Responding to comments on my previous post

Okay, the comment threads have exploded on my previous post, which I guess I should have expected considering that I had the nerve to say nasty stuff about GenCon. Only I didn’t expect it, and am now fighting con crud and find that I don’t have the energy to keep up with the multiple conversations. Also, there are a lot of comments (mostly troll comments) that pretty much duplicate each other. So I skimmed through the comment threads and picked out the stuff I felt warranted response.

Stuff that deserves a proper response:

D20 Girls

I was not aware of the D20 girls. There was no sign at that particular booth, and I didn’t get close enough to read their badges. Having read the website, I have to say I’m left with pretty mixed feelings. They have some very body-positive stuff to say, and I appreciate that they want women who are knowledgeable about products to be the ones representing them. However, the fact that they are still hiring themselves out as models makes me uncertain of how I feel about this. I’m willing to say mea culpa – I wasn’t aware that these women were any different from the usual model booth babes you get at usual conventions. But I also don’t think I want to be seen as endorsing them either. I think for now I’ll say that I’m Switzerland (neutral) on the subject until I’ve had a chance to think over how I feel about their business model.

Corsets

Man. I walked away for half a day and this conversation just exploded on me, way past my ability to track it right now. So I’m going to say some stuff that I realize might not respond to everyone’s concerns, but I’m doing my best here.

I don’t have a particular like or dislike for corsets. They’re not for me, but that has a lot more to do with the fact that I trained as a singer for many years; I habitually breathe from the diaphragm which is something you just can’t do in a corset. That said, I understand some women love them, and if it’s something they enjoy then more power to them.

As a tween, I desperately wanted a subscription to 17 magazine. My dad tried out outlaw it, but I bought it with my own money. Something he didn’t articulate until I was in my 20’s that I wish he had said to me earlier was that he was afraid that it would distort my body image and give me harmful ideas about what I was supposed to look like. And he was right – it did. And I wish that someone had SAID THAT to me when I was that tween looking through 17 and not understanding why I didn’t look like those girls. It could have saved me a lot of heartbreak and self-loathing.

So when I see this little girl looking at corsets, I can’t help but put her in a context that is full of distorted and dehumanized depictions of women. And people have made some really good points – I can’t know what’s going through her head. I can’t know that she doesn’t just want to try on that corset because she thinks is pretty. But at the same time I can’t know that the opposite isn’t true. In a situation where the image that is being sold is predominantly white, beautiful, impossibly thin, and entirely distorted, I have trouble thinking that this is entirely a healthy thing.

And who knows, maybe this is a purely personal thing. Maybe I’m doing nothing more than reading my own childhood reactions to distorted images of women into this situation.

I hope that does a better job of unpacking my feelings on the situation. If it doesn’t, then I’ll have to come back later. While I think there’s some good food for discussion, it seems like a tangent to all of the things that I have to say about GenCon.

Troll comments (ie. stuff not really worth my time)

You’re irrationally angry/Sex sells

Screw you. If you’re coming here and saying that, you obviously haven’t been reading anything that I’ve been writing for the last 8 months or so. If you want to come here and have a serious conversation, fine. But if you’re not prepared to check your privilege long enough to try listening to an opposing point of view, then I feel no need to seriously engage with anything you say.

Women need to complain less and do more to change things

You know, it’s really easy to dismiss women by saying that women need to “do things” to change the state of affairs. And the thing that gets lost when you say that is the fact that there are very good reasons for the lack of female involvement in illustration and game development. While I’m not going to say that this is universal, sexual harassment is a huge problem for any woman who “dares” to venture into the world of game development. Even if you’re lucky enough to not have to deal with harassment from your bosses and co-workers, it is not at all uncommon to be harassed by one’s fans. Just look at the fiasco that happened with Jade Raymond, where a pornographic comic was circulated suggesting that she was exchanging sexual favors for promotion of the game. And when some people, rightly, pointed out how reprehensible this was, the response from a lot of male gamers was ‘well that’s what she gets for being an attractive female in game development’. So with all of this, can we be surprised that women aren’t leaping into game design/development/illustration?

But you know what? There are already lots of female game designers, artists, etc out there. There are already women doing some amazing work, and a lot of them don’t get the attention they deserve. So it’s not that we’re not here. It’s that women getting into the development side of things face SUCH a high barrier to entry in terms of feeling welcome, and that many of the women working in game design/development/illustration don’t get the attention that they deserve.

You are against all women being sexualized ever

At the risk of being repetitive, I’m going to quote myself:

I’m not against all sex ever in RPGs. I’m not against all sex ever in art. I’m not against all people ever who like sexy art, or who like sex, or who like sex and RPGs. I’m against people who purposefully, deliberately, and systematically dehumanize women for personal gain and profit.

The problem is that these sexualized depictions of women have become a commodity. The objectification of women becomes a standard practice used to sell games, a practice in which women are reduced to nothing more than their sexy bits while men are allowed to be complete characters with dimensionality beyond their sexayness.

I don’t want to see sex removed from games, because sex is part of the human condition. But the endless parade of dehumanized chainmail bikini porn needs to be addressed, because these sexualized depictions exist solely for the male gamer. It’s not “empowerment” of female sexuality, it’s the commodification of female sexuality – something much, much different.

Men just like sexy ladies

Isn’t it kind of insulting to say that men are inclined to buy any product that has sufficiently luscious T&A associated with it? Do you seriously expect me to believe that men as consumers have all of their purchases decided by whether or not a product is seen as sexy? That’s just ridiculous.

There are men out there who like sexy ladies, sure. There are also men out there who like sexy men, and men who don’t like sexy ladies, and men who like sexy ladies but not marketing that panders to them, and – shockingly – there are also WOMEN who buy products for whom some or all of the above might also be true.

Proclaiming that “men like sexy ladies” as a justification for the systematic marketing of dehumanized sexualized female characters is doing your business a disservice, because you’re proclaiming that your market ONLY consists of straight male gamers – a fact that just isn’t true.

Feminists have no sense of humor/Feminists are dumb/I won’t listen to you unless you’re hot/Feminists are ugly

I love it when trolls quote almost directly from Anti-Feminist Bingo.

Anime encompasses many things that don’t include sexual harassment

I’m quite aware of that fact. When I made that joke about the cover of collateral damage, that was sarcasm.

The human body is art

If the human body is so artistic, then where are all of the mostly-nude depictions of men? Where are all the sexualized male characters with impossible anatomy and distorted poses? Is it only the female form that is beautiful? Or is the male body somehow less than human?

OMG HOW CAN U INSULT ECHO CHERNIK SHE’S A WOMAN SO SHE CAN’T BE SEXIST!!1!ELEVENTYONE

I have repeatedly made a point of criticizing artists who distort the human body and objectify women for personal profit, and Echo Chernik’s artwork fits that criteria very well. Even then, I was (mostly) happy to keep my hatred of her art to myself, were it not for that banner proclaiming proudly that that godawful Shadowrun cover was her work. Because that cover? Is BAD. The breasts were lopsided and defied gravity, the ribcage was wrong, the neck was wrong, the hips were wrong. In addition to being a sexualized distortion of the female figure, it was a poorly done sexualized depiction, and not even up to Echo’s usual high standards of craft and workmanship. Even if I hate Echo’s art, I am still happy to admit that the level of skill and aesthetic is very high, and the Shadowrun cover did NOT live up to that usual high standard.

But let me also add that being a woman does not give someone an automatic pass when it comes to sexism. As is common with any form of oppression (homophobia, racism, sexism, etc), members of oppressed minorities often internalize oppressive ideas. You can’t say that Echo is incapable of producing sexist art because she’s a woman, because sexism is something that all of us participate in. Even you, and even me.

[And that's enough of that. My next post will be the other half of my photos from GenCon.]

About wundergeek
In addition to being a cranky feminist blogger, I am an artist, photographer, and somewhat half-assed writer living in the wilds of Canada with a wonderful spouse and two slightly broken cats.

85 Responses to Responding to comments on my previous post

  1. Mirasiel says:

    Sorry your getting dogpiled WG but to be fair it seemed obvious as I was reading that is what would happen re: D20 girls and the little lass trying on a corset.

    Commenting on/picking out actual individual people in public is bound to draw you fire and to be honest seems a little outside your normal scope.

    • Mirasiel says:

      Thought I should make it clear that wether or not it was an unwise choice doesn’t justify what is now just plain old asshole trolling and flaming of you personally.

  2. I like the way they ganged up on you like high school bullies, Wundergeek.

    “Yeah!”
    “What she said!”
    “Kick her again!”

    Flawless Internet self-takedown.

    • wundergeek says:

      Whatevs. It’s a thing. This is the internet. It happens.

    • Pumpkin says:

      That was both hilarious and an entirely accurate description of what happened. At least one of those women was a D20 girl, which does not paint that group as being quite as positive as she claims it is.

  3. Joanna says:

    “And I wish that someone had SAID THAT to me when I was that tween looking through 17 and not understanding why I didn’t look like those girls. It could have saved me a lot of heartbreak and self-loathing.”

    A lot of girls these days are being educated to not take too seriously the image of models in magazines. I remember back when stick skinny was in fashion, our health and social studies teacher discussed with us how sick and unhealthy this image really is. Today, curves are becoming more fashionable as is proper health. We can see this in artists like Beyonce and Adele.

    “But let me also add that being a woman does not give someone an automatic pass when it comes to sexism.”

    What one woman might find sexist, another might not. I find a woman being forced to be covered up from head to toe to be sexist. If a woman wants to wear a mini skirt and a low cut top, that is her decision. It is her freedom to do so. This is what feminism has achieved, for women to have the freedom to their own ideals. If a woman wants to draw a woman wearing a mini skirt and a low cut top, that is also her decision. It is her freedom to do so. She can represent her gender how she likes because she doesn’t feel oppressed by it. To say otherwise is infringing on her freedom as a woman.

    “In addition to being a sexualized distortion of the female figure, it was a poorly done sexualized depiction”

    Everyone has a style of art. In comics especially, human features are distorted or exaggerated for artistic purposes. If the style was not to your taste, that’s fine, that’s just your taste. Just understand that comic artists often make a comic their own by their style of drawing and colouring.

    • Ryan says:

      “If a woman wants to draw a woman wearing a mini skirt and a low cut top, that is also her decision. It is her freedom to do so.”
      Did anyone take away that freedom? If wundergeek criticizes a drawing, is the criticism’s validity dependent upon the identity of the illustrator? 99% of the people encountering that cover illustration aren’t going to know who illustrated it. Must they reserve all judgment of the illustration until they do?

      • Joanna says:

        “Did anyone take away that freedom?”

        No. That would be sexist.

        ” 99% of the people encountering that cover illustration aren’t going to know who illustrated it. ”

        Only if you’re not big into comics. I’m not a huge comic fan but I can spot Michael Turner’s art out in a crowd because I have a few of his Tomb Raider graphic novels.

        “Must they reserve all judgment of the illustration until they do?”

        Eh…no. I think you mixed up my last 2 points there.

        • ryan says:

          I think because you were replying to “being a woman does not give someone an automatic pass when it comes to sexism” I thought you were trying to argue that it does.

          “She can represent her gender how she likes because she doesn’t feel oppressed by it. To say otherwise is infringing on her freedom as a woman.”

          But if other women do feel oppressed by this representation, would they only have a valid complaint if it was drawn by a man?

          • Joanna says:

            It’s not about validity, it’s about perspective. I would feel oppressed if the drawing was of a woman covered up and bland. Reading this blog, I feel oppressed and guilty because I apparently should not condone art which features women scantily clad.

            • “I would feel oppressed if the drawing was of a woman covered up and bland.”

              Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find that baffling. Do you consider all depictions of women in non-scanty clothing bland and oppressive? If so, I’d be interested to hear why.

              Also, what exactly do you mean by “covered up”?

              • Ugh, WordPress needs an edit button. I meant to say “all depictions of women in art and video games.”

              • Joanna says:

                I mean before the modern swimsuit, women were forced to wear smocks and pantaloons to the beach, because skin tight or revealing clothing on a woman was considered obscene. If this was such the attitude today, or indeed one where say “Let’s not show cleavage lest we set men into a frenzy.”, I would find that oppressive.

              • Ikkin says:

                @Joanna:

                Why are you acting like the only options are chainmail bikinis or smocks-and-pantaloons-at-the-beach?

                I don’t know a single woman who feels oppressed that she can’t wear lingerie (and nothing else) to work. Yet, that’s how these characters are dressing. Is it too much to ask that videogame art at least attempt to follow the restrictions that are willingly followed in real life virtually every time one goes to a public place?

  4. Sunny says:

    I think a lot of people really need to go read some feminism 101 because they don’t realize how the stuff they’re spewing has been said as “witty counter-arguments” 34623641363464326 times and weren’t well-thought-out or even clever the FIRST time someone came up with them.

    Also thank you for the posts and photos, my SO has been attempting to get me to go to GenCon for a couple of years now and after being sexually assaulted at PAX several years ago I have zero desire to encounter more asshole entitled neckbeards and the plethora of imagery that just reinforces that their behaviour is acceptable.

    • Joanna says:

      The “witty counter arguments” are more so common sense. That’s why they are brought up often.

    • wundergeek says:

      Oh, man. Like, I don’t want to be the counter-argument to GenCon. I’ve been going every year for five (six?) years because I LOVE GenCon. It helps me reconnect with people I love and it helps me reconnect with my love of gaming in general. The stuff I’m posting here is because I love GenCon and I really want to help it BE BETTER. But, like, please don’t interpret this as “I HATE GENCON SO MUCH AND NO ONE SHOULD GO”. Because right now I’m actually like “OH MY GOD I’M SO MISERABLE ITS OVER AND I HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR TO DO IT AGAIN”.

      • Sunny says:

        Oh, don’t get me wrong, if someone loves a con I am all for them going, but you have the crux of it right there — we don’t say things to say OMG DON’T GO IT IS AWFUL but to point out what needs changing, fixing, to make it better/safer/a happier place for everyone, not just the barest majority.

        I still enjoy other, smaller conventions. I know that lots of people enjoy PAX and I’m glad my experience was not the norm or expected (although according to plenty of people I SHOULD have expected it, which is again part of the problem). I don’t think I could handle Gencon, and it is not just because it’s a big con… it has a lot to do with the imagery, the level of acceptance of sexism even in just such a visual way (although some of the games you posted in Part 2, oof).

        • Jaclyn says:

          “but to point out what needs changing, fixing, to make it better/safer/a happier place for everyone, not just the barest majority.” Unfortunately, majority rules. You can’t really satisfy everyone. If you fix something, someone will get upset, then if you change it back… well you get the idea. :/

    • I’ve never been to GenCon, but I’ve been to PAX several years running. Maybe I haven’t been paying close-enough attention, but I have never felt terribly out of place as a feminist at PAX. Sure, there are the borderline boothbabes (out-and-out boothbabes are verboten), and the male:female ratio is still out of proportion to the general population, but there have been great strides to be more inclusive to women gamers, as well as GLBTQ gamers.

      And it saddens me that you were sexually assaulted at all, but especially at PAX. That’s the epitome of breaking Wheaton’s Law.

      • Sunny says:

        I heard there were a lot of problems at East this year, from blatant Booth Babes to Dickwolves making a resurgence at the draw-a-panel stuff… none of it has said to me that it’s any different from a couple of years ago, I guess. I know they’re trying and I applaud everyone’s efforts to make it safe and happy for everyone but I guess I still feel like there’s a ways to go, and that until it’s there I’ll still be blamed/disbelieved/questioned if something ever happened again. And I guess that continuing fear that until people really get the message “THIS IS NOT OKAY EVER” and those people stop attending, it won’t be. It’s sort of a microcosm of the real world.

        I don’t want to downplay how much better a con I think that PAX is at heart or at least ideals than many others, but I’d like to keep pushing for improvement, there and at all cons!

  5. *salutes this post* Fantastic breakdown, great responses, good to know your context and personal take on some of this.

    And bless you for having any inkling of patience left to respond to “human body is art/dudes like boobs/feminists are dumb” commentary, good god. I think I would have flipped a table by now.

    -C

    • Cole92 says:

      “The human body is art” claim is one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever heard. The ratio of nude females to males in art beyond the period of ancient Rome is so disproportionate it’s ridiculous.

    • THIS. No one was arguing that women can’t be sexy or appreciated in art (we do have a lot of that material); this blog was always about how women depicted in gaming art get a raw deal in terms of costume/armour design and realistic anatomy (which has less-than-nice implications for the role of women in role-playing games) and just what they’re put there to do. It was rather painful for me to see the pile-on in the previous post’s comments; Kudos for this (what looks to me) a remarkably restrained response.

  6. Jaclyn says:

    First of all, my general opinion on D20Girls isn’t a good one. I have no problem with several of the ladies involved. I highly support the idea of replacing the Barbies with real gamers. But at the same time I’ve developed a bit of a bad impression of the D20 Girls’ leader, and I dislike the overall classification of gamer girls because I think it’s counterproductive to enforcing the idea that gaming isn’t something only males do.

    I think that you as well as many feminists aren’t able to distinguish what’s objectification and what’s not. Your previous post was essentially one gigantic tyrade about everything that featured any woman anywhere in the convention. The only depiction of a female you seemed to applaud turned out to be male.anyway. Without knowing the intention of the artist, you can’t say whether or not it’s a sexual depiction or not. Look into the anime Ikki Tousen. It features large chested girls, frequent panty shots, and exploding clothes. That was clearly made for the sake of sexuality. Then look at Mezzo TV (Mezzo Forte too, but the original is hentai). That depicts a girl in a tight outfit, but she’s more of a kickass babe than a sex object. Take a look at the videogame Disgaea. Etna wears almost nothing other than thigh highs and censor bars. Is she supposed to be a sex object? No, but she’s supposed to appear mischeviously sexy.

    It’s a fine line between what’s supposed to be sexy and what’s supposed to be all about sex.

    Joanna is right in saying that most of these things that seem like old anti-feminism cliches are common sense.

    The beef I have with feminism as a whole is that I really just don’t see the point of it. Years ago women didn’t really have rights beyond the right to be a housewife, things have changed enough so that they’re on equal footing as men. Sure, feminists of course would argue that, but you’ll find problems with anything so long as you’re looking for them. The thing is, no matter how many battles feminists or any other activist groups win, there’s always going to be another battle. The way I see it, the battle is over, and you’re really just fighting for the sake of fighting, being angry for the sake of being angry. Is that really what you want in your life? Why can’t you simply be happy with the equality that we currently have?

    Life and the world in general, people too, all have their flaws. The point of feminism is to nitpick these flaws and make everything perfect. Perfection is a pipe dream. Perfection simply doesn’t exist. You can swing at that Perfection pinata all you want, but if it’s not there, obviously you’re not going to get any candy.

    You seem to put on this air of innocence regarding your Gencon post. As if you didn’t expect negative responses, as if you weren’t being irrational in many of your arguments, as if all this anti-feminism stuff was there and you didn’t have to actively look for it.

    Point is you were completely irrational, and you did actively look for things wrong with the convention which, like I said, means you’re going to end up with results. I’m sure most of the attendees at the con weren’t as outraged as you were by the depiction of women at the con. Now ironically if all the women were fully clothed… in burkas, I can see a lot of outrage.

    This past Colossalcon I cosplayed as Yoko from Gurren Lagann. Yoko is supposed to be a sexy character, so she’s wearing very little. I, and apparently another girl at the con, was approached by a guy who asked for a picture and just held the camera at my midsection without looking into it to aim it at all. This was a little discomforting. I also have a friend who is a self-admitted pervert. Loves hentai, loves girls, will give a girl anything so long as she gets naked for him, or more.

    Most nerds are socially awkward. Socially awkward guys aren’t exactly studs getting tons of lays, and they might not even be that attractive either. Often times at cons you’ll see guys who mean no direct harm, like they won’t touch a girl but they can make some girls feel uncomfortable. This, again, is something you really just have to shrug and let go of. Girls do it too, but everyone really only ever focuses on the males who do it. It’s generally socially acceptable for a woman to call another woman hot. Double standards ahoy!

    • depizan says:

      Years ago women didn’t really have rights beyond the right to be a housewife, things have changed enough so that they’re on equal footing as men.

      Your definition of equal is not the one generally used. Unless you hail from an alternate dimension where women and men make the same amount of money for doing the same job, where women are not victims of harassment should they choose to work in certain professions, where women are never hooted at or sexually harassed on the street (or, I suppose, where men are just as frequently), where playing MMOs does not involve “tits or get out”, where game art has just as many hotty pictures of men, and where women have to register for the selective service. I assume in the alternate dimension, men are never sneered at for being pussys (or other insults based on men being superior to women), get to wear pink and like unicorns without being harassed, are free to be stay at home fathers without being sneered at, can be open about their emotions and cry in public – and that’s just as normal as when women do… You see where I’m going? Yeah. We’ve got a long ways to go still.

      • Jaclyn says:

        And the point is completely missed…

        Humanity has it’s flaws. Humanity will never be perfect, and so on and so forth, do I really need to repeat myself?

        These are simple factions of like that will NEVER change unless science is able to come up with a magic potion that will somehow remove the animal instinct from our species. Yeah, not going to happen. Men are perverts, so are women. Only society has taught us women are supposed to be little angels. Animal instincts are in all of us.

        The misconception that women are underpayed is a steaming pile of bullshit. First of all, paying a woman less than a man is against the law.

        Women appear to be payed less for two reasons:

        The heavy-duty, dirty jobs are dominated by men. This isn’t because these jobs don’t hire women, but because women simply don’t want to do those jobs. When my little sister graduated from tech school, I noticed most of the men coming from plumbing, automotive, and electrician classes, whereas the women were taking most of the nurse and office jobs.

        The dirty jobs pay more, because there’s a higher risk of injury. Obviously someone isn’t going to work a minimum wage job if there’s a chance they’ll lose an arm, they want to be compensated well for both working hard and for the chance they’ll get hurt.

        Secondly, figures are often skewed by the fact that women have babies. Often times women will have to leave work for months on end because they have a responsibility to their child, or they’re 8 months preggers and would rather hang themselves than roll out of bed and stand at a counter for hours.

        There are two solutions to this problem. First of all, the media needs to stop teaching women to be beauty queens who can’t lift a television lest they break a nail. Secondly, girls need to learn that the instinct to have a baby is just an instinct, and just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Girls need to be taught that they shouldn’t be popping out children until they know they’re prepared financially, emotionally, and mentally. I know a girl who had a child at 16 or 17 just so she would have someone to love her unconditionally because she believed her parents didn’t (typical teen).

        The interesting thing here is how the writer of this blog was complaining about how women are dressed in games. Why does it matter? These are women who are doing… MEN’S JOBS. And as I think I’ve already pointed out, this is something that should be enforced, not complained about (even if it is just nitpicking their wardrobe).

        I am a woman, I don’t complain about Tits or GTFO, kitchen jokes, etc. Hell I live with 4 guys and -I’m- the one who pointed out that my computer is in the kitchen. Some women, however, as so sensitive about this stuff.

        Men can wear pink without harassed, and they can like unicorns. Have you not heard of the Bronies?

        It isn’t about harassment, it’s about how it’s taken. People can like whatever they want, someone, somewhere is -going- to dislike that fact. It’s that person’s job to suck it off and wave off that person as simply being a judgemental moron. Case in point: furries. Furries on the internet are widely disliked, often as simply part of a hate fad. Interesting thing I’ve noticed is that fursuiters at cons don’t give a damn, until someone actually takes it to a physical harassment level like one story I heard about a fursuiter being chased with a tazer or another one being pushed off a catwalk.

        But when it gets taken to a physical level? That’s when it should be reported to the authorities, because battery and assault are against the law. Verbal harassment? Put simply, get over it. Men are pigs. women are bitches. People say things that may hurt others without any regards to their feelings, often times it’s in jest but it isn’t taken that way. Women, naturally, are more emotionally sensitive then men. Men have a tendency to horse around a lot more than women.

        • Jaclyn says:

          Big typo there. “factions of like” should be “facts of life”.

          • Jaclyn says:

            I should really stop being lazy and proofread my posts. Though “suck it off” is by far my favorite typo. There’s a few others, but they aren’t as confusing or hilarious.

        • Ikkin says:

          The interesting thing here is how the writer of this blog was complaining about how women are dressed in games. Why does it matter? These are women who are doing… MEN’S JOBS. And as I think I’ve already pointed out, this is something that should be enforced, not complained about (even if it is just nitpicking their wardrobe).

          Except that, in a lot of cases, they’re cordoned off to the support roles, where they’re at less risk of hurting their fragile little necks. =/

          And, honestly, it’s hard to see those characters as doing a “man’s job” when they’re too busy posing in skimpy versions of the expected attire to do any actual work (in the images that get drawn). You’d have more of an argument if they were all fighting dragons or something, but they’re not (and that would still be a problem for other reasons).

          People say things that may hurt others without any regards to their feelings, often times it’s in jest but it isn’t taken that way. Women, naturally, are more emotionally sensitive then men. Men have a tendency to horse around a lot more than women.

          You’re forgetting something about verbal harassment that’s really important, though: it can be very threatening if the person doing it has the ability to do you harm. And that has absolutely nothing to do with emotional sensitivity; if a man was harassed by a group of fangirls with a yaoi paddle, even if they didn’t do anything more than make comments, he’d probably find it threatening too.

        • depizan says:

          I didn’t miss your point, I disagree with you. Completely. I have a better opinion of both men and women than that. And I have no idea why you think it’s great to put up with being treated like shit. To each her own, I guess.

          • Jaclyn says:

            Because if you don’t put up with being treated like shit, you won’t be happy. Nobody is loved by everyone. The downside to complaining is that it’s causes a chain reaction. This is what happens in schools with bullying, or even on the internet with actual trolls. If you cry about it, they’ll pick on you more. If you mock them back, or just ignore it, it might not stop them like some people like to believe, but it certainly won’t make it such a problem in your life.

            But there’s also a difference between being actively treated like shit and just having one or two guys who you’ll probably never see again hoot at you on the street and claiming you’re being treated like shit. I’m not condoning physical or ongoing harassment. If someone tries to grope a woman’s ass, or constantly harasses her or even stalks her, that’s crossing a line and can be reported to authorities.

            But men doubting women or being socially inept towards a lady, and doing no physical or intentional traumatic harm to her?

            Allow me to quote a friend of mine “After my second child was born, I got a job working construction with my parents (cause my douche bag of a husband at the time couldn’t hold a job) After my foreman realized I wasn’t out there to dick around and sleep with the bosses and that I was actually going to work, I got a raise to standard apprentice level. I had to earn it though, I threw on a safety harness, climbed into tight spaces hundreds of feet off the ground and pulled wire and worked electrical conduit 10-12 hours a day in Texas summer heat. So I can see both ends of the argument, I was judged immediately because I was a woman and because of other women who worked on the site just so the company would meet the fair employment rules. But I had to take it upon myself to say Fuck you guys, I’m not pushing a broom all day…give me some god damned work to do.”

            Here’s a woman who was doubted because of her gender, but didn’t cry about it and say that everyone was treating her like shit, she bucked up and kept trying. Yes, men can act like pigs towards women, and I don’t support that but I also know it’s something that can’t be changed.

            • Ikkin says:

              Right, because being a fatalistic punching bag is the best way to deal with bullies and a great way to end up happy.

              I’m sorry, but waving a white flag and hoping your tormentor will be merciful is just about the worst way of dealing with verbal harassment, ever (though things are obviously more complicated when one feels one’s life is threatened). Even if the bullies just attack more because of it, you’re still way better off not giving up your agency and leaving yourself completely helpless. -_-

        • Pumpkin says:

          Holy internalised sexism, Batman! After your posts here, I am literally afraid of reading anything else you write. I don’t want to be mean to you personally, ‘cos I don’t even know you, but the stuff you write is just such a clusterfuck of internalised misogyny that it just makes me want to back away slowly.

          The heavy-duty, dirty jobs are dominated by men. This isn’t because these jobs don’t hire women, but because women simply don’t want to do those jobs. When my little sister graduated from tech school, I noticed most of the men coming from plumbing, automotive, and electrician classes, whereas the women were taking most of the nurse and office jobs.

          The dirty jobs pay more, because there’s a higher risk of injury. Obviously someone isn’t going to work a minimum wage job if there’s a chance they’ll lose an arm, they want to be compensated well for both working hard and for the chance they’ll get hurt.

          Claims of lower wages are based on women doing the SAME jobs as men for LESS money, so this explanation is clearly bullshit.

          Secondly, figures are often skewed by the fact that women have babies. Often times women will have to leave work for months on end because they have a responsibility to their child, or they’re 8 months preggers and would rather hang themselves than roll out of bed and stand at a counter for hours.

          There are two solutions to this problem. First of all, the media needs to stop teaching women to be beauty queens who can’t lift a television lest they break a nail. Secondly, girls need to learn that the instinct to have a baby is just an instinct, and just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Girls need to be taught that they shouldn’t be popping out children until they know they’re prepared financially, emotionally, and mentally. I know a girl who had a child at 16 or 17 just so she would have someone to love her unconditionally because she believed her parents didn’t (typical teen).

          Funny how you blame the entirety of the evils of pregnancy and reproduction (filthy, whore-ish practices, committed by Devil brides!) on women. You know how reproduction works. Why no blame for the men involved? Also, did you ever stop to think exactly why it is that women have to (HAVE to – there is no choice) take such long maternal leave when having children? They’re *expected* to raise the children, hence maternal leave is FAR longer than paternal leave, even ignoring the pregnancy. So either the women have to raise the kids, or the parents have to shell out for child minders.

          And that second paragraph is a whole heap of “I don’t even”. You were talking about pregnancy as it related to the workplace and then…that kinda just came out of nowhere. Nothing spells “internalised misogyny” like a completely out-of-place, hate-filled rant about completely sexist generalisations and stereotypes.

        • gaynorvader says:

          ]Women appear to be payed less for two reasons:

          The heavy-duty, dirty jobs are dominated by men. This isn’t because these jobs don’t hire women, but because women simply don’t want to do those jobs. When my little sister graduated from tech school, I noticed most of the men coming from plumbing, automotive, and electrician classes, whereas the women were taking most of the nurse and office jobs.

          The dirty jobs pay more, because there’s a higher risk of injury. Obviously someone isn’t going to work a minimum wage job if there’s a chance they’ll lose an arm, they want to be compensated well for both working hard and for the chance they’ll get hurt.

          Dirty jobs don’t pay more. I don’t know how you even think this.

          Secondly, figures are often skewed by the fact that women have babies. Often times women will have to leave work for months on end because they have a responsibility to their child, or they’re 8 months preggers and would rather hang themselves than roll out of bed and stand at a counter for hours.

          Maternity leave is taken into account in these statistics. The chance that a woman might get pregnant might dissuade a company from hiring her, if she is going to be needed to be depended on.

          The real reason for the apparent wage gap is that men tend to do more overtime and put there career ahead of their family life. this leads to them getting raises, etc. Less women tend to do this as women prefer to spend time with their family.

        • Echo Chernik says:

          Women illustrators can be paid less than men. I say that having been there. I was denied a job one (after it was awarded to me), because they found out that I was a woman. Trust me, it exists.

    • Okay, you’re not trolling, Godwinning, or outright flinging insults this time.  But you’re still completely missing the point.

  7. Thank you for bringing up internalization (again, most likely. I’m sure you’ve mentioned it before.) In my frivolous youth, when I was prone to actually read crappy paperback novel tie-ins to comic books, I was shocked to find out the second book in one of the series I was reading not only had this embarrassing cover:

    but was painted by a woman.

  8. gaynorvader says:

    To be fair, if women were to portrayed realistically in medieval-styled fantasy settings, they’d all either be wenches, whores, ladies, daughters or wives. Few to none would be thieves, warriors, scholars or outlaw leaders.

    • Sunatic says:

      I loathe this argument and will now attempt to explain why exactly. I have a hard to putting to words what is such a matter-of-course to me, so I might forget something. But here goes.

      “Medieval-styled” fantasy, while clearly drawing inspiration from the real European middle ages, DOES NOT reflect the real middle ages. If it did, it would be called “historical fiction” or “historical fantasy”. A “standard” fantasy setting (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StandardFantasySetting) may have a European climate, a feudal system, European folklore monsters as the root of the sapient races, perhaps even Christianity-based religions. But it still has very little to do with the real middle ages.

      The point of speculative fiction is to make realistically worlds, characters and stories in what-if scenarios. What if elves and dwarves and dragons were real? What if the society transformed not by the power of industrialism, but advanced magic? There are countless fantasy settings that look “medieval” at first glance, but so many society-relevant things are changed, that its “similarities” to the real middle ages are superficial.

      So. If a medieval-looking setting can have numerous sapient non-humans, advanced magic, TOTALLY DIFFERENT HISTORY than Earth – then why can’t it have different societal rules regarding gender? WHY must women be oppressed? WHY must glbtq people and people of colour be nonexistent/oppressed? WHY can’t one of the setting’s differences be that it isn’t sexist, racist, ableist and queer-hating? WHY? IT’S GODDAMN FANTASY.

      • Pollak says:

        If it’s “GODDAMN FANTASY” then why should armor and anatomy be realistic? Who’s to say that a chainmail bikini is not the most powerful armor in the land or that sticking out your butt produces more powerful magic than not doing it.

        I have no problem with wanting less sexualized characters but most of the arguments against it like to cherry pick what part should be fantasy and what part should be realistic which does nothing but lead to pointless circular arguments.

        • Sunatic says:

          So it’s alright for fantasy to be oppressive to women because that’s how it was done in the middle ages. In other words, an attempt at “realism”. But to have realistic armor for women? No no no, the point of fantasy is being misunderstood!

          If the chainmail bikini is the most powerful armor in the setting, why isn’t it explained? WHY are the MEN not wearing it?

          • Pollak says:

            That wooshing sound you hear is my point flying over your head so I’ll break it down for you. Arguing that certain things should be real in fantasy setting is stupid. Complaining about armor and anatomy not being realistic in a fantasy setting is stupid.

            You didn’t like that gaynorvader said to be realistic, the women should be more oppressed which I agree, that is a dumb argument because it is fantasy. However you support wundergeek in stance that the chainmail bikinis or any other revealing armor and incorrect anatomy isn’t realistic which is also a dumb argument because it is fantasy.

            If one is to complain about how women are represented in games, one should find an argument which is better than “well that’s not very realistic” because 99% of the time that is the f*cking point.

            • You can say that when the majority of male characters are dressed like this, and any guy who’s uncomfortable about it gets Godwin’d/insulted.

              • Pollak says:

                Once again I am not saying that the way women are portrayed isn’t worth complaining about. I’m saying to find a better argument. Your comment just ignores the point I was making and just says I don’t have a right to comment.

                A lot of the blogs on this site are mainly about how the armor wouldn’t be protective and the anatomy is wrong. These are not compelling arguments for equality in games especially when you look at the fact that there are quite a few games when men run around half naked or in zero protective armor fighting off hordes of enemies but you don’t hear people whining about the lack of realism.

              • Hazmat Sam says:

                Okay, you don’t seem to get the argument here, and since I agree with it, I’ll break it down:

                Do You want fantastic medieval fiction? Then make your arguments against women’s costumes on aesthetics or values. (which is easy if you know a damn thing about textual criticism, come on.) Damning something as “unrealistic” when the entire definition of “fantasy” is “supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting” is absurd. And on that note…

                Do you want historical realism? Then you’re going to have to accept the limitations of the time. I’m note saying you have to get in the kitchen, mind. That’s an inaccurate depiction of the era. Many respected medieval poets, scholars, and theologians (seriously) were women. Hell, there were feminists even. And yes, women infrequently commanded armies at the time. But if you want any claim at all to realism then you are not
                going to have women besides outlaws actually fighting openly. (Not that a Rose of Versailles or Grace O’Malley style game wouldn’t be awesome)

              • Once again I am not saying that the way women are portrayed isn’t worth complaining about. I’m saying to find a better argument.

                First of all: when you use words like “whining,” you are saying that it’s not worth complaining about.

                Secondly: better than what, exactly?  Some strawman/red herring about realism that was actually brought up in the following context (i.e. “you should be grateful that female adventurers are even allowed“) to begin with?

                Very well, here is your “better argument.”  The issue is one of trivialization.  The first order of business for male characters is for them to look heroic.  The first order for female characters is fanservice—even if the artist’s idea of “sexy” makes them appear ineffectual and/or vulnerable. 

                The end result is that male characters come off as the heroes, while female characters come off as ornaments or rewards—in short, as trivial.  It has precisely jack to do with realism or historical accuracy, and everything to do with making at least something of an effort to respect one’s clientéle as opposed to just pandering to a particular segment thereof.  Capisce?

                And yes, Kratos was fanservice for some of his designers.  But examples like Kratos aren’t nearly as common as you seem to believe.  Additionally, were you not aware that the blogs about “impractical” armor here are generally making light of it?

                @ Hazmat Sam:  Disagreement does not equal incomprehension.  That is all.

              • Ikkin says:

                The problem with arguing for or against realistic outfits in fiction is that the terms of the argument are almost universally different for each side.

                In fact, I’d argue that what’s really being put forth when outfits are criticized as unrealistic is an appeal to logical consistency and broken suspension of disbelief rather than realism, per se. Armor with cleavage windows may be no less realistic than overly-decorated armor, but it draws far more attention to its structural failure and therefore does much more damage to one’s suspension of disbelief. It’s also less logically consistent than no armor at all, because at least a bare male chest isn’t pretending to be armor.

        • Zaewen says:

          Then why are the men never in chainmail bikinis and using the hip-wiggling school of magic, hmm?

          The female-only chainmail bikinis and armor are far more of a cherry-picking fantasy than any of the critiques against them are. If the ladies are sexualized, than the men should be too, otherwise the fantasy is sexist. If you’re okay with having a sexist fantasy, so be it, but there’s no escaping that having ladies running around looking like Red Sonja and the gents running around in actual, full sets of plate is sexist.

          • gaynorvader says:

            Pollack got my point pretty well and beat me in explaining it, so I’ll leave it. Men in fantasy games often are clad in “revealing” attire. Many games have men with no tops on. Those games that do have men in full plate, generally have women in equally full plate. Sure there are a few games that have an imbalance, but by and large most games I can think of set in a medieval-fantasy setting have both sexes on pretty equal footing; Neverwinter Nights, Oblivion, Dragon Age: Origins, etc. In fact, I can’t think of a video game that has women actually running around in “chainmail bikinis” and men in chainmail. I’m sure they exist, but I don’t know of any :(

            • Everyone “got your point.”  Not everyone agreed with you. 

              Shocking, I know.

              • gaynorvader says:

                Wow. Take a chill pill. Sunatic clearly didn’t get my point as s/he thought I was implying that fantasy settings should be strictly realistic when I was trying to imply the opposite. Personally, I blame myself, I should have made my point clearer.

                As for people not agreeing with me, to be honest I’m surprised when people DO agree with me.

            • Zaewen says:

              WoW, Everquest (1 not 2), Rift, Tera, WAR online’s Sorceresses and Witch Elves, and all the games highlighted on this site are preeeeeetty bad about the Men = Fully Armored, Women = Cleavage windows, mini skirts, and bikinis masequerading as pants. Heck, even Oblivion had some skimpy (compared to the men’s) armor in the game. It’s pervasive in games and especially in their advertising art. *Some* games have *some* men shirtless, like Rift and Tera, but the few instances, while welcome to those who like beefcake fanservice, is not anywhere near comparable to the overt plethora of cheesecake fanservice the industry is saturated in. This website and these last two posts are inescapable proof of that: fully clothed men put up against half-clothed or mostly naked women.

              • gaynorvader says:

                Haven’t played the first Everquest. I’ve never even HEARD of WAR online or most of the more recent games highlighted on this site. When I played to WoW trial I noticed that both the men and women were complete stereotypes, which was annoying, i wanted a tubby little short human, but we can all dream. As for Rift and Tera, you went on to say that men are presented shirtless in these games as well, so perhaps it’s some kind of style of the game, not aimed at any gender?
                I can’t think of any armour in Oblivion that was specifically female, unless it was fan made?

              • Zaewen says:

                To describe the games you haven’t tried: in the original EQ, while the non monstorous men (i.e. not orcs and trolls) and beast men did show some chest, the women of those races tended to show far more skin in both their default and armored appearances. In WAR online the general tendency was that armor was the same across genders and that it was at least somewhat realistic in the amount it covered for your class type, with the exception of the Sorceress who wore metal bikinis with a sarong type skirt while the male Sorcerers wore full robes and the Witch Elf (which was the only female-only class) wore just a tad less than the Sorceress. In both Rift and Tera (which have vastly different aesthetics with Rift being more of a gritty, styliezed realism and Tera having a fantastical, dream-like quality to it) the male armor mostly covers the character model with a few exceptions that leave parts of the chest bare. The female armor mostly doesn’t cover the character model with a few exceptions that come close to resembling realistically covering armor like the male’s get. WoW has gotten better with recent armor models and the advent of the shirt/tabbard slots that allows you to cover up the armor gaps, but they used to be the go-to example of sexualized female armor model renders.

                As for the Oblivion armor, no it was original content. Many pieces had gendered renders (even if it was just so that there would be a slight v-neck and hint of cleavage to a female’s chest plate) but there were a couple pieces that were full shirts/breastplates on guys and just a strip of cloth/chainmail bikini top on my character.

      • Or, to put it more briefly: Fantasy is not history.

    • Additionally, to be fair, if dragons were realistically portrayed in medieval settings they…wouldn’t exist.

      • :D okay i clearly didn’t refresh before i posted. Sorry @Sunatic. You said what i said in a less rudely-one-linery way.

      • gaynorvader says:

        Agreed, my point was that the fantasy settings are not supposed to be realistic, so why should characters attire be? If there are enough men/boys out there immature enough to be swayed by some pixeled eye-candy, why shouldn’t developers take advantage of them and take their money?

        • Cater exclusively to one potential market—and one that doesn’t really present your product in a particularly positive light—even at the risk of alienating others?  Yeah, great marketing strategy.

          • gaynorvader says:

            I didn’t mean every game should be a parade of scantily-clad, ridiculousnous. What I meant was that if making games to pander to that particular audience is so easy, why not do it? Also, modelling these female characters as such does not mean that the game cannot cater to other potential markets. Any game you make is always going to offend someone, if someone wants to make a game where men are consistently portrayed as knuckle-dragging idiots, with women skillfully manipulating them into doing embarrassing acts that’s fine, I probably won’t play it, but it should still be allowed. Some people might get entertainment out of it after all.

            • I somehow doubt anyone’s asking for a game like that.  (Although it does remind me a bit of the Batreans in Talislanta…who had the fan-serviceyest women in the setting; go figure.)

              And, again: it’s about having some degree of respect for your clientéle as a whole.  While I’m sure there’s a certain segment of the market that demands that it be pandered to exclusively (see: the Dragon Age 2 kerfuffle), it’s almost certainly a vanishingly small one. (And I can’t help but approve of Bioware’s response.)

  9. Pingback: Hit a Dude: a joke, a game « The Githyanki Diaspora

  10. I can totally sympathize. I never got more comments on my blog than when I posted about the “Girls of Gaming” magazine and said that things like that made me ashamed to be a gamer. http://popularculturegaming.com/?p=92

  11. Joanna (L) says:

    Wow… All I can say is I’m sorry some of my girls went crazy on you… I had posted something to the effects of ‘Tell her what we’re all about!’, not ‘Attack!’. Internet communication is by far lacking… I’m a firm believer in the fact people are entitled to their own opinion, and I respect that you’re even willing to be ‘Switzerland’ in regards to D20. If anyone harasses you further about the issue just reply to this and I’ll send you my personal email and have it dealt with.

  12. Jondi says:

    I’m really glad you wrote this response to the comments. I have spent some time reading the rest of your blog, and while I disagree with you about most of your beliefs I can see now where you are coming from.

    This response was well-articulated and I think you did, at the very least, get your point across. I apologize if I appeared to be attacking you in any of my previous comments, as I did not mean to. I took a lot of what you said personally (not as a D20 Girl, but just as someone who enjoys a lot of what you were insulting). I, too, was worn out from Gen Con and though it isn’t a good excuse, I do apologize.

    Thank you for your clarification/follow-up.

  13. Strill says:

    “There are men out there who like sexy ladies, sure. There are also men out there who like sexy men, and men who don’t like sexy ladies, and men who like sexy ladies but not marketing that panders to them, and – shockingly – there are also WOMEN who buy products for whom some or all of the above might also be true.”

    Isn’t the answer to this obvious? Women, gay men, asexual men, and indignant men are too minor a demographic to target.

  14. Echo Chernik says:

    Wow, it tickles me that I ticked you off this bad, and I don’t even know who you are. And, it also tickles me that you don’t know what Larry Elmore looks like. I wish you the best with your therapy. Think about hating a little less, and enjoying life a little more. Life is way too short to bury yourself in angst – there is so much to be enjoyed and loved in people and the world around you. I wish you the best.

    • wundergeek says:

      Sweet. This just made my day! A famous illustrator just called me crazy! This is so awesome! Now if only I could get Wayne Reynolds to tell me I’m crazy, my life would be complete!

      Seriously, I find it telling that rather than trying to engage me in a serious conversation, you resort to gendered slurs to discount what I’m saying. Way to go. I guess you’re just proving the truism that women can be sexists too.

      • gaynorvader says:

        WTF?! Are the “gendered slurs” in a different post?

        • wundergeek says:

          Calling feminists crazy as a way of discounting them is an oldie but goodie. It ties into the stereotype that women are too emotional to construct rational arguments. But don’t take my word for it. (Skip down to #3)

          • gaynorvader says:

            But *you* put that meaning on top of what Echo said. She called you crazy without justifying it, but she didn’t add the rider that it was because you were female/feminist/whatever.

            • wundergeek says:

              Right. So I made a feminist critique of Echo’s artwork, and in response she comes to my blog and – rather than attempt to engage with any of my feminist-based arguments – discounts me by calling me crazy. But I’m not supposed to connect that to the fact that I’m a feminist? Yeah, I call bullshit.

              • Echo Chernik says:

                I have no comment or opinion about your views in regards to being a feminist. My reply was simply to your anger issues, to which I wish you the best of luck in receiving proper therapy and management. I hope that one day you realise that life is too short to carry that much anger around. I honestly have no care to discuss your opinions on art or feminist movements, nor to defend myself or my art as being pro-women. My fanbase and popular opinion speaks for itself, and my fans know my viewpoint on female beauty and ethnic equality. You may feel as you wish about any art, and even about my person – whom you do not know. How do you know that I am not an advocate for female rights? You assume, blinded by your rage at the world around you. I also know, from my experience, that women wielding that much rage cannot be reasoned, nor argued with. I could defend myself, and help feed your anger and need to rail about, but I prefer instead, to wish you the best of luck with remedying your deep set angst – and I hope truly (and un-sarcastically) that you find love and peace in this world. Hugs. x

              • Echo Chernik says:

                Dear, my response is not about your comments in regards to my artwork. Instead, it is in response to your obvious anger at the world around you, through which you find release in assaulting others. I see a very angry person who has chosen a route on which to attack strangers. As I see it, you are free to your opinion on my (or any) artwork – my fans know my stand on strong women, inner beauty, and celebrating the beauty of women from all ethnicities. And their opinion is what matters to me. You do not know me, but instead assume and attack. I see within you anger, and hate – and I truly, honestly (and without sarcasm) wish you luck in managing it so that one day you may find peace and love. So my response is to not defend myself, nor to provoke you, nor to address womens rights. It is instead to wish you luck and health. I hope that one day you learn to not point your gun blindly, but instead, get to know your target. Best of luck. Hugs. x

              • wundergeek says:

                No problem. I’ll just be over here crying myself to sleep with tears of rage.

              • Echo Chernik says:

                Oops posted multiple times! I had to re-write! :D echo

        • Pumpkin says:

          Women never have any legitimate reason to be angry about anything. If they are angry, it is because they are crazy.

          Think of it as a claim that is a slur against a certain demographic, rather than a literal one-word slur.

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