>On the word slut: a rambling response long overdue

>Okay. A quick summary before I dive into what is sure to be a long and rambling post of where this is coming from. Maverynthia and tekanji left some comments taking issue with my use of the word slut in a recent post. I was on vacation at the time, but didn’t want to announce that to the interwebs; instead I wrote some super-quick (less than five minutes) and admittedly defensive comments. Tekanji responded with some comments… that Blogger’s spam filter promptly ate.

I didn’t catch this until much, much later (again, vacation) after she’d already written a post on Shrub.com. I restored the comments and made a clarifying post, apologies were made by all and sundry for the misunderstanding, and I promised to write the response that I wanted to write several days ago and was too braindead to do until today.

Okay. That about covers everything for our readers who weren’t following things across three different threads on two different blogs. So, to jump right into it…

The original context: two different usages of the word slut in two different contexts

Okay. So in my post about TERA Online, the word slut was used in the title: “TERA: competing with Bayonetta for the sluttiest women still wearing clothes?”

The second (chronologically) instance was in my post about gamer valentines:

… It seems like they might be using this as a chance to promote Chell’s new design in the upcoming release. Chell in the first game was female, yes, but definitely was not a traditionally slutty female heroine. I’m a bit worried by the decision to glam her up. Here’s hoping that we don’t start seeing disgusting Chell fanart pop up like we did with post-Zero Suit Samus…

I’m actually going to talk about the second instance first, since I think it needs to be addressed before I can come back to the first.

Slut the second: All female heroes are not sluts

Okay. When I started this blog, I started it in a fit of rage about all of this bullshit I’d collected about sexism in gaming while doing research about my original article over on See Page XX. I was all angry and used language that was a lot more extreme than what I use when writing posts now. I know in the past I have referred to women in images as I’ve examined as “cleavagey skanks” and “slut-bags”. And you know what, once I settled into a routine and started getting desensitized (at least to a certain extent) to this shit that I examine on a regular basis, I re-thought my stance somewhat. I backed off on language like “skank” and “slut-bag”, though I continued to use the word “slut”.

Still, here’s where I say mea culpa. The language “traditionally slutty female heroine” is problematic, because it implies that most or all female heroes are sluts. That’s certainly not what I meant to imply. What I was referring to, badly, was the fact that the outfits and designs of most female characters in video games are… well… slutty.

But wait! That’s hypocritical, isn’t it? Please allow me to explain…

Here’s the thing. I wish I had better language to describe these things, language that isn’t loaded. But the fact remains that English is not a perfect language, and sexism is pretty hard-coded. Gender neutral insults like “asshole” are almost always less “extreme” than gendered insults like “douchebag”, “cunt”, or “bitch”. (You could make arguments on either side for most variations on “fuck____”, but that’s a different argument.)

Similarly, saying that these women are “scantily clad” or calling their clothes “skimpy” doesn’t really do justice to how extreme the designs of these characters are. It goes beyond just the cut of their clothing – it extends to anatomy and posing as well. Often video game women have their secondary sex characteristics distorted in ways obviously meant to titillate the intended viewer (straight men). However, would I say that all of the women in the above image are sluts? No.

Here’s the thing. Slut is a loaded word with a lot of baggage, but I feel like it can be an accurate word to use when used to describe the outfits and armor worn by fictional women in gaming, because often that harmful baggage is exactly the stereotypes that the character designers want to convey to their intended male audience! The awful slut stereotype is exactly what the game companies are using to sell their product to male gamers!

Was I sloppy in my use of the word by saying “traditionally slutty female heroines”? Absolutely. But because of the fact that companies use the baggage of the slut stereotype to make money, I feel it’s important to understand that the word slut does have a place in the deconstruction of character design, as long as one is careful to use the word in reference to the design and not the character herself. At the end of the day, fictional gaming women do NOT have a choice about how they present themselves to the world, and I think that’s an important thing to consider. But that lack of choice still doesn’t make them sluts.

I can respect that slut can come with a lot of painful and terribly personal baggage, and absolutely not do I want to condone the real-world verbal abuse of women by men who call them sluts and other similar insults. But the slut stereotype is a very real part of what I’m trying to confront here, and I hope that what I’ve said makes sense as a case for the considered use of the word.

Should I have been more careful? Sure. And for that I apologize.

That said, moving on…

Slut the second: the messy dividing line

Okay. Coming back to the first instance of slut – my comparison of women from TERA Online and Bayonetta. So here’s the thing. Sometimes women aren’t just designed to look slutty, but they’re also designed in such a way as to act… um… slutty.

The women in TERA are noted for their problematic animations. The castanic (demon) women run around bent over at the waist so that you can see up their skirts (if you can actually find one). What’s worse, the idle combat animation looks like it wouldn’t be out of place on the floor of a club and the actual spell casting animations involve hip thrusting gyrations.

That’s not to say that real women who want to dress like castanic women and go dancing should be called sluts! But again, when you consider the animations in combination with the designs, the promo material, and the entire conversation surrounding TERA Online, again the word slut does seem to apply to some extent since the harmful baggage is again intended as promotion. The creators behind TERA Online are very purposefully aiming to make their designs more sexist than any other comparable game while still not crossing the line into “adult” like Kabod Online. (Though the fact that these characters are avatars makes me think that I should have said that the castanic women ACT slutty rather than saying they ARE sluts.)

Compare with Bayonetta… a character created by a noted misogynist as his “ideal woman”, again we have a character who is problematic not just for her design but for the totality of what she represents. Bayonetta’s attacks involve nudity and widespread legs combined with nudity, in Kamiya’s words she uses her sexuality “as a weapon”, and she kills angels for crying out loud. You couldn’t possibly have a stronger example of a character who represents the female sexuality = slutty = eeeeeeeeeeevil stereotype any stronger than Bayonetta.


These are all screenshots, sadly.

Now it’s super rare that you have an example as extreme as Bayonetta, sure. But that extreme exists. Bayonetta is the literal embodiment of almost every negative stereotype about women’s sexuality that exists in Western culture, with a healthy dose of Japanese stereotypes thrown in. I honestly don’t know how to talk about a figure like Bayonetta without saying that she has been explicitly created to perpetuate slut stereotypes.

But, to state the obvious, that doesn’t make all fictional game women Bayonetta – thank god. There exists a spectrum, and a lot of the time the lines aren’t as clear cut as they are with Bayonetta. The vast majority of fictional women aren’t sluts, and it was sloppy of me to use language that implied that I thought they were. But I stand by the title of my post about TERA, because there is a mentality among certain game designers that in order to attract attention you have to be MORE sexist than anyone else out there because vanilla misogyny isn’t cutting it anymore.

tl;dr: what’s the upshot?

The upshot? I was sloppy and shouldn’t have used the phrase “traditionally slutty female heroines”. But it’s my position that the word slut still has a place in discussions about harmful stereotypes in gaming and game design, as long as a distinction is made between the design of a character and what that character actually is.

I’ve done a lot of soul-searching in the last few days and I feel like this is a position I can stand by. It’s a messy position, sure, but sexism and misogyny are messy issues. I’m bound to screw up from time to time, but I don’t want to let that fear of screwing up silence me. That said, I understand it if you don’t agree with me and am happy to continue having a conversation about it. And if you decide that my views on the matter make my blog not worth your time, I’ll understand that too.

108 thoughts on “>On the word slut: a rambling response long overdue

  1. >All communication is subject to (mis)interpretation. "Traditionally slutty female heroine" could be read as "slutty female heroine, of which there is a tradition" (as you meant it) or as "female heroine, which have a tradition of being slutty" (as your critic interpreted it.) It's impossible to avoid this potential for miscommunication; no matter how carefully you try to word things you're up against culture, personal experiences, etc. that you can't account for. Your critic, for instance, seemed to also take issue with the use of the word "slut" at all, not just its application to heroines. This is apparently a hot-button issue for the person that would have resulted in offense no matter how clear you were in your initial post. It's also an issue that's far broader than what you address in your blog.

  2. >I've mentioned before that I'm not fond of the use of the word even in this context. Let me try to explain without questioning your feminist credentials. (Like I have any of those myself.)Does the word accurately describe a certain negative stereotype of women within fiction? Absolutely. Is this frustratingly common in video games? Yes, it is. However, I the word 'slut' is still a term with all sorts of loaded meaning and cultural baggage that doesn't neccisarily come through when you use it in this manner. Your intent doesn't change the use the word is often put to, and anyone reading your blog without this context gets entirely the wrong impression about what you're attacking.First of all, it implies that sexually charged female characters are, by neccesity, a problem. Or more particularly, that video game/rpg characters being portrayed as sexually active is a bad thing. You point out that these women don't have agency, but the term slut IMPLIES both agency and moral deficiency in its most common use. It isn't your intent that's the issue here because people can't read your mind prior to reading your blog.The second issue is that it's not even accurate by the usual definition of the word slut. There is nothing in their own games to indicate that Lara Croft, Samus Aran, Joanna Dark, or even Ivy Valentine are sexually promiscuous. Wearing revealing outfits or even being intentionally provacative and desirable do not automatically grant male characters a liscence to boink, nor should it invite viewers to assume things about their sexual proclivities*. 'Slut' attributes something that is, strictly speaking, not even demonstrably true, to these characters, further muddling the criticism. So yeah, while I completely understand that this loaded language conveys the stereotype and developer/artist intent more than 'scantily clad' or other less forceful langauge, I feel you risk doing more harm than good.I think your term 'fuckable' works better at conveying your intent, to be honest, than 'slut' because it drives home the point that these characters are tarted up for utilitarian sexual purposes, without implying that the female character is thus morally deficient.*of course, it does, but this is another form of societal sexism and not something we should encourage with our choice of words.

  3. >I don't personally think that any derogatory use of the word 'slut' can be justified by any excuse. However, I enjoy your posts in which you don't use the word 'slutty' to mean something negative.

  4. >I definitely have an opinion about this, but I'm not sure I have the words to articulate it properly. Which is weird because I'm not exactly a nOOb when it comes to the slut-shaming convo.I understand what you're trying to say, or at least I think I do. You're trying to strip the word "slut" of part of its meaning and use it only to describe "sexually-provocative female character designs solely intended to titillate male gamers". But that's not what the word means. And if you're not using it that way, then it seems like you're using it in the traditional manner…a slur with a patriarchal origin meant to make women feel bad about themselves and their sexuality.And before I say any more, I'll take some time, because if I'm wrong, then I totally don't understand you.

  5. >Oh, another question while I'm thinking about it:Suppose someone dressed a woman in sexy lingerie (with or without her consent) and then took photos of her (with or without her consent) which they posted to the internet to let their friends gawk over. Would we call her a slut? I certainly hope not, but if we extended the scenario to include knowledge that this woman was coercively dressed this way and photographed, even the bottom-feeders (not that any frequent this blog) might pause before jumping on the slut bandwagon. And the vast majority of us would, quite rightly, blame the person behind the scenes entirely.Why then are we okay with calling a provocatively-dressed imaginary woman (who doesn't have any agency at all) a slut? Why not solely blame the game designers for their misogynistic indulgences? I submit that maybe part of the problem here is that some of us see these characters as avatars of sorts…symbols of the way the patriarchy treats us and the agency it denies us. And that when we see them called "sluts", we feel that on an emotional level, because they're us…victims (imaginary though they may be) of the all-powerful, ever-present male gaze, literally created for the amusement of men. And related to that, when we slur them with the word "slut", we're actually adopting that male gaze for ourselves.That's maybe a little melodramatic, but there's something going on here, because it does bother me. Apologies in advance Anna, I already feel like I'm dumping on you, and I so totally don't want to.

  6. >Renee — my feeling is that we can't separate a character from her design because, unlike with a human being, the character to a large extent is her design. So far as I'm aware (never played the game, I admit) Bayonetta only has a rich non-sexually-charged personal life if I make one up for her. And if I do that, I'm reading very much against the text.This probably won't make any sense outside of my head, but I think of a character like that as being like the huldra from Scandinavian folklore: a seductive woman who, when viewed from the other side, turns out to be hollow. If the designer exaggerates a character's breasts and/or hips, dresses her in clothing that advertises sexual availability, and especially gives her mannerisms designed to titillate the straight male viewer . . . then he has set out to design a slut; it is arguably the major purpose of her physical existence. (Her actions are a separate matter, at least sometimes.)My own feeling as a female player is that I resent any game that forces me to accept that kind of sexually-overcharged design to represent me. Negative terminology is an efficient way to express the fact that I reject them as my psychological avatars.However, running at cross-purposes to this is the way that "slut" is used to denigrate sexually active women (while men who are just as promiscuous, or more so, get praised). There's something to be said for the notion that we need to reclaim the word or otherwise change the discourse. So I'd be in favor of replacing "slut" in these discussions with another term, if we can find one that's to the point: something that makes it clear that the physical existence of these characters is designed first and foremost for the titillation of heterosexual males. Me, I like "porn-doll," but I'm sure we can think of others . . . .

  7. >Yeah, I concede I don't really feel emotionally attached to any of these avatars, or feel sorry for them or anything. They aren't real. But there's something there for me…a resentment towards the designers (which I always imagine to be male but probably aren't) which not only isn't reflected by the word "slut" but actually seems at cross-purposes to it. "Slut" is a blaming word (which has no business existing as far as I'm concerned), so when we use it to describe these characters, we're placing blame on this fictional thing and *not* saying what needs to be said…that the people designing these characters are being gross sexist jerks. I can tell this is going to be one of those discussions I offer a lot of rambly non-sense while I soak up what other people write, as I try to work out what's nagging me.

  8. >I agree that finding an alternative to "slut" might be helpful. While you do have a good reason to use it in this context (i.e. the characters were specifically designed to be slutty), it can't be disengaged from its usage as a slur. Trying to say here, it just has too much baggage. And as Renee said, it takes the blame from the designers. I know you don't think it, but any random visitor seeing a character called "slut" might not understand right away that it's the designers we're blaming.So, having a specific word to describe these designed-to be-slutty characters would be less offending and less confusing. "Porn-doll" got already mentioned, and I recall one blog that discussed the hyper-sexualization of comic characters using the word "blow-up doll". Both address the issues that the characters are designed (doll) to look as fuckable (porn, blow-up) as possible.I'm trying to think of other words here, but English isn't even my first language so limited vocabulary and all…

  9. >Tami & Renee:Renee — my feeling is that we can't separate a character from her design because, unlike with a human being, the character to a large extent is her design.THIS. YES.Like oh my god I am absolutely not saying that women who get drugged and dressed up against their will should be called sluts. Holy shit am I not saying that.But. Man. So all of that harmful baggage that comes with the word slut – game companies USE that to sell these games. Male gamers USE that when they're talking about these games and these fictional game women. So how am I supposed to address this shit without calling it out? Blaming the designers and artists is absolutely what I want to do – that's what this is all about! Blaming the creators for their horrendous views on women.

  10. >Here's the thing: there are good ways to critique presentations of women as (to steal from Renee) "sexually-provocative female character designs solely intended to titillate male gamers".Firstly, if you want shocking language (and, I urge to to consider why misogynist slurs are seen as more "extreme"/"shocking" than non-gendered/non-bigoted slurs and therefore considered "better" insults in our culture), why not pornified? It's a more "extreme" way of saying sexualized that also has an implicit critique of the way that patriarchies/kyriarchies turn women into the sex class by over-emphasizing their sexuality (ie. treating all women, real and fictional, like they're characters in a porno film). More "mild" but easy to understand terminology includes hypersexualization and objectification. I would also recommend working with the concept of the male gaze; it's jargon that you mainly only find in art (primarily film) critiques and social justice circles, but it's a necessary concept for the kind of deconstructing you do here. I wrote a FAQ on it for the Finally, A Feminism 101 blog that tries to break it down for people unfamiliar with the concept (I'd link it but I now live in fear of Blogger's Horrible Spam Algorithm of Hamster Induced DOOM; it's pretty easy to find through Google though.)And, also, here's a hint for general things that also applies to this particular situation: when you want to draw attention to a concept while making sure that your audience understands that you're critiquing it scare quotes are the way to go.For instance, if, instead of you saying traditionally slutty female heroines, you said traditionally "slutty" female heroines it would be immediately obvious that you take some sort of issue with the way these heroines are called sluts. It shifts the focus/blame from the women (ie. they're bad because they're slutty/lose/whores/etc, which comes across as you being Yet Another Woman Who Is Policing Other Women's Sexuality) to the word/concept itself. It says "This is the normal portrayal" and from the context of the sentence/post it's clear that you find that type of portrayal as problematic for XYZ reasons, but it also says that you find the framing of the characters as sluts problematic (ie. that there is a problem that a woman portrayed as sexual is automatically relegated to that of a sex object — by the person who created her and/or those who view her).Ultimately it's your decision to continue to use gendered/misogynist slurs or not. But the yardstick I use to decide whether or not to continue using a word is not what I, personally, think the term means/conveys, but whether or not the term causes harm to another person. In this case, you have one person (me) directly saying to you, "Your use of this terminology is harmful to me," and a slew of other people saying that it makes them uncomfortable because it's part of a verbal arsenal in a culture that delights in shaming women for their sexual choices (or just circumstances of their birth; such as the case with women who are naturally large chested). Maybe one day you'll understand why this word has the kind of effect on people it does; maybe you won't. But, either way, is it really worth it to continue using a word that you know hurts people just because you don't understand why they feel the way they do?

  11. >My comment got eaten😦 Have you ever considered moving to WordPress? Akismet (their spam filter) rarely gives false positives and it catches 90% of the spam on the first go.

  12. >So how am I supposed to address this shit without calling it out?Just a quick note (I do address this indirectly in my Comment Eaten By Blogspot's Hamsters), the main problem I have is that your current usage of the term does not call it out, but rather uses the slur in the same way that it's used by everyone else, which legitimizes the concept rather than critiquing it.As for what can be done…. comment. eaten. Hopefully it's in your spam filter and can be saved?I also don't know how much browsing you've done of Shrub's archives, but I have written more than a few posts calling the industry out on the way it hypersexualizes women that are good examples of how you can call the behaviour out without legitimizing the use of "slut" as a slur against women.

  13. >You know, Saturday Night Live did a thing recently where they created a bunch of trans women characters for a sketch pandering to some of the worst assumptions cisgender people have about trans women. The archetype was easily defined by a very common slur within our community…"men in dresses". And yeah, in calling it out, I had to use the slur…but I scare quoted it to death to make sure that none of my readers could possibly mistake that what I was talking about was the SNL creators' perception of trans women and not my own personal point-of-view. http://thefeministhub.tumblr.com/post/3038081997/snls-transmisogynyThat said, I'm not sure my own approach is the singular way to do it, or that everyone who did comment on this skit (and there were many) was as careful with the slur as I was. But I offer it up for comparison nonetheless.

  14. >(Tekanji & Chaltab: I restored your comments. Sorry about that.:/ I'm definitely getting to the point where I'm thinking about moving. I have a suspicion that would entail lots of work and I'm feeling leery of doing so until I can make some of the mountain of personal shit I'm dealing with offline go away.)Tekanji (re: the male gaze): So the male gaze is pretty much 75% of what I'm talking about here. I try to avoid calling it the male gaze, or really to avoid using terminology from feminist theory because I want my blog to be accessible. Feminism, sadly, is hugely demonized in gaming – even more so than in mainstream society – and I do try to put my points out there in such a way that I don't INSTANTLY cause gamers not to listen to me when I use terminology relating to feminist theory. When you have figures like Jim Sterling who go out of their way to slam feminists and feminism at every opportunity, it makes me think that approaching feminism through stealth is the best way to go.Chaltab: Okay, so here's the thing. I personally find "fuckable" to be a more horrifying term than "slut". So… is it really a better alternative? Cause, man. I hated using that word, but maybe this is just my messed up point of view here. If "fuckable" is a preferable alternative, then I'm happy to switch to that for 90% of instances where "slutty" would work just fine. Tekanji's suggestion of "Pornified" (though I prefer "pornular") also work in certain instances, though not all, and I'm happy to use those words as a replacement as well.Tekanji & Renee (re: scare quotes): Using scare quotes certainly seems to be a reasonable compromise. The problem with conversations on the interwebs is that unlike in real life, it's easy for your point to get obfuscated by other stuff since we're missing all of the normal social cues that would happen if we were talking in meatspace. Scare quotes would definitely increase clarity, and I will definitely make use of them going forward.

  15. >Pornified/pornular or my fave Porn-tastic would probably work better than slutty in most of the circumnstances you used it.The only thing I had to add was that in my exp. its a word more often used by women against other women they dont like than by men, but that's probably just the circles I move in.and it's a particularly vicious insult too given all the baggage that goes with it.

  16. >I do hear your point about accessibility. On the one hand, it's depressing to pander to people who will hit the back button the minute they see the specialized vocabulary of feminism; on the other hand, jargon is by nature a vocabulary for insiders, and I can see why "phallocentric order" or other such phrases isn't the best way to make your points to outsiders.I think various "porn"-based phrases are probably a good way to go, because they shift the focus; sluttiness is about a woman's behavior, whereas porn is about how other people objectify that woman. And you can modify it in all kinds of entertaining ways: pornular, pornified, porn-tastic, pornalicious, the characters are porn-dolls, porn fantasies, porn replacements, porny caricatures, etc. I think you're relatively safe in this case from the debate about whether porn is an inherently bad thing or not, since both the con and pro sides of that argument would agree that presenting worlds in which being porny is the only option for women? Is definitely a bad thing.

  17. >swan tower : "I think various "porn"-based phrases are probably a good way to go, because they shift the focus; sluttiness is about a woman's behavior, whereas porn is about how other people objectify that woman."I agree with this. "Slutty" implies that the character is choosing their style. But it's the creator who choosing it. The situation is more of a "kidapped women in the sex trade" scenario.which makes me sad to think about.

  18. >*sigh* I give up. There really isn't anything to do at this point but admit that I was wrong. But then, that's about par for the course lately.

  19. >I'm not sure "porn" is safe in the way swan-tower says. I mean, I think we could all agree that a world in which "slutty" was the only choice for women is a bad thing, yet we're still having this conversation. And although I can intellectually rationalize the use of "porn" better than I can "slut" (because of the way it's interchangeably used to describe pretty much any kind of lurid voyeuristic activity, like "torture-porn" horror films, for example) I'm also not involved in the porn industry and therefore have difficulty saying those who are would be okay with it. The debate over Porn: Good Or Bad is a volatile topic in the feminist community and I'd hate to see you switch from problematic set of words to another just to find yourself in this same discussion somewhere down the road. And, of course, I have no idea whether that would happen or not…

  20. >Ahhh, sorry Anna. At this point I'm just engaging in intellectual debate and not on issues I have a personal stake in, so I'll step away. I know how it is to be alone at the center of a shitstorm.

  21. >I confess I'm only around 25% of the way through Bayonetta, but I haven't had the impression so far that the game is condemning the character or women like her. Although she shoots angels, she is the game's hero, and the angels are snarling monsters while Bayonetta is always slick, collected and cool.Isn't the negative stereotype of a "slut" a person who is sexually promiscuous, or someone who uses their sexuality for the sake of attracting other people? Bayonetta's overt sexuality seems to be for her own sake, rather than anyone else. She is not trying to appeal to men – the only men I've seen so far have been depicted as cowards or fools, and far below her interest. She strikes me as sexual, not sexy.Am I completely wrong here? Any thoughts or links to articles welcome.

  22. >Graham: The links above link to two articles about comments by Hideki Kamiya – the creator of Bayonetta. He's said a lot of horrifying and misogynistic things about women and Bayonetta in particular. (Sorry, I deleted my bookmarks.)The problem I have is that Bayonetta is a blatantly sexual character who is directly associated with hell. Sure she's the game's hero, and sure she's written in such a way that she owns her sexuality. But the meta message is still female sexuality = evil, and the conversation surrounding the game is LOOK HOW HAWT BAYONETTA IS SHE HAS LIKE CURVY SPINE PHYSICS. And then you have the official promotions, some of which are just fucking sick – like this one in Japan where you could literally undress a billboard of Bayonetta: http://www.destructoid.com/bayonetta-does-shibuya-152884.phtml

  23. >I read Kamiya's comments, and they were awful. I wasn't aware of the advertising campaign, so thanks for the link. It's awful, too.I understand that the association with hell can be problematic, that hadn't occured to me. But hell and demons in the game aren't depicted as bad, but as necessary to maintaining "the balance between darkness and light in the world". The heroic imagery of the character (within the game) outweighs the negative connotations of the religious association. Thanks for the response! I've been trying to make up my mind about this since I start playing the game a few weeks ago.

  24. >Honestly, saying that you were wrong to use it after speaking to people who pointed out why it was offensive is a pretty awesome thing. It doesn't take much doing to scream that it's your right to step on someone's foot when they say "Hey, you're on my foot" — it is apparently almost impossible for most people to say "Oh, sorry, I won't do that again". I really respect what you do here in this blog and quite frankly saying that you were wrong in using this term makes me respect you even more.

  25. >Anon: Um. Thanks? It feels like a pretty shitty position to be in personally, but if there's one thing that I've learned from the interwebs its easier in the long term to admit when you're wrong. I mean, Christ. We're still talking about dickwolves.

  26. >I agree with Anonymous, I think you're handling this very well. Your willingness to find and stick with alternatives is very admirable; I feel like I've seen so many people in your situation spout a sequence of justifications and shut down discussion. My two cents on the replacement is that scare quotes are probably the way to go most of the time. I like "fuckable" myself, but I can understand why you don't, and it's certainly not appropriate for all situations.

  27. >Seriously Graham, not that old argument again."Bayonetta's overt sexuality seems to be for her own sake, rather than anyone else. She is not trying to appeal to men – the only men I've seen so far have been depicted as cowards or fools, and far below her interest."The sexualization of woman characters isn't determined by who drools over her in the game's universe. As noted dozens of times on this and many other blogs, her sexuality isn't "for her own sake" because she is not a real woman but a FICTIONAL CHARACTER, DESIGNED by straight men, to APPEAL to straight men. Her sexiness and sexuality are custom-made to be masturbation material for her creators and the male audience, who think that no matter who a woman is and what she does, she's worthless as a character unless she also looks super fuckable.Sorry for the off-topic here, folks.

  28. >Sunatic:"…her sexuality isn't "for her own sake" because she is not a real woman…"I feel like this too easily dismisses Graham's argument, and could be applied to almost any aspect of any character. Characters are a conceptof a person and Graham is trying to make a point about the woman Bayonetta represents. IE; if she were a real person, the way she utilizes her sexuality is for her own enjoyment, not others.I feel the argument that "it doesn't matter because she isn't real" limits/stunts the discussion/analysis of characters in general.

  29. >Hopefully I don't come off as being overly negative here. The goal of your blog is quite noble in my opinion, and I agree with what you are trying to do overall. That being said, I have a bit more criticism to offer.In this post, you said the following:"and absolutely not do I want to condone the real-world verbal abuse of women by men who call them sluts and other similar insults."I think you are misidentifying the problem. The verbal abuse doesn't come only from men. Women shouldn't be judged negatively for embracing their sexuality by either gender. When women "slut shame" eachother, they are aiding the patriarchy in keeping women down.I think finding a word other than slut to describe this problem is a VERY good idea, though I haven't got any suggestions for you off the top of my head.

  30. >I can't speak for the others, wundergeek, but I am not at all trying to pile on here. In fact, it's great that you're aware of your language, and willing to alter it when people present arguments as to why you should. The site as a whole is fantastic, and to me, this debate over the word "slut" is far more a matter of "how can we make this better?" rather than "omg you suck." So please don't feel like we've staked you out for target practice; on the whole, the tone here really does seem to be intended as helpful.

  31. >As far as the people wondering about what people in the sex industry would think about comparing titillating characters to porn, well, I know a a few sex workers and chat with some minor porn performers online, and most of them would be insulted by the comparison to video game characters. No stripper I know would be dumb enough start a fight without wearing a bra, just saying.And as to the context of the word 'slut,' I've honestly only ever heard it used as an insult by women who fail at sex against women that don't. It's like all those so-called "nice guys" calling people with the spine to proposition to women "jerks" in that way. Then again, that might be skewed by the "closest friends are sex workers" thing.Personally, I kinda prefer being with sluts, really even though I don't have sex. As Voltaire said, "It is one of the superstitions of the human mind to have imagined that virginity could be a virtue."So, what we're looking for is a word to say "this character was unnecessarily designed to imply that she would fuck you if she was real no matter who you are," right? May I suggest "oversexed?" Fits perfectly. Or, if that's not strong enough, how about "Realdoll?" Overpriced, over-produced, gaudy, completely tasteless, and pathetic: basically the gold-plated video cable of male sex toys. I think that's a nice metaphor.I'd personally use "lascivious" because it's a very fun word, but I understand it's not particularly well known and you want to be accessible.

  32. >Wundergeek: I'm going to pile on here with the people who see it less as you being "wrong" and more as you listening to people who have a different knowledge base, and a different perspective, than you. When it comes down to it, all of us are going to be wrong on a point some of the times; we're humans with imperfect knowledge, which is further complicated by us living in fundamentally bigoted societies. So, really, being "right" or "wrong" is less important than working towards an environment where we can all communicate with each other comfortably. You, by opening up discussion and listening to those who disagreed with you, are helping to create that environment. So it may feel crappy now (and, believe me, I know from personal experience how crappy it can feel), but the truth is that you did a good thing here.

  33. >(I'm breaking up my comments to try and avoid being converged upon by Blogspot's Spam Hamsters of DOOM)Hazmat Sam: Two things. Firstly, I would say it's the company you keep that gives you the mistaken impression that slut-shaming is overwhelmingly done by women (it also sounds like your group skews towards using the term in a reclamatory way). In both my experience and in the research I've done into the subject, it seems to be a pretty even split. Specifically, anyone who doesn't think that slut-shaming is a bad thing (ie. the majority of the population) will call a woman a "slut"/"skank"/"whore"/etc for a variety of reasons (everything from her clothing choice, the way she treats her sexuality, to things not under her control, such as having big breasts). While there is likely some variation as to the situations and reasons they use the slur, the driving factor (policing women and women's sexuality) remains the same.As for "pornified" I suggested it not because I think there's a comparison to be made between sex workers and the way that female characters are sexualized, but rather that it treats female characters as if they are porn characters. Porn, understandably, revolves around characters having sex with each other. This means that a lot of porn plots involve characters who basically walk around ready for sex. In porn it's a perfectly reasonable setting (although it can make for some really silly situations, though I agree that they tend to be less silly than the situations created by hypersexualized video game characters); in a video game it is not a reasonable assumption. It's the situation that's inappropriate, not the sexuality. (Incidentally, that's also why I also tend to use phrases like "inappropriately sexualized".)That being said, I can definitely see how it can be a problematic term. People who are against porn and sex workers flat out likely take a much different meaning from it, and if it has the potential to further stigmatize sex workers then I agree that it should be avoided.

  34. >Final comment, I promise!Wundergeek: I don't know much about Blogspot's back end, but there should be an easy way import data from Blogspot blogs to WordPress. If you're interested I'm more than willing to help out once you're feeling up to dealing with it. I've been using WordPress since 2005 so I know it pretty darn well.

  35. >I think using quotes is the way to go, because it 'allows' you to use the language you find needs to be used (and thus also keep your personal style) but makes clear you are not using it unexamined and uncritically. I want to join the chorus of voices who are delighted by your willingness to discuss and change. As far as I'm concerned, that outweighs the actual mistake making.

  36. >@Wundergeek: I'll just add on here that yeah, everyone is wrong at different points. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone screws up, and while I tend to avoid the use of the word myself and try to use others instead I still think this blog is totally awesome. Your blog posts are insightful and informative and I feel like I learn a lot here. One mistake doesn't negate all that. And hell, I'm wrong all the time, I just try to learn from it.You've definitely handled this better than I ever would have in your shoes, I've no doubt. I hope your personal stuff doesn't weigh on you too much WG and I hope things get better soon!

  37. >I must be the only person here for whom the most unsettling part of all this is tekanji telling wundergeek what to say, how to say it, and even telling her where her blog should be. Why does that behavior get a pass?And before the accusations are made: Yes, I am a woman, AND a feminist. I just don't like seeing someone's feminism called into question the instant she puts one toe out of line.

  38. >I didn't read all the comments as I'm a bit strapped on time, but I'll just leave this:The problem with using the word "slut" is that it has a negative connotation. It will always have a negative connotation. And whenever you honestly use "slut" to disparage a sexually promiscuous woman, you're (consciously or unconsciously) promoting the idea that women being sexually promiscuous is bad. It's not a bad thing for a woman to have multiple sexual partners. Period. Trying to defend the word "slut" is perpetuating sexist language, no matter how you slice it, in my opinion.

  39. >Also I should say that instead of using slut, you can say something like "designed as fap fodder" or something similar. Attack the designer, not the character.

  40. >tekanji: Yeah, the standard people I see using the word 'slut' are women who aren't strippers/porn performers describing women that are. I don't recall any man using 'slut' as an insult. But, among the general population, "slut" is basically "fag" for girls (and god, do I hate /that/ phrase)? That's an annoying thought. Also, thank you for clarifying viz. the "pornified" label. I'm just a bit wary when people use that word because it's the exact word used by media censorship advocates and churches to describe prime-time television. I'm totally with you that characters acting like they're in softcore is really immersion-breaking, completely ugly (I mean, does anyone actually find thatninja in the post attractive?) and entirely unnecessary now that we have internet porn. (or hell, dedicated porn games). The only thing I really disagree with is Wundergeek giving a shit about fan art. (not the company's fault, and will oversexualize literally anything no matter how respectful the game was of it's subject.)Elize: Two things:1. No one has the right to an unquestionable position. If you turn the comments on in your blog then you are asking people to /comment/ on what you say. IF you like their criticism then you correct yourself. It's a pretty simple thing. 2. Blogspot is a deeply shitty host for anything related even tangentially to sex. The spam filter's practically Mary Whitehouse. Suggesting a better host is not Orwellian, it's being helpful.

  41. >Wow! I am usually a lurker here, but I must say I have really enjoyed this discussion! There are a lot of good points being made and everyone seems very thoughtful on the topic.May I just say that I am surprised that no one has suggested the term "sex object" or maybe "sexually objectified"?

  42. >Oops! Also I would like to say I have issue with the comparison to porn, because I think that sets up porn as something inherently evil, which I don't agree with. There may be troubling stereotypes portrayed in the porn industry, sure, but I don't think that the idea of other people performing consensual sex acts for others viewing pleasure (consensually) is an inherently evil thing in sexual contexts (not most video games).

  43. >Elize: I was not telling wundergeek what to say. I was telling her how her words affected me and others and offering advice (which from the post and her comments she seemed to want) on how to better convey her intentions to her main audience.Wundergeek, if that came across to you as me telling you what to do then I'm sorry. I really was only trying to be helpful.

  44. >Jessy: I'm not going to get into the porn argument here, but here's the thing. Porn women in porn? Okay. Porn women in video games not meant as porn? Not okay.tekanji: Your opinions were coming from a place of strong emotion, so yeah your comments were strongly worded but I get that.Elize: To be fair, Blogger's spam filter is a raging pile of shit that I have written more than one complaint about.

  45. >Again, I'm not trying to offend here, but I am trying to open your eyes to a different perspective.I notice that Vanille from FF13 is one of the characters whose outfit you called out as slutty. At the following link, you can see a real woman wearing the inspiration for that outfit(note, it's NSFW):http://img516.imageshack.us/img516/989/vanilleafrican2.jpgFor those that are unwilling to check the link, Vanille's outfit is based off of an African tribeswoman. Is that woman dressed sluttily? Does she deserve your scorn?The answer to both of those questions is no. What a woman choses to wear does not make her a bad person. When you imply that it's wrong for fictional female characters to dress revealingly(particularly when you call them sluts), you are also implying that it is wrong for real females to dress similarly, and you are aiding patriarchal society in repressing womens' sexuality.The goal should be encouraging more diversity in female characters, not placing moral judgements on the ones that dress reavealingly.

  46. >Sunatic:The sexualization of woman characters isn't determined by who drools over her in the game's universe. As noted dozens of times on this and many other blogs, her sexuality isn't "for her own sake" because she is not a real woman but a FICTIONAL CHARACTER, DESIGNED by straight men, to APPEAL to straight men.I don't think it's correct to suggest that fictional characters' inherent lack of true agency makes it impossible for the character to do things "for her own sake," even if she was created by a guy. It's pretty clearly not the case with Bayonetta, of course, but that's due to a very strong implication that her behavior is "for the audience" even if it's divorced from the desires of every male character within the game itself. But I don't see why a character can't just wear bike shorts and a halter top because she likes the way it looks without being sexualized as long as she's framed as an active subject and is never actually portrayed as an object of desire.(On the other hand, there are some definite limits to what fictional characters can get away with before they lose that illusion of agency. Bayonetta's suggestive movements and the "lingerie ninja" style of character design, for instance, are virtually impossible to use without turning the character into an object of desire — there's just no believable reason for the character to want to act or dress that way that doesn't involve wanting male attention)OUT51D3R:Vanille's kind of out of place in that lineup to begin with, though. It's really easy to defend her, true, but it's just as easy to say that she was miscategorized and that the character designs that really ought to be condemned are the lingerie ninjas and the "absolute cleavage" dresses which don't have any real-world equivalents that would ever be worn by a woman who wasn't intentionally courting the male gaze.(Which leads me to wonder, why isn't it okay to consider self-objectification problematic? It seems just as likely to validate the idea that women's sexuality is for men as the shaming language is, and I personally find it just as uncomfortable)

  47. >Tekanji, Chaltab and a few other have basically said what I was going to say, alternate word to better describe the fact that these women's soul purpose are to be pleasing and available to men. Pornular, porntastic, pornerrific, pornulous, and others, as for clothing, skimpy works. "Here we see another porntastic woman in skimpy wear." It calls attention to the clothing that is barely there and the fact these women are for a man's pleasure.OT: WordPress can import your posts automagically and has a few plugins to deal with the topic names and tags/catagories.

  48. >Ikkin:I think it's not okay to consider self-objectification problematic because it implies that for some reason you are better equipped to make decisions for the woman in question than she herself is. It's no more appropriate for feminists to do so than it is for men to do so. It's just exchanging one tyranny for another."Lingerie ninjas" are definitely a problem. Bayonetta is a pretty contemptible example of what is wrong with the way women are portrayed in gaming. Such characters are way over the top, and -should- be rare, if they exist at all.There needs to be -far- less highly sexualized female characters in games. However, I think shaming character designs like Vanille, and campaigning against any cleavage being displayed in games is basically exchanging the Chain Mail Bikini for the Chain Mail Burkha. Neither of which are any good for female empowerment.

  49. >OUT51D3R:I guess I just don't see how it's possible to condemn any decision another person makes without implying that you're in a better position to make that decision than they are. Without individuals willing to step in to correct others who they feel know less than they do, criticism is impossible — and avoiding criticism entirely is untenable if one's goal is societal change.Criticizing someone for something that only affects themselves is patronizing, I'd agree. But the argument against self-objectification isn't "stop it, you'll hurt yourself," it's "stop it, you'll set all of us back, too" — the potential impact of a woman intentionally setting herself up as an object seems roughly equivalent to the creation of an objectified female character (assuming equal levels of popularity), and we wouldn't be here if we didn't think the latter was problematic.It just seems to me that focusing too much on sex-positivity makes it more difficult for us to attain the respect we deserve in non-sexual contexts, because guys use any amount of sexuality as an excuse to ignore everything else about a woman. And in that context, a firm focus on not-sex seems like it could be useful to create a basis of respect which can eventually expand into the more obviously-sexual (and hence more difficult) situations. It's not about a Chain Mail Burka, though — that draws just as much attention to sex as the bikini does, albeit in a different way — it's about Reasonable Chain Mail that draws attention to the fact that the woman is wearing clothing that resists sword strikes. 😉

  50. >Wundergeek: In one of your earlier comments, you mentioned not wanting to bring up topics from feminist theory like "the male gaze" because you want your blog to be accessible, and I understand that completely. I wanted you to know, though, that some men who are trying desperately to overcome their own privilege (like me) actually really enjoy being exposed to terms like that so that they can learn more without it being in the "lecture and study" context.

  51. >Wundergeek: I am also happy to see you take on this issue. This is what we are asking of developers, to consider how what they are doing affects their audience, so you are really leading by example here.OUT51D3R: I don't think the phrase "Chain Mail Burkha" or the comparison between Vanille's outfit and the African woman's outfit are appropriate. The same outfit can be objectifying in one context and not in another.In the context of FF13, and in the larger context in which FF13 is being presented, I think it's fair to say that Vanille's character design is intended to emphasize her sexual parts.I agree with you that in some contexts it may be ok to have characters with cleavage showing, but the problem we have right now is the use of sexualized character designs for women without regard to context.

  52. >@Hazmat Sam: Did you just imply that women who are not strippers and pole dancers fail at sex? Because I was not hip with classifying anyone as failing at sex in the first place (while agreeing that slut-shaming out of jealousy is still bad).

  53. >Re: Vanille – pretty much what Travis said. Here's the thing, that outfit would be fine on a character who was obviously meant to be from that African culture, or from a culture very closely based on that African culture. But she's not! They took a cultural costume and used it as a way to give visual interest to Vanille's lack of clothing. Now she's definitely not portrayed as being as "sexy" as Fang, but she's still pretty heavily stereotyped as the innocent genki girl who male gamers are still supposed to find appealing – which the general lack of clothing helps.That said, Vanille is still a good character overall, if a bit stereotyped and underdressed, and she's certainly no Bayonetta.

  54. >Wundergeek:I think it is obvious that Vanille was designed to look just like the woman in the tribal clothing first and foremost – it's certainly something the director would have specified considering the nature of the character, and it's something that they've commented on in the supplementary materials.The biggest sin of the design is the cultural appropriation aspect of it, I think. The character was misused in other ways, but that's kind of divorced from the design itself because the designer scampered off to direct his own games as soon as he finished the concept art.

  55. >@Ikkin:"It just seems to me that focusing too much on sex-positivity makes it more difficult for us to attain the respect we deserve in non-sexual contexts"On this I agree. "Too much" is the key. If you go too far in one direction, you are going to do damage to efforts in the other direction. I feel that some of the material here puts "too much" effort into making women non-sexual, thus I'm pointing it out(Vanille, slut-shaming, etc).You'll probably never see me say that there needs to be more scantily clad women in games(there needs to be far less). I'm commenting here because I see the opposite being advocated to an extreme that I believe would be harmful if adopted, and I'm hoping I can open some eyes to that.

  56. >@Travis:"In the context of FF13, and in the larger context in which FF13 is being presented, I think it's fair to say that Vanille's character design is intended to emphasize her sexual parts."I'm just not seeing that. Her breasts are pretty much completely covered with no visible cleavage, and I wouldn't call the covering super-tight. Her crotch and buttocks are covered pretty well too. I'm not that far into FF13 yet, but I haven't seen her put in any sexually objectifying poses/situations. I guess it's possible that later in the game there's a bunch of gratuitous camera angles or something, but I just don't find it likely.Visible thighs and stomach aren't enough on their own to make a case for sexual objectification, IMO.

  57. >@OUT51D3R:While I agree with you about the design (and think it's intended as much to make interesting cosplay as it is to court the male gaze), there are definitely problematic aspects in the way Vanille herself is used, most notably in the marketing materials. The game itself is nowhere near that bad about it, but I did find her battle noises very frustrating.

  58. >My biggest issue with the costuming for various characters in various games is simple: does the costuming make sense in context? Would a character be likely to be arrested for indecent exposure (or its in-game equivalent) if they walked down the street in their outfit? Would they be badly sunburned, or frozen solid, should they step outside their house? Does what they're wearing match up with the context in which their story is happening? Is what they're wearing understandable for the character's age, sex and personal history?Often, the more egregious examples of "eye candy" outfits are the ones which won't actually make sense in any context whatsoever – for example, Fran's battle lingerie in FFXII (even if it is presented as a "cultural" outfit, with all Viera being portrayed as wearing a variation on very little with spike heels). It doesn't matter which way you turn it, a bustier, gstring and three inch heels doesn't come across as being particularly practical wear for either the top of a tree, or the floor of a jungle. Or there's the wonderful examples of strategic body paint displayed above (I'm thinking in particular of the blue-skinned young lady in the lower left corner) – I find myself hoping she's supposed to be a VR avatar or an AI of some kind, because otherwise she's going to be awfully cold.If an outfit doesn't make sense in context, why is a character wearing it? Unfortunately, the answer tends to be "in order to draw attention to their secondary sexual characteristics", and not much else.

  59. >I'm somewhat inclined to agree megpie71(and I 100% agree on Fran, what a terrible character design). Impractical clothing is a common trope of fantasy though(for both genders). Women's clothing tends to be revealing in it's impracticality, but the impracticality itself isn't that out of place in fantasy.

  60. >Anonymous: No, not all civilian women fail at sex, but the ones that do tend to end up resentful. It's like those losers in high school who, upon realizing that women do not like losers, come down with "nice guy" syndrome and label the men that are actually attractive as "jerks." Well, the women equivalent of those so-called "jerks" are sex workers because they are winning at the sexual game (And I'm not saying it should be a game either, merely that it is a game at this moment) in a very obvious way. The vitriol (and occasional violence) from the women that are convinced that strippers have personally ruined their sex lives is an spectacle like none other,Moving on, the "respect her choices!" meme was old in comics (how many times have we been given "reasons" for Power Girl's cleavage hole again?) and it's old now. If an artist's defence of us saying "your fictional character's habit of wearing skintight latex is gratuitous." is "but it's in-character!" then the conversation does not end, and you should not applaud the artist. What our artist has to do then is to explain why, exactly he made the character that way, and why that was a good idea. Because she didn't have to have that sort of 'character'. Art does not spring out fully-formed like Athena from the brow of Zeus and anyone that tells you otherwise is a terrible artist. It's like, "Oh it's okay that I home-built pipebomb killed a guy because that's what it was designed to do." That is not a defence of describing oversexed characters as sluts, by the way. (I mean, seriously, do these so-called 'slutty' characters actually have sex outside of Fox News' night terrors? Bayonetta didn't even give us a nipple, for fuck's sake.) I'm simply saying that "respect her [lack of] choices!" is a terrible argument.

  61. >megpie, the woman you pointed out (body-paint lower left) IS actually an AI from Halo. I always thought her "costume" was ridiculous, she could have looked like a regular person no problem. Especially since another woman in the game (the commander or admiral, I forget) is dressed completely appropriately.I don't really have a huge problem with Vanille, she's the typical "genki girl", but she's generally not out there on display. Same with Fang and Lightning, who've got skin showing but they don't feel like they're being made into sex objects at all.Anyway, I really liked the discussion here. I'd say women in games don't need to be 100% covered up, but they shouldn't be dressed like lingerie ninjas and shouldn't be constantly subjected to the male gaze/being cut down to their sexual parts. Since a lot of dudes in the industry have issues with this, they should do more character designs like Faith, Alyx and Jade.. and don't make characters like Miranda from ME2, who are mostly covered up but narrate with their asses.

  62. >Oh, worse than battle noises. I remember that when the guys on Something Awful that did the Let's Play of FFXIII got bored of mocking the dialogue, paedophilia, and class system, they timed how long Vanille could go without moaning in a cutscene where she had character focus. I think they got like two minutes maximum, and that was because other characters were speaking.

  63. >sunatic said…"Seriously Graham, not that old argument again."Bayonetta's overt sexuality seems to be for her own sake, rather than anyone else. She is not trying to appeal to men – the only men I've seen so far have been depicted as cowards or fools, and far below her interest."The sexualization of woman characters isn't determined by who drools over her in the game's universe. As noted dozens of times on this and many other blogs, her sexuality isn't "for her own sake" because she is not a real woman but a FICTIONAL CHARACTER, DESIGNED by straight men, to APPEAL to straight men. Her sexiness and sexuality are custom-made to be masturbation material for her creators and the male audience, who think that no matter who a woman is and what she does, she's worthless as a character unless she also looks super fuckable."~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~This kind of reasoning strikes me as over-thinking the point a bit. If I want to think about a sexual fantasy, I don't stop and work out a long, extended background on why the person in question is a strong and self-supporting individual. I think about how they look naked.Not every picture of every female character in every situation has to rigorously prove them to be a pro-feminist hero. And even if they did, would that many people (besides pundits) stop and listen? I can't be the only person in the world to skip cutscenes and just "get to the game, already". If I wanted to be titillated, there's plenty of websites for that purpose.In fact, I can't help but wonder at how many people bought and played Bayonetta without a second's concern for her appearance or motives, but rather because it was a very difficult 3rd person action game (something that isn't that common in console games)?It's possible that game designers are not trying to break down and destroy any vestige of female power, and rather just making character designs that they enjoy looking at? (I would too, if I had to do so for 100's of hours over years of work) Perhaps this is just a symptom of there not being many female game designers instead of a declaration of war by an evil patriarchal conspiracy.

  64. >Oh hey, I'm uniquely qualified to deal with this! Awesome!'I can't be the only person in the world to skip cutscenes and just "get to the game, already".'Have you read any comments on this blog at all? I'm on your side of the (games vs. Cutscenes) argument, but that's not how people roll here. They're more likely to to the opposite (God bless Youtube!) It doesn't matter, though, because mechanics have nothing whatsoever to do with art design." If I wanted to be titillated, there's plenty of websites for that purpose."That is once again irrelevant, if not because you are a minority by a margin of the entire Internet, then because we are talking about character design, which has nothing to do with your personal reasons for playing the game.In fact, I can't help but wonder at how many people bought and played Bayonetta without a second's concern for her appearance or motives, but rather because it was a very difficult 3rd person action game (something that isn't that common in console games)?No one could possibly buy this game without "a second's concern for her appearance". I spent the past month trying to inform these people that play is more important than cutscenes. (Seriously, read those comments.) I have typed a fucking book on it. I am not even attracted to females, okay? And I still had to take notice of Bayonetta's appearance. Every mechanic of play, every intricacy of the combo system, and every single finisher in the boss fights: they all revolve around the theme of 'sexy'. This is not hard to notice, and if, by some miracle, you did not notice it, well, we have the developer on record stating it as fact. With all due respect to my fellow vision-impaired, are you fucking blind?"It's possible that game designers are not trying to break down and destroy any vestige of female power, and rather just making character designs that they enjoy looking at?"Quick question: How many civilians did the US military intend to murder in Iraq? The lesson here is that people that do bad things to you are not essentially bad people."Perhaps this is just a symptom of there not being many female game designers"Oh, great: the "just wait till more ladies graduate" procrastination. A woman was Bayonetta's character designer. Do your research before you post.

  65. >Now, as to "Patriarchal conspiracy," that's Contradictio in adjecto since patriarchy is an inherently overt authoritative social structure whilst a conspiracy is a covert unlawful and/or immoral attempt at subverting an authority.If you're arguming that it's okay because no one intended it, please tell Iraqi citizens, thanks.The point here is that you are trying to justify playing a wonderful game with the same sort of tortured logic feminist Humanities academics use to rationalize enjoying Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew". That play is a grand work of genius and it is distinctly misogynist. There's no contradiction, which means your entire argument was a false dichotomy.

  66. >I feel that the use of the term "patriarchal conspiracy", while flawed grammatically, was used in such a way as to make the point obvious. Drawing attention to such relatively minor inaccuracies is beside the point.You'll have to elaborate on the Iraqi citizens reference. I can tell it was a snarky jab, but I can't decipher exactly what you meant by it.I'm not sure what you're saying in the last paragraph either. Am I the one using tortured logic, or is the game doing so?And finally, are you saying that even a "grand work of genius" is bad/worthless since it comes from a viewpoint that is now understood to be bad? Is there any room at all for things that are or could later be considered immoral or unfair? If so, might as well throw every piece of art out the window, right alongside any hope of growth or challenging the status quo. Might hurt some feelings in the process.Note that I am in no way suggesting Bayonetta was any sort of art. Personally, I hate games where a primary selling point is how "ultra-mega hard" it is and consider them a waste of time. However, I'm still not seeing how making a lead character attractive/titillating somehow damages women everywhere. I don't look at the buff supergeniuses that populate the male protagonist roles and think "Gee, guess I better just throw my future out the window since I'm not currently as awesome as they are!".

  67. >Destrude: As to why there aren't more female game designers, please read this post on Gamasutra about sexual harassment within the game dev business.It's not that women aren't interested. It's that women don't feel welcome, and in some cases are actively run out of the industry. When women see things like that mess with Jade Redmond and that comic that depicted her giving blowjobs in exchange for male gamers buying the game she was promoting, can we be surprised that women say thanks but not thanks.

  68. >Prelude: When I first replied to HazmatSam, only their second post was visible, which lead to some confusion regarding the Iraqi citizens reference. HazmatSam: Have you read any comments on this blog at all? I'm on your side of the (games vs. Cutscenes) argument, but that's not how people roll here. They're more likely to to the opposite (God bless Youtube!) It doesn't matter, though, because mechanics have nothing whatsoever to do with art design.As a matter of fact, I am new to this blog. I have not spent hours catching up on every comment, or even the blog archives. If these topic have already been covered somewheres, feel free to link them and I'll check 'em out. I will not, however, feel compelled to read hours upon hours of old material just so I can avoid issues that have already been talked about by other people.HazmatSam: That is once again irrelevant, if not because you are a minority by a margin of the entire Internet, then because we are talking about character design, which has nothing to do with your personal reasons for playing the game.I'm sure that you have the records where you polled the entire internet and got their motivations re: playing a game vs. visiting a porno website. And since when does character design have nothing to do with playing the game? I thought the argument in question posited that people playing the game were directly affected by the character design. Now it doesn't matter? Then why do we care how she's designed?HazmatSam: No one could possibly buy this game without "a second's concern for her appearance". I spent the past month trying to inform these people that play is more important than cutscenes. (Seriously, read those comments.) I have typed a fucking book on it. I am not even attracted to females, okay? And I still had to take notice of Bayonetta's appearance. Every mechanic of play, every intricacy of the combo system, and every single finisher in the boss fights: they all revolve around the theme of 'sexy'. This is not hard to notice, and if, by some miracle, you did not notice it, well, we have the developer on record stating it as fact. With all due respect to my fellow vision-impaired, are you fucking blind?First off, thanks for being insulting. Really brightened up my day. Secondly, I find it hard to believe that you really thought I was suggesting that no one NOTICED her overt sexuality. My theory was that maybe those people DIDN'T CARE about it. That they didn't play because of it, but rather in spite of it. Bayonetta's character may be poorly written and designed, but those who played it did not do so BECAUSE she was "ultra-fuckable".HazmatSam: Quick question: How many civilians did the US military intend to murder in Iraq? The lesson here is that people that do bad things to you are not essentially bad people.Is this sarcasm? Hard to tell sometimes. Assuming it is, and that you are not excusing the US military: So if someone runs over a person by accident, does that require the same punishment as if they did it on purpose? Intent matters, it's a core concept in our legal system. (Assuming you're American).HazmatSam: Oh, great: the "just wait till more ladies graduate" procrastination. A woman was Bayonetta's character designer. Do your research before you post.Hey, more insulting tones, that's great. But let's look at this. So a woman designed Bayonetta, and Bayonetta is terrible and damaging to women. If a woman did this damage, then why are people shouting about the evil Male-Dominated game design? Apparently women would do the same as the men, at least in this case. And if she was pressured into designing Bayonetta like that, then why are we bringing her up as a point? If she didn't have a choice, then she didn't really design her and we can ignore the title to focus on the culprit.

  69. >Wundergeek: It's not that women aren't interested. It's that women don't feel welcome, and in some cases are actively run out of the industry. When women see things like that mess with Jade Redmond and that comic that depicted her giving blowjobs in exchange for male gamers buying the game she was promoting, can we be surprised that women say thanks but not thanks.Something of a self-feeding problem, then. If there were more women in game design, there'd be less men to harass them, and they'd be more welcome. Short of some sort of affirmative action law, the (to me) obvious path is to get more women in the field first. Put out the games you want to see, and you'll change the culture of the gamers (assuming they are as swayed by the games they play as people here think). Which will lead to a shift in the thinking of the game publishers.Harassment is terrible. But I'm pretty sure every person, everywhere, has felt harassed at some point in the workplace. If it's as bad as that article indicates, then get lawyers involved. And understand, inappropriate jokes and opinions are going to exist anyway. The goal should be to get rid of those who are doing it with the intent to hurt someone.

  70. >Destrude: "I feel that the use of the term "patriarchal conspiracy", while flawed grammatically, was used in such a way as to make the point obvious. Drawing attention to such relatively minor inaccuracies is beside the point."Semantically. It's flawed semantically. Semantics is the study of what words mean. That means what you typed was literally nonsense. You may as well have bashed your head on the keyboard for 20 minutes. That is not "beside the point." If you don't care about if your post actually says anything, then why the fuck should I?"You'll have to elaborate on the Iraqi citizens reference. I can tell it was a snarky jab, but I can't decipher exactly what you meant by it."Oh dear. Well, you've claimed implicitly that bad things are okay if they're unintentional. I said that you might want to take that up with Iraqi citizens, and this is because the vast majority of their suffering was caused but unintentional. I would presume that you agree that, ideally, the perpetrators would be punished for this?"I'm not sure what you're saying in the last paragraph either. Am I the one using tortured logic, or is the game doing so?"I'm saying that you are use the logic of 1. I am not sexist.2. This is a great game.3. Therefore, this game is not sexist.I've explained to you why this logic is flawed: namely, that it is quite possible for great art to be sexist; indeed, the vast majority of great art is sexist.

  71. >"And finally, are you saying that even a "grand work of genius" is bad/worthless since it comes from a viewpoint that is now understood to be bad?"No, you are. That's why you have to rationalisze that viewpoint away, the same as feminists had to rationalize Shakespeare. Note that, in comparison, Film Studies did nothing of the sort: Triumph of the Will and Birth of a Nation are regarded as great works of art that are racist. There's no contradiction between genius and prejudice. Our only criticism is that this sort of prejudice was entirely unnecessary for the quality of the work, and indeed, gratuitous. "Note that I am in no way suggesting Bayonetta was any sort of art."Good, because an actual game is the opposite of art: a simulation instead of a representation. Oh wait, that's the critical thinking stuff that's beside the point. Moving on."Personally, I hate games where a primary selling point is how "ultra-mega hard" it is and consider them a waste of time. "The quality of a game is the depth of play space, yes? Well, is logically measured by the difference between the worst and best players. That means, barring extenuating circumstances (what tvtropes calls "fake difficulty") harder games are better games. You are saying that you only like mediocre games. I'm sure you didn't mean to, but this is why semantics are important."However, I'm still not seeing how making a lead character attractive/titillating somehow damages women everywhere."Okay, putting aside that these characters are not attractive to anyone with a modicum of taste and that you would not be comlaining if we were critiquing terrible paintings instead of terrible character design, we're not talking about women everywhere. Most women don't play games, remember? They operate Farmville, and other Pavlovian ad-revenue extraction mechanisms (though, to be fair, a great deal of men do as well) What we're talking about is the women here, AKA, the ones that do play games. They have said that these things harm them. Do you believe they are lying?For what purpose do you attribute this conspiracy? (see? That is the proper use of that sign)

  72. >"I don't look at the buff supergeniuses that populate the male protagonist roles"Stop right there. When you are playing as those characters, you are engaging in wish fulfillment. You are pretending to be those people. Now, in contrast, do you know anyone at all that wants to be a female Dead or Alive character? The answer is probably "no". What you have done once again is to ignore the purpose and meaning of what you discuss. Now, since you've admitted to being a male gamer, you should understand that women's tastes in men are not, in general, men's tastes in men. The whole Final Fantasy thing, yes? Well, women's taste in women is not the same either. Most women look at something like Ivy in Soul Calibur and get repulsed because female anatomy does not work that way.To simplify for your convenience: Do you believe there is anything to complain about when a person critiques a terrible, gaudy, vulgar, ill proportioned, lopsided sculpture? Because that's what we're essentially doing. We can make (and I have) all sorts of damning indictment of the terrible taste these characters without the use of feminism. The transgressions of great works can be tolerated, but shit has no excuse.

  73. >HazmatSam: Semantically. It's flawed semantically. Semantics is the study of what words mean. That means what you typed was literally nonsense. You may as well have bashed your head on the keyboard for 20 minutes. That is not "beside the point." If you don't care about if your post actually says anything, then why the fuck should I?Great way to dismiss an entire viewpoint based on an error not related to the topic at hand. I might well have used the term "scary evil men", but I was attempting to avoid a mocking tone. Guess next time you misplace a word in your post, I'll just call you an illiterate and throw the whole case out of the window.HazmatSam: Oh dear. Well, you've claimed implicitly that bad things are okay if they're unintentional. I said that you might want to take that up with Iraqi citizens, and this is because the vast majority of their suffering was caused but unintentional. I would presume that you agree that, ideally, the perpetrators would be punished for this?You've missed the point. I've not claimed anything of the sort. Rather, I've claimed that these games are not doing anywhere near the damage people are saying they are. And trying to compare that to the deaths of innocent people is pretty low, even for an internet argument. There's no question that the Iraqis have been harmed, but the same cannot be said for the women who were "affected" by this and other games.HazmatSam: I'm saying that you are use the logic of 1. I am not sexist.2. This is a great game.3. Therefore, this game is not sexist.Incorrect. I'm saying that 1) I am not sexist. and 2) This game is not harming anyone. I freely admit that Bayonetta is not equal in it's treatment of women vs. men. But I am unconvinced that anyone was significantly harmed by it's existence.HazmatSam: ""And finally, are you saying that even a "grand work of genius" is bad/worthless since it comes from a viewpoint that is now understood to be bad?" — No, you are." I fail to see where I made this assertion. Please clarify.HazmatSam: Our only criticism is that this sort of prejudice was entirely unnecessary for the quality of the work, and indeed, gratuitous. No argument here. Now please show where this gratuitous material caused harm to a living being. And not just a person claiming "I felt sad about it." Real damage, emotional or physical. Did anyone break down crying after seeing this game? Did someone go outside and beat their wife after hearing about it? Did Bayonetta come out of the game and start beating up other women for having normal anatomies?HazmatSam: Good, because an actual game is the opposite of art: a simulation instead of a representation. Oh wait, that's the critical thinking stuff that's beside the point. Moving on.And you continue to be insulting, even on a point on which we seem to agree. Why? I have been making a sincere effort to not insult, demean, or otherwise attack anyone else here. Please, try to focus on the questions and not start spitting vitriol.HazmatSam: You are saying that you only like mediocre games. I'm sure you didn't mean to, but this is why semantics are important.Actually, by that definition of games, that's exactly what I meant. I'm not sure who decided that games were defined by their range of difficulty, but I much prefer ones that hover around the middle of the field. And thanks again, for treating me like an illiterate moron who doesn't understand the sounds coming out of his own mouth.

  74. >HazmatSam: Okay, putting aside that these characters are not attractive to anyone with a modicum of taste and that you would not be comlaining if we were critiquing terrible paintings instead of terrible character designIncorrect. If the argument were that a painting objectified women and thus did damage to them, I would argue the same thing, i.e. that the piece of media is not harming anyone. The form of the media is irrelevant.Also, please do not put words in my mouth. You had no idea what I considered complaint-worthy. If you want to know what I think on a topic, ask.HazmatSam: What we're talking about is the women here, AKA, the ones that do play games. They have said that these things harm them. Do you believe they are lying?For what purpose do you attribute this conspiracy? (see? That is the proper use of that sign)I believe that they are not using a reasonable definition of being harmed. Did these games cause them to be beaten? Did their boss play Bayonetta and then come into the office and fire them because "them womens are only good for their impossible bodies?" Did their significant other leave them because they can't shoot two different people with guns on their feet while moaning? The core of my argument is "media cannot cause harm to anyone". People can, sure, but that stems from their upbringing and not what they see on TV. Essentially, blame the parents and not the rest of the world for not instilling in them a reasonable set of values.Still seeing a running theme of mockery so far. Please, try to keep this a civil conversation and not a flame-war.HazmatSam: Stop right there. When you are playing as those characters, you are engaging in wish fulfillment. You are pretending to be those people. Now, in contrast, do you know anyone at all that wants to be a female Dead or Alive character? The answer is probably "no". Again, incorrect. I think very poorly of most of the male protagonists in video games. Testosterone-fueled psychopaths and moronic murderers who only win because the writers gave them a free deus ex machina, mostly. There is no wish fulfillment there, and to imply so is insulting.However, while I hate aggressive idiots in real life I have no problem playing them in a game because it's JUST A GAME. I have never once felt that I needed to be like them in order to be liked by anyone I valued. So what if every video game guy is an angry space marine murderer? I can play them, be entertained by the gameplay itself, and then put down the controller without a problem.To argue that women are affected by the characters they see in video games is akin to arguing that violent video games cause crime. To put it simply, monkey see does not equal monkey do, and it never has.HazmatSam: Most women look at something like Ivy in Soul Calibur and get repulsed because female anatomy does not work that way.And I would agree with them. I've seen some pretty strange representations of the female body before, but some are just disturbing. Now how does that matter? HazmatSam: To simplify for your convenience: Do you believe there is anything to complain about when a person critiques a terrible, gaudy, vulgar, ill proportioned, lopsided sculpture? Because that's what we're essentially doing. And that's fine. But to claim that seeing that misshapen sculpture caused my kid to be a racist, or shoot himself in the foot, is just stupid. Feel free to call Bayonetta ridiculous. But don't say it caused real, permanent harm unless you have some proof.

  75. >And it looks like one of my responses to the first HazmatSam reply is still missing. Hoping we can get that restored and maybe it'll be easier to make sense for everyone.Not looking forward to having a sane argument if some of my thoughts are just going to fall into the void. I'd call that a bit of an unfair handicap.

  76. >"I don't look at the buff supergeniuses that populate the male protagonist roles"Bzzt, sorry. Go look up the post 'well gaming is sexist against men too'. We've gone over this topic already. The 'buff supergeniuses' are not as numerous as you seem to believe they are, men get plenty of diverse body types in gaming. And since you are putting forward that they are, please provide proof of this. The burden of proof is on you, after all.Another thing, sexualization is not the same thing as 'having big muscles'. One of them defines women as sex objects there to be a masturbation aid to men, the other… defines men as strong and smart. Oh, the horror. Yeah, I can really see what a big issues that would be. One is a power fantasy, one is a sexual fantasy, both are aimed at pleasing men to the detriment and exclusion of women. It /might/ be a little imbalanced, buddy."Incorrect. I'm saying that 1) I am not sexist. and 2) This game is not harming anyone. I freely admit that Bayonetta is not equal in it's treatment of women vs. men. But I am unconvinced that anyone was significantly harmed by it's existence."You can say you're not sexist as much as you want but deciding that tons of women's experiences are automatically null and void because hey, /you/ aren't affected by Bayonetta, seems like a pretty sexist way of thinking. Since it's basically framing it as 'I'm a guy, obviously my feelings toward the game and if I like it trumps all those women who might seriously despise it'. Also, holding the idea that you are the ones who gets to decide what does 'significant harm' to women on a social level.. while not being a woman yourself is rather egotistical don't you think? Women have to Live that stuff, you don't. And I'm pretty sure there's a reason there are sites just like this one that focus on criticizing the sexism in gaming culture.If it 'wasn't such a big deal' as you so casually dismiss it as.. why would the sites actually exist? There doesn't have to be a conspiracy when people like you exist. You're the ones who are so wrapped up in your own dudebro head, in your ignorance, that you can't possibly take women seriously at their word that /just maybe/ it might be a little degrading to Constantly (Bayonetta is one of many) represented as blow-up dolls and faptoys as their primary purpose of importance. It doesn't matter if there's a story or character behind it when, in the end, you're still just showing that one-dimensional picture that proves the first priority was making sure she was as fap-worthy as possible. That's the message in gaming culture: Women, you're not characters first, you're a means to sexual gratification for the guys in the audience. If you get more than that, you should be grateful for being thrown and bone and not expect more. And hey, just maybe, that kind of message might just make gaming culture seem not so welcoming to women. Maybe you should stop making excuses for it, Destrude.

  77. >"And you continue to be insulting, even on a point on which we seem to agree. Why? I have been making a sincere effort to not insult, demean, or otherwise attack anyone else here. Please, try to focus on the questions and not start spitting vitriol."Protip: When you're making a 'sincere effort' not to insult, demean, or otherwise attack anyone else here you should probably not come onto a site /specifically aimed/ at speaking out against sexism in gaming and addressing how serious of problem it is and then putting the word 'affected' in scare quotes like the women who talk about it are just making it up. That's actually pretty damn condescending for someone who has never had to deal with this shit in his entire life. Let's not forget the dismissive, arrogant bullshit about how only you get to decide if women are reacting the /right/ way to sexism in gaming ('real' damage, break down crying). Also, no one ever said gaming immediately led to those actions against women, so strawman arguments too. It's very clear you know nothing of feminist critique of gaming culture.Oh, and the cherry on top, then talking about the 'evil patriarchal conspiracy'.. basically implying the women here are mentally unstable and clearly overreacting. That makes you a disrespectful douchebag who uses silencing and derailing tactics. I think Sam is completely right to insult you, he's just not sugarcoating his insults like you did. Fuck you, Destrude.

  78. >"Great way to dismiss an entire viewpoint based on an error not related to the topic at hand."No, see, this is very relevant. You have demonstrated that you don't know what the words "patriarchy" and "conspiracy" actually signify. That means you are completely ignorant(and I'm being generous here) of what you're saying, or not saying, as your arguments are, again, literally nonsense. More importantly, you do not care., so forgive me for holding you in moderate contempt."Guess next time you misplace a word in your post, I'll just call you an illiterate and throw the whole case out of the window."Semantics != linguistics. Do not strawman, it makes your argument even more absurd."Rather, I've claimed that these games are not doing anywhere near the damage people are saying they are."Okay, so, moving the goalposts then. Well, You're not thinking this through, are you? If you're going to base your new argument on the idea that there are no mental stress caused damages here, then you are conceding that mental damages would be sufficient lose your new argument. Now, you are arguing with people that have directly experienced the mental state you are trying to falsify and who furthermore compile statistics on media influence for a living. Are you sure you want to do this? More importantly, will you actually care about statistics that I post, or will we hear more of you handwaving about them being mere technicalities? (like you confusing the study of what signs mean to grammar. Oh yes, so incredibly minor they're only located in to entirely different branches of the humanities is all.)"And trying to compare that to the deaths of innocent people is pretty low, even for an internet argument."How about you jettison this ridiculous faux-offended moralist nonsense and deal with arguments here? The argument disproved by reductio ad absurdum is that people can only be responsible for the harm they intentionally caused, and despite all your wriggling, you still made it. (otherwise, attempting to dismiss us with that whole 'patriarchal conspiracy lol' spiel would be even more pointless)

  79. >"I'm saying that 1) I am not sexist. and 2) This game is not harming anyone. I freely admit that Bayonetta is not equal in it's treatment of women vs. men. But I am unconvinced that anyone was significantly harmed by it's existence."That's nice, but here in "beside the point" land, words mean shit. Define "significant" please. (somehow, I don't think you're going to use the statistical definition)"I fail to see where I made this assertion. Please clarify."It was implicit in your entire argument before you backpedalled from 'this ain't sexist. you're being mean' to 'well, it's sexist, but c'mon guys, it's not hurting anybody, so quit bitching! You're being mean'. Specifically, citing your (and others') enjoyment of the game as though it mattered in a discussion of aesthetics means that you were claiming that great works are conform to the correct viewpoint by virtue of being great, which, again, implies that bad viewpoints cannot produce great works. Now, you obviously do not believe that, but that's what your logic leads to. This is why I've been telling you to think this stuff through and really consider the meaning of the words you're using. Despite what you think, it matters."Now please show where this gratuitous material caused harm to a living being."Okay, for myself personally, the harm is that terrible art causes me avoidable anguish. (And before your inevitable 'lol, art.' response, note that art have measurable, objective impact on a human being. I. E. Hyperkulturemia). In general, there are numerous studies that demonstrate that people can be driven to the extremes of self-harm through body-image disorders, and that those disorders are media-caused. (I'll refrain from spending time gathering statistics and explaining them to you until you promise that you will not handwave them as "beside the point.") As for the others here, well, read some of the comments on the posts. They're quite open about how this stuff reacts with them. That's all immaterial though. The main thing here is we have said 'this art is garbage, and we're going to mock it.' and you've said 'well, you have to prove that someone made it garbage on purpose to hurt you, and that it actually did'. Now, if that is not self-evidently ridiculous to you, then I like you to watch an Ed Wood movie and not berate it because no one was harmed.

  80. >"And you continue to be insulting, even on a point on which we seem to agree. Why?"Because we don't agree. The fact that you think we do is more evidence that you are not thinking this through. The fact that you associated art with difficulty, of all things, demonstrates that you do not know what art actually is. You further compound this error by talking about "any sort of art," by making the error of thinking that a binary category is a variable quality."Actually, by that definition of games, that's exactly what I meant."Good, and now that you realize this, you'll be able to reassess your preferences, improve your tastes, consider the implications, and start enjoying good games."I'm not sure who decided that games were defined by their range of difficulty, but I much prefer ones that hover around the middle of the field."Oh, well, that works too. Two things: 1) It was decided by that exact argument I paraphrased from Philosophy of Video Games. Do you disagree that interactivity is the primary quality of videogames? Do you disagree that we can measure how interactive a game is by the absolute difference between the best and worst players? Would you not classify EVE Online, Dwarf Fortress, Bayonetta, and other games that have a large absolute distance between the best and worst players as "hard?" Would you not then state that these are very high quality games? If you answered "yes" to any of that, feel free to present a stronger model."And thanks again, for treating me like an illiterate moron who doesn't understand the sounds coming out of his own mouth. "Are you trolling now? Because I honestly think you're trolling now. Sematics=Literacy. That is the most astoundingly, brazenly stupid thing I have ever heard. (hint: meaning occurred before writing. It's called 'speech'. You may have heard it) Well, fuck it, I typed this up anyway. But if you do not stop the fallacies and start learning to fucking google things you are ignorant of, I am not going to bother responding.

  81. >Hazmat Sam:No, see, this is very relevant. You have demonstrated that you don't know what the words "patriarchy" and "conspiracy" actually signify. That means you are completely ignorant(and I'm being generous here) of what you're saying, or not saying, as your arguments are, again, literally nonsense. More importantly, you do not care., so forgive me for holding you in moderate contempt.I don't particularly feel like defending Destrude in any significant way, considering their dismissal of core principles of this site, but I do want to say this:You really need to stop treating people like morons and incompetents for inaccuracies of language common to virtually everyone who isn't a philosopher or scientist.Someone who uses "conspiracy" to mean "secretive group of people plotting something harmful" instead of "secretive group of people plotting to subvert authority" is not necessarily an idiot. It might not be a correct academic usage, but the vast majority of humanity isn't concerned with correct academic usage if the word has a perfectly good common usage that the audience is already comfortable with.Could you please try to understand that we're involved in semi-casual conversation here, and that the usage of language for such is somewhat different than it is in academic writing?

  82. >Please….don't take the stuff I like away from me. I understand that it being the majority is an issue, but please let me keep a little something for myself. Thanks.

  83. >Anon: Here's the thing. As much as I hate Bayonetta, I'm not saying she shouldn't exist. What I want is to have options for female character that aren't Barbie.

  84. >And I agree with that, when every woman in a game is sexualized it can be pretty boring. My favorite video game genre is fighting games, and I believe that diversity is at the core of that genre's principles. Granted that usually manifests itself moreso in the gameplay rather than in the character designs(though it can and should extend to putting more effort towards depicting the vast diversity of people in the world). Its just that some of the comments that I've read here and in other places makes it seems that the idea is that "lingerie ninjas"(such as Mai from KOF) should be done away with entirely, and I find that upsetting.At any rate, I think you've done a good job of making your blog more accessable than other feminist blogs. I've been thinking of becoming a game designer and the stuff you've conveyed here should come in handy in my work(assuming of course that I can actually enter the field). So keep up the good work.

  85. >Anon: I think the thing to keep in mind about "lingerie ninjas" is that the reason I (and other commenters here) hurl so much invective at them is because we don't want that to be our only representation in games. (I'm a martial artist in real life! I don't want people to assume that means that I practice martial arts in a bikini.) It's hard not to get angry at characters like Mai and Kasumi when Mai and Kasumi are practically all we get. Why can't we have more awesome characters like Hilde, huh?Anyway, I'm glad you find this blog accessible.

  86. >Whew boy, that's a lot to respond to. I'm gonna try, but nobody be surprised if some of this gets eaten as spam. LilithXIV: Bzzt, sorry. Go look up the post 'well gaming is sexist against men too'. We've gone over this topic already. The 'buff supergeniuses' are not as numerous as you seem to believe they are, men get plenty of diverse body types in gaming. And since you are putting forward that they are, please provide proof of this. The burden of proof is on you, after all.Really, men get plenty of diversity? Then where are the overweight, lazy, ugly, or slow protagonists? Sure there are a few fat guys in gaming, but only as comedic sidekicks to be pitied or ridiculed. And almost no ugly men. In fact, I can't think of any who aren't a villain. But every hero is attractive, trim, and usually tall and dark to boot.LilithXIV: Another thing, sexualization is not the same thing as 'having big muscles'. One of them defines women as sex objects there to be a masturbation aid to men, the other… defines men as strong and smart.Are you really saying women don't find men with muscles and brains sexy? How else would they sexualize men then? Aside from just having cocks everywhere, which would be rather difficult to sell since WalMart wouldn't carry it.LilithXIV: You can say you're not sexist as much as you want but deciding that tons of women's experiences are automatically null and void because hey, /you/ aren't affected by Bayonetta, seems like a pretty sexist way of thinking.Not what I said. Or at least, not what I meant, so if there was confusion then I apologize. I meant that I have yet to see or hear of any damage caused by the video game and not by previous issues instead. If someone already has crippling body-image issues, then the video game is no more responsible than any other media they didn't see. It's like the Columbine shootings: those kids were already messed up, the video games had nothing to do with it. Make sense now? You don't have to agree, but am I at least clearer now?LilithXIV: And I'm pretty sure there's a reason there are sites just like this one that focus on criticizing the sexism in gaming culture.There are plenty of pro-racism websites as well, does that mean they are right? Not calling anyone racist, but existence does not equal correctness.LilithXIV: It doesn't matter if there's a story or character behind it when, in the end, you're still just showing that one-dimensional picture that proves the first priority was making sure she was as fap-worthy as possible. That's the message in gaming culture: Women, you're not characters first, you're a means to sexual gratification for the guys in the audience.See, this is the fundamental disconnect, I think. Just because a character is portrayed that way, why does that say anything about real people? Fantasy is just that, fantasy. Why should anyone empathize with a poorly written character, much less take them as an example of how they should look/act? When I see a sexy character, or any fictional character at all, that tells me NOTHING about real people.LilithXIV: And hey, just maybe, that kind of message might just make gaming culture seem not so welcoming to women. Maybe you should stop making excuses for it, Destrude.And thus we can contrast what you thought I meant with my actual point. No one is sending any sort of message at all. You take from the media what you will. And easy on the accusations, please.

  87. >LilithXIV: Protip: When you're making a 'sincere effort' not to insult, demean, or otherwise attack anyone else here you should probably not come onto a site /specifically aimed/ at speaking out against sexism in gaming and addressing how serious of problem it is and then putting the word 'affected' in scare quotes like the women who talk about it are just making it up. Not how it was meant. Affected was in quotes since I didn't know exactly how else to put it. Harmed, damaged, feelings hurt, what level exactly is appropriate when I was talking about dead Iraqis in the same sentence?LilithXIV: Let's not forget the dismissive, arrogant bullshit about how only you get to decide if women are reacting the /right/ way to sexism in gaming ('real' damage, break down crying). Also, no one ever said gaming immediately led to those actions against women, so strawman arguments too. It's very clear you know nothing of feminist critique of gaming culture.I'm trying to establish some sort of parameters for success/failure here, not dictate how people feel about the topic. If I look at a study and say "No, this is not relevant damage", it'll make a lot more sense if I've already stated what I'm looking for. And that's a key point as well: what I'M looking for. If you're trying to convince me of something, it helps to know where I stand on it and what I find convincing. If that were the same as what you find convincing, this would be a very short conversation.And it's not surprising that I don't know much of feminist opinions on gaming culture. That's why I'm here, to expand my understanding. If you're expecting me to already know all the usual arguments then no wonder we're having difficulties understanding each other.LilithXIV: Oh, and the cherry on top, then talking about the 'evil patriarchal conspiracy'.. basically implying the women here are mentally unstable and clearly overreacting. That makes you a disrespectful douchebag who uses silencing and derailing tactics. I think Sam is completely right to insult you, he's just not sugarcoating his insults like you did.Not what I was trying to imply. I feel that some of the comments here are overreactions, but not women in general. No where have I tried to stop anyone from speaking their mind, and I HAVE done my best to keep things on track and not degenerating into a flame war. Something I can hardly say for you, unfortunately.LilithXIV: Fuck you, Destrude.Keeping it classy, I see. I would like to note that I have yet to use vulgar language or be (as far as I can tell) intentionally offensive to anyone. The first snarky language in this conversation has come from Hazmat Sam, and now you. So thanks for that.

  88. >HazmatSam: No, see, this is very relevant. You have demonstrated that you don't know what the words "patriarchy" and "conspiracy" actually signify. That means you are completely ignorant(and I'm being generous here) of what you're saying, or not saying, as your arguments are, again, literally nonsense. More importantly, you do not care., so forgive me for holding you in moderate contempt.Patriarchy — a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.Conspiracy — a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful.From my computer's dictionary. If you like, replace "conspiracy" with "plot." I, as with every other thinking being, care what I'm saying. Please don't tell me otherwise. Also, I fail to see how calling me "completely ignorant" of something is being generous. What's the alternative? Being intentionally nonsensical? That would… make no sense.HazmatSam: Do not strawman, it makes your argument even more absurd.More so than derailing the argument on a point that even other people who don't like what I'm saying agree is irrelevant?HazmatSam: Okay, so, moving the goalposts then. Well, You're not thinking this through, are you? If you're going to base your new argument on the idea that there are no mental stress caused damages here, then you are conceding that mental damages would be sufficient lose your new argument.Moving the goalposts? Not as far as I can tell. I've been trying to make the same point all along. If it comes off as otherwise, please explain where and I'll try to correct it. And yes, impartial proof that video game stereotypes directly caused mental trauma (defined here as unbalanced thinking, self-harm, any form of insanity, or suicide, though I'm open to other possibilities) would prove that I am incorrect. I would stipulate that a study's findings are open to interpretation, and just because someone else has concluded one thing does not mean I will come to the same conclusions. However, I do promise to read anything you care to link with an open mind and a reasonable attitude.HazmatSam: More importantly, will you actually care about statistics that I post, or will we hear more of you handwaving about them being mere technicalities? (like you confusing the study of what signs mean to grammar. Oh yes, so incredibly minor they're only located in to entirely different branches of the humanities is all.)Actually, see previous comment. But let's get a definition on "mere technicalities", shall we? Some technicalities are more important than others, like space shuttle components as opposed to near-identical definitions for the same word.

  89. >HazmatSam: How about you jettison this ridiculous faux-offended moralist nonsense and deal with arguments here? The argument disproved by reductio ad absurdum is that people can only be responsible for the harm they intentionally caused, and despite all your wriggling, you still made it. (otherwise, attempting to dismiss us with that whole 'patriarchal conspiracy lol' spiel would be even more pointless)Oh, so I'm not allowed to be offended by a comparison to innocent victims? When did my sense of morals become defined by your opinions of me? And I must reassert that I made no such argument in the first place. I am saying that no bad is happening, not that it's not the video game developer's fault. I'm saying that there's no fault to be assigned.And I'm not trying to dismiss anyone. Arguments that I feel are not logical and sensical, perhaps, but I doubt anyone would fault me for that. I have continually invited comments and information, and tried to respond to every point made. I have noticed, however, that you have not. Several points I've made have gone unanswered in favor of repeating your point about semantics or insulting me. In fact, you even managed to interrupt me on the internet (by responding to only one half of a sentence). That's a new one for me on the scale of unreasonable argument tactics.HazmatSam: That's nice, but here in "beside the point" land, words mean shit. Define "significant" please. (somehow, I don't think you're going to use the statistical definition)Sure, let's go with that. Wikipedia defines it as "In statistics, a result is called statistically significant if it is unlikely to have occurred by chance". Sounds reasonable to me. For more specifics, see the earlier comment where I outline what I'm looking for.Also, again we see you discounting other parts of my posts based on an earlier SEMANTIC mistake I made. How can I be sure you won't just ignore any salient points I do make based on a "oh, he's just blathering and I'm gonna ignore his nonsense" argument? It really feels like you're holding that in reserve in case I make an argument you can't discredit.HazmatSam: It was implicit in your entire argument before you backpedalled from 'this ain't sexist. you're being mean' to 'well, it's sexist, but c'mon guys, it's not hurting anybody, so quit bitching! You're being mean'. At no point did I claim Bayonetta wasn't sexist from the definition of "portraying women as unequal to men". I am, and always have been, claiming that nobody was hurt by that.HazmatSam: Specifically, citing your (and others') enjoyment of the game as though it mattered in a discussion of aesthetics means that you were claiming that great works are conform to the correct viewpoint by virtue of being great, which, again, implies that bad viewpoints cannot produce great works. Now, you obviously do not believe that, but that's what your logic leads to. This is why I've been telling you to think this stuff through and really consider the meaning of the words you're using. Despite what you think, it matters.How can someone's enjoyment of a thing not matter when discussing the aesthetics of that thing? Are you using another definition of aesthetics that I'm not aware of? Also, even if I did believe that a "great work" was good if it conformed to a certain viewpoint, where does that imply that there are no other possible virtues of a work?And again we see the theme of me "not really caring what I say". A classic precursor to disregarding everything I say outright because "he's just crazy" or "he doesn't really believe that". I care very much what I say, and I think I've been rather precise with everything said so far. Outside of the initial semantic mistake that spawned all this vitriol, of course.

  90. >HazmatSam: Okay, for myself personally, the harm is that terrible art causes me avoidable anguish. (And before your inevitable 'lol, art.' response, note that art have measurable, objective impact on a human being. I. E. Hyperkulturemia).I would argue that art only causes transitory emotional responses, and not lasting damage that changes lives or stops a person from functioning normally. And Hyperkulturemia is defined as a psychosomatic illness; in other words, the illness is present in the mind before and independent of the art. One would be hard pressed to prove that anything unique to the art piece itself caused the event. If one has an epileptic seizure, it's due to the brain and not the stimulus. Without the underlying defect, no seizure takes place. If we take your point here as true, then why shouldn't we give placebos to sick people? They occasionally lead to people getting better (the famed placebo effect), so clearly they are really healing people despite being only sugar.HazmatSam: As for the others here, well, read some of the comments on the posts. They're quite open about how this stuff reacts with them. As I said before, I'm new here and not interested in trawling through archives blindly. I'd love to see some examples though. Please make sure they're backed up by science of some sort, and not just appeals to emotion.HazmatSam: That's all immaterial though. The main thing here is we have said 'this art is garbage, and we're going to mock it.' and you've said 'well, you have to prove that someone made it garbage on purpose to hurt you, and that it actually did'. Now, if that is not self-evidently ridiculous to you, then I like you to watch an Ed Wood movie and not berate it because no one was harmed.As far as I can tell, the point being made was that "this is garbage, and it hurt people, so we should mock it and those who perpetrate it". If I am in error, and you are not saying that people have been harmed by this, then please let me know.I will agree that Ed Wood movies are terrible, and worth mocking. Who gave that man a camera in the first place?HazmatSam: The fact that you associated art with difficulty, of all things, demonstrates that you do not know what art actually is. You further compound this error by talking about "any sort of art," by making the error of thinking that a binary category is a variable quality.No where did I say that difficulty makes something art, or even good. For the second point, please replace "art" with "media". That was a typo on my part. Furthermore, please replace the phrase "any sort of art" with "remotely related to art", as I feel that should clarify the point I was making. Hopefully we can get past this apparently confusing turns of phrase and get back to the main point.

  91. >Ok, this next part has a lot of questions, so let's break it down a bit.HazmatSam: It was decided by that exact argument I paraphrased from Philosophy of Video Games. Do you disagree that interactivity is the primary quality of videogames? No, although I would add that there is more than just the amount of interactivity to a video game. See games like .detuned and Linger in Shadows. Also important are things like story line, which makes the interactions matter.HazmatSam: Do you disagree that we can measure how interactive a game is by the absolute difference between the best and worst players?I would disagree. A game which had only one interaction, say a single jumping puzzle, that was incredibly hard would have a huge division between players. Those who could make it, and those who couldn't. I would argue that's as big a gap as could be measured.HazmatSam: Would you not classify EVE Online, Dwarf Fortress, Bayonetta, and other games that have a large absolute distance between the best and worst players as "hard?" EVE Online is an interesting example. It takes a long time to advance, but from my understanding (not having played the game myself) the steps you take are not difficult. They are quite tedious, however. So I would have to say that games with a large distance between best and worst players COULD be hard, or they could simply be slowly-paced.HazmatSam: Would you not then state that these are very high quality games? Some yes, some no. Dwarf Fortress is a very low quality game, in my opinion. Very complex, but without relevant story there is no motivation to play. It's like Minecraft, a way to kill time perhaps but not an interesting game. Bayonetta is certainly a visually detailed game, and there is a lot of depth to the gameplay (or so I've heard), but I know little about the story or longevity of the game. So Bayonetta gets a "maybe".HazmatSam: If you answered "yes" to any of that, feel free to present a stronger model.Not my job. I'm not here to rework the way games are defined, or redefine the concept of art, or anything like that. I AM here to discuss the possibility that video games, and by relation media in general, has or has not damaged women by portraying females in an unrealistic manner.HazmatSam: Are you trolling now? Because I honestly think you're trolling now. Sematics=Literacy. That is the most astoundingly, brazenly stupid thing I have ever heard. (hint: meaning occurred before writing. It's called 'speech'. You may have heard it) Well, fuck it, I typed this up anyway. But if you do not stop the fallacies and start learning to fucking google things you are ignorant of, I am not going to bother responding.Hey, at least I can say I called it in advance. I'm pretty sure calling me a "stupid head" in so many words is not equal to winning an argument. Feel free to take another crack at it though.Wow, that was ridiculously long. Is there a better place to take this, or some other format to use? It's gonna be hard to keep splitting the discussion like this and stay coherent.

  92. >Jesus. Okay. I'm having trouble keeping up with things here, so I'm just going to lay down a few points of order.First off, I DO NOT WANT THIS PLACE TO TURN INTO THE REST OF THE INTERNETS. Please TRY to attack people's positions and not the person themselves. Please don't tell other commenters to go fuck themselves. Please don't insult the intelligence of people who don't agree with you. Please remember to read charitably; this is the interwebs and a lot of the time you'll find that what first seems like a disagreement is really people just talking past each other. A lot of the time, there IS common ground to be had – it's just harder to see because of the complete lack of face-to-face social cues.Okay.Destrude: I'm not going to respond to everything here, but I just want to say that sexist art is a source of personal pain to me. My anger at all of the bullshit character designs I see in gaming is what led me to start this blog. I don't have a Hat of Speaking For All Women, but I know a lot of other women who feel the same way. Sexist art matters.Also, no one is trying to say that male characters in games aren't idealized. What we're trying to say is that there is a big difference between being idealized and being packaged for sexual titillation. Idealized characters can cause self-esteem problems, sure. But the predominance of sexualized characters not only harms the group being sexualized, but everyone else as well – since people can become accustomed to seeing the sexualized group as nothing more than a collection of bits that should put out for their gratification. Does that make sense?

  93. >Again, same exact argument from an earlier post on this site 'but gaming is sexist against men too'. Go look in 2010 December, it's near the top. Look at the comments. This is literally the same exact conversation. Also, I didn't realize 'diverse' automatically = fat guys (oh wait, those guys are usually in sitcoms and movies as the 'everyman'… I don't think I know that many 'everywomen' and certainly not enough to match that number). There are not many fat women either.. or even average looking ones. And before you talked about 'buff supergeniuses', but now your argument seems to have changed once again huh? "But every hero is attractive, trim, and usually tall and dark to boot." – Again, proof I ask for, the burden of it is on you. You're still just using this generic phrasing like 'this is fact' (Mario, Sonic, and bunch of other male characters would like to disagree with you by the way, especially the monstrous ones or faceless ones. Not to mention attractive is not the same thing as sexualized in the least unless they're all walking around in, say, thongs 24/7, so wow). I hope you mean dark-haired and not dark-skinned too, because otherwise you're even more off-base."Are you really saying women don't find men with muscles and brains sexy? How else would they sexualize men then? Aside from just having cocks everywhere, which would be rather difficult to sell since WalMart wouldn't carry it."Are you really saying that having muscles and being smart somehow equals the same thing as having your sexual parts largely on display and being half to completely naked in the majority of roles? Don't make me laugh. Also, on what women find /attractive/ and what they find /sexy/, have you ever actually talked to any women? And cocks everywhere? Sure, if you really think that would 'balance' things out. A bulge everywhere, thongs for all the men, prominent asses and pouty lips. Sure (it's interesting how showing women's breasts with the exact outlines of nipples with camel toe crotch shots practically leaves nothing to the imagination in game art but is still shown and acceptable but the idea of 'cocks everywhere' is so grotesque and taboo. Yeah, weird, I wonder if there's an imbalance there.). Just because, largely, we live in a society that has decided women are sex objects does not mean there's 'no way' to sexualize men. Please stop pretending it's some difficult feat. But then again, who said I was arguing for the sexualization of men? Clearly it's about the need for the objectification of women to stop.

  94. >"Keeping it classy, I see. I would like to note that I have yet to use vulgar language or be (as far as I can tell) intentionally offensive to anyone. The first snarky language in this conversation has come from Hazmat Sam, and now you. So thanks for that."You are very welcome. Intent doesn't matter jack or shit when you've been insulting from the get-go. It doesn't matter if you didn't 'intend' to be offensive, you still were in every possible way, which I clearly laid out for you. I had every right to insult you, there's nothing of class in any of your posts (and an incredible lack of research) and so you deserve none in kind. Again, just because your offensive behavior was sugar-coated and in polite-speak doesn't mean it still wasn't insulting. I've already explained this above.

  95. >"If you're trying to convince me of something, it helps to know where I stand on it and what I find convincing"One more thing, Destrude. I'm not trying to convince of you anything, your arguments are those of a concern troll. You continue to evade arguments and move goalposts, along with speaking in generic-speak and prizing your personal experience as if it trumps all other personal experiences of the marginalized group that is /actually affected/ by these things. You've engaged in a Tone Argument for pities' sake and have done no research on your own (hell, you haven't even read all the other posts on this site!), expecting it to be spoon-fed to you. You don't want to learn anything and you're not receptive to anything new but your own 'it's just an isolated incident' mindset. You even engaged in the 'immediate re-centering of men' stuff, because clearly if men aren't horribly affected by something then women shouldn't be complaining about nothing right? It's very clear where your priorities lie.You've already come onto this site with a mindset of 'it doesn't affect me so what's the big deal'? You live in a self-centered bubble of complacency. You can only get yourself out of that. 'It's /just fantasy/ you gaiz, its your fault for feeling that way laydeez, those developer guys were just enjoying themselves. And clearly, that's the most /important/ thing.'. But It's Not About You. These words will be seen by others, not just you. And I really hope they can take something from it.

  96. Destrude: I’m only going to respond to a few of your points, because I want to get an idea about how productive the conversation might be before getting too deeply involved. All I ask of you is that you try to understand our perspective — you don’t have to agree, but you do have to accept that we see things in a different way.

    So, first: “Are you really saying women don’t find men with muscles and brains sexy? How else would they sexualize men then?”

    Making a character attractive and sexualizing a character are two completely different things. The former is concerned what kind of person the character is, while the latter is concerned with what you can do to him/her. And what that means is that sexualizing a male character looks somewhat more like this than this.

    And, to respond to one more point: “And yes, impartial proof that video game stereotypes directly caused mental trauma (defined here as unbalanced thinking, self-harm, any form of insanity, or suicide, though I’m open to other possibilities) would prove that I am incorrect.”

    The fact that you’re talking about “directly caused mental trauma” as a requirement to prove you wrong suggests that we’re talking about two different things here. The concerns we have are on a more subtle level than that.

    See, you seem to think we’re equating characters like Bayonetta to a mental punch to the face — a single, self-contained action with self-contained (and painful) consequences. But that’s not a very good analogy at all, and it’s so absurdly easy to tear down that whoever you attribute it to is likely to call you out for creating a strawman (whether you intended to or not).

    What we’re talking about is, essentially, cultural pollution — figurative second-hand smoke. Sure, being exposed to one person smoking a cigarette (eg. the character of Bayonetta) probably won’t kill you, but the cumulative effect of a room full of them (eg. the absurdly high number of lingerie ninja in gaming) will eventually have a negative impact on your overall health (eg. an unhealthy attitude about women), and the smoky atmosphere is quite unwelcoming to anyone who thinks cigarette smoke stinks (eg. female gamers).

    There are probably a few studies out there that could suggest a connection of that sort, but I don’t want to spend the time digging them up if you won’t accept that analogy.

    • So what you’re saying is that there should be a smoking and non-smoking section as far as this kind of thing is concerned?

      • Yeah, exactly. And, as with cigarettes, the “non-smoking” section should be designed in such a way that the “non-smokers” can avoid the smoke completely in the course of a normal visit.

  97. How exactly would you apply that though? I could see how that might work in a game with character creation(like an MMO) but what about games that have pre-established characters(action, fighter, etc.)? Would a diverse cast of mostly non-sexualized women mitigate the harmful effects of a few sexualized women who co-exist in the same game?

    • I’m of the opinion it would- assuming that those few sexualized women aren’t always the star/hero/protagonist of the game.

  98. What are your thoughts about Chell’s redesign? I honestly don’t find it “slutty” per se, as it reminds me more of a woman getting the impractical jumpsuit out of the way to do some complex running and jumping. Although I do agree it’s an interesting change.

    • Osbo: Mostly I’m disappointed. I mean, there really aren’t that many non-glamorous female characters out there, so it’s disappointing to see Chell glammed up. Sure she’s still wearing sensible clothes, but it makes me worry about the fan reaction…

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