>Just for the record

>I’ve found myself saying a lot of the same things in various places on the internet in the past couple of weeks, so I’m going to say some stuff here so that I can refer back to this in the future and not have to articulate it again. With that in mind, let me throw some stuff out here:

I don’t care if you like cheesecake.

If you like cheesecake, good for you. I’m honestly not judging you; that’s a matter of personal taste. I also recognize that there isn’t just a binary between “I like cheesecake” and “I don’t like cheesecake” and I respect that too. I’m not going to get into the business of judging individual consumers of media for their tastes, because that’s just counterproductive and hypocritical.

I am (probably) not judging you

I’m reserving judgement for the artists, writers, and publishers who use cheesecake to make money. These are the people who are intentionally marginalizing women and perpetuating stereotypes for the sake of making a few quick bucks, and these are the people that deserve to be called out publicly on their bullshit. 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.

Wait, part of that was really important, so let me say it again:

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.

Okay, what else…

What do I want? A diversity of depictions of women in game art.

Women in game art are hyper-idealized and hyper-sexualized. You see so many male body types depicted in fantasy, but the only female body type you see in game art is Barbie. For that matter, there just aren’t any “fuckable” men that are equivalent to the cheesecake skanks they put in books. People go on and on about ridiculous beefcake, but if you start counting actual images, the numbers just don’t support it.

Calling women in game art skanks

I’m not going to apologize for calling imaginary women skanks, especially not women who have been EXPLICITLY DESIGNED to be “fuckable”. Everything about the costume, posing, anatomy, and other contextual elements of these elements is designed to make it clear to the male viewer that these women are totally available for banging. THAT is why I call them skanks.

For the record, I do regret comments I made about Jenny Poisson. I’m not going to go delete them because that would be cowardice, but I’ll state that I was under the impression she was a paid model and not a fan. That was not correct. I stand by my assertion that Paizo’s exclusive use of her photo to promote the contest was sexist, but I do regret the “splash damage” of my comments about the photo itself.

That being said:

I’m still not against sex, or against women who like to have sex, or against women who like to cosplay, or against women who like to dress sexily, or even women having sex while dressed in sexy cosplay.


On taking a more “objective” approach:

I am looking at all the ridiculous sexist imagery that pisses me the f*ck off and talking about why it is f*cking ridiculous. I don’t give a rat’s ass that I’m fighting a losing battle. I’m done being silent. I’m just done. I experience shame and insecurity about this shit on a near-daily basis, and I think that voicing my emotions is just as important as examining the imagery. Too many women feel they have to be silent about how sexism affects them. I’m done being silent. If that makes my blog less “useful” then that’s fine with me.

I don’t want all women to wear burkas

See again my comments re: desiring a diversity of depictions. See also comments re: not being against sex.

I reserve the right to come back and edit this should the need arise.

16 thoughts on “>Just for the record

  1. >[Off Topic] Poussin became Poisson. In French it sounds like the chick became a fish 🙂 but the pun only works in English. Bilingual pun are so much fun. Hem[/Off Topic]

  2. >As a het male, it should be no surprise that I like cheesecake, but I still think your crusade against sexist representations in gaming is absolutely on track. Part of it is an issue of balance (and lack of diversity in representation). And part of the issue is the representation itself—why are balloon breasts supposed to be attractive? Sizes A through D are just fine and actually… human. Size ZZZZZ or whatever… uh, not so much.I don't really pay much attention to gaming, but I'm really into comic books, and unfortunately in the past ten to fifteen years the so-called women characters have just gotten ridiculously misproportioned. Dave Stevens and Olivia were tasteful. Where are their equivalents today? To find even remotely realistic representations of female bodies, you need to look to Colleen Doran or Terry Moore.

  3. >I'm fairly new here, and I just want to say that I really like your blog. This stuff needs to be said. Keep up the good work!

  4. >I love the burkas derail. Because obviously a feminist would want to force the further dehumanization of women in gaming art as an antidote for… the dehumanization of women in gaming art.

  5. >As a short, fat woman who is over the age of 20 (and looks it) what I'd really like to see is more options to be able to get a body type like mine as a protagonist. I don't *care* if it comes with added restrictions on movement or anything like that (in fact, I think that would probably be cool – play as something other than Steroid!WheatiesMan, and see whether you can finish the game at all). I just want to see people who could conceivably be in my situation (even as bloody background material).

  6. >I love how you get fired up, I love how you rant, I love you on how you tell it like it is.Please never stop.(I'm a feminist, sociologist and gamer. Please never stop.)

  7. >Yep. I like how folks always pull out the strawman argument of the false binary- either artwork needs to be this fucked up or it needs to be some bizarre hyper-sanitized oppressive regime.Which allows them to move away from the simple question- Why is nearly ALL the artwork like THIS?It's like: I enjoy watching some violence, I enjoy watching some pornography. I DON'T want violence and pornography in -everything-.The fact that this is a controversial statement says a lot about how fucking ass backwards society is and how normalized the problem is.

  8. >Guys aren't ever going to stop making, or liking, images of sexy females. So that imagery is staying.However, I'm sure there will gradually be more varied female representations in games over the coming years as the industry matures and more women find their way into influential positions within dev teams.

  9. >@ AnonymousYour first statement is false, since it kind of makes invisible a group of guys who have no interest whatsoever in women sexually. Time to step out of the bubble, gay men do exist. No one ever said anything about the imagery being obliterated from the face of the earth. The real problem is that it's to a point that it seems like women only get to exist in a lot of these media just to be sexual decorations. There are plenty of men who are against the hyper-sexualization, so please stop speaking for all men as if they are some sort of hive-mind.And I can't help but laugh at your second statement, if only because it's so utterly meaningless and devoid of substance. "If you stay quiet and accept things as inevitable and just sit back I'm sure things will be made better! Maybe! Possibly! I'm sure of it because I'm sure!" The gradual changes come from many places. Including from people who criticize this stuff, from an audience who demand it stops. Take your faux-wisdom somewhere else, it's not needed here.

  10. >If you ever dare critize something that is even somewhat related to sex, then you are a anti-sex prude. It's the old old tactic of sexist guys who think in black and white, and just want you to shut up. Because who wants to be seen as anti-sex? Of course, that talk is just to confuse you away from attacking the problem.

  11. >Sorry about that, Wundergeek. Sometimes it's hard to resist. I do hope you never let people like that or anyone else discourage you from writing this awesome blog though 🙂

  12. >@LilithXIVYes, I was generalising when I said 'guys'. I'm aware of the existance of gay gamers and if you took me to be assuming myself as some kind of spokesperson for the gender, you got me wrong.What I meant was that guys who like sexualised depictions of females will continue to make up a significant enough share of the market for those depictions to be perpetuated at some level, regardless of the amount of progress made with depicting more realistic women.You personally might not be wishing for an end to sexualised depictions of women in games, but my point was that those who are will likely be wishing for a long time to come.As for the second point, you couldn't be more wrong – though I did get a laugh out of 'faux wisdom'. I had in mind (among other things) an interview with Tanya Jessen, producer of Bulletstorm, describing how she lobbied the creative director for a more realistic female team member, which apparently resulted in a character who was a decent compromise.http://techland.time.com/2010/10/14/origins-tanya-jessen-lead-producer-on-bulletstorm/I'm not at all suggesting that anyone stop their blog rantings (really, go nuts); just saying that there is action from within, it's having an effect, and that things appear to be slowly changing.

  13. >Anon: The thing is, we're not asking for sexualized depictions of women to end. We're asking for a DIVERSITY of depictions that include non-sexualized characters as well as sexualized characters. Just because there are guys attached to the current dominance of Barbie doesn't mean that there are very good MARKET-BASED reasons to create games that feature non-sexualized women. There are somewhere around 48 million women playing FarmVille, so you can't convince me that it doesn't make sense economically to make games with characters that are exclusively designed for the male gaze. The guys who want to keep playing Dead or Alive, whatever. They'll keep playing it. But there is such a huge untapped market that game companies are just ignoring, which I think is incredibly short-sighted.Also wrt change within the industry… I hope that things are moving in the right direction, but I'm not confident that's the case. Yes the female character in Bullet Storm isn't as terrible as some others, but she's not great. And for every Bullet Storm that is at least trying to do something, you have shit like Activision pushing their developers not to feature female leads in their games: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/29719/InDepth_No_Female_Heroes_At_Activision.php

  14. >Sorry, I shouldn't post this early. I meant to say that "you can't convince me IT MAKES SENSE to make games with characters exclusively designed for the male gaze". Yeesh.

  15. >Wundergeek summed it up pretty well, really. Though I do have something else to reply with Anon. There's a reason I referred to what you were saying as false wisdom. Because what you're saying is not new or fresh when it comes to replying to these kind of things, it's just meaningless. It is obvious that changes can come from within a company to make it better, but you presented your 'solution' as if it was the only one, as if nothing else could have an effect. That is why it is false wisdom, because it completely shuts out all other possibilities and ignores that an audience can have just as much sway on what thrives and what doesn't. What you would call 'blog rantings' I would call necessary critique of the industry.Also, I always wonder where people like you are getting this supposed majority of 'guys' from? The ones that make up the market? You phrase it as an inevitable, unassailable truth that the 'guys' you speak of 'will continue to make up a significant enough share of the market'. Well, gee, I sort of thought men were only half the population and there was entire other half not consisting of them. Those guys who simply /cannot possibly/ live without sexualized depictions of 'females' are what I refer to as the lowest common denominator. I'm not sure why companies waste their time pandering to guys who apparently have no interest in the actual game itself and literally come for the gratuitous TnA only. Because that's the implication, that taking all the gratuitous TnA away would make this supposed majority just vanish all at once and make companies lose millions. That's not a very high opinion of men or even their own games really.I came off as snarky because I always dislike when people decide 'the majority of these men make up the market' and then just stop there. Like that's the end of the story, like it's some impossible obstacle to overcome when it's clear they never even tried to climb over it in the first place. Does no one know of a self-perpetuating cycle? 'There aren't a lot of women buying these things, so let's just continue with the gratuitous TnA and complete lack of respect.' Which just drives /more/ of them away and keeps them away while keeping the same stale and stunted market. Congratulations, you've created a cycle: Using the excuse that women don't play your game to not change it and so you keep in the elements in that are the exact reason they aren't playing in the first place. As Wundergeek said, it is incredibly short-sighted and just not good business.Perhaps if the women in the audience were finally acknowledged and actually treated as having just as much worth and value as the men do (and more than token effort on this part) then we could see change. Could start by reading this blog and other blogs and sites just like it, instead of just making more excuses and telling everyone to wait it out quietly and hope things will be better. All that's doing is perpetuating it.

Comments are closed.