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Feminism and Popular Culture Part 2

As some of you may know, I posted a blog a few days ago that spoke about feminism and pop culture, specifically centered on gaming. You can find it here for reference. I'm not trying to promote myself, just trying to provide context to this blog.

There were some positive responses to the blog, some good discussion was born of it and I was; at that point, content to let it go at that. But some other responses have made me decide to write this "continuation" as it were to the original blog. This one will discuss some of the "problems" brought to my attention by what I would assume (and hope) are female gamers who seem to have a problem with sexism in gaming. Be warned, if you're the type of person offended by sexism in gaming such that you believe it's an actual problem, you'll likely be offended by my blog and should stop reading right now.

The general problems that feminists have with sexism in gaming are the following. Unrealistic portrayals of the female form, "fairer sex syndrome" (I'll elaborate later), lack of variety of female character amidst a huge variety of different male characters, and supposed gender stereotypes. It would be a very long blog if I went into real detail for each problem, so I'll try to be as brief as I can.

I'm going to start by saying that ABSOLUTELY NONE OF THESE ISSUES ARE A REAL PROBLEM! To be upset by any of these things in a video game is to state with absolution that you are offended by fiction. That you are granting a fictional work power over your real world life and self-image. This is a characteristic of weakness on YOUR END and is NOT an actual burden of society and should not be treated as such. It is akin to blaming television for your bratty child being violent, it is that absurd. I'll also state that I have been surrounded by many strong women in my life, and have the utmost respect and empathy for the particular hardships women have to endure and overcome. This isn't a hater blog.

Ok, so back to the problems. Unrealistic portrayals of the female form. I take this to mean that these women don't appreciate seeing women with thin waists, large breasts that defy gravity, blemish free skin, and the "perfect" butt. Ignoring the fact that offense to this is a symptom of an already pre-existing self-esteem issue, none of these traits are unrealistic. There are plenty of women in the real world born with these traits (with help from a push up bra you can simulate gravity defying breasts) and plenty who work to get them because that's what they want. I could link you to pictures, but that would be inappropriate. Unrealistic means something that is unlikely to be achieved. Well, these traits can be achieved. The problem isn't unrealistic portrayal, it's unfair portrayal.

Fairer sex syndrome: This is the "why do the women have to be rescued? why do the women have to be so weak" issue. Again, this is a problem only when people ignore basic facts. A) A game isn't real. B) History has been more patriarchal and less matriarchal because of C) Men are biologically stronger than women which leads to D) A long history of reused themes in story telling. It also is an insult to all the strong female characters in gaming, of which the list would be too long to post here. Offense to this is another sign of personal problems, not societal problems. Taking offense to something that isn't real is foolish.

Lack of variety of different types of woman: This one is the most glaring mistake feminists use when they complain about sexism in gaming. The argument is that there are all kinds of male characters. From Mario being a fat plumber, to Nathan Drake being a fit, yet not overly so, adventurer, to body building Marcus Fenix types, to the fat lard E. Honda types. The narrow minded views of the offended feminists can only seem to see the Rachels (from Ninja Gaiden) or the Katsumis (DoA) or the Ivys (Soul Calibur) or else the rest are all like Princess Peach. This is a huge insult to all the developers out there who have made a wide range of female characters, many of these developers being actual women themselves. Sure you have your borderline porn stars like the aforementioned, and you have your damsels in distress as well. But you also have your strong willed, fight against the world types like Yuna from FFX (no one can call her weak) or how about Rikku who's the chipper one of the group and nothing like the "stereotypes?" And then you have your athletic warrior princess types like Nariko, or Chun Li, or Talim. You have your soldier types like Meryl from MGS. You have your average everyday reporter like Madison from Heavy Rain. You even have everyone's favorite princess, the Fat Princess. So where is this lack of variety?

I mentioned in that last paragraph that was far too long; female developers. That's a rather large, and convenient, aspect of the industry that feminists ignore. There are female developers making games. Hell, Jade Raymond was the Producer of Assassin's Creed and the Executive Producer of Assassin's Creed 2. That means she was the boss. You have women participating in the creation of these games. Giving input making stories and character designs. Don't you think that if this was a REAL problem, you'd see them speaking up first?

What this issue has become is a launching pad for various agendas and political correctness that all stems from the same 2 areas that all problems stem. A huge lack of self-esteem and a desire to make someone pay for how miserable you feel about yourself. When there are REAL gender equality issues in the world to deal with, why bother focusing on non-issues that can only have an impact on your life if YOU LET THEM?! GAMES ARE NOT REAL LIFE! No one treats a woman, or even a man, differently based on some women or men they saw in a video game. No one perceives virtual people to be realistic representations of actual human beings. Not even little children do that and they would be the most likely to. The only people with a problem are literally those people who have their own problems to deal with first. You can't have someone speaking for all women by saying "games are too sexist against women." You don't know that even your own sibling feels that way, let alone complete strangers.

Get over yourselves, fix your own emotional problems, and focus on the good of gaming. Gaming is the most interactive entertainment out in the world, showing us worlds we can never see or imagine in this world. Shouldn't that deserve our attention more than the non-issues and launching pads for unnecessary whining campaigns?

I have made another unnecessarily long blog because this issue is just too frustrating. It's to the point where if I had the focus to do so, I'd make 2 projects in opposition to Anita Sarkeesian's very flawed "Tropes vs. Women in Video games" project. Something as negative as her project deserves opposition. Only when we stop talking about these non-issues and stop giving them power will they ever cease to exist. Peace, and happy gaming to all. I'm out.

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Sephris2113d ago (Edited 2113d ago )

I've noticed that, in the main, the only female lead character options you have are the big attitude Lara Croft types or the nearly naked types. The gaming industry doesn't seem to want to break too far away from those models. Perhaps this is because there are far more guys in the game industry than girls, and they can't seem to grasp the depth of just what a woman can really do. It's as if the true nature of a woman is impossible to put into digital media. In the time I take to write this, my wife can make me coffee, take care of a diaper, make my boys breakfast, swat me in the head for being a dumbass, formulate a complex piece of art to draw and set up a doctor's appointment for my annual physical. All in about 5 minutes. Comparatively, I can write a comment in 5 minutes. The sheer self motivation of a woman is amazing in and of itself, but add to that her ability to complete many tasks at once and you have the model for a real time superhero. Maybe it would take too many tetrabytes to get a real woman into a video game, but I do find it pretty sad that unless the characters want to be background noise in a game she either has to have boobs or attitude. Or both.

Perhaps it is that men are, by general design, rather simple things. And because they are simple it is easier to build them up into something more. Women are far more complex, and so the industry dumbs then down. Eventually women will take a deeper root in the gaming industry and from there we will begin to see in the games everything that is truly beautiful about a woman. Because, honestly, only women really understand just how awesome women are. And I think they will eventually catch the industry up to speed.

DragonKnight2113d ago

I'm likely misunderstanding you but it sounds like you propose that female characters that multi-task should be placed in games?

The complexities of actual people in real life would take too much work to implement in games that are, primarily, simply made for entertainment. Men are generally simpler beings than women, however humans are complex beings and there is no way we can label either gender as being one way or another because every individual is different. There are women who are simpler than men, there are men who are more complex than women. There are compromises that have to be made so that the overall experience in a game is entertaining.

The problem is that people tend to focus too much on specifics on a per game or character basis rather than focusing on the whole. People always try to find something wrong. This generation is a perfect example as graphics have become the main focus for most people. Back in the good ol' days of the NES or SNES, no one cared about how men or women were portrayed. All they cared about was if the game was fun or not. But as gaming becomes more mainstream and includes more different types of people, eventually it will bring out the people who like to nag about even the smallest issues that aren't important. If there is a real world impact, then it's important to discuss and possibly change the cause. But there is no real world impact here. It's just people complaining for the sake of complaining. I know someone who even likened this issue to complaining about the Mass Effect 3 endings, even though the two issues are nothing alike.

Sephris2113d ago

Close..I was trying to say that females are far more complex than games in general portray them to be. this is understandable because up until just recently the game world was dominated by men, many of which weren't exactly Casanovas. And because of this games had the two stereotypical females: The aggressive bitchy type or the big boobed bimbo. As more women come into the field we will be seeing more diversified women in our games.

If the opposite had happened and women had to go by their own imagination to make men in games without many men around to discuss things with, we would have the rich guy with no personality but lots of gifts and we would have the dumbass jock type that can move walls with his face and not much in between.

And you are right...I loved playing my 8 bit Atari and it was all about the fun. Dragons looked like ducks, women were just like men save for one extra boob pixel and life was great. But as technology evolves so do our expectations. We are at the point where we can make complex personalities for our characters, and while this is evolving pretty well where male characters are concerned, we haven't moved that far past Lara Croft for women. And with more and more females coming to the game world, the expectations for more realistic characters will become a necessity.

coolbeans2113d ago (Edited 2112d ago )

The reason I applauded the now Part 1 of this feminism rant is how I construed the crux of your complaint against Sarkeesian: you mention your sisters and compare and contrast the feminist movement of old to now, which in turn produces a chance for a rousing discussion regarding that with other posters. Perhaps this kickstarter project could act as some sort of poison for "new-feminists" using political correctness, among other complaints, in the gaming-sphere for their own personal gain. In moments, that enjoyable blog could produce layers of discussion on that alone. Note: I'm not intentionally withholding compliments until complaints arise intentionally. I didn't start anything like that on Part 1 b/c I have to cry ignorance on women's lib/past feminism atm.

That's great and something that can be discussed BEFORE her 'Tropes' videos hit youtube. But to say "I'd make 2 projects in opposition to Anita Sarkeesian's very flawed 'Tropes vs. Women in Video games' project" before anything has been released? You unintentionally disproved your own earlier statement about gamers being able to handle criticism very well (<- not verbatim) with this example of drowning out the opposition before the argument has even begun.

My initial problems with this sequel:

- You assume (and hope) any sort of previous criticisms about this topic that go against your opinion were made by female gamers? I'm not sure where to start on this one.

- You contend that supposed stereotypes can't even be considered a real problem.

- The two reasons you see why anyone would complain about the possibility of sexism in videogames are myopic.

Although I feel like I'm going to retreading a bunch of ground (from past forum talk), I have to bring up a point or two.

You really can't fall back on the "it's just fiction" attitude for these cases. Whether we like it or not, videogames don't exist in a vacuum. Like any other popular medium, they are a part of our society and the circumstances that surround them. The complaint behind the typical videogame female body type that only a small number can achieve is because those standards are still used against women today. The active pay/hiring discrepancy towards women is still in motion today and being constantly analyzed to this day (wikipedia link in comment section of Part 1).

Edit: Forgive any issues with grammar or my points made. It's 1am right now and would like to go to sleep. I'll be sure to clarify possible incongruities in later posts.

DragonKnight2112d ago (Edited 2112d ago )

I respect the reply, and I'll try to clarify.

1. Yes, it's a fact she hasn't yet released the actual video projects. However, she has outlined them and has given details about what she will discuss in sections. The outline of her project is very negative, and of the 12 videos she is planning, only 1 is about Positive Female Characters. It isn't a stretch to assume that that particular video will be littered with personal bias, because who can actually say they know what is a "positive female character" for every person? Thus, if I were to make projects, they would most definitely be in opposition to her views as I would not focus on the negative aspects over the positive ones in a lame attempt to further my own agenda.

2. Addressing your points, I will have to provide some context. I actually received some PM's from female gamers, so it's not that I hoped or assumed, I was directly speaking with women. One in particular I have a lot of respect for and we had a decent conversation about my previous blog. As for the issue of stereotyping, my point centered around history and the repetition of theme across history. The question is: Why are women being "rescued" as though they are weaker than men? The answer lies in history and biology. 2 things not easily overcome. But rather than acknowledge that, some would rather complain at it and place blame. The points of both of my blogs are that people are taking offense and creating huge mountains out of fictional molehills. These are games. They have a specific intention, and specific designs. The only way an individual CAN be offended is literally because they CHOOSE to be offended. So, stereotypes can only be a problem if a person lets them be one. Besides, I think there is a confusion between stereotypes and unrealistic, or unfair gender role portrayals. The two are similar, and yet not the same.

Finally, I will say this. It has seemingly become second nature for everyone to look for, and find, fault in gaming these days. Gaming is under constant attack and has always been so. It first began when it was said that gaming stunts mental growth and causes children to become lethargic. It then moved to being the pastime of social outcasts or "nerds." Then it moved to the arena of being the direct cause of violence and murder. And now, the token issue is sexism. Do I deny that women undergo real world hardships men don't? Of course I don't. Everytime I go anywhere with my sisters I get to see pretty much every guy have his jaw drop and salivate as though they have never seen a woman. But is sexism an actual problem in video games? Only for those who are looking for it to be and choose to focus on specific examples rather than looking at every avenue. Every gamer on this site is capable of creating a rather large list of different types of female characters. Women of all personality types and body builds. But does anyone ever talk about that? No. Instead, they focus on the DoAs, the Soul Caliburs, or the Mario/Zeldas of gaming because it's easy to say "this is wrong" than to say "look at everything that's right."

TopDudeMan2112d ago (Edited 2112d ago )

"You really can't fall back on the "it's just fiction""

Well, yes, and no.

What you have to bear in mind is that video game developers are making the game with an end product in mind. They have a story to tell, which they assume the player will take and enjoy for what it is. They don't expect players to look deep into factors that they, the developers, hadn't even considered. Things such as dialogue and personality are things that are made up for the purpose of telling the story. They don't expect anyone to look at one of their characters and try to figure out what this developer is trying to say about females or males from it or what it means with regards to the world's attitude to women. They just want to make the game fun to play, which is enough of a challenge on it's own.

That's why I say yes, it's a bit of fiction which is not meant to be taken out of context in that way.
It's like if someone showed you a very big and complex painting and said there was a cat somewhere in that painting and you had to find it. If you stared at this painting long enough and scrutinised it, you would see imaginary cats in the shadows and other things that aren't there. If you look too deep into something, you're only going see what your mind wants you to see.
And that's what I think is going on with this argument. People are looking much deeper than they're supposed to and seeing messages that aren't there. If you keep scrutinising games that way, I don't see how you can continue to enjoy them.

coolbeans2112d ago (Edited 2112d ago )


1.) I'm sorry, but I don't see how that gives you grounds to preemptively create 2 projects against her debate when only the outline of her argument has been released. That's basically the same thing as judging a 12-page (a vid ='s a page in this instance) body + conclusion by only reading the general outline of an APA-styled research paper.

I'm not saying you don't/won't have concrete counterpoints, only attesting that your final words in this blog are mirroring the entire dismissive portion of the gaming audience's attitude toward the idea of someone examining possible sexism in videogames.

2.) Thank you for taking the time to address those portions. I suppose it was wrong of me to single out only stereotyping in my second dash, since I don't have a problem with damsal in distress storylines. The two latter dashes are meant as a tie-in to the idea of you saying any complaints listed above who've discussed these issues are only their fault, not games. Sure, perhaps all female gamers complaining about this could be tossing around this issue so much because of self-image issues or lack of power in the real world. Now the question has to be asked: is it reasonable to believe expressive mediums, videogames included, could've helped those personal issues evolve? (explained a bit further down)

I'm not saying videogames haven't received unfair treatment in the past and having "experts" throw anything at the wall to see what sticks. But isn't it too early to suggest sexism is one of those complaints that doesn't stick? Look at what you mentioned from a different angle:

- You've noticed guys acting like salivating adolescents when they see your sisters, as if they've never seen a woman before...

- ...which happen to be the specific audience a healthy majority of games are being CATERED to... game creators that consist mostly of white, heterosexual, male artists and storytellers...

-...which is also the typical color, sex, and sexual preference of the gatekeepers for women's opportunities in the workplace, both in regards to advancement and employment.

Sorry about the "...which" approach. :P


"They don't expect anyone to look at one of their characters and try to figure out what this developer is trying to say about females or males from it or what it means with regards to the world's attitude to women."

You sure about this? This is what dedicated critics across various platforms have done for many centuries on every theme/motif you can imagine. Even if they don't expect this (which sounds like a group of ignorant writers), that shouldn't dissuade anyone from examining possible screw-ups in how these pixelated females are represented in games. The amount of fun they have with games isn't magically sapped by them trying to find new wrinkles to the argument.

The problem with how you see the argument is there's not any definer as to what's considered "too deep."

Edit: I hate writing in the late hours. :P

DragonKnight2112d ago

1. I don't know if you've seen the outline of her project, so to answer your first point I'll post it here.

She has 3 sections with 12 videos and what I believe are 2 written portions. They are as follows.

Section 1
Damsel in Distress - Video #1
The Fighting F#@k Toy - Video #2
The Sexy Sidekick - Video #3
The Sexy Villainess - Video #4
Background Decoration - Video #5

Section 2
Voodoo Priestess/Tribal Sorceress - Video #6
Women as Reward - Video #7
Mrs. Male Character - Video #8
Unattractive Equals Evil - Video #9
Man with Boobs - Video #10
Positive Female Characters! - Video #11

Section 3
Let's Bump up the Production Quality!
Tropes vs Women in Video Games Classroom Curriculum
Video #12 - Top 10 Most Common Defenses of Sexism in Games

Judging by the consistent use of the word trope in its most negative connotation, and judging by the titles of each video (which are approx. 10 to 20 minutes in length), it isn't a stretch to call this an outright assault rather than a debate. She isn't seeking to have a discussion, she is seeking to sensationalize and bust open the doors of game character design. She debases any attempts at character variation in just her titles alone. "Man with boobs" is her negative way of discussing a female character who doesn't act typically female. As if somehow that to is a problem. It appears that there is no accurate enough design for her. If you research what she's about, you'd be able to see where I'm coming from more clearly. Also, I'm not going to create any projects as I don't possess the focus or the equipment to, but don't misunderstand my intention as being an attack on her. If I were to make any projects, one would be about the positive female influences, and another would be about game design in general. I'm not dismissing sexism, I'm dismissing the offense to non-issues.

2. Although I can see the validity of your "which" approach, I have to disagree with it on the grounds that it can be used to strengthen the position of any attack on gaming. Such as the attacks that state gaming is for social outcasts, or that it stunts your mental growth, or that it causes violence. These attacks seek to claim that gaming has real world impacts. That people's personalities and actions are directly influenced by games. There is no evidence to support that, and it also presumes to state that we're all droning morons. Men are men and the younger ones act like idiots simply because, biologically, they are. That isn't going to change no matter how much censoring some would force on us.

coolbeans2111d ago (Edited 2111d ago )

1.) Yes, I did notice the updated outline on her kickstarter page and I still don't see how that, and her recorded bias, is enough for anyone to attack ANY argument that has yet to be made. Whether it is an outright assault or not is irrelevant to my point. It's unfair to preemptively state "any of these problems stated in my blog are only your fault" towards her (and others) when none of her points have yet to be carefully articulated.

I'm not trying to support a woman I only know through the internet, just defending how this debate, like any other, should be handled. How can we tell what complaints are non-issues when the issues have only been outlined yet not explained in detail? It's unfair to the person who brought up the reasonable question to suffer from all of this proactive backlash (mentioned in comments in Part 1) because she's "that girl."

If you-hypothetically-come back to this topic after one, some, or all of her videos have been submitted, don't be surprised to see if I agree with a healthy majority of your sentiments. The difference between then and now? Your hypothetical blog in the future displayed that you were willing to listen to some/all of the complaints addressed and concocted a well-written rebuttal against her, whereas this Part 2 came off as a loudspeaker for you to say "all of X, Y, Z complaints here are your fault, and not an issue with games."


- ". . .on the grounds that it can be used to strengthen the position of any attack on gaming." can't just disregard all legitimate attacks against gaming because they're blended in with the illegitimate mire we typically see from supposed experts.

- "These attacks seek to claim that gaming has real world impacts. That people's personalities and actions are directly influenced by games."

That's a bit misconstrued. You see, questioning the exploitative, offensive, or unrealistic portrayals of women within media has actually resulted in psy. reports that claim there are real world impacts. By unfortunate luck of being so young, the lack of variation in games compared to other expressive mediums is being addressed. Sarkeesian addressing only games isn't b/c she believes they're solely the problem; it's more likely that she's using this platform because she's fond of this medium and believes more can be done to address these issues at a faster rate.

And yes, there is MUCH evidence for this. For starters: http://www.medicalnewstoday...

2109d ago
humliye2107d ago

Some Christians believe that Yoga is not Hindu but just generic exercises which is absolute BS. Yoga is both physical and spiritual and comes from Hinduism.

muaythaichick2085d ago

I can't decide if I care or not that there are actually men on this blog pretended to give a shit about how woman look in games. No wait...I find it stupid. AND..If there is any chick out there that HONESTLY believes that a man seriously is playing a game and says to himself `oh i am so offended by this big breasted, small waist, tight ass character, I just wish they made her more flat chested and a slightly cellulited ass and no muscle in her body, it would really make me appreciate the game play more and I too would be more attracted to the character.` doesnt happen ladies| Men seriously, are you getting paid to give a shit?

Im a woman, a gamer, I dont look like those characters, and regardless of what I look like, I dont compare my body to a video game character. Why? Uh cause she isnt real! IF these woman have anything to be threatened about, they should take a look at the fashion industry who promotes anorexia, who makes all the best looking clothes only in size 0. Personally I would rather be brainwashed to look like chun li than whats her face coke addict supper model kate moss. Isnt there any other causes you can find time to resolve other than whining about things that don't exist? "oh wah wah they dont look like real woman wah wah" Ok well just stop reading fictional books too while youre at it because um none of its real and therefore it shouldnt be written about.

Its seriously sad that after all that fuss about equal rights and voting that this is where we have ended up. Bitching about fake hot woman characters rather than fighting for REAL CAUSES, like african woman in small villages unable to go to school because they are woman. Like hello? First world problems I tell ya.

So awesome post, you got it all right. Woman: please speak for your damn self, you are not a true gamer and have low self confidence enough that you need to waste all our time in whining about fictional characters. and men who think they are doing us a favour by encouraging these half wits: please take of your skirt and lets end this little tea party. Save your activism for your own sex.

Now Im going to play some dead or alive volleyball :D