences.

Offline Kunoichi

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #160 on: September 12, 2014, 12:01:39 AM »
...So, skipping over the issue of the 'joke picture' that other people currently seem to be handling with more eloquence than I probably would...

Not really.  When video games were coming out women were discouraged from electronic pursuits.  Early computers, Atari and later Nintendo were designed by almost entirely male staff and still had the male bias.  Early games feature almost exclusively the damsel in distress trope.  Early games also features a lot of military elements and hulking male figures.  Women did not really get into computers, engineering and such until the late 90s and turn of the century.  Women are now descending on those fields in droves, but a lot of that does have to do with the high paying tech market and the encouragement of the feminist movement toward those doors being opened.  Originally women were actively discouraged from using and making use of those systems.

What makes this particularly sad is that a woman was one of the early pioneers of the industry.


Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #161 on: September 12, 2014, 12:18:19 AM »
I don't think I want to comb through this and reply to individual people, so I think I'll just sum up my thoughts on the issue for now and see what other people think about it...

First off, yes, the industry ends up being sexist overall.  I hesitate to call it misogynistic, however, because that sexism doesn't come from disliking or hating women, but rather from lazy storytelling and adherence to catering/pandering towards a predominantly male audience.  (Sidenote: while some estimates say that 47% of "gamers" are female, most of them include casual gamers, which for this discussion shouldn't be taken into account because of how little relation casual mobile games like Candy Crush or Temple Run have with the kind of hardcore games that this discussion is actually about.)

That being said however, blaming one single game for being sexist isn't really the answer.  We can't expect every game to lie firmly on the line that's 50/50 male/female, or even to always come close to it.  If the industry were more equal in terms of men and women, then having an outlying game that is much more sexist would be acceptable - decried by some of the more politically correct, certainly, but nothing to really be upset about beyond that one game.  And making a game with sexist themes isn't bad in and of itself; if a game wants to explore how the world treated women in medieval times, for instance, it shouldn't feel like that's a taboo topic and people shouldn't go on about how the game should not use that theme.

Lastly, my thoughts on pandering.  This may just be my own preferences kicking in here, but I don't think there's a problem if a game includes minor bonuses that are clearly pandering.  Things like the art cards in The Witcher, bromides in the Lunar games, the various JRPGs that include unlockable swimsuit costumes, or the western RPGs that feature a brothel or strip club for the player to visit.  This only applies if these bonuses are entirely optional and aren't thrown in a player's face; letting the player visit a strip club is fine, but telling them they have to visit the strip club and see the half-naked dancers as part of the main story is a lot more questionable.  Similarly, giving them an object they can use to look at a sexy picture is fine if they can get the same experience from the game without ever using it, and equipable swimsuits are just a nice bonus so long as they aren't also the best armor in the game (either because they have no stats and are purely cosmetic, or because by the time you find them you'll have something with better stats already).

Offline Shjade

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #162 on: September 12, 2014, 01:59:31 AM »
(Sidenote: while some estimates say that 47% of "gamers" are female, most of them include casual gamers, which for this discussion shouldn't be taken into account because of how little relation casual mobile games like Candy Crush or Temple Run have with the kind of hardcore games that this discussion is actually about.)

It's not worth taking into account a lot of female gamers enjoy games that generally aren't designed with exploitation of women as a key draw for their market when discussing how that exploitation in "hardcore" (people love that term way, way too much) games may be a driving force behind why such games are more popular among male players?

Okay then.

That being said however, blaming one single game for being sexist isn't really the answer.  We can't expect every game to lie firmly on the line that's 50/50 male/female, or even to always come close to it.  If the industry were more equal in terms of men and women, then having an outlying game that is much more sexist would be acceptable - decried by some of the more politically correct, certainly, but nothing to really be upset about beyond that one game.  And making a game with sexist themes isn't bad in and of itself; if a game wants to explore how the world treated women in medieval times, for instance, it shouldn't feel like that's a taboo topic and people shouldn't go on about how the game should not use that theme.

Lastly, my thoughts on pandering.  This may just be my own preferences kicking in here, but I don't think there's a problem if a game includes minor bonuses that are clearly pandering.

Maybe I missed it: where did this become about blaming "one single game for being sexist?" I thought it was a discussion pointing out many games are sexist. In fact, at some point someone made a little impromptu list of games showing the major disparity in the number of sex workers of female vs male gender represented in games, plural, and that was only covering the very narrow subject of sex workers in games. This isn't about having a problem with any one game; it's about a trend within the games industry as a whole.

Regarding "exploration" of how women were treated in medieval times, sure, if a game wanted to really "examine" that, I'm sure that could be done well. Making the large part of your game's female characters prostitutes and tavern wenches? That's not exploring anything, that's taking something for granted and, as you noted, pandering. And I agree: there's nothing particularly wrong with a game having some minor bonuses that are clearly pandering. But as you pointed out, "one single game" isn't important. When the default state of mainstream games is this kind of pandering? There is something wrong with that.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2014, 02:06:41 AM by Shjade »

Offline Kunoichi

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #163 on: September 12, 2014, 02:13:46 AM »
It's not worth taking into account a lot of female gamers enjoy games that generally aren't designed with exploitation of women as a key draw for their market when discussing how that exploitation in "hardcore" (people love that term way, way too much) games may be a driving force behind why such games are more popular among male players?

Okay then.

I think it can be argued that even hardcore games are not generally designed with exploitation of women as a key draw for their market.  A secondary or tertiary draw, perhaps, but the things that get brought up as key draws in advertising are things like gameplay, graphics, difficulty level and so on.  Indeed, games that rely on exploitation of women as their key draw are generally slammed by most 'hardcore' gamers for being weak in these other areas.

Offline Shjade

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #164 on: September 12, 2014, 03:08:53 AM »
That's a fair point. "Key" is overstating.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #165 on: September 12, 2014, 03:20:59 AM »
Also, about the "man with breasts" thing. I personally think it can be either good or bad. Specifically, it refers to a female character who is virtually indistinguishable from a male one in the way she's written. Completely gender neutral. One of my favourite ladies ever, Ellen Ripley, was written as a man first and then simply genderswapped. It can be useful, if you're aiming for an ultra-progressive society where genders are absolutely equal and treated the same. But the approach can be a little bit tone-deaf when you want to write a woman with all her female problems in our era, navigating sexism and related social contexts. It all depends on the kind of character you want to write.

Thanks!

It still seems like an unfortunate term to use, what with its implication that male characters are the default ( in a technical sense and not just in the sense that there are more of them ). Still, if it's itself not necessarily intended as a loaded term, it makes more sense.

Offline Melusine

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #166 on: September 12, 2014, 03:51:05 AM »
Sorry, have I maybe misunderstood a point you made? You describe "man with breasts" as being a sort-of gender neutral method of writing a character. When I talked about writing women differently I thought you were also talking about the same thing when you talk about other methods of writing a female character. I mean, if you don't think a male character is written any differently from a female character then doesn't that, technically, make them all "men with breasts"? I'm not arguing against you here by the way, just looking for some clarification. I mean, even in the sci-fi societies you speak of, wouldn't women sometimes interpret things in a different way that a guy might (of course, one could simply say that any person would interpret something differently from another person). That's all I meant anyway...

Also, I think me and you interpret Cersei differently. You see to the politics behind her decision and the commentary of the culture of misogyny. I can't see past the fact that she's an absolute bitch :P Another joke, because everything you say makes perfect sense and is quite interesting. For example, on this very site I never write female characters and part of the reason for that is that I worry I wouldn't be able to write a convincing one. I wonder if one was to truly take some of your thoughts to heart whether it would be any easier... Food for thought...

You didn't misunderstand my points, I only clarified the "men with breasts" phenomenon and offered my perspective on it. The thing is though, there aren't really things that "women" as a whole interpret differently from "men" as a whole. Women are not a monolith, and you can't really say "that's what a woman would say/think/do!". What methods do you have in mind when you're talking about writing female characters differently?

As to your decision to not write female characters yourself...don't get me wrong, but I think it's a sound one.  :P You seem to have some odd ideas about women, like your belief that they're getting laid more easily than guys.

First off, yes, the industry ends up being sexist overall.  I hesitate to call it misogynistic, however, because that sexism doesn't come from disliking or hating women, but rather from lazy storytelling and adherence to catering/pandering towards a predominantly male audience.  (Sidenote: while some estimates say that 47% of "gamers" are female, most of them include casual gamers, which for this discussion shouldn't be taken into account because of how little relation casual mobile games like Candy Crush or Temple Run have with the kind of hardcore games that this discussion is actually about.)

That being said however, blaming one single game for being sexist isn't really the answer.  We can't expect every game to lie firmly on the line that's 50/50 male/female, or even to always come close to it.  If the industry were more equal in terms of men and women, then having an outlying game that is much more sexist would be acceptable - decried by some of the more politically correct, certainly, but nothing to really be upset about beyond that one game.  And making a game with sexist themes isn't bad in and of itself; if a game wants to explore how the world treated women in medieval times, for instance, it shouldn't feel like that's a taboo topic and people shouldn't go on about how the game should not use that theme.

Lastly, my thoughts on pandering.  This may just be my own preferences kicking in here, but I don't think there's a problem if a game includes minor bonuses that are clearly pandering.  Things like the art cards in The Witcher, bromides in the Lunar games, the various JRPGs that include unlockable swimsuit costumes, or the western RPGs that feature a brothel or strip club for the player to visit.  This only applies if these bonuses are entirely optional and aren't thrown in a player's face; letting the player visit a strip club is fine, but telling them they have to visit the strip club and see the half-naked dancers as part of the main story is a lot more questionable.  Similarly, giving them an object they can use to look at a sexy picture is fine if they can get the same experience from the game without ever using it, and equipable swimsuits are just a nice bonus so long as they aren't also the best armor in the game (either because they have no stats and are purely cosmetic, or because by the time you find them you'll have something with better stats already).

I agree that it's the gaming industry and culture itself that's sexist, rather than (most) individual games. For example, say we examine Mario as a game without comparing it to the wider social picture. Peach is a damsel in distress. So? Some women don't have combat skills and will need to be rescued. It becomes a problem when we look at a wider picture and we see that women in games are mostly damsels and little else. Same goes with every cliche, which becomes a cliche precisely because it's repeated ad nauseaum. I've stopped complaining about games that perpetuate this pattern, I just don't buy them anymore. Though there are some games that are absolutely vile in their misogyny, take Custer's Revenge for example. The problem with most games with "sexist themes" is that they rarely explore the sexism, they only exploit it, as Shjade very eloquently said.

I'm not sure what we can do to change the wider gaming culture, but talking about it certainly doesn't do harm. Games have come a long way, but they can only be as progressive as our culture allows it, and our culture is pretty sexist now. We can definitely do with some improvement.

About pandering: the thing is, it's so annoying because it's so prevalent and it's mostly aimed at straight men, with the added bonus of often dehumanizing the women involved. I understand many guys enjoy looking at naked boobies; hell, I love looking at naked (man)boobies. But we can have fanservice that isn't exploitative, and doesn't reduce the women to objects. And I'd love it if we could expand the fanservice so we could service more fans. Straight women, gay women, gay men...they all play games and deserve to see some boobies.

Thanks!

It still seems like an unfortunate term to use, what with its implication that male characters are the default ( in a technical sense and not just in the sense that there are more of them ). Still, if it's itself not necessarily intended as a loaded term, it makes more sense.

Well, in our culture, male characters ARE the default, we can't really deny that. But I don't find the term too objectionable.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #167 on: September 12, 2014, 03:56:41 AM »
The goal of feminism has never been to turn men into women and women into men.  Feminism is about each sex and gender being respected, being valued equally and given equal oppurtunity to excel as they wish.  Respecting the differences each expierences is a key part of that goal.  As a woman, there are expierences I have and share with other women that a man does not share.  My view point and perspective are shaped by my gender and sex.  As a man, the same applies.  The "man with breasts" statement implies that a character has been designed personality wise as a man, but the imagery is of a woman.  A stripping of the woman from the character so that a man can relate to the woman, instead of giving her enough of a female perspective that a woman can relate to the character.  I do not necessarily find this to be a "bad" thing, but simply an uncreative and overused thing when a woman is pushed forward as a "liberating and forward thinking" character.  Men and women are different in their social expierences and perspective, acknowledging this and designed characters that are relatable for both sexes and genders does not set back equality but enhances.

As was said before too.  Gamers, by their nature, are not misogynistic people that want to put down women.  Most are simply ignorant that their actions might come across as sexist and demeaning.  This is the ignorance of power.  A man assumes that his meaning translates as intended.  Now the issue of power does come into play as men are not able to act as they are accustomed and need to show some restraint in their interaction or adjust their habits.  This is not saying that gamers want all women barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.  Just simply that for a long time this was a boy's club with boy's rules.  It's difficult for someone to suddenly adjust their thinking and force themselves to consider a different perspective, such as a woman's.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #168 on: September 12, 2014, 04:41:56 AM »
Well, in our culture, male characters ARE the default, we can't really deny that. But I don't find the term too objectionable.

I should've said it appears to perpetuate this idea.

My view point and perspective are shaped by my gender and sex.  As a man, the same applies.  The "man with breasts" statement implies that a character has been designed personality wise as a man, but the imagery is of a woman.  A stripping of the woman from the character so that a man can relate to the woman, instead of giving her enough of a female perspective that a woman can relate to the character.  I do not necessarily find this to be a "bad" thing, but simply an uncreative and overused thing when a woman is pushed forward as a "liberating and forward thinking" character.  Men and women are different in their social expierences and perspective, acknowledging this and designed characters that are relatable for both sexes and genders does not set back equality but enhances.

I'd like to start with the very first sentence there: Is that necessarily the case? Gender, yes. Sex? Sarkeesian, at least, seems to subscribe to the notion of gender identity as socially constructed. I'll grant that there are biological differences, but aside from reproduction ( which is very rarely actually represented in video games ), these rarely actually matter - at least as much as do the social differences between genders.

In light of that, it seems to me that the 'male character with breasts' is - or can be seen as - less of a male character given female form, more female character who does not fit within the generic, narrow role of 'woman'. I don't see why this can't be 'liberating and forward thinking'.

With that said, the medium is obviously large enough that there's room for characters that are not gender neutral, too. I'm not trying to suggest that we ought to make all characters' genders irrelevant.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #169 on: September 12, 2014, 04:51:40 AM »
Gender is a social construct.  Sex is biological.  Both play a role on how people interact, treat and address you.  There are also concerns and situations that relate entirely to someone based on their biological makeup.  Most women, for instance, can relate to a pap smear.  Men can not.

Offline Melusine

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #170 on: September 12, 2014, 05:00:44 AM »
The goal of feminism has never been to turn men into women and women into men.  Feminism is about each sex and gender being respected, being valued equally and given equal oppurtunity to excel as they wish.  Respecting the differences each expierences is a key part of that goal.  As a woman, there are expierences I have and share with other women that a man does not share.  My view point and perspective are shaped by my gender and sex.  As a man, the same applies.  The "man with breasts" statement implies that a character has been designed personality wise as a man, but the imagery is of a woman.  A stripping of the woman from the character so that a man can relate to the woman, instead of giving her enough of a female perspective that a woman can relate to the character.  I do not necessarily find this to be a "bad" thing, but simply an uncreative and overused thing when a woman is pushed forward as a "liberating and forward thinking" character.  Men and women are different in their social expierences and perspective, acknowledging this and designed characters that are relatable for both sexes and genders does not set back equality but enhances.

I both agree and disagree with this. Yes, I've been (partially) shaped by my sex and gender. And I do have experiences as a woman that a man will not experience. But even so, we must take into account that there are differences between women. Race, class, sexuality, gender identity. A trans woman doesn't share my experiences with menstruation but she's a woman nonetheless. A black woman will experience racism that I will never face. A gay woman doesn't share my attraction to men. All these issues are female issues, but not all women face them. When women are so diverse in their differences, can there be a universal "female perspective"?

You might disagree with me on this, but I had no problem relating to fem!Shep, or Ripley and other "unfeminine" characters. The fact that they were women was enough, even though they didn't face "female" issues. But you are right that a gender neutral approach is not always the way to go. Female issues deserve to be explored in all their diversity. Overusing a particular type of female character is the problem, I think, and that would be the case whether the character is "gender-neutral" or hampered by female struggles and problems.

EDIT: Also, some men can probably relate to pap smears, just as they can relate to period troubles, because some men have uteruses and vaginas.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2014, 05:04:27 AM by Melusine »

Offline Hemingway

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #171 on: September 12, 2014, 05:09:13 AM »
Gender is a social construct.  Sex is biological.  Both play a role on how people interact, treat and address you.  There are also concerns and situations that relate entirely to someone based on their biological makeup.  Most women, for instance, can relate to a pap smear.  Men can not.

Yes, like I said, there are situations - mostly related to reproduction - that are determined by sex. However, I'd argue they're few compared to the situations that arise from gender differences - and they're very rarely represented in video games. I mean, consider trans women: There are very situations a trans woman would not be able to relate to, that someone born a woman would. In most games, biology would be entirely irrelevant. Would you disagree with that?

... Melusine beat me to my points. ;D

Offline Caehlim

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #172 on: September 12, 2014, 05:18:13 AM »
I both agree and disagree with this. Yes, I've been (partially) shaped by my sex and gender. And I do have experiences as a woman that a man will not experience. But even so, we must take into account that there are differences between women. Race, class, sexuality, gender identity. A trans woman doesn't share my experiences with menstruation but she's a woman nonetheless. A black woman will experience racism that I will never face. A gay woman doesn't share my attraction to men. All these issues are female issues, but not all women face them. When women are so diverse in their differences, can there be a universal "female perspective"?

I think the key won't be to find a universal female perspective, but just to make sure that any female character has her own perspective which makes sense and fits the character's life, history, personality and individual nature.

Honestly I don't think "male with breasts" characters are particularly male or female. Generally they're an unrealistic stock character trope that has no real relationship or bearing to the way real people live or act. We notice with female characters because female characters are rare enough to warrant closer inspection. However if you take a look at any of these characters, I don't think they bear a strong relationship with males either.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #173 on: September 12, 2014, 05:22:00 AM »
Not entirely certain that I was not acknowledging that there are differences between women.  All people have a variety of roles and identities.  Sex and gender are simply a couple of those roles.  Still these roles are not to be downplayed as important.  My sex is an important distinct and leads to various interactions with the opposite sex and my own that are not shared by men.  At the parade grounds, my ass is not grabbed because I identify as a woman with my gender.  A man put his hands on my body because my body is that of a woman and he wanted to touch that body.  That is building on my sex as a woman.  A great deal of anxiety can affect a woman as she climbs her thirties because she feels a need to have children knowing that as she grows older conceiving is harder for her.  This anxiety affects everything from personal happiness to career planning.  Such anxiety is not because of gender, but from sex.  A more brutal example would be women that are kidnapped and forced into marriage so they may be raped.  Nobody cares what gender these women associate themselves to, only that their sexual organs are female.  This shapes their entire lives and is not simple an "incident" in their lives.  So sex is very important in shaping perspective and in forging a relationship between characters and players. 

So I disagree entirely with your statement.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2014, 05:23:44 AM by Pumpkin Seeds »

Offline Hemingway

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #174 on: September 12, 2014, 05:33:44 AM »
Pumpkin Seeds, I think the examples you gave - except, again, for the one that has to do with reproduction - have more to do with gender than you seem to imply. Because it's not just about which gender you identify with, it's how that gender role is perceived in society. In other words, if, as a woman, you have your ass grabbed, it's not just because you're biologically a woman.

Firstly, this could happen to a trans woman, too - it's not unique to people who are biologically women. It also doesn't happen in a vacuum. It happens because there's an attitude in the society you live in, that says that this behavior, toward women, is somehow more permissible than perhaps it should have been. There's nothing biologically deterministic about this. It has to do with attitudes, and attitudes are malleable.