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Sexism & Video Games


Justin_Case001

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Expanding on the recent theme of the last several entries...

I've been meaning to tackle this issue for years, and am just now getting around to it.  If you're a gamer, and a regular denizen of the various interwebs, then you've probably heard the name Anita Sarkeesian at some point.  (In fact, you're probably sick of hearing that name.)  I'm not sure how relevant this issue still is, or if it's drifted away from the spotlight, but for some time, Sarkeesian was making quite a bit of noise about sexism and the misrepresentation of women in video games.

If you're unfamiliar with Sarkeesian, it will probably only take about one minute of watching her content on youtube to know all you need to.  In short, she seems to believe that if a man finds a woman physically, sexually attractive, in any context, under any circumstances, then it's sexist and wrong.  (Perhaps a little bit of an unfair generalization of her, but it doesn't seem too far from the mark.)  She makes quite a lot of displeased noise about women being depicted as sexual objects in games, and offered as rewards and such.  Now, I happen to agree that there is indeed some problems with sexism in video games, but the solution is not what Sarkeesian would propose.  (If Sarkeesian got her way, she'd probably just destroy any hint of sex appeal in games.)

Let's be blunt and get straight to the point.  Let's talk "bikini" armor, or "sexy" armor. Let's talk about this:

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Is it wrong to have scantily clad women in fantasy games?  Or other games?  (Mostly fantasy games.)  Is it wrong to prominently display sexuality and sex appeal this way?  Is it wrong to have women wear a ludicrously impractical metal bikini for armor?  If you've read my previous blog entry, you can probably guess that my answer to all of these questions is a resounding no.  It's not wrong.  I'm one of the most sex positive people you'll ever meet, and a huge proponent of a healthy celebration of sexuality and sex appeal, and beauty in general.  This may sound shallow to some, but I don't see it that way.  It's just another wonderful aspect of life to enjoy.  An appreciation for this part of life doesn't automatically mean an unhealthy objectification of people.  In fact, I submit that appreciating and enjoying sexual beauty, and sexually objectifying people are mutually exclusive.  I can enjoy beauty and still look at people (or even video game characters) as complex individuals.

Back to the bikini armor--Anita Sarkeesian makes the assertion over and over again that such things are not armor.  Well, no sh*t P.I. Rarity.  Who said it was?  Of course these revealing swimsuit outfits aren't going to protect characters in battle.  It's a GAME.  It doesn't have to be realistic.  Why can't we have some sexy outfits if we want 'em?  What's the harm in that?  Is is really so evil?  Well, according to Sarkeesian, you bet your sweet patootie it is.  (Oh, whoops.  Shouldn't have said patootie.  That's evil and sexist, too.)  And Sarkeesian's answer to the question, "what's the harm?" is that is will create a society full of men who don't know how to respect women.  We're gonna be a horde of Dothraki, that's what it is.  Well, it's not true.  And I'm going to give the same response I do when it comes to children with respect to NSFW internet content: just comes down to parenting.  Watch what your kids are playing, teach them properly, demonstrate how to treat women in real life, both by your words and by example, and don't let your children play mature games until they demonstrate mature behavior.  Don't blame your problems on games, and don't expect the ESRB to do your job for you, and definitely, (and I can't stress this one enough), definitely don't take away my goddamn sexy games because you don't like 'em!!

I love me some sexy games, and I love me some sexy characters, and I don't see anything wrong with that.  I respect women, just as I respect all people, I don't mistreat real women, and I don't objectify them, and yet I still enjoy a scantily clad fantasy game character, a phenomenon that Sarkeesian would probably deem impossible.

So, I stated that there is a problem.  And here it is:

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The problem is that we often have sexualized female characters in revealing outfits, but their male counterparts are always these giant tanks wearing so much armor that they look more like a vehicle from Mad Max: Fury Road.  This is a double standard, and it's unfair.  (Unless you actually have a valid, story based reason for it.)  So, what's the solution?  Well, it's not to cover up all of the females, as Sarkeesian would like.  It's....*drumroll*....yup, you guess it!  Let's show some skin on the males!  Offer equally revealing, equally sexualized male variants.  I'm arguing for equality, but not equality by censorship.  I argue for equal celebration of sexual beauty.  Depending on the game, it could also make sense to offer "real", practical armor and "sexy" armor for each sex, and let players choose what they want.  Now, revealing armor and sexy outfits don't have a place in every game.  It all depends on the game.  I don't want revealing, silly armor for my Spartans in Halo.  Some games are serious business, and it would ruin the story to have impractical garbs.  Skyrim was another game that made the right choice to have practical armor.  But Final Fantasy games?!  Kingdoms of Amalur?!  Heck YEAH!  Sexy all the way!  Just offer both for players who want it, and offer the same types of outfits for male characters.

Now, if it seems like this idea wouldn't fly, I'd like to take a moment to point out this:

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I mean, these guys are in armored bikini briefs, for Celestia's sake.  They're heavily sexualized.  Now, maybe it was actually more practical for them to be able to move, but the point is that we just need more options like this for male characters in games.  But too often, we see the armored bikini goddess, as in that first picture, and the male tank, as in the second.  Just, y'know, take a lesson from 300.  It's not rocket science.  God of War did it.  Have realistic attire in games that warrant it, have sexy attire when applicable, offer both when feasible, and offer equally revealing outfits for males.

Incidentally, I'd like to place Warframe on a pedestal for managing to simultaneously be the most equal, least sexist, and (in my opinion) sexiest game ever made.  It is possible.

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Sarkeessian is a hypocrite and a coward, who silences all of her critics. Not to mention that she is not really a gamer at all and just spouts all of this to get into the spotlight to gain a few extra dollars.

What is wrong with being impressed with the beauty of women? Man who find Women beautiful and like to stare at their "budonkadonks" are not automatically sexist. Some women even like it, because it's a compliment for their beautiness.

When it comes to video games, i say what i have been saying for years on this topic: It's Art. You can't tell an artist what he has to do and what he dosen't. The Japanese JRPG designer who works for Square-Enix is making females with well rounded chests, then let him do it.

A survey conducted by Cosmopolitan with a sample size of 8,000 found that 32% of men and 4% of women watch porn daily, while 56% of men and 25% of women watch once “every few days.” So of course there is a bias towards more sexy women in games, because sexy males just don't sell as much.

I respect people of both genders, but just because i like to watch some sexy ladies, dosen't mean i am sexist. I appreciate the way women look and i think women can be very interesting people, some of them even more then men. :)

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"Well, it's not to cover up all of the females, as Sarkeesian would like.  It's....*drumroll*....yup, you guess it!  Let's show some skin on the males!  Offer equally revealing, equally sexualized male variants. "

Honestly, I disagree with this a bit. Maybe it's because I'm not a very big fan of overly sexualized armors to begin with, but I'd prefer it if more games would at least try to give their female practical armor. 

I also don't see how the problem with overly sexualized female charaters is solved by making the male characters equally sexualized. To me it just adds to the problem.  

 

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19 minutes ago, Yamet said:

I also don't see how the problem with overly sexualized female charaters is solved by making the male characters equally sexualized. To me it just adds to the problem. 

Like i said before. It's also the problem that women are not nearly as interested in these kind of things then men are.

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16 hours ago, Yamet said:

Honestly, I disagree with this a bit. Maybe it's because I'm not a very big fan of overly sexualized armors to begin with, but I'd prefer it if more games would at least try to give their female practical armor. 

Yeah, yeah I understand where you're coming from, and this is why I suggested that games offer both variants: a "sexy" armor, and a practical armor, and let players choose.  Maybe it's just not feasible for devs to make that many game assets.  Idk.  But it doesn't seem like it should be that hard.

16 hours ago, Yamet said:

I also don't see how the problem with overly sexualized female charaters is solved by making the male characters equally sexualized. To me it just adds to the problem. 

Well, we'll have to agree to disagree, there.  I think that the fundamental disagreement between us may be the opinion that sexualization is a problem to begin with.  See, I argue that it's not.  Equality is a problem, and I'm all for equality, but I don't think sexualization is a problem.  That's kind of my base starting point--that enjoying, celebrating, and appreciating sexual beauty is a good thing, and there's nothing wrong with sexualizing characters to that end.  My previous blog entry would also help you to understand my starting point better.  So, if you view female character sexualization as a problem, then yes, sexualizing the male characters would undoubtedly just add to the problem.  But I don't view the sexualization as a problem.  The only problem is lack of equality.  We just need equal opportunity sexy armor.

17 hours ago, Mesme Rize said:

It's Art. You can't tell an artist what he has to do and what he dosen't.

YES.  Absolutely.

16 hours ago, Mesme Rize said:

It's also the problem that women are not nearly as interested in these kind of things then men are.

Yesh.  That is definitely true, and perhaps it just isn't cost effective for devs to spend time making sexy armor variants for male characters if no one cares.  That is a problem, and possibly one with no solution.  This asymmetry in sexual interests is something I delve into in one of my other posts, "Can Men Be Beautiful?".  Believe it or not, it actually bothers me that women aren't as interested in this kind of thing as men, and I have a very hard time explaining why exactly.  I wish sexual desire and interests ran both ways equally.  I don't care for the way evolution made us turn out.  I have grievances with evolution.  I demand to see evolution's manager.

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The problem isn't that there is sexy armor for female charaters. The problem is that many games treat female charaters as wank material for male players. And adding sexy armor for men won't solve that problem.

 

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Also, on a slightly unrelated note. In my opinion, the biggest issue with female characters in video games isn't the bikini armor, it's the lack of variation in character models.  

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Well, here's my take on it, as a woman who plays a lot of games. 

I think that many games' representation is inherently sexist, though this might not be intentional. Notice I said many, not all. 

The problem isn't as simple as sexualised armour or revealing outfits, though. It's the fact that established female characters in many video games are treated like sex objects. In many games, even when women are put in the spotlight for action scenes or something like that, they're sexualised. Their movements are super 'sexy' and fluid to make them look beautiful. Is it a bad thing to look beautiful? No. But when you then have your male characters just slugging people with punches or gunning people down (not shirtless or naked, of course) with just pure power and efficiency in mind, it makes women's action scenes or just movements in general look exaggerated. 

There's also the whole 'romance' thing in a lot of games. Chances are if the protagonist is male, you'll have some kind of love interest. This isn't always the case, of course, but it is common. And usually, even if that love interest is a badass in her own right, she usually ends up needing to be 'saved' by the hero, and then immediately starts falling in love. This is becoming less common, but it's still prevalent.

The other thing is that many female characters are exaggerated simply in their appearances. I'm not saying that men aren't - I'm honestly tired of every male protagonist being this buff muscular dude without an inch of 'give' to him at all. However, you can't deny that in many video games, women's bodies are just...completely unrealistic. Big chest, wide hips, slim middle, to an extent that most women can't even achieve with tons of working out. 

I could go on. 

I might also add that the solution to heavily sexualised female characters is not sexualisation of male characters. Honestly, unless the game is about fucking people, you shouldn't be objectifying anyone. I'll use Dark Souls as an example. Male or female, most of the time, the armour you wear doesn't conform to stretch around a woman's tits. It just fits and protects like armour. 

And whether you think the whole 'bikini armour' thing is offensive or not (I certainly do, I hate that scanty and barely protective armour is 10x better than armour that actually covers your body), you have to admit that it's unfair to women to give them this horribly sexualised armour and depiction of the female body and then complain when they say it isn't fair. The argument of "It's a fantasy, it doesn't have to be realistic" is bogus, because you shouldn't be forced to wear a crappy skin-tight suit or a revealing bikini that somehow has better defense than actual armour. And I know you aren't actually forced, but if it has better stats, what are you meant to do? 

I just personally find it a bit insulting when men see women's complaints about video games and say to 'get over it' or 'it isn't sexist because WE like it'. If women don't like it, if the actual gender being objectified thinks it's offensive, then that's what should matter. It's easy to say that you want men to be sexualised as well, but what if you had a female protagonist that went around kicking ass while she saves defenseless, shirtless men from harm and makes them fall in love with her? I'm exaggerating, but I don't think you'd be very happy. So there is a problem, and whether you think the fix is to sexualise both genders or neither of them, you have to admit there is a problem and that it needs to be fixed somehow.

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I see this problem through social and marketing views. Just calculate how many male players are? Males make a majority in the video game industry. This is really fun to study so simple things for discussions by academic articles. For example, this article is about cultural domination of Video games. I reviewed many student essays on Edubirdie about social aspects of gaming. If you write essays at college, you can find More Help at Edubirdie. So Sexism in Videogames has to be reviewed in academic researches.

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Studies have found that the areas in the brain to blame for reward and addiction got more activated once men vie video games than once girls did. Unlike girls, Men are onerous wired to be hunters, conquerors and fighters and that's why they expertise additional excitement once they play video games. Best academic writing company in UK law essay help & essay writing services at affordable price. 

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I haven't looked at this blog entry for a long time.  This was more of an impassioned rant than an well-thought out essay.  If I was to write it today, I'd probably do a much better job.  However, I still stand by what I said.  I certainly want games with realism and equality, but I also want game devs to be free and unencumbered to make heavily sexualized games/characters if they wish.  I love sexuality and sexual beauty.  To admit that in most cultures seems to render you guilty of some horrible sin, but this is just how I am.  I am a physically-oriented person, and I love sexual beauty and sexualized characters in games, and I think gaming should be free to include such content.

I honestly think that the "it's just a fantasy; it doesn't have to be realistic" argument is a valid one.  I think that unrealistic fantasies in fiction are perfectly acceptable.  I believe that sane, rational, reasonably intelligent people can readily and easily differentiate and separate fantasy from reality.  I don't think that enjoying a super sexy video game character equates in any way to objectifying or mistreating people in real life.  I also still believe that sexualizing male characters more is a fair and valid solution to the problem.  I'll also concede that some less well-adjusted people could potentially develop unhealthy, unrealistic mindsets and expectations as a result of playing sexualized games, but that doesn't give anyone the right to censorship, or to tell developers what they can and cannot make.  Games have ratings for a reason, and more importantly, I have always been a free speech and free expression absolutist--I believe our right to be able to produce/consume the content we want should come before concerns about how it will affect people who are not mature enough to handle it.  In other words, if some other person is negatively affected by playing a sexy game and starts objectfying people in real life, that doesn't give anyone the right to police the gaming world and tell me that I shouldn't be allowed to play the same sexy game, or that the game shouldn't exist at all.

I felt it was warranted for me to say that, but I actually stopped in here today for a different reason.  When I logged into Steam yesterday, I was greeted by an image so perfect for this discussion that I just had to post it:

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And voila, there you have it.  A quintessential example.  Celestia forbid the man could show any skin.  I maintain that there's nothing wrong with the woman's attire, if that's the sort of game you're going for.  But I for one would like to see an image like this with the male similarly dressed.  Incidentally, this is also a perfect example of why I personally hate being male myself, which, if you're curious about, is detailed in the entries Can Men Be Beautiful, Are Men Funnier, and Breast Envy.

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